Welcome to Malfoy Manor
Disclaimer in first chapter.♦♦♦A Lioness In A Snake's Nest♦♦♦
Dawn woke abruptly to the sound of someone yawning. She blinked furiously, realized reluctantly that she would not be getting more shut-eye any time soon, and rose.
One of the best parts about her new feline form was the ability to sleep anywhere and everywhere at the drop of a hat. Catnaps were fantastic fun, she had never felt so rested before in her entire life.
Soft muttering drew her attention and she let her gaze flick over to where her Wizard was sitting, hunched over a book. Draco Mercury Malfoy was doing the same thing he'd been doing since she woke him up two nights ago: researching.
Dawn sauntered over to him and curled against his arm, mewling quietly. He jerked in surprise, turning wide silver-gray eyes her way before his lips twitched into a small smile.
"Latin is a dreadful language," he informed her, rubbing at his face tiredly with his hand, the other was happily occupied in scratching at Dawn's rounded ears.
She purred her encouragement, ear-rubs felt like a wonderful combination of back-scratch and massage.
Turning back to the ancient text before him Draco continued, "Apparently the Familiar-bond depends on three key things: how intelligent the Familiar, how magical the bonded are, and how long you're together."Well, as the once-vessel for an inter-dimensional supernatural force called the Key, I'd say I'm pretty darn magical. There's some Slayer blood in me too… not to mention the fact that I'm HUMAN! Hello? How the heck does
that work out?
Draco frowned, "I wish you could just speak
." He sighed, his fingers finding their way to a forelock that he seemed to tug whenever he was thinking hard, "But it says that mind-speech doesn't usually develop until somewhere between the third and thirtieth year of bonding, if it happens at all!"
She butted her head against his arm and tried to send him soothing thoughts; Kneazles were naturally empathic, it was how they discerned friend from foe. As near as she could tell her bond with Draco attuned her empathy to the blonde so she could see how trustworthy people were towards him
This discovery had not been a fun one, though it had deepened the bond she shared with her Wizard. Discovering that they were both a part of the Deadbeat Dads Club was enough to make her overlook that fact that Draco was a bit of a 'prat.'♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
It was her second night in Malfoy Manor and she was beginning to get used to the house. The rooms were large, even for humans, but decorated in luscious colors and luxurious fabrics that made her inner shopaholic want to scream in delight.Buffy would love this place,
Dawn thought wistfully, At least, she would've pre-mortem.
The Slayer had changed drastically since coming back from Heaven. Nothing on earth could hold a candle to what she had lost, and a fake sister along with a handful of well-meaning but clueless friends weren't enough for her to keep up the façade of liveliness.
The only company not completely intolerable to the blonde was Spike's. Dawn figured it was because they were both part of the I-Crawled-Out-Of-My-Grave-And-Unlived-To-Tell-The-Tale Club
. The peroxide vampire's all-consuming love for the Slayer was hurtful, but Dawn could live with it. He was the only thing that brought even a little bit of Buffy back to those blank hazel eyes.
Willow and Xander had had a hard time accepting the changes they'd wrought in their friend. When Giles had offered Anya the opportunity to open a San Francisco branch of the Magic Box Store, the ex-demon had leapt at the chance - dragging an oh-so-willing carpenter along for the ride.
The Wicca's reaction to these events had been… less healthy. Faced with what she saw as the abandonment of her two closest friends she turned increasingly towards magic and Tara for her warmth and comfort. Eventually leading to the computer nerd's transformation into Black-Magic-Willow.I'd be surprised if they even noticed that I'm missing,
Dawn thought sadly from her curled-up position on the end of Draco's silk-covered bed. There's nothing for me back there, nothing at all…
She had all the ingredients for depression right there: abandonment, check; feeling alone in the world, check; knowing that nobody can understand you, check!
Movement from the supposedly sleeping Draco interrupted that self-pitying train of thought. He had begun to thrash and moan in his dreams, little whimpers escaping his lips and clenched teeth.
Dawn leapt to avoid one twitching leg and landed on his bare shoulder. With the skin-to-fur contact she was instantly sucked into the nightmare that had so disturbed him. The images were fuzzy, but she was looking at it from an outsider's perspective. Panic began to filter through her as she mewled unhappily.
There, held prostrate against a wall was her Wizard; though he looked somewhat younger than she had ever seen him, and the black-robed figure pointing a wand at him must be his tormentor. The dark man seemed almost to glow with a sickly purple light in her gaze. She raced forward and curled against Draco's foot, trying to offer some modicum of support. What the heck was she supposed to DO? There hadn't exactly been a Familiar's 101, pre-transformation! How on earth had she jumped into his dream?
"You continue to defy me," the cool voice of the robed figure hissed. The former-Key shivered at the malice in his tone. "CRUCIO
A heavy grunt tore out of Draco before he could control himself, blood trickled down his chin from biting his lip between his teeth. His hoarse breaths were enough to make Dawn wish she were the lioness she resembled so she could tear the head off this monster who hurt her Wizard!
"You'll have to do better than that," Draco spat blood from his mouth, glaring daggers at his captor. "Give me one good reason? Why should I do it?"
The Big Bad flipped his hood back, and Dawn gasped. He looked like an older, less sane, version of Draco! From his long white-blonde hair to the cold gray eyes he was the spitting image of her Wizard.
A cold smile grew on Lucius Malfoy's lips, "Because, I have… collateral." With a lazy wand wave suddenly a piece of wall that had seemed bare was disillusioned and the bonded pair saw who lay there.
Pale blonde locks turned a bold brassy red with blood and face swollen almost to unrecognizable heights, Narcissa Malfoy lifted her head slowly, trying to say something. Wracking coughs shook her petite frame and a spatter of blood hit the already-stained floor.Oh no he didn't!
Dawn gasped, Ok, that's it, this is JUST a dream, and we're getting the heck outta Dodge!
She spun and bit Draco's ankle, hard.
"Regina? What are you doing here?" He seemed confused, but as he looked at her, realization seemed to trickle in. "A dream, a bloody fucking nightmare!"
Suddenly Dawn was thrown from shoulder to lap as Draco sat up, gasping for breath. She immediately set up purring and rubbing her fur against his bare skin, trying to soother the tremors that still set him to shivering.
"What the hell was that?" Draco frowned and plucked his Familiar from his lap, holding her so that his eyes were level with hers, "How did you do that?"
She sent a feeling of questioning towards him, and he shook his head, smiling a little. "S'not comforting that you have as little clue as I do, Reg," he murmured and yawned. Dawn swiped at him, claws retracted, and he smiled. "Guess I've got something else I should be doing…" He flipped the covers back and swung his feet over the side of the bed, twisting his head around to answer her unspoken question, "Research, lots and lots of research…"♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
The former-Key came back from her reminiscence with a jolt. Draco smirked at her from where he'd just slammed his book shut. She snarled at him.
"Sorry, but I'm barely finding anything
. All of Malfoy Library at my disposal and we have not. One. Bloody. Useful. Thing. On. Familiars!" Each of his little one-word sentences was punctuated by his fist slamming down on the table.
Dawn sent a picture of sleeping Draco ensconced in blankets to him hopefully, he had not really been to bed since that night of nightmares. Not that she was eager to repeat those circumstances, not at all, but he needed some shut-eye that wasn't snatched from the binding of a book!
"Alright, Regina, we'll head to Borgin and Burkes tomorrow, maybe they'll have some books on the… darker aspects of Familiars."♦♦♦♦♦♦♦