Chapter 07

Draco braced himself against a tree and focused his attention on Harry. “Do you have any qualms against using the Dark Arts?” he asked. The muscles in his back tensed – asking Harry Potter, of all people, whether he was okay with the Dark Arts, unsettled him. There was no way for Draco to know what the consequences of such a question would be.

Harry gave him an appraising look, then shrugged. “While I’m not particularly fond of them, I have found the Dark Arts to be occasionally useful.”

Draco touched his chest to make sure his heart hadn’t actually jumped out of it. He cleared his throat to keep himself from squeaking in surprise. “You’ve used the Dark Arts,” he said, letting the words roll of his tongue in a disbelieving lilt.

Harry nodded and gave another shrug. “Yeah, but I don’t use it often. I have to use the Dark Arts some, or I would never be able to create Parseltongue charms. Can’t activate Dark magic with Light spells.”

Draco frowned. “I thought you didn’t know anything about the theory of magic.”

Harry grinned, unrepentant on being caught out. “I may have exaggerated my lack of knowledge.” He held up a hand to ward off any protest Draco might make (which Draco found exasperating, as he hadn’t even opened his mouth). “However, I didn’t lie about not knowing how to release Dark magic. I didn’t realize that Dark magic required a release of any sort. When it comes to magical theory, I barely know the basics.”

“Good thing you have me around, then,” Draco said. “Considering I’m an expert.” And he was. Had to be, really, since he was a Cursebreaker.

“So, explain this process to me, if you would,” Harry said, giving him an expectant look.

Draco found himself flushing. Without even realizing it, Harry was subtly compelling him to respond. Harry’s magic pulsed towards him, suggesting cooperation as it attempted to soothe Draco’s aura and merge it with Harry’s desires. But Draco hadn’t verbally assented to such compulsion, and the magic couldn’t get a proper latch. It was obvious, from Harry’s relaxed posture, that he had no idea what his magic was doing to Draco. And that was fine. Draco could handle this. He swallowed, forcing himself to the level of composure required to explain the ritual. “What do you know about the Dark Arts?” he asked.

Harry frowned. “I don’t know much. When I create a Parseltongue spell, I spend a day recovering from the energy I used to create it. That’s why I sell very few Parseltongue charms in my shop.”

Draco nodded. “When you pay for the creation of the charm with a day of recovery, you are sacrificing your own wellbeing in order to complete the charm. The Dark Arts allows that, but there is a much more effective and efficient way to use them.”

Harry raised an eyebrow, then motioned with a hand for Draco to continue.

Draco flushed. The aura around Harry was so strong it was making him itch. How could the wizard standing in front of him fail to understand the power of his own magic? It made no sense. Frustration thrummed through him, and Draco forced it to the side so he could explain what he meant. “In general, the practice of the Dark Arts requires the use of a ritual. Since Parseltongue is a ritual language, every time you create a Parseltongue charm, you are engaging in a ritual. However, that won’t work for what we need to do, which is to appease the Dark magic within you so that it doesn’t try to consume you.”

Harry waited.

Draco sighed and continued, annoyed that Harry was able to let his magic do his prompting for him, all without ever realizing it was happening. “A Dark Arts ritual requires three things: blood, willingly spilled; submission, freely given; and intense willpower.”

“Explain,” Harry said, his voice as hard as steel, the tone he used as sharp as a razor.

Draco winced. He did not want to make Harry angry, not if the man was willing to use that tone for something this trivial. That tone made Draco feel like falling to his knees and begging for mercy. He shivered and dropped his eyes, holding his hands out in a subconscious submissive gesture. “The blood and submission have to be willingly given, and they must be given to the ritualist by another wizard.”

“No,” Harry said. “I need you to explain to me why those things are necessary.”

Oh. Oh. Harry didn’t have a single clue as to how Dark magic really worked, and that comment was all the proof Draco needed. “Harry, Dark magic is powered by blood and power. Blood enhances a spell and makes the effect of the spell stronger. When submission is offered, then the ritualist lends the power of his dominance to the spell, and that power strengthens the likeliness of the spell taking a firm grip.”

“I don’t like it,” Harry said, tone firm. “When Voldemort resurrected himself using my blood, he took it from me without my consent while he had me trapped against a gravestone. He forced my blood and my submission, and he returned to the world stronger than he had left it. I may have eventually managed to destroy him, but he left a lot of havoc in his wake.”

Weariness and bitterness were interlaced in Harry’s words, and Draco felt a twinge of sympathy. “He took them from you when you weren’t willing?” Draco asked, both needing and dreading the confirmation.

“Yes, why?”

“Because only one subtype of Dark magic requires the use of forced bloodletting and submission, and that’s the Necromantic Arts.” Draco shuddered as he thought of it – necromancy always made him uncomfortable.

Harry looked confused. “I thought Necromancy dealt with resurrecting the dead.”

Draco raised an eyebrow. “And what, pray tell, do you think Voldemort was doing when he resurrected himself?” He prided himself on the fact he was able to say Voldemort’s name without flinching. That had taken him years of practice.

Harry blinked in astonishment. “Huh,” he said, like he had never considered the possibility before. “I still don’t like the idea of offering my blood to anyone or submitting,” he said. “Isn’t there another way to do it?”

Draco couldn’t help it – a startled laugh escaped him. “Harry, I’m not asking you to give those things up.”

“You’re not?”

Draco shook his head. “No, you berk. I’m going to be the one offering them to you.”

Chapter Six     Index     Chapter Eight

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