Title: Faster Than the Speed of Love
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Draco/Charlus, Charlus/Dorea
Summary: Picks up where Chapter Two left off. These are micro-updates. The completed chapters will appear here and on FF and AO3 later. These micro posts are unedited.
"I can't believe something like this could happen to me!" Charlus raked his hands through his hair. "What the hell am I supposed to do, Father? I'm married, I have a new baby, what can I do with this?"
Nigel Potter relaxed backward in his comfortable chair, crossing his legs urbanely. "If it's such an issue, why don't you simply ignore what's happened and let St. Mungos figure out what to do with the boy? He should be no concern of yours, especially if you're going to ignore what's happened."
Charlus slammed his hand down on the table, his heartbeat throbbing in his head. "What are you suggesting? He's my soulmate, how can I just ignore that? It's one of the most powerful relationships of Wizarding kind. The minute I saw him I knew that he was the most important person in my life, so how am I supposed to ignore that? How can you think such a thing?"
Nigel waved his hand. "Then don't."
"What?" Charlus fell silent, staring at his father.
"You have been granted a great gift that very few can boast. Accept what magic and Fate have granted you. A soulmate Bond supersedes a marriage Bond, and you have just produced an heir. Dorea will either understand, or go her own way."
"It was a contracted marriage," Charlus said musingly, "and you did leave the usual soulmate clause in place. I am very fond of her, but ours is a more casual kind of love."
"So no matter how things work themselves out, you will find happiness." Nigel tipped his head, his dark eyes focused completely on his son.
Charlus smiled. "Thank you, Father. You always offer the best advice."
"I do try," Nigel said drolly.
* * *
The room was cold and lonely, but he had nowhere else to go. He felt far away from his own skin, his thoughts swimming lost and confused in his head. All he knew was that he didn't have any idea what he was supposed to do next.
He didn't know anyone, he didn't have any money, and to top it off, he'd been rejected in the cruelest manner possible.
One minute he'd simply been Draco Malfoy, then he'd seen Charlus Potter and it had felt like life had filled him for the first time ever. His skin had been warm and his heart had swollen fit to bursting and there had been music and light and he'd been happier than he'd ever been before.
He'd never realized how empty he was, not until all the hollow spaces of his soul had been filled with the presence of someone else. Someone that had sent him awash in ecstasies, only to turn around and leave him without a single word. The man hadn't even waited for him to wake up before rejecting him.
The forming of the soul bond had ripped through Draco, knocking him unconscious, but in some way he hadn't thought it was so bad. He had been held safe and secure, firm in the knowledge that he was never going to be alone ever again.
Then he'd woken to Healer Merryweather checking him over, telling him that Charlus had run out in white-faced terror, vowing never to return. It had felt like someone had stabbed Draco hard in the chest.
"I just don't know what that boy was thinking," Merryweather said, resting a hand against Draco's shoulder. "You have already been through so much, and to have him treat you like that on top of it all... It's utterly shameful."
Draco turned his face toward the wall. "Maybe it's just what I deserve."
"Why would you say such a thing?"
"Because I'm broken." Draco didn't say anything after that. He could hear people moving around the room behind him, but they were like shadows to his mind. He was drowning in a well of loneliness and there was no escaping that.
Charlus Potter, his impossible soulmate, had taken one look at him and simply known that he wasn't good enough. He had probably felt all the stains on Draco's soul and been so disgusted that he couldn't stay another moment.
The man hadn't even bothered to wait and tell him his name. Merryweather had had to tell him, otherwise he never would have known. Charlus would have left and Draco would have spent the rest of his life wondering who he had been and where he had gone.
He was so terribly empty inside.
Draco couldn't even be surprised about where he was or when he was. All color had been leached out of the world, taking curiosity, fear, hope, and all traces of happiness away from him. There was nothing left in him.
Too many shocks taking place too close together, then to be rejected by his soulmate...
Draco stared up at the ceiling and fought the sudden need to cry. More than anything, he wished his mother was here; she always knew what to do to make things right again.
But she was probably dead by now, and never mind the fact that in this time and place she hadn't been born yet. His mother was dead.
He was alone.
His quiet misery was broken by the arrival of Healer Merryweather. Though he hated that the first thing the man did was give him a worried look.
Draco hated all of the concern he received. Hated that it had become part of his life to be a creature of pity. Because it hadn't always been like this; he just didn't know how to make it any better.
"How are you feeling?" Merryweather asked, laying a gentle hand against Draco's cheek. He moved with careful slowness, as though afraid of startling some wild animal. And maybe that was what Draco was now. Maybe he was some kind of wild animal; he certainly wasn't human anymore.
"I feel fine," Draco said, which was only partly a lie. They'd healed him to the point that he didn't hurt anymore at least. Not physically.
"That's very good." Merryweather clasped his hands together in front of himself. "You have a visitor."
Draco couldn't help the nervous jolt that went through him. There was no way the Dark Lord had found him, not in this world that insisted it was the past. "Who is it?"
Just hearing the name made joy burst through Draco, filling him up until he wondered if he was even breathing anymore. Then the resentment returned with the memory of rejection. "What does he want?"
"He would like to see you. I told him to wait until I'd spoken with you." There was so much understanding in the healer's gaze that Draco wanted to hit him. "I think that it's a good idea for you to see him. A soulmate bond is very powerful and it can cause you great damage to ignore it."
"But he doesn't want me!" Draco blurted, then winced. His voice had sounded too raw, too hurt for a Malfoy that was never supposed to show weakness in public.
"He would like to speak to you," Merryweather said. "I don't know what he has decided, but you *will* need to face him to find out what he wants."
"Perhaps he wants me to be his concubine. He'll put me in a nice little house and I will be his deep dark secret from the world." Draco laughed a little hysterically. "It's fitting that I be reduced to this, considering how far I've already fallen."
"You haven't fallen anywhere," Merryweather stated firmly.
Draco plucked at his hair and gave the man a bleak smile. "Oh, but I think we will have to disagree on that, now that beast blood flows through my veins. I really have to wonder how human I still am, though it's impossible for me to gauge how much my mind has changed to match my body. After all, you never knew me when I was human."
"You are still human," Merryweather stated firmly.
Draco barely held in his snort of disdain. Healers and their sentimentality; it was the kind of weakness he would never allow himself.
Merryweather must have read something of his feelings in his face because he sighed heavily and reached for his case. "I have a few potions here that you should take now."
"Potions, potions, potions," Draco complained, "I think my blood runs with the potions you've been giving me."
"They are for your own good." Merryweather unstoppered something bubbly and green, vapors twisting and escaping with a truly noxious stench. "Drink it all."
Draco took the vial and squeezed his eyes tight shut and held his breath as he swallowed the potion down in one gulp. His throat burned with fire, but his stomach bubbled with cold and he burped up a cloud of pink smoke.
He sagged back on the bed, a feeling of weakness going through him. "Ugh, that was foul."
"Foul, but you will feel much better." Merryweather smoothed Draco's hair back from his forehead and pushed him down on the bed. "You don't need to sleep, but you should allow yourself to rest and heal."
There was something about the attention of a Healer that was irresistible to Draco. From the time he was a small and sickly child his mother had called the Healer for anything that might be wrong, even the smallest of things. Draco had developed a fondness for Healers as a defense, otherwise he would have spent a large chunk of his childhood being an incredibly miserable boy.