Chapter 17

Harry stared at the band around Draco’s wrist. Years of experience had taught him not to trust sentient items. First there had been the Mirror of Erised, sentient enough to be dangerous. Then there had been Riddle’s diary. Then the cursed locket that nearly consumed him. And a few items had come into the shop…he shuddered to think about them. In his opinion, an object should not possess sentience, especially not an item that one of his spells had created. “Why can you talk now?” he asked.

Alia flashed gold. I suppose because I was addressed. It’s never happened before, so I’m not entirely sure.

“What purpose do you serve?”

I’m here to act as your enforcer. I will work to keep your Anchor from disobeying any rules you set, and I will punish him in your stead when necessary.

Harry noticed Draco wince and raised an eyebrow. “You knew,” he said, voice flat. It wasn’t a question.

Draco gave a short, sharp nod. “I did,” he said, voice level.

“And the reason you kept it from me?” Harry asked, his own voice retaining the flatness. He didn’t appreciate omissions.

“The one who trained me to be an Anchor told me it was the one thing I must never tell the Warden who chose me. It seems, however, that choice has been taken from me.”

Harry frowned. “You were trained to a level of submission I would never expect, and yet you were told to keep this a secret? It doesn’t make much sense.”

Draco inclined his head, acknowledging the truth of that. His voice nearly broke, but he forced the words out past the panic clawing at his throat. “I was told that I should never tell a Warden the truth of the bond, for a Warden armed with the truth would be able to pinpoint the origin of Dark Magic and undo it. If the origin is unwoven, then Magic itself will come undone, and the world will fall into chaos.”

Harry digested Draco’s words, his mind reeling. He could understand the fear. No doubt there were wizards out there who would love to thrust the world into chaos, even at the expense of their own magic. He grimaced. Voldemort had been just that kind of insane. If that man had known the truth, then the war may have turned out very differently. While he was irritated that Draco had kept the truth from him, he understand that the man hadn’t done so out of a deliberate attempt to keep him in the dark. Rather, he had done so out of fear that the nightmarish scenario he had painted might come true. Harry sighed. He knew far too well the destructive power a few words could wreak in a person’s life. Voldemort had all but decimated the wizarding world looking for the prophecy that foretold his downfall.

Draco curled his hands on his lap, his fingernails digging into his flesh. The pain helped push the panic back. How was Harry going to react to this revelation? Was he going to punish Draco for his deceit? He bit his lip as he stared down at the bond mark on his wrist. If Harry didn’t punish him, would Alia do it in his stead? Draco wasn’t sure. He didn’t know if he deserved punishment; nothing made sense. The bond wasn’t supposed to be sentient. It wasn’t supposed to be able to answer Harry’s questions. A scenario like this had never come up during his training. He choked back the hysterical laugh that wanted to escape. He had to be the first Anchor in history to have told the truth of the bond to his Warden. He had handed over the only secret he’d ever been tasked with keeping, all because a bond that was only supposed to be able to hurt him had somehow learned how to communicate with him and with his Warden. What was he supposed to do?

Harry watched in fascination as emotions flickered across Draco’s face almost too fast for him to follow. In some ways, he’d known the man for aeons. In other ways, he didn’t know him at all. There was a depth to the Slytherin that Harry wasn’t sure he was ready to see, but he found himself feeling grateful that Draco wasn’t as shallow as he’d always assumed. Maybe there was the potential for something between them besides just sex and dominance games. Maybe there was room for something genuine…but those were thoughts for another time. Right now, he needed to deal with this new revelation about the bond that held them together. “Thank you for telling me, Draco,” he said, keeping his voice gentle.

Draco raised his head. “Am I in trouble?” he asked, voice so quiet it was almost a whisper.

Harry shook his head. “Not this time,” he said. “This is much bigger than you or me. While I won’t condone you keeping secrets from me, this secret wasn’t one you were keeping from me specifically. It was one you were keeping for the sake of the world, and I do understand the difference. Alia, is it safe to assume that you take your cues from me on when to enforce the rules I set?”

To some degree, yes. I will not punish him if a rule has not been set. However, if a rule is broken and you are not here to witness the infraction, I will act in your stead. This is to prevent him from attempting to keep his transgressions secret, and I will, if you like, alert you through the bond that he has broken a rule.  

Harry had to admit he was a little impressed. “What rules have I set for him thus far?” he asked. He wanted to make sure that Alia would not attempt to press on Draco more rules than he had actually set.

He is not to touch anything in the apartment other than your tea, and he has permission to use the couch and the bathroom. I assumed the latter, as without that permission, he would end up damaging your property, and I would be forced to punish him for being disrespectful. He is also forbidden from cumming outside of your presence, and he is allowed to do so only with your express permission. He is also not allowed to question you. I have already punished him once for going against that order. He is also not allowed to call you Warden. I believe those are the only imperatives I’ve heard you issue to him.

Harry winced, then sighed. There were definitely a few things he needed to clear up, as one of those imperatives, as Alia insisted on calling them, had been issued when he was angry. “Okay, let’s start by clarifying some of the rules. Draco is allowed to touch anything in my apartment unless I expressly forbid him from doing so. He is also allowed to question me, at any time, about anything, as long as he keeps his tone respectful. The other rules remain the same. However, I must make it clear that not all commands I give him are to be considered rules. In order to prevent confusion, I will tell you when it is a rule, so that you do not punish him for a perceived transgression that is, in fact, not one at all.”

Gold text flashed across the signal band. Thank you for clarifying. If an ambiguous situation should arise and you are not present to determine whether or not he has broken a rule, I shall refrain from punishing him without discussing the matter with you first.

“That seems best,” Harry said. He pushed his glasses up his nose, rubbing the bridge of his nose with two fingers. “Draco, what are your thoughts?”

Draco arched an eyebrow as he turned to look at Harry, his silver-grey eyes piercing in their intensity. “Do you truly care what I think?” he asked, his bitter tone laced with a hint of desperation. “You sit there and discuss with Alia, the inhuman overseer of my slavery – a chosen path, I admit – and ask what I think of it? I think that I am your slave, my lord, and thus have no say in the matter.”

Harry wanted to laugh and scowl at the same time, but as it wasn’t possible to do both, he settled for a grimace. At least he had found the snarky Slytherin he thought was gone – the submission Draco had been offering him for the last two days was so outside the man’s character that Harry really hadn’t known what to make of it. But to have the snarkiness back after two days of such abject submission was also jarring. He’d known that Draco had been offering him a false face, playing the part of the submissive Anchor he’d been trained for, and he’d hated it. Because it wasn’t the kind of submission he wanted. No, what Harry wanted was to tame the man in front of him. “Yes,” he said. “I want to know what you think.”

Draco blinked. He hadn’t expected Harry’s response to be so simple. He’d expected a lecture about respect, about keeping his tone civil. Instead, his sarcasm and biting tone had been neatly sidestepped. He couldn’t help but feel a bludgeoning of respect inside him. Harry had done and said some terrible things over the last couple days, but he had also done some really wonderful ones. Draco wasn’t sure how to read the man – he was too unpredictable, too chaotic. He sighed. He was going to have to take a chance that Harry was serious about not wanting to silence him. “I think that the rules you have set thus far are fair,” he said. “I am not happy about the fact you are using the compulsive aspect of the band to ensure my obedience to the rules about cumming, but I am fairly certain I am not happy about those rules in general.” His tone turned wry near the end, as he wasn’t exactly unhappy about those rules, just… deliciously frustrated.

Harry laughed. “Well, those rules are staying in place. As is the compulsion. I’ll try not to use the compulsive side of the bond outside of sex. I don’t want to change who you are.”

Draco nodded. “Thanks,” he said, more grateful than he could express. Compulsion magic within a sexual context was thrilling. Outside of that, however, it could be terrifying. Curses like Imperio were considered Unforgivables for a reason.

Gold text flashed, large and bold – it seemed Alia had been trying to get their attention for some time. It’s too bad I don’t have a voice, the text read. I’d hate to have to try and get your attention in an emergency.

Harry laughed while Draco arched an amused eyebrow. Harry asked, “What is it you wanted to tell us?”

The text on the signal band went back to its original size and the flashing stopped. Draco referred to me as inhuman. But that isn’t true. I still retain all my memories, and I can tell you both that I was human once. A very, very long time ago. I would tell you my story, if you would hear it. I have kept it to myself for far too long.

Harry looked at Draco, who nodded. “Okay,” Harry said. “We’re listening.”

Chapter Sixteen     Index     Chapter Eighteen

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