moonlite_tryst: (malfoy smirk by heathern_arcade)
[personal profile] moonlite_tryst
I've been spring cleaning my LJ and sorting my fics out and realised I've never posted this here. So, have at it my lovelies.

Title: Draco's Inferno
Author: [livejournal.com profile] lusiology
Pairing: D/H
Rating: R
Warnings: None
Word count: 8000
Disclaimer: No ownership, no money.
Betas: [livejournal.com profile] earth_magic and [livejournal.com profile] jamie2109
Summary: Following a desperate plea from an old friend, Draco finds himself at the Head Auror’s door and embarks on a journey that will lead him through his own inferno.




Beltane 2019

Hell was unbelievably hot.

Hell shone: jewel-like beads of perspiration glistening ruby and gold upon the enticing body moving with such abandon before him.

Hell consumed his thoughts, filling them with images of snake-like tongues - scarlet, orange and yellow - dancing across that very same body, licking around subtly defined muscles, disappearing into pockets of darkness to caress hidden patches of skin.

Hell most definitely did not consist of nine descending circles - each one more terrible than the last - culminating in a frozen lake with Lucifer himself plonked in the middle of it, howling his discomfort for all eternity.

Hell, Draco had discovered, had a tenth level of eternal torment personified by one Harry Potter and his practically naked body and extremely tempting arse, gyrating to the music emanating from the other side of the fire. Potter was a veritable feast of bare skin, all taut sinew and flexing muscle, teasing and tempting Draco to reach out with hesitant fingers and take hold of those swaying hips; to pull them closer still, until heated flesh touched heated flesh.

Licking his parched lips, Draco dragged his tortured eyes along the thread of the red thong where it curved around Potter’s hip, crossed his supple back and disappeared into the cleft of his arse. He knew full well the flimsy cotton fabric would be straining deliciously against Potter’s genitals, leaving little to the imagination, as he lost himself completely to the pulsating rhythm of the drumbeats filling the night sky.

Draco was doomed.

Damnation had found him and his normally reserved mien melted away with surprising alacrity. Impulse, stoked by greedy flames of yearning, took over and, with heart thumping and mouth watering at the prospect of feeling so much skin underneath his trembling hands, Draco took a hesitant step forward. Then another. And finally gave in to temptation, too caught up in the moment to remember the mission and his reason for being here, on Beltane, with Potter in the first place.

~*~


Swallowing the last dregs of a truly awful cup of coffee, Draco decided that it was far too early in the morning to be out on official – although that depended on your perspective – business, and he would rather be anywhere else but here.

Eying the old fashioned clock by the door of the Head Auror’s inner office once more, it seemed to Draco that the minute hand was hovering just short of 10am deliberately. Time had stopped, or slowed to such an extent that the last few moments were being drawn out, stretched taut like a bowstring vibrating with tension. Unconsciously holding his breath in anticipation, Draco watched with a growing sense of unease as the hand finally moved to ten o’clock, and then continued to move past on its never ending journey.

Potter’s secretary, a studious looking young man in a smart dark grey Muggle-like business suit and glasses larger than Potter’s – as if that were possible - didn’t look up from his parchment work. Scowling, Draco cleared his throat in a polite, but firm ‘I’m still here, waiting’ manner, finally gaining the secretary’s attention. He looked up and, Draco was quick to observe, blushed in a most fetching way across his cheeks and down his neck.

“Sorry, I hadn’t noticed the time. I’ll announce you now,” he said. Leaning toward the intercom on his desk he flicked a switch, “Sir, your ten o’clock appointment is here.”

“Send him straight in, Giles,” Potter’s voice replied.

Surreptitiously wiping his palms against the outside of his thighs, Draco took a deep breath and mentally prepared himself for his imminent ordeal. He rose from the low, squashy, leather chair - damn Potter and his casual furniture - as composed as he could be under the circumstances and walked toward Potter’s office. The door gradually swung open revealing a large, well appointed room.

The walls were panelled in a golden wood that reminded Draco of Yew. What little wall space not lined with book shelves was covered with picture frames filled with brightly painted landscapes and photographs of family and friends. The room was, in a word, cosy: a veritable home from home, with two leather easy chairs and a couch sat on opposite sides of a large ethnic patterned rug.

Perhaps the interdepartmental rumours were true and Potter didn’t spend as much time at home now that his youngest was at Hogwarts. Draco had been surprised when he’d overheard the first snippet of gossip. Potter had always seemed larger than life; a man able to overcome the most challenging difficulties without becoming the arrogant celebrity Draco had expected. That the darling of the populace should find himself currently separated from his wife over what appeared to be nothing more than incompatibility now that all three children were safely ensconced behind Hogwarts’ stone walls was… sad, mundane even.

There had been no need for gossip when his own marriage had collapsed. Astoria had made it quite clear, across the pages of every wizard publication known, that she was no longer prepared to stay married to a homosexual.

Following his cursory sweep of the room as he stepped through the door, Draco finally spotted Potter. There he was. The Head Auror himself. Sitting behind a large, serviceable, oak desk piled high with files and other clutter, looking distinctly… well, lacklustre would cover it, he supposed. Potter stood and Draco didn’t know which was in more disarray: Potter’s unruly hair, or the top of his desk. He rounded the desk and strode across the room toward Draco, an open look of welcome on his face, and clasped Draco’s hand in a firm handshake.

“Unspeakable Black. It’s a pleasure to meet you. It’s not often I get a personal visit from your department, so let’s cut to the chase. How can I be of assistance?”

Draco took a step back away from Potter. “Well, Potter,” he replied, raising his hands to shoulder height. “You can start by not throwing me out, or hexing me.”

Potter looked momentarily confused, and then experience borne of many operations in the field took over. Palming his wand with impressive speed, he pointed it at Draco and said, “I think it best if you place your wand on my desk. Slowly.” Potter’s wand tracked Draco’s movements as he cautiously withdrew his wand from his wrist holster and moved across the office to place it on top of the cluttered desk.

“Now, take a seat.” Potter gestured to the leather armchair closest to his desk with his free hand. Draco sat on the edge of the chair and placed his hands on his thighs, so that Potter wouldn’t misinterpret his actions. He felt Potter’s breath on the back of his neck, indicating his close proximity, before he spoke again. This time the tone was considerably less than friendly. “You have thirty seconds to explain who you are.”

“Remove the glamour,” Draco said. “I’d do it myself, but I don’t seem to have my wand.” Potter snorted and cast Aperio, cancelling the glamour that hid Draco’s most distinguishing feature: his white blond hair. Behind him there was a satisfying gasp of “Malfoy!” but no hex followed. Draco felt the tension in his muscles relax a little and he eased himself further onto the chair, hoping Potter would hear him out.

“I think you’d better explain yourself, Malfoy, before I arrest you for impersonating a Ministry employee.” Potter returned to his chair behind his desk and sat down, wand still firmly in hand and trained on Draco.

“I work for the Ministry. S1 to be precise,” Draco said, waiting for Potter’s dumbfounded reaction. Much to his satisfaction, Potter did not disappoint.

“S1?” Potter looked stunned. Draco nodded slowly.

“Really?” Potter’s incredulous reply irritated Draco. He sounded as though such a thing was inconceivable. But, considering the only time Potter had seen Draco in the last two decades was the previous three Septembers at King’s Cross, it was hardly surprising.

“Really,” Draco deadpanned.

“You’re telling me that you work as a Shadow?” Draco watched Potter shake his head in disbelief, but at least he hadn’t thrown him out… yet. “I find it odd that I’ve never seen or heard of you around the Ministry before now.”

“That’s rather the point of a Shadow, isn’t it, Potter?” Draco replied. “To move undetected throughout both wizard and Muggle society. I usually work in the field, acting upon intelligence reports from both the Muggle government and the Ministry. And I’m very good at my job. You can check with the Minister if you need to, although I am here on a personal matter and I would prefer to keep things between ourselves, for the moment.”

Pursing his lips, Potter sat back in his chair considered Draco without speaking further. It was obvious to Draco that Potter was weighing up the information before deciding how to proceed. Things certainly had changed over the years.

“Do you have any I.D. on you at all?”

“Only my wand. The Minister can confirm that its magical signature is registered to S1, if you ask him.”

Potter’s gaze fell on the hawthorn wand lying on his desk for several moments, before returning to Draco.

“So,” he said at last. “Why the glamour? If your motives are not, as you say, underhanded, why use a glamour?”

“I chose to use the glamour to prevent any unwanted attention on my way up here.”

Potter frowned. “Unwanted attention? From whom?”

Draco resisted rolling his eyes. Was Potter really so dense? “Weasley, for one. Judging from the murderous expression on his face each time he sees me at King’s Cross, he would be less than pleased to see me walking through these hallowed halls.”

The ghost of a smile teased the corner of Potter’s mouth and he nodded once. “Point taken. Go on.”

Holding Potter’s direct gaze, Draco refused to look away, even though he wanted to considering the request he was about to make. Hell, pole dancing in front of McGonagall would likely be less humiliating. “I’m here on behalf of a friend to seek out your assistance in finding a missing child.”

“A missing child?”

Draco nodded. “Flora Parkinson, aged fifteen.”

“Related to Pansy Parkinson?”

“Daughter.”

“Ah. I’m sorry to hear that she’s missing, but unless there’s Dark magic involved it’s not in my department’s remit. You want the Hit Wizards. Surely you know that.” Potter had the good grace to sound sincere, rather than brushing him off.

“I do know that,” Draco retorted. “Pansy knows that. Unfortunately the Hit Wizard assigned to her case seems to think her daughter’s disappearance doesn’t warrant investigating.”

Potter frowned and voiced his indignation. “Oh, come on, Malfoy. I find that hard to believe. As worried as Parkinson may be, she has to give the Hit Wizards time to track her daughter down. How long has she been missing? A day? Two?”

“Four. Months.”

Potter’s eyes widened. Draco knew he hadn’t expected it to be so long. “Four months?”

“Four months,” Draco answered with forced politeness. After all, there was no use alienating the one person he hoped to use as an ally, albeit a temporary one. “Without my own enquiries, in an unofficial capacity of course, the case would still be no closer to being solved. If I may be permitted to explain…”

The unfinished question hung in the air between them until Potter lowered his wand so that it lay on the desk at his fingertips and settled further into his executive chair. “Be my guest.”

Draco followed suit and made himself more comfortable. Finally, he had Potter’s attention, but his cooperation could not be considered a foregone conclusion, no matter how sympathetic he appeared. Draco took a steadying breath and began the speech he’d practiced several times that morning.

“Fifteen years ago Pansy Parkinson had a daughter – Flora - who, until last December, attended Hogwarts. During the last Hogsmeade weekend before Christmas, Flora did not return to the castle. After hours of searching the village and fringes of the Forbidden forest, the headmistress contacted Pansy. Shortly afterwards, on the 21st of December, a missing person’s report was filed with the Hit Wizard department.”

Potter frowned and rubbed his chin absentmindedly between his thumb and forefinger for several moments. “Finding a missing person is like finding a needle in a haystack, Malfoy; especially if that person doesn’t want to be found. I think, despite what you say…”

Gritting his teeth, Draco held his hand up to forestall Potter’s platitudes. “I know they haven’t been looking. The polite response, each time Pansy makes another enquiry, is that anything worth noting has been recorded in her file and posters have been put out in key locations such as Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.”

Draco suddenly leant forward to press his point home to Potter. “Flora’s file may be ‘open’, but information supposedly collated by the Hit Wizard in charge of her case is nonexistent. I’ve seen the file. It’s completely empty.”

Shaking his head in bemusement, Potter said, “But that doesn’t make any sense. I know people in that department. They’re a conscientious lot.”

“I don’t doubt that they usually are, but in this case there is another factor at work.”

Potter pursed his lips and looked at Draco with a sceptical expression. “Which is?”

“Flora Parkinson is illegitimate.”

“What difference does that make? She’s a missing child.” Potter looked outraged.

Oh, Potter. Still the outsider, even after all these years.

“Unfortunately, due to pure-blood society’s stiff codes of behaviour and even stiffer upper lips, both mother and daughter have been shunned over the last fifteen years because, even in these progressive times, it's not the done thing to have a child before marriage.”

Pausing, Draco studied Potter’s darkening expression and waited for his response. “You’re saying that because Parkinson’s daughter is...” Potter looked uncomfortable.

“Illegitimate,” Draco cut in to get to the point.

“Right. Illegitimate. That her case is being ignored?”

“Absolutely. Thaddeus Holme-Lacey, the Hit Wizard assigned to the case is a pure-blood.”

Potter sat back again and stared into space, shaking his head slowly from side to side. “We’re supposed to be better than that; holding an innocent child responsible for the actions of its parents,” he murmured. “We should be better than that.”

Draco waited expectantly, but nothing further was added. Potter seemed lost in his own thoughts once more. Impatience finally got the better of Draco in the silence that stretched between them. “I have, this morning, discovered where Flora is,” he offered.

Potter’s attention snapped back to him. “You have?”

“I wouldn’t be much of a Shadow if I couldn’t follow even the slightest of leads, or clues, now would I?”

“No. I suppose not. If you know where she is, why do you need my help?”

“Flora has been lured into joining a cult and I believe she’s being held against her will.” And there it was. The spark of interest had finally flared to life in Potter’s tired eyes. No common desk Auror, this. And Draco knew he was on the way to winning his cooperation.

“Cult?” Potter leaned forward to rest his forearms on his desk, completely focused on Draco.

“Yes. This particular group call themselves The Children of Merlin.”

“What do you know about them?”

Draco took his shrunken brief case from his pocket, placed it on the desk and gestured toward it. “Will you do the spell, or shall I?”

“Oh. You, of course.” Potter handed Draco his wand.

“Thank you,” Draco replied. He cast Engorgio and opened the case, withdrawing a thick cream file and looked for somewhere to put it on the cluttered desk. Potter took the hint and cast Evanesco, completely Vanishing all the items littered across his desk barring family photographs.

“There has been a slow, but steady rise in a particular type of fundamentalism in recent years, with NSM’s – that’s new spiritual movements - appearing around the country, all purporting to offer the one true path to spiritual enlightenment through the beliefs and practices of our pagan forefathers. We think this growth is in response to the gradual Muggleization of our society: a need to return to grass roots if you will. Although that hasn’t stopped wizards from all backgrounds being accepted.”

Draco placed the file on the now empty desk between himself and Potter and opened it. Potter leaned over and perused the contents page with interest. It included a section for each group detailing the locations of their activities, alongside dates and type of said activity.

“Collating the information S1 has gathered, it appears that these NSMs are harmless-“

“But not the Children of Merlin,” Potter supplied.

“No. They specifically target the lonely and vulnerable: offering friendship, a welcoming community, regardless of background, and an initially attractive set of values. This in itself doesn’t make them dubious, but there is a darker side that’s not initially apparent.”

Nodding, as if to himself, Potter murmured, “There usually is.”

Continuing, Draco added, “All contact with the outside world is broken; families shunned; new inheritance documents drawn up in favour of the cult; there is also a suggestion that coercive persuasion is being used. Something akin to Muggle brainwashing.”

Potter looked up, frowning. “Coercive persuasion? The Ministry banned that form of re-education over ten years ago, after Hermione’s Prisoner Reintegration Reform Bill was finally passed by the Wizengamot.”

“The ministry may have banned coercive persuasion, but that doesn’t stop unscrupulous individuals trained in those methods from putting them to use behind well warded walls.”

Shaking his head, Potter picked up the file and flicked through its contents. “So how did this particular cult ensnare Parkinson’s daughter?”

“Despite being a most promising witch, Flora was not a happy child at school. McGonagall informs me that she was a pale, withdrawn student, well liked by her professors for her diligence in her studies, but with no real friends. I suspect she was being bullied by other pure-blooded children because of her mother’s known indiscretion in their circle of acquaintances.”

“I suppose that would make her an ideal candidate then.”

“Indeed. Apparently Flora was seen during several Hogsmeade weekends talking to two unknown witches wearing identical pale green robes, with some sort of Celtic knot work around the neck and wrists. This description, according to earlier intelligence, matches the clothes worn by followers of the Children of Merlin.”

“Hmmmm.” Potter replaced the file on the desk and regarded Draco with interest. “So has S1 had this group under surveillance for some time?”

Draco shook his head. “No. We’d heard of them, but pinning them down to a particular location had proven impossible, Unplottable you see. Or at least they were, until Pansy received a letter from Flora at Easter saying that she had found her true home and wouldn’t be returning to her mother, or Hogwarts.”

“That must’ve been a hard letter to read. I can’t imagine the pain that must’ve caused.” Before Draco could reply, he lunged to the side and opened a draw, rifling through its contents and drawing out a pad of parchment and a Quick Quotes quill. “Do you mind if notes are made?”

“Not at all, Potter.” Draco smiled briefly. Potter returned his smile. Draco reminded himself to stay calm and not overstate his case. Potter was definitely interested and hopefully wouldn’t take much persuading to accompany Draco on his mission.

“Luckily, Pansy is a smart woman and handed the letter over to me. It’s taken over a month to discover and link several pollen samples found on the envelope to a particular area of the Peak District: around the village of Higher Ridgegate specifically.”

“You can do that? Be that precise with grains of pollen?”

With a brief nod, Draco returned to his briefcase and took out a map and unfolded it. “There is someone in that field of expertise I can call upon when needed. He divides his time between S1 and Pathology.”

Potter’s face had shed the grey pallor of tedium. Colour infused his skin and his eyes were bright with interest. “Fascinating. Anyone I’m likely to know?”

Oh Potter, are you in for a shock! “It’s Professor Snape.”

It was hard not to smirk. If Potter’s mouth had opened any wider, his jaw would’ve hit the desk with a resounding thud. “Snape?”

“The one and only.”

“But he’s-“

“Dead. Yes. But sadly not at peace. So I help to keep him busy.” Draco smoothed the map out.

“Does he work from Hogwarts?”

“Of course, Potter, he’s a ghost.”

Potter sat quietly, gazing into space with an unexpected expression of sadness upon his face that only served to rouse Draco’s curiosity. There would be time later - he’d make sure of it - to probe into what had happened between the two men before Snape died. After several moments Potter shook his head and focused on the map before him. “So, you now know where the cult lives.”

“The general area, yes. The location itself is Unplottable, but the pollen grains are from a species of moss found here.” Draco pointed to a feint circle drawn on the map. “Between Ridgegate reservoir and the edge of Macclesfield Forest

“What sort of area is it?”

Draco withdrew a set of photographs from his brief case. “

Potter looked at the pictures, then returned his attention to the map. “It looks fairly peaceful: a great deal of forestry and no major roads to speak of, apart from the one leading in and out of the village.”

“An ideal location; I’m sure you’ll agree.” Potter nodded his affirmative.

“Yesterday, I questioned several wizard inhabitants of the village and they confirmed that there is considerable activity in the woods and on the lower slopes of Shuttlingsloe, particularly on the Cross-Quarter days of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa and Samhain. Lights have also been seen upon-“ Draco tapped a place where the contour lines huddled ever closer together, “-Shuttlingsloe’s summit during previous Cross-Quarter nights, but the Muggle inhabitants don’t seem to notice them.”

“And tonight,” Potter said, “is Beltane.”

Draco quashed the sudden churning in his gut and continued. “Precisely Potter. Which brings me to the purpose of my request. There isn’t the time to plan a multi-department undercover operation to find Flora. But two wizards experienced in covert operations could Apparate to the forest, and then, during the festivities, locate and remove her.”

Pursing his lips, Potter shook his head slightly. “I don’t know, Malfoy. It sounds so simple, but if they’re as secretive as your information suggests, there’s bound to be some form of security in operation.” He picked up the photographs again, studying each one with a practiced eye.

““There is another reason why it is imperative to get Flora out tonight, before midnight.”

“And that is?”

“Have you ever wondered why Beltane events are licensed?”

“To keep an eye on the revelry as the night progresses, I suspect.”

“Partly. Up until one hundred years ago it was customary, after the Beltane Bonfire was lit, for all participants above a certain age to take part in the fertility rites in the fullest sense, if you get my meaning, and often with more than one partner. Flora Parkinson is above that age.”

Potter looked up sharply. “But she’s only fifteen!”

“She’s old enough for a group modelling themselves on the beliefs and practices of a people whose life expectancy was considerably shorter than ours. It’s also possible that she and any others will be drugged to prevent resistance.”

Now was not the time to browbeat Potter, to play on his empathy as a parent; but Draco wanted to. How he wanted to. He was so close to achieving his objective. He knew it. And sitting here, waiting for Potter to make a decision, was almost beyond endurance. Potter was interested; Draco had seen the change in his demeanor and hoped that the idea of being back in the field, doing what he did best, would be enticing enough to sway that decision.

“I think it would be for the best,” Potter said, as he placed the pictures beside the map and Draco held his breath, “if we arrange to meet somewhere close to the site this afternoon to reconnoiter the whole area in daylight. How does one o’clock sound?”

Draco exhaled slowly. “One o’clock would be ideal. If we meet at The Leather’s Smithy, just outside Higher Ridgegate by the reservoir, we’ll be able to blend in as walkers. I suggest wearing Muggle style hiking clothes to blend in with the other visitors present.”

“Agreed.” Potter stood and offered Draco his hand once more. Draco clasped it firmly, shaking it once. Picking up the map, pictures and file, he dropped them into his bag.

“I’ll see you at one o’clock, then. And… thanks, Potter.”

“No problem,” Potter replied absently, putting away the Quick Quotes quill. Draco turned to leave the office wondering how on earth he was going to stop Potter punching him in the face when he explained what they might have to do to blend in with the festival participants. Opening the door, he collided with the last person he wanted to see any morning.

“Weasley,” Draco inclined his head slightly and neatly side-stepped the flabbergasted man blocking his exit.

“Malfoy! Harry, what was Malfoy doing here?”

Draco carried on walking, putting as much distance between himself and that odious voice as quickly as possible.

~*~


Draco thanked the barman and picked up two pints of Hobgoblin beer from the beaten copper-topped bar - hoping Potter would enjoy the dark brew - and surveyed the half-empty snug of the Leather’s Smithy. He’d only just sat down at a small table situated in a cosy nook by the fireplace, when Potter stumbled in. Draco’s stomach flipped at the sight of Potter looking flushed and more alive than he’d seen him over the last three years.

He soon spotted Draco and headed over.

“My, my, Potter. You’re looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Glad to be back in the field?”

Potter flushed slightly and grinned. “Something like that. Is one of these mine?” he said, gesturing toward the two glasses on the table.

Draco nodded. “Hobgoblin. I thought you’d appreciate both the name and the flavour.”

Potter sat down opposite Draco. “Thanks.” He took several swallows of beer and hummed his approval.

Draco watched, mesmerised by Potter’s Adam’s apple and then his tongue as it lazily swept across his upper lip, removing the cream foam of the head. He swallowed thickly. This was going to be a more difficult mission than he’d anticipated; rescuing Flora seemed a simple thing compared to the task of keeping his hands off Harry Potter as the festivities progressed.

“You’ve got to hand it to Muggles,” Potter said, putting his glass down. “They’re much more creative with their drinks and how they name them.”

“True.” Draco took another long drink of his beer, while he collected his thoughts.

“What’s the plan for this afternoon?”

“We’re going to meet a local wizard, Jericho Anscomb, at two o’clock and he’s going to show us several key sites around the area where there is wizard activity on the four festival days.”

“I assume we’ll be going Muggle in case anyone has the area under surveillance.”

“Yes. If anything happens while we are out this afternoon, we’ll have to deal with it the Muggle way, unless we’re certain no-one else is around.”

“Understood.” They drank the remainder of their pints in silence, until Draco looked at his watch and signalled that it was time to go.

Jericho Anscomb might be a small, portly man, with white hair and a matching white beard, but he was still fit. He strode across the car park at the start of the hiker trail with youthful vigour and shook Potter’s hand without introduction. Draco tried not to grimace at the enthusiastic welcome; after all, this was the sticks and he doubted many well known wizard folk passed through this area, unless they were keen hikers. Anscomb turned and grinned at Draco. “Ready for the off then?”

“Yes. And I’d be grateful if you’d fill my partner in along the way.” Anscomb turned back to Harry and began to chatter away about the history of the area while they walked along a wide sandy path between the trees. Draco followed, eyes restlessly combing the woods on either side of them.

Although it was an overcast afternoon, it was warm in the forest and the air was filled with occasional clouds of midges and the rich earthy scent of new growth. Walking briskly, Draco wished he could take his jacket off and shrink it, along with the rucksack on his back, and maybe even cast a cooling charm to combat the growing humidity and his rising temperature. He scanned the trees crowding in on each side the path like tall, silent towers once more, detecting nothing. But if a wizard with a strong Disillusionment Charm was observing them, well… it spoke for itself, really.

Eventually, the path began to climb steeply, meandering its way through dense pine trees, heading toward the open slopes of the peak. Draco felt like he’d been walking for hours and was secretly relieved when Anscomb paused for the first time by a large weathered boulder, waiting for Draco and Potter to catch up. Draco marvelled at Anscomb’s stamina and noted with some satisfaction that Potter had also broken out into a sweat and was removing his jacket.

“You okay lads? Yer look a little hot,” Anscomb said, grinning at Draco and Potter.

“It’s a steady climb,” Potter replied, opening his rucksack and taking a bottle of water out.

“This little stretch? Nah. Wait ‘til you start for the peak, if you choose to go up there. Time for a breather and some refreshment, I think.”

Potter grinned and winked at Draco. A sudden flush of warmth rose up his neck and he shot a quick smile back before rifling through the contents of his own rucksack to find his water. Damn his fair complexion. Taking several long swallows, he surreptitiously eyed Potter. The outdoors certainly suited him; he looked alive and at ease in his surroundings, not the dull man he’d met this morning. Draco wondered how he managed being desk bound day after day and what kind of pressure put him there. He, himself, had craved a desk job in the early years of his training, until he’d found his feet. But now? Now he loved the freedom that experience brought with it.

Potter took a swig from his bottle and pulled a face. “Ugh. I hate warm water.”

Draco shook his head. “Too long behind a desk, that’s your trouble. You’ve gone soft.”

“Oh, really.” Potter quirked a brow. “Yet it was me you chose to help you today.”

Draco drank his own water unable, for the moment, to think of a suitable retort that wouldn’t piss Potter off. Damn him.

“When yer ready lads. This is where we leave the main path and it can be rough underfoot.”

Potter looked around. “Which way do we go? I can’t see another path.”

“The beginning is often hidden by overgrowth, so it’s easily missed,” Anscomb said, pointing between two twisted birch trees forming a leafy archway opposite the boulder. Draco packed his drink away and followed Anscomb as he stepped off the main path, Potter bringing up the rear. In the afternoon gloom it was possible to make out a narrow path leading downhill. The more Draco looked, the more he could discern that there were two lines of trees leaning over the path stretched before them, like an aisle of verdant arches in a great, green cathedral.

Anscomb stopped, turning to face both Draco and Potter and spoke quietly. “Not many travel this path, but it is known to some Muggles and wizards alike. It will take us to a place the Muggles quaintly call Fairy Dell.” Draco snorted and Potter elbowed him. “Local legends say that the dell is a magical place, sometimes visible, sometimes not.” Anscomb leaned toward them. “We know why, don’t we lads. Eh?” he said, tapping the side of his nose. Draco fought the urge to roll his eyes and settled for a forced smile at Potter.

They continued down hill until the path suddenly levelled out and led them into a large, light infused clearing. Dazzled by the sudden brightness, Draco blinked furiously to clear his vision. Shafts of sunlight pierced the surrounding trees, creating soft-hued pillars of gold. Pale blue-grey lichens seemed to balance precariously on branches above moss-cloaked trunks, dripping down in great festoons like thick, gathered lace.

Wildflowers peppered the long grass with random bursts of colour: blue, yellow and pink, but the middle of the clearing was devoid of any plant life that Draco could see. He watched Potter close his eyes and tilt his face toward the light and smile, feeling the warmth of the sun upon it. There was barely a sound except for the soft humming of bees and the lazy trickle of water somewhere in the distance behind him. Lethargy washed over him and he could’ve quite happily lain down and slept the rest of the day away.

“Careful now,” murmured Anscomb at the side of him. “You’ll be falling under the spell of the Fairy Ring.”

Draco shook his head to shake off the sensation of drowsiness. “The what?”

“The Fairy Ring. What you see here, lads,” he said pointing to the longer grass around the clearing, “is the remains of a stone circle. It’s called the Fairy Ring and if you look closely you’ll see why.”

Draco walked over to a misshapen whitish stone no more than two feet high, poking out of the grass. The lichen: red, orange and white on the top of the stone made it look like a giant toadstool. He glanced around and noted the other stones were covered in the same lichen and that there were thirteen in all. The faint pounding of a headache stirred and began to drum behind his eyes. Draco groaned; thirteen stones and Beltane magic were a powerful enough combination, add Potter to the mix and – Draco glanced over to where Potter was talking quietly to Anscomb – he was in for a hell of a night. Fuck Pansy and her inability to keep her legs shut when it mattered. When this was over, and if he’d made a fool of himself with Potter, she’d owe him more than her life was worth.

And this-“ Anscomb’s voice intruded on Draco’s dark thoughts, “- is where the Beltane fire will be lit after the procession enters the clearing.”

Draco glanced at his watch, then over his shoulder to the path they had recently travelled down and looked at Potter. “We need to decide on a plan.”

~*~


It was dusk when Draco woke and considerably cooler; condensation had settled on the ground, making it damp. Standing, he yawned and stretched out the stiffness in his limbs. It took several moments to get his bearings and shake off the strange hung over feeling. Bloody fairy Ring. Reaching into his rucksack, he pulled out a flask of pumpkin juice fortified with ginseng and drank deeply, feeling the fog of sleep drift away. What he wouldn’t give for a stiff drink right now.

Potter was propped up against the next tree, snoring softly. He looked… peaceful, content even. Draco nudged him with his foot. “Come on, Potter. Rise and shine.” Potter stirred and gazed blearily at him, looking confused. Draco crouched next to him, offering him the flask. “Here, have a drink of this. It’ll help combat the drowsiness.”

Potter eyed the flask with suspicion. “What’s in it?”

“Pumpkin juice and a little something to help with your energy levels.”

“Such as?”

“Ginseng. Red Korean ginseng, if you must know. It complements the pumpkin juice well and revitalises you.”

Potter smirked up at him. He actually smirked at him. “Isn’t ginseng a Muggle health thing?”

“Do you want a drink or not,” Draco snapped, strangely unnerved by this smirking Potter.

Potter took the flask, tipped his head back and drank. Draco refused to look at the column of his throat, or the way his Adam’s apple moved up and down with each slow swallow.

“Here. I’m done.”

Draco took the proffered flask off Potter and replaced it in his rucksack. “Do you want to go over our plan once more?”

Potter shook his head. “No. I’m good.” He stood, picked up his own rucksack and began to move off in the direction of Fairy Dell. Draco’s hand shot out and grabbed his arm.

“Remember, Potter, things may get a little strange once the ceremony is underway. Beltane magic can invoke an older, more potent magic if the conditions are right, and-“ he paused and Potter watched him in silence, a quizzical expression on his face. Draco dropped Potter’s arm and sighed. “Let’s just agree that whatever happens tonight need not be discussed afterwards.”

With a slight frown, Potter replied, “Okay. If that’s what you want.”

Draco nodded emphatically. “It is.”

Potter shrugged and walked away toward his agreed position, ready for the entrance of the procession.

~*~


“No way! You have got to be fucking kidding me,” Potter snarled. In the flickering red glow cast by the distant fire he looked otherworldly, a demonic forest spirit with eyes that blazed green fury.

Draco raised his finger to his lips and hissed, “Will you keep your voice down. It’s not something I expected.”

“Well maybe you should have,” he snapped, sitting back on his haunches and folding his arms across his chest, brooding.

Draco racked his brains trying to think of some way around their problem. Around the glade he could see the giant network of glowing orange threads he knew were part of the Everriculum charm. It was a complex spell, effectively trapping everything within and keeping intruders out – quite beautiful really, and not widely known outside his department.

But beauty wouldn’t help him now; he had not expected that level of magic and had clearly underestimated the membership of the cult. Someone with high level Auror or Unspeakable training was obviously a member. He glanced over at Potter, still scowling toward the fire. Thank god he hadn’t had time to organize a full scale operation, it may have tipped off the organisers of this party and then he’d have been up shit street without a broom.

From his vantage point he could see the White Women and Handmaidens taking up their positions to guard the May Queen before the ritual dance of the Red Men, the Lords of Misrule, intent on encouraging the revellers to cast aside their thoughts of the next day and abandon themselves to the excesses of the night. Potter was watching them too, scanning the ensemble for Flora. Draco sighed and decided to try again or he’d have to go in alone.

“Look Potter, this isn’t about you or me, or pride. It’s about a young girl who could be repeatedly brutalised before the night is out. I’m not exactly comfortable with the idea, but it’s the only way I can think of getting close enough to Flora without being detected.” Potter looked shame-faced, all anger had evaporated when he regarded Draco again.

“What about the alarm? It’ll trip the moment we cross the detection wards.”

We? Draco pursed his lips. Well that was hopeful. “Do you think anyone will be able to pick us out in the crowd of Red Men dancing around? If our luck holds the alarm will be put down to a forest creature. Potter eyed him sceptically for several moments and then glanced over to the clearing through the trees. Draco followed his gaze and saw that the Red Men had gathered in a loose horseshoe on the opposite sound of the fire to the White Women.

A solitary drum began to beat a slow rhythm and the Red Men began to move, stamping first one foot and then the other, but advancing no further. The rhythm changed and quickened. More drums joined in, their low sound resonating all around. All at once a cry rose up, like a war cry, then a ululation from the whole company of Red Men reverberated through the forest. The drumming changed and increased in speed. The Red Men began to move, spreading out and dancing to the new rhythm.

Potter swung back to face Draco. “Do it,” he commanded. Draco palmed his wand and cast three transfigurations: one each for hair, skin tone and clothes. When he had finished Potter stood before him, glorious in his near nakedness. Draco swallowed and sought refuge in staring hard at Potter’s spiked red hair, rather than the flimsy cotton thong barely covering his groin.

“Now me,” he choked out. Potter cast the three spells in quick succession and the transformation was complete.

Potter smirked. “Red hair looks good on you.”

Draco grinned and smacked his bare chest with the back of his hand; it was warmer than expected. “Piss off, Potter.”

Potter put his wand in the skin coloured arm holster and took that as his cue, charging through the trees toward the group of swaying men. Draco sped after him, leaping over fallen branches and tussocks, all the while keeping Potter’s firm arse in sight. Dear God, he thought, help me keep my hands off Potter tonight.

He felt the push of the wards as they crossed the boundary of the invisible net and it flared to life, glowing as brightly as the fire before him, against the night sky. All activity ceased, but both he and Potter had already passed deep into the throng. Still, that didn’t stop Draco from holding his breath until the drumming started again and Potter began to move before him. At that point Draco only had eyes for Potter. Minutes passed and the dance became even more frenetic.

Hell was unbelievably hot.

Hell shone: jewel-like beads of perspiration glistening ruby and gold upon the enticing body moving with such abandon before him.

Hell consumed his thoughts, filling them with images of snake-like tongues - scarlet, orange and yellow - dancing across that very same body, licking around subtly defined muscles, disappearing into pockets of darkness to caress hidden patches of skin.

Hell, Draco had discovered, had a tenth level of eternal torment personified by one Harry Potter and his practically naked body and extremely tempting arse, gyrating to the music emanating from the other side of the fire. Potter was a veritable feast of bare skin, all taut sinew and flexing muscle, teasing and tempting Draco to reach out with hesitant fingers and take hold of those swaying hips; to pull them closer still, until heated flesh touched heated flesh.

Licking his parched lips, Draco dragged his tortured eyes along the thread of the red thong where it curved around Potter’s hip, crossed his supple back and disappeared into the cleft of his arse. He knew full well the flimsy cotton fabric would be straining deliciously against Potter’s genitals, leaving little to the imagination, as he lost himself completely to the pulsating rhythm of the drumbeats filling the night sky.

Draco was doomed.

Damnation had found him and his normally reserved mien melted away with surprising alacrity. Impulse, stoked by greedy flames of yearning, took over and, with heart thumping and mouth watering at the prospect of feeling so much skin underneath his trembling hands, Draco took a hesitant step forward. Then another. And finally gave in to temptation, too caught up in the moment to remember the mission and his reason for being here, on Beltane, with Potter in the first place.

Moving his body in time with Potter’s, he reached out and clasped his hips above the thread of the thong, drawing him closer until they spooned together: Potter’s back brushed against his chest, Potter’s arse against his groin with nothing but one thin piece of material between them. He could reach out and slide his fingers so easily into the narrow pouch to cup Potter’s balls.

So easily.

Oh, God.

The dance continued, and Draco felt a surge of lust, pent up for so long, surge through his cock, making him gasp with pleasure. He’d never gotten so hard so fast and he had to concentrate to remain standing. Potter must’ve felt him falter because his movements slowed, almost ceased, and then he turned around until he faced Draco.

Nothing else existed.

Nothing, but desire-darkened eyes fixed on his face and flushed, naked skin.

Face to face at last. Draco licked his lips, Potter was there for the taking, and he moved in, tilting his head lower to kiss Potter’s enticing mouth. Potter’s lips were moist and pliant beneath his. He groaned and tightened his arms around Potter, to deepen the kiss. Then stopped and drew back, his conscience suddenly getting the better of him. He wanted Potter, desperately so, but not when he was under the influence of a magic so powerful it overrode everything else.

For a moment Potter looked dazed. “Draco…?”

“It’s Beltane magic. Powerful magic, Potter, not you. Remember what I said.”

Uncertainty clouded Potter’s expression. “You… you don’t want to?”

“Oh, I want to. But not like this. I’d want you clear headed if you ever chose to come to me.”

Focusing on the job he came here to do, he pointed to the crowd of White Women and Handmaidens now beginning to move amongst the Red Men and mouthed ‘Flora’. Potter nodded and followed him, weaving through the mingling crowd. Draco finally spotted his target wrapped in a diaphanous Grecian style gown, hovering uncertainly on the edge of the throng.

“Ready, Potter?”

“Ready.”

Both men lunged forward and grabbed the stunned young girl by the arms. Draco watched the crowd of revelers, counting on Potter to raise his wand and cast Exussum. Out of the corner of his eye he saw red light shoot forth, to burn a hole through the canopy of the net. Orange threads floated down, losing their glow before they hit the earth. The crowd turned as one and began to surge forward toward them. Flora screamed. Draco hoped Potter’s spell had been strong enough and a split second later, he Apparated all three of them Side-Along to his flat without Splinching anyone. They had barely landed on the carpet, before his head was in the fireplace, calling Pansy.

~*~


Beltane 2020

Lucius used to say that partaking in an afternoon tipple was gauche. Well screw Lucius, Draco thought, swallowing the remains of Old Ogden’s Finest in his glass. He fully intended on drinking until well after noon and being positively vulgar at a club of his choosing during the night. He stared morosely at the empty glass and berated himself once more for doing the honourable thing last Beltane. The image of Potter in nothing but his red thong was still as strong as the night he’d stood before Draco, seemingly willing to be debauched. Draco stood and stalked upstairs to shower. Might as well hit the town early to find a partner for the night, there was nothing else to do. If the Prophet was to be believed, Potter had no shortage of willing partners since his very public separation from his wife.

Emerging from his ensuite bathroom, Draco was surprised to see a small brown owl perched on the top of his tall boy. It hooted once and stuck its leg out for Draco to remove the small parcel tied so carefully to it. Draco scratched the owl’s head absently and undid the parcel, shaking the contents out on his bed. A simple red thong lay in stark contrast to his snow white sheets, along with a short note.

Draco,

I’m clear headed. Are you?

Harry


With a grin the size of a Cheshire cat’s threatening to split his face in half, Draco ran downstairs, grabbed his quill and penned his reply.

~*~fin~*~

Date: 2011-08-20 05:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] floradelaney.livejournal.com
I love it! Especially Draco's inner thoughts. And the ending is deliciously teasing. BRAVO!

Date: 2011-08-20 11:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
Thank you so much, I'm thrilled you did. You can't beat a tease to get the imagination going. :)

Date: 2011-08-21 01:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bornof-sorrow.livejournal.com
Hehehe - excellent story, me likey xxxx

How's the plan lady? I'm fighting the glooms ;( but otherwise fine. x

Date: 2011-08-22 12:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
Thank yoooo! Both for reading and the good words. *hugs*

I'll mail you.

Date: 2011-08-22 03:20 am (UTC)
mordyn4: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mordyn4
Hot hot hot! And full of auror intrigue. Perfect. :D

Date: 2011-08-22 12:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
*blushes* I'm very happy you liked it, especially enough to rec it. Gotta love Auror fic. ♥

Date: 2011-08-23 12:36 am (UTC)
mordyn4: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mordyn4
The writing feels so "right" to me. I could say concise, action-oriented, and full of meaning, but it's just "right".

Date: 2011-08-24 03:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
I could say concise

You know, one of my biggest issues is that I cannot write a long fic for the life of me so I'm glad to know that 'concise' stil gives enough feel for what's going on.

Date: 2011-08-24 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] justbecause421.livejournal.com
That was just the distraction I needed! Awesome awesome story!

Date: 2011-08-24 03:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
Awww. Thank you very much. You've made my day!

Date: 2011-08-26 11:42 am (UTC)
oconel: (Books)
From: [personal profile] oconel
This was lovely. I loved Draco's voice; it was very spot on and it's one of the reasons I love H/D so much.

I have to say both of the were a bit foolish to wait a whole year, though :P

Date: 2011-08-26 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
I loved Draco's voice; it was very spot on

Mucho gracias. High praise indeed!

both of the were a bit foolish to wait a whole year

That was down to typing right up to the last minute of the deadline. I knew I didn't have time to write an involved scene so I tied the end into the next Beltane. I suppose I could alter it to a month. Thoughts?

Date: 2011-08-27 01:33 pm (UTC)
oconel: (Books)
From: [personal profile] oconel
Mucho gracias. High praise indeed!
Reading this fic reminded me why I love H/D so much, so I think I should thank you instead :) (and ask for recs of recent fics, if you have them?)

I suppose I could alter it to a month. Thoughts?
I read your answer yesterday and I've been imagining scenarios of how that would go, hehe. But yes, I think a month would be better.

Date: 2011-08-27 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
and ask for recs of recent fics, if you have them?

Do you mean that I've read? H/D or original m/m?

ii

Date: 2011-08-27 06:17 pm (UTC)
oconel: (Books)
From: [personal profile] oconel
I was thinking h/d but if you have original recs I'm game

Re: ii

Date: 2011-08-27 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
I haven't been reading H/D for quite a while, although I did read several of the glompfest fics. Have you read any of those?

What kind of thing do you like in m/m, i.e. genre, character etc?

Date: 2011-08-27 08:55 pm (UTC)
oconel: (Books)
From: [personal profile] oconel
I haven't read a fest for a long time, so if you rec me something I haven't read it for sure.

I like almost anything, though I tend to go for fantasy it's not a must. Lately I've read several detective stories, too, but I'm not picky if the story is good.

Date: 2011-08-28 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonlite-tryst.livejournal.com
Have you read shadow of the templar?

Re H/D, I liked Potterphiles by Winnet:

http://serpentinelion.livejournal.com/284033.html

Here's one of my fave authors from the s2b2 comm. The fics will stay with you and the characters are not perfect specimens but there is always a HEA:

http://w2.moonpants.org/original/

Date: 2011-08-29 12:43 pm (UTC)
oconel: (Books)
From: [personal profile] oconel
*saves links*

Thanks a lot!

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