‘I thought it would hurt more.’
Knowing there wasn’t a chance those words were about the new line of moon phases Harry had only that day had tattooed down his ribs, Draco (on the verge of sleep) forced his eyes open in the darkness to frown at Harry. He’d only just resigned himself to being used by Athena as a source of heat and didn’t much fancy waking enough to have a proper conversation. With Athena draped along the length of his back like a furry living cape, he squinted through the darkness at Harry.
Harry was lying beside him, on his side facing Draco and, if he really tried, Draco thought he could see Harry’s frown through the gloom. This wasn’t going to be one of those times when he could tell him to shut it and wait until morning then.
Definitely not if Harry was finally ready to have the conversation that he’d been avoiding all week.
‘What?’ he asked, voice thick with the promise of sleep. He shook his head slightly to force the edges of sleep away in order to give Harry his full attention.
‘I thought watching Ron walk away would hurt more.’
Harry’s tone was thoughtful – hurt – but there was a sense of acceptance to it now that Draco was relieved to hear. He didn’t exactly mourn the loss of Weasley, but he was Harry’s oldest – and until this last week – best friend. Draco could be upset for Harry while also being thrilled not to have to deal with the Weasel. That didn’t mean he also hadn’t been expecting Harry to be more upset. Three nights of horrific nightmares notwithstanding, Harry had been remarkably calm about the actual departure of the Weasel.
He supposed they had all been expecting it. The walking away that is, none of them had predicted the homophobic onslaught, that was the real sticking point for all of them. How could they have so misjudged him? Draco didn’t even like him, but he’d certainly expected better.
That first night, when Harry had returned from his outing with Weasley, Draco had simply crawled into bed with Harry, the two of them hiding away from the world while Harry talked about his conversation with the Weasel – Harry had even managed to be amused by Weasley’s assumption that it was Pansy he’d been seeing. The fact the revelation about their relationship had gone pretty much exactly as they’d all been expecting, likely made the situation easier to deal with and they’d gone to sleep that night knowing it would be rough but fully expecting that, while he probably wouldn’t accept Draco, he’d come to see that he made Harry happy.
It was the confrontation the next morning that none of them had been expecting.
In between sobs, huddled on Hannah’s borrowed bed, he’d gotten the whole story out. How Harry had gone to tell Weasley the truth about their relationship in full, with the details he’d walked out without hearing, the ones that would hopefully have given him a chance to understand this wasn’t something they’d gone into lightly or a ploy by Draco. He’d pulled the details out of Harry bit by bit about Weasley’s words and his shameful actions.
There’d been real anger in Harry’s voice the night before when he talked about the way Weasley spoke of Draco and how Ron’s own refusal to accept that Draco was changing had been the drive Harry needed to confront his best friend with the truth. Lying on Hannah’s bed, there’d been nothing but pain and hurt and a bewildered sense of betrayal that Harry’s best friend could say such hateful things.
It had warmed Draco’s heart to know that Harry had so strongly defended him even if it meant watching his first friend walk away from him. It had not warmed his heart to hear the words that Weasley had thrown in his face when he’d gone looking to explain more, to hopefully help his friend understand. It hadn’t gone like any of them had been expecting.
There’d been a moment after Harry’s tears had finally subsided when Draco thought about sneaking away and cursing Weasley with something horrible (perhaps one of Ginny’s more vicious hexes?) but he’d known Harry wouldn’t want that and frankly, he didn’t want to risk leaving Harry alone.
Draco wouldn’t leave Harry. Not like Weasley always did.
They’d spoken with Ginny and Luna before slipping through McGonagall’s floo, heard briefly from Longbottom of the words Ron had thrown at him after Harry had left and received a letter from Hermione about her change in holiday plans. All the while Harry had been quiet and a little distant, but he had still been able to talk with them all. He’d still been able to smile, even if it didn’t quite reach his eyes. None of them had asked him how he was, not needing him to put on a brave face or find the words to express his pain.
None of them had attempted to make excuses for Weasley’s behaviour. There couldn’t be any excuses for that, and even if there were, they’d all been so completely blindsided by it there wasn’t much chance they’d have managed anything coherent.
Hermione had been hurt, Ginny furious and even Longbottom had made his displeasure known with a rare sign of anger and poor Hannah had been in tears having witnessed Harry break. Draco had heard her offering to curse Weasley in an undertone to Longbottom as she left the room and she’d never cursed anyone in her life – who wasn’t a Death Eater.
Luna, being Luna, had simply been disappointed. She’d crawled onto the bed with them and hugged Harry tightly and although Draco hadn’t heard the words she’d murmured softly to Harry, whatever she’d said had brought a proper smile to his face for the first time that morning, one that almost reached his eyes – even if those eyes had gotten a little watery again.
Days later and Draco had honestly thought the conversation he’d been preparing for would never come. They’d filled their days with friends and Teddy (lots of Teddy, Draco was wholly unopposed to Andromeda’s shamelessly throwing her grandson at his godfather) and after finally agreeing to a dose of Dreamless Sleep, Harry had gradually lost the sadness until his smile always reached his eyes and Draco didn’t think he was the only one to breathe a sigh of relief when he saw that.
They’d spoken with the mind healer again, after they’d had a good night’s rest and from all they’d discussed, Draco could agree that Weasley’s walking away had triggered long-held fears of abandonment and loneliness in Harry which had caused the nightmares and brought up all the things about the isolation in his past he hadn’t fully been able to deal with growing up.
Harry hadn’t disagreed. He also hadn’t really talked about the words the Weasel had thrown at him, choosing to focus on the feeling of abandonment over the concern he didn’t really know his friend if he could spout such awful hate. Privately, while Draco had never expected the Weasel to shout homophobic slurs at his best friend, he’d had seven years of Weasley matching his hateful words with hate of his own, so he couldn’t exactly say he didn’t know Weasley had it in him, just that he’d never expected that hate to be aimed at his best friend.
The venomous words had hit his girlfriend especially hard.
Hermione, who was risking life and limb by staying over the shop with George for the holidays, had visited the Manor more than once. She’d braved her own memories of the war and her torture at Bella’s hands to show her support for Harry. Ginny, who didn’t have any memories of the war regarding Malfoy Manor, had easily followed Luna through the floo every morning with the reasoning that she couldn’t stand looking at her brother’s mopey face every day.
Draco took this to mean that Molly had finally told Ginny off for hexing him, not that she’d actually released the jinx keeping his mouth shut. She seemed adamant in forcing him to communicate through writing and therefore to actually think about the words he was saying.
Even Longbottom had visited once, the first time in living memory a Longbottom had set foot in Malfoy Manor. Draco had made a point of noting down the date and making a thing of it just to be a prat, but Longbottom had taken the dramatics with good humour and a playful shrug that Draco feared would soon have them on a first name basis. The horror.
He supposed, though, he should have realised that the night before they were due to make an appearance at the Burrow – and they were still going, Weasley be damned – would be when Harry was finally ready to talk about it. Nothing like leaving these things until the last possible moment.
‘Does thinking it would hurt more make it easier to accept?’ Draco questioned. One of his hands was under his pillow but the other was resting on the mattress between them. Draco reached out with that hand to trail soft patterns on the bare skin of Harry’s arm.
Draco had been told more than once that he radiated heat, that he was always, if you didn’t count those three months in Azkaban, running hotter than other people and Harry – who had always slept with layers before – now slept in a t-shirt and pants in the middle of winter. He complained about how hot Draco was but that didn’t stop him from draping himself all over Draco in the middle of the night.
Draco just enjoyed the bare skin his hands always easily found.
‘I don’t know. Maybe?’ Harry shifted onto his back and then wriggled across the bed until his side was pressed tightly against Draco’s front.
Draco, forced to stop tracing patterns on Harry’s arm, instead slipped his hand beneath Harry’s t-shirt to trace them on his stomach. He moved his head so that it nestled into the crook of Harry’s neck and got to enjoy it for only a moment before he felt Athena shift behind him, claiming the tiny bit of space he’d freed.
Sandwiched between Harry and a kneazle who took up far more space than seemed possible given her size, Draco felt content. His words to Harry were soft, not judging when he asked, ‘Is it easier to understand his behaviour because you were expecting it? We knew he’d walk, not that he’d be a homophobic prick.’
He felt Harry shake his head. ‘No,’ he slowly replied, thinking his words over carefully, ‘I still don’t really know what to think about that, but I think it’s easier to know he walked because he isn’t my whole world anymore.’
That sounded like something his mind healer might have said – or perhaps Andromeda.
‘Andy,’ Harry confirmed when he asked. ‘I don’t even know how we ended up talking about it.’ He sounded embarrassed now. As though talking about his feelings with someone who considered him family was something he should be ashamed of.
Draco felt a new surge of hatred for the Dursleys and all the things they had robbed Harry of as a child. Draco would not have hesitated to seek advice from his mother on such a problem. There would have been times when he would (and had) chosen his father to confide in – although he regretted many of those instances now. He saw no reason for Harry to be embarrassed about talking to someone who was fond of him, and who was older and certainly wiser.
He’d thought Harry had long gotten over his hesitation to share things as he found it so easy to share them with Draco and even Luna, but clearly, he was still struggling with the idea that there were adults out there who loved and cared for him – without fattening him up to sacrifice himself for the greater good and the end of a war.
Draco forced down the fresh anger wanting to surge through him. Dumbledore was dead. Snape was dead, and Harry would never have to see Petunia or her family again. It would take time for him to see it, but Harry did have adults in his life who he could trust to share his problems with and seek advice from. Hadn’t Molly and Arthur proved that time and again over the summer? Hadn’t his own mother in her patient teaching – and he was sure there’d been some sort of emotional breakdown early in the summer. Something about collapsing in a fit of tears into his mother’s arms? Draco had never gotten the full story about that one, but he did hope that his mother’s reaction had helped Harry to see he did have people he could talk to. Certainly, that there was no need to be embarrassed about it.
‘I told you how I’d never had friends before Ron.’ Harry was staring up at the ceiling, but his murmured words were for Draco rather than himself. ‘By fourth year I had Hermione and I guess Sirius, but I was still so alone. Losing Ron then was like losing the only family I had and in some ways it was the same last year. I had Hermione but half my family had just walked away and I didn’t know if I was ever going to see him again.’
Draco hummed to show he was listening, kept up the soothing trace of fingers on bare skin.
‘I think being away from Ron and Hermione for all those months was good for me.’ The words were an admission – a revelation – but they didn’t sound hesitant or new. This was an idea Harry had come to terms with, something he’d been mulling over and concluded in the last week. Or perhaps it had been on his mind much longer?
They’d talked about it before, without this kind of certainty, and without ever really saying the words. Draco thought it was something Harry had started to consider over the summer when his life didn’t stop just because Hermione and Weasley were on the other side of the world, but not something he’d really stopped to think about until now when he was faced with a future without his childhood best friend.
Draco thought it was safe to comment here without risk of Harry taking his words the wrong way. ‘You didn’t get the chance to grow and form relationships while you were with the two of them,’ he offered up softly.
‘Yeah,’ Harry agreed. ‘It was always just us three, but with them gone, I started talking to other people. You know I talked with Luna – Ginny too, when she was home. I started talking to all the Weasley’s really – more than I’ve ever done and I just don’t know why I never did before. Why didn’t I see all these people who have been in my life that were on the fringes? Everything was always about the three of us – even when I was dating Ginny it was always me, Ron and Hermione.’
That was one of those things Draco had found himself talking with Ginny about. She’d said, quite without resentment and apropos of nothing, that Draco was lucky to have the Harry he was now. She’d told him he was lucky he got to be with a version of the man who understood his own needs and wants and didn’t wrap his whole world around his two best friends until everyone else was pushed to the wayside.
He’d been quite taken aback by her frankness, but she hadn’t said it to be mean or to gain his sympathy, she’d only said it to assure him that she saw exactly how strong his relationship with Harry had come to be. It had been this more than anything that allowed Draco to admit he and Ginny were genuinely friends and not simply faking it for Harry.
‘Ginny hated the way you wouldn’t talk to her about things,’ he offered into the darkness, feeling no guilt at sharing something Ginny had told him. If she hadn’t wanted Harry to know, she’d have told Draco so. Even then it wouldn’t have made much difference. He kept no secrets from Harry, not now, not after all they’d been through.
He felt Harry stiffen against him before he forced himself to relax, letting out a long breath, as if telling himself not to feel guilty for something he couldn’t change – another thing he’d been working on with his mind healer. ‘I got so used to only being able to tell them things, of it being the three of us against the world. I was told to tell nobody what I learned about Voldemort, that it was too important and dangerous for anyone else to know. Dumbledore insisted I could only trust Ron and Hermione with the information and I believed him.’
‘Of course, you did,’ said Draco, and he was quite happy he’d managed to keep his own feelings about their late headmaster out of his tone. ‘You trusted him.’
‘I did.’ They lay in silence for a while before Harry continued, ‘I told you everything.’
‘We promised each other no secrets.’
‘I told you I died three days after the war ended,’ Harry pointed out wryly, highlighting the contradiction in his behaviour with casual amusement.
Draco bit his lip to hide a grin. That had been a bad day for both of them, but it was hilarious looking back at it now. Harry had been a wreck that afternoon when he’d come down to Draco’s holding cell. The shadows under his eyes were enormous, something Draco had taken great pleasure in pointing out. He’d also taken joy in pointing out Harry’s clothes were a mess, his skin horribly pale and that, frankly, his hair had reached all new levels of unmanageable and that he’d be better off shaving it than attempting to fix whatever madness had occurred.
A lie, of course. Draco loved Harry’s hair, but he’d been stiff and sore and far from being alright, and that hadn’t stopped the two of them from arguing back and forth for twenty minutes before Harry had slumped down to the floor, dropped his head onto his knees and cried. It had been the first time Draco had offered him comfort and not received it and it had been awkward as fuck for the both of them. Neither of them knowing what to do or how to handle the unexpected confessions spilling out of Harry.
‘You hadn’t slept in two days,’ he murmured into the side of Harry’s neck, remembering the way he’d gingerly wrapped arms around Harry in that cell and the way Harry had stiffened before he couldn’t hold himself together anymore and the last threads had let go before he’d buried his face in Draco’s shoulder and sobbed.
‘You were a right sod,’ Harry reminded him with a soft smile.
‘I was,’ Draco agreed with his own small smile. ‘You fell asleep in my cell and Kingsley had to send Percy down to fetch you.’
Harry grinned. ‘I’ve never seen Percy look so annoyed.’ He sobered. ‘He’s the only reason you got a trial so quickly.’
Draco thought that was overstating things. Harry had been the one to kick up a storm, stomping around the Ministry yelling and throwing around his power as the Chosen One, but he supposed it had been Percy’s rather alarming understanding of the paperwork and all the Ministry laws and regulations that had given Harry the right leverage to demand action was taken. The fact that a Weasley had done that for Draco just because of Harry had made him extra snotty (he could admit it) but he’d had so little pride left after that final beating in his holding cell that he’d kept quiet and let a Weasley help save him.
The knowledge that Percy very likely had ulterior motives regarding prisoner rights and a better and fairer Ministry, had soothed the blow to his ego somewhat.
‘You’ve not lost the Weasleys,’ Draco reminded him.
‘They’re your family because they love you not because you’re the Weasel’s friend.’
Draco thought that was rather Harry’s point with all this talk about finally letting people in, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t help drive it home. Despite all the history between them, the rest of the Weasley family had been very supportive of Harry and Draco. They hadn’t questioned Harry’s choices (they might have questioned his behaviour but that was mostly because no sane person visited Azkaban willingly every day) and they’d not tried to change his mind or make him feel bad or stupid for wanting to get to know Draco.
They could have hated Draco, could have held so many things he and his family had done in the war against him, but that wasn’t them. They’d taken Harry’s words and actions and looked to Draco’s own actions before they passed judgement. He hadn’t asked them for forgiveness, but he had written them all letters the moment he was free of Azkaban and allowed access to an owl, he’d written at length of his regrets and his hopes to someday be the kind of man they would be proud to have their son love.
And he had written it that way, he’d called Harry their son, because that was what he had become.
Harry had come to him and kept coming despite what others might have thought, and Draco had been (eventually) grateful for his stubbornness, but he would have given Harry up in a heartbeat if he thought the Weasleys would turn their back on him. He’d have hated it and it would have broken him more than those three months in Azkaban or the entire year he’d spent living with Death Eaters, but he’d have done it for Harry.
He’d never had to. Molly and Arthur Weasley had been hesitant but kind. They’d accepted his apologies and offered understanding in place of forgiveness. Perhaps the forgiveness would come – in some ways it already had – but Draco only needed them to support Harry, the rest would come or it wouldn’t, and that was okay, he would handle that.
Harry seemed to be feeling the same way.
‘I want my best friend in my life, but I don’t need him,’ Harry softly confessed to the darkness. ‘I don’t want him in my life if he’s going to be disgusted and horrified that I choose to love you. I don’t want him in my life if my choice to love a man disgusts him.’
Draco frowned, lifting his head off Harry’s shoulder to stare at him through the dark. ‘You know that it’s okay to walk away from him for that, yes? That it’s not giving up or being selfish to turn away from someone who used words to purposefully hurt you?’
Draco had been thinking about it a lot over the last week, listening to Ginny relay the things her brother had been saying and while he didn’t like what the Weasel had said, there was a part of him that couldn’t help wondering if he hadn’t specifically chosen those words to hurt. If Weasley hadn’t said the most hateful and hurtful things he could think of to make sure that Harry was feeling as bad as he was. He wasn’t sure if this made it better or worse that the things he had said didn’t truly reflect his beliefs – he’d still said them.
Harry tilted his head and smiled softly at him, the gentle tug of movement something Draco could sort of make out only because they were so close. ‘I know. Because that’s his problem and not mine.’
‘You have a lot more friends and family than you realise, you know.’ Draco settled his head back on Harry’s shoulder, nudging a sneaky paw out of the way with his chin as he did so. ‘You have Andromeda and Teddy, the Weasleys and Hermione and Luna and Longbottom – I’m certainly never letting you go and, as horrifying as it sounds, even my father would fight for you now.’
Harry snorted, his words caught between horror and fascination as he said, ‘Merlin, he would, wouldn’t he?’
Draco grinned into the darkness, remembering the exasperation on his father’s face when he’d last seen him, the way he’d looked resigned to having to be polite to Harry, to having to care for his wellbeing because it directly related to Draco’s own happiness. ‘I love you, so yes, yes he would fight for you.’
Harry gave a rather dramatic full body shudder. ‘That makes me feel so dirty.’
Draco sniggered. ‘You’re practically a Malfoy now.’
Harry pulled a face, Draco could feel it against his head, the play of muscles across Harry’s jaw as he worked out how to respond to that. Draco had almost fallen asleep when Harry finally did speak, and for a moment he thought he’d drifted into a dream, the words so surprising.
‘Potter-Malfoy,’ he whispered. ‘We’re definitely hyphenating.’
Half asleep, he said, ‘You know we could sign the paperwork tomorrow.’
He’d been joking, they could do that now, the terror of marriage had been somewhat negated by three more months in a relationship and the fact that their magic and souls were so tightly bound now that they were, for all intents and purposes, magically married anyway with no real way of separating even if they wanted to. Which they didn’t – Draco could not stress that enough. They might be young, but they’d been through a lot, forced to grow up much sooner than they should have been. Forced to face truths and make decisions that most adults would never have to make.
They’d fought a fucking war, a little thing like getting married young didn’t really seem big in comparison.
Bill, as Draco had hoped and predicted, had been the one to find the answer to their bond. He hadn’t even realised he’d found it at first, at least that was what he’d said when he’d come to visit the Manor two days ago and explained his theory behind the magic of the bond. He’d been missing a few key pieces of information because there were things Harry and Draco would never tell anyone, but when he’d shared his findings both Harry and Draco had known that he’d finally hit on the right answers.
Harry’s soul had been damaged in death and by the separation from Voldemort’s own soul when it was torn from his. Draco’s had been broken and torn through torture and pain, the cracks wrenched wide by exposure to dementors. In the aftermath, Harry’s soul had been healing, mending its cracks on its own and Draco’s might have done the same (once freed from Azkaban), but they’d spent so much time together, feeding each other secrets and truths and falling in love that they’d mended their souls together, binding them tight and seamlessly until one led directly to the other.
The bond had been formed naturally through love and friendship, a literal baring of their souls. They’d come together by shedding prejudice and old hatreds and, even in the middle of Azkaban, surrounded by dementors and despair, they had created something strong and so achingly beautiful that Molly had cried when they told her about it. So had his mother.
Molly had come over for her weekly tea with his mother and Andromeda (still such an uncomfortable arrangement for Draco) and Draco and Harry had sat them down and explained all that Bill had found. Eyes had welled up with soft tears and smiles so wide as all three witches expressed their feelings on the beauty of such raw and powerful magic. Draco thought this, more than anything, had been the final piece needed for Molly and Arthur to truly accept him in Harry’s life. How could anyone raised on magic not find beauty in two souls binding together in such a natural and gradual way? Although nothing had so far been said, there was something in the way Molly looked at him now, a softening in her eyes and her touch, that suggested she’d come to fully accept his place in Harry’s life – as a soon-to-be member of her family.
When they’d told Luna, she’d nodded and said that sounded exactly like what she saw when she looked at them, magic entwined beautifully and their souls shining as one. Just how it was Luna could see that – and without aid of a spell or charm – Draco hadn’t worked out, but he was perfectly willing to just accept that it was something special to Luna because there was no one more special than Luna Lovegood and he would spend many days over the rest of his life making sure that she knew how much he appreciated and treasured her as though that could ever truly make up for the things he had done to her in the past.
Pansy had snorted. Sprawled out on the rug in front of the fire and making silly faces at Teddy, she’d taken the news with great amusement. ‘This does not surprise me. At all,’ she’d said. ‘The way you two were pining over each other all through school – I’m honestly surprised this didn’t happen sooner.’
Draco hadn’t been offended like he once would have been. There really hadn’t been any pining then. Plenty of other things but he wouldn’t characterise it as pining. He’d been too much of a selfish prick to pine over Harry – romantically at least. He’d been a right sod over the whole scorned friendship thing, he would freely admit that. He had freely admitted that and more than once since he and Harry had gotten together. Pansy just liked to rub it in, making out as though she’d known this would happen all along – not entirely out of the realm of possibility but Draco didn’t like to give her more credit than necessary.
Ginny, draped over the sofa in an exhausted slump from an afternoon spent freezing her arse off training in the rain, had simply shaken her head and pointed a finger between them repeating her earlier assertion, ‘I have actual pity for those of us who came between you since the moment you met in Diagon Alley.’
Their magic, while not as firmly entwined as their souls, worked so perfectly together that it had been easy for Bill and Fleur to see why Draco had assumed that it was just as tightly woven. Their magic sought each other’s out, taking strength from what they found, flowing back and forth between them to such an extent that Fleur had wondered whether the magical flow between them would eventually bond as firmly as their souls and whether that would have them picking up magical talents from each another.
They’d shared that question with Hermione (reluctantly on Draco’s part), and she’d been so fascinated she’d made the both of them promise to tell her if they noticed anything of the sort. Strangely enough, her fascination with the bind and how it formed seemed to have eclipsed any sort of emotional response she might have had to the bond. Draco had no idea what she thought of it or its formation, only that she saw it as a fascinating diversion from her NEWTs studies. Judging by her enthusiasm, Draco didn’t see Hermione letting go of this bond anytime soon, even though they now had confirmation it had been formed by wild magic fuelled by loved and friendship and was perfectly natural.
So far, they hadn’t noticed any shared magical talents, but Draco couldn’t help but wonder if they would notice. He suspected the changes would come so naturally to the both of them that it would take someone observing to notice. And that would be dependent on who was paying close enough attention to notice and whether they’d pick up on the significance of what they were seeing.
Also, he supposed it would depend on the type of magical talent. About the only truly magical talent Harry had was the ability to speak parseltongue, Draco wasn’t aware of anything he possessed that might qualify.
Harry drew Draco back out of his sleepy musings with a quiet chuckle and the suggestion, ‘Maybe next year.’
Draco made a sleepy, content sound, and was out before he could worry on the implications of that.
When he woke up the next morning, he had other things to worry about and didn’t give Harry’s (or was it his?) potential marriage proposal much thought. They did have a tendency to discuss marriage in the quiet hours but neither of them was ready to make a thing of it. Their magic might have had its own ideas, but they were eighteen and there were a lot of things they wanted to do and think about before they bothered with all the dramatics of Harry Potter, Boy Who Lived, marrying Draco Malfoy, ex-Death Eater.
There were enough dramatics over Christmas dinner as it was.
It was the first Christmas Draco had ever had that he wasn’t forced to dress for breakfast or a party he didn’t want to attend. He and Harry crawled out of bed and after pulling on a dressing gown (both of them), pyjama bottoms (Harry) and slippers (both of them), they made their way downstairs to find his mother and Andromeda already up, though not dressed, and seated in the one room they’d bothered to properly refurnish.
Teddy was rolling about under the tree playing with Athena and a dislodged ornament.
He and Harry kissed both women on their cheeks in greeting before Harry flopped onto the floor to play with Teddy and Draco slid down beside the two, though he chose to reach for the tea laid out on the low coffee table rather than roll about on the floor. It seemed breakfast would be informal this year and Draco was thrilled not to bother with proper clothes so early in the day.
He talked softly with his mother and Andromeda as he sipped his tea and ate some toast until eventually Harry emerged from beneath the tree, Teddy held upside down in his hands with chubby fists clenching tight to a soft squishy package that Draco just knew, looking at it, came from Molly. Harry shuffled closer to Draco, flipped Teddy up the right way and deposited the giggling eight-month-old in Draco’s lap forcing Draco to shove the last bit of toast into his mouth so he could place a steadying hand on Teddy to support him before his enthusiasm for the present in his hands had him flopping face first onto the rug.
Draco didn’t mind. He’d come a long way from the hesitant way he’d first held Teddy, all caution and fear that he would drop him or break him. Now he was perfectly at ease manhandling the baby just as Harry did and well-practiced at quickly stabilising him. Balance was not something Teddy really had a grasp of yet, but he’d recently started to get good at shimmying his body along the floors in a pre-cursor to crawling that had poor Andromeda scrambling to baby-proof her small house.
Harry grabbed a piece of toast for himself, stole Draco’s tea and then stuck a hand back under the tree for a gift. The one he drew out was for Andromeda and had been put together by the two of them and his mother on behalf of Teddy. He knew she’d love it and was proved right by the soft smile that bloomed on her face as she gently went through the collection of photographs. It hadn’t been hard to collect them together, not once they’d started looking. It helped that his mother seemed to have taken it upon herself to take as many photos as she could of her sister as she played with Teddy or simply sat with him on her twice weekly visits.
The chintzy mug had been Harry’s idea, explained away as a muggle thing that he knew Andromeda would appreciate.
His mother was similarly enamoured by her gift. She smiled at them after unwrapping it and Draco found himself holding onto that moment, locking it away in his mind to remember for all his years to come. This moment was the first proper family moment they’d had in years and he wanted to remember what they had become in spite of all they’d been through. It was because of all they’d been through that he didn’t feel so much as a pang of regret that his father wasn’t there with them. This moment wouldn’t exist if he’d been home on house arrest like his wife.
Draco had no doubts that, as happy as his father was to go along with Draco’s relationship with Harry, there would not have been such a relaxed and warm atmosphere had he been present. He certainly didn’t imagine Andromeda would have come along with Teddy – let alone spent the night as she had done.
Teddy wasn’t the only one to receive a package from the Weasley matriarch. His mother and aunt both opened packages containing tea and homemade tarts. Teddy’s package contained a child-friendly Wheeze and a knitted hat and cardigan, while both Draco and Harry received the much vaunted Weasley jumpers. Harry put his on immediately and nudged Draco into doing the same before he came over all fidgety and handed Draco one final present in the form of a small box.
Draco smiled gleefully at him, not even pretending to be abashed by the number of presents Harry had already gifted him. He eagerly unwrapped the gift and promptly blinked in surprise when the wrapping paper revealed a small ring box. Heart hammering, thoughts racing back to the sleepy conversation they’d been having the night before, he lifted the lid on the box and found himself looking at a matching set of rings. The gold bands were simple but beautiful, both engraved with intricate runic designs in an old form that he thought was familiar but took him a while to identify.
As he tilted one of the rings this way and that to read the inscription in full, he realised the rings were old, very old. And familiar. He had to dig back through four years of Ancient Runes to translate the markings but when he did, he gasped, their meaning connecting to a story he’d heard his mother tell him as a child.
These were the Black bonding rings. The ones that had been in his mother’s family for centuries. The ones worn by generations of rare Black couples who married for love rather than power and influence. They’d been a prised heirloom until Voldemort had paved the way for the family to destroy themselves and they’d been thought lost.
‘Oh Harry,’ he breathed with such deep affection, when he finally drew his gaze away from the rings to stare at his boyfriend. ‘You great sap.’ His voice was thick with emotion that he did nothing to conceal.
Harry shifted uncomfortably, face a brilliant shade of red, but he was looking especially pleased as he reached to take the ring from Draco’s hand. He took Draco’s hand – the right, for now – in his and gently slid the ring up his finger. Draco had almost forgotten that his mother and aunt were there until the both of them let out soft gasps. He admired the way the ring (which automatically resized to fit his finger) looked on his long finger before he took the other ring from the box and slid it onto Harry’s finger, admiring the way the ring, once sized to fit, looked against Harry’s tanned skin.
His heart twinged with possessiveness – with a rightness that had him feeling smug and called back to the conversation they’d had the night before about marriage and names and a future that was becoming firmer and firmer in Draco’s mind. The one he’d never have thought he could have after everything he’d done as a kid and during the war.
‘I thought they’d been destroyed,’ Andromeda murmured, from the sofa. His aunt and mother were leaning forward to get a look, so Draco eagerly held his hand out toward them for their inspection.
‘Oh Harry,’ his mother whispered, ‘wherever did you find them?’
Harry’s voice was just as thick with embarrassment as Draco’s had been with affection when he looked over at the women on the sofa. ‘Sirius couldn’t bring himself to throw them away,’ he explained. To Draco he said, ‘Pansy told me about them when I was trying to think of what to get you. I just had to ask Walburga.’
‘You asked Aunt Walburga?’ Draco’s voice was soft and full of love, the knowledge that Harry had talked to that crazy old portrait made him feel so warm and even more loved, if that were even possible.
He’d heard about these rings, heard the family stories about them and assumed, like everyone else, they’d been lost when the Black family fell apart. They were old magic, very old. The runes etched into the band called on love and magic to allow the pair wearing them to always find a way back to each other. They didn’t work like portkeys, didn’t immediately take you where you needed to be, the magic in them was softer, subtler. Made for remembrance and longing, they used belief and faith and love to gently guide and steer you where you needed to be.
With this ring, Draco could find Harry if he was lost. It wouldn’t be easy, and it would take time, but it would act like a beacon drawing him nearer even if he didn’t realise it. It would work in reverse, too, that was the way of them. He would find Harry and Harry would find him. Much like they’d done after the war. Much like they’d done before it.
‘I suppose I best give you your final present then.’ Although, Draco had no idea how he was supposed to top the precious gift Harry had given him. A pair of ancient Black family rings, imbued with centuries of family magic and made for long lasting love. The kind of love that ran warm and long, always simmering even when passion came and went.
Honestly, how was anyone supposed to top that?
He got up awkwardly, passing Teddy to Andromeda before he stuck his hands under the tree and dragged a box out from the very back of its branches. He’d made the choice not to wrap it, choosing instead to put a bow on top with a small note. It wasn’t a small box, something around twenty inches wide and perhaps twenty-five long and another twenty deep again. It was a little on the heavy side. Harry eyed it curiously as Draco slid it across the floor to him, then reached out slow hesitant hands to take the note from atop.
His expression turned soft and confused as he read the words Draco had carefully written and then he was setting the short note aside and pulling the lid off the box.
‘Oh yes, that’s definitely Potter hair!’ cried a cheerful voice.
For a moment Harry looked stunned. He stared down at the box, face completely blank as he tried and failed to process what he was looking at. He turned to face Draco, eyes beginning to shine with tears and wonder. ‘Who?’ he asked, voice breaking. ‘How?’
Draco shuffled forward, threading an arm around Harry’s until he was pressed close, chin resting on Harry’s shoulder to peer down into the box. ‘This is Fleamont Potter,’ he introduced. ‘He’s you grandfather.’ He pressed a kiss to Harry’s shoulder before saying, ‘Mister Potter, may I introduce you to your grandson Harry.’
‘Hi,’ Harry choked out, voice thick with emotion and it was a wonder he could even see the portrait through the tears forming in his eyes. They threatened to spill over as he reached careful hands into the box to remove the heavy wooden frame containing the animated form of an older man in his late sixties, hair just as wild and dark as Harry’s with soft brown eyes and a wide grin Draco had seen time and time again on Harry’s own face.
The man in the portrait said softly, ‘You’ve grown quite a bit, since I last saw you crawling about with your father.’
When Draco had set out to reclaim some of Harry’s past for him, he’d had no idea what he would find. He’d gotten on Pansy’s last nerve dragging her through every bit of parchment he could find in their vaults and he’d even dragged her to the ruins of the house in Godric’s Hollow. He’d expected to put together a family tree, small anecdotes taken from history books or older witches and wizards who had known the Potters. He’d expected to find paperwork about their arrival in Britain, intermarrying with the Peverell family and all about the tradition of wayward hair and the creation of the best-selling hair potion on the market.
Finding the portrait of Fleamont Potter had been so much more than Draco expected. Damaged and lifeless, he’d found the portrait fallen behind a desk in what he thought must have been James Potter’s study. It had been pure chance he found it, he’d knocked a book off the desktop and when he’d bent to fetch it, sneezing at the amount of dust he’d dislodged, his hand had brushed, not against the book, but a painting. He’d known the moment he’d pulled it free that it was exactly what he would give Harry, even if he couldn’t restore it, it would have made a perfect addition to the already full box of family history he’d compiled.
He’d always known more about Harry’s family than Harry had – years and years of learning pureblood ties and histories had left him with a firm understanding of who was who in the wizarding world, but he’d gotten even more of an understanding since he’d started digging about for information for Harry and he’d known at once who he was looking at, even before he saw the tiny inscription on the back.
It had cost a small fortune to engage the restorer but it had been well worth it when the spells animating Fleamont Potter had come to life and Draco had been able to explain to the memory of the man who he was and what he’d been doing. It was probably the first time in history Fleamont Potter had looked approvingly at a Malfoy – or any Black other than Sirius – and it settled something within Draco to know that one of Harry’s blood relatives approved of him.
He’d gone about this whole thing hoping that he could help Harry learn about his family. He’d never imagined he’d be able to give Harry the chance to know his grandfather.
Harry couldn’t take his eyes off the portrait and the same was true for Fleamont Potter. The painting might only have captured the memory and personality of the man but that was so much more than Harry had ever had before and he stared at it in wonder, taking in every detail he could. Green eyes soaked in everything from the dark mess of hair to the thick brows and the small scar on the side of his grandfather’s nose and the older man did the same. Fleamont scrutinised hair and scar, seeing the man who’d grown from the tiny baby he’d watched over all those years ago.
‘I – yeah,’ Harry stammered, clearly having no idea what to say.
‘Your young man told me some of what you’ve been through,’ Fleamont said gently.
Harry’s watery smile widened, and although he didn’t know it in that moment, later, Draco would learn that it was the easy acceptance his grandfather’s portrait had shown of his relationship with Draco that had brought so much joy to Harry. But he wouldn’t know that until much later because now that Harry was looking at the portrait of his grandfather there wasn’t much chance of pulling him away.
They simply left him to it. Harry spent the rest of the morning sprawled on the carpet in front of the fire, chin on his folded arms as he talked with the portrait he’d propped against the side of the box. Draco brought him more tea at some point, but he was content to allow Harry time with his relative. Time to listen to stories about his own childhood that Fleamont had witnessed, stories about James and Lily, even about Sirius and Remus where he could remember them.
Draco’s research and his talks with the portrait had given him a rough idea of just when the portrait had been commissioned. It was a stroke of luck to find that there were only months of living memory missing from the portrait, that it had been finished just months before Fleamont had lost his life in the war. There would be blanks of course, information the portrait was missing, as it couldn’t possibly contain the entire memory of the man it had been modelled on, but those gaps seemed miniscule in the face of Harry’s near non-existent knowledge of his own family’s history.
So it was with considerable reluctance that he interrupted the pair when it was time for them to prepare to leave for the Burrow. Harry, still in his pyjamas, talked animatedly the whole way up the stairs, the portrait held in front of him as he took careful steps toward their bedroom. Draco kept a steady guiding hand on the small of his back, prepared to do some very fast moving should Harry trip.
Harry set the portrait on the mantle above the fire in their sitting room and continued to talk as he changed into the clothes Draco handed him, hardly seeming aware of what he was doing as it took him twice as long to dress as normal. His reluctance to part from the portrait created something soft and gooey inside Draco but he was used to Harry making him feel all soft and squishy by now and was therefore excellent at ignoring it.
‘He’ll be here when we get home, Potter,’ he promised, tone light with exasperation.
‘Yeah, okay, yeah.’ Harry smiled sheepishly. ‘By, Grandpa,’ he said it softly, voice filled with awe and he looked back over his shoulder multiple times as they left the room.
Draco smiled and refrained from commenting.
As soon as they were out of the room, the door closed behind them, Harry shoved him up against the wall and snogged him breathless, forcing a knee between Draco’s legs that he couldn’t help but ride until he was hot and shivery and looked exactly like he’d just been shoved against a wall and thoroughly snogged.
Ginny, being Ginny, made a point of noting his hair and flushed cheeks when they arrived at the Burrow minutes later. Something about the satisfied smirk on his face and Harry’s obvious happiness tipping her off. Thankfully, Harry didn’t notice, but Draco winked at her as he was swept into a welcoming hug by Molly.
Ginny grinned. Weasley, stood beside her with a scowl, did not.