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Chapter 47: Control
Um, good news or bad news?
Good news, I'm a trusted author, stuff posts faster.
Bad news, I'm, er, extremely busy and haven't got near as much time to write as I'd like?
More good news, well, good for you, bad for me...
Cross Country season ends soon, and football season ends even sooner, with those out of the way I'll have a little more time.
I'm just gonna let you read on now so you don't hurt me...
Hermione had no chance to fully appreciate the glories around her, the roiling dark sea of the Forbidden Forrest, the black ants that crawled across the jade lawns of the castle on their way to the green houses or the lake for free period, or Hagrid’s hut, or elsewhere for privacy. The sparkling splendor of the Black Lake and the pristine, perfect lime oval of the Quidditch Pitch were both lost on her as she ripped across the blue sky, her orange eyes intent on the form of her Lord.
She followed him close enough that she was a part of his slipstream, not needing to worry about the playful breezes that would otherwise be hindering her progress. Draco cleaved these light winds as a silver blade slices through rippling silk, leaving still air in his wake, if one was daring enough to follow close behind him.
Hermione was daring enough.
They shot across the sky, their wings powerful, their bodies rippling with impatience, their noses straining, following the rank stench that was overlaid by the distinct scent of her Brothers, who had flown ahead.
The cool air whipped her face, but her eyes didn’t sting as they normally would, in later studies she would discover that much like camels, Dragons have two eyelids rather than the normal one, the lid closest to the eye a clear protective barrier that allowed them to fly without blinking, the other a normal eyelid used to keep light and offensive sights out.
At the moment she was merely grateful that she didn’t have watery eyes to distract her from the task at hand.
Draco was descending, and unerringly she followed, instinct pulsing in her veins with the thick greenish blood that she had traded her status as a viable human for. Her orange eyes were burning, she could smell blood from here, it was thick and coppery, the stench that came with it nearly unbearable.
And then her nose picked up Anthony’s smell, only different.
It was stronger, wilder than she would ever have believed possible for the laidback Ravenclaw, but more importantly, it too was mingled with the copper tang of blood.
His Blood, was her Blood.
A feral growl rumbled in her throat, Malfoy merely pressed two fingers against the inside of his wrist, the rune that McGonnagal had etched there to bind her power glowed faintly, Hermione gasped, barely sustaining altitude at the sudden weakness that washed through her. “Malfoy” her hiss was furious beyond belief, this was a betrayal of the trust she had placed in him.
She had trusted him to take him to her Brothers, never thinking that he would trick her like this, make her fall into some plan of his like this. She was preparing to launch herself at him and rip out his throat when his guttural voice stopped her.
“Court Lord, you do this for what purpose?”
“Rush to aid your Brother, and you would most certainly have been hurt.” He was pained by the idea of her coming to harm, and if he had to sap her strength momentarily to get her to stop and think, he wouldn’t even think twice. “Down there is a creature the likes of which you have never seen. You are here to observe how we work only, your Brothers are all fine, now follow, but interfere not.”
Hermione nodded shamefacedly, he had just saved her, and she had wanted to rip out his throat, what kind of a Court member was she?
A pathetic one, that was for sure.
Draco led her through the canopy, dropping to the forest floor and winging his way silently between the wide spaced ancient trunks.
Hermione furled her wings and leapt lightly between trees, feeling like some enormous squirrel as she followed him from above, her long legs, strong arms, and heightened senses keeping her from fumbling. When she thought back on it later she would remember nothing but the scrape of bark on her palm, the scent of blood in the air, and Draco’s breathing below her. This involved no conscious thought, it was pure instinct, and therefore she wouldn’t be able to recall the process of how she was lithely swinging through the tree.
She would only know that she had done it.
They moved swiftly through the trees, their passage marked only by the softest stirring of leaves in their wake.
And then Draco pulled up short, and Hermione dropped from the branch over his head to land silently on the balls of her feet beside him. To her eyes the fall had been unimaginably slow, she could see exactly where to put her feet so that there would be no noise, could avoid the crunchy fallen leaves easily. Draco nodded, impressed by her progress, she was a fast learner; he had expected no less from her though.
“This is a Therianthrope, a diseased chimera created by some sick wizard, and then banished to these woods when the experiment is not successful.” Hermione’s orange eyes were wide with horror, “It is terrible Sister, this creature has been terrorizing the centaurs, it’s already carried off three of their foals, and has slain several unicorns as well, have no pity for the brute you are about to see.”
Hermione swallowed, but was distracted by a fresh wave of Anthony’s Blood-Scent, her teeth bared, and she followed Draco through the last few trees at a run. They crashed into the clearing, and Hermione bit back a gasp at the carnage before them.
It stood in the center of the clearing, its back to Hermione and Draco, facing Anthony, who was bleeding freely from his shoulder, and Blaise, who had a purple bruise rising around his eye. Michael was leaning heavily against a tree behind his Brothers, his eyes closed, Hermione could see the ugly greenish splotches on his chest; he had several broken ribs.
Ponderously the thing turned to face them, and grinned at her with flat, crushing teeth, its face a twisted mockery of human features. Bulls horns twisted out of its twig tangled hair, its body a perverse mixture of humanity and bovine. The eyes were red, as red as the blood that spotted the rough skins that it had clothed itself with.
The blood of her Brother’s dripped from its cruel claws.
Its warped mouth opened wider, and it grunted but one word, “Woman”
Head down, it charged at them like a bull, Hermione stood paralyzed with fear, its hungry eyes pierced her through; she was as helpless as she had been that balmy night summer before last. She couldn’t even raise her arms to defend herself, it was as if she truly had been frozen, all she could do was watch in horror as it rushed forward; red eyes scrunching up too look at her under the folds of its heavy brow.
And then Malfoy was there, his claws thrusting through the thing’s chest, his expression one of rage so intense it scorched his Brothers, though they were not the recipients of this intense hate. They only watched it unfold, watched him stare at the creature he had plunged his arm through till his clawed hand ripped through the creations spine, and emerged into the sunlight again, covered in blood, but otherwise unhurt.
Roughly he yanked his arm free, bracing the corpse on his knee, stepping away with distaste, his eyes still burning his utter disgust. His fingers drew a simple circle in the air above the body, under their eyes and his blazing gaze; the body crumpled in on itself, disintegrating till there was nothing but a pile of ash. The blood covering Draco’s arm too turned to dust, and with a violent shake he cast it off, as if ridding himself of a curse.
“Lets get back.” His voice was so cold, so barely suppressed, they all shuddered, Hermione’s Brothers taking off immediately, supporting Anthony between them. Hermione didn’t flinch as they took off, didn’t even spare them a glance, her eyes were riveted on Draco; he didn’t look so good.
His chest was heaving; his breathing rough as he worked to control his anger, but from the way his claws dug into his palms, she knew he was a far cry from calm. “I told you to go” he hissed, his voice pained, and still angry.
“No” she took a slow step towards him, “Not without you.”
He spun to face her full on, Hermione flinched internally, he looked great, and terrible, so powerful, so enraged, so noble, but feral, a true Dragon. “Look at me” he snarled, though her eyes had never wavered, “I’m a creature no better than that thing I just slew, now leave me to think in peace.” There was strength behind his words that sounded suspiciously like an Order, an Order that would have sent her Brothers to he skies, but for some reason it only drew her closer to him.
She took another step, her eyes continuing to rove his face.
His teeth were long and jagged, not teeth so much as fangs, his eyes were blazing orange tinged red with anger. His pupils were vertical slits with strangely jagged edges, Hermione saw an instant resemblance between his eyes and the eyes of the chimera he had killed, but it didn’t scare her.
Despite his angry eyes, he seemed worried, she didn’t like it that he was worried, that in and of itself made her unhappy.
She stepped again, she was almost to him.
She had realized that he wouldn’t hurt her.
Or couldn’t hurt her.
She took the final step, wrapping her arms around him and resting her head on his shoulder, her face in the crook of his neck, “You’ll be alright, just take deep breaths.” She spoke like she was calming a child, on any other occasion it would have annoyed Draco to no end, now however, it worked.
“I’m no different” he whispered, his cheek on her head, “I’m no different from that diseased chimera.”
“Yes, we are different.” She hissed against his skin, her warms breathe soothing him further, “We have our wits, we are not driven to attack others like he was. We are different, better.”
“We are still fusions of humans and animals created by some man in a lab.”
“We chose to be what we are, we walked into that lab with our eyes open, we work for good, we avenged those foals and the unicorns; it won’t ever kill again because of you.”
“But it didn’t ask to be what it was, and we did. Does that make us less human?”
Hermione looked up at him, he was gazing at the trees behind them; his hands were still on her waist, holding her close. From her odd angle she had a pretty good view of most of his cheek, and the left side of his face, she reached up and put her hand gently on his other cheek, turning his face to her fully. “You listen here Draco Malfoy” her voice was low and serious, “That thing preyed on women, a fixation like that doesn’t just come from being fused with an animal, trust me when I say this, he was not a good person as a human. As far as I’m concerned, he deserved everything he got.”
His eyes burned into hers, “It doesn’t bother you?”
She blinked, what does he mean? “What do you mean?” she was too confused to be anything but blunt.
“I-I plunged my hand through the chest of a vaguely humanoid creature, and it doesn’t bother you?” he didn’t want her to ever see him that out of control again, surely it freaked her out.
“Not really” now he was blinking, the last traces of his anger replaced by disbelief, “I actually thought it was pretty cool, how did you harden the skin of your hand without turning it into scales?”
She nodded confidently, “Yeah, now can you show me the scale trick?”
The corner of his mouth twitched in an almost-smile, “Later, right now we need to get back to class.”
Hermione snorted, “Well hell must have frozen over, Draco Malfoy telling Hermione Granger that we need to get back to class.”
This time he smiled for real, albeit a tiny smirk, but it still counted as a smile, Hermione felt the glow of triumph, and smiled in return. “Can you fly back?”
Hermione laughed freely, “I should hope so; I need the exercise.”
He ran his eyes over her slim frame; he could feel her muscles like steel cables beneath her skin from where her flesh pressed sweetly against his own. “If you say so.” His tone was skeptical, she hadn’t eaten, he was sure of that much, she must be getting tired.
She stepped away from him, still grinning, “Oh come on, in fact; I’ll race you…” her wings unfurled in a wink, and she was in the air shortly there after.
Draco snorted, he should have seen that one coming, but something about her made it hard for him to predict her actions like he could their Brothers’. Lazily he opened his wings, and shot into the air like a leathery bullet, making her spin in the air with the wind his wings stirred up. His eyes sparked cheerfully at the challenge, Hermione felt her inner thrill of triumph flare; she had truly charmed him out of his black mood.
But just as her sense of accomplishment flared, her energy suddenly waned, her face drained of color, and her wings crumpled into her body without her bidding them to. She plunged to earth, only to be snatched from the air by Draco, his eyes wide and panicked at her sickly pallor, and drawn features. Her eyelids flickered, “What happened?” was all she could whisper, her voice not so much weak as confused.
“You haven’t eaten in ages, probably haven’t drunk since before even then, your body just can’t take it; it takes more energy than you think to fly. Just because you can’t feel it at the time, doesn’t mean your body isn’t pushed to its limits.” His voice was stressed, how could he be so foolish, so careless as to not warn her?
“Oh” Hermione murmured, instinctively curling closer to his chest, “I feel all shaky, like I’ve just played in a tournament without eating all day.”
“You’re body is exhausted, here, drink some water” with his wand he began trickling water into her mouth, Hermione gulped, her throat moving as she drank.
It tasted wonderful, so pure, untouched by impurities, so crisp, fresh, she had never tasted water like this. It was like she had been sick all her life, and suddenly, for the first time she could taste properly.
Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined water tasting this delicious. She drank until she could drink no more, feeling strength returning to her wobbly limbs steadily; still she stayed in Draco’s arms.
She didn’t feel like moving.
Didn’t want to move.
She was basking in the heat he gave off, and so comfortable, his arms around her so strong, but gentle.
This is where I’m meant to be.
It hit her suddenly, he had been such a big part of her life in the past few days, he had comforted her, protected her, even kissed her, but it wasn’t till now that she realized it.
She shouldn’t ever leave his side again.
She didn’t want to.
And then her pride rebelled, shakily she unwound his arms from around her body, “How do you do it?” her rattling whisper was accusing.
“What?” Draco’s arms felt so empty without her, why did she have to go and do that?
“How do you make me feel like I need you? I don’t need anyone, I never have, and if I ever started depending on someone it certainly shouldn’t be you.” Helpless anger sparked deep in her eyes, “Tell me, how do you do this to me? Why do you do this to me?”
“How do I affect you?” Draco hissed back, “What about what you do to me?” Hermione suddenly jerked upright, she had been half leaned over in an almost threatening posture, much like an angry beast.
“You were a conundrum before you became like me, like us, one that I wanted to figure out. I wanted to get into your head, especially after you slapped me that day, what were you thinking? How had you mustered such strength, when you were a mere human, and a mudblood to boot?” Hermione didn’t even register the use of the disgusting term; she was so caught up in Draco’s fast flowing train of thought. “And then you were everywhere I was, beating me into the dust with your grades, and taking so many extra classes. You were always strong too, don’t think I haven’t seen you out there jogging from time to time, rain or snow, wind or sun, I’ve either seen or smelled you while you were out jogging for years.”
Hermione opened and closed her mouth wordlessly, how could he, why would he care?
“And here you stand in front of me, my Sister in Blood, and all I can think about is how wrong that sounds. I’ve wanted you to be a Dragoness for years, and now you are one, but you aren’t my Sister.”
Hermione’s face crumpled, “I see how it is.” She hissed furiously, her legs bent, coiled like steel springs, and she exploded upwards, forgetting his warnings about weakness in her distress.
Why did it hurt so bad to be rejected like that?
She heard a rush of air behind her, and knew he was following.
Her wings beat stronger, anger fueling her flagging body, she just needed to get away from him; nothing else mattered.
And then she felt it again, the inexplicable weakness, the trees suddenly shooting up to meet her, the howl of wind whipping her ears as her wings disappeared. He had pressed the rune again, sapped what little strength she had.
The world suddenly righted itself; his burning arms were strong around her, his wings effortlessly holding them both aloft in the pristine sky.
She felt whole, why did she feel safe with him?
“I said it didn’t feel right to call you a Sister, I didn’t say anything about other names.” He whispered in her ear, his voice rough with some emotion.
“And what names would those be?” her voice too was rough, and she wasn’t sure why. Her heart was beating strongly against his, their combined beats, and the steady thrums of his wings were the only sounds on the still afternoon.
He took a deep breath, “Friend, Dragoness, Dramione, Head Girl and…” he trailed off uncertainly.
“And?” her voice was expectant, almost as one their heart beats sped up, the thud of blood through their veins seemed to fill the air.
The thud of the Blood that bound them together, the thump of their hearts sounded as one; there was no distinction in the beats.
“Mate” it was the barest, dream of a whisper, so soft it seemed he hadn’t meant to say it at all.
“Mate?” her voice was questioning, wondering, but not opposed, or even remotely hostile to the word.
He could have purred with pure exultation, “Yeah” he buried his nose in her fragrant hair, “Mate.”
Hermione relaxed against him, all tension leaving her long frame, her head resting on his shoulder so that her warm breath tickled his skin, “I think I could live with that.” Her dangling feet tangled loosely with his, her strong arms wrapped around his neck, holding him as securely as he held her.
Slowly, as they flew back towards the castle her thoughts collected themselves well enough for her to think, yeah, I could live with that for a long time.
Too sweet? Too fast? Too fluffy?
Don't ask me where it came from, I sat down and it just kinda came up. I'm starting on the next chapter now, but no prmises as to when it'll be anywhere near done. Um, I'm extremely sorry, and am going to go start digging my bomb shelter now...