Fic: Of Apathetic Twinges (1/2)
Summary: Draco doesn't realize how numb he is until Potter brings back his emotions.
Warnings: Potion-induced violence, Dub!con (kind of)
Word count: 8400 (total)
A/N: I wanted to try my hand at both apathetic depression and mpreg, so… Here we are. I usually have slow plot lines but this one moves along quickly since I was mostly writing it for myself, but I hope others can enjoy it, too. :)
A shriek pierces through the voices chattering all around him but he is one of the few whose attention drifts in the direction of the sharp noise. It had been, after all, not a shriek of terror or pain but that of joy and laughter; an expected sound on a playground crawling with toddlers and children. His eyes find the child who'd made the noise—a boy, maybe a little over two years old, maybe a little under two feet tall, bundled tightly in winter wear—and he watches as the child chases nothingness, half-waddling, half-running to follow some unknown adventure over the woodchips. A woman stands at the edge of the boxed area, smiling, laughing, calling out encouragingly—the mother.
He's never felt particularly paternal before, has never truly considered having and raising a child of his own, but as he slowly eats his lunch with cold-numbed fingers while continuing to watch, eyes taking in the child's sudden stumble and subsequent wail, Draco thinks, I want one.
"Damn. I'm with Malfoy."
Draco pauses only a step away from being seen by the occupants of the cubicle—Potter's cubicle. That hadn't been Potter's voice. Potter didn't have a huffy voice like that anymore, not since they were schoolboys. It's rude to eavesdrop, he knows, but his feet stay planted where they are like they have a mind of their own; they may as well have as they receive no contrary cue from him. He decides to listen.
"Malfoy's not so bad," comes Potter's deeper tones, placating almost. Potter is one to keep the peace.
A scoff of disbelief and the other voice says, "Have you worked with him lately? It's like he's, I don't know, tapped in the head or somethin'."
Draco blinks, not sure he understands the intention of that statement. He has a good education, good skills; he's more than handy in a wand fight now. What else could be expected of him? He glances at the assignment folder in his hand, stares at it, as Potter responds, "He's gotten a bit… quiet, yeah, but he's still excellent at what he does. With him you'll definitely be finished by the weekend."
"Yeah, but he—"
"Trust me, mate," Weasley's rougher voice jumps in, "Thank your lucky stars he doesn't talk much anymore. You can't imagine what the git was like back at Hogwarts."
"I was only a couple years behind you," the unknown voice grumbles. At the same time, Potter sighs and says admonishingly, "Ron. Auror unity, remember? We're a team."
Rather than be ruffled by these comments, Draco calmly opens the assignment folder, tuning out the voices even as they continue to bicker about him, their owners failing to hear him shuffling about not three feet away—his actions are so muted now, what with Curse-Breaker and Auror training both. The assignment is a standard one, just another cursed, antique artifact. He's a lot of knowledge on subjects like these. The Aurors had recruited him from his initial job the Department of Mysteries for that reason specifically.
Reading over the parchment, his eyes fall on his assigned partner.
Oh, him. Draco neutrally recalls the large, stocky blond that had been in his year of Auror training, an enthusiastic, eager-to-please young man that had excellent casting skill. Now that he remembers the man, it is easy to connect his voice with that of the one coming from Potter's cubicle.
Sometimes, nowadays, it's difficult to memorize names and faces.
Closing the folder, Draco ultimately loses his little interest in the goings-on of Potter's cubicle and casually strides past, not even noticing when the voices within first pause and then continue much more softly as he does.
"Why did you let him talk to you like that?" Potter wearily asks as they exit a dilapidated apothecary. The summer heat isn't bad in Bridlington, a bit too cool for Draco actually, but the humidty in the air is strong, the salty smell of sea water and the stench of fish from the nearby fish mart almost overwhelming. Potter scrunches his nose against them, a light sheen of sweat on his brow; Bridlington isn't cool enough for him.
Draco stares at Potter until dark eyebrows draw together in uncomfortable confusion. He answers just as Potter is about to speak again, "How did he talk to me?"
Potter's confusion grows, evident in his disbelieving expression, and the grainy sand under his boots scrapes against the stone steps as he turns to face Draco, the sleeve of his crimson robes brushing against Draco's own.
"What do you mean, how did he—" Potter starts but cuts himself off and frowns at Draco for a long time. Finally, he says, "You're… different. You—" Another calculating stare, then he continues, "You used to not be like this. You would have gotten angry before, being snarked at like that."
Somehow, Draco knows that Potter is right. He is different, though he rarely thinks about that anymore. The shop owner's immediate harsh words upon hearing his surname had indeed caused a small stirring deep within him, a strange twinge, but a stronger, calmer something else had snuffed out the stirring before it evolved into anything, before it evolved into anger or jealousy or whatever it would have become when faced with additional accolades toward Potter and condemnations toward himself. Had the war even touched Bridlington? Draco wasn't sure the owner had a right to jump on the Hate bandwagon but what was there to do about it? He shrugs uncaringly.
"It doesn't matter. Things change," he says to Potter and then glances at the sky. The entire day had been overhung with clouds but it seems darker now and Draco realizes how late it is. "Are you hungry?"
Potter doesn't appear as though he wants to drop the original subject so easily, still frowning away like a portrait with an unsightly blemish, but he eventually nods and moves away from the apothecary front, placing a hand on the small of Draco's back to encourage him along as well. "Yeah. Let's just grab something quick and take it back to the hotel. We can organize our notes and follow any leads tomorrow morning."
Three young children race past them on bicycles, shouting taunts at one another as they weave down the street. Draco watches them until Potter tugs him in a different direction.
Oh, that's right, he recalls, I need a child.
Potter pulls uselessly against the chain around his ankle for another few minutes before finally collapsing back against the wall beside Draco. He glances over and gives a small smile that doesn't quite reach his bruised eyes.
"I have to admit," he rasps, "I didn't see this coming."
Draco nods in agreement and then turns his disinterested stare to the grate above them that allowed drainage from the road above to drip in—charmed so no one can see them down here, no one can hear them. The underground flood tunnel is like a cylindrical dungeon, with a small amount of water trickling through the center over their already soaked boots. He isn't as injured as Potter, only a couple of scratches here and there, maybe a bruise or two, but he also hadn't put up quite the fight that Potter had against their attackers. He simply hadn't felt like it, knowing that there were more assailants than the pair of them could handle, though Potter had done surprisingly well being both physically disadvantaged and using wild, wandless magic. Draco might have even felt an impressed twinge afterwards, but he isn't positive on that. Certain feelings, sometimes, are difficult to remember now.
"We shouldn't have left our wands in the room," Potter sighs, voice scratchy and rough. He closes his eyes and lightly bangs his already injured head on the stone as though to punish himself. "Even if it was just to grab breakfast from the lobby, we shouldn't have left our wands—constant vigilance and all that."
"We couldn't have known they had been tipped off and were waiting for us," Draco answers indifferently.
"Robards will chew our heads off when we get back."
"Most likely. If we get back."
Potter looks at Draco then, but his expression is unreadable.
They sit in silence for a long while before the wards containing them to the small area waver, the vibrations in magic echoing off the curved walls. Potter leaps to his feet defensively, having to bend awkwardly in the small tunnel, and Draco passively rises next to him. It's not that he is resigned or doesn't care, but it's hard to bother with concern or fear. Three cloaked men step through the wards, their bodies awkwardly bent as well and their faces half-hidden by their hoods. Still, Draco thinks they look familiar even with the shadows cast by the thick fabric and the dim light. Perhaps he'd seen their pictures in his files on the potion smuggling ring he and Potter were to be finding—well, had found, that is, if being captured by the smugglers in turn still counted.
One of the men grins maliciously at them and says, "We have decided on satisfying deaths for a Hero and a blood traitor."
Potter scowls through his bloodied face. "You're adding a lot of charges to your already long list—"
"Spare me the threats," the man answers snidely and the two flanking him snicker as though he's told a joke. It vaguely reminds Draco of Crabbe and Goyle. Huh. He hasn't thought about them in a long time.
The man continues, "By the time the Auror Department discovers what remains of the two of you down here, we'll be long gone." He grins again, this time showing snaggly teeth. "They'll never even know we were here."
"Your combined charges at the moment warrant a maximum of five years in Azkaban," Draco informs them tonelessly. "However, should you add double homicide—"
"What're you on about? Shut it!" the man snarls, throwing back his hood and glowering at Draco. An ugly scar climbs one side of his head, etching a path through the short hair on his scalp. Draco is again hit with a small twinge that he should remember this man. "A deserter like you deserves worse than death for taking up with his lot," the man jerks his head at Potter, "and I've wanted him dead for more than a decade now."
"Get over it, Rowle," Potter says, voice hard and low in the way that Draco has come to recognize as fury. He dimly wonders if Potter will try attacking them again, but is mostly preoccupied with remembering Thorfinn Rowle, former Death Eater.
So Draco had recalled the man's face not from the smugglers' files but rather from service under Voldemort. He and Potter hadn't found the smugglers after all then.
"Been tailin' you for a long time, Potter," Rowle adds, digging around in his cloak before pulling out two small vials. He smirks. "Lucks on our side that just the Malfoy brat was with you this time, but I'd've liked to have that Weasley, too."
Rowle nods to the two other men who have only chuckled darkly through the exchange and they both lift their wands. Potter immediately lunges but a spell hits him in the chest and causes him to fall back with a cry. A spell hits Draco as well and he stumbles into the wall behind him, head spinning, limbs heavy, and eyes cloudy—a numbing spell, he thinks. He hears a warble of words coming from Rowle but it takes a moment for them to make any sense to him as one of the men manipulates his body into a kneeling position.
"—and'll transform your minds to those of beasts," Rowle says, grinning wildly as he approaches Draco. He lifts one of the vials, uncorked, to Draco's lips, though Draco weakly lifts a hand to push it away. It's a sad attempt and, undeterred, Rowle grabs Draco by the chin to force his mouth open and pours in the contents. The potion first tastes of smelly quidditch shoes and then troll dung. Draco tries to spit it out but Rowle's hand moves over his mouth and nose both, forcing him to swallow or asphyxiate.
When he's released, Draco collapses on the damp floor of the tunnel, choking, gasping, and stomach burning. The fire spreads outward to the tips of his fingers, down to his toes, and up behind his eyes. He distantly hears Potter putting up a better struggle than he had. The end result is the same; soon Potter is down and gasping with pain next to him. There is a sharp clang! as the chains on their ankles disappear.
"I rather think I'd enjoy watching how this plays out," Rowle mocks but one of the men behind him makes a distressed noise and he scowls and snaps, "But I haven't managed to elude capture for six years by staying in one place too long. Have fun ripping one another to shreds. I heard the eyes are ususally the first targets. Good luck with that."
The wards waver as Rowle and the two lackeys pass through again, their harsh laughter fading with each vibration.
Draco gasps against the burning, hearing Potter do the same, each of them fighting the potion boiling within. Venganza del Lobo—Wolf's Revenge—is Draco's best guess: the vegeance of a Spanish alchemist on those who had shunned lycanthropy. His human body won't change, he knows, but his mind has already begun deteriorating to that of a vicious animal. He can hear it in his head, can almost feel it pushing against his consciousness with snarls and growls and taking control of his senses, telling him to fight, to devour the other presence between the wards.
There can only be one of us!
Get rid of the other!
Tear him to pieces!
An inhuman growl sounds and Potter crouches only a few feet away, eyes feral and lips drawn back over human teeth in an animal snarl. Then Potter winces and struggles to speak.
"Mal… foy… Run!" is all he manages before his eyes fog and he lunges at Draco.
Draco dodges the first lunge but Potter is on him in no time, one hand ripping out fine strands of hair as Potter jerks his head back, the other coming to wrap around his throat, clenching. He throws an arm up to push Potter off but gets bitten instead, the hand in his hair moving to scratch deeply close to his eye. The beast within Draco roars in frustration, still battling on the edge of his mind.
Potter is stronger, Draco numbly tells the invasive haze, his body going limp as he lets Potter wrap both hands around his throat without a fight.
I can't win.
What reason do I have to fight?
A memory of a two-year-old boy laughing on a playground flashes to the forefront of Draco's thoughts, bringing with it an aching twinge that seems to open a door to his mind, the potion flooding in and fogging it so that he is forced take a mental step aside.
He does so calmly; he's about to die anyway.
Potter lifts him a few inches off the curved wall by his neck and then slams him back down with a snarl, green eyes terrifyingly ferocious yet entirely unfocused. He's pinned to the floor again, vision dotting as the hands at his throat tighten further, and the beast in his mind howls in anger, its delayed control weak. Still, it manages to bend a knee and get a leg between him and Potter despite the awkward position. His booted foot presses forcefully against Potter's sternum.
With a agonizing yelp, Potter releases his grip and scrambles back, slipping in the water and slime of the tunnel as he fumbles at his chest. Draco suspects Potter's xyphoid process has been snapped, but it's not enough. He has only time to take a few gasps of air when Potter's glare settles on him again.
I can't win, he repeats, his voice merely a whisper in his own head.
The potion's beast snarls in response as he's again slammed against the wall under Potter's resumed attack, hands returning to scratching and tearing their way toward his throat.
I can't win.
Fine, the animal voice growls back. Then submit.
Submit to him.
Good for breeding.
Submit to him and you will not be killed in turn.
Dazedly, Draco agrees, Just like animals.
He feels himself go slack under Potter, the fight leaving his body as it had left his mind. Strangely, his mind seems to fog even more, as though he's willingly allowing the beast to have more control—as though the twinging, those strange emotions he no longer recognizes locked down deep somewhere, agree with the potion's chosen course of action. Dimly, Draco thinks it is probably an ideal time to battle the potion's effects, to escape, yet he can't muster the strength to do so.
Potter's animal appears at first confused when Draco locks their eyes, but the clouding bloodlust swiftly changes to the understanding of a different kind of lust when he arches so that their bodies touch sensually against one another.
Breed me, the animal demands. It sounds so loud in Draco's ears that he wonders if he had in fact said it out loud. He receives his answer soon enough as Potter quickly, roughly, flips him onto his stomach and begins tearing at his clothes, snarling dominance all the while. Potter's blunt nails continue to scratch carelessly into his skin, the simple muggle shirt and trousers he'd worn that morning made short work of. Potter manages to get the shirt over his head, but it's still tangled about his arms, binding him—he doesn't fight it, letting Potter have all the control as the man begins biting viciously at his neck and shoulders, marking him.
Draco obediently lifts his hips, drawing his knees under himself, when Potter tugs at his waist, yanking his trousers down his thighs. Somewhere, behind the beast and those strange emotions invading his mind, he thinks, This is going to hurt, as Potter settles behind him, heavy, hot, and hard.
And he is correct, of course, because the only thing that has prepared him for Potter's brutal penetration and violent thrusting is his willingness toward the act, and that doesn't count for much. He can feel the sharp tears, blood running down his thighs and he grunts and gasps at Potter's force, bracing his shirt-bound arms as best he can. The skin on his knees opens and bleeds as he is steadily rocked against the wet floor. Potter's fingers and nails digging into the soft flesh of his waist release him for but a second before the large hands relocate to wrap under him, clenching his thighs, muscled arms locking against the jut of his hips so that his entire lower half is conquered by Potter.
It hurts, like he's being torn apart, and Draco grinds his teeth against the pain. Then the beast is returning with its fog, guiding him to focus on the fluctuating power between them—the physical connection of their bodies a bridge for their individual magics. Potter's probes at Draco's, somehow both hesitant and demanding in its confusion between Potter and Potter's beast, and the fog encourages Draco's own magic to be accommodating, to be pliant and agreeable. He feels the snap when their magics meld, like a crack of static electricity. Briefly, there is an uncertainty of who will take the newly formed collection of joined power, and then the magic rushes to settle within Draco, as if answering some call. He feels his body tingling as the miniscule womb forms, the magic encouraging his organs to begin the inconceivably slow shift to make room for the expected growth and new parts.
As though realizing that the intention behind their coupling is complete, Potter's thrusts become erratic and then he stiffens, sinking his teeth into the junction of Draco's shoulder and neck one last time as he comes.
Draco's heart pounds in his ears, his jaw is sore from being clenched, his arms aching from being uncomfortably bound, the scratches and bites from Potter sting and burn. Yet nothing hurts as much as his throbbing backside, but he's careful to wait until Potter pulls out and flops down next to him before he dares to move. A glance shows the man-beast to have fallen into some post-coital snooze, shirt discarded and trousers pushed down his thighs so that his cock hangs out, glistening with Draco's blood.
Draco grips the wall for support as he eases into a standing position, legs shaking terribly. He unbinds his arms from the shirt and, trembling and wincing, uses it to wipe up most of the blood before attempting to pull up his trousers. He gasps and nearly falls over from the sharp pain that shoots through him as he bends to grab them from where they have fallen around his ankles. He locates Potter's shirt nearby and stiffly tugs it on, but the bite marks still show because Potter has a broader build and the neckline of the large shirt hangs to one side. It's not that he is ashamed, that he wants to hide the marks—he doesn't much care, to be honest—but he knows Potter well enough to predict the man's remorse.
He can already feel the beast in his mind fading, the twinges returning to their locked nothingness, and knows that Potter's is likely doing the same, the short-life of the potion having run its course. Just before it disappears completely, Draco hears the beast whisper, You will have your child.
He blinks down at Potter.
They were supposed to have killed one another by now.
"Fuck, Malfoy, truly. I'm so sorry."
Draco studies Potter's pained expression for a moment and then his eyes drop to Potter's burned and bloodied hands—the result of wandlessly removing the wards. He waves his own mostly unharmed hand unconcernedly. "What's done is done. We had no control, and it could have been worse." At Potter's confusedly aghast look, he adds, "You could have killed me."
Potter cringes, sharply looking away, and they continue their slow trek back into Bridlington—slow due to Draco's pace but he tries not to delay them too much. It had been morning when Rowle and his cronies grabbed them, but now the sun has already set and only a few streetlamps light their path, the sound of ocean waves crashing on shore in the distance filling the silence. Rowle had taken them a good distance from the fishing port, but Draco doesn't doubt that the area is crawling with Aurors by now. After all, when neither the number one Auror nor his former-Death-Eater assignment partner perform the routine check-in, something must be wrong.
Draco manages a few steps before he realizes that Potter has stopped. He turns back but Potter is staring downward and wearing a nervously pale expression.
"I think…" Potter begins, voice rough from the growls and snarls, but he swallows, briefly closes his eyes, and starts over. "I think we need to get checked out immediately. As soon as we get back. I mean, of course we are, but not just for..." He waves vaguely at the obvious wounds they share. "I… I don't remember much, I was too far gone in that potion, but I feel like I was trying to, maybe…" He hesitates again and finally meets Draco's eyes as he touches his lower abdomen fearfully. "I don't think there were any protection charms to prevent our magics combining. Either one of us could be…"
Draco nods in understanding and assures, "As soon as we are cleared to leave, I will go to my private Healer."
This doesn't appear to relieve Potter in the slightest, but he nods anyway and they start walking again, both shivering against the cold night air in their poorly clothed states.
Potter may have been fighting the pull of the beast so hard that he barely remembered what had transpired, but Draco had been awake enough to know exactly what had nested inside of him. Now returned to his right mind, he thinks he should do as Potter says and immediately go to a Healer to have the bundle of magic removed. If left alone, it could evolve into a living being.
The Manor is empty when Draco finally arrives home the next morning, weary from a night of answering questions—questions that were almost accusatory in nature because of his connection with Rowle. Potter had been most infuriated by them, even going so far as to having thrown a chair and demanding why the victim of an attack, an Auror, was being treated like a suspect. In all truthfulness, Draco hadn't minded and simply answered with the same neutrality that he approached all things now.
The only point at which he broke that neutrality was when it came time to describe their actions under the influence of the potion. One look at Potter's miserable expression and he found himself lying, stating that they had merely fought each other a bit before passing out—the blotchy, finger-shaped red and purple bruises on his neck a rather telling indication of who would have won if given more time. Potter had appeared briefly shocked by his lie but had stutteringly gone along with the story, giving Draco a curiously sympathetic look as though he didn't understand that Draco was lying for him rather than out of self-preservation.
The Manor is empty—no Father because he's been Kissed, no Mother because she's been murdered under the pretense of revenge, no house-elves because Granger's Magical Creature Amendments took them away, however reluctant they were to leave. Draco is accustomed to the silence that graces the dusty hallways. His boots clack loudly on the marble floors in his usual route through the vacant home. He only uses the same four rooms now—bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, library—and only knows the halls between them.
It has been so long since he went anywhere else in the Manor that he doesn't really remember what the rest of the place looks like.
A bath, a nap, and then he can go see his personal Healer to have the magic bundle removed. Or maybe he'd go tomorrow. He has two days to rest before they expect him back in his cubicle. Two days is plenty of time. It would take at least two weeks for the magic to settle and begin to grow.
He'll get it taken care of before then.