|By : Massanie|
Category: Harry Potter > Threesomes/Moresomes
Views: 75212 -:- Recommendations : 4 -:- Currently Reading : 27
|Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me and I'm not making any money with this story|
CHAPTER 18: A Fan's Crusade
CHANGES IN CHAPTER 17: I changed some parts of the last chapter, mainly at the end, because honestly, Harry was quite terribly ooc. Though most of you were too nice to call my attention to the problem (but please tell me when I do things like that, sometimes I don't notice it myself), it gutted my Night Flight muses and left them in a rather messy, bloody heap after I came out of my after-exam-trance.
It's just: I have no illusions about being unable to be influenced by advertisements, movies, books and most importantly other fictional slash stories I'm currently exposing myself to. And the last chapter was mainly influenced by Twisted Hilarity's original stories. I found them very enjoyable to read, honestly you should try them, but it caused Harry to become ... well, quite a wimp. There's no nice word for that, so don't try.
So instead of abandoning this story - for which nelle threatened to castrate me and I didn't even have the chance yet to give some unlucky child the curse of my horribly long real name - I decided to rewrite parts of chapter 17 - which took more time than writing an entirely new chapter for some reason... If anyone wants to have the original one back, sorry, that won't happen.
Pansy was in a right snit. And she had every right to be, in her humble opinion. Nothing in her life during the last few years had worked out the way it should have. First Draco had had the audacity to fall in love with their school's pretty boy and asked her to cover up for him so that neither Blaise's nor his parent's would learn of their affair. Of course she'd said yes, what else should a well-mannered, noble-minded girl of a respectable pureblood family have done if a friend asked for her help? Especially since she loved the two idiots. Very grudgingly, mind you, obstinate bastards that they were. Merlin, and without her, they would have just managed to make away with themselves somehow, or throw their cover, or destroy their twisted joy in life in some way or the other. Somehow, she just knew it; they were reckless and narrow-minded like that. Nonetheless she wouldn't have been averse of becoming the next Mrs. Malfoy, or Zabini for that matter.
Well, it wasn't that bad, Pansy guessed, she'd just find herself someone else. Preferably rich, mute and short-lived.
But that wasn't really her problem, right now. If she pondered on the matter more closely, it might have even been somewhat odd to really marry one of them, they were friends first and foremost, after all. Well, of course there was the one time when she had been with Draco after Blaise had dumped him because the Malfoys had decided to stand behind their Lord, united, after his return. The Italian had been so furious at Draco for endangering himself because he knew it couldn't end well, what with the Dark Lord probably still being angry on Lucius for claiming to have been imperiused during the First War. Blaise had expected the resurrected wizard to take his anger out on his less than loyal followers with cruel punishments and asked Draco to join him and declare himself neutral.
Draco had refused, hadn't left his family and after a shouting match of epic dimensions (well, Draco had shouted at least, Blaise had glared and growled, that didn't mean it had been any less impressive) the Italian had decided that someone neutral couldn't be with a proclaimed follower of the Dark Lord. In an act of defiance and stubbornness Draco had started dating Pansy just to make his ex-lover jealous. And Blaise had ignored it. Because they were dickheads like that.
Pansy had known it, and enjoyed the attention and Draco's gifts while she could. And his kisses. Which had been acceptable.
Okay, fine, pretty damn good... But it was to be expected, after all: Pansy was gorgeous and a formidable kisser and Draco looked well enough and wasn't completely useless in the kissing department, either.
And so, when her two stubborn friends had gotten back together, colliding like two magnets that pulled each other close and continued just where they had left off without a thought to Pansy, only her pride had been hurt. But only momentarily (she had not held any delusions about Draco's or Blaise's love for each other), so really, that wasn't her problem right now.
Neither was the fact that her reputation had suffered somewhat due to her well-considered suggestion that it might be better, in a purely utilitarian sense, to throw the Wonder-Boy out to the wolves when the castle had been besieged. It had been the logical thing to do and really she couldn't understand why it had made everyone so angry. And damn it, it wasn't as if Draco hadn't tried to give the boy over, Gregory had told her that, the only difference was that she had done it in front of the whole student body and who-knows-who-else in the Great Hall. It hadn't been a very Slytherin thing to do, she had to admit that and so she bore the consequences now with the grace and humility befitting someone of her station.
Well, or something close to that. But though it was a problem and annoying as hell, she could deal with the public's aggravation at behalf of their saviour. After all, people were rather forgetful with the right incentives and if she played her part right, no one would speak about it in a year.
And she could deal with the Dark Lord having lost the war. Even though some things might have been better if he hadn't. But really, the last year in Hogwarts had been so ... messy! And depressing. Everywhere she had looked there were students playing martyrs, which was plain right stupid when they just could have spared themselves the pain, played along and waited for the right time to strike. That would have been the intelligent thing to do, the Slytherin thing to do. Alas! The majority of Hogwarts consisted of moronic not-snakes. Pansy hated martyrs with a fervour, almost as much as she hated lunatics and some of the new teachers had been undeniably lunatic. She even thought Headmaster Snape had disliked them and he was a paragon of a Slytherin, truly. A double-agent for years! One had to admire his self-control and resolve...
So really, reconciling herself to the demise of the Dark Lord wasn't that hard at all.
She could also deal with giving up one of her two-way mirrors that was connected to Zabini Manor in Italy, as Blaise had asked her to do. It wasn't as if she would die of withdrawal if she couldn't speak with Draco and Blaise for a few weeks - it wasn't as if they were her only friends - and after all, she could always go to Narcissa, for some tea, a nice chat and then use the Malfoys' mirror instead. No problem. At all.
Even though it peeved her endlessly while the two love-birds had been on their romantic little trip during which Blaise had proposed to Draco, and doubtlessly shagged him silly multiple times a day. Or the other way round. Really, her peers were usually just so boring...
What she couldn't deal with, however, was giving her mirror to the infuriating horde of red-haired weasels! And that was exactly what she would do. Because Blaise had asked her. Nicely.
She sighed, very much martyred, though she would never admit to that. The things one did for friendship...
Nonetheless... "I hate you!" she grumbled to the small mirror in her hands, glaring at Blaise's and Draco's faces, which were smirking at her with unconcealed amusement. Both were small figures in the reflecting surface - because they were not walking towards a multi-storey shed of a house that shouldn't have been standing there in a show of defiance against gravity and the laws of nature. No, they were sitting on comfortable arm chairs in front of an enlarged mirror, the bastards. Behind them she could see a wide window through which the sun mocked her with the warm light while heavy rainclouds spread endlessly over Pansy. It made her hate the very world.
"Oh, please, Pansy!" Draco said through his grin. "This doesn't become more believable the more often you say it, you know? Only more ridiculous."
"But I really hate you for making me go to those blood traitors!"
Even as small as they were in the mirror, Pansy thought that Blaise was rolling his eyes. "You could have declined."
Draco nodded "But I am glad you didn't, we are very grateful for your help."
He said with his most charming smile and his interruption was the only thing that saved his bloody fiancé from getting ripped apart by a real good tongue lashing. After all she really needed to improve her reputation and if people somehow heard about how Pansy Parkinson had assisted the Saviour and his friends in their oh so difficult situation, then all the better.
"Absolutely!" Blaise continued, "We owe you!"
"We'll make up for it, once we return. Take you shopping..."
Ha! If Draco thought that would be enough to reward her for playing nice with those Weasleys...
"...and to that little French restaurant you love so much..."
Well, the reservations were difficult to get, she had to grant Blaise that, still...
"...and a visit to the opera after that? Or ballet? Whichever you prefer."
"Fine!" She sniffed and started walking again. "I'll be nice to them."
"Thank you, Pansy." Blaise said, sounding so damn sincere that Pansy had to purse her lips and try to forcibly hang on to her anger. In vain.
"Well," she sighed, again very much like a martyr, "as long as you know how much it costs me... anything for you dear. Just make sure the two of you secure your submissive soon and come back, I am bored out of my mind without you here. You surely take your sweet time with that, anyway. I never heard of a dominant taking so long to mate after the abduction of a submissive.
"Pansy. He is not just a submissive."
"Oh, I know!" She laughed coquettishly even while her gaze rested sharply on Draco. Pansy knew him well enough to know that this comment was more than a testimonial to his usual obsession with the Gryffindor paragon.
"He is the Boy Who Lived! Does that matter, though? He'll still be a submissive in the hands of two dominants. And you really should hurry... shouldn't he have his magic back by now? You know he'll become dangerous then and so much more difficult to control. You have blocked it, haven't you?"
The heavy silence was answer enough. Pansy blinked in surprise, torn between dismay at her friends' stupidity and amusement. What in Merlin's name were they thinking? "Don't tell me you let Potter of all people walk around with that much magic at his disposal after having kidnapped him?! Oh, this is rich!"
"Pansy!" Draco said with a frosty glare. "It is none of your concern how we treat our submissive!"
With a snort, Pansy shook her head. "So at least you still want to claim him..."
"It is up to a submissive to establish a mating bond, Pansy," Blaise said quietly, "and Harry would never do that if we took his magic."
Draco nodded even while he looked aside, looking awfully pensive. "You have no idea how he reacted to it being inaccessible during the transformation. He can't bear the thought of losing his magic and we won't do that to him."
"You are smitten!" Pansy breathed, even while it came to her mind that the words might actually be too plebeian for a miracle like this. Or a disaster. It probably depended on one's perspective.
"I am not." Draco's voice was cold and his eyes murderous, and Pansy couldn't help but wish she would stand directly in front of him. He was always so difficult to read, but with him appearing so small in the two-way-mirror, it was well-nigh impossible and she would rather like to know if another comment of hers might have dire consequences.
"Think, Pansy," Blaise interrupted her thoughts with his low, silky murmur. "That he is the Boy Who Lived indeed changes everything. He cannot be kept away from the public's eye and in his case, no one would ignore a forced bonding. If he told his friends later that he was so much as unduly pressured into a mating with us and they went to the press or the ministry, the wizarding public would rip us and our families to pieces."
It would have sounded reasonable and Pansy might have believed the two of them if Draco hadn't slipped earlier. 'We won't do that to him' ... no, this sounded as if there was more emotion than rationality guiding their behaviour regarding the Golden Boy right now. And that might become a problem. Even dangerous.
And the fact that they were asking Pansy to give up her mirror, when she loved her collection (there was nothing better to efficiently get and spread certain information), bespoke of a certain sense of awareness for the situation: if Blaise and Draco thought that enabling Potter to speak with his friends was the logical thing to do, that it was crucial for a successful mating, and that it didn't betray emotions they shouldn't have towards the Boy Wonder, they would just have asked one of their parents to give up a mirror, Mrs Zabini was even currently living at Malfoy Manor and not even using her own mirrors...
This was worse than she had thought at first, it wasn't good if Blaise and Draco became personally invested in this whole affair. And why should they even be interested in someone else? They had each other, it had been enough before, why shouldn't it be now?
When the Italian had contacted her the day before and told her about Harry Potter's new status as a Vykélari submissive, she had assumed that they would force him to mate and then keep him on a tight leash. They weren't supposed to give him a choice. They weren't even supposed to grant him so much leeway. Narcissa and Lucius both would be furious if they knew. Amalyne, too, probably; but Pansy didn't know her that well.
And if Potter's stay at Lanai Manor didn't result in a mating, the purebloods in Britain would lose all respect for both of the dominants that had been too indecisive to exploit the windfall of a submissive practically falling into their lap.
In any case, if Potter the stupid sod managed to hurt either Blaise or Draco, if he refused them, Pansy would make him vanish into a world of pain.
To her friends, though, she only gave a conceding nod. "I just hope you know what you're doing. Now shut up, I'm almost there."
Carefully, she put the mirror into a sea-green velvet case and then stored it away into the handbag dangling from her arm. If someone other than Granger or her weasel boyfriend opened, she didn't want them to see the mirror. It was Draco's and Blaise's wish that Potter's friends got it without any time-consuming detours.
Then she moved towards the front door of what looked as if it once had been a barn, trying to keep her outrageously expensive boots out of the various puddles in the courtyard.
The atmosphere in the Burrow had been tense during the last few days, with the memory of Harry's dramatic transformation as an ever-present shadow hanging oppressively over the dining table and the knowledge of where the young wizard was, with whom and for what reason weighting heavily on everyone's mind.
The worst was that there was nothing to be done. Even if Narcissa Malfoy had disclosed Harry's current location - which she hadn't - the fact remained that any interference of a normal wizard in what was usually euphemised as 'Vykélari courtship', was highly illegal and punished with five to ten years in Azkaban. Harry would have their heads if they got themselves landed into the wizarding prison, besides, once there, they'd be of no use to their friend.
And so far they had already depleted all the legal means, they had even gone so far as to ask the newly appointed minister Kingsley Shacklebold for help. But he had only told them to wait and stressed to them the importance of keeping their silence. It had been disillusioning to be reprimanded for coming to the minister in the first place, even though he was right: strictly speaking they hadn't been allowed to tell anyone of the situation after being filled in by the Malfoy matriarch. And since nobody - even the minister - should have any knowledge of the situation, no one could help.
That of course didn't mean that Hermione and Ron wouldn't keep on trying. The famous Golden Trio's smart one had spent the last few days and a good portion of her savings in various more or less respectable bookshops with rather disappointing results. But finally after days and nights of asking, begging, demanding and reading, so much reading, there might be the first hint of a silver lining: just this very morning an elderly ministry owl had delivered a copy of the Vykélari laws. It had been a real nightmare to get one, too and Hermione had needed Percy's help, who, in his best lecturing, know-it-all manner, had threatened the ministry employee in charge with an official complaint and legal consequences for curtailing their right of access.
She had just worked through the initial few paragraphs together with Ron under the anxious glances of a very raddled Molly, when a soft rapping at the front door interrupted their reading.
Now, for a household like the Weasleys that might not be unusual per se, but at least unexpected. Since Ottery St. Catchpole was located rather far from the major wizarding communities in Britain and most of their closest friends not even lived in the same county, and since apparating wasn't the safest means of travelling, most of their acquaintances entered their home via the floo; and official matters were usually handled via the owl post. They didn't have much to do with the Fawcetts, the Diggorys and the Lovegoods and other wizarding families living close by, not these days in any case and aunt Muriel ... she expected to be visited.
So while Hermione didn't even raise her hazel eyes from her lecture, her lips moving incessantly along with the words, Ron and Molly shared a questioning gaze over the paper covered table.
After but a moment, Molly shrugged. "Well, go on dear, I'll just see who it is..." And the sturdy witch started to bustle out of the room.
Quickly, Ron pushed himself up from his place at the paper-filled table, agilely manoeuvring around other chairs, and past his mother. "I'll go, mom. Why don't you make more tea? Earl Grey or Assam ... we're going to need loads and loads of it."
In all honesty, Ron really just needed to get away for some minutes before he started tearing papers apart... Hermione would never forgive him for such a heinous crime, not after all the trouble she'd gone through to get her hands on them in the first place.
But if he read or heard the word 'submissive' one more time, while he inevitably had to think of Harry, he couldn't guarantee for anything. He hated how dry and austere the books and texts of law were, how pretentiously they praised the magical power and control a mated dominant could achieve, how those pureblood Vykélari justified depriving half of their kind of the right to make any significant decisions for themselves with some nonsense about safety and how submissives needed to be protected because they were so precious and rare and because their magic was wilder and more difficult to control.
Well duh! Of course it was more difficult to control; their power levels were many times higher than a dominant's...
Rolling his shoulders once to ease the tense knots another sleepless night had brought with it, Ron strode out of the room to the front door and pulled it open.
Immediately he wished he hadn't when he got face to wrist with a young brunette, a beringed wrist she had obviously raised just then to knock again and that he only barely evaded.
Ron recognized her distinct features immediately; that still somewhat pug-nosed but otherwise handsome face was impossible not to recognize; as was the grimace she wore: Pansy Parkinson's lips were curled in what probably had been meant to be a smile, but the effect, sadly, was destroyed by the disgust twitching over her face every now and then. She wore an elegantly tapered, knee-length dress of a dark grey, checked pattern with a slit necklace, the whole ensemble hugging her slender frame flatteringly. Her wand was drawn and pointed at a pair of black, high-heeled boots that she must have been cleaning from the mud in the courtyard only moments before: the leather was shiny and unblemished.
Ron narrowed his eyes dangerously, all his warning bells doing a grand impression of a dramatic hand bell choral in his head. What the hell was that snake doing at the front door of the Burrow at a Monday morning, before even the owl from the Daily Prophet had arrived?
"Parkinson!" He said frostily, not so much a greeting as an acknowledgement of her unwelcome, unexpected presence.
Her lips strained into a pained smile as if she couldn't quite believe being where she currently was herself. Yeah, Ron couldn't either...
"Weasley." She waited for a moment, and then continued as it became apparent that the red-haired man wouldn't take the initiative, a small tightening of her lips the only indication of her irritation. "Won't you ask me to come in?"
Ron crossed his arms and stayed otherwise unmoving in the doorway, but his eyes flashed and all his muscles tensed and strained under his skin, like a hyppogryph whose annoyance build and rose, bubbling like boiling water until he'd strike down the nuisance before him.
"No, Parkinson, certainly not. What do you want?" He asked tartly; two months just weren't enough to forget that this woman had wanted to give Harry to Voldemort just to save her own pitiful hide. It was rather audacious that she dared coming to the Burrow so soon ... or ever.
"Well," the brunette began, letting the word linger on her tongue until Ron wondered if it had paralysed the muscle, "I am actually here as a favour to your friend, Potter. You see," she continued quickly, when Ron's eyes narrowed even further, "Draco and Blaise - you know, Blaise Zabini - they approached me because Potter wanted to speak with you and..."
"Where is he?" Ron asked, stepping forward and letting the door behind him shut, he looked around quickly for a moment, as if he might be able to see his friend somewhere. Merlin, was Harry alright? Had they already mated him and therefore come back into the open? His stomach clenched tightly at the idea of them parading Harry around like some prize trophy.
"He's still with Blaise and Draco, of course. But as I was saying, they contacted me because he wanted to speak with you, so here I am, to lend you my precious two-way-mirror."
Ron looked at her sharply while Parkinson muttered something below her breath that sounded suspiciously like 'out of the goodness of my heart'.
Why the hell would they allow Harry to come into any contact with the outside world? Every book, every document he and Hermione, and at times Ginny had sifted carefully during the past few days, agreed on that one point: a dominant coming upon an unmated submissive (he really needed to find some alternative term) would hide the both of them away until the bond was safely in place, however long that took; which usually wasn't longer than a few days.
Warily Ron watched Parkinson, as she opened her handbag and pulled out a slim velvet case, that might have been the size of one of their smaller school books, his stomach twisting nervously and he had to fight the urge to just grab the thing out of Parkinson's hands. But his concern for Harry hadn't yet clouded his judgement enough to do something stupid and rash like that. He didn't even know if the brunette really was in league with Malfoy or if she had gotten wind of the incident from some other source and was just acting, fishing for information, maybe ... for another Vykélari?
Or was she her on Malfoy's behalf?
After all, the books had also made it clear that sometimes, especially when a submissive wasn't inclined to mate, his closest family or friends were dragged into the mess as blackmail material. Ron knew he had to be careful... especially when dealing with someone sent by Zabini and Malfoy, who Harry certainly wouldn't mate willingly.
In front of him, Parkinson drew a small, rectangular mirror from the sea-green velvet case, careful to not touch the reflective surface and leave fingerprints to mar it. She turned it towards Ron, so that the red-head was able to see the golden glow of a luxurious sitting room bathed in sunlight. It was probably beautiful if one cared for all that luxury, the expensive wood and fabrics used in the furnishings... Ron still preferred his own orange Chudley-Cannons shrine-like room.
What caught his attention though, were the two men sitting on arm chairs as if they were thrones, each the other's opposite at least in their colouring, but so similar in their bearings. Still as proud as ever they regarded him coolly but also with a hint of open calculation, as if they tried to read him and Ron understood that maybe for the first time they saw him as an important token on the playboard of life: if they really intended to let him speak with Harry in order to make him more agreeable to a mating, they had to know that Ron could also influence his friend. He might sway Harry to be more open towards his captors, to stay with them willingly for the next few weeks at least; or he might abet him to even more open rebellion, might incite Harry to fight both purebloods with all his might.
Such was the power of a best friend.
"Good morning, Weasley." Zabini spoke first, making Ron's gaze switch to his small image in the mirror. Though the youngest Weasley son hadn't had much to do with him before during their school days, he of course knew the Italian by sight and name, but nothing beyond such mundane information; which only meant that he would need to use much more flexible tactics than he would have done with the Malfoy heir alone and slowly discover the dark skinned man's weak points.
"Zabini, Malfoy." Ron nodded once, his jaw and voice tight but for now it should better be enough for those snakes if he conveyed his willingness to talk, they couldn't expect him to be polite.
With narrow eyes Ron watched Malfoy's lips twitch into the barest hint of a smile. "I hope we didn't wake you or someone of your family with this early ambush on a Monday morning."
"Well, isn't that wonderful!" Parkinson quipped with a fake smile, sarcasm dripping from her lips like drool from Fang's mouth.
"Anyway, I'm off." And she scrunched up her nose a bit as she threw the Burrow a last derisive glare. "Be careful with the mirror, Weasley. I'm sure you couldn't afford to replace it if something happened. Draco, Blaise, contact me as soon as you are back."
Not even awaiting an answer, the brunette started to make her way back to the edge of the Weasley property with exaggerated care not to step into any puddles. Then, she apparated off. It somewhat surprised Ron that she would actually bother to be polite enough not to apparate on the ground of another wizarding family's home, especially if said family were actually known bloodtraitors.
"Don't worry." Malfoy said, drawing Ron's attention to the mirror in his hand once more. "Should the mirror be damaged I will personally account for it."
Ron smiled humourlessly. "What a clumsy move, Malfoy, even for you." And it was. After years and years of taunting Ron over his family's difficult financial situation, it was rather inelegant to try and win him over with something material like this.
"Think what you will."
"I will, thanks a lot..." Ron sneered, while moving a bit away from his house. It was better if they remained undisturbed and unobserved during the next few minutes. The last Ron needed, was for his mother to storm in and keep him from getting any useful information out of the two Slytherins. Molly had always been a bit impulsive when it came to the safety and wellbeing of those she considered to be family. "Where is Harry?"
Malfoy tapped with his index finger on the arm rest of his chair, his eyes never wavering from Ron's. "I think he is asleep still. Yesterday he flew for the first time and he was rather beaten afterwards."
He was becoming a better actor, Ron thought, he really had no idea if the git was lying or not. Well then, he would just have to attack more aggressively. "And yet you are contacting me, even though you say this farce with the mirror is only for Harry to be able to speak with me and Hermione. One can only assume that you don't want Harry to know of this..."
"Of course." Malfoy cocked his head "And you must already know why."
Next to him, Zabini leaned forwards a bit, propping both of his elbows onto the armrests of his chair and folding his hands. "Harry is in a rather difficult situation right now but he is starting to accept his inheritance, even find enjoyment in it."
Ron snorted. "You mean you are starting to break his resistance!"
"I mean that he is starting to enjoy his inheritance, he likes the flying for example, and other aspects. And he just began to stop acting as if all of this would just vanish if only he ignored it determinedly enough."
Harry ignoring problems? Ron frowned in thought, that wasn't something Harry would normally do. His best friend never shied away from problems; sometimes he postponed dealing with them but he never denied having them and in the end he always took responsibility. What had the two dominants done to Harry to make him 'ignore' his inheritance out of spite? Or were they lying?
"Weasley," Draco started, his voice a hint deeper and warmer than before, "I know you care for him. He needs the chance to learn to take control of his magic or it will take control of him. For now it is essential for his safety and yours that he is kept away from other dominants trying to claim him at every opportunity..."
"Other dominants? I think Harry should be kept away from you, you in particular, Malfoy!"
"I won't do anything..."
"Anything what? Two months ago you were perfectly fine with giving him over to You-Know-Who. Don't think I forgot that. You know, to me it seems there are dozens of candidates out there - even Vykélari - who are more suitable for Harry than you, especially when it comes to looking after his safety. At least most of them didn't try to kill him! Merlin! You've got some nerves..."
Ron could immediately see that he had hit a mark with that comment. He was starting to unsettle the both of them and predictably, Zabini came to his lover's, no his fiancé's defence, just as he had done in the hospital. "Harry forgave Draco, so it isn't for you to judge..."
Ron's eyes blazed. "Damn well, Harry forgave him; that's just what he always does. Forgiving people who don't deserve it... Therefore someone needs to see to it that he isn't exploited anymore."
"I won't exploit him!"
Zabini straightened his posture worriedly, trying to mediate in a situation that was obviously starting to spin out of control. "We won't force him to mate and we will return with him to Hogwarts for the new term, even if we may not be bonded by then, you have our word."
Choosing to ignore the dark skinned Italian, Ron brought the mirror closer to his face, staring at Malfoy threateningly. "Do you remember our fourth year? When you made those 'Potter stinks' badges?"
"Yesss." Malfoy hissed through clenched teeth, eyes narrow and cold.
"Yeah. Do you also remember me breaking your nose for it?" Ron asked "No?" He chuckled bitterly.
"No, because I didn't. I didn't even speak with him, I stood idly by when he was pranked an humiliated, accused him of having willingly entered the bloody Tournament because he wanted the attention. As if Harry ever wanted attention! When I finally gathered my wits again and came back to him without so much as a 'sorry', he forgave me, just like that and he never spoke of it again."
Ron halted for a moment, Merlin, he hadn't meant to tell them of this black page in the history of Harry's and his friendship, but when Zabini had spoken of Harry's forgiveness as if it excused everything Malfoy had done in the past...
And Ron decided to thrust the dagger a little deeper. He needed to drive the point home that there was someone watching over Harry, someone who wouldn't stand by idly as a friend was taken advantage of and mistreated.
"It wasn't even the worst betrayal he had to experience. Last year I abandoned Harry and Hermione in the wilds to fend for themselves, searching for a way to fight the madman you all so readily followed. And you know what? Once I found them again, he forgave me almost as readily. It's just what he does. But I won't allow that habit to destroy his life."
"It won't." Malfoy assured, careful to keep eye-contact with Ron. "I assure you that neither of us has any intention of hurting Harry, in any way."
"Yeah?" Ron took out his wand and charmed the mirror to float right in front of him. "Well, I don't care much for your promises, Malfoy. And I don't know you, Zabini so the same goes for you."
With sure movements he brought the tip of his wand to his bare, left forearm. "But I promise you that if you should betray Harry's trust for selfish reasons, or hurt him deliberately through any action of yours, I will spare neither trouble nor expense to ensure that you are given your due."
Then, with three quick, wordless cutting charms he painted a red, bloody arrow into his pale, freckled skin, the tip pointing up towards the crook of his arm. "This I promise" he spoke the three words clearly, one for each cut. For a moment nothing happened, then more blood welled forth to pool around the wound, but not falling from his arm. It surrounded the angrily red arrow, framing it, swirling and glowing faintly with golden magic, pulsing with the strong beat of his heart, once, twice, and then a third time, before pulling back into the wound which shrivelled up and curled back into itself until nothing was left but smooth, pale skin.
In the ensuing silence Ron almost heard his heart echoing in his throat. He knew that both purebloods would recognize the rune he had used, and also the ritual. If he should break the promise made with the Tiwaz rune, the arrow would break open again and turn its direction, doubling back on itself. The wound would not stop bleeding again until some atonement was made; it wouldn't bleed much, not enough to become dangerous in any case, but it would seep through every piece of clothing of whatever fabric one might wear and thus inform everyone of the bearer's status as an oath-breaker.
It was not as drastic as an unbreakable vow and not as dramatic, but certainly effective enough. Who would ever willingly deal with or employ an oath-breaker?
Now Zabini and Malfoy had to take him seriously, now they had to call their own behaviour into question and wonder if they would get away with the usual treatment of submissives.
That was all Ron wanted. Probably all he could do for his friend at this moment.
With deliberate slowness, both Zabini and Malfoy stood from their chairs and stepped closer to the mirror. It might have been more intimidating if said mirror had been larger than Lockhart's trashy novels.
Still, at least it meant that he had gotten through to them.
"You are aware, Weasley, that any interference of a wizard in matters of Vykélari courtships is strictly forbidden," Malfoy started in a deadly tone, "And you know," Zabini continued with a voice just as cold and piercing, "that we could have you imprisoned for that vow alone."
Ron's heart beat quicker but he refused to back down now; he would have to lie if he said that he wasn't nervous. Yes, he had known that he was doing something illegal, something that might cause him a world of problems, and so he had also deliberately done it in a way that would not allow him a retreat: he could not withdraw from a magical promise like the one he had just made, just like one couldn't back out of an Unbreakable Vow.
But the two Slytherin's would be dearly sorry if they actually went so far as to accuse him openly. Ron had been careful to word his promise in such a way that it had nothing to do with courting or marriage, just with the betrayal of trust - whatever they were to Harry when committing it.
He didn't point that out though, it was always good to be underestimated by ones' enemies.
"But we won't." Malfoy said insistently. "That should tell you something, Weasley. Instead, in answer to your promise, I in turn vow that I will not force Harry to mate. I can't promise to never go against his wishes or force him to do something he might not like, because sometimes certain situations might force our hands, especially with someone as eager to endanger himself as Harry is. But I promise to try and do right by him to the best of my ability."
Then Malfoy let his wand fall into his palm with a smooth, sliding gesture and cut the upright arrow into his forearm. "This I promise."
"I will make the same vow." Zabini said and then repeated Malfoy's words before carving the Tiwaz into his own flesh.
Ron had observed all of this with no little amount of surprise. He had only meant to intimidate the two Slytherins somewhat, to make sure they would think twice before mistreating his friend. He had never expected them to be so reasonable let alone so accommodating. Of course, Ron would still be wary - who wouldn't after everything that had happened only two months ago, especially since the promise they had made still granted them a lot of leeway - but at least it was something. At least, while there, Harry wouldn't be forced into a mating.
"Now, Weasley: I will close the connection and bring the mirror to Harry. He'll be keeping it so you can stay in contact. And you should probably go and get Granger, Harry wanted to speak with the two of you."
"I trust you will be responsible-minded about what advice you give Harry." Zabini added almost as an afterthought that had just come to his mind.
"I always am."
"Fine. Then give Granger our regards and... we will come and get Harry in about two hours."
Ron nodded his consent and a wink of Zabini's wand later, the mirror only showed Ron's reflection, pale and tired and grim. For a moment, Ron frowned at his appearance, he looked almost like a stranger and yet ... so similar to the time he had spent at Bill's and Fleur's, and barely been able to sleep at all.
Merlin... the past was such a shrewd thing. Staring into its eyes could lead to both elation and grief and one was well-advised not to confront it recklessly or unprepared, because its weapons were sharp.
Sometimes, Ron thought, it might have been easier for his conscience if Harry hadn't forgiven him so casually, hadn't acted as if it wasn't a huge matter for his best friend to betray him.
And sometimes, he thought it might have been easier to bear if Harry had forgiven him because Ron was his best friend. But Harry had also forgiven Draco Malfoy even though he had almost killed Katie and Ron and Dumbledore, even though he had let Death Eaters into the school, tried to hand Harry over and bullied them for years. Harry just forgave.
And that was why Ron needed to have an eye on Harry, because Harry really was naive like that.
Shaking the gloomy thoughts from his mind, Ron slowly made his way back into the Burrow and the kitchen, the mirror clutched in his hand.
Hermione and his mother both looked up from where they sat close together at the table that was still covered with various documents and books. But in front of them, right above the copies of Hermione's precious texts of law, laid a copy of the Daily Prophet that must have arrived while Ron had been outside.
Ron frowned and warily shuffled into the room once he saw the devilishly elated smirk that widened his girlfriend's lips and flashed in her brown, large eyes. Honestly, she could be quite scary like that, he never knew if he wanted to warn the poor guy who would soon find his balls ripped off by the sweetest and deadliest girl to ever hold a wand or if he should just safe himself.
"Wonderful news..." Hermione at him grinned over the newspaper.
"Yeah?" Ron raised the mirror. "Mine are not too bad as well..."
Blaise and Draco shooed Harry immediately into the bathroom once he had let them in that morning, telling him to hurry and get ready while they prepared his surprise and although Harry rather suspected that it had something to do with seeing his friends – after all Blaise had promised that he could speak with Ron and Hermione today – he was just a bit glad to be able to escape being alone with the two dominants for a bit longer, at least until later today, when they would take him out on a date and he would have to concentrate on evaluating his feelings and the swirls of his magic the entire time they were together.
Yes, a date. Outside of the manor. Which might have been seen as the epitome of hypocrisy, after all the warnings he had received over the last few days, and certainly Harry had been sceptical enough, but the two Slytherins were serious.
They had asked him yesterday after leaving him two hours alone with Ives. Not that Harry had minded, the other submissive certainly was a wonderful conversationalist and he had had the chance to talk to him about their newest magical problems. In detail. Unfortunately Ives could do little more than caution him that controlling his magic would be much more difficult for as long as he wasn't mated and had he admitted to not having much experience in the matter, since he had had no chance to learn anything at all prior to his mating. Ives hadn't been able to afford drawing attention to himself by asking an adult Vykélari for advice and had opted to block the major part of his magic instead.
And then almost two hours after Harry had left Blaise behind in that corridor alone, the two dominants had come to his rooms, both with wet hair and bruised lips, and he thought Blaise had limped a bit but he might just have imagined that. Draco's usually white skin had been a healthy rose and not as unblemished as it had been only two hours before, but even Blaise's dark skin had been quite obviously marked not only with hickeys, but with actual bite marks, angry bite marks displayed prominently on slender necks, suffused with blood. In short, they looked as if they had just shagged each other within an inch of their lives and then tried to hastily wash up afterwards; with the current hot weather, there simply didn't exist any appropriate clothing that would also have hidden the more obvious signs of their activities and so they had obviously not even tried. Or had they deliberately wanted him to see it?
In any case, Harry had stared at those marks with guilty fascination, unable to tear his eyes away; but luckily for him the two dominants had quite politely ignored Harry's gazes – aside from the occasional, knowing smirk – and Draco asked him to sit down with a flourish towards the settee.
Draco had then proceeded to let himself plop down right next to Harry, sitting there casually, one leg bent beneath his body, his arm propped up on the backrest of the settee.
"Blaise told me what he did..." Draco had said after some moments in a rare show of straight-forwardness and Harry had barely refrained from groaning, suddenly having a rather good – and rather mortifying – idea of what might have happened. So Blaise had told his fiancé that he had kissed another man, which had lead to the two of them screwing each other passionately, madly (and probably silly) for who knew how long? At least it explained why they both had come fresh from a shower. Wonderful. Now Harry also made them behave irrationally when he wasn't even there...
Even though... that was kind of a hot image. Irrationally hot.
"... I didn't mean to corner you so." Blaise continued, making Harry force himself to pay attention again. "But I know now what you meant when you said I was not thinking clearly. But the influence was just so subtle, I didn't really notice it at all."
Harry gave him a tiny smile. He was still a little bit irritated that the Italian had kissed him even after being aware of the magical control Harry had fought with, but he couldn't just reject an honest apology and after all, he had felt himself how hard to resist they were, those persuasive whispers of one's magic that made you completely ignore reason.
"Don't worry. We'll find a solution somehow." He ended lamely, glancing at Blaise as he echoed the words the Italian had used as a reassurance earlier.
Draco grinned at the both of them, his pale eyes gleaming again with that half mischievous, half sardonic spark. "Yes, we will. But actually that idea with the portkey is quite ingenious. I'm sorry I didn't think of it earlier. You know, we could use it to go out a bit. We could glamour ourselves and actually leave the Manor..."
"And if something happened, you could just use the portkey and be safe; Draco and I can just apparate back here and then get you."
"I'd still advise staying here in Italy for a while until we do have a better grip on our magic, since none of us have celebrity status here and we will be relatively undisturbed, but at least we wouldn't be tethered to the manor any more like prisoners. And even after we return to Hogwarts you'll have a safe retreat."
That caught Harry's attention."You want to go back to Hogwarts?"
For a moment he had wanted to ask further, but he actively fought his suspicion down. He didn't want to question their every behaviour. So what if they had been non-committal about the exact date at which they'd let Harry return home? They might have had their reasons. After all the start of the new term was still over one and a half months away and they might have thought that Harry would only be put off by such a long time span. Maybe they hadn't really noticed that it had just caused Harry to believe that they would never let him go.
At least that was what he wanted to believe.
So he let it be when Draco cocked his head and smiled at him as if he didn't quite understand what Harry was asking exactly. "Of course... Blaise and I haven't had our final exams and to be honest, the last year was rather... well, I don't think it would be a good idea to try and do the exams now. And you need to finish your education as well, or didn't you want to return to Hogwarts?"
"No, no. I wanted to return. I was just not sure if you would."
"Okay, since that is settled..." Draco said, lowering his eyes a little bit but Harry could still see him watching him, and suddenly he had the feeling as if Draco wanted to disassemble him, take him apart and study each component of him separately until Harry was totally bare, reconnoitred. And then the white Nundu sitting there so causally might just devour him at last. It was a peculiar feeling, especially because Harry knew how very uncomfortable Draco would be if he was to be unpicked like that in turn.
But in contrast to Draco, Harry was sure that the bond couldn't do that, it could make them understand each other better, could bring them closer, but it would never bare everything, every human being was just too complex to be ever understood completely and become totally predictable.
For as long as Harry himself and not his magic, was in control of his body and thoughts, Draco would never decipher him.
"Will you allow us to take you on a date?"
Harry gaped as he was ripped from his thoughts so suddenly. "What?"
A lazy grin spread over Draco's face. "I asked, mon doux rossignol, if you'd go on a date with us," he repeated after a moment, reaching out to run his hands down Harry's face but he checked himself in time, letting it fall into his lap. He didn't seem embarrassed or disappointed, though, and with the way his grey eyes held Harry's, he couldn't help but wonder if it had been a deliberate gesture, to show Harry that they did respect his wishes.
Before he could come to a decision, Draco tilted his head, a wide smirk tearing at his lips, "Mon petit, pauvre, très doux verdier. Et si embrouillé…"
"You know…" Harry rolled his eyes once and tightened his lips in fake irritation, "the only reason I don't ask you what the hell you are mumbling, is because I really know it would piss me off."
That had earned him nothing but more amusement from both Draco and Blaise and an Italian translation of Draco's words, which hadn't helped him either. But, well, in the end he had readily agreed to the date – and why not? It would be nice to leave the manor. And for the evening he'd been left in peace so that his two dominants could prepare.
But now, while standing in the shower under the relaxing spray of hot water that seemed to massage his back and neck when he tilted it just so, Harry wondered if it was a good idea to go on an official date with the Slytherins. Not that he wouldn't like seeing something else than Lanai Manor, as beautiful as it was, but he would constantly have to stay alert that they didn't get too close to each other, something that was bound to happen on a date...
And all the while those images and sensations popped up in front of his mind's eye like flashes of a dream.
God! Those bite marks ... how strong did one have to bite to leave such bruising? And those swollen lips, red from being engaged so fiercely in a passionate battle of teeth and tongues and lips. Suckling, caressing, enticing and teasing each other and hot, mingling breath. It didn't help that Harry knew how good Blaise's lips could taste and that they felt even better when moving on his own and on the skin of his jaw line and neck.
Slowly Harry's hand inched over his stomach, fingertips reaching forward, through dark curls and over sensitive skin and along the already half-hard length nestled there. Had Blaise touched Draco just like he had him? He wondered, while pressing a fingertip to the weeping slit on his erection. Probably not, the Italian had been so gentle with Harry, kissing him with insistent but also warm and soft lips, holding him close... Harry bit his lower lip, remembering with a cruel clarity those strong hands that had ghosted over his sides so softly, a touch barely felt at all, making his muscle's strain and stretch in wicked delight as if those finger tips set his flesh aflame wherever they touched him. A trail of burning desire.
A low moan escaped his lips as he curled his hand around the stiffening length of his arousal.
God, was it bad that he didn't want that to have been only his magic making him hunger for the other Vykélari's touch? But to never feel this level of overwhelming pleasure again, being held an wanted... Magic or not, he had never felt anything even coming close to that experience. And it had just been a bloody kiss!
And yet, he didn't want to just be desired on the basis of some obscure instincts alone.
Harry's hand slowed. But what if it was just like that? Neither Blaise nor Draco had ever shown any interest in him before... Ginny had had a crush on The Boy Who Lived since like forever, before she had even known him, and Cho... Cho had had a strong affinity for celebrities.
What if, finally, it all came down to him being the Boy-Who-Lived-And-Became-A-Magical-Abnormity?
With a sigh, Harry's shoulders slumped in resignation and he closed his eyes and reached out for the tap, turning off the warm water. He flinched at the sudden shock of the liquid ice pattering down on him, each drop feeling like the sharp pinch of a needle.
God, this was killing him...
Ten minutes later, Harry left the bathroom, his skin still a little bit red from the cold water and the vigorousness with which he had towelled himself down, only to stop in his steps at hearing the welcome sound of Hermione pestering Blaise and Draco as to where on earth they had hidden him.
"He's taking a shower, Granger, he'll be here in a minute..." He heard Draco's cool voice answer.
Immediately, Harry felt the tenseness seeping out of his body as he hastened over to where Blaise and Draco stood right in front of what seemed to be a magical window, embedded into the wand opposite to the real windows of his living area. The living room suite had been rearranged to allow someone to sit right in front of the new decoration, which, Harry was elated to see, showed Fred and George's old room, the piles and stacks of their products filling the entire background of the scene while several chairs had been situated in a half-circle right in front of the mirror.
Hermione and Ron each occupied one chair, both of them looking tired and worn. But their expressions brightened immediately upon seeing Harry and a cacophony of greetings broke loose.
Harry rushed over, grinning madly as he pressed his hands against the glass, the gesture mirrored on the other side by Ron and Mione.
"Well, and here he is" Draco announced quite unnecessarily, "not even having combed his hair. You're hopeless Harry..."
Harry completely ignored him. "I missed you ... how are you?"
Hermione emitted a strange mixture between a sob and a laugh, looking as if she wanted to smack him.
"It's not us you should worry about, mate." Ron shook his head.
"Harry, are you well?"
"I'm fine, Mione." he quickly reassured, giving his friend a wide grin. God, it felt good to see the two persons again with whom he shared most of his best memories... and a huge part of the worst.
"Harry," Blaise interrupted gently from behind, waiting until the Gryffindor had turned and looked at him.
For a moment, the brunet was taken aback at how cold the Italian seemed, how detached and haughty and a quick glance in Draco's direction showed that he, too, had become the reserved, snobbish pureblood heir again; both of their faces showed not a hint of real emotion, looking as if carved from marble. It was only in that moment that Harry realised just how much they had allowed him to see during the last few days, only in this moment with literal strangers practically sitting in Harry's room and with their masks in place once more. The suddenness of it caught him unaware.
"We'll leave you alone, now. And don't worry about the mirrors: you can keep this one here in your room if you like and we arranged for its counterpart to stay with your friends for as long as you are here in Lanai Manor, so you will always be able to contact each other. They are two-way-mirrors, that is..."
"I know what that is." Harry disrupted quietly, watching as Blaise's eyebrows drew together for the fraction of a second before he nodded. "Then we'll just get you in about two hours? I'll have an elf send breakfast up for you."
With a noticeable straightening of his posture, the Zabini heir then turned to the mirror. "Granger, Weasley."
Draco as well, gave a curt nod towards the pair that had been his enemies once, then both of them turned to leave.
"See you later," Harry called out to them, catching the barest hint of smirk as Blaise closed the door after them. He was oddly relieved that they had kept their promise, not that he had really doubted them since their temporary bond the day before. But still, two days for establishing such a connection from Britain to Italy couldn't have been an easy feat, not with two wizarding ministries involved and no friend locally in Britain who would have had a personal interest in helping; at least Harry couldn't imagine that the Malfoys or Zabinis would gladly commit themselves to assisting Harry to speak with bloodtraitors and 'mudbloods'. Something could have gone wrong, something even out of Draco's and Blaise's range of influence and caused them to fall short of their pledge. Harry might not even have believed them in such a case.
Therefore it was as much a relief to not have to distrust the two Slytherins for not keeping their promise to him as it was to see Ron and Hermione again.
And then to make it so that Harry could converse with them whenever he wished, even though their promise had only involved one single conversation... Harry would have to thank them later.
"Are they gone?"
He couldn't help it, Harry had to laugh at Ron's wary question. "Yes, they are."
Relieved at finally being able to speak in private with their missing friend, Ron and Hermione leaned forwards.
"Harry, how are you, really?" The bushy haired brunette asked, the tightness in her voice betraying her anxiousness.
"I'm fine, honestly. We've had a somewhat rough start, but ... I'm fine now." He hesitated for a moment, but the question needed to be asked. "How is Ginny?"
"Crying her eyes out. She hates coming down because she thinks everyone is pitying her. When she does she gets all defensive and snappy. You know, I think she just needs to hate someone right now." Harry sighed. "And that is me?" he guessed, his stomach clenching tightly. He hadn't thought that Ginny would take this so badly. And it was with a guilty conscience that Harry realised that during the last few days and all his struggles he had never fought to be with Ginny again. He had been afraid of being a creature, of losing control over his life and his freedom and of endangering his friends and any future life partner he might chose for himself if he ignored his status as a Vykélari submissive. He was angry that this unwelcome inheritance was messing up his life, taking away his rights and making people expect him to submit himself to the next best dominant like a good, sweet submissive. He was angry that he wasn't seen as an equal any longer and that he couldn't go back to his friends – to which he counted Ginny. But he hadn't bemoaned the fact that he couldn't be with Ginny any longer. To hear now that his former girlfriend had obviously taken their nonexistent relationship (after all they hadn't gotten back together after the war) much more seriously, had given him so much more feelings and thoughts than he had returned made his stomach churn. It wasn't fair to her... "No, she doesn't hate you mate. Just your bad luck. And at the moment she demonizes Zabini and Malfoy..." Ron smiled sadly at him. "Mum is with her right now. She'll get over it eventually. To be honest, it never sat quite right with me that she had loved you before she even knew what love was. I don't know. But mate, she's not the point now. How are you, really? And don't tell me 'fine'. You scared us half to death, mate, you know, we thought someone had cursed you and that you were dying. Harry, you just didn't stop screaming..."
A little bit uncomfortable, Harry started jiggling with his legs again. He hadn't really thought about how his transformation might have affected those who had seen it, too busy with his own rather traumatic experience and everything that had gone on since then. But Harry remembered just too well how terrible it had been in Malfoy Manor when he had had to listen to Hermione's screams and then he hadn't even seen the torture. How bad it must have been for the Weasleys to see him writhing in pain, unable to help.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled, the wiggling of his leg quickening a notch.
Ron sighed. "I swear, Harry, if you start apologising now for what happened, submissive Vykélari will become extinct once more. I just want to honestly know if you are alright."
"I am. All my senses returned and I only had a bad case of magical exhaustion afterwards but Draco and Blaise said that was normal."
"It is" Hermione said, biting her lips and observing him carefully. "And otherwise, Harry? How are Malfoy and Zabino treating you? Did they ... Harry did they force you to do anything?"
"What? No!" Harry exclaimed, then halted and said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice "well, they forced me to stay here... but nothing more. It was ... difficult at the beginning. But we came to an arrangement. They are tutoring me and helping me with ... all of this and we will be returning in time for the next school term. So you really don't need to worry about me. And..." He nervously scratched the back of his head "if you should get a letter from me, please ignore it. Uhm... just ... destroy it. I wrote it in a fit of rage the day before yesterday."
"Harry, what is in that letter?" Ron asked suddenly, his voice calm and demanding, wondering if this might bring him closer to learn if and why Harry might have wanted to ignore what was happening to him.
"Nothing!" Harry said a little bit tartly, then sighed, wondering why he felt so reluctant to tell them of his arguments and difficulties with the two other Vykélari that he had had at first. They were his best friends after all, he had shared with them experiences he would never have with Ginny, even though he had wanted to love her at some point.
"Harry, please!" Hermione begged, slipping forward onto the very edge of her chair.
With a sigh, Harry relented and proceeded to tell his friends of all that had happened between him, Blaise and Draco since the moment they had come to the hospital and guided him through the transformation, though he withheld how both Blaise and Draco seemed to constantly be driven to establish some form of physical or even magical contact between them, how Blaise had kissed him and how Harry felt himself respond with both his body and magic, and maybe some part of his mind. And he told them of Adler and Ives, even though Ron claimed to never have heard the names.
Both of his friends immediately understood how dangerous the letter could prove to be and promised to notify Harry at once when it reached them. Hermione especially was rather upset that "you didn't think about it being possibly intercepted, did you?! God, Harry, don't you remember how careful we had to be with the owl post both with Sirius and during the war?"
"I was desperate!" Harry exclaimed defensively. "They effectively imprisoned me with House Elves as guards and they humiliated me and ... Mione, they ... they more or less told me that they would have the right to rape me and that that was exactly what would happen to me if I managed to flee from the manor. I didn't even believe them; but... but it's true, isn't it? I really have no rights, legally, in all of this." He asked, already knowing the answer.
Hermione and Ron exchanged a meaningful gaze, making Harry frown.
"Well, to put it in a nutshell, no, you haven't." Ron said but Hermione leaned forwards even more, her eyebrows practically invisible beneath her bushy hair.
"But it doesn't have to stay that way. This morning the Daily Prophet has actually printed a very good article." Hermione bit her lips to suppress her excited grin. "I think I have a new favourite journalist, you know? Wait, I have it here, I'll read it to you."
Quickly, she picked up an already rather crinkled version of today's newspaper from one of the boxes behind her and spread it out before her.
"VYKÉLARI SUBMISSIVE FLEDGED: HARRY POTTER ABDUCTED FROM ST. MUNGO'S
By Sonia Crane
Last Thursday, St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries became the scene of the dramatic reactivation of a submissive Vykélari line, an event last documented in 1493. The submissive in question is none other than Harry James Potter, 17, our very own, much-loved and respected Boy-Who-Lived and recent war-hero who killed You-Know-Who in the Battle of Hogwarts, thereby ending the official fighting of the Second Wizarding War.
Mr Potter was apparently taken to the hospital around 08.40 pm, with suspected curse damage, upon which he was treated and tested by the leading healers of St. Mungo's. An internal source preferring to stay anonymous confirmed that every specialist currently off-duty was called back to the hospital post-haste. "Mr Potter's magic had completely isolated itself, drawing back into his core. As far as we could tell, he could neither see, hear nor feel anything, though Mrs Molly Weasley, who amongst others had brought Mr Potter in, said that he had screamed in pain for minutes when it all began and had also shown signs of shock. He showed green markings on his forehead, cheekbones and his sides and during his short stay he grew poisonous claws and a pair of equally green wings, as large as a grown hippogryph's."
"Those are storybook symptoms of a submissive Vykélari transformation," said Jennifer Palmer, renowned historian and scion of the Brown family, who specialized on the history of pureblood families in Britain, France and Germany. But since there are several differences in the appearance and powers of submissive and dominant Vykélari, and submissives were thought to be extinct, the Healers remained with their first diagnosis. "I suppose they were understandably hesitant to go to the responsible authority" admitted Mrs Palmer, a justified guess since all Vykélari related matters are to be put forth to the head of the Vykélari community, who until this day is none other than Lucius Malfoy, known Death Eater whose trial is still expected at Monday, the 27th of July. "Just imagine it! The Boy-Who-Lived in the hands of a former Death Eater..."
When even after four hours, the diagnosis could not be verified and Mr Potter's condition worsened dramatically, the Healers had no other choice but to contact Mr Malfoy. According to our source, Mr Malfoy's son Draco, and his fiancé Blaise Zabini were lead towards Mr Potter's room shortly after that conversation and entered alone, refusing to be accompanied by the Healer in charge, Andrew Cowen. "Half an hour later, they ordered the hospital staff to send Mr Potter's friends away so that they could leave undisturbed, with an unconscious Harry Potter."
Following the incident, the administration of St. Mungo's Hospital immediately informed their staff of the situation and the Vykélari law enforced secrecy they were to maintain. "But I couldn't," our source confesses. "I still think the Healers did right when contacting Mr Malfoy because Mr Potter would have died without an adult Vykélari to guide him through his inheritance. But after everything Mr Potter did for every one of us, we can't stand by idly while he is abducted, forced into a relationship with two other men and then oppressed for the rest of his life. That is nothing less than rape and deprivation of liberty! And the hospital administration even refused to inform Mr Potter's friends who had brought him in [...] I see it as my duty to call people's attention to this before it is too late. Those laws need to be changed now! If I am found out and sent to prison, at least I'll know that I did the right thing. Purebloods can't keep on trampling over the rights of everyone else just because their families forged the laws and political structures our society is build up on now to their advantage."
Grave accusation that might sadly become reality all too soon according to Mrs Palmer, who despite being female and being born into a family that hadn't brought forth Vykélari in centuries, has gathered a vast amount of information on Vykélari over the years, as a major, formative influence on today's pureblood society.
But in the opinion of Mrs Palmer, the situation should not be used, to put purebloods into the pillory.
"You must understand that those laws are very old and one always must interpret those things with the respective societal background. Most traditions and believes of pureblood families and the wizarding community in Britain evolved in a time when the ministry itself had little influence on the everyday life of wizards and it was preferred that the heads of families resolved most issues within the privacy of the family. The same was done with most institutions. We actually still see those dynamics in today's society," Mrs Palmer said before elaborating that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry itself has been completely self-governed until Fudge's last year as a minister. "Even crimes happening there were handled by the school itself as long as they seemed competent enough to do so. Vykélari enjoy the same autonomy when dealing with matters of courtship, family law, marriage law and inheritance law as well as deliberate interferences of wizards therein. It is inherently nothing unusual."
To the interjection that the ministry didn't allow other institutions the oppression of a minority group and neither did they condone actions that otherwise were illegal, Mrs Palmer stated that the ministry did not do these things with Vykélari either. "But without complaint there is no redress and no submissive would ever accuse his husband, his bond-mate on whose physical closeness the stability of his magic depends, especially not since any complaint would have to be lodged with the Vykélari court which consists of dominants only. And before a mating and any atrocity that might be committed during it, every opportunity of filing a complaint is moribund since submissives are strictly isolated during that time."
"So, if no one stepped forward, what would happen to Mr Potter?" This reporter asked.
"Well, I of course do not know the dominants in question," Mrs Palmer added for consideration, "and since well over two centuries have passed since the last Vykélari mating, and the society nowadays is much more liberal than it was during that time, this is more something of a worst-case scenario; but generally Mr Potter would be expected to submit himself to a mating without much resistance. He would need to establish the bond himself and share his magic over it. In time, a dominant would expect him to give birth to at least one dominant, male heir to continue the family name. His husband or – as it might turn out in this case – husbands could forbid him to associate with certain groups or individuals that they found dangerous and thereby dictate him his circle of friends and they could give certain limits to his job choices as well, even going so far as to forbid him to work at all.
What might happen if he refuses the mating, I do not know. Vykélari are very secretive about that. But I am certain that Mr Potter himself will not be harmed, it seems that such an act would make a mating impossible. But there have been reports of dominants threatening a submissive's friends or family members in order to enforce his compliance."
Certainly a life unworthy of Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived. After all the sacrifices he made in order to help the Wizarding World, what will the Wizarding World do to save its saviour? What will the ministry do in order to bring back the one who stood up and fought those the ministry bowed to?
The next days will show if the minister is going to account for the debts of his institution and our society towards a 17 years old boy we forced into the role of saviour.
For an excerpt on Jennifer Palmer's as of yet unpublished book 'On the Purity of Magic' that is giving an interesting insight into the Vykélari, see page 5."
Hermione's voice fell silent and she looked up to her friend in the mirror excitedly but Harry didn't encounter her gaze, too shocked to really think of anything to say.
"This is so clever, Harry. She didn't even come here to interview anyone, knowing that we would become liable to prosecution if we even admitted that you were a submissive Vykélari. The Mediwizard she interviewed remained anonymous and I doubt that his colleagues would rat him out, not after the way this article will influence the public. And that historian does not really know if you are a Vykélari or not, her information is given only hypothetically and on hearsay. So the only one that Crane woman endangered is herself and after making you the tragic hero, the public would become a lynch mob if Lucius Malfoy tried to turn her in. As it is, I don't think he'll be acquitted in his trial after all. His reputation won't recover in time and now every pair of eyes will be directed towards the Wizengamot. They just cannot afford to let him off easily now... this changes everything, Harry!"
Appalled, Harry shook his head. "No... that can't be."
"Harry, you know he des..."
"Don't start with that now, Ron. If Lucius Malfoy is convicted, I want him to be punished for his crimes and not because the wizarding public wants to see heads rolling. And this is... now everyone is going to think Blaise and Draco are abusing me... what did that guy say? Rape and deprivation of liberty? They aren't doing anything to me!"
Ron leaned forward in his chair. "But they are holding you captive."
"No! ... Well, at first yes, but it was for my protection also and we have come to an arrangement and they are helping me..."
"Harry," Hermione began in a tone of voice that clearly said she meant business, "do you know how that sounds? It sounds like a case of Stockholm Syndrome – that's a muggle term." She added when Ron looked at her questioningly.
"I'm not in love with them!"
Hermione moved her chair closer to the mirror. "Stockholm Syndrome is not about love, Harry." Then she said with a glance towards her boyfriend "Muggle scientists found out that one out of four hostages develop generally positive feelings, empathy and sympathy towards their kidnappers, because they mistake a lack of abuse as an act of kindness while feeling left alone by everyone else, especially when the kidnapping stretches over many days."
"I'm not suffering from Stockhom Syndrome, Mione! I don't feel abandoned and I certainly don't confuse kindness with a 'lack of abuse'. But this will destroy the names Malfoy and Zabini even though they didn't even do anything illegal! Yes, they were assholes at the beginning, but they have changed. And did you know that they never intended to force me to mate, even before they came to guide my transformation?"
Calmly Hermione raised her flat hands in a pacifying manner. "Harry, all I want is that you are aware of the problem and that you think honestly on whether or not it is right what you are feeling towards them, whatever that is."
"I think she is right, mate. As always" Ron grinned sheepishly before turning serious again. "You know, it's a little bit disturbing that you are so readily defending them right now when two days ago, you wrote a letter to us asking for help and, well, probably complaining about the treatment you received if I understood you correctly. Just hold out for a bit. Now that the situation with you is in the open, we can actively do something against those laws. If we play this article right, Harry, those laws might be repealed in a special meeting of the Wizengamot within a few days."
Harry shook his head. "I can't do that. It is wrong, Ron. I can't allow them to demonize Blaise and Draco just so that my life's a little bit easier again. They did nothing wrong. The letter was just a crackpot idea, made because I was angry and thought I'd been kidnapped. I just wanted to get Blaise and Draco back for their behaviour the day before and I honestly didn't believe them. I mean the whole thing sounds completely crazy... Hermione, you need to contact this journalist, this Crane, for me and arrange for her to meet me via this mirror. She can have an exclusive interview but under the same conditions as Rita Skeeter that one time. Please, Hermione!"
The brunette sat back on her chair with a heavy sigh, obviously unhappy about the request. But Harry was confident that she would give in, because ultimately Hermione was also of the opinion that it was cowardly to allow others to be hurt, just because it made one's own life easier.
"Fine, then. I'll ask her but maybe she won't agree, Harry. You have to understand that she obviously put herself in danger in order to get this article printed. The only thing standing between her and a charge from Malfoy is your image as the tragic hero in need of saving."
Harry huffed in annoyance, glaring at Ron's suppressed grin. 'tragic hero in need of saving'? that was just ridiculous...
But nonetheless he couldn't help but wonder if Hermione was right and Crane would refuse to publish Harry's statement. And did he even have the right to ask this favour of her, when she had ventured so much for him and she might end up in prison for it?
And yet... could Blaise and Draco deal with the public's condemnation? Would they prefer their family's reputation over Harry and finally make him leave, sending him back to Britain with this amount of untrained, wild magic? At least he might be safer from other dominantsnow, who would have to fear the same ostracism for touching the sacrosanct, untouchable Boy-Who-Lived.
But the fact remained, that Harry didn't want to leave yet...
CHAPTER END NOTES:
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the chapter!
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