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The Creature You Know
Draco M. & Hermione G. & Narcissa M. & Theodore N. - Words: 89,514 - Rated: M - English - Angst & Romance - Chapters: 24 - Reviews: 820 - Updated: 24-08-2018 - Published: 18-05-2018 - Complete - by In Dreams (FFN)

Author's Note: Hey everyone! Thanks so much for the wonderful response to the first chapter of this fic! I'm so grateful for all the reviews, follows and favourites. Since chapter 1 was just a short prologue, here's chapter 2 a bit early. I hope you enjoy! :)

Alpha love to the fabulous Kyonomiko.

Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Harry Potter franchise.

July 27, 2002

A glass vial slipped from Draco Malfoy's hand, shattering instantly when it made impact with the stone floor.

Cursing, Draco quickly waved his wand to vanish the mess, his heart pounding. His eyes flew rapidly around the room, as if he could somehow locate the source of his screaming discomfort.

The shock that had just coursed through Draco's veins – the pure awareness – had nearly knocked him off his feet. Panting, Draco dropped a hand to a nearby workbench to stabilize himself, forcing his breathing to normalize. He had never felt anything like that.

"Mr Malfoy!" Master Herrero exclaimed. "What in the name of Merlin –"

Draco's potions master stopped short when he saw Draco's state, his eyes wide and mouth agape. The man crept forward, a hand out. Draco lifted his gaze to meet that of his mentor, his brow furrowed.

"I need to go," he breathed, his heart racing.

"Very well," the man agreed, waving a hand towards the door. "Then go."

Draco didn't think twice before he grabbed his bag from a nearby hook and Apparated home, his heart overwhelmed with a growing sense of panic.

"Theo. Wake up." Draco cautiously nudged his best mate awake with a long stick.

"What the fuck, Draco!" Theo Nott snarled, eyes snapping open and darting to the window. "It's the middle of the afternoon!"

Draco rolled his eyes. "And a perfectly reasonable time to be wide awake and productive."

"Wrong," Theo said simply, rolling over. "Let me sleep."

"Get up," Draco ground through his teeth. He walked to the window and threw the curtains open, despite the inhuman growl coming from his friend. "We need to go. I feel – something feels strange."

Theo cracked an eye open again and then the other. He assessed the expression on Draco's pale face. "Like strange, as in –"

"Yes," Draco murmured, his brow furrowed. "I need to go."

Indeed, he felt the call racing through his veins. It was all he could do to maintain his focus on this inane conversation with Theo, when every fibre of his being was demanding he go.

Groaning, Theo rose from bed and Draco averted his eyes as his mate threw on a pair of Muggle jeans and a jumper, irritably pulling the hood far over his face, and jamming his wand into a pocket.

"Take your tonic, I don't need you turning into dust," Draco said, thrusting a vial into Theo's hand, and the dark-haired man drank the potion without complaint. Draco's blood was pounding in his ears, imploring he answer the call. "Let's go."

"Are you sure this isn't something else?" Theo asked, lifting a brow. "You thought this was happening the day your wings showed up for the first time and that was obviously a false alarm."

"Get stuffed, Theo," Draco said impatiently, pressing his fingers to his temples.

"You don't even need me to come," Theo reminded him. He looked longingly to his bed and Draco shoved down his rising temper, even as he felt his hands grow warm and his hackles raise. "And how will you find her, anyway?"

"I'll just go," Draco said simply. "The draw is strong." He pressed his hands together, taking several deep breaths. Then he grasped Theo's forearm. "And fucking behave!"

"Always," Theo smirked. Draco rolled his eyes, the call pounding so heavily in his head now he was afraid he might vomit.

He zeroed in on the summons and Apparated the pair of them from the flat.

"Well this is unpleasant as fuck," Theo commented dryly and Draco felt inclined to agree.

Not only had they arrived at a wedding reception, horribly underdressed, but it appeared to be the wedding of none other than Harry Potter.

"There are probably five hundred people here," Draco said, panic creeping into his heart, even as the rush through his veins intensified tenfold being in such close proximity. "She could be anywhere in this atrocious mob."

Draco could see Potter and his bride – that weird blonde girl from Ravenclaw – mingling with various guests. A band played a merry, upbeat song, while other guests danced and drank and participated in the general enthusiasm that made Draco's stomach roll.

"Can't you sense her?" Theo asked, shifting awkwardly on his feet, as he pulled his hood down lower. Draco felt a twinge of pity; Theo wasn't accustomed to such large gatherings yet.

"Yes," Draco said, squinting as his eyes adjusted to the sunlight, "but my senses are generally going insane at the moment. This has to be it, Theo. Last time didn't feel so urgent as this."

"Then we'll find her," Theo said, reassuringly.

Draco blocked out the pulsing, screaming urges long enough to assess his friend. "Are you sure you're alright to be here?"

"No," Theo said with a nervous grin that flashed his razor-sharp canines, "but I've got to learn sometime, don't I?"

"This doesn't have to be the time to learn," Draco said, even as he began walking in the direction of the call. His heart sped up in anticipation. All of his senses were fixated entirely on the call. This was it; he would finally meet her.

People turned and stared at Draco as he walked by, eyes glazed, and he attempted to force his breathing to slow down and his naturally enticing pheromones to settle. He had no interest in any of these other women – or the handful of men.

"No, it doesn't," Theo grimaced, "but you were there for me when you didn't have to be. So let's go. But just – if we can avoid the people dancing… the overexertion, you understand."

"Of course," Draco said, and gave the group of dancers a wide berth for Theo's sake.

As he walked he felt the summons and it became a part of him. His heart, his mind, every cell of his body drawn to her. His mate.

Draco kept half an eye on Theo as they walked, just to ensure his friend wasn't distracted, but he felt nothing but purpose and destiny as he strode in the direction of a large display of food.

He would find her, and grab her, and take her with him –

Draco halted, physical pain slamming into his chest like a boulder.

Where the call had been just moments before, so urgent and all-encompassing – there was nothing. An empty void.

"She's gone," Draco gasped, a hand clutched to his heart. His head spun, heart pounding, even as he anxiously searched the crowd, in case his other senses had somehow failed him.

"What do you mean, gone?" Theo said, adjusting his hood once more. Draco could sense his breathing had grown heavier. He would have to get Theo out of this situation soon. "Like, she Apparated away?"

"I don't even feel her presence anymore," Draco breathed. His head was pounding and the sunlight made him want to retch. "Not even distantly, like it was before."

"How is that possible?" Theo gasped, his voice low. He was pale beneath the hood – more so than usual. His eyes were beginning to glow with flecks of red, and he swallowed heavily, tongue darting out to moisten his dry lips.

"I don't know," Draco gritted, grabbing Theo's arm, "but I'm getting you out of here."

Then just as he was about to Apparate them both home, Draco saw Potter notice them through the crowd, a look of surprise on his features. Draco forced a smirk and a brief nod, and while Potter turned to question his bride, Draco took the opportunity to leave.

He shoved Theo into a chair once they arrived back in their flat. Theo was gnawing on his own lower lip, the skin tearing open easily – and healing almost as quickly – as if to stifle the cravings.

"Have you got blood here?" Draco asked, keeping a safe distance, his wand hand tensed by his pocket.

"In my room." Draco tried to ignore the way Theo's eyes flickered to his throat.

He should have known better than to take Theo out without the man imbibing first. With the call silenced, Draco found his focus return as the urges subsided, which worried him as much as it relieved him. Maybe it hadn't been his mate, after all?

He wished the healers could give him some real answers, not simply estimations based on how his diluted Veela blood might react.

Clearly, his blood was more volatile than his father's had been at this age, who had never felt the mating call, or shown any of the other attributes Draco had been discovering with mild horror.

He grabbed a bag of blood from the wooden case in which Theo stored his stash, and tossed the bag across the sitting room to his mate, who instantly tore a pair of neat holes with his canines and began to drink.

It had been three months since Theo had been bitten and turned, and Draco had never even considered giving up on his oldest friend. Though cautiously wary, he had done his best to help Theo through the excruciating transition. And Theo had only tried to attack him twice.

But if you asked Theo, the female who had turned him into a vampire, despite the outcome, had been so worth it.

Then almost two months ago, when Draco's Veela heritage had begun to arbitrarily manifest upon his twenty-second birthday, Theo had repaid the favour.

Theo had nodded along while the healers, summoned to their flat since Draco had been in too much pain to move, verified what was happening.

While Lucius Malfoy's Veela blood had never manifested, and nor had either of his parents, or indeed, anyone for many generations back – Draco had discovered an old journal of a Malfoy patriarch who had experienced certain Veela symptoms in the mid-nineteenth century, including the call to a mate.

But none of that had prepared Draco for the first time he had grown wings.

Or thrown fire from his hands.

Theo had sucked the bag dry, without spilling a single drop, and gave Draco a sheepish smile across the room. "Sorry."

"It's fine," Draco said with a dismissive wave. "I should have known better. But to be fair, I also didn't know we were Apparating into a sea of people."

"Where do you suppose she went?" Theo asked, his bloodlust under control once more.

"No idea," Draco said, dragging a hand down his face. "She was so close, and then just gone. Completely."

"And you're sure it was your mate?" Theo queried, pondering. "How bizarre. Maybe it'll come back."

"In almost two months, it was the first time I've felt that," Draco mourned. "If she had simply left, I would still feel her, wouldn't I? Like I felt her when I was at home."

Theo shrugged. "Maybe she lives in a different country, and the distance is too far." He grinned. "Maybe she's a Scandinavian supermodel."

Draco huffed a laugh, grateful for the diversion. The worry had been gnawing at him since the summons had mysteriously vanished. He sank into the couch, fiddling with his wand.

But he couldn't ignore the sudden void that had taken up residence in his chest like a dull throb. And he didn't think distance would be enough to completely kill that entirely obsessive desire. To find. To mate.

"Somehow I doubt Potter knows too many Scandinavian supermodels," he conceded and Theo chuckled with a shrug.

"Probably not," Theo agreed. "And if she knows Potter, she's probably English. Although – she left his wedding in the middle of the reception, so she's either not that good of a friend, or particularly flighty."

"Whoever she is…" Draco trailed off, freezing as a shadow of the same feeling echoed through the back of his mind, like a warning bell. He clung to the feeling, to the only shred of evidence that his mate even existed.

"Draco?" Theo asked, one brow raised.

Draco distractedly raised one finger, zeroing in on the sensation again, forcing it to the forefront of his mind. It was instinctive, he found, to bring his focus onto the signature of his mate.

"It's back – but faint. I can't understand it," he murmured, eyes slipping briefly closed. Or maybe it hadn't entirely gone, but had been so distant he hadn't realized at first. It felt different, somehow, the feel of it.

"Can you locate her?" Theo asked, unblinking. It was an aspect of the vampirism Draco hadn't grown accustomed to yet, and didn't think he ever would.

"I'm trying," Draco said, bringing the call forth like a thin, delicate thread, capturing the essence of it in a clenched fist. "I think so – come on."

Theo darted across the room, securing his hood once more, and as soon as he made contact, Draco Apparated them both from the room.

They arrived this time on the outskirts of a forest, and unlike before, there was no one around. Draco immediately tensed at the utter lack of sound – not even birds or insects – and his wand hand twitched toward his pocket.

If this was some sort of trick –

Theo let out an odd, strangled sort of sound beside him and Draco spun to follow his gaze, drawing his wand. His heart rate accelerated, obliterating the faint thread of the connection, but his hand was steady as he he took a defensive stance.

A lion crouched just beyond the treeline, its narrowed eyes fixed on the two of them, its body coiled tightly and ready to pounce. Draco glanced briefly to Theo and his friend was salivating, eyes glazed over, focused intently on the lion.

"Don't you fucking dare," Draco hissed under his breath. "You may be dead already but I am very much alive and I intend to stay that way."

Theo snorted. "I could take it down." Indeed, he hadn't even drawn his wand. Though Draco supposed Theo was a predator in his own right, now.

He felt a tingle of fear at the thought of his mate being near this forest, near a fully-grown lion. What was a lion doing in a forest in England, anyway? For Draco would not have been able to Apparate internationally.

He debated stunning the lion and simply leaving – but if his mate was here, he needed to find and save her. The thread had grown so faint it was all but gone. Had the lion attacked her? Was that why the connection was so weak? His heart hammered frantically at the thought.

But as he looked at the lion, his brow furrowed. The wildcat straightened, staring back at him. Then it cocked its head to the side, its eyes widened. And there was something there, in its eyes – intelligence, or understanding.


Draco hesitated, but he slipped his wand away, holding his hands out in a gesture of surrender.

"The fuck are you doing?" Theo said, turning to him with an incredulous look on his face.

"It isn't a lion," Draco murmured. "An Animagus, or something." The lion snuffled, as if it were laughing at him. Draco's eyes widened and his brows flew into his hair. "You can understand me, can't you?"

The lion huffed again, rolling onto its back in the grasses. Theo, whilst still looking bewildered, was gazing at the massive cat as if it would be his next meal. Draco didn't know whether to laugh or run – whatever he had said was apparently funny.

Abruptly, the lion stood and walked deeper into the forest. Despite himself, Draco followed at a safe distance and Theo trailed after him, shaking his head.

They arrived at a small clearing, and there was a patch of crushed, dead grasses at the mouth of a small cave that was clearly the lion's den. But the lion was nowhere to be seen.

Draco whirled at a sound behind him, and his eyes flew wide as several things crossed his mind at once – and he didn't know which was more shocking.

Where the lion had presumably been, now stood Hermione Granger, leaning against a tree, her curly hair wild and untidy, her expression unimpressed.

And more importantly – as Draco choked on his next breath – every single fibre of Draco's body and soul were now screaming of his mate. Granger – his mate. He couldn't hear for the pounding of his blood in his ears. Theo glanced at him.

He took a step toward her and stopped himself with every shred of willpower he possessed. For Granger was staring at him as if he were something nasty she had stepped in.

She chewed her tongue for a long moment, as if trying to decide what to say. Finally – "What are you doing here?" She spat the words as if with great difficulty.

"This is awkward," Theo murmured beside him, and Granger's eyes snapped to him. She recoiled as if in surprise, and delicately sniffed the air. Draco wondered if being a lion enhanced her human senses.

Draco stared, not knowing how to answer. He didn't think outright claiming her as his mate was the best course of action. But she hadn't given him a second glance either – since his Veela inheritance had manifested, he could hardly walk down the street without catching attention.

Granger sniffed again, her brow furrowing as she stared at him. "What are–" But she cut herself off, turning to Theo. "Where is the ocean the deepest?" She grimaced, shaking her head, even as she flushed pink. "Please, think it over carefully."

"What the fuck, Granger?" Draco asked. Meanwhile Theo nodded and pondered the sudden riddle.

"At the bottom, I should suppose," Theo said after a moment. Draco shook his head, utterly bewildered.

"Thank you," Granger said with a heavy exhale. She gave an awkward laugh that wasn't returned. "Nervous tic."

She shook her head again, folding her arms across her front. Draco felt his eyes follow the movement, settling on her chest. He licked his lips.

"Malfoy," she exclaimed, glaring at him. His blood roared at the sound of her saying his name. "What are you doing here? And why do both of you smell ridiculous?"

Draco jerked his eyes up to meet hers. "This feels like a conversation that needs alcohol." Granger scoffed, her lip curling as she stared at him. "Will you join us at the Leaky?"

"No," she said hesitantly, "but somewhere more private. I would like to know how you found me."

"Where are we, even?" Draco asked, looking around him. It couldn't be the Hogwarts Forbidden Forest – could it?

"It's the Forest of Dean," Granger said dismissively, even as she dug her wand out from within the pile of dead grass. She shrugged as they stared. "It isn't as if I can carry it on me while I'm a lion. No one else would see it here, even if they were looking."

"And why were you a lion?" Theo asked dryly. His desire for her blood seemed to have faded since she had turned back into a human. Which was good, because Draco didn't relish attacking Theo if he went for his mate.

Draco found himself staring at her again, and the call that had been so thin while she had been in her feline form was urging him nearer, but he managed to tamp down on the desires.

"It's a long story," Granger said with a shrug. "I'll tell you when you explain why you both smell inhuman."

"Right," Draco said, shaking himself out of the near trance he had found himself in as he stared at her. His fingertips tingled, needing to feel her, and he pressed his hands together carefully. "There's a small wizarding population outside of Gloucester. They run a pub near the docks there."

"Fine," Granger said easily, her arms folded over her chest again. "I'll meet you there."

And she was gone with a pop.

"Draco," Theo said, shaking his head. "What the fuck. Your mate is Granger."

"Yeah," Draco murmured, feeling a smile slip onto his features as the thought sunk in. "Bloody perfect isn't she? That hair."

"You made fun of her hair for years," Theo reminded him.

"It's perfect," Draco hissed, eyes narrowed.

"I'm surprised you didn't jump her right then," Theo said matter-of-factly, ignoring him. "I wonder how strong the bond will be compared to if you were a full-blooded Veela? I don't know that a full Veela could have been so controlled just then."

"I guess we'll find out," Draco said with a grimace. "Let's go."

Granger was already seated at the pub when they arrived, glaring around at the other patrons anxiously. A server approached her as Draco slid into a seat on the other side of the table, Theo beside him.

Granger chewed her bottom lip aggressively while the server asked her order. She glanced at Draco, almost imploringly.

"Three firewhiskys, please," Draco said after a moment, his brow furrowed.

Granger let out a sigh of relief but then, before the server could walk away – "I fly without wings; I cry without tears. What am I?"

The server turned to her, utterly bewildered, and Theo barked out a laugh. But Draco frowned at the look of frustration and embarrassment on Granger's face. His hands began to grow warm.

"Er, I don't –" the server began, scratching his neck.

"The answer's a cloud, mate," Draco said, clapping the server on the shoulder. "Never mind her."

He leaned in across the table, drawn to her, as the server walked away, his brow furrowed.

"What's with the riddles, Granger?" he asked softly. She met his eyes, suspicious, and quickly looked away.

"I can't help it," she said simply, but her tone was too breathy to come off as nonchalant. She folded her arms, obviously hesitant to be there with the two of them. "So, answers? How did you find me? And –" she gestured between them "– what's going on here?"

Draco glanced to Theo, pursing his lips. He wasn't ready to tell Granger how he had found her yet – that she was his mate. Theo shrugged, looking absently around the pub.

"A Veela and a vampire walk into a bar, Granger." Draco smirked as her eyes widened.

There was something wholly predatory about the way her shoulders tensed, as if she couldn't decide whether she should run or attack. Draco wondered how much time she spent in her animal form.

"A Veela," she repeated, swallowing as she looked at Draco, then Theo, "and a vampire?" Theo nodded. Granger snorted softly. "I guess the Malfoys aren't as pure-blooded as they always say. And Nott, that explains why you smell like blood." Not grinned, flashing his canines. Granger's nails dug into the table, and for a split second, Draco thought they might have flickered into claws and back.

"Yes, well," Draco shrugged. "It's been ages since Veela blood was bred into the line. It's typically stayed dormant. Your turn. What are you? Not an Animagus then?" Draco raised an appraising eyebrow at her.

Granger sighed, shaking her head. "I'm a sphinx. Or rather, a poor approximation of one."

Draco leaned back, his brow furrowed in consternation.

"What the fuck, Granger?" Theo asked, snickering. "Is that a bad joke? How could you possibly be a sphinx?"

But her expression suggested it was anything but a joke. Draco continued to stare at her as she swirled her drink the server had delivered.

"Part human, part lion," she listed absently, "prone to asking riddles."

"Shite Granger, how?" Draco asked, eyes wide. "I don't recall you blurting riddles out at Hogwarts. And I didn't think sphinxes could change between forms?"

"Generally, they can't," she said, chewing her lip. She sighed heavily and frowned, turning to Draco. "Feed me and I live; give me a drink and I die."

"Fire," he said easily, "now go on."

"Thanks," she said with another weary sigh. "They come out every so often, obviously. It's easier to just let it happen. Anyway, after our eighth year finished, I was in Australia trying to find a way to restore my parents' memories after I had modified their identities during the war."

Draco nodded; he knew the story. Almost everything had come out in the seemingly endless trials after the final Battle of Hogwarts.

"After a year I was out of options and frustrated," Granger said, chewing her lip. "But there was this Witch Doctor who lived deep in the wilderness. Everyone warned me against seeking him out, but I hired a guide anyway and found him. He refused to help, stating I had upset the natural order of things – and admittedly, I may have been a bit brash with my response." She made a face and Draco refrained from laughing. Granger took a long pull from her whisky, savouring it.

"The Witch Doctor was a sorcerer with a vicious sense of humour; he declared I thought I knew too much, when really I knew little, and needed to learn humility. He cursed me." She swallowed and took another drink.

"It doesn't sound terrible, to be honest," Draco said. "So you ask a lot of riddles – you get to turn into a lion. That's fun, isn't it?"

"I choose to be a lion because of the riddles," she said with a grimace. "You only think it isn't bad because you've known the answers."

"Wait, what would happen if we guessed a riddle wrong?" Draco asked, suddenly curious. Theo tilted his head as well.

"It's quite unpleasant," Granger said, wincing. "I would have a sudden and immense urge to transform and devour you. It's difficult for me to stay in human form for long, you see."

"That's dreadful," Draco said, even as Theo snickered beside him. Draco rolled his eyes; it was easy enough for Theo to laugh – he couldn't be easily killed. "What a bizarre curse. I wonder why he turned you into a sphinx, though."

"I accused him of talking in riddles," Granger said with another deep sigh. "It's all quite a mess, really."

"We finished eighth year three years ago," Theo said, turning to Granger. Draco suspected he had been scouting the patrons for the bulk of the conversation. "Have you been a lion ever since?"

"Well, it was a year before I exhausted my options and went to the Witch Doctor – I spent another year after that in Australia, trying to figure a way out of this curse, but it seemed he vanished. Or at least, I simply wasn't able to locate him again, no matter what I tried. Finally I returned to England, and I've spent the last year in my lion form, until today." Granger finished her whisky and Draco's eyes widened; his was hardly touched.

"For Potter's wedding," Draco said, nodding. The call had been so much weaker when she had been a lion, and that was after Draco learned what it felt like. It explained why he hadn't sensed her until she had transformed.

"How did you know about Harry's wedding?" Granger asked, her eyes flying to meet his.

Draco's heart skipped as he realized the information he had accidentally revealed. His pulse began accelerating again; his hands itched and grew warm.

"And don't think I didn't notice you failed to answer my question about how you found me today," Granger said angrily. "You went to Harry's wedding, too? Were you looking for me?"

Beside Draco, Theo started to shift out of his seat. Draco slammed a hand down onto Theo's shoulder to keep him in place. He quickly removed his hand when Theo's jumper started to smoulder. Granger's eyes flew open.

"Malfoy," Granger began, her narrowed gaze fixed on him in a predatory manner now, her entire body tensed. "Why were you – a Veela – looking for me?"

Draco carefully pressed his hands together, willing the heat to disperse. He felt his pheromones rolling off him: the need to protect, feeling the threat to his mate. Never mind that he was the perceived threat.

"My Veela heritage began to manifest just under two months ago, on my birthday, June fifth," Draco began as nonchalantly as possible. His hands grew warmer and he was careful to keep them away from the wooden table. His shoulder blades itched and Draco pressed his eyes shut, willing the wings to stay put.

"Malfoy," Granger whispered, her eyes glazed. "What are you doing to me?"

"Damnit," Draco muttered, feeling himself losing control. He attempted to reign in the pheromones. Beside him, Theo looked nervous, as if debating whether he might need to restrain Draco.

Granger blinked, some of the light returning to her eyes. She shook her head, shifting in her seat as if she were about to leave.

"Granger," Draco murmured, meeting her eyes. He didn't want to know what she saw there. He clenched his hands into tight fists, attempting to keep the fire at bay. "I found you through the call – the mating call."

"No way," she said quickly. Her eyes flickered to his hands. She shook her head again, slowly, in disbelief. "No way."

"It's true," Draco grit through his teeth. "You're my mate."

"I am not," she hissed, her eyes flashing. "Nice joke, Malfoy."

She rose to leave and Draco stood as well, unable to stop the pheromones that were now pouring off him in thick, heavy waves. Granger stared at him, her lips parted, and she swallowed heavily. She took a step around the table toward him, her gaze falling on his mouth.

Draco simply stared, feeling her proximity somewhere deep in his soul, in his racing heart.

"Draco," Theo snapped. Draco tore his eyes from Granger to glare at Theo for interrupting. Like a bucket of water had been thrown on him, the pheromones were swept away. Draco realized the whole pub had been staring at him and his breath hitched as he turned back to Granger, who was scowling deeply at him.

"Do not ever do that to me again," Granger hissed, raising a finger to jab his chest.

Draco caught her wrist with his hand, still blazing hot and glowing, and Granger cried out, as if expecting to be burnt. His blood roared in his ears at the contact. But Granger instantly relaxed. Fire to protect his mate; never to harm her.

"I do not choose who my mate is," Draco whispered quickly, holding her gaze, "and I did not expect in a million years it would be you." He ran a thumb over the pulse point in her wrist, swallowing at the heady contact. Out of his periphery, Draco noticed Theo walk to the bar to clear their tab and was thankful for the privacy. "But I will care for you, I will protect you with my life, and I will give you the fucking world, Granger."

"You're serious," she breathed, as if finally understanding.

He only quietly repeated, "You're my mate." Draco brought her wrist near his face, inhaling the sweet scent of her, his eyes fluttering shut.

But when he opened them again, Granger was looking at him in horror. She ripped her wrist from his hand and backed away.

"You need to find someone else," she murmured, eyes squeezed shut. "I cannot be your mate. Do not come looking for me again. If you come to my forest, I will maul you on sight."

Her eyes met his again, long enough to convey the threat, before she was gone.

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