“...and if you will have me, I swear to honour you, cherish you and stand by your side forever. And so on this night, I ask you this. Draco, will you marry me?”
Draco blinked uncomprehendingly.
The silence descended, thickening with every passing second. Draco swore he heard a clock ticking away somewhere— which was ridiculous because they were standing on a balcony overlooking the Manor lawns. He turned to stare at a birdbath, unwilling to look sheer, unrelenting awkwardness in the eye.
At least he wasn’t the only one feeling the tension. Darius Beaumont shifted uncomfortably on bended knee. “Well, that’s encouraging,” he commented.
Draco couldn’t think of a damn thing to say. Fortunately, Darius had it covered.
“I should probably get up now.”
“That would be nice,” Draco agreed, taking another hasty swig of his wine.
Darius clambered to his feet and cleared his throat uncomfortably. On the plus side, Draco couldn’t hear the ticking clock anymore. On the not-so-plus side, a cricket decided to make its presence felt. Finally, it was Draco who broke the silence. Bloody hell, someone had to do it.
“Do you usually propose to people you’ve only known for an hour or two?”
Darius’s face fell. “We’ve known each other longer,” he argued.
“We’ve spoken to each other twice,” he said. “In our entire lives.”
“And I’ve always treasured the time we spent together.”
Draco turned to him and raised a sceptical eyebrow. “We went horseback riding together one time. I fell off my pony, you laughed at me and I threatened to tell my father.”
“Your exact words were ‘my father will hear about this’,” Darius recalled. “Then you kicked me in the shin and ran away. You were very violent for a six year old.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “So you see the problem. How exactly did we go from that to will you marry me? And heartfelt as your proposal was, I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear the word ‘love’ anywhere in it. So why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”
“The truth, please.”
Darius held out for an impressive twenty seconds. Then his shoulders slumped and he scrubbed a hand through his brown hair. “The truth? I don’t know you at all. I don’t know what you like, what you don’t like...well, actually that’s not true. I have it on good authority that you don’t like being laughed at when you fall off a pony.” Draco allowed himself a grudging chuckle at that. Darius grinned sheepishly and rallied forth. “But I think we’re well matched. We come from similar backgrounds. We both understand what it means to have a legacy and a family name to think of. We’re both smart and rich and very handsome. Those are good odds and I think we could make this work. If you gave us a chance, that is.”
Draco would have laughed if this was happening to anyone but him. Here he was— the gay heir of an old, notoriously orthodox pureblood family receiving an offer of marriage from a charming, good looking and personable man— and he was in no position to do anything but refuse.
“I’m sorry,” he replied softly. “I can’t accept. I have a boyfriend.”
“Oh.” Darius nodded jerkily and took a large swig of his wine. “Apparently, I was wrong. It can get worse from here.”
Draco bumped his shoulder. It was hardly the most commiserating gesture but a hug would make things awkward. They didn’t need any help in that department. “I’m sorry you’ve been misled. But I really had no idea...”
“It wasn’t you,” Darius corrected at once. “It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have assumed. When your father invited me to dinner and insisted I spend some time with you, I just thought...”
“Wait.” Draco stiffened and whipped around. “My father? Did he tell you that I was...?”
“Not in so many words,” Darius amended hastily. “But it seemed like he...”
“Of course,” Draco sneered and drained the rest of his glass. “Of course he did.” He turned to pace. Everything was starting to make sense now— why this dinner was so important, why he had to come alone, why Mother hadn’t said a word through the whole damn thing.
He’d been set up.
“I apologise for my Father,” Draco offered stiffly. “It seems he decided to take matters into his own hands. He does that.”
“Let me guess. He doesn’t approve of your boyfriend?”
Draco emitted an involuntary bark of laughter. If that wasn’t an understatement, he didn’t know what was. Darius seemed to understand.
“Worse,” Draco replied. “Not too long ago, they were actively trying to kill each other. I mean that in the most literal sense.”
“Ouch. Well, you know parents. I’m sure he’s just being overprotec...”
“When I brought Harry home for the first time, he set a feral peacock on him. The time after that, he enchanted a suit of armour to chase him off. Fortunately, it just wandered off instead. We found it playing Exploding Snap with my Great Aunt Aurelia’s portrait last week.”
It was a testament to Darius’s upbringing that he didn’t Disapparate on the spot. He just paled and swallowed audibly. “And I’m going to have to tell this man that I’m not marrying his son?”
“Well, you won’t be doing it alone,” Draco muttered. “Father and I are going to have words about this.”
“So this Harry fellow,” Darius spoke up again. Evidently, he was keen to change the subject. “You’re willing to risk an angry father for him? All the fights? The endless arguments? Even the D-Word?”
Draco’s ire dissipated at the mention of his boyfriend. Harry had that effect on him. “Father can disown me if he wants,” he replied softly. “Harry is all I need. It took me a while to admit it to myself. It took me even longer to say it out loud but there it is. I hope I don’t have to choose but if I do, I know I’ll choose Harry.”
“Well, I guess I can’t compete with that,” Darius murmured. Then his expression turned speculative. “I have mentioned that I’m rich, right?”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Now you’re ruining it.”
“I own a yacht docked at an island. I also own the island.”
Draco lost patience and punched his shoulder. Darius dodged him with a rueful grin.
“Sorry. You’re very good looking.”
Something in that cheerful, sincere expression reminded him of Harry. It wasn’t much but it was there. Suddenly, Draco missed him more than ever. His smile faded and he stepped away from Darius.
“I have to go.”
“To Harry.” It wasn’t a question.
“To Harry,” Draco agreed.
Darius grinned good-naturedly and held out his hand. “For what it’s worth, I hope you two are very happy together.”
Draco smiled and took it. “Thank you. I hope you...”
A sudden whirring filled the air. Draco frowned and looked up to the sky. The whirring got louder and louder, a dull, mechanical throb nearly drowning out any other sound. It sounded so familiar, Draco was sure he’d heard it before. His eyes widened as he realised just what it was and then...
“Holy Mother of Merlin!” Darius yelped.
And then the yelling started.
“What is the meaning of this?!”
“You’ve gone too far this time, Lucius! I’m here for Draco and I’m not leaving without him!”
“You insipid, half-blood mongrel! Get off my property this instant or I’ll...”
“Or you’ll what? Set the peacock on me again? It’s not here, is it?”
Draco smirked and slipped his wand from its holster. “And it begins,” he muttered.
Darius turned to him, pale and wide eyed. “Should we call the Aurors?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Draco replied.
“Trust me,” Draco cut in smoothly. “I’ve done this before. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go stop my boyfriend and my father from killing each other.”
Darius gaped at him. His expression went from alarmed to dismayed to interested— all in that order. “Can I come?”
By the time Draco arrived at the scene of the crime— with an increasingly intrigued Darius following close behind— his father and his boyfriend were well on their way to another shouting match.
“...already had this conversation, Potter! My answer is still no and it’s not going to change!”
“Well, you don’t have to be rude about it!” Harry shouted back.
“Rude?” Lucius sputtered indignantly. “Rude, you say?! You just drove your mechanical abomination through my ancestral home!”
“I told you the steering is tricky!”
That’s when Draco noticed it. Harry’s pride and joy— that ghastly, flying motorcycle Sirius Black had given him years ago— was serving as a doorstop. Draco raised an eyebrow at the smouldering contraption wedged through the Manor’s main entrance.
So that’s what the crash was all about.
Evidently, Harry could pull off a dramatic entrance when the occasion called for it.
Mercifully, nobody seemed hurt. Father was clearly in his element, shouting and brandishing a wand at an equally unhurt— if rather irate— Harry. Meanwhile, Mother was doing her level best to bring some semblance of calm to the situation.
“Lucius, this has gone far enough!” she exclaimed in exasperation. “You will hear Harry out before he breaks something else. And as for you, young man,” she added, turning a stern eye on Harry. “I expect you to call well in advance the next time you break down my front door.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Harry mumbled sheepishly. “Sorry, Ma’am.”
Father however, was not so easily cowed.
“There is nothing more to discuss,” he declared in his Lord-of-the-Manor Voice. Draco winced as Harry’s eyes flashed and his fists clenched. He couldn’t stand being talked down to. Lucius carried on, apparently undeterred. “I have said my piece, this conversation is over. Our son was made for better things and I won’t have him throw his entire future away just because this boy fancies himself in love!”
Draco felt his own fists clench, but he forced himself to stay still and out of sight. He still didn’t know what this was about and something told him it was important.
“Hey, I’m standing right here!” Harry yelled back. “And this has nothing to do with you anyway. Draco’s the one I want to speak to! I’ll leave this Manor when he tells me to and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
“Draco is unavailable,” Lucius replied with a smirk. “He is...shall we say, otherwise occupied.”
Harry’s eyes narrowed and Narcissa drew a sharp breath. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Harry demanded.
Lucius took a menacing step forward. “It means Potter, that after tonight you will irrelevant in Draco’s life and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.”
“So you say, darling,” Narcissa broke in coolly, “but I think Draco would beg to differ.”
“I’m doing this for his own good,” Lucius argued. “My son will not throw his life away for...”
“Perhaps you should let our son make his own decisions,” Narcissa countered. “It is his life, Lucius.”
“Not when our family name is at stake, it isn’t,” Lucius growled. “And as for you,” he sneered, pointing his wand at Harry again. “You will leave my premises this second or I’ll...”
“Father, lower your wand.”
A sudden silence descended as Draco’s voice rang out. His footsteps echoed as he stepped into the room. He could practically taste the tension in the air as every eye in the room— that included Mother, Father, Harry and several interested portraits— turned to him.
Not bad for the second dramatic entrance of the night.
Harry at least, seemed to approve.
“Draco!” he exclaimed, shouldering past Lucius and making straight for him. Draco braced himself as his boyfriend basically flung himself into his waiting arms. “You’re here,” Harry whispered, sounding so heart-wrenchingly relieved that Draco’s arms wrapped around him on instinct.
“Are you alright?” Draco asked softly. “Did Father hurt you?”
“Fine,” Harry mumbled. “It’s nothing he doesn’t usually do. Well, except for the part when he said I’d never see you again. That was new.”
Draco took a moment to cast a withering glare in Father’s general direction. “I hope you have a good explanation for this,” he hissed. As an afterthought, he pulled Harry out of his arms. “And I hope you have a good explanation for that,” he added, gesturing at the motorcycle wreckage. “What were you thinking? Do you have any idea how dangerous...”
Harry scowled sulkily and scuffed his shoe against the marble flooring. “I had to,” he argued. “Your father extended the Apparition wards to keep me out. And he blocked the Floo!”
“I was trying to keep the vermin out,” Lucius contested stiffly. “Clearly, it didn’t work.”
“Don’t talk about him like that,” Draco growled.
Lucius seethed silently as Harry shot him a particularly smug look. Draco rubbed his temples and decided he was getting nowhere with them. So, he appealed to the only voice of reason left.
“Mother, do you know what’s going on?”
Narcissa raised an eyebrow and twirled a wine glass in her slim fingers. “How much time do you have? Oh, fine,” she relented at his exasperated look. “It started last Sunday when Mr Potter came to visit us. He said he had something to discuss with us, particularly your father. As it turned out, it was...”
“Inconsequential,” Lucius finished, smoothly ignoring her eye roll. “To make a long story short, Potter made an outrageous demand and I refused him. There’s nothing more to it.”
Harry practically bared his teeth at that. “Well, it’s too bad you feel that way,” he snapped, “because I’m going to marry him anyway!”
For a moment, the world drifted out of focus. Draco’s vision went a tad hazy and the voices around him faded to dull thuds in the background. He couldn’t focus on anything save Harry’s declaration.
No, that rang in his head with the headache inducing clarity of a church.
I’m going to marry him anyway.
I’m going to marry him.
Harry said...Harry wanted to...
Draco snapped back to reality as he was shaken by the shoulders. Hard.
Harry stared at him, eyes brimming with concern. “Didn’t see it coming?” he asked with just the slightest hint of amusement in his voice.
“Harry, I...” Draco shook his head, still too stunned to put a coherent sentence together. “This is...why didn’t you say...”
“I wanted to,” Harry replied softly. “So badly and for so long, but I always held back. I guess there’s a part of me— a small, scared part— that still believes you’re too good to be true. So when I decided to propose, all I wanted was to do it the right way. That’s why I asked your father first. And when he refused— when he told me I wasn’t good enough, would never be good enough for you...”
“He what?! ” Draco whirled around to yell at Lucius all over again. “Father, of all the...”
Harry pulled his attention back with a gentle hand against his cheek. “I believed him,” he admitted quietly. “He said things...things that I’ve always feared in the back of my head. That I couldn’t give you the life you deserve, that I’m just not enough for you. It scared me so much. It hurt so much. And all I could do was stand there and try to pull myself together, try to imagine a life without you. And I couldn’t. I can’t.”
“Harry,” Draco whispered, pulling him closer. “I can’t imagine a life without you either. Every day with you is the happiest day of my life. Nothing’s going to change that, ever. You have to know that.”
Harry’s smile was full of hope. “I did. I do. I think I’ve always known. So, I came back to ask you a question and this time, I’m not leaving until you tell me to go.”
Draco felt his heart rate pick up, his pulse thudding. If this was what he thought it was...
Harry looked into his eyes and pulled a small velvet box.
“Will you marry me?”
“No,” Lucius growled, effectively ruining the moment. “No, he will not, Potter! I absolutely forbid...”
“Yes,” Draco cut in. He pulled Harry in for a kiss despite Father’s vehement complaints. “Of course I will, you idiot. Why didn’t you just say so? All this time..."
Harry shut him up with another kiss. “I love you,” he murmured, and then his lips were on Draco’s and all was right with the world again.
Draco kissed him back fiercely, lost in a rush of tenderness and emotion and the feel of Harry’s solid, warm presence in his arms. It was the most emotional, precious moment of his entire life.
So, he shouldn’t have been too surprised when Father basically stampeded all over it.
“Touching as this is,” Lucius sneered, “it means nothing.”
Draco gave up on propriety there and then. He cursed a blue streak— much to the shock and horror of Great Aunt Adelphia’s portrait— and rounded up on his infuriating father with fire in his eyes. “I believe Harry’s already mentioned that you don’t get a say in this!” he snapped. “Haven’t you done enough?”
“I’m doing this for your own good!” Lucius contested coldly. “Potter’s little speech— nauseatingly sentimental though it may be— does not change the fact that he is entirely unsuitable for you. No, you’ve already received an ideal proposal tonight and that’s the one I’ll be considering.”
Draco took a menacing step forward. “Father, you are this close to...”
Unfortunately, Harry reared up too. “What did he just say?” he barked. Draco could practically feel his hackles rising. “What proposal?”
Lucius smirked triumphantly and made a grand sweeping gesture in the direction of the entrance.
“Um, hello,” Darius mumbled sheepishly.
Draco groaned in abject misery. “Darius, why are you still here?”
“I tried to leave,” Darius protested. “The Floo’s blocked, and the Apparition wards aren’t working either.”
Draco and Narcissa favoured Lucius with identical withering glares. “You see what you did?” Draco snapped.
Harry however, only had eyes for the newcomer. His jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed menacingly. On instinct, he shifted just a little closer to Draco. “And just who are you?” he demanded.
“Harry,” Draco began warningly. “Stay calm, okay? He’s...”
“That, Potter is Darius Beaumont the Third,” Lucius announced. “Draco’s intended.”
“No, he isn’t,” Draco contributed at once.
“No, I’m not,” Darius agreed readily.
Draco shot him a grateful look but Harry didn’t notice. He was unnervingly silent as his eyes bore into Darius— intelligent, handsome, rich, poised Darius. Draco could swear he saw the moment when Harry decided being rational was for losers.
“So, you’re the bloke,” he started off, proceeding to stalk Darius like a threatened animal, “who thinks he can just show up and propose to my boyfriend?”
Darius exchanged a wary look with Draco. “Actually,” he ventured cautiously, “he refused my...”
“And you planned this?!” Harry demanded angrily, turning on Lucius.
“Absolutely,” Lucius replied unabashedly. “Unlike you, Potter, Beaumont has my blessing and he will marry Draco.”
“No, I won’t,” Darius contested.
“No, he won’t,” Draco agreed. “Father, I’m going to say this one more time. I’m with Harry. I will not marry anyone else and that is final. Do you hear me? Do you understand what...”
“The wedding will take place next week.”
“No, it won’t,” Darius replied automatically.
“No, it won’t!” Harry snarled, almost at the same time. He pointed an accusing finger at Darius. “He’s mine! You’re not taking him away from me!”
Draco threw his arms up in defeat. “Is anyone listening to me?!”
Harry quite clearly, wasn’t. His entire attention was on Darius at the moment. “Listen, you,” he snarled. “I don’t know who you think you are but you’re not marrying Draco! Not now, not ever!”
“Well, that’s pretty much what I’ve been saying for the last...”
“He’s mine! Mine! Not yours, mine!”
Draco rubbed his temples, trying to will away the headache. “Harry, please just listen. He’s just...”
“And we’re going to settle this right now!” Harry rallied on. He squared his shoulders and took a stand in the middle of the room. “Sir, I challenge you to a duel!”
A stunned silence hovered in the air for a bit. Draco blinked. Even Father seemed to have nothing to say. Harry just stood there, eyes blazing.
It was Darius who mustered the courage to say what they were all thinking.
“A duel,” he repeated slowly. “You’re serious about this.”
“Damn right I am,” Harry replied belligerently, stalking over to a wall and manhandling the two broad swords proudly framing the Malfoy Crest. Draco made a mental note to get rid of anything even remotely sharp before the engagement— assuming Harry didn’t stab himself first.
“Come on then!” Harry yelled, clumsily brandishing a sword.
Darius just looked lost at this turn of events, and Draco took the opportunity to step in. “Harry, this isn’t necessary,” he protested. “Darius is not challenging you.”
“I’m really not.”
“Not after this he won’t!” Harry spat, wielding the sword clumsily. “Pick up a sword and fight, damn you!”
“There will be no duelling in my living room,” Narcissa interrupted firmly. “We just redecorated!”
Draco’s head slipped back in his palms. “Mother. Priorities.”
“Oh, let them fight,” Lucius muttered. “With any luck, Beaumont will skewer him.”
“My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father, prepare to die!” Harry yelled for some reason, hopping around as he made another ill advised swipe with the blade. Apparently, he was in his element.
And that’s when Draco decided he had just about had enough. “Harry James Potter!” he snarled in as threatening and intimidating a voice as he could possibly muster. “Enough is enough! You will put that sword down or so help me Salazar...”
“Draco, please! I’m trying to win your hand in marriage here!”
Draco sputtered incredulously as Narcissa patted his shoulder. “Darling, I’m going to tell you something my mother told me during my engagement. Her exact words were 'there’s still time'.”
“I beg your pardon?!” Lucius sputtered indignantly.
“My point is,” Narcissa continued smoothly, “if you are determined going through with this— much like I was— sometimes, love means taking a step back.”
Draco’s eyes caught the sharp glint of the blade again. “But...”
“Take it from someone who’s been married to a stubborn old goat for thirty years. Sometimes, it’s best to just let them get the sense beaten out of them. Far less headache inducing, at any rate.”
Lucius puffed up like an offended peacock. Draco ignored him. He still disagreed wholeheartedly but Harry was clearly determined to see this through. Maybe getting this over with as soon as possible would be the better alternative. At least Darius was being sporting about the whole thing. He was testing his sword’s balance and eyeing Harry with a mix of confusion and amusement.
Draco’s shoulders sagged. This was happening whether he liked it or not. “Fine,” he muttered. “Try not to let any blood on Mother’s carpets.” He caught Darius’s eye and discreetly mouthed a please don’t hurt him. Darius offered a reassuring nod and wink. It would have to be enough. “Whenever you’re ready,” Draco announced, taking a step back.
Harry grinned and swung the sword again, dislodging a tapestry. “I should warn you, I’ve been in a war before.”
“So I’ve heard,” Darius complimented pleasantly. “I should warn you that I’ve been practising swordplay with some of the world’s best fencing instructors since I was six.”
Draco’s heart lurched and he almost conceded intervening again, but Harry was raised his sword and approached.
“Let’s go then!” he yelled. “Show me what you’ve...”
It was over before it even started. Darius swiped, feinted to the left, avoided Harry’s clumsy blow and parried with a kick. Harry stumbled back with a yelp of alarm, arms flailing as he fell right into a suit of armour.
Lucius rolled his eyes. Narcissa winced in sympathy. Draco groaned and ran to Harry’s side to check for injuries. He was out cold but otherwise unhurt. A trip to St Mungo’s was definitely in the offing, though.
“Well,” Draco said, facing the small party again. “I suppose that’s that.”
Darius smiled and handed him back the sword. “For what it’s worth, it was fun. I hope you two are happy together.”
“Thank you,” Draco replied with a smile. It faded when he turned to Father. “I hope you’ve learnt your lesson. This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you don’t give Harry what he wants.”
Lucius sneered and stormed off. Draco let him go without another word. Father would deal with this on his own time, or he wouldn’t. Either way it was done.
“I’ll expect both of you here to assist with the wedding plans,” Mother told him with a smile, “as soon as Mr Potter is on his feet again, of course.”
She waved him off. “Off you go then. And do try to keep him out of trouble.”
Draco stole a glance of his boyfriend, still unconscious and holding the sword. A fond, exasperated smile pulled at his lips and he wisely refrained from making any promises. Instead, he kissed his mother on the cheek, bade a farewell to Darius Beaumont the Third and hoisted Harry on his shoulder.
It was time to take Sir Falls-Down-A-Lot to the hospital.
Harry stirred after two hours, staring up at Draco with dazed, green eyes.
“Did I win?” he mumbled.
Draco smiled and carded a gentle hand through his hair. “By a landslide,” he lied easily, because sometimes love means not telling one’s fiancé he engaged in what was probably history’s shortest altercation. “I’m all yours, Potter.”
“Mm,” Harry hummed, nuzzling into his palm. “Love you.”
Draco kissed his forehead. “I love you too, Harry. And I want you to promise me you’ll never forget that. I’m entirely, irrevocably, impossibly in love with you. I’ll go anywhere you go and nobody— not even Father— can change that. Can you remember that? Before we bring out the swords again?”
“Okay,” Harry agreed readily. Then his eyes rolled back in his head and he flopped back on the bed with a groan. “Although you might need to repeat all of that once the Calming Draughts wear off.”
Draco smiled as Harry’s eyes fluttered shut again. “I’ll be here,” he promised.
Harry turned his head to kiss Draco’s palm. “I know.”
Draco smiled softly and pulled the covers over Harry as he dozed off again. As long as they had that part cleared up, he could deal with the madness that was sure to follow. He was almost looking forward to Father’s next Howler and Mother’s demands for a guest list.
But before any of that, he was taking a well deserved nap. With his fiancé.
Draco slipped in beside Harry, curled an arm around him and closed his eyes.