elfflame

May 2016

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Fic: A Dragon's Heart, Charlie/Draco, NC-17

Title: A Dragon's Heart
Author: [info]elfflame
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Charlie/Draco
Summary: Draco discovers that he's not quite as pure blooded as he's always assumed.
Word Count: 8197
A/N: Another based on a RP with [info]wolfish_cat for what ended up being a very late birthday present for my Draco's 33rd birthday. Contains creature!Draco, dragons, the Romanian Dragon preserve, and bonding/mating. If you have issues with those things, this may not be for you. Goopy and sappy and with a very necessary happy ending, because as much as I love angst, I hate sad or uncertain endings.



When Draco had arrived at the preserve, he had done everything he could to avoid Charlie Weasley. He'd considered so many paths after the war, from Gringotts to teaching, but the chances of being allowed into any job he actually wanted in England was slim at best. In the end, he'd come here. Here he could be a Trainer, a Healer, even a Potions Master, given enough time. But first, he had to get through the initial training process.

Weasley had watched him initially, obviously distrusting him, but unlike his younger brother, he'd left him alone aside from those few times he'd actually been in charge of the trainees. Draco had been glad to discover that he wasn't like his younger brother that way. If someone wanted to be left alone, he left them alone. If he had suspicions that Draco was up to anything, he kept them to himself. And when he thought Draco was in the wrong, he told him so, but never in such a way as to turn it into an argument, even when Draco went out of his way to provoke an argument. He was just doing his job to help keep everything running smoothly, not trying to start a fight. Draco found himself more and more grateful for the differences between the brothers.

But that didn't mean he liked him. What did it matter that his eyes searched out red hair in the mess hall, or he found himself moving closer to Charlie when he began to speak? He just wanted to be aware of where he was, so that he wouldn't be caught off guard, or so that he could hear the man better. That was all.

Then he'd been assigned to the hatchery. Occasionally, the dragon mothers would abandon their eggs or their infants, and so the reserve would watch the young dragons until they were old enough to fend for themselves. The most dangerous were kept in cages to keep them from fighting or from biting the handlers, and Draco and his fellow trainee had been told to be especially careful of the baby Peruvian Vipertooth, given its predilection for human flesh. Both of them had given the cage a wide berth until one of the Chinese Fireballs had gotten impatient with waiting for its supper, and decided to test its firebreathing skill and shot a blast of fire directly at Draco. He'd stumbled back, reaching for the nearest thing, which unfortunately, had been the Vipertooth's cage. It had only been a moment, but he'd immediately felt the sting, and then the world turned to fire around him, and he knew no more.

~*~


The second Charlie'd been called to the healer's cabin, he'd known it was going to be Malfoy.

He couldn't have said how, except that from the moment Draco set foot on the compound, Charlie hadn't been able to look away, so maybe it was wishful thinking. A way to get a chance to talk to him again. Oh, he knew Harry and Ron and Hermione all hated him. He knew about the Malfoys' loyalties, and how much they had always hated his family. He knew that Malfoy would rather have spit at him than talk to him. And yet… And yet somehow, they'd managed. Not only civil words, but Malfoy seemed to be willing to listen. But then, perhaps Malfoy had learned something in that final battle. And in the weeks that followed, being forced to pay out half of his inheritance, even if it hadn't been Azkaban, had somehow made the boy more humble.

Except that he wasn't. He was confident. He held his head high. And Charlie couldn't help but respect him, even if in a grudging way. In some things, he'd even come to admire him. His tenacity. His quick thinking. His agility.

Charlie tried not to think about the other things he admired in him from across the dining hall some nights. Like his long neck. And his arse. That was something he would never act on, and he knew it. The gulf between them was simply too wide.

But now, seeing him feverish, skin with a faint green tinge, writhing on the bed in pain, all Charlie wanted was to stop his pain. "How bad?"

Tania, the healer, shook her head. "Vipertooth. Chance says we've got nothing. We've sent for an antivenin, but it likely won't arrive in time. All we can do is try to keep his temperature down enough that it doesn't harm him, and hope it burns through his system without killing him."

Charlie blinked at her in horror. Draco Malfoy might die, and all she could offer was keeping him cool? "But surely there must be something."

She shook her head. "The best we can do now is keep him comfortable."

Glancing at the bed, Charlie was now able to make out the shimmer of magic around Draco. Cooling spells, no doubt. But would it be enough? He moved to the side of the bed, watching as Draco tossed his head, face flushed, hair sticking to his cheeks and forehead, the colour darkened to a deep platinum, none of the gold that had caught his eye so easily before shining through any longer. "I'm sorry," he whispered. He knew it wasn't his fault, but he felt somehow responsible. If it had been Harry here, or Ron, surely he'd have kept a better watch on them?

He supposed he should write to Malfoy Manor, at least. To let Mrs Malfoy know what was going on. Lucius was still in Azkaban, and would be for a while, and Charlie knew she was confined to England as part of her punishment, but she deserved at least that much. He frowned down at Draco. It wasn't right, keeping family apart. Maybe he'd write to Kingsley, too. See if he could get the restrictions lifted. If Draco even survived the night.

"I'll stay with him tonight," he said softly. It was the very least he could do right now. And if Draco made it through, then maybe it was time for Charlie to reach out to him properly. Maybe he'd not gotten on with Ron and his friends, but Charlie wasn't Ron. And Draco deserved a new beginning.

~*~


Draco barely remembered that night. Fire and pain and more pain. There were words, but nothing he could understand, and all he wanted to do was tear off his skin from the pain of it all. And then it felt as though his hands had been weighted down. Like someone was pressing onto him, and might crush him. It calmed him in a way, somewhere deep inside. Because he could no longer claw at himself. His skin was safe from his own pain at least. But even then, the pain grew.

He woke in the early hours of the morning feeling drained and weak, and cold and sweaty all over. His throat felt torn, and he wondered if he'd been screaming. But if he were conscious, surely that meant the worst was over, didn't it? He tried to move, but found he'd been bound to the bed, and was unable to move at all. All he could do was look up at the ceiling. He couldn't even turn his head to the side with the spell that was holding him in place. Obviously they'd put a full body-bind on him.

He tried to speak again, but the sound he made was more of a croak, his torn throat obviously too badly damaged right now to manage more before he got some water.

The sound got someone's attention, though. They were resting their head on the side of the bed next to him. Draco could feel them stir. They sat up, and Draco was able to see clearly enough that it was Weasley, but the wide-eyed look on his face told him something was wrong. He tried to speak again, but the croaking moan he let out sounded more like an animal than any noise he could possibly make. Draco whimpered low in his throat, but the sound came out almost a growl. Something was very badly wrong.

"Shit!" Charlie scrambled back from the bed. "Tania! Chance!"

After that, the room filled with people, each wide-eyed as Charlie, all shouting too much for Draco to make out what they were saying, and finally he'd had too much, and tried to let out a scream—which came out a roar. The room fell silent.

"How did it get in here…?"

"But it has to be him, doesn't it? I mean… you can still see the spells."

"Shuttup!" Charlie roared at them all, then took a step closer to the bed once more, looking warily at Draco.

"Draco?" he asked.

Draco rolled his eyes and snorted, struggling again with the body-bind they'd placed on him. His struggles ceased when he saw a wisp of smoke. Had he pushed the spells too far and burnt himself? But he couldn't feel any pain… Oh, god, what if the poison had destroyed his nerve endings? What if he'd never feel anything again?

"It is you, isn't it?" Charlie reached out to touch him, and Draco could feel it. He would have sagged with relief, if he'd been able. Except for one small thing. It felt…off, somehow. Not wrong, but not like it should feel, either. What had happened? If only he could talk… He let out another whimper-growl, and the rest of the people took a step back, but Charlie moved closer. "God… Draco, I'm so sorry…"

Whatever was going on, someone needed to give him a drink so that he could talk again. He let out another growl-whine, and Charlie shook his head. "We'll figure this out, okay?" His hand stroked over Draco's shoulder, thumb moving in a comforting circular motion, and Draco shuddered, feeling the need to purr, but closed his eyes. He only opened them again when Charlie let go, watching him as he turned toward the others. "I assume we can't keep him here?"

"We only have four beds, and… well… he's pretty big," Tania said. "But how do we move him?"

"He's responding," Charlie said, even as Draco tried to figure out what they were talking about. If anything, he was small. Well, skinny. He was quite tall. But that ran in the Malfoy line. "I think he knows what's going on…" Charlie glanced at him. "I think…?" He turned back to him. "Draco? Blink if you understand."

Draco frowned, but blinked, hoping that this would help him get to the bottom of what was happening.

Charlie looked relieved. "Do you remember what happened? In the nursery?"

Stomach swirling, Draco tried to nod, then remembered that he couldn't. He blinked again, looking up at Charlie once more. Why didn't he just remove the bind and let him sit up and get a drink of water?

"Something's happened, Draco. I've… never seen anything like it before. But… I promise you we'll figure it out. Okay?"

Draco frowned again, wishing he could ask, but all he could make was another of those whimpering sounds.

"It will be all right, Draco," Charlie said, patting his shoulder. "I promise." He turned to the others. "He understands fine. If you want, I'll watch him."

"Where? In that matchbox of yours?" Chance asked. "You barely fit in it by yourself. How are you going to fit him in there with you?"

Draco had had enough of this. Even though he knew it would hurt, he began to push against the spells holding him to the bed, and after only a moment, the world flared white as they shattered.

~*~


The room was filled with shouts and swearing in several languages, but Charlie was the first to get to the bed, being closest to it. "Draco!" The dragon that Draco had become reared up, and even Charlie forgot for a moment that a wizard was behind those inhuman eyes. But once it sat up, he could see him putting the final piece into place, and gave another of those terrible cries. "Shh… I know…it's all right," Charlie tried to reassure him. "However this happened, we'll figure it out. All right?"

Draco didn't look like he believed him, then made a motion with one of his claws. One of the others swore again. "He is trying to claw us to death!"

"No... he's pointing…" Charlie followed his claw, and saw the mirror across the room. He summoned it, then held it out for Draco to look into. Bracing himself, he waited for the reaction. God knew what might happen if Draco didn't like what he saw. Draco gazed into the mirror for a long time, then turned his head away, and Charlie heard him give a small huff of disgust. "I know, Draco. But… we'll figure this out. Okay?" Draco's now large blue eyes focused on him, and he bared his teeth, but only for a moment. Obviously he didn't believe this could be fixed. "We will. You have my word on that."

Draco gazed at him for a moment longer, then gave a nod. "Thank you for trusting me…" He glanced back at the others. "See? We'll be fine. So go on. We can handle it from here." Tania and Chance looked at him stubbornly, obviously not prepared to leave him alone, even if the dragon was Draco. The others finally left under Charlie's extended stare, though.

He turned back to Draco. He couldn't remember ever seeing a dragon like him before, though he looked a bit like an opaleye. He wanted to tell him how gorgeous he was, but didn't think Draco would take that well. Hopefully they'd be able to figure this out quick, so that Draco could get back to normal. Then they could worry about what kind of creature he was. "You willing to stay in my cabin until we get this figured out?" he asked. "No fire, though."

He grinned at Draco's huff, taking that as a yes. "Come on, then. Let's see if you can fit through the door."

The look on Draco's face shifted to what Charlie was sure was a scowl, but before he could placate him, Draco was pushing himself off the bed, claws tapping on the wood floor as he stood, his head brushing the ceiling for a moment before he dropped to all fours. Chance swore again, but Charlie focused only on Draco. "Okay?"

Draco gave a nod, and Charlie smiled, then led the way out, walking backwards to check on Draco's progress. Despite his size, Draco fit through the doors with only a bit of effort, and Charlie fell into step beside him instead, leading him up to his cabin. They walked slowly through the camp, ignoring the stares and the muffled swearing that followed them. Charlie wondered again how this might have happened. Obviously it was some sort of an effect caused by the venom from the hatchling. But had it been an effect of Draco's magic, or of the bite itself? He wished he knew a way to test. He shook his head, then opened the door. "Sorry, it's a bit cramped in there, but the bedroom should be comfortable enough for you." There was a loft above, too, but Charlie figured Draco would be more comfortable in actual furnished surroundings as opposed to having to share space with dusty boxes.

"The bedroom's through here." He pointed the way across the living space that doubled as a kitchen and living room, then frowned, realizing there was no way Draco would be able to use the bathroom in this form. "Go on. I'll be right in." He turned towards the kitchen and began to rummage through the cabinets, eventually pulling out a bucket from under the sink. It would have to do for now.

Draco was standing in the middle of the small room, looking, no staring at the bed. "Go on. It's not going to bite." Draco turned and gave him a pointed glare. "I'll sleep on the couch, if you're that worried about your reputation." Though god knew what he could do to a dragon, after all. He kept that bit to himself, though. Draco huffed again, then settled on the bed, looking uncomfortable.

"Brought this for any bathroom needs. I know it's not what you're used to, but I'm afraid you'd never fit inside my bathroom. If you need more, you'll have to wait until I can take you outside." He ignored the glare that got from Draco. "Unless you think you can open the door yourself?"

Draco looked down at his claws, then huffed again, turning his head away.

Charlie settled on the bed next to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. That had seemed to calm him before. "We'll figure this out, Draco. I promise."

~*~


It was easy enough for Weasley to promise, but what if they couldn't? Draco knew he might be stuck in this form forever. Bloody Vipertooth. He wondered if the others would let him tear the creature apart while he was in this form. The stupid thing deserved it.

Draco turned away, then rolled onto his side, and was suddenly enveloped by Charlie's scent. It smelled far too good, and he closed his eyes, and he got lost in it for a moment. He only remembered where he was when he felt Charle's hand stroke his shoulder, and groaned, the sound a rumble in the small room.

"Sorry. I didn't mean…" Charlie pulled away, and Draco sat up, watching him, feeling the loss far too intently for something so simple. He shook his head, hoping Charlie would understand the intent. Charlie relaxed a little bit, then smiled. "All right, then. You must be hungry…" He frowned. "What can you eat in this form?" He shook his head. "Never mind. I'll get you some raw meat and some cooked, and we'll see what's best, shall we?"

Nodding, Draco settled down once more, turning everything over in his head once Charlie had left. How had this happened? Well, obviously it had been caused by the bite, but then why? Had the dragon done this, or his magic? And if so, why?

He was so lost in his thoughts that when Charlie returned, his voice startled him so much that he snorted, and another wisp of smoke, this time much bigger, appeared. "Whoa! I said no fire, Draco… Or should I keep a second bucket with water nearby, too?"

Draco shot him a glare. He hadn't meant to. It wasn't his fault Charlie had startled him like that.

"Never mind. Here." He set two trays of meat in front of Draco, one raw, which Draco quickly turned his nose up at, and one cooked. He quickly scarfed down the cooked, and turned away from the other, but then the scent of the meat surrounded him, and before he could stop himself, he was devouring that as well, and meat had never tasted so good in his life before now. Sated for the moment, he flopped back, then met Charlie's wide-eyed gaze. Pleased he couldn't flush in this form, he tilted his head as if to shrug.

"Guess you were hungry? Well, at least that tells me one thing. Meat it is. In any form. But… the raw seemed acceptable?" Draco wanted to shake his head, but remembering the taste of it, he nodded instead. Apparently he'd need the raw to recover properly.

Charlie smiled. "You're… pretty amazing, you know. Most others would have set the whole camp ablaze before we could get them calmed down…"

Draco rolled his eyes. Malfoys didn't lose their temper that way. Wait… Malfoys… Draco frowned. Wasn't there a story his father had told him once? About a race of dying dragons? He looked up at Charlie, then frowned. How could he tell him? He couldn't write, he couldn't speak… His breathing quickened as his agitation grew, and Charlie set a hand on his shoulder.

"It's okay, Draco, I told you…"

Draco wanted to snap at him, to snarl that it wouldn't be because he couldn't talk, but he couldn't talk, so he couldn't snarl at him, and he whipped his face to meet Charlie's eyes, but misjudged, and found his cheek pressed to Charlie's, and a swirl of thoughts that suddenly weren't just his—worry, fear, excitement, hope… He reared back, eyes wide, then met Charlie's eyes.

~*~


"What the… Was…that you, Draco?" Charlie reached his hand up to stroke his brow. "It was, wasn't it?"

The mix of fear and anger and fury had been so alien that it had taken Charlie a moment to comprehend them. Did Draco always feel things so strongly, or was this just because he was a dragon now? Draco nodded once, then carefully pressed forward until their brows met, and once again, Charlie felt swept away in the wash of Draco's emotions. For several moments, he struggled to tell the two of them apart, then finally thoughts became clear in the wash of emotion.

There was an image of Draco on his father's lap. Lucius was saying something.

"…The dragons were being hunted, Draco. Like we wizards are by the Muggles. So they hid themselves."

"How, father?" Draco was so young. Charlie guessed he was no more than five. His eyes were shining as he looked up at Lucius, drinking in every word Lucius said.

"By looking like humans. Though they were not. They were powerful. Wizards in their own right."

"They were wizards?"

"They didn't start out that way, but their power was enough that they could use some wizard spells, and they began to marry and have children with the wizards. And soon everyone forgot that they had even existed."

"So… they don't exist anymore?"

"They do. In powerful bloodlines like ours," Lucius said, and the bright gleam in his eye told Charlie that Lucius truly believed what he was saying; that they had some of this dragon blood in their line.

He pulled away from Draco, meeting his eyes once more. "You think…?" But it couldn't be true, could it? "You think your father told you the truth? And that… the bite somehow activated that blood?"

Draco nodded.

It was a ridiculous idea. Except… it had happened, hadn't it? "But… if it is true, then you should be able to turn back, shouldn't you?"

Charlie couldn't interpret the look on Draco's face, but finally decided it must be confusion. He put his hand on Draco's shoulder. "I'll look into it, all right? Sleep. You've had a long night. You need it. Do you need some water?"

Draco considered that for a moment, then shook his head, settling on the bed and curling around himself, eyes closing.

"I'll be back later, then," Charlie told him, grabbing the trays, then tugging the door closed behind him. Time to talk to Tania again, see if she'd ever heard a story like that. Maybe some of the older trainers might have heard it. Something. If not, then he'd have to do some research. There was nothing else for it.

~*~


When Draco woke, Charlie was there, sitting in a chair next to the bed, reading, a notebook nearby with a quill which he was using to jot down notes as he read.

Draco watched for several minutes before shifting, finally alerting him that he was awake. Charlie looked up with a smile. "Hey. Seems like you needed that. You've been asleep almost half the day. Hungry?"

As if in answer, Draco's stomach rumbled, and Charlie grinned. "Good. I have some meat waiting for you under a stasis spell. And once you've eaten, I've found out a few things." He stood, setting the book aside, then left to get the promised food.

Excited, Draco sat up. Had Charlie found out what had happened to him? He quickly gobbled down the meat when Charlie brought it back, then looked up at him, waiting.

"Talked to Tania. She's still not sure what caused this, but when I suggested it might have activated dormant qualities in your blood to protect you from the venom, she agreed that it could be possible." Draco nodded. "She's never heard of a case like it, though, so I went to Torben to see what he knows. He's been here the longest of us, and if anyone here knew, I figured he would. He had a few tales of similar happenings, but insisted they had to be old wives' tales, because he'd never seen it himself. At least not until you…" He grinned. "He's not sure what to think. But… I sent to Hermione. She'll have better access to any books than anyone here…"

Alarmed, Draco huffed.

"I know you don't get on, Draco. I didn't tell her why. Just that something had come up, and we needed to know if it was possible, all right?"

Draco scowled, but after a moment, he nodded. At least this time, he could get some use out of Granger's know-it-all behavior.

"Good. Tania's going to come check on you later, but she gave me some of her books about dragon species, and I've been looking through them for dragons that no longer exist, to see if the descriptions match yours, because no one had a bloody clue what kind of dragon you could possibly be."

Hadn't Lucius mentioned them by name? Draco couldn't remember. He tried to shift to see the book Charlie had been reading when he woke.

Charlie grinned. "I think I've found a few possibilities…" he opened the book, setting it so Draco could see. "There's the Moondrake, but those are kind of small, for your size. The Silverwyrm, which has the opposite problem, and generally doesn't do well above ground… And the Moondragon."

The Moondrake had sounded right, but as soon as Draco heard Moondragon, he nodded. That was it. The name his father had used. He met Charlie's eyes.

"That's it? You're sure?"

Draco nodded again.

Charlie sat back, pulling the book into his lap. "Well…it says nocturnal. And that they generally live near streams or lakes." He smiled up at Draco. "Apparently I should have brought you fish." Draco's stomach gurgled in agreement, making Charlie grin. "I'll try to remember that next time. See if the mess has any, or can order some."

Draco made a face, pulling another laugh from Charlie. Any fish they managed to get in would be at the very least, days old, if not weeks. The little pond they had at the reserve wouldn't yield enough fish to feed a dragon for even one meal. He shook his head again.

"All right. No fish. For now," Charlie said, still grinning. "But we'll have to take you out to the lake sometime. It says that Moondragons are excellent swimmers."

That was surprising. Draco'd never liked water out in the open much. He preferred his baths in private, where no one could intrude.

"You don't believe me?" Charlie moved the book so he could read, and Draco frowned, then remembered their communion from before, and leaned to press his forehead to Charlie's, then showed himself in the reserve's lake, and made the image shift to his bathroom back at the Manor. Charlie pulled back, laughing again. "Ah, not posh enough for you?"

Draco made a huffing sound, then stretched out on the bed, watching him. He knew he shouldn't feel so comfortable here with Charlie, but he did. He couldn't help but wonder why.

~*~


The next few days were filled with potions and charms in an attempt to help Draco shift back to his true form. None of them worked. And with each attempt, Charlie could see Draco's temper growing thinner. "We'll figure it out, Draco, I promise…"

Draco snapped at him, but there was no malice in it, just frustration. Charlie smoothed a hand over the milky-silver scales. He really was a beautiful dragon. Charlie would miss seeing this form once they fixed the problem.

So far, he and Draco had spent much of their time alone, but Tania had insisted on coming to check him today. He knew it was mostly curiosity. After all, Draco was doing fine now, aside from being unable to speak, and being stuck in this form. Still, it couldn't hurt anything to have her check him over. And just maybe, she'd have an idea that they hadn't.

They'd used the communication Draco had discovered regularly since then, and Charlie felt himself growing closer to the other young man. It was different than before. More personal, less… lust. But it was nice, knowing Draco this way.

Draco had just shared a thought of swimming that night. He'd seemed to really like the idea, and Charlie found himself pleased with the idea himself. It would be good to let Draco run free for an hour or two. He really was too large for this space. He deserved a chance to stretch out a little, feel the moon on his… well, scales, at least.

"Yes, I think you're right," he said, smiling.

"Talking to yourself, Charlie?" a familiar voice asked from the door.

He turned to see Tania in the doorway. "No. Draco and I were discussing the idea of him going swimming tonight."

She frowned. "You mean… you were suggesting it to him?" she asked.

"No. Draco suggested it, actually. I think it's quite a good idea. He needs to be able to get out now and again. Why not at night?"

Her eyebrow raised. "He… suggested it?" She glanced at Draco, and Charlie followed her gaze to see Draco baring his teeth at her.

"Yes, he did. And stop that, Draco. She's just here to see how you're holding up."

"Charlie… maybe you should have someone else take a turn at watching him?"

When he turned to look at her, she had that look used only by worried parents and people staging an intervention, like any word they said might set the person they were talking to into a rage. "Why?" he asked, frowning. "Draco and I are doing just fine. If a little frustrated that we can't figure this out…"

"You and Draco… Charlie… Draco can't talk." She reached out to squeeze his shoulder, but before Charlie could answer, there was an angry dragon tail lashing out. It hit her chest, pushing the two of them apart. Startled, she glanced towards Draco, then at seeing his expression, she retreated back to the door, wide eyed.

Charlie turned to focus on Draco, who was growling a soft rumble in the back of his throat. "Calm down, Draco. She wasn't doing anything. She's just worried. She doesn't understand."

Even without the connection they usually had, he could practically hear Draco's voice in his head. "Not touch you." Draco's eyes were narrowed, all his teeth showing as he glowered at her.

"She didn't understand, that's all. Maybe if you talked to her?"

Expression shifting to one that Charlie decided to interpret as confusion, Draco turned to meet his eyes, then tilted his head in a way Charlie knew meant he was trying to shrug. "Try," came the word in his mind.

"Good." He turned back to Tania, who was still wide-eyed, watching the two of them. "Come on, Tania. He won't hurt you. I promise."

She muttered something under her breath that Charlie was sure was a Romanian curseword, then glanced at Charlie. "You are sure? He… doesn't seem to particularly like me."

"He won't. If he does, he knows it will mean being banished from the only place here he's welcome." Charlie shot Draco a look, and was pleased when he hung his head. He turned back to Tania. "See? He understands."

"Not sure that will do me much good if I'm turned to dragonchow," she muttered, but took a step forward. "Fine. What do I do?" She glanced at Charlie.

"Contact seems to help. Perhaps you could touch his shoulder?" Draco made a low grumble, and Charlie shot him a look. "Stop that." He glanced at Tania, whose eyes had widened again.

"I don't know, Charlie… he… I don't think this will work."

"Can't know that until you try, Tania. Go on."

~*~


Draco didn't particularly want the witch to touch him, but he couldn't give up Charlie's friendship now, even if that was all he was going to ever have, so he was willing to put up with her until they could get rid of her. At her hesitance, he huffed, then curled his tail around her wrist, tugging her closer.

She cried out, and Charlie glared at him. "Stop that, Draco. I understand, but right now, we need her to understand, and all you're doing is scaring her."

Good. Let her be scared. Once this was over, he didn't want anyone touching him but Charlie. He unwound his tail, though, doing his best to look sorry, wondering if that would even show on his non-human face. He watched as she reached out to touch his shoulder, a frown spreading across her face.

"I don't… hear anything, Charlie."

"Give him a chance, Tania."

Oh. Right. He focused on a thought, any thought he could send her before she could pull her hand away. "I'm here," he finally managed. Her hand remained in place for a moment, then pulled away, and shook her head.

"Nothing."

Charlie frowned. "Draco?"

Draco nodded to indicate he'd tried.

"Maybe… Well, the first time we did it, our foreheads were pressed together. Maybe…?"

Draco quickly shook his head. There was no way he was getting that close to that woman.

"Please, Draco… We have to try."

Huffing, Draco gave a nod, then smirked internally when he saw the expression on Tania's face. "I have to… get that close?"

"He's not going to hurt you, Tania. I promise. If this doesn't work…" He frowned, glancing at Draco, and Draco realized that it would mean one of two things. Either he wasn't trying hard enough, or… Or Charlie was the only one he could talk to. It wasn't the worst thought ever, but the idea that he would never be able to speak to anyone else again was almost too much to bear, so he scolded himself to try harder this time. She had to hear him. Or else who knew what his life would be like?

After a bit more coaxing from Charlie, she leaned in close, eyes so wide Draco could see the whites of her eyes all around. If he could have, he'd have rolled his eyes at her, but instead, he closed the gap between them and thought with all his might. "Can you hear me?"

She didn't respond, so he tried again, pushing the words at her with all his might. "Tania, do you hear me?"

Startled, she stumbled back, her eyes still wide. "D-Draco?"

He nodded, relieved, but that had taken a great deal of effort. Too much, really. He couldn't help but wonder why, but he put the thought aside for now.

"How did he do that?" she asked Charlie, who looked relieved.

"I don't know. I have to assume it's something his… well, breed… can do. Either past trainers didn't know, or he's a breed we don't really have recorded that's merely related to the ones we suspect."

Draco didn't exactly like the term, and glowered at Charlie. "Not a breed," he thought at him.

"Fine, species then, Draco. Better?"

Tania looked between them. "You… can hear him when you are not touching?"

Charlie shrugged. "I guess so. That only happened today, though. I guess… we're just getting used to the contact?"

She frowned. "Maybe. It may be something else, though."

"Not catching?" Draco thought, barely even aware he was sending the thought to Charlie.

"I doubt it, Draco." He moved to his side, stroking the scales on his shoulder. "It's probably just the familiarity, that's all. Right, Tania?"

"Let me… look into it? And if it changes more… let me know?"

"Yeah, all right." And now, Charlie sounded as reluctant as Draco had felt. He reached out with his tail, stroking his arm, and was pleased to see a smile spread across his face. "So… what kinds of tests did you want to run on Draco?"

"Oh… right. Well… he's been eating all right?"

"Yes. Now that we know what he can stomach, he's eating plenty. And it wasn't that hard to figure out, so…"

She nodded, pulling out a notebook and jotting something down. "And sleep?"

"As well as can be expected."

She wrote another note. "Any issues?"

"Aside from the obvious one, where he's a dragon?" Charlie asked.

She flushed. "Look, I'm just trying to think if there's anything we have overlooked, but if you don't want to help…"

"All right, Tania, I get it." He moved to her side, patting her shoulder, and an unconscious growl rose in Draco's throat, causing both of them to turn, wide-eyed. "Draco…?"

"I… think I'd better go, Charlie. I'll… talk to you later." She hurried from the room before he could stop her.

"Draco, that was completely uncalled for," Charlie said, crossing his arms and glaring at him.

He hung his head. He hadn't exactly meant it. He just… didn't like the idea of Charlie comforting her. "Sorry," he sent to Charlie.

"I can see that." He settled on the bed beside Draco. "Did you… not want to talk to her, either? Or was that just… difficult?"

Draco frowned, biting his lip, then met his eyes. "Both?" And really, would it be so bad if Charlie were the only one who could hear him? Of course, now that the worry wasn't an issue, he wished it were true. "Like to talk to you." He was suddenly very glad he couldn't blush in this form. He felt—well, vulnerable.

"I like talking to you, Draco. And once we've figured this out, maybe we can talk properly?"

Knowing he meant more than just talking made something in Draco flutter, and he had to look away, but he nodded. "Like that."

"Good. Why don't we take a nap, and then have supper… and maybe then it will be dark enough to be able to swim without scaring off anyone else?"

Draco nodded, curling up on his side. His dreams were of smooth, slick water enveloping him like a hug, shining like the glow of the moon.

~*~


Charlie woke at dusk to an owl from Hermione with more information about the possible breeds that had mythological wizarding stories about them, and other stories about wizards suddenly transforming to non-human form who had no Animagi training. As he had expected, the stack of papers she'd sent on was huge, but since he and Draco had narrowed the probable breed—species, he quickly corrected himself—he focused instead on the information that talked most about that breed. He was surprised to see one such tale of a random person becoming a Moondragon centuries before who had been in the Malfoy family. Obviously, Lucius hadn't been wrong. Perhaps that was where his information had come from—this predecessor who had gone through this change as well.

Sighing, he set the papers aside, then went to get supper for them both before going to wake Draco.

Draco was looking out the window when he came into the room. "Hey. Didn't realize you were awake."

Turning, Draco nodded. "Ready to swim," he sent, his eyes dropping to the tray Charlie was carrying. "After supper."

"Yes. And something else," Charlie said, setting the tray in front of him so he could eat. "Hermione owled. Apparently this has happened to your family before."

Draco looked up, eyes wide. "Has?"

Charlie nodded, settling down to eat the sandwich he'd gotten himself. "One of the stories mentioned him. Back in the sixteenth century. Might be where your father got the story from."

Draco frowned, nodding. "Worth looking into. If I can go home…" His head bowed, and Charlie reached out to stroke the graceful curve.

"You will, Draco. We'll figure this out. I promise. Whatever it takes."

Draco snorted. "Not gotten us far enough yet."

"But we know more than we did before, Draco. I think we have a very good chance of getting your human form back. It's just a matter of time. I'm sure of it."

Sighing, Draco gave him a look, but then he nodded before turning back to his food, gobbling it down easily, then looking back up.

Charlie followed suit, finishing off the last few bites of his sandwich, then stood. "Just let me find a towel and change into my shorts, and I'll join you, okay?"

Draco looked startled, but also pleased, or at least, the expression Charlie'd come to interpret as pleased. "Be right back, then," he said, and grabbed the tray, taking it out with him.

~*~


As soon as they stepped out of Charlie's cabin, Draco felt so much better. He hadn't even realized how confined he'd felt. The breeze over his scales was cooling and pleasant, and the glow of the moon on the water a few yards beyond the cabin drew him like a niffler to gold, and soon he broke into a ground-eating trot that had him halfway to the lake in just a few strides.

"Wait up, Draco!" he heard Charlie calling behind him, and it was only then that he realized how fast he'd been moving. He stopped, waiting for the young man to catch up.

If he could have, he'd have smiled. The sight of him in a loose shirt and shorts was very enjoyable. Especially the tattoos he'd seen marking him when he'd returned in his bathing outfit. He'd caught glimpses of them before, on his arms where his sleeves didn't hide them, or peeking out from the collar of his shirts, but now he could see them in much better detail, especially the snake-like dragon coiled around Charlie's calf. Draco wanted to ask about their meanings, but he wanted to be in the water even more. It was strange to want it so much, but he'd stopped questioning his dragon instincts days ago. Why fight it, if it made him feel better?

"Sorry about that. I didn't expect you to go so fast," Charlie said when he caught up. "You can really move."

Draco would have grinned at that if he could have, but instead he bumped against Charlie in response, then let him set the pace down to the lake, doing his best to resist the urge to speed up. He'd be there soon enough.

The second they reached shore, Draco couldn't wait any longer, and dived right into the water, gasping at the feeling of the liquid as it coated his scales, then pushed to the surface, looking toward the shore, seeing Charlie there, watching him, stock still.

Draco smirked, sending to him. "Coming in?" He began to swim closer to shore, surprised at how easy it was.

"Right…swim…" Charlie looked flustered, but set his towel down, then pulled off his shirt and shoes before sliding into the water.

Draco was almost directly in front of him by then, and curled his tail around Charlie, feeling something inside him burning. He wanted, but he was afraid to put those wants into words, so instead, he pressed his forehead to Charlie's, gasping again at the rush of emotions. They were so overwhelming he was lost for a time.

When he met Charlie's eyes again, he knew something was different, but he couldn't have said what. Charlie's presence was simply too distracting. The feel of the water around him, the heat of Charlie's body against his, but the fire inside him didn't allow him to dwell on it, his need too strong to resist any longer. It was only when his lips brushed Charlie's that he realized what it was. He pulled back, astonished, and looked down at his once again human arms. "What…how?" And god, didn't it feel good to actually be able to speak once more?

Charlie seemed to be drinking in the sight of him, looking stunned twice over. "I…don't know. Draco…" His voice was filled with wonder. "You kissed me."

Unable to contain it, Draco began to laugh, the feeling so wonderful that he couldn't seem to stop for a very long time, then kissed him again, still smiling. "Yes, I did. Do you object?"

"God no." Charlie's arms tightened around him, and then they were kissing again, a wet, messy thing that Draco couldn't even begin to guess who had started. Not that it mattered. He wanted it too much to question it. His fingers wound in Charlie's curls, doing his best to pull him even closer. Never before had kissing anyone felt so right.

Only after several long minutes did they finally stop, but Draco's hands traced over Charlie's chest and shoulders, not wanting to stop touching him now that he'd started. "How long?"

Charlie shook his head. "I don't know. First day, maybe? You're damned attractive."

Draco smirked. "Of course I am. You're better controlled than…" He thought better of comparing him to his brothers, quickly. He wanted this to last, even if he still wasn't sure what it was. "…What I was expecting."

"Hm… yes, my brother's already filled my ears with stories about you, too," Charlie said, grinning.

"Yes, I'm sure. No wonder you stayed away so long." Draco couldn't help smirk. "I have to admit…I'll look forward to seeing him turn scarlet when he finds out."

~*~


Charlie winced at the thought. His family was not going to be pleased. And worse, the Malfoys would be furious. "What about your father?"

Draco's chin raised, and Charlie saw a now-familiar glint there in his eyes. "I've already tried his way of things. I think it's time for the Malfoys to take a new route. Don't you?" he asked Charlie, voice suddenly softer with uncertainty.

"I think that sounds like an excellent plan. So long as I'm part of it?" He was done resisting this any longer.

The answer he received wasn't verbal. Or at least, not vocal. Draco's lips covered his again, and in his mind, he heard the answer. "Yes. As long as you'll have me." The kiss stretched out even longer this time, and Charlie tugged Draco to the shore, pushing him back on the towel he'd brought down with them.

"If you don't want this…"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Don't be an idiot, Charlie… And don't you dare stop." Then he tugged him down, kissing him once more, his legs curling around his waist.

Spells whispered between swollen lips as they traced slick skin, and Draco arched under him as he pressed a finger into him. "You don't need to," he groaned. "Ready for you. Just…take me. Please. Wanted it…for so long now."

Groaning at his words, Charlie nodded, obliging him, sliding easily into him with one thrust, then stilling inside him. "Oh…god…Draco…"

"Yes," Draco responded, but the sound was only in Charlie's mind, and then the feeling of completeness filled Charlie's mind. "Don't stop," came another thought.

"Yes," he answered aloud, and began to move. "Oh…Draco…yess…" His thrusts brought a responding pleasure sent by Draco, their cries soon filling the night air. He stifled the sounds with kisses, moaning, but continued to thrust, moving faster now. It was better than he could have anticipated, and almost too much to comprehend, but he wasn't about to stop now. He'd needed this for too long, and he could tell Draco felt much the same by the way he clung to him and pushed up into every thrust.

Draco's cries in his mind were even more enflaming than his vocal ones, driving Charlie to thrust harder, faster, until both men couldn't hold back any longer. Even though he wanted this never to stop, even though it felt as it was over far too fast, Charlie felt his climax consume him, only barely registering Draco's cock twitching between them as he came too, fingers curling around it to tug only once before they were both coated in his come.

It felt more intense than any climax Charlie could remember, and he soon sagged on top of Draco, barely able to remember not to crush his slighter frame. Draco seemed to have no problem with it, though and curled his arms tightly around him, legs sliding down over his hips and thighs, still moaning softly.

After he had caught his breath, though, his sarcasm returned. "Perhaps next time, we could try that in a bed? There's a rock in my spine that seems to want to take up residence there permanently."

Charlie chuckled, rolling to his back and taking Draco with him, then smiled up at him. "Better?"

Draco appeared to think about this, then nodded, leaning in to kiss him. "It will do. For now."

For now. Charlie smiled. He supposed they still had a lot to talk about, but right now, all he wanted was this. Draco in his arms, wanting him back. The rest would come in time. And they had all the time they needed.

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