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Draco had seen them before, but he first noticed the Weasley twins when he was sitting in front of the Great Hall, eleven years old, being sorted.

His eyes surveyed the room, a trained arrogance, and settled a moment too long on the boys sniggering at each other. He felt the Sorting Hat barely graze his head before shouting “Slytherin,” and saw them roll their eyes, completely in sync. The cheering of the Slytherin table across the room seemed dulled, and he tried to convince himself it was because he just hated the two clones so much. And naturally, that was why he kept noticing them.

He kept noticing them in second year--noticing slightly more than he should, perhaps. Like the differences in the patterns of their freckles, and how Fred’s smiled seemed less reserved than George’s, and the little discrepancies in how their noses had formed, making them not quite as identical as they appeared at first glance.

He noticed Weasel and Weaselette some that year, as well, but more for all the things they didn’t have. They had the gaudy red hair, yes, and the abundance of freckles, but even the ways in which they were similar to their siblings weren’t as similar as they seemed: freckles too dark, or too light, or too far apart, or too close together.

In third year Draco found himself absently mapping the constellations he could spot on Fred’s cheeks, folding origami crows and doves when he decided that the most prominent ones formed Corvus and Columba, and enchanting them to flit annoyingly near Fred’s head, darting just out of reach when he attempted to catch them or swat them away.

He tore the paper creatures to shreds in fourth year, angry at everything, but mostly himself.

That year seemed to be the year of the highest quality pranks and tricks from the twins, something startling open mouthed smiles out of him every other day. That was part of what made him reevaluate all of the philosophies he had been taught, really; if these two boys, two Gryffindor boys, from supposedly the most blood traitorous family that there was, could have a happy family, a large group of friends, and make everyone smile, then what good was blood purity, anyway?

All blood purity had gotten him was a mother who agreed to everything her parents had said her whole life because she saw what happened when she didn’t, then agreed to everything his father said, then was left frightened and alone when his father grew tired of his mum’s moral compass, no matter how dampened it had been by years of fear. How was that not blood treachery? Leaving your family, your son, your true flesh and blood… if that was the epitome of being a Pureblood--wallowing in hate for those who’d done no wrong--he wasn’t interested any longer.

That year, Draco started making changes. He struck the word Mudblood from his vocabulary, and eventually began wincing whenever he heard another person say it. He kept his mouth shut, considering his thoughts before speaking them, checking if they were things he had gotten from his father. He strengthened his relationships with Blaise and Pansy, and took Pansy to the Yule Ball, despite the fact that she and Draco were both gay.

“It’s not your fault,” Pansy had said, toying with some of her hair, “that you want to go with the most gorgeous person at this school. I don’t blame you.”

His shoulders felt lighter in fifth year, and he smiled easier, even looking forward to his OWLs. Stressful as it was, Draco enjoyed studying and classwork. It gave him something to focus on, to strive toward.

Then he realized that this would be the last year that the Weasley twins would attend the school.

Draco found himself idly sketching Corvus and Columba onto his parchment while taking notes, and folding birds again when he was doing origami. 

He was somehow still able to focus on his OWL studies, and most importantly managed Os in Transfiguration, Potions, Charms, Herbology and Defence Against the Dark Arts, allowing him to go on to the NEWT-level classes, and, assuming the best, become a Healer once he was out of school.

Sixth year was uneventful, save for his brief panic attacks whenever he saw Weasel-- no, Potter’s Weasley, he reminded himself--and seventh year continued much the same. He had begun speaking with his Aunt Andromeda over the summer holidays, and she seemed no less than ecstatic to have her sister back, along with meeting her nephew for the first time. Everything seemed to be going as well as it could have been.

Draco had been, to say the least, unprepared to see the matching set of redheads at Hogwarts again.

He had to count his blessings, though; at least they waited until after the NEWTs had all been finished to show up. Draco seeing them again would have surely kept him from achieving Os in his (which, of course, he had).

If he hadn’t recognized them from there being two of them, which was always a giveaway, he would have known once he heard their laughs. Their voices, Fred’s especially, carried effortlessly; Draco had long theorized they could address an entire stadium without a Sonorus, if they so wished. They were towering over a meek Gryffindor girl that he vaguely recognized as being another seventh year, talking about some kind of party.

Draco couldn’t even remember why he was going this way anymore. Probably no reason important. He turned on his heel and started walking the opposite direction.

“Oi! Malfoy!” Fred called after him, making him stop as soon as he heard it. Shit. Fred slid in front of him, blocking his path.

Draco sneered with no real malice behind it. “Who are you, and what have you done with the Fred Weasley who would never be caught dead talking to anyone in my friend group, let alone me?”

“Never met him, I only know of the Fred Weasley who’s inviting every seventh year Hogwarts-goer to a post-NEWTs party to celebrate being finished with your heinous classes. Last I checked, you are a seventh year!” Fred handed him a rectangle of card. “There’s a Protean on it, so you’ll know where to go and when. Can’t have prying ears getting the details, aye?”

Draco flipped the card over in his hands a few times before looking at it. There will be alcohol was written in a clean, serif font. He smiled despite himself. “Straight to the point, then?”

“Just setting up expectations.”

“I think your names on it would set my expectations higher than the promise of any…” he cleared his throat, “refreshments. The modern Prank Kings of Hogwarts, back once again, bugging everyone in year seven? Merlin, sign me up.”

Fred beamed. “Can I take that as your RSVP, then?”

Draco nodded without thinking.

“Awesome! We’ll see you there, then. Oh! Give these to Parkinson and Zabini, too, when you see them.” He was suddenly being given two more cards, though they seemed to differ slightly from his own in a way that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Fred was bounding back towards his brother, accosting another student, before he could ask about it.

Draco pocketed the cards. Might as well go. It may well be the last time he’d get a chance like that again.


 

Honestly, Draco didn’t know why he was even here.

Yet, here Draco sat, squished in between Pansy and Blaise, all but having a staring contest with Fred and George bloody Weasley at the other end of the circle.

Part of him knew he was there just for that: the twins being here as well. Spending time with his friends could be a fair enough excuse if he didn’t know himself, but being that he did, he was well aware that he spent far too much time with Blaise and Pansy as it was. Perhaps the alcohol, but he mostly drank wine at family dinners and not much else. He wouldn’t turn down what was offered, but he also wouldn’t come along just for a drink. No, if he was being honest, it was Fred and George Goddamned Weasley.

Perhaps one more so than the other.

The twins had explained earlier that they would be playing Truth or Dare. Draco swirled the firewhisky/Veritaserum cocktail in his cup. How they snuck in not only copious amounts of alcohol, but also a heavily regulated potion? Well, that was none of Draco’s business. You don’t have to lie when questioned if you don’t know anything.

“I’ll start,” Fred drawled. “Hmm… Zabini, truth or dare?”

Blaise makes a show of humming and hawing before saying dare, as if there was ever any doubt in his mind that’s where he’d be going.

“I dare you… to lick the bottom of your shoe.”

The way Blaise’s face twisted in disgust almost had Draco laughing, and he heard Pansy snicker to his right. Not willing to seem a coward, though, especially in front of the gaggle of Gryffindors surrounding them, Blaise dutifully pulled his foot up to his mouth and licked the sole of his shoe. Draco actually did laugh at that.

Blaise nearly turned his ire onto Draco, seeking retribution, before noticing a Ravenclaw girl, whose frizz could rival that of Hermione Granger’s, chortling at his plight.

“Burchett, was it?”

The girl (Imogen Burchett, if Draco recalled correctly) swallowed her laugh at the sound of her name and nodded. 

Blaise smiled mischievously. “Truth or dare?”

Imogen glanced over to the Hufflepuff on her right, who did nothing but shrug. “Uh… truth?”

Draco quirked an eyebrow at Blaise’s wistful sigh, suddenly very intrigued at what his friend was planning. Nothing good, certainly.

“Burchett, would you rather have sex with her--” he gestured loosely towards the Hufflepuff next to Imogen “--and have no one know about it, or not , but everyone thinks you did?”

Her face screwed up in confusion, and she opened and closed her mouth a few times without speaking. “I… well, I think maybe we’ve already got the former covered, that you would ask that, since Ceridwen is--”

Ceridwen snorted and leaned over Imogen’s lap, her eyes nearly glowing at Blaise as she twirled her strawberry blonde curls around her finger. “I’m her girlfriend, sweetheart.”

“So I guess you’re going with the first one, then?” snickered Potter from his spot in the circle.

“Yes, I’d say so!”

Blaise tched. “I should have known. She’s Welsh.”

Ceridwen made eye contact with him.

“You know,” Blaise said, “You’re Welsh, and she looks like a sheep.”

They stared at each other for a silent moment and Draco held his breath. Then Imogen snorted, and the whole group broke out in laughter.

“Yeah, we get that a lot, actually,” Imogen snickered.

They continued on like that for awhile, before it came back around to Ceridwen, whose face was sticky from shotgunning a can of some Muggle alcohol on a dare.

“Malfoy? Truth or dare?”

Draco tilted his head to the side. “Truth.”

“Hmm…” Ceridwen tapped her chin as she thought. “Well, have you ever had a crush on a Weasley?”

Right then had been a terrible time to take a sip of firewhisky, Draco found, as he was suddenly choking and sputtering, and the disbelieving guffaw from Potter’s Weasley was not doing anything to help. He set his cup down on the floor in front of him and coughed until he no longer felt like he was drowning. The look of true concern on the Hufflepuff’s face was nearly enough to send him into a second fit.

He weighed his options. He could lie, maybe pass off the inability to get his words out as remnants of his near-death experience. But nobody would buy that for long, they may even sit in wait until he could speak clearly. Or he could tell the truth.

His eyes darted over to the twins at the other side of the room, and then back. He decided to bide his time. “Why, for the love of Merlin, would you ask me that?

Ceridwen did nothing but shrug. That seemed to be her favorite move.

Well. Time to make a choice.

“...Yes.”

The sound that Weasel--he frowned almost imperceptibly. That Weasley , Potter’s Weasley, rather, made was somewhere between disbelief and disgust.

Draco scoffed. “It’s not you!”

“Ginny, then?” Granger interjected.

He couldn’t help himself from answering, though he was distinctly aware that the viable options were dwindling. “Honestly! No, it’s not her, either!”

Who then?” Fred and George questioned together.

“It’s not your turn! Pansy, truth or dare?”

Pansy puffed out her cheeks and furrowed her brows at him. “Truth, I suppose.”

“Who do you have a crush on?”

She snorted like it was the dumbest question she had ever heard. “Hermione Granger. Draco, truth or dare?”

She moved on so quickly that Granger barely had time to gasp at the revelation.

“But I just went!” Draco protested.

“No rules against it.”

He snarled. “Dare, then.”

“I dare you to get up and kiss the Weasley you like.”

“They’re not--” the words caught in his throat. Fuck. “You don’t know that they’re in the room. Maybe it’s the d-- the dr-- dragon one.”

Pansy eyed him. “I believe, my love, that you have just confirmed that it’s not.”

He glared at her without moving for a long moment, only finally getting up when Blaise added in a quite tactful, “Don’t be a coward, Dray.”

The anger and determination he felt in his chest were all that allowed him to push through the crushing embarrassment, and he was grateful for that more than anything as he made eye contact with Fred Weasley and stood. Suddenly, the other end of the circle felt both entirely too close and much too far away.

The way George was grinning as he looked between his brother and Draco was not particularly comforting.

His hands found their way to Fred’s collar once he was within arm’s reach, and their lips were a hair’s breadth apart when his courage finally ran out. In Salazar’s name, here he was, about to kiss Fred sodding Weasley, on a dare, in front of nearly his entire year, including Fred’s brother , Harry Potter’s best mate, Ronald “Weasel” Weasley.

And George, as well, though part of him had sort of assumed that if he was ever able to do this George would be around. The two were something of a package deal. He’d hate to see a world where one of them wasn’t around; the other would likely go absolutely mad.

Draco knew his eyes would give away his fear, so he looked anywhere but Fred’s. He looked down towards his lips for a moment, before realizing that was a horrible idea and looking at the floor beside them. Nice, smooth stone. Quite high quality, and rather clean for how high the foot traffic was in the castle. Commendable.

The feeling of warm, slightly calloused fingers on his face drew him back to reality, and he realized that he was holding so tightly to Fred’s shirt that his hands were shaking. His eyes betrayed him as he loosened his grip and flicked up to Fred’s again.

“Wouldn’t want you to lose your dare, yeah?” Fred whispered.

Draco wasn’t sure which one of them closed the distance between them, just that they were kissing and his mind was racing out of control. He was somewhat aware of the things going on around them, like George clapping and shouting something--something that sounded like “about time,” but that couldn’t be right. His thoughts were looping between assertions that surely, surely this must be a dream, and absolute certainty that nowhere in his brain could he have imagined this. Dear Merlin, he was kissing Fred Weasley and Fred Weasley was kissing back.

There was no telling how long they’d been together when he felt Pansy’s hand--Lord, how he wanted to spend enough time with Fred’s hands that he could differentiate them from anyone else’s based on his grip--on his shoulder, pulling him away. He knew that he must look absolutely wild, but with all of his pride he couldn’t find it in him to mind.

“Alright, you two,” Pansy started, patting Draco on the back, “you’re holding up the game. If you’re going to continue this, fuck off to do it.”

Draco and Fred scrambled up, nearly knocking each other in the head as they did, and Draco speed-walked out of the circle. It was tough to say when exactly he had grabbed ahold of Fred’s wrist, but he was yanking him along by it, so he must have at some point.

Once they were outside of the crowded room, Draco mumbled a wandless Muffliato (bless his insistent study of wandless magic), crossed his arms across his chest, and went back to dutifully avoiding Fred’s gaze. “What… was that, then?”

Fred looked puzzled by the question. “A kiss, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Well, yes, but what did it mean ?”

“I don’t think I follow.”

Draco shifted his weight from leg to leg, wishing to crawl out of his skin. “You know, when you graduated, I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with…” He gestured to Fred. “Well, all of this anymore. Because when you were here every day, I had to look at you every day, so I was thinking about you all the bloody time.”

“I’m flattered that you would be so eager to get rid of me!”

“Sod off, you know what I meant.” Draco looked at Fred’s chest, rather than his face. “Actually, it’s funny. I started to go mad whenever someone would mix up you and George. It’s not that hard to figure out, if you look.” He sighed. “Always felt to me like they weren’t paying enough attention.”

Fred gasped in mock indignation, “How dare you imply that George and I are not the same person! I can’t believe you would insult me in this way.”

“You’re really not, though. You’re more… gregarious. Louder. More mischievous, maybe, but I think you compound each other, so perhaps not.” Draco let his eyes move to Fred’s mouth. “You have different smiles. Yours is better.”

Fred seemed at a loss for words, which was a first. Draco had heard the giggles, on the train platform, at Molly Weasley mixing up her sons, and he figured that maybe the idea of someone being able to tell them apart was so foreign that he didn’t know how to react. Or maybe he was thinking of a way to let Draco down easily, because their families hated each other and Potter’s Weasley would sneak into the Slytherin dormitories and smother him in his sleep if Draco so much as thought of his brother liking him.

Draco cleared his throat and, deciding if he was about to be gently rejected he’d damn well get the most out of it that he could, put a hand on Fred’s cheek. He thumbed a crease near the corner of his eye. “It’s subtle things. Your eyelids, little bits of your noses.”

“I have better teeth,” Fred added helpfully.

Draco rolled his eyes and started to pull his hand away, but was stopped when Fred covered it with his own. Oh. Okay then.

“Am I wrong?”

“No, I would agree with you.”

Fred flashed him a bright smile. “Then what’s the issue?”

Draco sighed, “There is an issue, but it’s not that.”

“Is it that I’m 6’3” and you’re very tiny? Because I’m really quite strong, I could carry you.”

“Five foot nine is not ‘ very tiny ,’ you being a giant is not my fault. That’s not it, anyway. It’s more…” He looked around them, suddenly somewhat paranoid. “I haven’t had contact with my father since fourth year. Mother is better, but she’s a product of her upbringing. Since I was forced out into the world, I’ve been taught to hate Muggleborns, and Halfbloods, and Blood Traitors, and above all else despise Weasleys. I’m trying, but I slip up far more often than I’d care to admit. I still call your little brother Weasel in my head sometimes. He still hates me. Even if you felt the same way, I don’t know if we could…”

“Wait, wait, wait, roll it back there.” Fred pulled Draco’s hand away from his face and intertwined his fingers with it. “ If I felt the same way? Merlin, you’re not really that thick, are you?”

“Excuse me?” Draco sputtered.

“I thought it was obvious! I’ve been interested in you since my fourth year. I kept my eye on you as soon as I saw you, because I mean, you’re the Malfoy heir, of course I was going to see how much of a prat you are. Then I started noticing all of the little things about you--like how you never show your teeth when you smile unless something catches you off guard--and something changed.” Fred let out a dramatic sigh, swinging their hands in between them. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do a lot of things for a dare, but if I wasn’t interested in you I would have rather broken your nose than let you kiss me.”

“I imagine your brothers would have beaten you to it.”

He nodded solemnly. “And then they would have healed it and done it again.”

“That’s just the thing, though!” Draco yanked his hand from Fred’s grip, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Your family, my family, they’d never get along. My father has--Salazar, I have done more than our fair share of harm. No matter how much I try to change, that’s the Malfoy legacy. Your siblings are never going to think of me as anything but that, and they have every right to. I’m not putting you through that.”

Fred stared at him for awhile, silently assessing, before canceling the Muffliato and walking back to the door. Draco’s heart dropped to his shoes, because as much as he knew this would be coming, he couldn’t prepare himself for it.

He looked around to find the path of least resistance to make his escape, and definitely not go sob into his pillow, before hearing Fred’s voice again.

“George, Ron. Can you come here a second? Harry and Hermione, too, actually.”

There were some confused murmurs and Pansy’s distinct groaning about them interrupting the game again . After a few moments, the group stepped out of the room, looking quite befuddled.

Draco took a half-step away from them, suddenly afraid for his life.

“What do you need, mate?” Potter questioned with a hesitant smile.

Fred gestured towards Draco. “If we were to be in a relationship, would you all constantly antagonize him and hate him forever because of his family and past?”

There was a stretch of silence.

Granger cleared her throat. “I haven’t hated you for a long while, actually. You seem to be making great progress, with everything. And, no offense to everyone else, you’re the only one who’s been able to rival my intellect, really.” She smiled, her teeth adorned with shiny metal and bright red bands.

Weasley snorted, but nodded his agreement nonetheless. “Yeah. I mean, I don’t like you, but I don’t want to hex your eyes out. You’re not yelling slurs at Hermione anymore.”

If Draco was starting to tear up, that was really no one else’s business but his.

George clapped Fred on the back, and the grins they gave each other were near blinding. “I thought he’d never get up the courage to ask you out. He’s only been talking about it since forever.”

“Have n-- oi!” Fred coughed on the words, the Veritaserum in his system sensing the lie. Draco barked out a laugh.

The rest of the group stopped to look at him, and Draco slapped a hand over his mouth, eyes wide. He never laughed like that in front of anyone other than his mother. His eyes darted from face to face, startled looks on each one, until they settled on Fred. Draco searched his eyes for some form of reaction, mainly disgust for such a flagrant display of emotion, but couldn’t place what he was feeling. Naturally, he assumed the worst and once again prepared himself to run.

Though his legs seemed to have other plans, seeing as he was paralyzed as soon as Fred stepped towards him.

“Sweet Circe!” Fred exclaimed, his face splitting into a smile again. “I’ve never heard you laugh like that at anything. I’ve been trying for years, too!”

Draco uncovered his mouth, “What do you mean you’ve been trying for years?!”

George doubled over laughing. “Malfoy, mate, at least three schemes a year were designed to get your attention specifically. In our sixth year, you were being so gloomy that for months they were all picked to try to make you laugh.” He stood up straight again, wiping tears from his eyes. “They all ended up being great, as all of our plans are, but it was a constant stream of ‘What do you think Malfoy would like? Did you see him crack a smile that time? I think we’ve almost got him!’”

Sixth year, their sixth year, but that would have been…

“You were trying to cheer me up when my father left?”

“Well,” Fred said, scratching the back of his neck, “I didn’t know that was why you had been upset, at the time. I just knew that you weren’t smiling at all. I eventually heard you talking to Crabbe or Goyle about it--I think, I could never remember which was which--and it just made me more determined. I don’t think we ever ended up getting it, though.”

Draco’s eyes welled up with tears, and though he wasn’t quite happy when they finally spilled over, he didn’t do much to stop them, either. His chest felt full in a way it never had before, his ribcage brimming with warmth, and he let himself sniffle and cry.

“Hey, I didn’t mean to make you upset!” Fred floundered, rushing closer to Draco.

Draco smacked his arms away when Fred tried to hug him. “No, you dimwit! Your shenanigans were one of the few things that kept me from going utterly, completely, Aunt Bellatrix levels of mad with everything happening at the manor.” He scrubbed at his eyes. “We’re better off without him, overall, and even more than we would have been since Mum has been able to reconnect with Aunt Andromeda through all of this. But he’s still my father . I felt like I was dying. But you two being disruptive idiots made everything feel normal when I was at Hogwarts. I didn’t have to think about how Mum was doing, for a moment I could focus on, ‘Oh, what are the Weasley twins up to this time?’”

Fred seemed to be stunned into silence again.

“Blimey,” Weasley said, “I’ve never seen him that quiet when he wasn’t trying to sneak about.”

Draco snorted and wiped the tears from his face. “One of my many talents, it would seem.”

Next thing Draco knew, Fred was pulling him forward by his tie and then they were kissing. Draco’s arms found their way to Fred’s neck, and he distantly acknowledged the others groaning.

Potter clapped once when they pulled apart again. “So! Is this all settled? No one hates Malfoy, you’re in love, you have all of our blessings for eloping tomorrow, et cetera?”

“Oh!” Draco fished the card he had been given, now holding the information for the party, out of his pocket. “I noticed that the one you gave me looked a bit different from the ones you wanted me to give to Pansy and Blaise, which I thought was odd, since you had the Protean Charm on them. Any reason why?”

Fred waved him off. “That was just in case you refused to play Truth or Dare, or if Jervis backed out.”

“Jervis?” Draco furrowed his eyebrows.

“Ceridwen Jervis.”

“What does she… wait, she’s the one who asked me if I’d ever--” he gasped. “You set this up!”

“Naturally! It’s like George said, I’ve been talking about asking you out for ages, and after you graduated, who knew where I’d be able to find you--”

“St. Mungo’s,” Draco interjected.

“So, we-- pardon?”

“I’m going into Healing. So you would find me at St. Mungo’s.”

Fred considered this for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, that’s good to know. But, not knowing this beforehand, we gave Ceridwen Jervis ten galleons to ask you if you’d ever had a crush on a Weasley. We didn’t offer anything to Parkinson, but seems she was on our side. Might go ahead and give her something as thanks.”

Draco scoffed. “Don’t. She doesn’t need it. She would have done it if you asked her to please not dare me to kiss you. Regardless, you cast a second Protean Charm for mine as a failsafe?”

“Sure did.” He pulled both of the original cards out of his pocket, and transfigured one of them. The one in Draco’s hand warmed.

You’re cute. -FW

Draco leaned around to look at the rest of the group. “You can all go back inside now. I think Fred and I have some business to attend to.”

George let out a loud wolf whistle while Granger shuffled them all back to the party.


 

Draco had gotten used to feeling something warm in his pocket over the years.

It happened mostly at work, since they’d be apart the most during that time, with Fred at the shop and Draco at St. Mungo’s. Just little notes from Fred to show that he was thinking of him.

What he wasn’t used to, however, was how insistent this one was being.

He had been in with a rough case when he first felt it: an inconsolable werewolf bite victim. No matter how much work Draco did as the one Healer trusted with the brewing and prescription of Wolfsbane, or the Ministry did with all of their lycanthropy awareness campaigns, there was centuries of prejudice to undo. And even still, being infected would be difficult regardless of misconceptions. He only had a small amount of werewolf patients, but talking to them broke his heart every month. Hearing Remus Lupin talk about the struggles of him and Sirius Black trying to adopt Potter and being barred due to Remus’s lycanthropy… Even when they were receiving treatment, it wasn’t a fun situation to be in.

Not to mention Wolfsbane Potion tasted like death.

Draco was about to step out when his trainee, Salus Scala, returned to the "Dangerous" Dai Llewellyn Ward from a short break. He explained quietly to the girl wailing in the bed that they would take great care of her, and Draco would only be a moment, but when she set eyes on Trainee Healer Scala she grabbed a tight hold on Draco’s arm and screamed.

“No, no! Not you! You’ve done enough, please!”

Draco shooed Scala out frantically, placing his hand over the girl’s protectively. He knew that they hadn’t done anything to her, of course, but if they were making her upset they could go back to the tea room.

The card burned incessantly as he held and shushed the girl, finally getting her to a place where she was calm enough to speak to him. It had never stayed warm for longer than five minutes before. Though he hated to let Fred wait, he ignored the message. He had to focus on this poor girl, after all. Fred would understand.

“There, there, you’re safe here. Please, may I ask your name?” Draco said, voice hushed.

“It’s… Deanna. Deanna Nadine.”

“Good, good. Deanna, from how you reacted to Scala, I get the impression that you know who did this to you. Please, if you can tell me who, I want to help you.”

Deanna whimpered.

“You don’t need to protect them. They won’t do anything to hurt you anymore.” Draco held her hand and squeezed it lightly. “I will make sure of it.”

It took a bit more prodding, but when Deanna did finally tell him the story, he had to fight the anger inside of him from showing.

“Thank you, Deanna. Listen, I need to go Floo someone, so I’ll have to leave for a moment. But I’ll be just outside, and I’ll come right back if you need me, okay?”

Deanna hesitated, but nodded nonetheless.

He stood from her bedside and walked to the door, closing it as quietly as he could, before storming to the fireplace, nearly knocking over poor shell shocked Scala on the way.

“Malfoy? You never Floo call at work, you always owl--”

Draco cut Weasley off. “Get me Potter. Now. STAGHORN matter.”

He obliged, no further questions, and Potter was there soon afterwards. “What happened?”

“Young witch, Deanna Nadine, likely between seventeen and nineteen, werewolf bite. Screamed when Salus Scala came in, so I figured they reminded her of whoever bit her. She told me it had been her father, and that he had purposely forgone his Wolfsbane to ‘punish her’ for not making dinner quick enough one night. I want to prioritize her recovery from the physical bite, and her treatment for the full moons, of course, but make no mistake.” Draco dropped his voice to a whisper. “If you do not find and punish him, I will do it myself.”

Potter nodded. “I need to get to one of the Apparition points, but we’ll be there as soon as possible. Dai Llewellyn?”

“Yes. I promised her I’d be back as soon as I called, so I’ll be with her. Be quick.”

Draco pulled his head out of the fireplace and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was about to go back to the ward to sit with Deanna when he remembered the card. He fished it out of his pocket, still warm after this long.

Meet me at WWW when your shift ends? -FW x

He cast a wandless Tempus and finally noticed why the card had been so insistent. His shift should have ended by now, had he not been presented with Deanna.

Shift is running long. STAGHORN issue. Meet me here? -DM x

Of course. Be there soon. -FW x

He pocketed the card again, before rushing back to Deanna’s bedside.

Draco sat next to her, holding her hand tightly, and told her stories in hushed voices while they waited for Potter. He started with stories of school, and found out she was a sixth year Gryffindor, a bit younger than he’d thought. He rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand as he moved onto stories of one of his favorite patients, a Gryffindor like her, and a werewolf too, but much older. He told her of his husband, Draco’s first cousin once removed, and of his chosen family, who loved him no matter what. He watched her shy smile appear as he assured her that, yes, it would be hard, but lycanthropy would not stop her from having a rich life.

He was starting to tell her stories of his own chosen family when Potter walked in.

“That’s Auror Harry Potter, Deanna. Do they still tell children stories of the Boy Who Lived? Because they shouldn’t, he’s a right prat.”

Potter rolled his eyes. “Is that any way to talk about your future brother-in-law?”

Draco shook his head and waved Potter closer.

Potter’s face visibly softened as he approached them and saw Deanna tremble and hold tighter to Draco. “Hello, Miss,” he started, “I’m Auror Potter, here with the Striving Toward Achievable Guardian, Home, or Romantic Normalcy Department. I understand that there’s been something happening with your father?”

Deanna looked unsure of whether she should reply.

Draco gently pushed her hair out of her face. “Much as I joke, Harry is a good man. If I wasn’t sure that he would help you, I wouldn’t have called him here. He created the STAGHORN Department because of things that happened in his childhood, so he understands, at least somewhat. And, best of all, he’s married to my boyfriend’s little sister.”

“Yes, I would agree that Ginny is the best thing about me, too.”

“I was more so trying to say that Fred is indirectly the best thing about you, but Ginevra is more accurate.”

They heard a small giggle, and Deanna spoke up. “You’d like me to give a statement?”

Potter cleared his throat. “Yes, exactly. I’d also like to arrange for you to stay somewhere else, assuming you don’t want to go back to your father. Do you have any relatives you could stay with?”

“No, my mum’s passed away already, and I don’t have any other family.”

“I’ll take her,” Draco interjected.

Deanna looked at him with sparkling eyes.

“Malfoy, don’t you think you should talk to Fred about this first?”

“Talk to me about what?”

They all looked towards the doorway to see Fred, tossing around some trinket from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes as he entered.

“Oh, nothing,” Draco said, waving him off, “just that we’re going to take in Ms. Deanna Nadine here. She’s the STAGHORN case I mentioned.”

“Oh! Yeah, sure.”

Potter sighed. “Well, Miss, if that’s alright with you--”

“Yes!” Deanna yelled, nearly leaping out of the bed, before realizing that her bite wound was still sore and lying back down. “I mean, yes, I would like to stay with Healer Malfoy.”

They listened, then, to her recount not only the past night--including how she waited until the next afternoon to come to St. Mungo’s for fear that her father would hurt her further if she tried to seek medical attention--but also her history of abuse. Draco thought of all the stories he’d told her while they were waiting for Potter and Fred.

Then he thought of the stories he hadn’t: the stories of a father with a sharp tongue, and a heavy cane. Of a father who left, the remnants of neglect and hate the only things to remember him by. Of a mother, stronger now, but left a husk for months.

He thought of the stories that weren’t his to tell: the stories of a cupboard under the stairs. Of nights without food. Of days without food. Of the Boy Who Lived, really the Boy Who Survived, only celebrated for his achievements against Dark Magic, and not for the treatment just as heinous that he sustained from Muggles.

A tapestry with names and faces blown off. A legacy forged in fear.

A five-year-old boy, attacked by a strange creature, left to deal with the ramifications.

Finally, he thought of the happy ends to all of these stories, something they all had in common. Once they were given friends, family, people who loved them, they were all able to heal. With some scars, physical and otherwise, but healed nonetheless. They all just needed somebody to give them a chance.

“Auror Potter,” Draco said, voice cracking, “is there any way that I could adopt Ms. Nadine?”

Everyone seemed taken aback by the question, but a glimmer of hope shined in Deanna’s eyes.

Potter adjusted his glasses. “It could take quite a long time, but, if you’re willing to try, I would advocate for you.”

“Yes, of course, anything it takes.”

He heard Deanna sniffle and put a protective arm around her.

“Wait,” Fred cut in before Potter could say anything, coming to kneel next to Draco. “I think--”

Draco tightened his hold around the girl. “Love, much as I adore you, this is not a discussion point. I’m not letting her go back to him. I’m the most logical choice of parent, anyway, because of my specialization in werewolf medicine.”

“No, I just meant--”

No , I’m serious, if you don’t like it then--”

“Draco!”

He sighed and stopped talking, looking at Fred. He was still holding the little toy from the shop, it seemed. Draco raised an eyebrow, signalling him to continue.

“I just meant that...” Fred shifted his weight. “Okay, I wasn’t intending to do this in the ‘Dangerous’ Dai Llewellyn Ward, but I was going to do it tonight anyway. I was thinking that, if we did adopt her--” Fred adjusted again with a nervous smile before pressing a switch on the toy in his hand, and an enchanted origami dove fluttered out with a ring tied around its neck. “--it might be better, you know, if her parents were married.”

Draco gawked at the paper bird. He half expected it to disappear when he reached out to retrieve the ring, his hand shaking as he delicately untied it. The bird returned to the ball it had been kept in, its purpose fulfilled. “Is this why you’d been asking me to teach you origami?”

“Yeah, but I ended up getting Harry to do it, actually. The ol’ dyspraxia doesn’t usually give me much trouble anymore, since I know how to deal with it, but I just couldn’t get the folds.”

“Is that why you made the joke about being my future brother-in-law?”

Harry chuckled. “Maybe.”

Draco looked at Deanna. “These two, honestly.”

He carefully examined the ring. It was simple, a beautiful red gold with an aventurine stone, and he absolutely adored it.

Fred looked puzzled when Draco handed it back to him.

“Wait, are… are you saying no?”

“Of course I’m not saying no!” Draco scoffed. “You didn’t actually ask me.”

Fred opened and closed his mouth a few times without saying anything, before laughing. “You always find how to render me speechless, don’t you? Draco Lucius Malfoy, please, will you marry me?”

Draco grinned, open mouthed and wide, before carefully removing his arm from Deanna and presenting his left hand. “Yes, Fred Weasley, I will.”

If Draco was starting to tear up when Fred slipped the ring onto his finger, that was really no one else’s business but his.


 

Dear Mother,

Deanna’s case went by far smoother than we had expected. The evidence that Potter found against Winslow Nadine managed to surprise even me. He’ll be in Azkaban for the rest of his natural life, and Deanna is now officially a member of the Malfoy-Weasley family. I know you wanted to be there, but I don’t think you would have liked to be seen crying in public like that, and there wasn’t a dry eye there.

She’s also starting to adjust to the taste of Wolfsbane, though I don’t think anyone will ever really be able to stomach it, if Remus Lupin is any indication. Every month, I swear, all he does is complain. Though I obviously don’t mind much, else I wouldn’t have made him my babysitter. Not that she really needs one, she’s old enough. I just wanted her to have a friend who could understand better than we could.

We much appreciated the last bundle of sweets. I would send you some back, but they get devoured so quickly here!

So, you’ve heard Madam Pomfrey may be thinking of retiring? I’d like to know your sources, because if they’re reliable I’ll have to apply for the position. If Fred could stand me being less available during school, at least, which is debatable. I don’t think it would bother Deanna as much, considering she’d be at Hogwarts with me, at least until she graduates.

We can’t visit just yet, with the full moon just around the corner, but as soon as Deanna’s recovered from that, we’ll all be there for tea. You should come to the Burrow again, though; Molly really enjoyed speaking with you before the wedding. She mentions it every time she writes or stops by.

Can’t wait to see you again.

Lots of love,
Draco Lucius Malfoy-Weasley

P.S. -- When we were changing Deanna’s surname from Nadine to Malfoy-Weasley, she mentioned that she’d always wished she’d had a middle name. She is now Deanna Narcissa Malfoy-Weasley. Don’t tell Molly that when you visit the Burrow, though--I think she’d be jealous.