One Year Later
“Raina, are you sure you want to do that?”
She pauses, holding the nettles above her bubbling potion. “Yes? Why wouldn’t I?”
“Well, it’ll ruin your healing salve,” Draco points out, “and considering you’ve spent the last few potion club sessions working on it, it seems like perhaps that’s not something that you’d want to do maybe.” Thank merlin for stasis spells, otherwise he’d never get these brats out of here. This way they can stretch out brewing over several weeks instead of being stuck in the lab for two days straight.
McGonagall had suggested he put a hold on the potions club, considering he was most of the way through his charms mastery and he had all the work he was doing to help untangle the mess left behind by the House’s collapse and how many world leaders have no problem with making the sort of demands on his time that make him want to cry a little bit, but the kids had put up such a fuss at the idea that she’d dropped it.
Throwing his fiancé at them was a nice trick, though. Harry couldn’t care less about someone’s political and social power if he tried for a week, and he had no problem cheerfully cutting their floo collection or burning their howlers and sending back the burnt letters with helpful suggestion on how to better get in touch with his future husband.
Being one of seven people with unlimited access to most of the world’s knowledge on how magic functions outside the confines of the House didn’t make him popular at dinner parties, exactly, but it did make him popular with a lot of very important and powerful people who he’d really wish would just leave him alone.
“Who said we were making a healing salve?” Albert asks. Raina elbows him in the side and he dramatically falls over, clutching his side. “No, how could you! This is domestic abuse!”
Raina looks disdainfully down at her boyfriend, but the overall effect is ruined by the soft look in her eyes. “Can you not be such an embarrassment?”
Albert claws his way back up, still mostly on the ground as he rests his chin on the table. “No?”
“Do I want to know what you’re making, then?” he asks.
She and Albert look at each other, then at him, and say, “No.”
This is all his fault, really. He let them spend too much time with Mariana, who’s a brilliant potion maker and who he’s sure will make an equally brilliant criminal one day.
Dacia raises a hand. “If I add acromantula venom to this, will it blow up?”
It’s so nice that they ask him these types of questions instead of just doing it and seeing what happens. “Probably.”
Cory leans over from his – actually, Draco doesn’t remember what he’s making. It currently looks a little bit like a thinned out version of lava, but his flame is set to simmer, so it’s likely the potion is lukewarm at best. “Hey, can I use it if you’re not going to?”
Dacia is extremely suspicious. “What could you possibly need this for? You’re making a hair mask.”
That is not a hair mask.
Unless it is.
He should probably start paying closer attention, but these days as long as brewing it isn’t going to harm any of them, he really just doesn’t care.
“Who said I needed it for the potion?” he asks. “Maybe I just want it for me. Acromantula venom is fantastic at smoothing and adding shine all on it’s own. I probably should find a way to add it to the potion, actually, but that means finding a binding agent that allow me to add it without messing up the consistency. Some sort of fatty product. Maybe an oil?”
“Try honey,” Albert says. “It reacts better to the venom and won’t break down as quickly, assuming the pollen is from a magical flower. But it’ll reduce the shelf life of the hair mask overall, so that’s something you should keep in mind.”
“How could you possibly know that?” Draco demands. “And I’m talking to you both, Cory and Albert.”
“Do you really want to know?” Albert asks at the same time that Cory says, “I got my hands on some venom and then I put in my hair to see what would happen.”
The whole potions club pauses to turn at look him.
He’s entirely unrepentant.
Draco loves these kids.
He steps foot into his rooms and is only a little bit put out to see Neville there waiting for him, and it’s not that he doesn’t want to see Neville, he was just kind of hoping it was Harry. “Hey, what’s up? Nothing going wrong with my manor, is there?”
The house has been up and fully operational for nearly five months now. It’s turned out Draco hadn’t been the one who’d slowed things down, because once Neville had switched from planning to doing, he’d turned out to be so obsessive and neurotic that the implications and effects of every stone they moved had to be checked, double checked, and maybe even triple checked if one of Neville’s girlfriends hadn’t forced him into getting something approaching or normal night’s sleep. Even though it’s done, and has been for months, Neville still goes over to check on it every day and who knows what else, probably to pet the flower petals and sings lullabies to the lilies or something equally ridiculous.
Draco would have thought he’d have his hands full with working on the Potter grounds and all the demands he has from nobles to redesign their manors as well, but apparently not.
“No, it’s fine, I was there this morning.” Of course he was. He swallows, rubbing his hands together, his face pale and bit splotchy at the same time.
It’s been so long since Draco’s seen Neville nervous around him that it takes him a moment to recognize it. “Well, what’s wrong then?”
He takes a deep breath, and Draco’s actually starting to get concerned, until he says, almost too quickly for Draco to understand. “I need to talk to you. Bu not you you, Lord Malfoy you.”
He knows exactly where this is going. “I’m Lord Malfoy all the time, it’s not like I have some weird split personality. But please, Lord Longbottom, do continue.”
Some of Neville’s nervousness fades away as he crosses his arms. “You’re enjoying this.”
“Me? No, not at all, I don’t know why you’d think that,” he says.
Neville clearly doesn’t believe him, but he’s also calmed down enough to not seem like a complete disaster, so there’s that. “Lord Malfoy. I’d like permission to marry Luna Lovegood, but not to take her into the Longbottom family.”
That could be considered really insulting, except that Draco knows Luna doesn’t want to leave the family, which had been the whole issue before.
Such a thing would have been unacceptable before, when the role of the House and people in it were different. People still probably aren’t going to be thrilled about a Lord having a wife who’s refusing to leave her family, but Draco assumes that’s where Ginny comes in.
“Have you asked Xeno yet?” he asks.
What little formality Neville had managed to scrape together falls away. “Merlin, no, that man hates me. I’m going to just send Ginny to do that.”
Okay, wait, now he might be angry. “Did you already ask Ginny?”
“No!” He coughs. “She asked me.”
Well, that’s fine then. He’s a little surprised Ginny waited this long. “So Luna’s going to ask Ginny?” Neville nods. He’s going to need to grab one of the family rings for her, then. Pandora hadn’t worn one, and he’s not going to have her propose to Ginny with some sort of store bought ring like she doesn’t have a family to offer her. Unless that’s a thing they’re doing. He hadn’t. He’d given Harry a family ring carved out of a ruby, and Harry had spent a week with Pansy sorting though the Potter vaults to pick the ring he’s wearing now, a band with alternating yellow diamonds and sapphires. He glances at Neville’s hand. “Did Ginny buy you a ring?”
“Merlin, no.” He hurries to add, “I would have accepted anyway, but no. It’s her uncle’s.” He holds up his hand, and it’s basic, but still masterfully made, silver with a delicate design inlaid in what he thinks is obsidian. “I think she asked Gran what would be appropriate.”
Well, it’s not like Ginny’s ever backed down from a fight. “Augusta still hates her?”
“Oh yeah,” Neville says with feeling. “Ginny isn’t planning to quit working to play Lady Longbottom after we get married, which I really don’t care about. Luna isn’t either, but Gran’s less pissed about that than the whole refusing to magically marry into the family thing. I don’t need my wives to help me manage the family anyway, that’s what cousins are for. But don’t tell Gran I said that.”
“Said what?” Draco asks and Neville flashes him a grin. “Anyway. Yes, Lord Longbottom, you may marry Luna Lovegood, although the Malfoy family doesn’t relinquish its claim on her.”
“Thanks,” Neville says, “Want to see the ring?”
“Obviously,” he says.
Neville flicks his wand and the ring drops out of the air and into his hand. It’s platinum with opals on the side and a blue diamond that’s almost comically large in the center. “Bloody hell, Neville. You know you don’t have to go that grand, right? Luna would be happy with a ring of glass.” They better cast a tracking and sticking spell on that ring. Luna can be kind of forgetful at times, and she’s lost plenty of jewelry over the years because of it.
“I’m only getting married once. Hopefully. Besides,” he adds, “I’m hoping giving her the most expensive ring in the vault means people will think twice about making comments about her family situation.”
“You know she doesn’t care about that either,” he says. Also that it probably won’t work. People are still stupid enough to make comments about him and Harry’s plans to combine their families, even though considering they’d both drained their family’s magic it was a rather perfect time to go about it. “However, as the head of her family, and also as her cousin, I’m glad you’re valuing her appropriately.”
“Thank you,” Neville says, banishing the ring back to his vault. “Where’s Harry? I kind of expected him to be here. His rooms are more of a storage closet these days, so I doubt he’s there.”
Draco looks around, like he’s expecting his fiancé to materialize out of nowhere, and admits, “I have no idea, actually. Let’s go find him.” He leaves his rooms and Neville trails behind. He goes the way that leads him to the Slytherin common room rather than back into the hallway. “Hey! Has anyone seen Professor Potter?” Harry usually entered his rooms through the common rooms so he can spend some time hanging out with the Slytherins, which some of them hate but most of them love. The house’s collective defense grades of his house have improved dramatically ever since Harry had gone to the effort to make himself a nuisance in the common room, so Draco can’t complain too much.
Marilyn doesn’t look up from the game of chess she’s playing with Markel. “Your fiancé hasn’t been through here, Draco.”
He sighs. He does sometime complain, and exactly for this reason. “You should really call him Professor Potter.” Outside of the common room or great hall, Draco doesn’t really care if the kids call him professor, and it seems especially weird to insist on it from the kids he’s related too or who he’s known their whole lives. When Liam calls him professor, it’s almost always to be annoying.
“When you’re married, I’m going to call him cousin,” Markel says brightly. “I can’t wait. Hello, have you met Harry Potter? Why, he’s my cousin, of course.”
Andrea snorts behind the book she’s reading, and Lucas looks up from his essay just to scowl at him. “That’ll just make you insufferable, Markel.”
“And? I’m insufferable now, I might as well be insufferable and well connected,” he says reasonably.
He’s such a Malfoy. Clearly he got all the good genes from Diane.
Nadine calls out from the other side of the common room, “I saw Potter heading to the quidditch pitch with Granger. Finnegan was with them too. They might still be there.”
“Thanks,” he says, “Don’t blow anything up while I’m gone.”
“Okay, we’ll wait until you get back,” Georgiana says.
He really wishes it was socially acceptable to flip off his students.
Hermione hates flying, so Draco’s not surprised to see her sitting in the stands, probably grading the huge test she’d just given and his snakes had been complaining about for weeks, but Harry’s not flying alone. Seamus and Ron are up there, with Harry playing keeper while Ron and Seamus act as chasers. Probably for the best, as Seamus isn’t that great at quidditch and having Ron play keeper isn’t really fair to anyone.
One of the worst things out of all this has been his reluctant friendship with Seamus Finnegan. His and Hermione’s plan for the new Muggle Studies course had been approved, since the need for it was fairly obvious considering everything, but there were a very limited number of people who were equally qualified to speak on both the magical and the muggle world, and Seamus had been one of them and also bored at playing journalist.
It was very upsetting to Draco to discover how deeply, truly hilarious Seamus was. He’s legitimately one of the funniest people Draco knows, and he really enjoys hanging out with him. It’s the worst.
He shields his eyes as he looks up. The amount of frozen lumos charms hanging about so they can manage to fly in the middle of the night is a little excessive and is probably more for Hermione’s benefit theirs.
“Hey!” Ron shouts, and both Harry and Seamus look down at them. “Neville! I head my sister is making an honest man out of you! Welcome to the family!”
Neville rolls his eyes. “Hi Ron.”
The three of them float down so they don’t have to do quite as much screaming to hear each other.
“Mum wants you to have the wedding at the Weasley Manor, now that it’s all nice and shiny again,” Ron says.
“If you don’t have the engagement party at the Malfoy Manor, I will make scathing remarks about your sensibilities where society reporters can overhear me,” Draco threatens.
Neville looks very put upon. “I guess my grandmother will just have to happy with having the reception at our place.”
“She’s not going to be happy about that, is she?” Seamus asks. “She doesn’t seem like the type to be happy about it, is the thing.”
Draco’s not even sure if Seamus has met Augusta.
“There’s going to have to be carriages,” Draco says. “Lots of them. Having guests floo or apparate isn’t a great look.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m going to have to rent a ton,” he sighs.
“You can borrow Nox and the Malfoy carriage for you, Luna, and Ginny,” he says. It highlights the fact that Luna is still a Malfoy, and he knows that Neville loves the carriage, so everyone wins. “Harry and I can take his.”
“We’re just having our wedding at the manor, right?” Harry asks, leading over on his broom to give Draco a quick kiss. “This is exhausting just to listen to.”
“I have no idea,” he says. “Mum hasn’t really told me anything and Dad just shakes his head whenever I ask.” His parents have slowly started edging their way back into society. His dad had more good days than bad days now, and Narcissa thought planning her son’s wedding to Harry Potter would be the best way to make that reentrance in a way that was both grand – because that’s what the wedding would be – and subtle, since the wedding wouldn’t be about them, after all.
He and Harry were just happy that they didn’t have to plan it.
Ron waves his hand. “Well, that’s a later problem. Fancy a game? Luna’s out with Ginny tonight, so you’re going to have to wait to propose until tomorrow anyway.”
“Also if you could stop yelling and get back in the air so I can concentrate, that’d be great,” Hermione says, still bent over her papers.
Ron blows her a kiss and she catches it without looking up.
“Yeah, okay,” Neville sighs while Draco summons a couple of the school brooms with a flick of his wand.
When his alarm goes off the next morning, he regrets staying out so late.
“No,” Harry moans, burrowing back into the bed. “Honey, why? It’s Saturday.”
“It’s a library Saturday,” he reminds him, stumbling out of bed and towards his closet. “We had to skip last week because of the full moon, so the weeks are reversed now.”
“Uhg,” Harry grumbles, huddling back under the covers.
Draco rolls his eyes, tugs down the blanket enough to give his fiancé a goodbye kiss, and heads towards the floo. “Antarctica Library.”
He’s barely spelled the soot off his robes when a familiar voice says, “You’re late.”
“Hello Chen Guang, I had a lovely couple of weeks, thank you for asking,” he says, walking over to take his place at the table between Alinta, the representative from Australia, and Josephina, who represents North America.
“Really, Chen Guang, no reason to be so snappy,” Ghufran says. “Did you have a tough full moon? Catch any rabbits?” He and Chen Guang are the two representatives from Asia, from Pakistan and China respectively, and they hate each other.
Unfortunate for them, hilarious for everyone else.
Denno, here on behalf of Africa and from Kenya specifically, rolls his eyes. “Can we just get started please? I don’t want to have to be stuck here all day again. Must we make fun of Chen Guang for being a werewolf every meeting? Surely we’ve run out of jokes by now.”
“Not really,” Fernando says. “It’s her own fault for saying she hates cats.” He’s from Peru and representing South America. He and Josephina will complain about the rest of them in Spanish, which is forcing the rest of the group to learn Spanish so they can’t do that anymore.
“Really,” Chen Guang says flatly, “that’s what we’re blaming this on? I think actually you guys are all just assholes, so.”
“Hey!” Josephina says. “I don’t make fun of you for being a werewolf. I make fun of you for being short tempered, it’s completely different.”
“You know,” says Alinta, “it seems like you really only mind when Ghufran does it. Young love can be so tempestuous, don’t you think?”
There’s a single moment of still, horrified silence and then both Ghufran and Chen Guang are yelling while everyone else laughs at them.
They’re clearly not getting to get through the agenda in a timely manner, but Draco can’t really bring himself to care all that match. The way the muggle leaders are going on, they’re not going to end up making any public announcements about the existence of magic for another two years anyway, so they have time.
He’s excited to invite them to his wedding. They’re all disasters and it’ll be hilarious.
He makes a mental note to apologize to his mother.
“Exploding snap?” Fernando offers.
Draco checks the clock, looks over the agenda, and considers how much yelling is still going on. “Yeah, okay. You know, I could still be in bed right now if we weren’t going to do be productive.”
“You could,” he agrees, “but who would want to miss this?”
Ghufran’s voice goes so high that it cracks and Draco can’t help laughing.
That’s an excellent point.
This isn’t anything close to how he thought this was going to be, what he thought these people were going to be like, but this is better.
They have a lot of work, and a lot of responsibilities, but each of them have their own people who are helping them, and they all try and help each other, and between the seven of them they’ll eventually figure out a way to roll out the truth of magic to the muggles in a way the muggle world leaders will accept.
But for right now they play exploding snap while discussing the effectiveness of different governing structures they’d read about in their respective red leather bound books since the last meeting.
Really, the only bad thing about this is that they’ve set up their headquarters in Antarctica. Maintaining the heating spells is the worst.
“Do you think we could move the meeting hall to Fiji?” Draco asks. “I know we wanted to keep it in neutral territory, but there’s really no reason we can’t be doing this on a nice beach house somewhere.”
“Shut up,” everyone says at once, although about half of them look like they agree with him.
Draco has no idea what Dax was talking about. He doesn’t like some of them.
It turns out he likes all of them.