Chapter: On Display 03/10
Author: Beren (aka Didi)
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: This story is set post OOTP and therefore has SPOLIERS. If you don’t want to know anything that went on in book five do not read this story.
Summary: Harry defeated Voldemort: his act of heroism is famous throughout the wizarding world. He’s trying to finish his final year at Hogwarts in peace, but something peculiar is happening to him, something he never would have expected. It's all rather embarrassing and making his life very complicated.
Author's Notes: This fic has Veela!Draco and lots of other things that appear to have become fandom clichés, which was part of the point in writing it :). I've had great fun with this fic, trying to explore ideas in a slightly different way than I have seen before. It may have Veela!Draco, but it is all from Harry POV in case you were wondering. I will be posting in two blocks, the first five parts now (05Jan05) and the second five parts next week. Thanks go to Soph for the beta.
Chapter 3 On Display
After his hearing changed and his sight improved things seemed to settle down and Harry had gone without any alterations for five days before things took a turn for the even more bizarre. It was so ridiculous in fact, that he managed to put it down to not paying attention or bad luck for nearly an entire week.
They may have ended up fighting on the same side in the war, but that didn't mean that the seventh year of Slytherin would even pass the time of day with the seventh year of Gryffindor; the prejudices were too well ingrained on both sides. The fact that the Slytherin turn around to the side of the light had been led by Draco Malfoy did not mean that he and Harry were ever going to pass pleasantries in the hall, which was why when Harry found himself looking at the sarcastic git in any way but with distaste, he shocked himself. Then when he discovered that he was going out of his way to be in the same place as the Prince of Slytherin he had known he was in trouble, but worse than that, over the course of the week of denial he found himself doing the strangest things.
Harry kept his head down in Potions; it was a fact of his life. Snape hated him even though they had been allies and if he so much as breathed out of place the head of Slytherin relished in taking house points. Then one day just after he had started denying that he wanted anything to do with Malfoy, Harry spoke up in Snape's class for the first time. The really bizarre thing was that he managed it in such a way that the potions master couldn't penalise him.
The answer to one of Snape's questions had leapt into his head and before he realised what he was doing he'd stuck up his hand. It had been a question designed for Malfoy, who was the unchallenged potions king; the blond boy was a genius when it came to his house master's class and Snape had obviously thought the only other person who could answer would have been Hermione, whom he always ignored.
Harry was pretty sure that Snape had only let him answer because the man assumed he would answer incorrectly. Even Malfoy had looked impressed when he gave the correct response, which had, worryingly, pleased Harry no end. That had been the first incident of several and what was more worrying was that Harry found himself with his nose in books so he would be ready for the next time as well.
It wasn't just potions either; Harry eventually had to admit to himself that it was every subject he had with Malfoy. It felt strangely to him as if he was trying to prove his worth to the Slytherin, which he really didn't want to consider too closely. And it happened out of the classroom as well; twice he had suddenly realised he was trying to attract the other boy's attention. Harry felt as if he was going slightly mad.
He had heard all the bad things about eavesdropping and he really tried not to do it, but when his name popped up in conversation he always seemed to zero in. He was walking to dinner with his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his new jeans and his head down, trying to forget that he was going stark raving bonkers, when he heard himself referenced by another voice. Harry had been finishing a paragraph of his homework when the others had left to walk to the Great Hall so he was a good hundred yards behind them, round a corner or two and they had no idea he could hear them.
"It's like we're not even in the same class anymore," Seamus bemoaned just after having uttered a sentence containing Harry's name.
"I just wish he'd pick someone and let the rest of us back in the game," agreed Dean mournfully.
Ever since he had broken up with Ginny the artistic Gryffindor had been chasing a fair amount of skirt, as his Irish dorm mate put it so colourfully. Harry felt sorry for his friends, he really did, but there was nothing he could do about it.
"It's not Harry's fault he went through a growth spurt," Ron defended him in true best friend fashion.
"You have nothing to worry about," Seamus pointed out loudly, "you're firmly attached. Harry needs to choose and he needs to choose soon."
There was a murmur of agreement from Dean and Harry wished silently that it was that simple.
"He has chosen someone," Neville's calm addition to the conversation drew Harry to a sudden and complete halt.
From the sounds of it, Nev's simple phrase had done the same to his dorm mates as well. Ron was spluttering incoherently and the other two were ominously silent.
"Neville," Dean finally said in a very dark tone, "what do you know and how do you know it?"
"Um," the other boy returned nervously, "I thought it was rather obvious actually."
Harry wanted to hit his head against the wall and willed Neville to shut up. Unfortunately for him his dorm mate was not in a position to keep his mouth shut.
"Longbottom," Ron said pointedly, "just tell us."
"Malfoy," the Gryffindor replied quietly.
That brought a long deep laugh from Seamus, a thoughtful gasp from Dean and a dismissive snort from Ron.
"Oh, good one, Neville," the Irish boy said lightly, "you really had us going there for a moment."
As Harry listened the reactions slowly petered out, and he realised that the others were probably noticing that their friend was serious.
"I wasn't joking," Neville said, sounding a little hurt, "you must have seen it."
"You're insane," Ron said pointedly, "Harry would never..."
His best friend trailed off and now Harry did bang his head against the wall as he realised Ron was putting the pieces together. Sometimes Ron couldn't see what was in front of his own face, but he never forgot and Harry was sure his friend was adding things up. There was complete silence for a few moments.
"Bloody hell," was what came from Ron eventually.
"Holy mother of god," Seamus decided distinctly and what came from Dean's mouth did not bear repeating.
"Harry and Malfoy," Ron did not seem to be able to quite come to terms with the idea, "they hate each other."
"But Malfoy is the best looking boy in the school apart from Harry, and he's probably the most powerful student next to Hermione and Harry as well," Neville pointed out. "It makes perfect sense, in a match of equals kind of way."
There was silence again except for the sound of shuffling feet and Harry thought that his friends were probably having the same epiphany about Neville as he was. No one ever rated Longbottom at anything but Herbology and yet he seemed to be far more than he at first appeared.
"Neville," Ron said in a much gentler, but never the less direct way, "are you gay?"
More shuffling of feet.
"Um, well, yes," the other Gryffindor replied.
"Thank Merlin for that," Ron said and startled Harry because he was listening too hard, "and there I thought the rest of us were out of touch."
"Nev," Seamus commented lightly, "you never cease to amaze me. Now tell us everything you know: we want details."
Harry banged his head on the wall again for good measure and then turned back towards the common room; there was no way he was going to dinner now. It was as he reached the portrait that he met Hermione. As head girl she had been to her regular weekly meeting with Dumbledore that always ran late and into dinner, which was why the others had headed off without her.
"Harry," she greeted brightly until she saw his face, "what's wrong."
"I think I'm losing my mind and now everyone knows," he said dejectedly. "My life is over."
The portrait hole flipped open as he gave the password and he stormed through without waiting for his friend to react. Harry went straight for his dorm without pausing and was about to slam the door loudly when he realised Hermione had followed him. She stood there with her hands on her hips, looking at him with a worried frown.
"You don't think you're getting away with that do you?" she said eventually and took a step over the threshold. "Now sit and tell me what's bothering you."
When Hermione used that tone of voice there was no disobeying and Harry knew it so he shoved his hands back into his pockets, walked over to his bed and sat down.
"Malfoy," he said plainly, guessing that if Neville had noticed then there was no way Hermione wouldn't have.
"Oh, that," she said and nodded sagely, "I wondered when you were going to face it."
"Face it!" Harry replied, his voice rising before he dragged his temper back into check. "What with everything else I do not need this as well. I did a Wronski Feint at practice yesterday from three hundred feet just because he walked past. I'm either going to kill myself or go completely mental if this doesn't stop."
"Or possibly get an 'O' in all your N.E.W.T.s and give the whole staffroom a heart attack," his friend attempted to inject some humour into the conversation and Harry glared at her for her trouble.
"It's not funny," he said pointedly and he knew he was beginning to sulk, but it did feel as if his world was coming to an end.
He had wings for heaven's sake and appeared to be obsessed with his living worst enemy, since the Death Eaters who weren't dead had never met him personally. Malfoy may have led the revolt against the dark in his own house, but he blamed Harry for his father's demise and their relationship was acrimonious at best and homicidal at worst.
"Sorry, Harry," Hermione said gently and sat down next to him, "tell me what's up."
Harry glared at his fingers and picked absently at the corner of one of his oh so perfect nails.
"I just want to be Harry again," he said eventually with a sigh. "Everything was simpler when heads didn't turn if I so much a sneezed. I know people have been watching me forever, but now it's like I'm on display the whole time. And I don't seem to have any control over my hormones at all. I do things without even realising I'm doing them; stupid things and I must look like a real prat."
"Actually," Hermione said and patted him sympathetically on the arm, "so far I think you've been pretty impressive. If Malfoy can't see past this silly feud you two have going on, to what a great catch you are then he's blinder than I ever gave him credit for."
Harry looked at Hermione rather stunned and she smiled at him warmly.
"Don't look so surprised," she said in a very motherly fashion. "Harry, you were always good looking in a boyish way, but now you're stunning. You are the most powerful wizard in the world and you are finally using the considerable brain inside your head rather than muddling through. It would be very difficult for you to be anything but impressive."
He didn't know what to say; he was completely taken aback. Most of his instincts were telling him she was just being nice.
"But it's Malfoy," was all he could find to say.
"I know, Harry," Hermione said sympathetically, "and I wish it was someone easier, but I don't think that's going to happen. I've been doing a little reading and I think I know what's going on."
Harry couldn't help it, he laughed rather hysterically; if there was anyone who could be relied upon to figure things out it was Hermione.
"You're displaying, Harry," she told him calmly, "you've chosen a mate."
At that he couldn't keep the horror off his face.
"How much do you know about Seraphim?" Hermione asked gently.
"Not much," Harry admitted; he had read a little, but there weren't many books on the subject and he had hoped that the physical changes were all he had to worry about.
"Did you know they mate for life?" the young woman asked slowly.
He shook his head.
"Start from the beginning," he said with a resigned tone, "assume I know nothing."
Hermione patted his hand and nodded, at least she seemed to understand how difficult this was for him.
"Okay, well I know you know it takes a lot of magic for a Seraphim to reproduce," she started evenly; Harry had told both his best friends what Dumbledore had told him, "but what you probably don't realise is that Seraphim are androgynous. Some of them can appear more male or female, but they aren't either. They choose a mate based on power as well as physical attraction: the more power the more likelihood of successful breeding."
She paused and looked at him to see if Harry was following, he nodded for her to go on.
"When they find a mate who they deem suitable a Seraphim goes into heat," Hermione continued and held his eyes. "They display for their chosen mate to bring them into heat as well, sort of a chemical and magical reaction. The only way a Seraphim will stop pursuing a mate is if the mate dies or the mate chooses another."
"But Malfoy isn't Seraphim," Harry pointed out, "he can't come on heat."
"No," Hermione said slowly and he could hear the 'but' in her voice, "but I did some digging and he is Veela, or rather there is Veela blood in the Malfoy line. Veela have a similar mating cycle to Seraphim: although they look female they go into heat during the mating season and become hermaphrodites. The don't mate for life, but display and mate once every three years, which is how you end up with pure Veela offspring. They used to lure human males with sex and kill them when not in heat, but for the last few hundred years it seems to be just about the sex and every now and then you end up with half-breeds both male and female. Malfoy's heritage is a little more distant than that, but you may be sensing what's in his blood."
It occurred to the corner of Harry's brain where his dry sense of humour was lurking that purebloods in the wizarding world were actually anything but, if his father's and Malfoy's family were anything to go by. The rest of him was trying to figure out what the hell he was going to do.
"You're saying I want to shag Malfoy within an inch of his life because he's the most powerful eligible wizard and he's part Veela?" he asked bluntly.
Hermione blinked at him.
"Thank you for that visual image, Harry," she said with a slight smile and nodded.
"And my only way out is if someone knocks him off or," he paused and thought about it, "knocks him up?"
His companion laughed.
"Not exactly," she replied as she regained control of herself, "Veela go into heat to mate and produce offspring, Seraphim go into heat to mate with the prospect of producing offspring in the future. It's possible you may lose interest if he just sleeps with someone else."
"So all I have to do is go up to him and say 'Malfoy if you don't want me dogging your every step for the foreseeable future please go and shag someone'," Harry said incredulously. "I can see that going down so well." Then something occurred to him. "Why isn't he shagging someone else? As my hormones have been pointing out for days he is the most eligible bachelor in the school."
Hermione shrugged, Harry did not think it was a question his friend had asked herself. It was not a question he'd ever thought to ask himself until just then.
"Maybe because he is Veela," the head girl offered thoughtfully. "Male Veela descendants don't tend to show much of their heritage other than the obvious physical attributes like hair and bone structure, not like Fleur or her sister. According to the book I was reading, if the males do give any signs it's towards the end of their teens when in nature they would be thinking of breeding." Hermione's face had brightened as if she was beginning to warm to the idea; the young woman was always excited by explanations even when they didn't help the situation. "Maybe Malfoy is going through something similar to you: for different reasons of course, but it could definitely be a reason why he's not, um, active. He'd have to be very careful if he was coming into heat, even partially, if he slept with a girl he'd almost be bound to end up with a little Malfoy running around."
"Hermione," Harry pleaded, "you're not making this sound any easier. Now I have to convince Malfoy to sleep with another boy, which given his track record he will not be interested in."
The young woman thought about it for a moment.
"I think you may be wrong there if Blaise Zabini is anything to go by," Hermione said calmly.
This was all a bit much; Harry was learning things he never, ever wanted to know and his sensibilities began rebelling.
"Zabini," he repeated to himself just to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. "Malfoy and Zabini?"
The surge of irrational jealousy that this caused didn't help his equilibrium very much either.
"For about two months in the final term of last year, after you clobbered Voldemort," Hermione told him with a nod. "I think everyone was so glad to be alive that they let themselves be what they wanted to be rather than what was expected for a while. You were in the coma for most of it so I can't blame you for not knowing."
Harry grabbed at the lifeline and held on for grim death.
"So maybe if I just come out and tell Malfoy what's going on he and Blaise..." his voice trailed off as Hermione shook her head.
"Blaise is with Pansy now," the girl advised helpfully.
Harry gave up and ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh.
"Hermione," he said a little at a loss, "how do you keep all this information straight and still come top in all your subjects?"
"I'm a girl," she replied and patted him fondly on the arm, "it's part of the job description."
With a sigh Harry let himself fall back onto the bed and stared at the canopy for a moment.
"And do you know what makes this so much more fun?" he said in a very resigned manner. "All my dorm mates know now as well."
"They do?" Hermione sounded very surprised.
"Neville told them," Harry said shortly and then a question occurred to him. "Did you know Neville was gay?"
"Of course," the young woman said as if it was old news, "didn't you?"
Harry had to laugh; it was that or cry.
"Just chalk it up to the whole dorm missing the blindingly obvious," he said and closed his eyes as if that would help. "What am I going to do?"
It was all so confusing. In some ways it had been so much easier when Voldemort was still alive, at least all he had to worry about then was dying.
"I'm sorry, Harry," Hermione said as he looked at her, "but I don't think you have a choice. You could talk to Madame Pomfrey, but I doubt there's much she can do. I think you're going to have to speak to Malfoy. Sooner or later he's going to figure it out or you're going to do something that makes it blindingly obvious."
Taking a deep breath Harry slowly sat up again, at least he knew he wasn't going crazy. With a small nod he gave his friend's hand a squeeze.
"I'll go and see Madame Pomfrey in the morning," he decided firmly. "If she can't help me I'll try and talk to Malfoy after the Ravenclaw/Slytherin Quidditch match tomorrow afternoon. Don't want to be accused of putting off their Seeker."
The pair shared a small smile. At least with Hermione's support Harry could see that this could be amusing from another's point of view.
"Which leaves only one problem," he said with a small frown, "what to do about Ron, Seamus, Dean and Neville."
"Leave Ron to me," Hermione said and her smile became a grin, "and then tell the others part of the truth. Explain that it's to do with your absorbing of Voldemort's powers and the coma. Tell them your hormones are all out of whack and you're tying to sort it all out, but you need complete secrecy. They're Gryffindors; they'll support you all the way."
Harry considered the idea and he couldn't find a flaw in it.
"Sounds like a plan," he agreed and on impulse reached out and hugged his friend. "Thanks, Hermione," he said warmly, "I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You're welcome," she replied and returned the hug before breaking away. "Now let's get to dinner, the sooner you confront the others the less danger there is of anyone else finding out."
Harry nodded and they both stood up, at least now with an idea of what to do he did not feel quite so lost. Trying to school his features into calm he hurried after Hermione as she disappeared down the steps. It was only as they entered the Great Hall that he began to feel nervous again. All four of his dorm mates turned to look at them both as they moved to sit down. There was mischief in Seamus' eyes and amusement in Dean's which did not bode well; Harry decided to take charge.
"Before any of you say anything," he said firmly, "you should know I wasn't that far behind you; I heard."
Looking each of his friends in the eye he made sure they were paying attention.
"I need to speak to you all in private as soon as dinner is over," he said plainly. "Does anyone have any objections?"
Hermione had been right, the moment he told them seriously what he needed, every one of his dorm mates sobered and nodded. The whole conversation through dinner was about Quidditch and the latest homework assignments. No one so much as mentioned Malfoy or anything else relating to relationships, platonic or otherwise through the whole meal, not until they were all back in their dorm with the door closed.
"Yes, I'm after Malfoy," Harry said bluntly before anyone else could speak, "no I don't really want to be."
He turned to face his friends from where he had just walked to the other end of the room. No one looked particularly clear about the situation.
"Are you going to explain," Seamus asked in a manner that suggested he was not about to push for the information although he'd like it, "or is that it?"
Harry had been preparing this speech all through dinner and he drew in a deep breath to give it.
"You may have noticed I've changed quite a lot lately," he began with the easy part.
"Yeah, Harry," Dean said with a grin, "we noticed."
Harry nodded; it had been rather stating the obvious.
"It's to do with all the power I absorbed when I killed Voldemort," he said truthfully, after all that was what had started the whole process. "It's, um, changing me physically and lucky me, my hormones are out of whack. Do not ask me why I'm fixated on Malfoy, I couldn't give you a positive answer, but I am and I'm trying to sort it out. I'm hoping he and the rest of the school never have to know because the more people who know the more difficult it will be to fix. Please don't tell anyone."
Harry glanced at Ron knowing that his friend knew when to keep his mouth shut and trying to apologise for hedging. Ron nodded very slightly and then shared a look with the other three.
"Whatever you need, mate," Seamus said firmly, speaking for the whole group.
Harry had never been so glad he was a Gryffindor in his entire life.
"Do you ever do anything the easy way, Harry?" Dean asked conversationally and he couldn't help but smile.
The Hospital wing was thankfully empty of other pupils as Harry walked in on Saturday morning. It would have been unusual for anyone to require Poppy's services so early, it was still before breakfast, but it was not unheard of. Harry knew he would find the healer already in her office or in her supply cupboard; he was familiar with her habits and he knew Poppy was always up early to sort through her inventory on a Saturday. With no lessons going on, Saturday was the day the healer was least likely to be interrupted by pupils poisoned in potions or half changed into heaven knew what from bad transfigurations.
Harry decided to check the supply cupboard first and walked over quietly. Ever since his nails had decided to turn into lethal weapons he had developed the habit of keeping his hands in his pockets, but he pulled them out now. It was a matter of respect and Harry had a lot of that for Poppy. As he stood in the doorway of the supply cupboard he found his guess had been correct: the healer was standing on a small ladder looking at one of her top shelves.
"Um, Poppy," he said after a moment, knowing that the woman would remain engrossed in her inventory until he made himself known, "please may I speak to you?"
The healer turned instantly and smiled as soon as she saw him.
"Good morning, Harry," she said in a warm, motherly tone, "I'll be down in just a minute."
Harry nodded and half smiled back before waiting patiently for Poppy to finish what she was doing. The woman efficiently ticked off lists on her clipboard that was hovering next to her and then climbed down the ladder.
"Now, Harry," she said in the tone she reserved for patients who had become more like family, "what can I do for you today?"
Harry frowned slightly and then decided to just come out with it.
"I think I'm in heat," he said shortly and tried not to appear too embarrassed.
For a moment Poppy looked at him thoughtfully and then she spoke; "Oh dear," was her considered opinion.
"I was thinking something along those lines myself," Harry replied with a slight shrug.
The woman frowned for a moment and then placed a supportive hand on his shoulder and steered him out of the store cupboard.
"Let's go to my office," she said firmly, "I think this requires some tea."
A few minutes later Harry was seated one side of Poppy's desk with a cup of sweet tea in hand and the healer was sitting on the other side with her own beverage. She appeared thoughtful, but thankfully not worried.
"So, Harry," Poppy began eventually, "what led you to this conclusion?"
"I'm displaying," he replied honestly. "I find myself doing the strangest things whenever the subject of my affections is around. I tried denial for a while, but a couple of my friends have noticed and I think I'm going to do something stupid if I don't handle this soon."
"And how long had this been going on?" his companion asked calmly.
"A little over a week," Harry admitted and took a sip of his tea.
It was somehow very easy to talk to Poppy about things like this; she never judged and she was very discrete.
"Do you mind telling me who you are attracted to?" the woman asked in a gentle tone.
This was the difficult bit: no matter what his hormones or his instincts were telling him, he was still incredibly embarrassed that he was fixated on his arch rival.
"Malfoy," he replied and did his best not to run and hide.
Poppy appeared surprised for a moment and then she nodded as if she found the idea logical.
"And is Mr Malfoy aware of your attentions?" the healer continued her enquiries.
"I don't know," Harry told her openly, "I haven't spoken to him. Please say you can just give me a potion and make this all go away."
The slightly pained expression on Poppy's face told him that a quick solution was not about to reveal itself.
"I'm sorry, Harry," she said sympathetically, "but it is not quite that simple. I could give you something to inhibit your sexual drive, but it would not last for long and repressing such urges can be very dangerous. When they came back you might find them overwhelming."
It was the news he had been dreading, but rather expecting; he shrugged in a resigned manner.
"So what do you suggest?" he asked eventually, knowing that he was probably not going to like the answer.
Poppy considered her reply for a moment and placed her cup and saucer on the table.
"Mr Malfoy should be made aware of the situation," the healer said firmly, "and there are some things about him I believe you need to understand, but I will have to ask him and the headmaster about that."
"He's part Veela," Harry said before she could go on, "and probably at least partially in heat himself."
Now Poppy looked very surprised.
"Hermione worked it out," Harry explained honestly.
"Miss Granger always was too clever for her own good," the healer observed with a small frown. "I'm afraid I cannot discus the subject further at the moment."
Harry nodded: Poppy's discretion was one of her finest qualities. He would not have liked her to discus some of the things she knew about him and he expected no less for any of her other patients.
"I understand," the Gryffindor replied, "I just thought you should know what I think I know."
"If you would like I will explain the situation to Mr Malfoy," Poppy offered helpfully, "and then we can proceed from there."
It was a tempting proposal, but even though it would be far easier to leave it in the healer's hands Harry shook his head.
"Thanks," he said earnestly, "but he'd take that as cowardice on my part and that won't help at all. I'll try myself and come back to you if he tells me to shove off."
Poppy gave him a supportive smile.
"I believe you may be correct," she told him calmly, "Mr Malfoy can be ... difficult at times. If you have no objections I will make the matter known to the headmaster just in case we require his assistance."
It was difficult to squelch the desire for as few people to know as possible, but Harry recognised the need to make Dumbledore aware of the situation so he nodded. If this got out of hand he was going to need all the support he could get.
End of Chapter 3
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