Chapter 14

As Harry began to explain why translating Parseltongue was so dangerous, Draco leaned in to listen.

“When I translate Parseltongue, I never know how far I’m going to get. Parseltongue was never meant to be written down, so translating it requires a massive amount of magical energy.” Harry hesitated, trying to find words that wouldn’t make him seem quite so pathetic. Then he sighed. No matter how pathetic it made him seem, Draco deserved the truth. Especially after what Harry had put him through already. “Sometimes, I can translate for three hours. Other times, I can only translate for fifteen minutes. Whenever I reach the limit of what I can translate, I end up magically exhausted. Which means I physically cannot take care of myself. It can get pretty bad.”

Draco stared at him. “But you always seemed fine when I left,” he said.

Harry grimaced. “I got used to hiding the truth from the people around me when I was young,” he said. “I got used to people not understanding the truth or refusing to believe me. The number of times I got called a liar -” He broke off, absently running his hand over the now-healed scar where Dolores Umbridge had forced him to take a Blood Quill to himself.

“Because of our past, I’m guessing you also felt it necessary to hide the truth from me,” Draco said, eyebrows raised. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it this weakness that initially caused your refusal when I asked you to translate the scrolls?”

Harry pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, fighting down a wave of irritation. Draco was his. As his anchor, Draco had no right to question him. Harry forced himself to take a deep breath. He was not going to let this bond control him. As with all the magics he had mastered over the years, this bond was just another thing he had to learn how to control. And he had to learn how to control it fast before Draco ended up paying the price. Harry closed his eyes, took another deep breath, and opened his eyes to see Draco sliding from the couch onto his knees. Even though the action settled the tension in the bond, it was still startling to see. “What are you doing, Draco?”

“I’m sorry, Warden. The bond is still new, and I can feel the strain it is placing on you. I’m trying to satisfy it before it forces you to,” Draco said, eyes lowered, voice soft. “I don’t wish to be a burden on you.”

Harry swallowed at the sight before him. It was hard not to be affected by the sight of Draco kneeling in front of him, submitting without being asked. And the blonde was right – the bond did feel more settled. Less likely to force him into doing something he’d regret. He took one last deep breath and answered the question Draco had asked him. “When I originally refused to translate the scrolls for you, the reason was twofold. Part of it was because of how weak translating anything written in Parseltongue makes me. The rest was because you were an unmitigated bastard to me when were in school, and I felt no inclination to help you.”

Draco took a deep breath at the sharpness in Harry’s tone as the second reason set his heart to pounding. The bond flared to life between them, and it hurt. Physically, it felt like someone had suckerpunched him in the chest. Draco had known this could happen, but he had never expected to have it happen to him. Granted, he’d also never expected to be the Anchor to one of the strongest wizards in the world, especially not to one who had harbored intense hatred for him in the past.

Even though Draco knew he had done nothing wrong – in fact, he’d done everything he could to keep the bond from flaring up – it didn’t stop the intense pain that was flooding through every cell in his body. Fire ran through his veins. He tried to scream but found he couldn’t make any sound. He couldn’t move, either. His entire body was frozen as if someone had hit him with an immobilizing curse, and he definitely couldn’t alert Harry.

But that was expected. This was a slave bond, after all. Dark magic was high risk, high gain. Any Warden-Anchor bond that was properly cemented would make sure that the Anchor never forgot that they were a slave. Right now, the bond was punishing him because not only had he dared to ask Harry a question, that question had caused Harry displeasure to answer. It was for that the bond was punishing him. Causing his Warden distress wasn’t permissible. There was no way to know how long the pain would last.

Harry, oblivious, continued. “It was when you told me that you wanted to keep the world safe from truly dark wizards, those capable of becoming dark lords, that I realized I wanted to help you. Because even if you were a complete prat to me during our school years, I could respect the desire to keep dangerous materials out of the wrong hands.” His tone softened. “And then you taught me how to control my magic, at great expense to yourself. Draco, you did an incredibly brave thing when you offered me your submission – when you offered me your life. And I will do my best to make sure you always know how much I appreciate that.”

The pain released Draco, but all he could do was let out a small gasp. “Thank you, Warden,” he said, not keen to invite another burst of pain.

Harry frowned. “Why do you insist on calling me Warden?”

Draco flinched. He had no idea what the bond would do to him if he refused to use the honorific. “Because I’m your Anchor,” he said. That was the most honest answer he could give. The burst of pain that the bond could cause – that was a secret that no Anchor had ever shared with any Warden. The bond prevented it. Anchors could discuss it among themselves, but they couldn’t mention it to a Warden. No one knew who had keyed it into the spell, but all Anchors knew what it did. And what it meant, once the first burst happened.

The first few days of the bond, Draco had been hopeful. Maybe, if he stayed out of Harry’s way, the burst would never initiate. Since staying away from Harry hadn’t been possible, he’d thought maybe acting as submissively as possible might prevent the burst. Draco had hoped that the burst would never happen. But it had. And it meant that the bond between them, the Warden-Anchor bond, was fully cemented. There was no way to reverse the ritual now, no way to dissolve the bond. Even after death, the bond would remain. That burst was the final seal of the ritual. But it wasn’t the end of the pain the bond would cause him. No, in that respect, it was only the beginning.

Maybe, since Harry had read a book on Warden-Anchor bonds, he would know a little bit more than the average Warden. Especially since that book had been recommended by Granger, who was at least competent at doing research. He could give Harry credit for choosing one good friend, at least.

“Now,” Harry said, making his way across his apartment to the box that held the scrolls. “Shall we get started on these? I believe I promised you I’d translate out loud.”

Draco plastered a smile on his face. “As you wish, Warden.” He’d try bringing up the book about the bond tomorrow, when he wasn’t afraid that the bond was going to fracture his world into pain. Dealing with any pain was hard enough for him, and two times in one day – what with Harry’s light pain curse and the bond’s cementation – was more than enough. He wasn’t sure he could take a third.

So he joined Harry at the kitchen table, opting to kneel beside him on the floor rather than sit across him at the table. Perhaps that would be enough to keep the pain at bay. For now, that was enough.

Chapter Thirteen      Index     Chapter Fifteen

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