Chapter 09

Draco’s rage thrummed through him, even as he stared at the man in front of him. He couldn’t believe that Harry had had the audacity to suggest that he had ever been content with his lot in life. While Draco had loved his parents, there were moments that he wished he had been born an orphan. At least that way, he wouldn’t have to deal with the constant scrutiny of the wizarding world simply because he had happened to be born a Malfoy.

With the anger coursing through him, even after Harry’s apology, Draco wasn’t sure he could muster up the submission needed to make the ritual work. “First,” Draco said, trying to ignore the knowledge that submitting his magic to Harry’s was going to be much more difficult than he had previously believed. “I have to offer my submission to you, then my hand. Once I offer you my hand, it is an invitation to draw blood. A cutting curse, applied to a small area, will suffice. Once you have drawn blood, you must touch the tip of your wand to the blood drawn and state your intentions.”

Harry frowned. “I don’t have to say the words in Latin?”

Draco shook his head. “The rituals of the Dark Arts don’t rely on incantation, but on intention. The words you speak are used to focus the intention of the ritual, and, once the intent is properly realized by your magic, the ritual will complete itself.” He tried to keep the ire he felt out of his tone, as his ability to offer his submission willingly to Harry was becoming more and more of an issue.

“Okay,” Harry said, then hesitated. “I can’t imagine what it must have been like,” he said. “Growing up with parents who expected you to be a perfect replica. I can’t imagine the type of pressure that you were under, and I never meant to offer insult.”

At the words, Draco felt his ire lessen, and he gave a curt nod of acknowledgment. “Give me a few minutes to get into the proper mindset,” he said.

Harry nodded, then spent the next few minutes shifting his weight from one leg to the other. He seemed unbalanced and unsure, and Draco cursed his own soft heart as he realized how uncomfortable and uncertain the man standing in front of him really was. The rest of Draco’s ire fled in the face of Harry’s discomfort, and he knew he would be able to offer Harry his submission. Although, considering the lack of confidence Harry was displaying, offering the man his submission was going to be difficult.

Draco sighed. Why had he expected any differently? Everything that involved Harry bloody Potter was difficult. Draco closed his eyes, centered his magic, and took a deep breath that he released all at once. He opened his eyes, purposefully caught Harry’s eye, and slowly allowed himself to slide to his knees. Once his knees were on solid ground, Draco raised his right hand – his wand hand – to chest level, then extended it palm upward towards Harry. Then he waited, trying not to clench his teeth. This was the worst part – due to the intricate laws that bound the usage of shadow magic, Draco hadn’t been allowed to tell Harry that he didn’t have to apply the cutting curse to the first hand he extended. But the first hand he extended had to be his wand hand. He hoped, desperately, that whatever was guiding Harry’s magic would guide him well in this. If a Warden cut the wand hand of an Anchor in ritual, not only would the ritual be rendered ineffective, it would essentially turn the Anchor into a squib. That was the risk of a Dark Arts ritual, even one as generic as releasing pent-up excess magic.

Harry stared at Draco, then drew his own wand. Grimacing, he tapped it to Draco’s wand hand, then paused and frowned, as if he were listening to something that only he could hear. “Give me your other hand,” he said.

“With pleasure,” Draco said. He pulled his wand hand back down by his side and extended his left hand palm upward. “Use my blood as you see fit, Warden,” he said, using the ceremonial words for the first time in five years.

“Thank you for its usage,” Harry said, tone half-mesmerized. Whatever head-space he was in, his magic was providing him with the proper words, which was a trait only ever seen in the strongest Dark wizards. Harry murmured a cutting curse and a line of blood blossomed across Draco’s palm.

Draco sucked in a breath of air at the sudden pain. He had never been good with pain – ironic, considering his penchant for Dark magic. But he knew that his low pain tolerance actually fueled the power of the Dark Arts rituals in which his blood was used because the power of any Dark Arts ritual was directly proportional to the level of the sacrifice made by the Anchor fueling it.

A shockwave of magic passed through the forest as Harry released the excess Dark magic he had been holding up, and Draco found himself holding his breath as he watched the sheer magic level twenty miles of forest, leaving the two of them in an untouched ring about five feet in diameter. “Holy Salazar,” he said, letting his breath out in a rush. He was glad he wasn’t on his feet because he knew he wouldn’t have been able to stay on them. Not after watching Harry Potter, of all people, level twenty miles of forest with excess magic. If that was just the extra, how powerful was the wizard in front of him? Draco’s mind was suddenly alight with thousands of ideas of how best to utilize Potter’s power, and he kept having to remind himself that he wasn’t that person anymore. He was no longer the man who manipulated the scenes, but damn if it wasn’t bloody hard to resist the urge to become that man again.

Harry frowned at him. “How long are you going to stay on the ground?” he asked. “I need to get back to my shop and explain all of this.” He flicked his hand towards Draco and the surrounding forest.

Draco winced. He’d almost forgotten that he’d threatened Harry Potter in the middle of the day with hundreds of witnesses. He sighed and got to his feet. “They’re going to arrest me,” he said, barely able to keep the terror he felt at that inevitability out of his voice.

Harry shook his head. “No, they won’t.” He gave Draco a grim smile. “I may not use it often,” he said. “But I do know how to use my name when I need to.”

Draco blinked in shock. Exactly who was the man in front of him?

Chapter Eight     Index     Chapter Ten

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