Chapter 12

Harry stared at the scrolls that lay in front of him, frustrated that he couldn’t focus on translating them the way he wanted to. No, instead, his mind was preoccupied with thoughts of Draco and what it meant for Draco to have offered his submission in a Dark ritual. Harry was certain that Draco had manipulated the situation to some degree – after all, that’s what Slytherins did. And Harry didn’t fault him for that – in Draco’s position, Harry might have done something similar. Draco latching onto him by becoming his Anchor in a Dark rite worked in his favor by tying Harry to him. Even if Draco hadn’t been lying when he said he hadn’t considered the consequences of his actions in regards to his cursebreaking job, Harry knew that Draco had considered the possibilities of tying himself so closely to Harry.

Harry sighed. That was part of the reason he had forced Draco to torture himself for hours last night – punishment for the audacity the Slytherin had shown. Harry did not like it when people tried to manipulate him, and Draco needed to understand that before things went any further. Harry was pretty sure the lesson had started to sink in, as Draco was sitting on the couch, staring off into the distance. Thinking, perhaps, about ways to manipulate him. That thought soured Harry’s stomach, but he forced that feeling away. He had to rely on the hope that his punishment last night had been enough.

When Draco had first mentioned that the relationship shared between Warden and Anchors often became sexual, Harry’s first instinct had been horror. After all, he’d spent over half of his life hating Draco and everything he stood for. Just extending a hand in friendship had been difficult for him – much more difficult than he’d let on. Because while he had been hopeful that Draco would agree to the friendship, the darker side of him – the side that he rarely ever indulged – had been focused on all the ways he could use the friendship to his advantage.

Sometimes, Harry felt like he was two people being split apart by conflicting desires. On one hand, he really wanted to see where a friendship with Draco would lead. On the other hand, however, he really wanted to see how close he could come to shattering Draco. Seeing Draco on his knees in submission had pushed Harry over the edge last night, and he gave into the lust the submission caused in him. Right when Harry had been ready to draw back, to fight against that urge, Draco had challenged him. The moment Draco issued that challenge, Harry was no longer able to fight the urge in him that wanted to make Draco suffer.

Until his relationship with Tavin, Harry had always felt conflicted about the way he approached relationships. Because he really wanted someone he could love and who loved him back, someone who supported him with all their might and whom he could support in the same way. But he also wanted someone he could hurt. There was a darkness in him that he could not escape, and Tavin had been the first one to show him that it was okay to hurt others for his own enjoyment. Tavin had introduced him to the world of dominance and submission, and Harry had taken to it with a thirst he hadn’t known he had possessed.

The relationship with Tavin might have lasted longer if Harry’s needs hadn’t gotten so out of hand. Harry sighed again and ran his hand through his hair. Guilt clawed at him – he had nearly violated Tavin’s safe word. Sure, he told Hermione and Ron that Tavin hadn’t been able to handle the pressure of the press, but Harry knew that wasn’t true. The truth was, Tavin hadn’t been able to handle the darkness inside him.

Parselsmith – his shop was just a diversion, a way to keep Harry from being consumed by his dark needs. He told Ron and Hermione what they needed to hear – that he was doing the world a service. And he was, in a way, but he wasn’t providing the type of service that they thought he was providing. He was keeping the world safe from him. Because he loved the wizarding world, and he didn’t want to hurt anyone. Except when he did. And that was where the guilt and self-loathing came in. Things he didn’t talk to anyone about, not even his two best friends.

After Tavin, Harry had opened Parselsmith in order to conquer his darkness. But then Draco had barged into his life and rekindled that fire – that need to hurt. Because Draco had blindsided him, coerced him into performing a Dark ritual, those needs were burning hotter than ever. Harry was both grateful and resentful – grateful because the Dark ritual had been necessary. That much had been made clear when he leveled a good chunk of the countryside. Resentful because these were desires that Harry needed to stay buried.

But they wouldn’t stay buried – Harry knew that now. He’d read enough about the relationship between Warden and Anchors to know that the power dynamic would force him to feel the need to dominate his Anchor. While the book he had read had not mentioned that the domination may take the form of sexual domination, it wasn’t that surprising. Wardens and Anchors, after all, were bound by blood. But even if the type of domination he used was sexual, that didn’t mean Harry had developed feelings for Draco. It didn’t mean he saw him in any romantic light.

Truthfully, Harry wasn’t sure it was possible to see the Slytherin in a romantic light. The man was cunning, cruel, and smart. Beautiful, to be sure, but as self-serving as they came. Dominating Draco – that was easy. Perhaps that could even be pleasant. But romance? Harry was certain that Draco couldn’t give him the things he needed in a mate. After all, what was there in Draco for Harry to fall in love with? His face? Harry wasn’t that shallow. Shallow enough to sleep with Draco, sure, but to develop feelings for him? That was highly unlikely.

Harry frowned and tried to force the dark thoughts from his head. He couldn’t seem to shake his dark mood. It was rare for him to feel this out of sorts – rare for him to be drawn more towards his dark nature than his light. And he didn’t like it. He stood, his chair crashing to the ground behind him at the quick movement. When Draco gave him an inquisitive look, Harry said, “I’m going out for a walk to clear my head.”

Draco stretched and stood. “I’ll come with you, then,” he said. “I’ve been sitting here for far too long.”

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. “I need some time to think by myself,” he said, trying to maintain his calm.

Draco arched an eyebrow. “In my experience, brooding solves nothing.”

“You would know best,” Harry said. “Considering you spend so much time doing it.” He knew his tone was nasty – he couldn’t help it. Harry wanted time alone, and Draco was jeopardizing that.

Draco looked as if he’d been slapped. He met Harry’s gaze for a split second, then dropped his eyes. In a whisper, he asked, “Have I offended you in some way?”

Harry’s heart clenched, and he felt like a jerk. Here Draco was, offering him everything, and all Harry could think about was tearing the man apart. He wished so badly he could feel something besides the desire to shred Draco apart right now, as the man truly didn’t deserve it, but the dark side of Harry was firmly in control. This was the reason he had told Draco that there was no relationship between them except that of consenting adults. Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to control his temper.

Before Harry could answer Draco’s question, however, the blonde had slipped into a kneeling position in front of the couch, head bowed with hands flat on the floor. Draco’s arms trembled, and Harry knew that the tremors in Draco’s arms were tremors of fear and not of exertion.

Harry felt the anger unclench in him at the sight – Draco’s submission really was beautiful – and he breathed a silent sigh of gratitude that he wasn’t going to be forced to say something mean. He wasn’t really in control of his dark side, and he knew it. So, when he got a respite from it, Harry was always grateful. He took a deep breath and forced himself to speak. “You’ve offered no insult, Draco. I simply need some time to myself. If I ever wish you to join me, I will let you know.”

Draco looked up, then. “If I haven’t insulted you, why were you so cruel?” His grey eyes were cold and calculating, but there was a small amount of hurt lurking behind them.

Irrationally irritated, Harry snapped his fingers and pointed at the floor. That caused Draco to flinch and to lower his eyes, and it also caused the tremors – which had stopped – to start again.

“Do not presume to question me,” Harry said, tone cold.

Draco swallowed hard. “You’re nothing like I expected you to be,” he whispered. The increased trembling of his body made it obvious he was speaking through his fear.

Harry raised an eyebrow and snorted. “Let me guess. You expected me to be more of the hero type. Kind and self-sacrificing and noble. That about right?”

“No,” Draco said. “I remember what you were like in school, and kind and noble are not the words I’d use to describe you.”

Harry inched closer to Draco. “What words would you have used then?”

Draco swallowed again, nervous of the proximity. “Reckless, brave. Perhaps a bit foolish. Self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. But never cruel.” His voice dipped down to a whisper.

Harry snorted, stopping right in front of Draco. “More than most see,” he admitted. “Even Ron and Hermione rarely see anything in me but my recklessness, my supposed kindness, and my hero status. Even they are a bit star-struck. I think even you were, to a point.” He tilted Draco’s chin up. “Truth is, Draco, I’m a lot Darker than the world knows. I’m aware that I’m a murderer that has been turned into a hero. It doesn’t seem that the rest of the world has figured that out yet.”

“Voldemort deserved to die,” Draco said.

Harry nodded. “Of course he did. He murdered my parents. And he was tearing the wizarding world apart. But since I’m being honest with you, the truth is, I killed Voldemort more for my parents than for the wizarding world. I had my revenge.”

Draco trembled at his feet. “Why are you telling me these things?”

Harry smiled, and it wasn’t a pleasant smile. “Because, my dear Anchor, you can tell no one my secrets.” He laid the compulsion and gave a small nod of satisfaction as he watched it take hold of Draco. “And because I want you to understand exactly who it is you chose as your Warden.”

Draco swallowed. “How did you become this Dark?”

Harry laughed, and the sound was almost hysteric. “Draco, you said it yourself. I have the strongest Light and Dark magic in the world. I’ve always been this Dark.”

“What about your defensive magic?”

Harry shrugged. “I’ve always been as Light as I am Dark. But I can only show my Light magic in public. The Dark side of my magic can only ever be expressed through Parseltongue magic, at least in the public eye. I’m constantly at war with myself. And, when I say I need to talk a walk to clear my mind, rest assured that I mean I need to be alone to keep myself at bay.”

Draco stared. “You realize that makes you sound like you’re losing your mind?” he asked.

Harry smiled. “You’re one to talk about being mental,” he said. “Considering you offered your submission to a Warden and stripped yourself of your ability to do your job. That’s a pretty crazy life decision.”

Draco flinched at the harshness of Harry’s tone. With his chin still held firmly in Harry’s grip, he couldn’t bow his head, but he could, and did, lower his eyes in submission. “Forgive me, Warden,” he said. “I overstepped my place.”

Harry let go of Draco’s chin and considered the blonde in front of him. As soon as he released Draco, the man prostrated himself completely at his feet. “Do you have no pride, Draco?” he asked.

Draco flushed. “Not where you’re involved, Warden,” he answered.

“You’ll explain that to me later,” Harry said. “For now, I’m going for a walk. While I’m gone, I’ll leave you with something to remind you of your place.” He cast a low level pain curse and watched in satisfaction as Draco curled up into himself. Using the compulsion granted to him by the bond, he added, “Don’t end the curse. Don’t scream. Don’t bite your tongue.”

Draco stared at him through eyes filled with agony. “Please, Warden,” he gasped out. “Please don’t leave me like this. Please, I’m sorry. I’ll be good, just please make the pain stop.”

Harry shook his head. “No,” he said. “This is what happens when you overstep your bounds, Draco. You need to experience the punishment so you won’t do it again. Don’t worry. I’ll be back in half an hour.”

Draco tried to scream, but he couldn’t. Instead, he sobbed. “I’m sorry, so sorry. Please, I’ll be good.”

By the time Harry was ready to leave for his walk, Draco was an incoherent gibbering mess. Pausing in consideration – he hadn’t realized Draco’s pain tolerance was so low – Harry turned to Draco. “Finite,” he said, ending the spell.

Draco keened in relief and wrapped his arms around his legs, sobbing in relief. “Thank you, Warden. Thank you. I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again. I promise I won’t.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “Good,” he said. “Because next time, I won’t be so merciful.”

Draco shivered, eyes lowered, and nodded. “Thank you, Warden,” he said.

Harry nodded in satisfaction, then walked out the door. While his Dark side was satisfied, his Light side was horrified and gaining control. How could he have done that to Draco? Draco was his friend. Harry had extended his hand in friendship for a reason. How had things gotten so out of control? He groaned into his hand. Harry had a feeling that this Warden and Anchor thing was going to get a lot more complicated, and he was worried that he was going to lose his sense of self in the Darkness the Warden-Anchor contract was forcing him to embrace.

Chapter Eleven     Index     Chapter Thirteen

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