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A Veela's Allure

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Chapter 1

In an unknown location, somewhere in woods in Europe…

The gathering was large, yet somber as many young maidens gathered around a single figure, lying on a bed in the middle.  The only sounds that could be heard were the soft sobbing of young women off to the sides.  Katarina looked to her mother as she laid there in her frail, weakened state.

“Is there anything we can do for you?  Any pain we can relieve you of?” she asked, trying to keep her voice even and her desperation under control.

“Thank you my dear, but no.  I feel no pain, just my life force slipping away.” She said feebly.  She had been deteriorating for quite a few decades, and knew her time in this realm was coming to a close. 

“Please, mother.  There must be something I can do.  Is there any last wish I can fulfill before you pass on to rejoin our ancestors?” Katarina asked, ready and willing to fulfill any and every task her mother asked.  Nearby handmaidens heads raised suddenly from their silent tears, prepared for a command.

“My daughter, there is something you can do.  I would like to bestow a gift.” She replied with a fond smile, raising a shaking hand to cup her daughter’s cheek.

The room went entirely silent before filling with a quiet murmur.  Their kind did not die very often, commonly living more than 500 years.  When it was time to leave this realm and join with their ancestors in the great beyond, they did not often let their remaining magic go to waste and choose to bestow a gift upon a worthy recipient.  This magic, old and wise, would rise and elevate the recipient in their community, both with their ability to be chosen as well as the respect that their newfound powers will bring.  It was an unspoken fact that when the admired and loved Angelina died, she would pass along her gifts to her daughter, who would soon replace her in their society as a member of the upper council as well as an esteemed member of the court.  The court consisted of the chosen few who these powers are bestowed upon.

As their people die so seldom, and those who do are very careful to whom they bestow gifts upon, there aren’t many court members, in fact, there are currently only 5.  Those who pass on who do not wish to give their gift to someone else will often give it to the community in a form of a protection, such as the tree in the center of their community upon which they now surround, which was given with the essence of the great Ravijojla.  The tree is used to meditate and connect with their ancestors, pray during times of hardship and once every so hundred years when one of their own comes to pass, joining their ancestors in the trees.

Katarina smiled gracefully and grasped her mother’s free hand within her own. She had been preparing for her new role since before her mother had begun to decline.  She had known the day would come and wanted to be ready.  The community, knowing this would happen, had been initially skeptical, considering Katarina, was a mere 230 years old.  However, after all her efforts to include herself in both the community and political matters, she was finally accepted. 

“Yes, of course.  What would you ask of me?” she finally asked, after taking a moment to compose herself.

“Firstly, I ask that you watch over our people.  Ensure that they continue our traditions of love and acceptance.  Make sure they are strong and prosper.”

“All of this you know I will do, mother.  Always.” Katarina said.

“Then I have one last request, my dear.” Angelina said, sounding exhausted.

“Yes, mother?  Whatever it is I will do it.” Her daughter replied, determined.

“Bring me Draco Malfoy.”

 


 

I know I have no right to be here, but after everything I’ve done I feel like I at least owe the dead the respect of attending their funeral and honoring their lives.  Today they buried those lost during the war.  I didn’t know many of them, but I wish I had.  I have a lot of regrets about how I chose to live my life thus far.  Making enemies, betraying friends, mindlessly following orders I didn’t agree with out of both fear and obligation and putting my family before my morals.  It’s difficult for me to be too terribly critical of my parents and the decisions they made which took my life to this place.  After all, they too were scared, they too are human and they are my parents.  I love them.  I also knows that, while I was forced, in a way to do many things, I really could have made a decision to not at any time and face the consequences of that choice, even if that consequence was death.

So I knew, more than anyone else that I have no right to be here today.  Yet, here I am, viewing the service from behind a tree, both for protection and to give the grieving privacy.  Some older wizard, likely representing the Ministry of Magic, was speaking.

“And so, here we are today.  The events which lead us to this moment could not have been predicted or prevented by anyone.” I rolled his eyes at this, as I know that the Order of the Phoenix had been warning the Ministry of this war for years, long before it was unavoidable.  The man continued, “However, all of that aside, today we honor great men and women who sacrificed their lives for ours.  They fought for freedom and justice.  They fought for our family, our sister and brothers, our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives and our friends.  Today we honor that sacrifice and make sure that their lives are not forgotten.  And now, I will hand it over to the boy, really man, who saved us all, ending the war for good.”

Sure enough, Potter rose from a seat, looking caught off guard, like he hadn’t prepared a speech.  He was dressed in unassuming muggle clothes, black, but in good condition.

“I’m going to start by saying that I did not save us all; those we are here to honor and respect did.  No one can be anywhere, and while I did all I knew to do, I could never have been everywhere and were I alone we surely would have failed.  I will forever regret the series of events that lead to this result and always wonder if there was more that could be done.  However, rather than dwelling on what might have been, I offer for your consideration what I believe many of these fallen hoped for.  They hoped for a world where tyranny is a myth.  They hoped for a world where people were considered equal, regardless of the ‘purity’ of their blood or lack thereof.  They wanted a peaceful world, with a secure, uncorrupted government,” he glanced at the Ministry’s representative, who met him with a glare, “and people who loved each other, undivided by class or station.  If we don’t make these changes, then their sacrifices were for nothing.  If we don’t make changes, Voldemort wins.”

With that, Potter took a seat, the crowd remaining contemplatively silent.  I think it is my dealings with Potter that I regret the most.  It all began that fateful day, first year, when after arriving at Hogwarts I reached out a hand of friendship and expected Potter to take it.  It shouldn’t have surprised me that much due to how our first two altercations went, the first in Madam Malkin’s clothing shop in Diagon Alley and later on the train.  I behaved arrogantly and foolishly on both occasions and cannot imagine in retrospect how anyone would have accepted an offer of friendship after such abhorrent behavior.  After that, our rivalry was easily made due to my petty retaliations and general youthful disagreements between houses.  I’m certainly not saying it’s all my fault, I think Potter had a hand in our relationship being what it was.  However, when I wasn’t directly causing strife between us I still wasn’t helping the situation.

Distracted by my thoughts, I hadn’t notice that Weasley had realized I was there.  However, he announced his presence by shoving me, none too gently, into the tree.

“How dare you show your face after all you’ve done.” He said through gritted teeth.  His eyes were red from crying, while darkened bags showed bruise-deep.  He was grieving and I didn’t blame him in the least for anything that he said.  I deserved it.

“I’m so sorry for your…” before I could finish my sentence however, his fist flew up, knocking my jaw and making my teeth clang together painfully before my head whipped back and hit the trunk.  I lifted up a hand to feel for blood, which I could taste, like copper in my mouth.

“Fred died because of you!  Do you think I’ll ever be the same?  That George will ever be the same?  Our mother!?” he said, roughly poking my chest with each sentence.  I simply sat there, waiting for whatever he wanted to say.  I know what I’ve done and have no intention of fighting back.  Before he could do anything more, however, Potter was there pulling him back by his collar.

“Ron, stop.  I know emotions are high today, but this won’t solve anything.”

“You know what he did.” Weasley said, showing no signs of backing down.

“It doesn’t matter what he did.  Today isn’t about retaliation, it’s about putting Fred and everyone else to rest.” Potter reminded him, his tone softening, but still resolute.  Weasley looked at him searchingly before his face crumpled and he wrapped his arms around Potter, collapsing into a fit of tears.  Potter accepted him easily, saying a few words of encouragement.  I had never seen them like this before, but then again, we had never been put in this position before, worn down, exhausted and grieving for the numerous loved ones lost. 

Then, Mrs. Weasley came striding up, strong as ever, and put her arm around him, led him away with only a single concerned look directed at Harry over her shoulder.  Harry sighed and rubbed a hand down his face.  Having taken a moment to collect himself, he took a look at me, calculating.

“Are you ok?” he asked finally.

“…yes.” I answered hesitantly, not knowing why he was asking.

“Good.   Now why are you here?” he asked, crossing his arms, but looking genuinely curious.

“Honestly, after everything I’ve done, I know no one wants me here and that I don’t deserve to attend considering that I am to some degree the reason we’re all here.  However, after everything,” I stopped to clear my suddenly dry throat and regain my composure.  “After everything, I thought that paying my respects and taking a moment to honor their sacrifices was the least I could do.”

Potter seemed to consider that for a moment, before nodding.  He then turned to walk back to where Mrs. Weasley had walked off, meeting Professor Lupin and my cousin, Nymphadora Tonks.  The two handed to him, a ginger haired baby.  I almost wondered if it was a Weasley I had forgotten existed before the child’s hair changed to jet black and eyes turned to emerald green upon being held by Potter.  That gave him a smile.  While the rest of my family always saw Nymphadora’s metamorphmagus as a mutation, preferring to forget her existence, I always found her peculiar talent to be rather charming.

Soon I realized that most everyone had walked away, out of sight.  However, just as I went to push off the tree and apparate home two people appeared to my right.  The woman was quite stunning, but before I could contemplate the situation more, she grabbed my arm and we were twisting through space, a vortex of movement as we left the cemetery.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Over the river and through the woods...

I landed hard on my back, knocking the wind out of me.  I took a moment to catch my breath before opening my eyes.  Trees.  I’m looking at trees.

“Did you let him go?” I heard a feminine voice ask.

“Of course not, the apparate just went a bit wonky.  It’s okay, he’s around here somewhere.” a deeper, masculine voice replied.

“I hope he’s ok.  The Allmother didn’t have us bring him to her just for us to break him.”  Their voices were getting closer now.  I wasn’t sure if I should call out, announcing my location, or stay silent and hope they pass.  Before I could decide, however, the branches of the tree next to me were pushed aside to reveal a beautiful woman.  Her hair was nearly white, and reached her waist.  It was pulled back on both sides and twisted artfully back and away from her face.  Her light eyes shined bright as she saw me.

“Found him!” she shouted with a grin.

“I told you he was around.” Said the man as he found us.  He himself was a direct contrast to her.  Dark skinned, half black if I had to guess, with dark chocolate brown eyes.

“Welcome, Mr. Malfoy, to Białowieża forest." 

“I’m sorry, what word was that?  How in the world do you even begin to pronounce that?”

“The closest your untrained wizard tongue will come to pronouncing it correctly is boosh-tah-bay-yo-vay-skah.” She replied with an impish grin.

“Why am I here?” I demanded, growing tired of this game.  I didn’t wait for her to help me up and stood myself, brushing off some forest foliage. 

“Well, you were apparated here, of course.” She said like he was being silly. 

“Obviously.  I didn’t ask how I got here, I asked why I’m here.” I replied with a roll of my eyes.

“Oh, that.  Just following orders.” She retorted, brushing off the question.

“Whose orders?”

“No matter.  Tell me about yourself.” She said jovially.

“No.” I said, walking away from her and whoever the silent type man was.  If she wasn’t going to help me, I’d help myself.

“Where are you going silly willy?” he said with a giggle, looping her arm with the man’s and heading after me.  I didn’t reply, lengthening my stride to get away from her quicker.  She didn’t seem to have a problem keeping up with me though, dragging the poor sod along behind her.  “Well, I am Marcia, and this is my mate, Benji.”

“That’s Benjamin to anyone who isn’t her.” He said with a fond smile.

“Wait.  Hold up.  Mates?” I said, stopping where I stood.  If they were mates, that meant that Marcia was…

“Yes!  I’m a Veela.” She said casually, picking out some dirt from under her nails. 

“A Veela?”  The only time I had seen a Veela was at the 1994 Quidditch world cup.  Bulgaria’s national team brought Veela as their official mascot.  However, those Veela were dressed elegantly.  Marcia here was dressed in a faded band tee and trousers with dirt smeared on them.  Underneath the dirt, however, anyone who looked close enough could see her defined features.  Her cheekbones were a bit more prominent than others, her eyes too big and her skin too clear, so clear it almost seemed to glow.

“Of course.  Now stop twiddling your thumbs.  We are expected.” She said, stomping ahead and leading the way.

“Expected by whom?  That ‘Allmother’ you spoke of earlier.”

“Mmm.   Heard that, did you?” she murmured.  “Come along now.  We’re nearly there.  It’s just through that break in the forest there.”

“What is?!” I retorted, growing exasperated.  Letting out a sigh, Marcia stopped suddenly and turned to me, her face too close to mine to be comfortable.  I noticed that her eyes, normally a light indigo, were suddenly seeping red on the edges.  Her previously joyous mood was gone. 

“You are trying my patience young one.  Calm yourself.  All will be revealed to you soon enough.” She said, softening her voice towards the end and reaching up to take a leaf out of my hair with the care of a mother.

“Young?  I’ll have you know I’ve reached my majority.  I’m 17 and an adult.”

“17! Ha!  You really are young.  The youngest in this lot.” She laughed.

“Surely you cannot be too much older than me.”

“You’d be surprised.” She said smugly.

Just then, we reached the break in the trees.  I took a few more steps forward, keeping my head down so as to not trip over some thick roots that were twisting out of the ground.  When I looked up, I saw the glittering beginnings of a small city.  The buildings were beautiful and richly decorated with fine architecture.  Before I could examine it further, there were two people, no…two Veelas who had apparently been waiting for us.  As soon as we were in their sight, they rushed over and each took one of my arms.

“Hurry!  We haven’t much time left.” The taller of the two said.  They began to rush me through the gilded city, passing homes and storefronts in the blink of an eye.  What was happening?  Had they taken me all this way only to kill me now?  Was I some sort of ritual Veela sacrifice that the wizarding world didn’t know about?

“Please.  Whatever you want.  I’ll do anything.  I can give you money.” I offered.  I found myself panicking and choking up.  I hadn’t survived the war only to die alone in an unpronounceable forest when no one knew where I was.  Not that anyone cared at this point.

“Please.” The shorter Veela holding me scoffed.  “As if you could offer us anything we did not already have.” Well, that wasn’t reassuring.

As we walked closer and closer to the center of town, I saw that that there was a large tree, larger than any tree I’ve ever seen (including the womping willow) taking over the inner most circle of the city.  I could now see hundreds of Veela, a various states of distress, lift their heads to look at me with something akin to hope in their eyes.  Well, that’s it.  I’m surrounded.  There’s no escaping now.

They continued to lead me through the hoards of people to the center of the tree; its trunk.  There, an ancient older Veela was lying on a cot.  Her long silver hair would have spilled onto the floor if not for the young maiden braiding it now.  The old woman looked at her kindly as the girl finished before stepping away.

“Hello Mr. Malfoy.” The kind older woman said, her voice cracking towards the end.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but something about her commanded instant respect and admiration.

“Ma’am.” I replied, unsure of what else to call her.

“I’m sure you have many questions.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be around to answer them” she said, with a meaningful look to the beautiful woman holding her hand.  “I wish I had more time with you; to explain, to get to know you, to watch you learn and grow.  However, things being what they are, we must be swift.” With that she closed her eyes, held out her arm and gave a quick nod.

The girl standing next to her, who I just noticed bears a striking resemblance to the dying woman took her wrist in her hand and with a sharpened, protruding talon, cut a line across her wrist.  I had just opened my mouth to protest when the taller Veela, who I had forgotten was still holding my arm, suddenly repeated the action to me before placing my rapidly bleeding wrist over that of the frail old woman.  I cried out, but tried to stay as quiet as I could, some part of me still not wanting to upset or disturb the poor dying woman.  As our blood mixed, her eyes closed and body lying limp on the cot, the woman began to speak with a thick accent I hadn’t noticed before. 

“Aj Angelina Šarapovová, sa dať svoje dedičstvo, svoj život zdroj, mojej právomoci Draca Malfoya. Dávam to s zdravej mysle a ducha na konci svojho života. Aj keď zomriem, bude moje schopnosti žiť v ňom. Mohol by využiť ich, môže pestovať im, môže strážiť, môže ich použiť tiež. Amen.” As she finished a light began to shine from our wrists, still pressed together.  It moved slowly up my arm and then down my chest, settling on my heart before fading.  

Done chanting, she opened her eyes one last time and raised her uninjured hand to the young woman’s face, looking in her eyes.  “Watch over him.” The woman tearfully nodded.  Then, the elderly woman turned her head, ever so slightly, to look at me.  With her dying breath, she said, “Welcome, mláďa, to the family.” And with that, her hand fell from the woman’s face, her eyes closed and the life left her body. 

And then, my world went black…

 


 

I was exhausted.  Today had been trying to say the least.  After Ron’s confrontation with Draco Malfoy, everyone in attendance apparated to the Burrow for lunch.  Mrs. Weasley, in her time of grieving, could not stop doing chores.  She had been cooking up a storm and that combined with the food people had sent with their condolences was more than enough for an army.  Even now, Mrs. Weasley was diligently cleaning every pot, pan, plate, fork and spoon left over from lunch.  These were normally chores that she would charm to do themselves, however she insisted on doing them by hand and she insisted on doing them alone.

Now, in my time of solitude I thought back to the argument with Draco Malfoy.  The war, like everyone else, had changed him.  However, while it broke others, it seemed to change Draco for the better.  He was more mature, less thoughtless, kinder and as far as I could tell, genuinely repentant for his actions.  After everything that had happened, the last thing I want is an enemy.  I have known for months, even before the final battle that I will reach out to him when we return to school in the fall.  I’ve made a conscious effort to start thinking of him as Draco instead of Malfoy.

I have come to realize that we have more in common than I once thought.  Impossible things were asked of both of us.  Draco was just a child when he was forced to join the Death Eaters and their ranks.  Frankly, I don’t know if I could have denied my parents anything were they still alive.  I cannot expect him to do any different.  Also, while I still have many friends who have survived the war, many of them are too broken up to discuss what transpired and frankly, I need to talk about it.  I need closure.

After talking with him after we begin our 8th year, I hope to at some point bring everything back up.  Draco was in the heat of things, like me.  Draco has been lucky and hasn’t lost too many people.  I think he’ll be in a better place than most to talk through everything.  I know to others it will seem like a quick change of heart, but I’ve been thinking about this for months as I sat in a tent, waiting for a lead so we could hunt down a horcrux.

One thing is for certain: I look forward to seeing Draco Malfoy, and soon.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Revealing the truth...

 The only thing I could feel was pain, clenching my eyes tightly.  It was like there was a living fire spreading throughout my body and charring all it left behind leaving me tender and sour.  My whole body ached and tingled with oversensitivity and my muscles were clenched so hard my teeth hurt from the pressure of my jaw.  The most pressing pain was concentrated at the bottom corners of my shoulder blades.  There was an unbearable bone-deep cracking, like the bones were lengthening, growing.  It was all I could do not to cry out in pain, only allowing strained whimpers to pass through my gritted teeth along with panting breaths.  It quickly became too much for me and I swear it’s as bad if not worse than the sectumsempra curse Harry cast on me in 6th year.

Just as I was considering the best way to call for help without unlocking my jaw I heard a door open and quick footsteps make their way over to my side.  

“Don’t worry Mr. Malfoy, these will pass soon.” A kind voice reassured me before I felt a sharp prick on the inside of my elbow.  Before I could even get my wits about me, I could feel the darkness take me again.

The next time I woke up the sun was down and I was alone.  I lifted an arm, testing it.  There was no detectable pain, just an overall lingering soreness, particularly in my chest, but it was a vast improvement.  I was almost too relieved to remember the series of events that led me here.  I had been kidnapped...I think.  The saddest part is that I don’t know if anyone would be looking for me until school starts, and I don’t show up.  I wasn’t sure if Goyle still considered me a friend after the shit show that went down in the Room of Requirement during the Battle of Hogwarts.  While Pansey and I were on good terms and had written the occasional letter since the war ended, she was touring muggle Europe with her parents.  While I would like to think my parents are worried about me, it mattered little since they were both facing lifetime sentences in Azkaban.  

I sighed and ran a hand down my face before taking in my surroundings.  While I would have assumed I was in some sort of hospital, in reality it was a minimal, but posh room.  It didn’t have any more than it needed, just a simple bed, a chair in the corner, a nightstand and a wardrobe.  However, each item was obviously handcrafted and presumably expensive if growing up in Malfoy Manner has taught me anything about the price of upper crust décor.  I sat up to turn on the lamp on the nightstand, as the sun had just dipped bellow the tree line through the window on the opposite wall.  As I did, I heard the door creep open, revealing the woman from earlier, who cried as she held the old woman – the Allmother’s- hand.  Without as much as a single word or passing glance she entered, sitting on the corner chain while looking through the window at the descending sun.

While she was as lovely as ever with her long, platinum blonde hair braided intricately behind her, upon closer inspection she had dark, deep circles beneath her eyes while her eyes themselves were red and bloodshot.  Still, she held herself upright and was otherwise composed.  She donned a stark white dress that was unassuming but flowed with the gentle wind from the open window.

“She was my mother you know.” She said without looking at me.

“The Allmother?” I asked.  She chuckled.

“Yes.  She isn’t really the Allmother.  That was a fond nickname given to her by our people.  Her funeral just ended.” Suddenly, the smile left her face leaving a frown in its place.

“What did she die from?” I asked hesitantly.

“Old age.  We do not die from illness only ill will and old age.” She said softly.  I considered that.  There wasn’t much the wizarding world knew of these private creatures.  Only a handful had ever been seen in the wild and even fewer were kept by people for spectacle, so it was very possible that this was true.  However, I myself had never met a Veela, though I had seen Fleur Delacour who was part Veela from afar.  I cannot imagine why one would track me down in the last moments of her life, which seemed to me to be the case.

“How did she know who I was?” I asked.

“The whole wizarding world knows your name now.” She said, turning to look at me with a raised eyebrow, as if to say, “that was a stupid question.”  And it was.

“Why am I here though?” I pressed.

“Angelina, my mother, asked for you.” She stated simply.

“But why?  And what did you do to me?” I demanded.  She sighed.

“Only what my mother asked.  Her last request was for us to bring you here and gift you.”

“This is a gift?!” I said, exasperated.  I had been trying to stay respectful in light of her loss, but to be fair I had practically been kidnapped and forced to participate in a blood ritual before some unknown and unprecedented amount of pain was inflicted on me.  If this was happening even a year prior I would have been a lot less concerned with her feelings.

“Yes, and you will see that one day.” She hissed.  “It was a generous gift, one that you don’t deserve and that others would have loved to have.” She huffed angrily one last time before slumping back against the chair, then looking at the clock on my nightstand.  “The second phase should start soon enough.”

“What second pha-” however, before my sentence ends I can feel the pain in my chest and shoulder blades flair up once again before my vision blurred.

“There will be people to tend to you.” She said, rising.  “Rest well, Mr. Malfoy.” And with that, she turned towards the door, opened it and left.

I felt my breathing come quicker as the corners of my vision grew darker and I slipped away, fearing the inevitable pain.

 


 

 

At the Burrow…

I’m not sure how long I’ve been sitting out here, underneath this oak tree, but I could see the sun beginning to dip bellow the horizon.  I’ve been finding myself out here more often than not recently, finding solace in the peaceful surroundings.  To be honest, it has been hard to stay in the house.  I can practically feel everyone’s grief surrounding me.  It’s especially difficult because every time I think about all we’ve lost, I cannot help but think about if I could have done more, tried harder, worked harder.  I’ve had all summer to process and grieve the war, but have come to realize that a lifetime won’t be enough time to get over everything that has happened these last 7 years.  So instead, I’ve begun to think to the future, both this year at Hogwarts and across the wizarding world.  There are going to be some major changes this year to be sure.  I cannot imagine how the world is going to begin to rebuild.

One of my goals for the year is to stay as far away from the spotlight and the tabloids as possible.  I’ve had plenty of attention for one lifetime, thank you very much.  I know there is going to be interest from the public on my life post-war, but frankly, it’s no one’s business but my own.  Luckily for me, I have some great friends that I know will be there for me this year, despite the mixed opinions of the media and public.  However, to be honest, it’s been hard this summer.  Ron and Hermione have really been withdrawn, allowing themselves to be consoled by each other and cutting out everyone else in the process.  I wish I could talk to George and grieve with him, but after Fred’s death, he hasn’t left his room yet this summer, the funeral aside.  It became quickly apparent that Mr. Weasley would be gone most of the time, working tirelessly to help pick up the pieces that was the Ministry of Magic.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Weasley had become reclusive, staying busy cooking food and cleaning the house by hand, not having touched her wand in weeks.

Finally there was the problem of Ginny.  Like me, she had found that her family were caught up in their own grief and unable to soothe her, and in light of that she had clung to me.  After the war, I think Ginny thought we would be together, but in reality, after getting to slow down a bit, I was forced to stop running away from some feelings I had been trying to deny.  Since I was young I had noticed boys more than girls, which was something Dudley loved to bring up right before he pushed me into a wall.  When I got to Hogwarts it was quickly obvious that there would constantly be eyes on me and when the Triwizard Tournament came around, I panicked.  I, in all honesty, would have liked to ask Cedric Diggory.  We weren’t close and I didn’t know him well enough, but I was attracted to him and appreciated him helping me out on the Black Lake challenge.  However, after he asked Cho, I realized it would probably be best to not stray from the norm.

I’m still not really sure why I led Ginny on.  It was during on obviously tumultuous time in my life, and she had made her feelings clear, but I think I was just trying to convince myself that I could be happy with a woman.  At the end of the day, I am who I am and whether I end up dragging some man into this mess I call a life or not, that’s the truth.  That being said, I wasn’t exactly out and didn’t intend to be, but Ginny was making that difficult.  She kept reaching for my hand and trying to get me alone.  I don’t blame her.  If someone had kissed me I would assume they liked me too.  I had done my best to discourage her, quickly stepping away from her proffered hand, never allowing us to be alone together, and spending time out here, lost in my thoughts.

As if she could read my mind, I hear a rustling of leaves and turned to see Ginny approaching.  She took a seat beside me, her back against the tree.

“I thought I might find you here.” She said softly.

“It’s peaceful.” I replied with a small shrug.

“There’s no need to be alone though.  I’m here.” She chuckled laying her head on my shoulder.  I sighed.

“Ginny…” I began.

“What?” she asked, lifting her head and looking at me.  “What has changed?  I need you right now.” She had begun to tear up.  I wanted to comfort her, but I didn’t want to make it any worse than it already was.

“I can be there for you, just not in the way you want.” I tried, looking away.

“Did I do something wrong?  Did I misunderstand?  I thought you liked me.  You kissed me.”

“That was a mistake.” I said bluntly.  Upon seeing the stricken look on her face I realized how that could sound.  “No.  That’s not how I meant that.” I backpedaled.  “I shouldn’t have said it that way.  What I meant was that I shouldn’t have led you on.  It has nothing to do with you as a person.”

“How can it not?” she asked, barely holding back her tears.  “You’ve known me for years.  I’ve liked you for years.  You never discouraged my attention and I assumed we never got together because of the war.  Once it was over, after you kissed me, I thought…well I thought-”

“You thought we’d be a couple.” I realized flatly.

“Yes.  How could I have been so wrong?” She was shaking her head now with a bemused expression.

“Honestly, I cannot say I’m sorry enough.  This is on me.  I should have explained to you a long time ago.  We could never have worked.”

“Why not?” she asked desperately. “I like you.  You get along with my family.  You’re best friends with my brother for god’s sake.  Is there someone else?  Is this about Cho?”

“No.  This isn’t about Cho.  I couldn’t have worked with her either.” I was struggling to explain this in a way she deserved without revealing too much.

“Then what is it?” she asked finally.  “You can tell me.”

I sighed and took my glasses off my face to rub my eyes.  I could feel the beginnings of a migraine.  It wasn’t fair to her to leave her in the dark, always wondering if she did something wrong.

“I’m only telling you this because I trust you, but you can’t tell anyone.  I haven’t even told Ron or Hermione.”

“I won’t tell a soul.” She said confused, but fiercely loyal.

“I know.” I nodded.  “The truth is…I’m not interested in women at all.  The truth is, I’m gay.”

I could see surprise fill her face and searching eyes, like she wasn’t sure if I was lying to her.  Then, I could see considered my words sink in and she thought back.  “Oh my god.  You’re gay.” She looked back at me with wide eyes.  “You’re totally gay!”

I couldn’t help but laugh a little at her amazed expression.  “Yes.  Yes, I am.”

“Wait.  Then why did you kiss me?  What about Cho?” she asked, confused.

“For that I am truly sorry.  I should never have kissed you or led you on.  I have been very confused and lost these past few years and tried to force myself to be something, someone I wasn’t.  It wasn’t until our kiss and the end of the war that I was forced to confront feelings I’ve had my whole life.” I admitted, feeling a bit vulnerable.

“So is there a guy?” she inquired with a small smile and a tilt of her head.

“Really?  You’re ok with this?” I asked, surprised.

“Well, it really had nothing to do with me.  Sure, I could be pissed you let me get ahead of myself, but I don’t know if anyone in your position could be expected to do anything better.” She admitted.  “As far as you being gay, I have no problem with that.  I know it’s still pretty controversial in some parts of the muggle world, but here it’s widely accepted.  George is gay.”

“He is?!” I asked, shocked.

“Yes.  People in the wizarding world don’t usually ‘come out’ as muggles call it.  While being straight is by far more common, being gay is not rare.  Generally, a person’s preferred gender is revealed when they start dating someone.” She said sweetly.  “There are definitely gay couples at Hogwarts, they might just be more discreet.  For several years George dated Oliver Wood.”

“Wood?  Really?  I thought he dated Katie Bell?” I was confused.  I know Oliver and had never gotten the impression he swung that way.

“Katie?  She’s three years younger than him.  No.  I think those rumors caused a rift in their relationship, though.  They broke up in their 6th year, when the war was rising and times were tense.” She admitted.  “In light of Fred’s death though Oliver has been writing George.  I don’t think he’s ready to talk to him, but I don’t think they’re over yet.”

I pondered everything she had just said and despite myself grew hopeful.  Maybe I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was.  This school year didn’t have to be another year of hiding from who I am, but could finally be me, embracing who I’m becoming.

“I’m not sure if and when you want to tell people, but know that I’ll be there for you when ever you do and that I’ll always have your back.”  She said standing up.  “I’m going to see if mum needs any help with dinner, but maybe later I can beat your butt in one on one quidditch.”

“You wish!” I said with a laugh as she jogged back to the house.

My mind was still reeling from everything I had just learned.  This year was going to be better.  I’m sure of it now.  I was going to put everything behind me, secrets, grudges, rivalries.  My thoughts turned again to Draco, as they often had this summer.  More than anything else, I thought things would change there.  I was becoming more and more convinced that our disagreements were a product of influence, environment and cultural prejudice.  Gryffindors all said Slytherins were no good and everything Draco did seemed to confirm that.  

Once I knew he had ties to Voldemort any attempts on his behalf to change my opinion would have fallen on deaf ears.  But, he wasn’t even trying to get into my good graces, which was another problem.  He was so adamantly against everything I stood for and believed in that we had no hope to be friends straight from the beginning.  At the time, I couldn’t take into consideration that his parents and all of their friends were telling him that I was no good and that one day I would be taken down.  Most kids have no concept of hidden suffering and I was no exception.  To be honest, I was so consumed in my own struggles that I’m not sure if I ever really thought of Draco’s.  You only have to be around his parents for 30 seconds to realize how horrific it must have been to grow up in their home.  In retrospect, I think Sirius often tried explaining to me Draco’s behavior, but I wouldn’t listen.

Still, despite all of this, we did have our moments.  I remember when we were wide eyed first years how I would have to suppress a giggle with some of Draco’s insults.  The look on his face when we had detention in the forbidden forest cracks me up to this day.  I nearly died inside when Ron and I, under the power of Polyjuice potion, snuck into the Slytherin common room and ran into Malfoy.  When he saw my glasses, which I said I used “for reading” he replied, “I didn’t know you could read.”  To this day I don’t know if he was genuinely confused or being funny.  But, the moment I realized that on some level, Draco didn’t want to be this person he had turned into, that he still cared about me, was that fateful day in Malfoy Manor.  I don’t know what we would have done if he’d confirmed my identity, but I suspect we’d all be dead and the world would have been a much different place with Lord Voldemort in control.

Yes, I was not nearly as resentful of Draco as everyone might suspect.  In fact, I don’t know that I resent him at all.  He was put in an impossible position and I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to judge him.  That’s what I said at his hearing earlier this summer and I stand by it.  I had been called to the Ministry of Magic to speak to Draco’s character and relayed all of this to them, emphasizing his role in the Order’s success.  I don’t think they were expecting that.  They were trying to make an example of Deatheater sympathizers to assuage the public and thought my testament would be condemning.  However, while he might have made mistakes, I truly don’t think he belongs in Azkaban.

I was looking forward to sitting down and talking with Draco and putting our past behind us.  In a way, we were both orphans now, and more than ever we were alike.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Strange places and new faces...

When I wake up, the first thing I notice is the ceiling.  It’s sparkling.  Was it sparkling before?  Now that I think about it, this looks like marble.  Who uses marble as a ceiling?  Isn’t that too heavy?  It is a quiet material though.  I can hear some people shuffling around in the room beyond the door, but other than that, almost nothing.  I strain my ears.  Actually…when I focus I can hear more…a lot more.  I can hear the coffee shop down the street, machines whirring and quiet conversations.  I can hear the fire from the bakery, making fresh bread.  I can hear the crinkling sound of the flipping of pages in the bookstore two doors down.  I can hear so much, but when I let go of that concentration it all centers back to this room, just me and some breathing…and a heartbeat?  I sit up with a start, only to see Marcia now sitting in the chair by the window, crisscrossed legs tangled together and her hair tucked behind her ears as she focused intently on, if I remember correctly from muggle studies, a cell phone.

“Good.  You’re awake.” She said without breaking her focus.  “Ever played Angry Birds?  I’ve been stuck on this level for two weeks and if I have to deal with these stupid pigs laughing at me again I’m going to loose my shit!”

“Um…” I knew all of the words coming out of her mouth individually but had no idea they could be combined that way with any sort of meaning.

“Forget about it.” She sighed, locking the device before looking up at me.  “So, how are you feeling?”

I did a mental check, wiggling my fingers and toes.  I felt better…great actually; with more energy then I ever remember having previously.  I could practically feel my magic prickling at my fingertips.  The only thing out of place was that ever-present dull pain in my chest and the ache of my shoulder blades.

“Pretty good.” I started.  “It’s just-”

“Your shoulder blades and chest?  Yeah…hopefully that will go away.” She said with a frown.

“Is that normal when people are ‘gifted’?” I asked skeptically.

“Of course Katarina called it that.” She said with a smirk, almost to herself.  “Yes.  It’s quite normal.” She said, returning to me.

“What is this ‘gift’ anyway?” I inquired, annoyed.

“Have you truly not figured it out yet?” she asked, a mischievous look in her eyes.

I thought about it.  A Veela on her deathbed brings me to see her and with her dying breath, gives me a “gift”.  Suddenly, I’m in pain and wake up in a hospital.  What could she give me only as she died?  And then it hit me…

“You’ve got it.” She said encouragingly, noticing my expression.

“I’m a Veela.” I said, horrified.

“He shoots!  He scooooores!  Crowds go wild!” she makes a little cheering sound, throwing her hands in the air.

“You’re very strange…” I said, with squinted eyes, like that might help me decipher this enigma in front of me.

“Perhaps.” She shrugged.  “Well, if you’re up an at ‘em, I might as well take you to your place.” She said, standing up with a hop.

“My place?” I asked, tossing the blankets off of me to follow her.  “Wait.  Don’t I need to be discharged?”

“This isn’t a hospital, silly.” She said, ruffling my hair as we headed out the door.  I immediately flattened out the damage with a small scowl, but followed.  “We don’t get sick so we don’t need those.  And yes, your place.  You didn’t think that being a Veela was the only inheritance Angelina left you, did you?”

“I didn’t realize she’d left me anything.” I mused, surprised.  I quickened my pace as I followed her through corridors.

“Yes, of course.  Keep up.  Angelina decided to leave her inheritance to you.  They read the will, but you were still playing Sleeping Beauty.  She planned for you, you know?  Left you a house and everything.  She also left some journals to you, to help guide you even though she’s gone.” When she looked back at me, noticing my bemused expression, she asked, “Are you catching on?  Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  Are you smelling what I’m stepping in?”  If possible I was even more confused now.  Sighing, she asked once more, “Understand what I’m saying?”

“Usually I understand everything.  Since I met you?  Nothing.”  With that, we stepped out the last door into the midday sun.  Something about it made me want to stretch out on some grass and close my eyes.  As it is, I raised my face towards the sun, taking in its warmth and stretching out my tired shoulders.

“There you are!” I heard Marcia say.  I looked over only to see her skip over to Benjamin.  She got on her tiptoes and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek.

“Here you are, love.  One double shot espresso.”  He, like myself, seemed to almost fear what that kind of caffeine could do in her hands, but she quickly entwined their fingers and made a contented sound as she sipped the drink, and with that, a smile stretched across his face.

“You remember Benji, right?” she asked after a second.

I quickly nodded, stretching out a hand.  “It’s great to see you again mate.”

He reached out his free hand, shaking mine with a smile.  “Likewise.” He looked down at Marcia, who was staring at her cup.  “So, where are we headed?”

“Hmm?” This seemed to break her from her trance.  “Oh!  His place.” She said turning around.

“Lead the way.” He said, throwing an arm over her shoulder.

The two began to head off down the street and after hesitating for a moment, I quickly lengthened my stride to catch up.  As we walked, I began to look around.  The street was lined with marble buildings all boasting gleaming storefronts.  Some were eateries, some were quaint bookstores and yet others appeared to be boutiques, offering an array of clothes and accessories.  One thing became immediately apparent, Veelas lived segregated lives.  Benjamin and I were the only males as far as the eye could see, leaving only females to mill around, visiting vendors and selling their wares.  It isn’t too shocking or unusual as I have spent the last seven years living in separate quarters from girls, although the common spaces were not gender specific.  I was still taking in the streets and the town as I trailed behind them.

“Are you taking in the authentic 19th century French architecture?” Marcia asked over her shoulder.  “It’s nice, right? Almost like Haussmann threw up all over the place.”

Benjamin just rolled his eyes and  and squeezed her shoulder as they turned a corner taking us down a less populated road.  Down the street aways appeared to be the beginnings of a neighborhood of sorts.  All in a complimentary architectural style to the buildings on the main road, but in a more modern, home form.  Though each house had a front garden, there were trees from the surrounding forest between each, adding privacy.  Many gardens had flourishing plants, creating a bright array as you walked along the road.  Tulips, hydrangeas, lilies, peonies and daisies all line the homes as we passed by.  Finally we stopped on the last house on the block.  Out front grew delicate baby’s breath in bunches.

“Well, here we are.” Marcia said nonchalantly, bounding forward and pulling up a door mat to reveal a key.  She then opened the door and stepped inside, Benjamin not far behind.  “It’s not gigantic or anything like you might be used to, but it ‘aint half bad.”

As I stepped inside the first thing I saw was a modest foyer, empty, save for a stunning fireplace.  Through the archway I saw a small kitchen with state of the art appliances and marble counter tops.  I continued walking slowly, taking everything in, towards the back living room where I stopped at the large grid windows, taking in the forest beyond the home.  “Is this all mine?”

“You can bet your bottom dollar,” Marcia said plopping down on the only piece of furniture in sight, a plush looking white couch.  “This is all yours.  Now come sit down and let’s have a chat.”

I dazedly nodded before taking a seat opposite to her on the couch.  “I don’t think I understand what’s happening.”

“Wow.  Katarina really didn’t explain anything to you, did she?” she asked, leaning forward, placing her elbows on her knees and looking me square in the eye.

“Who’s Katarina?”  I inquired, growing exasperated.

“Blonde, tall, stern, cold, has a thing for braids?  Ringing any bells?” she prattled off.

“Yes!  She was the Allmother’s daughter. I saw her when I woke up in the bed!  She did this to me!”  I recalled.

“Yeah…she’s a piece of work.  Don’t mind her.  She’s just salty because you got Angelina’s inheritance and she didn’t.” She rolled her eyes.

“Inheritance?  That’s what she ‘gifted’ me, right?  My being a Veela?” I was confused.

“That, this house, her journals, and some emergency cash.” she said casually gesturing around her.

“So what happens now?  Am I expected to live here?  Where exactly is here?  Why me?”

“One question at a time!” she said with a frown.  “I may have a bit of a caffeine high going on but not that much.” After a sigh, she continued, “What happens now is we train you.  We will help you adjust to your new abilities and teach you to use them in battle.  You will, of course, live here during your training and while nearly everyone who walks these streets stays, you aren’t a prisoner.  We are in Białowieża forest, as I told you the other day.  It is veiled by magic in the middle of muggle Poland.” she finished.  “As for why you?  Only the Allmother could tell us…although I have some theories,” she smirked.

“And those would be?” I asked after she didn’t elaborate.

“That’s for another day…” she hedged.  “Any other questions or have you run out?”

“Yeah, where are the other lads?  Benjamin seems to be the silent type, which you obviously need in your mate, but I assume I will be training with other students, yes?” I asked with a tilted head.

“Actually, no.  Traditionally Veela are only women, though obviously that isn’t always the case anymore.” She giggled, sending a wink my way.

“What?” I was shocked.  “How does your species stay alive?”

“Well, it may seem uncouth to you, but sometimes maidens will venture out on quests and couple with another wanderer they meet along the way.  When this happens, the return to birth and raise the baby with the others.  The babies are always female and they are always Veela.  They say that humans would not know or understand how to care for and parent a Veela and that they are meant for the community as a whole.” she said, pausing at times as if to recall what she had been told.  “Other times, like myself.  Veela is a distant part of your heritage and when you become of age, it is an inheritance you acquire, just like property, money and the like.  We who inherit the ‘gift’ are drawn to this forest until we find the city.”

“That doesn’t explain Benjamin.  Didn’t you call him your ‘mate’ in the woods?  How can Vella have male mates but don’t allow men here?  If Veela are always women, why do I exist?”  I was getting a headache from all this back and forth.

“Well, you see that’s a bit trickier.  Some Veela, though not all, are born with mates.  However, Veela are private creatures, seldom leaving this forest.  That’s why there are more inheritance Veela than born.  I don’t think there has been a baby here in over 500 years.  Certainly not since I arrived.  Because of their private nature, most Veela don’t venture out into the world and never find their mates.” she explained gently.  “I, however, was always naturally inquisitive.  I left home at 15 and have been looking for answers to the worlds biggest questions ever since.  When I found the forest after my 17th birthday I was eager to learn more but soon felt called to venture back out.  It wasn’t for another 152 years that I met Benji over here.  He went to Durmstrang at the time, but graduated two years ago.”

“So the other Veela’s allow him to live here as your mate?” That wasn’t as bad as I feared.

“Well…not exactly.  Benji and I actually live in the countryside.  I’m here especially as your welcoming committee.  A real life Jessica Stanley if you will.” she finished with a smile.  “Sorry, I just finished Twilight.  I know Jessica didn’t really first welcome her to the school but she helped her get acclimated and-”

“Right. So the Veela don’t approve of you?”

“I mean, not really, no.” she replied bluntly.

“Then why would they have you retrieve me, train me, introduce me to their culture?”  I was missing something here.

“Ah!  That’s the very best part.  The Allmother stated in her will that it was I who was to train you and show you our ways.  The others might not like it but there’s nothing they can do.  It’s legally binding.” she stated with a smug smirk.

My head was spinning with all this new information, trying to make heads and tails of everything I’d heard.  I went from being all alone in the world just days ago to being a part of a secret city of Veelas in a hidden forest in Poland.

“So, are you ready to begin?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Summer school…

It had been months since I’d first arrived.  How many?  I honestly couldn’t tell you.  My time here has been a whirlwind.  Every morning Marcia wakes me up at an ungodly hour, taking me just outside of town to hone my newly acquired skills.  We practiced many nuances of being a Veela ranging from above average strength and hearing to limited control of the elements and healing.  In general, I was moving along at a steady pace in most areas, after all, I always did well when it came to marks at Hogwarts, however, I was behind on a few areas…

“You need to calm the hell down,” Marcia said for the thousandth time.

“That’s easy for you to say,” I gritted through my teeth.

“If you weren’t such a reactionary asshole this wouldn’t be so difficult.”

I can tell she’s exasperated, but at this point I really don’t care.  It’s not my fault that even our playful duels turn me into a fiery ball of rage.  My moods have been a little…elevated as of late.  Most of the time I’m fine but the extremes of the spectrum of emotions tend to be a bit uncalled for.  Never more prominent than when Marcia and I spar to sharpen my fighting skills.  Even though my brain knows she isn’t really trying to kill me and after 3 months of training, hanging out and playing together, is now my friend, my Veela side didn’t seem to get the memo.

Marcia takes advantage of my distracted state to lunge forward, swiping my feet and knocking me on my back in one fell swoop.  I let out a pained breath as I gasped, trying to get some air in my lungs.  Despite being temporarily incapacitated I managed to glare at her from the ground.

“And that is why we don’t get lost in our emotions.  So we don’t get PWNED by a girl that weighs 120 pounds!” she laughed maniacally before turning to Benjamin as if to say, “I did good, right?

He just rolled his eyes with the hint of a fond grin and turned back to his book.  She spun back around to me with an outstretched arm to help me up.  Ignoring her, I leaned over, shifting my weight to my arms and heaved myself to my feet.

“You’re so touchy, princess,” she said miffed, picking some dirt out from under her nails.

“You’re not exactly the shining example of emotional maturity.” I complained.  “You go from hyper to annoyed to pissed in the blink of an eye.”

“Yes, but I’m generally jolly,” she smiled.  “I just need Benji to pay more attention to me so I can balance out.”  She turned back to her mate, dramatically jutting out her lower lip in a pout.  Though it was obvious she was mostly joking Benjamin stood up regardless, walking over in the silent calm I’d grown used to, tucking a stray strand of platinum hair behind her ear.  I quickly thought over what she’d just mentioned.

“How does he balance you out?”

“Well, like you, I tend to be a bit more on the temperamental side,” she started.

“That’s an understatement.” I heard Benjamin mutter, his first sentence in four hours.

She simply elbowed him in the stomach without missing a beat, quickly pattering on.

“When I found Benji he anchored me.  Now whenever I’m overwhelmed, angry, sad, happy or depressed, I only need him near to settle and calm me.” she said the last part a little softer, for once shyly glancing at the tall muscled man under her eyelashes.  He merely leaned over and kissed her on her temple with a quiet, loving smile.

“So how do the others find balance without mates?” I asked, curious.

“Well, they mostly put up with each other for the first 200 years or so until they learn to calm down.  It can take a while,” she admitted.  “While we appear very much human, we are near the edge of being animals and the instinct to protect, fight for survival and stay on top of the food chain can be strong.  The older we get, the more control we have.  But Benji really helped speed things along for me.  I didn’t meet him until I was over 100 and I hadn’t made many strides when it came to reigning in my emotions.”

I nodded, trying to understand.  Marcia was an interesting tutor while I was here.  She was beyond welcoming and seemed to have endless patience in her own funny way, but it was easy to see that not everyone in town liked her as much as I did, mostly due to the ever-present hulking shadow following wherever she leads.  But Marcia was helpful to me because of that.  She saw things her own way and had much more of an outsider perspective than others.  We weren’t all that similar in our life experiences or upbringing, but we're similar in our drive to succeed and reach our goals, mine currently being to become a fully trained Veela.  

Marcia, I had come to learn, grew up shuttled between America and Britain.  Her mother was from the States while her dad was from across the pond.  They had fallen for each other one summer at a concert in Paris and after a short fling departed to their respective countries.  Little did they know her mother was pregnant.  After trying (and failing) to make the distance work, and neither willing to give up their homes, careers and families, they decided to live separate lives and her father visited Marcia in California as often as he could.  Her mother was a Ilvermorny alumna and Marcia started out there before running away from home at 15.  She had always been a free spirit, much like her mother so in her own way, her mother understood the need to spread her wings and fly, and those wings flew Marcia to London where she waitressed and toured Europe until one such trip lead her to this very forest just after her 17th birthday.  Marcia discovered her inheritance and the rest is history.  

It was strange to me how Marcia spoke of all this like it was yesterday, when in fact it was ages ago by my standards.  But I suppose time moves differently when you can live 500 or even 1,000 years.  It almost seems like her life really began when she found Benji two years ago.  He had been searching for a Norwegian Ridgeback that had been spotted in Poland, hundreds of miles from where it should have been nestled in a den for breading season when he found Marcia, tending to the curled up dragon’s injured wing with her Veela nature magic.

Marcia says those first 100 some odd years felt like a month and these last two have felt like a lifetime.  A lifetime in the honeymoon phase that never fades.  I tried not to be bitter when I saw them look at each other like they hung the moon and the stars.  In many ways, I’m all alone now and that becomes more and more apparent as my looming return to matriculation draws near.  Marcia had no one, hadn’t for a long time, and with no living relatives and even fewer friends, Benjamin wasn’t just the love of her life, he was her best friend, her only hope and her other half.  

I want someone like that for myself, and tried not to be jealous.  Part of me felt like I would never find my Marcia, my “Benji”.  And another, louder part of me felt like I didn’t even deserve one anyway.  If life was fair, no one would ever love me again.  I deserved that punishment and more.  And yet it appears as though there are some who still, remarkably, believe in me.  Angelina must have seen something in me.  Something worth investing in.  Something worth passing her life force, her gift down to.  

My mind drifted back to that day at the Ministry of Magic, just a few short months ago when Potter, no, Harry, testified on my behalf, maybe saving my life and certainly my sanity.  To this day I still don’t understand why he sat there and spoke highly of my efforts in the war, as if I had been the one to turn the tide, as if what I did had any direct impact of the outcome of the war.  While it certainly helped Harry escape I’m sure he would have figured something else out had I not made the snap decision to conceal his identity.  He had never needed my help before and he likely didn’t need it then.  I just…I just couldn’t stand there and watch them torture him, watch them kill him and do nothing.  Not when I could save his life…

Aside from not knowing if I even deserved a mate, I couldn’t even picture what such a mate would be like, let alone look like.  I’d been under a lot of pressure for what seems like my whole life.  My house was miserable to be in during holiday and I spent the school year hoping that I didn’t let my parents down, step out of line or “screw anything up” for them.  Some years I was even ordered to do their bidding from inside my own sanctuary that was Hogwarts.  Needless to say, love was the last thing on my mind.  I’m not sure I’ve even sat down to think about what I like, let alone have a crush on anyone.  Girls I suppose were…soft.  They were gentle and kind and generally nice, Marcia aside.  I, more than ever with my newfound Veela instincts, had an urge to care for and protect them, though they rarely needed it.  The witches at Hogwarts are some of the strongest, most powerful people I know.  Boys tended to be more sturdy, lanky, long lines and an uncaring attitude of what many thought about them.  There was something safe and comforting about both but I had never thought much about what I would prefer.

People often thought Pansy and I were together, but that wasn’t true.  At one point she had a crush on Crabb though she never owned up to it.  I’m not sure if Pansy will even show up this year.  If I spoke out in favor of turning Harry over to Voldemort in front of all my peers I’m not sure I would.  Pansy and I haven’t really spoken since the war concluded and while I’m trepidatious to hear her account of the events, not sure how any context could exonerate her, I’m not one to be judging others without their first hand account and explanation.  After years of friendship, I’m at least willing to hear what she has to say if I see her again.

By now, I’ve caught my breath and centered myself again, only to look over and see Benjamin sitting down braiding Marcia’s hair while she sits criss-cross apple sauce between his legs, making a flower crown.  They speak softly to one another, seemingly haven forgotten that I was even there.  Rather than interrupt their bonding time, I quietly take my leave, careful to not crunch any leaves underfoot as I slip away, as to not disturb their peace.  I make my way to “Ada’s”, a little bakery a few blocks away from my house.  When I walk in, the ding of the bell resounds throughout the store and I can hear a muffled “Be right there!” as Ada shuffles along the marble floors from the back, holding a loaf of bread in her mitts.

“Draco!  My favorite customer!” she says with an easy smile, her cerulean eyes twinkling.

“I bet you say that to every Veela who walks in,” I tease.

“Only the male Veelas,” she replied with a wink, setting the loaf down.  “Now then, can I get you your usual?”  I looked at the list of fresh baked items, contemplating.  Ada made things from all over the world.  I had tried “Blitzkuchen”, coffee cake from Germany, yesterday, but while tried to be adventurous I had found my favorite in my first week and it had become a staple in my afternoon, post-workout snacks.

“Sure.  I’ll take my regular.” I said with a smile.

“Coming right up.” She quickly pittered and pattered around grabbing my “everything bagel” and “schmear” of “plain cream cheese”.  I had tasted something like this growing up but it wasn’t quite the same, or nearly as good.  It was “new york style” meaning it was boiled first then baked, making it fluffy and crisp all at once.  While it toasted I ran next door to grab my coffee order at Irenka’s cafe before heading back to Ada’s.  After thanking her for my bagel and giving her a wink, saying I couldn’t wait for our next date, I heading down the side street to my house.  I strolled the quaint street, taking in the neighbors gardens.  Zofia’s peonies were coming in beautifully with the Polish summer and Stasia’s hydrangeas had begun to bloom.  I have noticed while I’ve been here that there is a multitude of fauna and flora here, many of which are not native to Poland and they seem to flourish harmoniously together.  I’m not sure if it is the timeless knowledge and wisdom of herbology that allows the Veela to grow so many things, or if it is simply their nature magics, but it is beautiful nonetheless.  I turn to my own house, noticing that the few flowers I’ve had, and never watered, are still doing well and can’t help but again wonder if Angelina’s lingering magic in the house is the cause of their health.

I walk in and stroll through the foyer to the kitchen, sitting down on a stool at the bar before opening up my bagel and taking a sip of my coffee.  They’re both still hot and had managed to make it to my house without me eating them along the way.  While I munch on the garlic-y goodness of my bagel I looked around my kitchen.  There was a stove and a microwave and even a dishwasher.  I didn’t know how to use most of these items until Marcia had shown me, and frankly still don’t.  After burning one too many dinners and accidentally flooding the kitchen with water I had given up on the appliances in favor of eating out around town.  Marcia explained to me that Veelas relied on nature magic, only a few choosing to utilize the wand magic I was used too.  In fact more Veelas continue on with the old ways than those that use wands, living with what nature provides alone.  The elders lived in homes passed down for generations on the outskirts of town, relying on fire for warmth and light, using traditional methods of making food by hand and by scratch.  As time progressed and more inheritance Veelas joined the community modern muggle amenities had appeared.  

I hadn’t needed to use my wand for any functional reasons since I arrived, considering I no longer needed it for daily tasks and Marcia was teaching me Veela combat skills.  Nevertheless, I still tried to use basic wand magic, no matter how unnecessary while at home to keep up with my studies.  Despite not having picked up a single textbook all summer I was determined to remain at the top of my class when we returned.

As I picked up my last bite, I paused as a barn owl swept through my kitchen window with a hoot, settling on the marble counter.  I stood, and walked over, giving it a gentle pat as I took the letter it carried.  As I opened it up, I noticed the owl pointedly waiting for something.  Looking around I saw what he was staring at…my last bite of bagel.  I chuckled and reached over the counter to the bar, snagging the small morsel and giving him his reward.  He delightedly ate it before flying back out the way he came.  Enclosed were two sheets of paper, I began to read the one on top first.

 

Eighth years,

We look forward to welcoming you back this year as you complete your time at Hogwarts.  Due to many of you having incomplete courses, insufficient graduation requirements met and the sheer chaos of last year, this eighth year is intended to finish your education as it should: you leaving having learned all we can teach you.  Of course this year will be unlike any you’ve had before, but rest assured, your year will still, in many ways be like any other.  Please note the additional supplies on the student checklist, as well as the class schedule as it is unusual this year.  I, myself, will be teaching Transfiguration for you this year, but please note Professor McDwyer will be teaching the course for all years below, due to my new role as headmistress.  If you have any questions or concerns pertaining to your year here at Hogwarts please send an owl and I or Mr. Filch will see to it that you receive a prompt reply.  I look forward to seeing you back in the Great Hall Soon.

-Headmistress McGonagall.

 

I shouldn’t be surprised McGonagall knows where I am.  If anyone could find out I’m in a hidden Veela village in the middle of a Polish forest it would be her.  I flipped to the next page and read through all the needed supplies for the new year and scanned for items I didn’t already own.  Like the letter mentioned, there were several items that had never been required before and I would need to pick them up.  I picked up my coffee and began to make a mental list of shops and stores I would need to visit soon.

"Looks like it’s time to pay Diagon Alley a visit,” I grinned as I took another sip.