Desperation – 6/6 – Sunfire

Title: Desperation
Author: Sunfire (SunfireScribbles)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Romance, First Time, Slash
Relationship(s): Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Discussion- Child Abuse, Violence- Canon Level, Explicit Sex
Author Notes: Dumbledore-bashing and Good Malfoys. And awesome art by Tiffany
Beta: NCP
Word Count: 25,096
Summary: Harry Potter was a lonely and abused boy, but he found acceptance and family within Malfoy Manor. He made his first and best friend, the heir Malfoy, within the Malfoy hedge maze. Now, as he grows old enough to take his titles and his place in the Wizarding World, he wants to find the one thing he is missing. Love. The Pure-blood mores and traditions he learned from the Malfoys will provide a script, but who will play his other half? And if he finds the right person, will romance or a future be in the cards for the future Lord Potter? Harry desperately hopes so.

Artist: Tiffany


Art by Tiffany


Chapter Twenty-Two: Lordship and Love

Compared to the passionate developments of his birthday, actually taking full control of his titles within the court was a little ant-climactic, no pun intended. Even so, he knew that many of the other sitting Nobles would view him differently from now on and he did his best to make sure that the image they formed was the right one. Every aspect of his appearance and demeanor in court today had been meticulously discussed and planned for the best possible impression. Draco had spent two hours helping him pick out exactly what to wear, and then another hour helping him get ready that morning.

As thorough as the brunette’s lessons had been when he was younger, the blond was still superior in his ability to navigate the fashion of Wizarding high society. The taller wizard had certainly dressed him well today. Navy silk and cashmere blend trousers, waistcoat and robe paired with a pale blue silk shirt and kerchief with a navy tie adorned with tiny pale dots. It, and he, had received more than one appreciative glance during the three-hour court session. Which Harry supposed was a good thing, despite how uncomfortable the looks had made him. The brunette was pretty sure he was going to have to improve his neutral yet flattered expression if today was any indication.

Whatever the court day had indicated, it was over now, and the young Noble fought to keep his feeling of relief completely hidden. He tugged lightly on the formal robe of his suit as he stood from his Seat and began to make his way slowly out of the Wizengamot chamber. Slowly, not because he wanted to delay leaving, but because most of the other Sitting members seemed to want to exchange a few words or a nod of acknowledgement with him before he left. The bland smile was beginning to make his face ache slightly by the time he made it to the end of the row of seats in which the Gryffindor box was located.

Harry had been slightly disappointed when he first learned that he would not be using the traditional Potter box. Despite being referred to as Lord Potter due to his family name, he was required to sit in the box with the highest status to which he laid claim. It may not predate the designation of the Arthurian Families as ‘Most Ancient and Noble’ but Gryffindor did in fact trace to Camelot and claimed respect and prominence in its own right as a Founder’s line. It also possessed the highest number of votes of all his Houses. Therefore, the Gryffindor box was to be his Seat in the Wizengamot. Unfortunately, it was at the very front, next to the Chief Warlock’s podium, and required the longest walk to reach an exit.

The Noble exit, a private door used only by the highest tier on the court, was the closest but it still took him a good ten minutes to traverse the dozen or so meters to reach it. In the interim, he greeted and nodded at every member of the Potter/Malfoy Bloc, every Ancient and Noble member of the court, and a few more besides. The expressions which accompanied those brief exchanges were encouraging. The vast majority showed approval and signs of respect, for him, as well as his title.

That was a relief, as the new Lord had plans that would need as much genuine support as he could get in order to run smoothly and progress in a timely manner. The extensive practice and preparation for today had apparently paid off. The main goal of his first session after gaining full control of his titles had been to introduce their next reform himself and in doing so, establish the sixteen-year-old Noble as an intelligent, well spoken and independent thinker who would be a force within the Wizengamot. He needed to be seen as someone who would state their opinion without hesitation and with the expectation of having others follow his lead.

Harry was relieved to see that many had recognized his intention and were prepared to accept him as a leader among the aristocracy, at least in the legal arena. Having all the members of his voting bloc regarding him with clear respect and deference provided a needed boost to his own confidence in his ability to successfully lead that bloc in practice as well as in theory. There were plans in place, and everyone had worked hard to lay the legal and social foundation for them to be enacted. He would have hated to think they might loose ground or momentum because he was unable to properly live up to the expectations and requirements of his role within those plans.

But as long as they had been working towards those goals, he had been learning and preparing for his role in them, so objectively, he should have been confident in his abilities. Lord Malfoy had been telling him since he was ten that he had the skill and knowledge needed to be an effective Lord. That opinion was cemented with a proud and approving glance as they separated into the crowd. His Godfather sent him a similar look when he passed him, as did the Longbottom Regent as she strode purposefully from the courtroom.

Even so, the approval that meant the most to him would come from someone else. And as anxious as he was to see that person, he knew his responsibilities to the court and so took his time to fulfill them properly on his way out. Their plans depended heavily on him, and they meant too much to the brunette for him to risk damaging them in the slightest simply to get home a few minutes earlier. He could spare a lot more than a few minutes to strengthen their position and improve the reception of their new reform and the eventual changes that their work would lead to. Not the least of which was the legalities that needed to be addressed to make his personal goals possible in the future.

For now, however, he focused on the success of the legislation he had introduced himself less than two hours before. The bill had been seconded by Lucius and Augusta and would enable a much more egalitarian set of laws and regulations concerning marriage and would negate the legal foundation for contracts drawn up by wizards on their daughters’ behalf, or those which joined couples related too closely by blood. The next legal volley planned by the bloc would be for witches’ rights and the rights of the otherwise subservient partner in a union. Sirius would be seconding that reform package.

Both sets of laws were long-term goals, but they needed to be started now if they had any chance of making a difference for the lives and marriages of his generation. Harry Potter had every intention of that being the case. He put aside those thoughts in order to fully enjoy the successful completion of his first session without anyone technically overseeing his titles or performance. And enjoying it was apparently just what his boyfriend intended to do.

Upon finally leaving the courtroom and making it to the closest Apparition point, he turned quickly on his heel. His arrival at the Manor was welcome, but not as welcome as the sight of his boyfriend waiting almost patiently for him, still dressed in his own formal suit. Harry had closed the distance between them with haste, anticipating the greeting he would receive from the blond. He was certainly not disappointed, though he was a little surprised by the enthusiasm with which he was pulled close.

Surprise was quickly swamped by another, more pleasurable sensation, as the brunette devoted all his attention to the kiss, lips and tongues dancing together in an intricate duel. Teeth soon joined in, scrapping lightly on his lower lip before the flesh was soothed with a swipe of the blond’s tongue. A small moan was swallowed, then echoed, by the other teen.

The noises barely registered, despite the way they seemed to reverberate around the large room. Draco, for his part was busy re-familiarizing himself with the taste of his lover’s mouth. Nothing else was as important. Except perhaps, becoming re-acquainted with everything that lay south of his current focus. He started with the tanned column of his throat that was exposed above the neat tie, then moved lower. Or at least attempted to, as he was briefly thwarted by a husky reminder that they were in the middle of the receiving room and the two adults would likely arrive there when they came home.

When Draco pulled away far enough, the Lord Potter dashed out into the hall and up the stairs to their sitting room. Even steeped in lust, Harry’s brain managed to inform him that if the Malfoys asked a house elf where they were when the older couple returned home and heard that they were located in a bedroom, they were sure to be interrupted immediately. All of the blond’s lucidity was taken up with the task of restraining himself until they were behind a closed door and did not even notice which room that door led to. Instead, he closed the door and leapt.

Harry had not even had time to turn and face his boyfriend upon crossing the threshold when he was pulled roughly into the body behind him. He started to gasp at the unexpected maneuver, but the sound became a groan when familiar lips latched onto his neck. The brunette arched slightly at the sensation, and the lips opened further on a moan at the resulting contact. The sweep of a tongue along his throat was replaced by moist, panting breaths against the reddened skin.

“Merlin, Potter,” Draco groaned, “do you have any idea how bloody sexy you looked in the courtroom today?”

Harry let his head drop heavily onto the shoulder behind him at the sound. His boyfriend had started occasionally calling him by his surname since he had fully taken on the title of Lord Potter, and for some reason, he found it quite arousing to hear. The increasingly breathless words that followed, which included descriptions of his poise and forcefulness when addressing the other Nobles, had a very similar affect.

Within moments he was gasping and arching continuously into the busy mouth still licking and nipping its way up and down the corded muscles of his neck. It didn’t help his composure at all that the other Slytherin was rolling his own hips in time with Harry’s movements, effectively grinding his noticeable erection into the shorter wizard’s arse. Pale hands joined in, sliding beneath the carefully chosen robes briefly before pulling the shirttails free and slipping under it as well.

The sounds escaping the two sixteen-year-olds grew in volume as one hand ceased its exploration of the young Noble’s stomach and slithered down. The pale fingers hastily opened the fly of the trousers, then dove inside. Harry cried out as his lover gripped the hard flesh he found there, the brunette’s hips moving faster as the wizard struggled to decide if he wanted to push back against the length that continued to rut against his arse, or forward into the fist now working him into a fever pitch.

Draco’s attention was equally divided between the firm globes against which he could not stop thrusting, and the hard flesh he was attempting to grasp in something resembling an up and down motion. Both were too bombarded with sensation to really care either way. They just kept moving against one another, grasping and moaning in turns as the pleasure built until a few frantic thrusts caused the brunette to explode with a shout. The sound of his lover’s cry and the sudden feel of Harry’s cum covering his hand prompted a similar reaction in the blond.

The arm that had been wrapped around his waist tightened, pulling the young Lord back against the rapidly thrusting hips, allowing him to feel the burst of hot fluid, even through both of their pants and trousers when the blond came moments later. The almost manic energy that had encompassed them slowly drained away and soon enough they were holding each other up as they caught their breath in the aftermath. Harry decided he could grow very found of the warm, moist puffs of breath against his skin when his boyfriend buried his face into the shorter wizard’s shoulder.

It wasn’t until their hearts had finally begun to beat more normally that the brunette found the energy to turn his head to try and meet what he knew would be a stormy grey gaze. The movement dislodged the blond from his hiding place and he wearily tilted his head just far enough to almost glare at the other wizard. Just as he opened his mouth to say something, however, a soft pop signaled the arrival of a house elf on the other side of the door. Green and grey both fell shut on a sigh at the subsequent invitation to tea that was made through the wood.

The couple took a few breaths to savor what was left of the afterglow before resignedly beginning to make themselves presentable, knowing that their absence from the tea table would only be tolerated for about five short minutes. Anything longer than that would see the Lady of the Manor visiting them in person. And then they would have to deal with the disapproving and mildly suspicious looks from both adults for the rest of the day. Which is why four minutes later, the two sixteen-year-olds were taking a seat across from the elegant blonde, their bodies charmed clean and their clothes freshly changed.

That was a trend that continued. Even at school during their sixth year it seemed that one friend or another would come to their dorm any time they had been inside by themselves for more than an hour, just to talk or arrange a study time, or some other innocuous reason. Neither wizard would be surprised in the least if Narcissa had somehow arranged unofficial chaperones for them among the children of her friends. Even with their peers being overly conscious of their alone time and their Head of House watching them with resigned annoyance any time they were remotely within his sight, it was nothing next to the summer they turned seventeen.

Harry, having been a thrice-titled Lord in his own right for almost a full year, and Draco, being of age, chaffed at the scrutiny. They spent nearly as much of their time trying to stay out of sight as they did attending their last set of summer lessons. Not even half of that time was spent doing more than sitting together and talking or reading or working on the various parchment that their age or station required of them. Their first week back they had relocated every hidden nook and cranny within the mansion that they had found as children while playing hide and seek and other games.

The small nook by the ballroom with its silk covered chaise became a favorite of theirs. It wasn’t even a place that no one else was aware of. Hardly any of their quiet spots were, rather they were out of the way locations no one was as likely to disturb them. Even with such odds, the adults still managed to check on them at unexpected moments to see how they were doing on their summer assignments or ask if they needed anything fetched while they ran such and such errand.

The behavior was understandable of course, but frustrating, especially when they really needed a few minutes to themselves, such as the last day before the start of their seventh year at the castle. The first stage of Courtship was divided into four spans of seven months each. Seven months after Harry had presented the Opening Gift and Draco had given the Acceptance Gift, they had exchanged their second gifts, and now, seven months later, they were to exchange their third and final Courting Gifts. Once they had, they would have another seven months until it would be time to exchange Promise Rings and enter the second stage of Formal Courtship.

Since these, the third gifts, corresponded with the first of September, they had decided that they would take the step just before they left for school so they didn’t have to do it during the mad rush of the start of term. Neither wizard wanted such an event to be rushed or unduly stressful. The act of giving gifts and the progression of their relationship that it represented mattered more to both of them than the gifts themselves.

That wasn’t to say that they didn’t care what they gave each other, but they had agreed before the second gifts were exchanged that they would rather spend their time enjoying one another, rather than use it trying to pick out perfect gifts. Neither wanted to jinx things by saying that they would have a lifetime to give perfect gifts, but that didn’t prevent them from thinking it. Though, by the second week of the term, thinking about anything outside their mandatory class and court duties was hardly at the top of their list of things to do.

Fewer aches as a result of a decrease in growth potions and a lack of OWLs was made up for by the increase in the number of court sessions Harry was required to attend personally, regardless of his school schedule. Even so, the couple did their best to make sure they had as much time together as possible. And that the time was as private as they could manage.

April, perhaps more than any other time during the year, prompted a concerted effort to carve out enough time that would be truly private. Not because seven months at the castle had left them chaffing at the constant company of classmates – much – but because April was twenty-one months after the presentation of the Opening Gift and signaled the transition between the first and the second stage of Formal Courtship, called Consideration. That milestone was marked by the giving of Promise Rings. These rings were a demonstration of their mutual commitment to the Courtship process and a promise to remain devoted to the relationship they were developing.

Picking out the piece of jewelry had been second only to the selection of his Opening Gift in terms of the stress involved. Thankfully, Narcissa had provided him with her peerless fashion sense and calming support. Even so, the young Lord couldn’t avoid a sudden case of nerves as he approached Godric’s meeting room that April evening. What if Draco didn’t like the ring he had chosen? What if the blond decided that he wasn’t ready to advance to the second stage after all? They were only seventeen. And it wasn’t unheard of for a couple to delay the advancement of a Courtship at this point. Merlin and Arthur had never formally made it past the exchange of their Promise Broaches, after all. What if Draco…

Harry bit down on his lower lip rather harder than necessary in an attempt to halt the destructively circular thoughts. Swallowing once, then twice, the brunette made his way into the familiar room. He shifted the small box from hand to hand nervously as he waited, glancing up once again to make sure the Founders had all done as promised and gone off to one of their other portraits for a while.

Despite being shoved down, his nerves were still there and caused the athletic Slytherin to stumble as he spun on his heel to make a third circuit of the room. He reached out automatically with one hand to catch himself on the nearest chair. Unfortunately, he did so with the hand that was holding the ring he had picked out for Draco. A muttered curse and several frantic maneuvers caught the angular leather ring box before it tumbled to the ground. Several unflattering adjectives in regards to the size of the box echoed through the empty room as the brunette rubbed at the knuckles that had smacked against the edge of the table.

The Merlin-be-damned thing was too small. Though, Harry was absently impressed with the fact that he had actually managed to catch it before it hit the floor. Maybe he should have been a Seeker. Too bad all his other studies and duties had made playing Quidditch for the Slytherin team too far down on the priority list. He still got to play private games with Draco on the Manor’s small pitch area, so it wasn’t like he never had the opportunity to fly the racing broom he had received for Yule a few years before. Draco probably would have loved to play for their House team as well, but even he hadn’t had the time to devote to practices and games that would have been required during the last six years at the castle.

This year they barely had the time to devote to each other, he grumbled silently before sitting briefly at the table, where he proceeded to fidget his way through almost five minutes. The young Lord had come straight to the meeting room when he had returned from his meeting with the Gringotts account manager for the Hogwarts Trust. Even with all the years that had passed since he had officially undertaken his role as a Founder’s Heir, there were still new details about the long vacant role that came up for him to address with the bank. At least the Wizengamot was on Ostara Recess for another couple of months, otherwise they may not have been able to carve out enough private time today.

And he and Draco both had been adamant about wanting this step of their Formal Courtship to be truly private. Green eyes darted down to the small leather box, marveling again at how small it was. The box, and the item inside seemed far too tiny to cause the amount of anxiety currently making his heart race in his chest. Yet the bit of mithril nestled amongst the white velvet inside stood for too much to do anything else. The pounding behind his ribcage increased momentarily to the point that he could feel his head throbbing in rhythm with it as the door suddenly began to open to reveal the Malfoy heir.

The young Lord was equally relieved and disappointed when the blond joined him, though he felt a little better when the grey eyes jumped from frame to frame in an apparently nervous desire to confirm they were empty. Seeing that Draco was just as nervous as he was, helped to calm him just enough not to drop the box he was holding or the one he exchanged it for.

Harry was hardly able to make out the shining band his boyfriend had just handed him, too focused on watching for the blond’s reaction to opening his own. Narcissa had recommended that her son’s fashion sense would appreciate something slightly unique, prompting the messy haired wizard to pick out a thick mithril band that was slightly squared. Perhaps he should have gone with one that was thin and smoothly rounded like the more traditional band Draco had certainly picked out. Not that he was looking closely enough at his own to be able to tell. He simply knew that his boyfriend was well aware of how much he appreciated the traditional things after his years in the Muggle world without a family history to speak of.

When green met grey, he realized the other wizard was doing the same and they smiled crookedly at each other before resolutely looking at the rings they had each just received. His heart raced for a different reason as he took in the exact sight he had been expecting, warmth filling his chest and stomach. The relief he felt was ridiculous, it wasn’t like there had been a true possibility of the taller wizard not choosing to progress their relationship, but the fear had darkened the back recesses of his mind anyway. That fear dissolved upon seeing the prefect ring nestled amongst dark silk in the elaborately etched silver ring box he now held. A shift in the grey gaze told him he wasn’t the only one experiencing that unreasonable up and down of emotions.

The Malfoy heir seemed to recover just that little bit faster, though, as he soon took a deep breath before reaching out to slip the band onto the ring finger of his Promised’s wand hand. Draco blinked and took another deep breath, belatedly processing that exact thought. Harry was his Promised now, not just his boyfriend. Suddenly the blond couldn’t wait to get his own ring on, and the moment he was done with the Potter Lord’s he eagerly held out his wand hand for the brunette to slip his on for him.

They both said the traditional words of promise to Consider a future binding between their Houses, but the staid recitations were heavy with the feelings behind them. Their words were so heavy in fact, that Godric’s sudden voice felt as though it rattled amongst silent echoes when he asked if they needed him and the others to come back later.

The question startled the couple, surprising the young wizards with the evidence of how much time had passed since they had begun their exchange. After clearing his throat somewhat awkwardly, Harry told his ancestor that the four Founders were welcome to re-enter their master frames. Whatever response the famous wizards and witches might have made did not register for either student, their minds already elsewhere.

The first step of the Consideration stage lasted a period of three months and was the opportunity for them each to prove their worth. For the Initiate, that meant showing that they could provide a house and home of sufficient quality and meaning. For the Recipient, it meant showing that they could reflect well on, and be a good addition to, their potential new House. Traditionally that began with planning a wedding that would make the Initiate’s House appear to advantage.

Both Slytherins spent the next couple of months trying to sneak around each other in order to communicate with the elder Malfoys or the Malfoy house elves in their efforts to arrange something appropriate for the night of their graduation. Neither Harry nor Draco wanted to attempt such a grand and important gesture while at school, but they also did not want to put such a thing off until the end of the three months allotted.

It was not a stress-free time by any stretch of the imagination. The blond found himself more than a little short on sleep by the end of April, unable to make his mind shut down enough to allow him more than a few hours of sleep each night. By May, he had given up on getting enough sleep and had instead started using those hours to handle the majority of his correspondence with his father while his Promised was sleeping. Harry all but fell into bed by the end of the day, hardly able to stay awake long enough to kiss the Malfoy heir goodnight.

Despite the brunette’s obvious exhaustion, Draco couldn’t help but feel somewhat jealous of the other Slytherin’s additional court duties, since they allowed him to leave the Hogwarts campus several times after April. Even though court was not actually in session again until the end of June, the Potter/Malfoy Bloc had a few meetings scheduled that the young Lord was required to attend. The arrangements he was trying to make, the blond thought as he watched Harry hurry towards the castle’s front gates, certainly would be easier if he could speak to Lucius or the elves in person.

Not wanting to waste time thinking about exactly how much easier it would be, he quickly made his way back to the dorms to read through the most recent letter from his father so he could decide what he needed to have the Knobby and Snobby do next. Maybe if he got everything he could done while the brunette was gone, he would be able to actually get some sleep tonight. In addition to making his days more stressful, the lack of sleep was starting to affect his mood and he didn’t want anything to mar the little time he had to spend with his Promised. A few weeks later, he considered making the same recommendation to Harry, except that the young Lord was still falling asleep practically on his feet at the end of the day. The rest he managed, while more than his boyfriend, was still clearly not enough.

The Lord Potter was growing more short tempered with every day that brought them closer to their NEWTs, though it had little to do with the stress of the actual exams. Their pre-Hogwarts education and summer tutors had ensured that neither teen needed to engage in the frantic, all-encompassing study sessions many of the other seventh-years were currently experiencing. It was their duties outside the school that weighed the heaviest on them. For his part, the shorter wizard was drowning in court parchments. This Ostara Recess, their bloc was determined to write and prepare a new reform to address the accepted marriage rites and the laws that governed the respective halves of the couple after marriage.

Harry tossed the quill down in frustration, then ran his hands over his face with a sigh. Draco rolled his eyes at the action as he put away his wand, having quickly spelled the ink off his Promised’s fingers before he smeared it all over his face. That almost playful expression soon returned to one of sympathetic helplessness as he listened to the brunette vent.

“I simply don’t know how to say what needs to be said. It’s straightforward to me. The existing laws on blood bonds and marriage rituals are simply not fair. Even to those it favors.” The young Lord pulled a bit at his hair as he stood and began to pace, though he moved rather carefully in an effort to not disturb his familiar where the Kneazle had fallen asleep beside his desk after an exhausting effort to calm his master. “But how do I explain that to old, ignorant, lazy Nobles who are so used to the way things have become that they can’t even comprehend the fact that it hasn’t always been that way and that maybe, maybe, the changes they are ignoring were not for the better?”

Several aggravated sounds and a lot of pacing filled the next half hour as the shorter Slytherin went back over the current limitations placed on witches before and after marriage. “It’s ridiculous,” he practically yelled at one point, “and at times almost barbaric! It should be simple to get them to see the truth, but so many in the Wizengamot still refuse to see anything they don’t want to.”

His physical energy seemed to drain out of him suddenly, and the Lord Potter dropped onto the edge of his bed. “And it’s not just witches. There’s inequality even between consorts and within same sex couples. It has to be fixed, Draco.”

Grey eyes met green and the taller wizard joined his Promised on the bed. “I know, Harry. But it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Or even in the near future. You have a long career ahead of you on the court. And so do I. We’ll get there eventually.”

The words did not seem to be as reassuring as the blond had hoped. The other teen covered his face briefly with his hands, not looking up as he spoke in a low tone. “We can’t wait for eventually. Those kinds of laws will make it harder for both of us to be considered parents of any children we have. Each one will only biologically belong to one of us. The other will have to adopt them and that will be effected by these laws too.”

Silence descended on the dorm room for several long seconds before Draco moved even closer. Harry still refused to meet his boyfriend’s gaze but a pale hand slowly forced his chin up so the couple was looking eye to eye. The vulnerability in those green pools left the blond struggling to wet his mouth enough to get out a few words. They were too important not to force out, however, and after an aborted start, he managed.

“Harry I-“ Draco cleared his throat and tried again. “I love you.”

Another silence filled the dungeon room, but it was broken only a heartbeat later. Neither one had said the words before, and hearing them for the first time swept away all the frustration and anger and helplessness the brunette had been feeling. Other lighter emotions rose up, almost choking him as Harry responded in kind. “I love you too, Draco.”

They stared at each other for a moment longer before moving, simultaneously, to close the small amount of distance between them.

The kiss was rough and passionate, their tongues battling for dominance and hands making short work of the clothing that separated them from bare flesh. As they crashed onto the bed, Draco falling on top of him, Harry had just enough presence of mind to shoot an additional privacy charm at their door to keep out any of their fellow Slytherins. That little brain-power was overwhelmed completely by the influx of sensation when the blond’s lips began to wander.

By the time his chest and stomach were wet and well kissed, Harry was squirming on the mattress, moans bouncing off the vaulted stone ceiling. Draco’s hands were as active as his mouth, and no inch of skin above his waist was left unexplored. Harry couldn’t fully process exactly what was being done to his body, too overwhelmed with the pleasure that was being created by the blond. When the Malfoy heir conducted a simultaneous attack, his lips sealing around an already wet nipple and his hands drifting ever lower, his victim cried out. Harry’s arms flailed out to either side, his hands attempting to find purchase on the emerald quilt.

Unable to anchor himself, the brunette arched sharply, helplessly, upwards as another spike of pleasure seared through him. The frenzy of resulting sensation that engulfed the young Lord enacted itself in a way Draco had not expected. Harry yanked the blond up with desperate hands and then rolled them until they were situated on the other side of the bed, the pale wizard beneath him.

The brunette simply couldn’t control himself as the urge to taste reared up within him. Before he had even fully processed his intent, he had slithered his body down until his head was level with his lover’s cock and swiftly engulfed as much of the length as he could. Just as Draco’s mind managed to become fully aware of the change of position, his awareness was out-shadowed by a sudden feeling of heat. Wet heat. Grey eyes fell shut with a long moan before they were able to take in the sight before him. The unmistakable feel of a tongue sweeping along his cock, from root to tip, jolted his gaze down to where a messy head of familiar black hair obscured the cause of his mounting desire.

Several seconds, and an overwhelmingly pleasurable suction, eventually made Draco realize exactly what was happening. He attempted to speak, and when all he managed was a choking sound, he tried to reach down to those dark strands to get his lover’s attention. He wanted to tell Harry that he didn’t need to do this. He wanted to tell him that nothing had ever felt so good. He wanted to simply say his Promised’s name, but all that came out was a guttural noise. Before the blond could make another attempt, he felt his orgasm build with almost frightening intensity until hardly any thought was possible.

Draco’s head slammed back against the pillows, pale hair spread out in a halo around a face contorted with pleasure as he cried out his release. In the aftermath, panting breaths filled the heated air between them. Harry pulled back almost reluctantly, then collapsed onto the now wrinkled quilt. As the blond struggled to catch his breath, a heavy lidded grey gaze took in the sight of the brunette’s heaving chest, then traveled downward. As exhausted as his lover happened to be, one part of Harry was more than a little awake. The sight of that length, where it bobbed proudly between tanned thighs, stimulated a hunger Draco had never felt before. He spent another moment watching Harry’s flushed face where it lay, slack and flushed with exertion.

The sound of labored breathing slowly quieted and unexpectedly, it was the Malfoy heir who recovered himself first. Draco managed to wrestle the brunette back up and beneath him before the shorter wizard was fully aware of what had happened. The blond swallowed whatever the other seventh-year would have said as he devoured the red, swollen lips, tasting himself briefly before moving across the expanse of tanned skin available to him. The taste of sweat and Harry stirred his own passion back to life as he traveled steadily toward his destination. He reached it in a matter of seconds, and without hesitation, Draco attacked.

In a frantic need to show his Promised the kind of pleasure he had just experienced, he swallowed the other Slytherin’s cock with the same enthusiasm he had previously received. Draco sucked and licked and worked as much of the hard flesh into his mouth as he could manage. And then he swiftly pulled back before surging forward once more and starting over again. When he had envisioned doing this for Harry, he had always thought it would require thought, and effort to properly stimulate his lover. In the moment, however, all he could do was enjoy the slightly bitter taste of his lover’s precum as he swallowed around the other wizard’s girth with a moan.

As focused as he was with the weight of his boyfriend’s cock on his tongue, the blond could not keep his hands still and without his conscious effort they were soon grasping the firm globes of his lover’s arse. The pale fingers pried the globes of flesh apart and slid down into the crevice that was revealed, continuing their journey until they met the furled hole hidden within. Harry cried out at the first brush of fingers on his entrance, a sound which only grew in volume as the digits explored the rim and the space just beyond.

The sound traveled straight to Draco’s cock and he was absently amazed when he was able to recognize that the strength of his lover’s muscles and the dryness of the passage would require something more than his own desire to make his sudden need a reality. And need was exactly what he felt. He needed to be inside the smaller wizard. Some part, any part, of him needed to feel the heat and the grip of Harry’s body. And even as his mouth continued to explore the length of flesh, he drew back for a brief gasp of air. On that same breath, the blond reached desperately with his free hand for his discarded wand and muttered a familiar spell.

His lips had re-sealed themselves around Harry’s arousal almost before the last syllable had been spoken. Had the brunette been able to do anything expect think hot, wet, pressure, Merlin that feels good he still would have barely been able to differentiate the time that passed between the spell and the invasion of a single slick finger. That digit, coated in the conjured lubricant, teased its way past the outer ring of muscles in moments and was soon halfway inside the young Noble.

Lord Potter’s body seemed unable to decide if it wanted to push its length further into the eager mouth in front, or work back against the smaller invading length behind. The decision became moot as Draco wiggled his finger, trying to get it all the way in, and inadvertently made contact with something that wrenched a sob from the brunette. The sound, and the explosion that followed, had the Malfoy heir panting with more then fatigue as he drew back to avoid over-stimulating his boyfriend, and himself. Draco whimpered softly as he pulled himself up to lay beside his lover, even the quilt, as it brushed against him was too much after two orgasms.

Long minutes passed before their pleasure faded enough to spare sufficient blood flow to their brains in order for them to recall the spell to turn down the bed and then pull the covers up over them. Once tucked in, the couple rolled instinctually towards one another and limbs entwined without their owners’ conscious thought. Neither had to think, however, to know they were safe and warm and exactly where they wanted to be.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Consider Me Yours

 

Unlike the average seventh-year, putting on a suit and formal robes instead of a uniform while at the castle, was not a new experience for the youngest Lord on the Wizengamot. Harry Potter was far from unfamiliar with the experience. Even Draco, as he did not leave the campus regularly to attend to Noble duties, had only worn formal wear on campus when attending the two balls that had been held during their tenure at the school. Therefore, the excitement that most of the graduating Slytherins were feeling as they readied themselves to leave their dorm for the final time, was notably diluted in the couple’s dungeon room.

Not that they didn’t feel some enjoyment at the prospect of having officially completed their time at Hogwarts. Harry and Draco both were eager to move on to the next phase of their lives, but so many life-changing things had happened over the last seven years that finishing school didn’t really make it very far up the list of milestones or accomplishments. They had, after all, managed to help take down the manipulative old bastard that had once been the most respected wizard in the country. Plus there was that small matter of permanently defeating Voldemort in which they had played an essential role.

And then there were the various bills and laws and other reforms which the Malfoy Bloc, then the Malfoy/Potter Bloc, then the Potter/Malfoy Bloc had forced through the Wizengamot since Harry had assigned his Proxies years before. For some reason, they were more proud of meeting those goals than they were at having each received Outstanding NEWTs in their classes. Despite the upcoming event being rather anti-climactic, neither had any wish to forego the ceremonial boat ride across the castle’s Black Lake. Each, for their own reasons, were happy to focus on the simple leaving ceremony and all that came before in order to not think about what was going to come after.

If nothing else, this academic milestone was important to the people sure to be waiting on the other bank, so they would give the occasion their respect. With that in mind, green eyes swept over his freshly knotted tie, making sure it was properly positioned and tucked neatly into the silk waistcoat he had chosen. The black shirt and waistcoat went well with the dark grey of the suit coat and the slightly darker charcoal of his tie and kerchief. The tiny white dots on the last two added just enough contrast to keep the ensemble from appearing funeral, in Harry’s opinion.

He was going for somber but sophisticated, a look he had been honing over the two years of his time on the court and the brunette was pretty sure that he had gotten there. The young Lord Potter was resolved to become known for an understated but sophisticated style that he wouldn’t mind wearing for the foreseeable future. As much as he appreciated all those comportment and presentation lessons he had received from Narcissa over the years, he would never have Draco’s fondness for fashion and as far as he was concerned, simple was better. And harder to mess up.

After giving his coat a last tug to make sure it was sitting properly, he turned his attention to the much more pleasurable task of looking over the three piece grey silk suit that successfully flattered his Promised’s slim but muscular build. His gaze lingered on Draco’s crisp white shirt and then followed the thin black tie down to the grey waistcoat. If his eyes followed that piece of clothing down to where it met the waist of the matching trousers it was only to make sure that his best friend would meet the elder Malfoys’ discerning standards when they disembarked from the tiny boats.

The green eyes continued making their way back to one place or another on the blond for the rest of the morning, especially when he followed him up the stairs to the entrance hall. The occasional lifted brow and amused look in grey eyes showed that Draco was well aware of his boyfriend’s preoccupation. He was rather more interested in the way the Lord Potter’s robe sat on his strong shoulders than he was on adjusting the sliver of white kerchief that peeked above the pocket on his own suit jacket after all, or adjusting his open robes.

Both wizards spared a few glances for their friend when the Longbottom heir met them outside of the Great Hall. Harry gave his godbrother a nod and a smile at seeing the normally relaxed looking wizard dressed so formally. Draco shot his green-thumbed friend an amused smirk at the sight of the black suit and yellow tie and kerchief.

“One last bit of ‘Puffie pride?” the blond asked with his normal hint of snide enjoyment.

Neville rolled his eyes, happy to use a good-natured argument about his being a Hufflepuff in order to distract himself from the impending meeting with the adults in their lives. For all that he had grown much more outgoing and confident after becoming friends with the other two heirs, Neville was still most content to be in the background. His Graduation from Hogwarts would hardly allow that to happen if Augusta had anything to say about it. When the seventh-year class finally completed its procession down to the lake and boarded the boats – whilst attempting not to get their formal garb in too much disarray – the three friends had to separate to traverse across the lake.

They met back up on the other side, however, and were promptly descended upon by two teary Ladies and two proud looking Lords. Sirius Black’s grin held a tinge of devilish glee, and Lucius looked like he had accomplished something momentous as they approached to give hugs – or handshakes – and congratulations. Several minutes passed, filled with exclamations and sniffles and smiles. By the time the families of the now Graduated students began to disperse from the lakeside and made their way to various locations to celebrate more privately, Harry was sure his ears were beginning to ring.

The Potter-Black-Malfoy-Longbottom luncheon was only slightly subdued a few hours later. Narcissa and Augusta spent more time reminiscing about their childhoods and how their Lordlings were all grown up now. A nondescript photographer arrived half-way through the meal to take pictures of the seventeen-year-olds alone, together, and in every other combination possible. The group had even eventually gone through a round of afternoon drinks and extended conversations at Longbottom Hall.

It wasn’t until five o’clock that Draco, with his father’s help, managed to extract himself and his Promised. The Ladies Malfoy and Longbottom resisted at first, but when a forewarned Lucius whispered the reason to his wife, the young couple was allowed to slip off. Their escape was not made, however, without a glare from Neville at being left alone with the weepy witches.

The frustration the blond felt from the somewhat dramatic farewell quickly changed to a nervous trepidation as he led the brunette to an Apparition point where he pulled the shorter wizard close with more hesitation than he had used since they first became a couple two years before. That reluctance did not escape his lover’s notice and one dark brow rose in question as the taller wizard turned on his heel and Side-Alonged them to the grounds of Malfoy Manor.

Upon their arrival, green eyes swept over their equally green surroundings with interest as Draco told him, with an uncharacteristic lack of confidence, that he had made arrangements for their dinner. Harry wanted to ask what was bothering the other former Slytherin, but refrained from speaking when he noticed that the blond looked a little uneasy. The minute pallor to the face of the Malfoy heir combined with the almost panicked light in grey eyes left the young Lord unable to ignore a small pang of his own nerves as he was led to the hedge maze. If he had been aware of the effort his boyfriend put into not speaking at that moment in time, Draco would have been quite thankful.

The Malfoy heir was far too busy reviewing and second-guessing the decisions he had made about the upcoming dinner to hold any kind of conversation right that minute. As he hadn’t been able to come to the Manor in person during his preparations he himself didn’t know exactly what they would be walking into as they entered the Maze and headed toward a dead end in the back corner where he had decided he wanted Knobby to set up their meal. Draco’s breathing quickened slightly as they neared their destination. His father had indulged him enough to have the elves set up the table to the younger blond’s specifications and after examining it himself, extracted a memory of the sight and brought his pensive to a Hogsmeade weekend for his son to view.

Despite having seen it second-hand, he was still uncertain if things were going to be as he had wanted them. The Malfoy heir did his best not to let out a loud sigh of relief at the sight that awaited them. He had chosen to have things set up next to one of only two trees that grew within the maze itself. From the branches hung two crystal chandeliers, their candles casting a soft glow over the table setting below. The meal was meant to serve as an example of a possible reception, a display of his ability as the Recipient to provide a fitting wedding and home for his Initiate’s Houses. He had been sure after his father’s last visit and series of letters that he had gone about things the right way. But this morning, and now more than ever, he worried that his choice of location was too predictable or overdone.

As he watched his Promised catch sight of the table, he worried even more. The process of designing the area had been a lengthy one with a lot of back and forth with the house elves and Lucius. His main concern had been that it not end up looking too feminine. He had eventually decided on a white silk tablecloth, blue and white bone china, plain crystal glassware, and a simple centerpiece of greenery, tiny white flowers, and a single candle encased in glass.

As green eyes darted over everything, Draco was concerned more than ever that he had made the wrong decisions and he scolded himself for not doing it differently. Neither spoke for several seconds and the silence hung over the blond like an axe. He scrambled to explain his thinking behind those decisions while simultaneously assuring the brunette that he could have elves set up the dining room instead.

“Obviously, we wouldn’t have it in the maze. I was thinking further out in the grounds, near the orchard. Or maybe near one of the ponds. We could have the meal inside though, of course. In case it’s cold or something. Or we could use a large-scale climate charm instead. But we could certainly use the formal dinning room for the meal and then the ballroom for the rest of the reception. Or maybe in the gardens. If we eat outside. I liked the look of the chandeliers in the trees. Though it’s not as formal as it would be inside. We could have a more traditional setup there. The ballroom, like I said. Or the-”

Harry had lost count of the number of times since they had first started dating that his boyfriend had resorted to a physical distraction in order to stop him from getting lost in a panic, especially since he had taken his place on the Wizengamot. It had always worked remarkably well, and the brunette was almost a little excited to finally be the one to employ the tactic. So, in a slight reversal of roles, the young Lord stepped forward and cut off the anxious words with a kiss.

When they had approached the table, Harry had felt a lot of the tension draining away as he realized what was happening. When they had first headed to the maze, he could only think of his lordship party and what had followed, making him worry that he had chosen the wrong night to plan their visit to the ruins. He was inundated with relief and worry both, that such was not the case. His arrangements for after the meal could go ahead, and that was a weight off his shoulders. An instant later, he realized that also meant he would have to go through with his plans and therefore risk a negative reaction.

Harry found himself very tired of that combination of relief and concern. He had certainly experienced it a lot during the courting process but with a deep breath, he decided to enjoy dinner with Draco and think about the rest later. The sudden case of nerves evidenced by the blond when he failed to immediately comment on the dinner arrangements was an adorable distraction for him. The kiss he used to silence those nerves was even better.

When the wizard in his arms finally relaxed against him, Lord Potter sighed into the kiss. Harry allowed himself a few moments to enjoy the familiar taste before stepping away to complement the table setting and its surroundings.

As soon as they took their seats, Snobby popped in, his tea-towel extra white and its pleats starched and pressed into sharp lines. Harry smiled briefly at the creature as it placed a fancy platter of hors d’oeuvres on the table, but wasn’t able to keep his gaze from Draco’s for very long. Having resolved to savor the meal and the company, he focused his attention on the taller wizard as he explained the various culinary options. The percentage of those foods that were his favorites from the formal dinners they had attended over the years, and those that were obviously picked to appeal to their friends and family, proved the amount of time and effort that the Malfoy heir had put into the meal. The food was obviously not the only thing to receive that effort, as the blond was a positive font of ideas about every aspect of the reception.

The conversation that flowed between them as they ate focused mostly on what they each envisioned for the wedding. Not having had any time to spare for such thoughts over the last few months, the brunette was at a distinct disadvantage but he was happy to leave the bulk of the talking up to the blond. His nerves made an occasional reappearance, but the young Lord forced them back each time and endeavored to keep his mind busy with other things.

Harry found it not very hard to distract himself. His Promised looked quite good in his formal robes and suit, and the candlelight was quite flattering to his pale hair and complexion. The blond seemed almost to glow beneath the chandeliers. It certainly also helped that, as a type of reception preview, the meal consisted of a lot of finger foods. In addition to being tasty, watching Draco eat them and often subtly licking his fingers clean after a bite, had him thinking about the rest of the night in a far different and more anticipatory manner. So much so that he didn’t have to talk himself into standing from the table, closing the distance and pulling him close when they had eventually finished the meal and the wine that had followed.

It took only a moment to settle himself enough to Apparate away with his Promised and was even able to enjoy the surprised and disappointed look on Draco’s face as they appeared in a secluded copse. Then the moment was gone and nerves hit him full force as he led the other man out of the covered area and onto a hillside that overlooked the expansive stone ruins of a castle.

In the few minutes it had taken to reach the hill from their Apparition point, Lord Potter doubted every decision he had made over the previous months. Tonight had taken a very long time to plan and organize, and at more than one point in the process he had feared that he would never even settle on an idea he liked, let alone properly execute it. The brunette knew he had his former guardian to thank for managing to enact what he had. As the Initiate he was to show his Promised that he could, and would, provide an appropriate home for them after they married.

To that end, the Lady Malfoy had spent weeks going over the options with him, in person, and through letters. Every property he owned or might consider purchasing, had been evaluated with this evening in mind. In the end, he had finally decided on an ancestral property which had come to him through the newly revived Peverell line. The building which had stood there since the time of Camelot had fallen to ruins hundreds of years before, but the vast amount of work that would be required to make it livable was outweighed by the history of the place. The symbolism had simply been too perfect to resist.

Even so, it had been a very difficult decision, and hadn’t been finalized until Narcissa had helped him come up with the idea to have the Malfoy elves set up ‘a room, to show how grand the home will be when it is finished.’ It had been a tall order, but eventually it had all come together. The blonde witch had been a lifeline during the process and even helped him sneak off campus to double check his arrangements in the guise of Wizengamot related business. He had been happy with how it had looked two days before, but now he feared he had made a mistake. Maybe he should have picked a fully completed and furnished property? Maybe Draco would think he was being unnecessarily sentimental with his choice?

The couple had gotten half-way down the secluded pathway to the ruins before the famous wizard was able to find his voice. Finally succeeding, Harry haltingly began an explanation of his plans for the destroyed castle. His nerves left the words stilted as a part of him couldn’t help but worry over the fact that none of the actual repairs or building had been started yet, since he hadn’t had the time or focus to devote to them while they were still in school. The brunette rambled through a brief history of the sight as a piece of Wizarding history and Muggle mythology.

“It became a large Muggle tourist attraction in Victorian times, actually. One of the later versions of the Arthur myth named Tintagel as his birthplace.” Harry took a deep breath, gesturing absently at the crumbled stone walls they were approaching. “Evidence that some parts of the genealogical history made it through, I guess. The Muggles have a few indications that Arthur’s mother lived at Tintagel, like I said, but they believe the later ruins are all that’s here and so academics insist that it can’t be the home of Pendragon’s mother because it’s not old enough,” the brunette let out a small burst of nervous laughter as he went on, “can you believe that?”

The Gryffindor heir cleared his throat and led his boyfriend to the remains of the guard tower. “When the last member of the Peverell family owned it, they left it to a favored retainer that had once saved their life. The man had been a Half-blood, and when that person only had squibs, the Wizarding house was replaced by a Muggle construction which eventually became the ruins that the Muggles see. Some remnants of the older town that grew up around the original have been located by Muggle archeologists, though.”

The flow of words cut off and Harry took a deep breath. He started to explain exactly what an archeologist was, but stopped himself and waved it away as unimportant. “Anyway, there are a few complications getting the proper wards and charms set up to convince Muggles everything that was left was destroyed in a series of storms and freak examples of extreme erosion.”

The young Lord was so focused on not tripping over his own feet while he explained, that he missed the amused expression on the blond’s face as he continued to speak. “I will have to do more, of course, to convince any curious historians or archaeologists that there’s nothing there worth looking for or anything so that the Muggle repelling charms and notice-me-nots will be properly effective once they’re placed.”

The shorter wizard took them along the walkway the Muggles had installed to allow tourists to reach the rest of the castle. He made use of the white metal handrails as they went, taking a long moment to inhale deeply in an effort to order his thoughts and suppress the fluttering feeling in his chest. “I’ve had a Taboo placed on the name and location so that any time the name is spoken, the person is filled with a certain conviction of it being a waste of time and a bad idea to look into it.”

Upon reaching the end of the walkway, they made a circuit of the bailey and what standing walls there were. With every pile of stones and collapsed structure the castle’s owner grew more uneasy. Grey eyes took it all in with apparent interest but as Harry couldn’t seem to stop talking, the other former Slytherin had yet to actually say anything about what they had seen.

“So construction hasn’t been able to be started yet, it will have to wait for the charms and wards and everything.” The young Noble bit his lip as he heard the words out-loud, then rushed to mitigate that statement. “It won’t be long, though. The first construction spells can be cast in a week or two, they said. And the building will start right after that. I have a quote from a magical construction firm and architectural plans already drawn up. After we approve everything, it will be less than a year to have it all in perfect order.”

They turned and headed back the way they had come to meet the track that led down to the beach beneath the ruins, the brunette’s words falling faster than their footsteps. “I know, it’s cutting it close. But I am sure it will be fine. We can always hire extra workers to finish it in time, if need be.”

Harry did not allow the blond to reassure him about the accuracy of that statement, instead he kept rambling about how he knew there would need to be time to furnish and design the interior but that he already had a firm working on that so it would be ready to install and set up as soon as the construction was finished. “It will look great, once it’s done, I promise. I know you can’t really see it now, but it will be more than sufficient, really. And you will be looking over all the plans with me, and checking on things as they go, so if there is anything you don’t like we can change it. We can make it into just exactly what we want, I swear.”

Harry cleared his throat audibly before take another deep breath as they stepped onto the small rocky beach that led to the entrance of a sizable cave. When the tide was in, it would only be accessible by boat, but for now, with the tide low, it was easy to make their way to the opening from the cliff path.

“There,” he began, only to have to swallow hard to re-wet his mouth before he could speak again, “There is one area that we can see now, though. It, uh, it is called Merlin’s Cave. Supposedly…”

The dark-haired wizard cut himself off again, and took yet another deep breath. He absently worried about doing it so much, a part of him afraid that if he didn’t stop that he might well hyperventilate. Though with how he felt, he honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he did that anyway. The amount of nerves he’d had leading up to this night had been nothing compared to the way his stomach dropped and turned as he ushered his Promised into the cave. Harry had to swallow down the urge to gulp in a breath as he began the tour.

It appeared at first to be a fairly small, dark cavern, but Harry took the pale hand in his own, hoping Draco didn’t notice how damp his palms were. The hesitant scorn on the blond’s face was replaced with surprise when they stepped through the back of the cave, the rear wall acting quite like the entrance to Platform 9 ¾. The huge cavern they entered past the barrier was an expanse of pale stone out of which had been carved a long flight of steps and several decorated columns. Light filtered down through something past the top of stairs, casting shadows on the rough sections of ceiling and walls that remained rough and un-carved.

“When I first got here, there were remnants of very old preservation charms. That barrier charm was almost completely deteriorated. The warders I hired believed they were originally constructed not long after the original keep, around when Arthur would have inherited the castle.”

At the top of the stairs were three passages. One led to a large area that gave no hint to how it had been used. The second passage opened into a deep pool of seawater that appeared to be steaming just slightly in the cool air. A low slab of stone at one end looked polished to a gleam, the glow from a few candles that had been placed there sparkled off the water. The little bit of light that came in naturally cast an almost purple gleam on the stones.

“It seems like this might have been some kind of underground flat with access to the castle,” Harry said quietly as they left the pool chamber and returned to the third passage. They followed that to another set of carved steps leading to a small ante-room under a stone arch that had been furnished with a low white bed covered with pillows and surrounded by it candles. The only other thing in the immediate area was a small wooden table with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

“I think that’s why it was named after Merlin. It looks like Arthur might have had it constructed to give he and Merlin somewhere to be together so I… well I thought it might be fitting, kind of. Not that we would be hiding or need somewhere to be together because we will be together, I mean, not like either of us will be having a political marriage like Arthur. Not that…” The brunette felt panic bubble up into his throat, choking off his voice as he stumbled to a halt with a small whimper. Harry was filled with the sudden certainty that he had bollocks up the whole explanation. He silently gestured Draco to go ahead of him up the stairs, green eyes wide and tanned hands rubbing on his outer robe to clean off the gathered sweat, waiting fearfully for a reaction.

Another room was just visible through the doorway past the bed, but the large mattress, covered in white cotton and silk obviously held the attention of the grey eyes. How would Draco take it, he wondered? Maybe he was being too forward. Maybe the set up was too cliché. Maybe this whole thing was a mistake. A voice in the back of his mind quavered with the insistence that he would not be able to actually go through with this. Nothing had ever felt as awkward as the wait for his Promised to say something. He hoped somewhat numbly that everything at least looked impressive just in case he didn’t live up to the blond’s expectations in other ways that night.

Throughout this process, he had struggled with lingering self-doubts, left from his years with the Dursleys. Though he had grown quite confident in his academic and political abilities over the last decade, he had found the old insecurities peeking out at him at different points throughout the two years he and Draco had been together. They haunted him in that moment, even stronger than they had when he had presented his Opening Gift. The indecision that resulted froze his muscles. Should he just jump in? Or ease into it? Give it up entirely?

Harry trusted himself now in the courtroom, he was more or less used to taking the lead there, but he was not very comfortable taking the initiative in this type of situation. The Initiate bit his lip, wincing internally at the bad pun. Maybe he could use it to break the ice? As horrible a joke as it was, it might make Draco laugh, at least a little. At this point, even an awkward laughter would be an improvement. He opened his mouth to say something, and nothing came out. He tried again… still nothing. The brunette let out a silent groan. He was just standing there, gapping like a fish. He had to do something. Anything.

With the energy born of panic, the Lord Potter surged suddenly forward, covering his lover’s mouth with his own. The collision was far too rough to be considered romantic, and with another wince, Harry jumped back.

“Shite. Sorry. Sorry, that was… I didn’t mean it like that… I mean, I meant to kiss you, but I didn’t mean to…” A tanned hand rose and covered his rapidly blushing face. He had ruined it. Again. Why had he thought he could do this? And he had. He had honestly thought he would be able to do this. It wasn’t like they had never done anything before. It wasn’t even that Harry had never initiated intimate physical contact between them. He may not be the one to always take the lead, but he could do it, had done it. Just because Draco had almost always been the one to take care of him – to one extent or another for most of their friendship and subsequent relationship – that didn’t mean Harry couldn’t be the one to instigate this.

With a long, deep breath, the brunette lowered his hand from his face and chanced a look up. The wry amusement in those grey eyes was familiar, as was the gleam of anticipation focused on him. That familiarity, and the fact that the blond did not look at all disappointed, or awkward, or annoyed with him for ruining the mood so thoroughly, was enough. The young Noble swallowed back all the doubts and anxieties and forced himself to slowly step forward, take his boyfriend’s face in his hands, gently, and kiss him.

This time, the kiss was slow and soft and sweet in just the way he had envisioned. He kept his hands on the pale cheeks, his thumbs brushing slightly back and forth as he brushed their lips together. The kiss deepened but their movements did not grow faster or more passionate. Their tongues slid around each other, sweeping into one mouth and then the next. Back and forth, slowly, gently. Without even realizing it, they backed themselves closer to the stairs until Draco nearly tripped on the first step when the brunette nipped his lower lip.

Harry blushed lightly as he pulled away just enough to see what had upset the blond’s balance. Biting his own lip with embarrassment, he took the pale hands in his and led his Promised up the short flight of steps. He paused to pour them each a glass of champagne, the popping of the cork causing him to jump slightly with nerves as Draco took a seat on the edge of the mattress. The young Noble joined him, handing off the second glass and taking a larger sip of his own than he would normally be wont to do.

Draco noticed and promptly followed suit, the couple draining their glasses in short order as the silence began to feel slightly awkward. Harry set his flute on the small wooden table nearby, the glass of its base hitting the surface with a clink, and cleared his throat. A cold feeling began to bubble up in his gut as he wracked his mind for an idea of what to do next. The dilemma was solved when the blond leaned over to set down his own empty champagne flute, his leanly muscled form too close to the other wizard for the brunette to think of anything but Draco for several heartbeats in a row. It was long enough for the nervous anticipation and love to force down the rising panic, leaving him with a need to touch and feel and taste. To please, in every single way.

With that in mind, tanned hands reached forward, stopping the blond from moving back away, and instead pulling him towards his Initiate. And then on top him, as Harry slowly began to lean backwards until he was reclined against one set of pillows. He could feel his blush darken as Draco situated himself on the mattress, supporting much of weight on his knees so that he was essentially straddling his slightly smaller lover. As soon as he had done so, grey eyes locked on green, then flicked down to where Harry was once more biting his lower lip, the sight causing the familiar silver-grey to turn to a more charcoal shade.

Before Harry’s anxious mind could distract him with an evaluation of the exact color of grey, the blond leaned closer, his forearms bracing themselves on either side of the brunette’s head. Draco placed a chaste kiss on the reddened lips, prompting the Lord to open his mouth slightly and thus release the hold his teeth had gained. As soon as he had done so, Draco began to sooth the abused flesh with his tongue, drawing a quiet moan from the Noble beneath him. The small sound sent a shiver down the taller wizard and he began to explore the familiar mouth and throat with a groan of his own as the salty flavor of Harry’s skin combined with the sweet taste of champagne in his mouth.

The nerves that had clung to them both fell away in the wake of more powerful sensations. For all that they had done many intimate things together, the knowledge that tonight they would pass an invisible line between them, worked as a potent aphrodisiac. It wasn’t long before they were both moaning, their movements gaining speed and passion until they were tugging none-too-gently on each other’s robes and discarding pressed suit jackets with impatience. Ties came off next, their enthusiasm leaving the blond gasping for breath after a rough tug of the thin black silk tightened rather than loosened the knot momentarily.

While Draco swiftly removed it himself, Harry closed his eyes, silently berating himself for the complete lack of romance inherent in accidentally choking his lover whilst trying to undress him. Green eyes flew open a moment later when a few muttered words in Latin suddenly had them both completely naked from the waist up. Those verdant pools glazed as lips sealed around his left nipple, the blond sucking firmly before switching to his other nipple with a lick and nip.

The next several minutes were a blur of moans as the Malfoy heir worked his way southward with passionate determination. Upon reaching his goal, pale hands easily opened the closure of his lover’s black trousers, though they did coincidentally brush several times against the hard flesh still trapped within Harry’s pants as the remainder of the brunette’s clothing was pulled from his body. The sound of breathing, interspersed ever more frequently with groans and gasps, began to echo in the stone chamber.

Harry simply could not contain the long moan that spilled out as the hands he reached towards his Promised were batted away in order to allow the taller wizard to lap at the Noble’s steadily leaking pre-cum with an eager tongue. The brunette gave up his attempts at undressing his lover in favor of grasping at the white sheets as that tongue worked its way down the shaft, then back up. His hips rose towards the warm wet mouth of their own volition as Draco started to place almost chaste kisses around the crown. When the kisses turned much less chaste, he struggled to release his hold on the white linen in order to grab the white blond strands.

“S-Stop,” he cried with short tugs on the hair. A soft pop sounded as Draco pulled reluctantly away to look at his lover with a petulant expression. Harry could feel himself blushing again and opened his mouth to answer the silent question. A sudden rush of nerves blocked the words in the back of his throat, however, and he changed his mind, asking instead for the blond to remove his own pants as well. The young aristocrat was more than willing to do as he was bid, and stood swiftly to push his trousers and pants down over his pale hips.

As more and more skin was revealed, Harry couldn’t keep from becoming distracted. Draco’s cock stood out in more ways than one, the pink head a blatant contrast to all of the creamy flesh around it. It wasn’t until his Promised had joined him on the bed once more, and began to rut gently against his smaller lover that he recalled why he had asked the question in the first place. The slide of the blond’s heated and hardened flesh against his own ripped a cry from his throat and jolted him back to the present.

This time he grabbed Draco’s naked hips, trying to halt their movement as he attempted to force out the words he had originally intended. He managed to still his lover, but still no words came. With a nervous croak, Harry wandlessly summoned a small glass bottle instead. “It- uh, it has lavender in it. To-to, soothe, and uh-”

Grey eyes, having narrowed in response to his lover stopping him yet again, widened as soon as the meaning of what Harry was trying to say finally made it past the haze of lust clouding his mind. A feeling close to surprise filled him. He had known, of course, where things were intended to go that night, but having gotten caught up in the feel of his Promised’s naked body, he had almost forgotten. Surprise was overtaken by inexplicable shyness as he reached for the bottle and carefully coated two fingers in the lightly scented oil.

After placing the small container next his empty champagne flute, he watched the tanned legs shift, the knees bending and the feet bracing against the white sheet. Draco’s breathing began to quicken as he caught a glimpse of the small pink hole hidden between the muscles of his lover’s arse. They had done at least this much several times now, and he had discovered that he was very fond of it, so he was anything but hesitant as he worked first one, then two, fingers into the tight heat. As he added a third, the grey gaze remained locked on the sight of his fingers disappearing inside his Promised.

A soft intake of breath pulled his eyes away and up to Harry’s flushed face, which he immediately noticed was not reflecting the same pleasure he knew his own was. Draco stilled his hand, preparing to withdraw his fingers, but the young Lord was quick to protest.

“D-Don’t. Don’t stop. It’s okay, please…” the breathless voice cut off with a groan as his lover began to move again, adding a slight twist as he plunged his fingers gently forward.

“Yes, yes. Like that,” Harry whispered, his hips starting to rock into the movement. Draco didn’t see that, however, as he was too busy watching that flushed face. The pleasure that had been missing before became deliciously obvious and the blond silently admitted that he could probably cum just from watching Harry’s face like this.

Harry, however, had a different preference. He wanted more than just those three digits. For the first time, he unquestionably wanted to be filled, to be invaded. For Draco to be inside him. “More. Please. D-Draco. You. Want you. Want you in me.”

The blond stilled as the air left his lungs. He had to swallow past the dryness in his throat to ask if Harry wanted to move onto his knees. They had both read more than one source on the subject over the last year, and knew that was the position recommended for the first time. But the Malfoy heir couldn’t help feeling relieved when his lover shook his head.

“Want to see you,” the Lord Potter panted, causing the blond’s pupils to dilate noticeably as the tanned legs fell open in a blatant display. As exposed as the position made him feel, Harry felt his heartbeat race when his boyfriend positioned himself above him, one pale hand sliding from his lover’s hip to his thigh before grasping tightly and lifting his leg to better position himself. Taking a moment to recall the illustration and make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, Draco used his other hand to spread some more oil on his cock and line himself up with the waiting furl.

The blond pushed forward slightly, squeezing his eyes shut tightly as if blocking out the sight would help him control the urge to bury himself inside his lover. With his eyes closed, he missed the grimace on Harry’s face as he pushed against the resistance until suddenly, the head of his cock breached the tight ring of muscle and slid in rather further than he had intended. Grey eyes flew open and he froze as the brunette stiffened beneath him and gasped in what sounded like pain. The expression on his Promised’s face looked like pain as well, and he immediately began to pull out.

“Harry! Are you okay? I-” his worried apology was cut off with the movement of a single tanned hand. That hand grabbed onto his hip, stilling his frantic withdrawal.

“Wait. Just wait, just give me a minute.” He took a deep breath and tried his best to relax. He didn’t want to stop now. He had known, of course, that there would probably be a little pain the first time and had convinced himself that he was ready for it. He was. He just hadn’t quite expected the burning stretch and the strongly uncomfortable pressure that he could feel inside. All his reading had stressed being relaxed and allowing his muscles to loosen and stretch to accommodate the intrusion. He could do that. For Draco, for the closeness he knew would come from taking this step, he could do that.

When he took another deep breath, a pale hand cupped his face as the other hand slowly stroked up and down his raised thigh. “Okay, Potter. Okay. Relax, luv,” Draco whispered as he kissed him gently, breathless with the effort it took to hold still.

Moments passed and the tanned face relaxed, the wrinkles on his scarred brow smoothing out. “All right, go ahead, you can move a bit now.”

The blond hesitantly began to do so, going as slow as possible and watching his lover’s face anxiously for any sign of pain. Green held grey, hoping to keep his attention focused elsewhere in case he failed to hide how much it was starting to hurt once again as Draco’s cock slid further and further inside.

Soon Draco was fully seated, his breath leaving in a rush as he let his head fall forward to rest in the bend of Harry’s neck. He caught his breath and held his muscles bow-string tight so that he wouldn’t move before his lover had managed to adjust to his invasion. After several heartbeats, he felt the tightness around his length lessen just slightly and hazarded a glance at the Noble’s face. Harry gave him a small, but fairly convincing smile. “Better?”

The brunette nodded. “Yeah. My legs are a bit sore, though,” he admitted as he tried to shift them slightly to relieve the cramping. The movement caused both wizards to gasp, then moan.

“Can- Can I move now?” Draco asked almost desperately.

Harry nodded in response and with a grateful sigh, the Malfoy heir pulled part way back, then pushed forward. His slow, tentative movements soon built speed and confidence as the traces of discomfort disappeared from his lover’s face. The young Lord smiled encouragingly up at him, wanting to somehow communicate the fact that he was enjoying the closeness he felt having Draco actually inside him. The fact of what was happening left him feeling warm and content.

Then Draco lost his grip on the toned thigh for a second and hiked it up further to regain his hold. The change in position made the blond hit something inside and Harry couldn’t help but cry out as pleasure spiked through him. He reflexively stiffened both legs, then hooked them around the slim waist to pull Draco closer. “Do,” he panted, wide-eyed, “do that again.”

Understanding made it past the blond’s own pleasure and the Malfoy heir realized what had happened. Determined to do as Harry asked, he tried to repeat the same movement. It took three tries, but it was obvious he had succeeded when the young Noble shouted his name. Bracing himself against the bed so he could continue to hit the same place again and again, Draco rolled his hips as sharply as possible. A few labored breaths later and Harry was returning the thrusts, arching up into the blond. They moved against each other with more speed and strength and passion.

Harry tossed his head from side to side even as Draco tangled his hands in the unruly strands. With a tight grip of the dark hair, the taller wizard held his lover’s face still so that he could attack his mouth before pulling back with a cry of his own.

Lord Potter took the opportunity to let his gaze lock on the space where they joined, watching as his lover’s cock disappeared inside him over and over again. Then on another cry, Draco’s face captured his attention as the blond reared back and plunged his hips forward with a gasp of Harry’s name. The young Noble was finally distracted from the fantastic view as the last, frantic thrust hit just the right spot with considerable force, causing him to echo the blond’s cry as arched up, and came as he distantly noted something that felt almost like a surge of wetness inside him.

The thought made no sense, but Harry couldn’t care less as they both collapsed together in a tangle of sated limbs, panting into each other’s mouths until the cave’s cool air and the sweat from their exertions made them shiver. Draco started to pull away from the other former Slytherin in order to reach for the blanket folded neatly on the floor under the wooden table. The movement and the resulting squelch as their stomachs peeled apart left them both suddenly aware of other cooling fluids. The couple exchanged a somewhat embarrassed glance as the blond grabbed the blanket and the brunette hastily summoned his wand.

Embarrassment was forgotten as the cleaning charm swept over them and they cuddled closely together under the blanket. They lay silent for a time as their body heat built up between them until, warm and comfortable, Harry let out a contented sigh. Draco smiled down at his lover, absently trailing his fingers up and down the bumps of his best friend’s spine.

“So, no political marriages for either of us, eh?” he whispered into a tangle of black hair.

Harry felt his face heat at the reference to the awful ramble he had gone on earlier that night. His arms tightened around the taller wizard, lodging his head beneath the blond’s chin to prevent his Promised from seeing the red on his cheeks. “No,” he said, “I am doing just fine in politics all on my own.”

The Noble grunted slightly as a pale elbow made contact with the side of his ribcage, then both laughed softly. Another few minutes passed, the couple simply enjoying holding on to each other before Draco ventured a question.

“How are the preparations going for the new reforms?”

“There are still a few of the old bastard’s die-hards that seem determined to make things as difficult as possible for us. Ollivander was trying to work up the moderates again, telling them how dark we are and how we shouldn’t be trusted.”

Draco made a sound half-way between disgust and amusement. “Well, that probably won’t go away any time soon, but those little gerbils will have a damn hard time convincing very many of very much.”

The blond traced a slow pattern on the warm skin of his lover’s chest as he talked. “The vast majority of the Magicals in this country see you as the epic defeater of the darkest wizard since Grindlewald, and that holds fairly true in the Wizengamot. Plus many of them, even outside the bloc, see you as their equal, if not their political or social superior. You are a Founder’s Heir and the Lord Peverell. They are hardwired to respect you, even if only for your titles.”

Harry nodded absently, having seen more than one Noble defer to him in the court or in a social situation despite knowing they were not particularly fond of him, whether for his political stance or his age. Even so, most all of the Ancient and Noble Houses seemed to look at him because of his titles with the type of adoration the masses he encountered looked at him because of his famous defeat of Voldemort.

“And that,” Draco stated, pausing to drop a kiss on the brunette’s unruly hair, “is without taking into account the number of Lords and Ladies who have been impressed with your intelligence, knowledge, and demeanor while in the Wizengamot or the meetings with the Hogwarts Board.”

Harry smiled a little into his lover’s chest, doing his best to subdue the slight blush that wanted to form. A decade with the Malfoys had done a lot for his sense of self, but he would probably never have the innate self-confidence and expectation for compliments that Draco did. “Your father and I have already planned out who will be seconding the motion when the time comes.”

The blond swept a hand up and down his back a few more times as the shorter wizard continued. “I am hopeful that the outcome will be what we want. But the prevailing opinion about the old ways and ritual magic has been so skewed over the last couple decades that it will be a bit of an uphill battle to allow the use of them, let alone have them added back into the curriculum like they had been originally.”

“I heard you talking with Godric and Rowena about the last letter from Lady Longbottom. It gave me the impression that you had decided to wait until at least next Fall Season to introduce the bill to reclassify some of the blood magics.” Those they were anxious to have removed from the list of frowned upon if not illegal magics, were of course, those associated with blood adoptions. It would be necessary to make the change so that they could both eventually be considered full blood parents of any children one or the other of them genetically fathered.

Harry nodded in response. “Yes. Once it is legal to use and teach the older, ritual magic, we should have an easier time changing views and laws regarding blood magic, don’t you think?”

“I would think so. You might want to wait a year or two in between them, depending on the reactions. If we push too far too fast we could face additional reluctance, especially by the public.”

The brunette sighed, burrowing just a little into his Promised’s side. “Yeah, probably. Some people will need to grow comfortable with having it used and taught to their kids before we can address blood magic specifically. But we will get there.”

Draco pulled his lover even closer, contorting himself slightly so that he could look into Harry’s face when he spoke. Before doing so, however, he couldn’t resist giving the Lord Potter a short kiss. “Yes. We’ll get there, Harry,” the blond said softly, with a tone of voice that clearly referred to more than just Wizengamot reform.

Chapter Twenty-Four: A New Camelot

If either wizard had been under any impression that once they had graduated, that they would no longer have lessons to attend, they were corrected a mere week later. It reminded Harry rather strongly of their summers, when half a dozen tutors cycled through the Manor every few days. Now, their tutor was almost exclusively Lucius, though occasionally Sirius came to meet with Harry regarding his inheritance of the Black title.

Lessons in estate and portfolio management, investment, and other duties connected with their inheritances and Lordships, as well as political training for roles in the Wizengamot increased. As intense as it was for them, the young couple didn’t truly mind as it gave them plenty with which to distract themselves from the timeline of the Courtship’s Consideration stage, which they had entered into. There were only seven months from the exchange of Promise Rings to the signing of a contract, and only three months were traditionally given to negotiate that contract.

Even with Harry also busy with court and endless efforts to relocate and reorganize what remained of the Potter, Peverell and Gryffindor estates and investments, he still felt a ticking clock in the back of his head every night when he went to bed. In July, Draco as the Recipient, needed to present a draft of the contract to begin the negotiations.

The blond knew that he had a month and a half to do so, but he was afraid to wait until the last minute. So while his mother was busy planning the brunette’s birthday celebration, and Harry himself was attending a meeting at the bank, the Malfoy heir took the opportunity to have a solicitor come and meet with him and his father to draw up the first draft of the contract.

In the two weeks since the end of their seventh-year, Draco had spent many nights composing ideas and lists in head and on hidden scraps of parchment. It was most common for couples to start with a template and just make changes in a couple of areas, but with the status of both wizards involved and the uniqueness of the situation with Harry and his Houses, many changes would be needed.

It took several meetings both at the solicitor’s office and elsewhere, to hammer out what the Malfoy wizards thought would work best. As the Initiate’s House had dominate standing socially, politically, and legally, he was required to present it to Harry for revision before they could both eventually give their approval. Reaching that point was the whole purpose of the three month negotiation. In most cases, the contract went back and forth up to half a dozen times during that period, but Draco was still determined to do his best to cover everything as perfectly as possible, preferring to get such technicalities out of way so they could enjoy as much of those three months as possible.

One week before Harry’s birthday, during a lull in the various schedules that had been extremely difficult for the blond to orchestrate, Draco approached his lover in their sitting room. The former Slytherin could feel his heartbeat so strongly, his fingers seemed to move with each beat. He was sure that his hand was shaking when he held out the sheaf of parchment he had spent so much time and worry on over the last weeks.

“Having received your suit and given the Promised Consideration to the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, and the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, on behalf of myself and the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, I present to you this Contract for your perusal and our mutual negotiation over this second stage of our Courtship.”

Green eyes widened briefly as he recognized the formal language of the contract presentation, then shifted to focus on the parchments themselves. After a slight pause, Harry cleared his throat and took hold of the contract. “On behalf of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, and the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, I receive this contract from the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy for perusal and our mutual negotiation over this second stage of our Courtship.”

The brunette swallowed again to help push down his sudden nerves, and did his best to sound something approaching suave as he set the parchments aside without looking at them. “At this time, the Houses of Potter, Peverell, Gryffindor, and Black do not agree with the contract as presented by the House of Malfoy.”

Draco felt his stomach drop, a cold feeling starting in his chest and sweeping outward to his fingertips. Before he could panic at the thought of Harry calling things off or having a serious problem with something regarding their relationship or their Courtship, the shorter wizard continued speaking.

“I believe we will need to,” green eyes moved over the slim blond, from his head slowly down to his feet, “negotiate.”

Realization hit the Malfoy heir at the blatant perusal. He swallowed audibly as his heart began to race in anticipation. “How,” the blond’s voice cracked and he licked his lips, stalling to give himself time to get it back under control, “how can I convince your esteemed Houses of the House of Malfoy’s position?”

The Lord Potter’s bravado started to waver in the face what he considered his lover’s more effectively seductive gaze. In an effort to return Draco’s heated glance, Harry put on as sexy an expression as he could manage. It must have been good enough, because he didn’t have to make any actual suggestions. Without another word on his part, Draco moved swiftly to grasp the brunette in a tight hold and covered his mouth.

The force of the kiss propelled them both several steps backward, the couple only stopping when Harry’s back made sudden and near violent contact with the wall. The pale hands on his shoulders only shoved him more firmly back while the brunette took advantage of the wall’s support to lift himself enough to wrap his legs firmly around his lover’s slim waist. As he tightened his hold on that waist, their lengths made deliciously solid contact, and the young Noble took advantage of his leverage to grind himself against the weight pressed against him.

Draco followed suit, pushing every inch of his body into Harry’s, trapping him against the wall for several satisfying seconds before stepping back. His hands grasped the flesh of his lover’s arse, holding him aloft just long enough to stumble back from the wall and towards the nearby settee. One of the beds held in the adjoining rooms would haven been more comfortable, of course, but a distant corner of his mind worried about the Manor’s elves informing the Malfoy Lord and Lady that they had been alone together in a bedroom. No matter the stage of their Courtship, the blond aristocrats were sure to have something very strong to say about such a thing. His parents would probably have something to say about it even after their wedding were it to occur in their house.

Therefore, since the elves would never actually come into the room, he took advantage of the fact that as long as they remained in a ‘public’ space, they could also take full advantage of the adults being out of the house. The Manor’s heir just managed to reach his destination before his grip began to falter, choosing to go along with the combined force of gravity and momentum to drop the slightly smaller wizard onto the thick carpet beneath the settee with as much grace as possible. As if he had fully intended to deposit his lover in exactly such a fashion, Draco followed the brunette down, pausing to hover over him for a moment before trailing kisses southward towards another destination.

That journey was halted by a hand tugging gently on the white-blond strands. “I believe it is my turn, this time,” he whispered with something that would have been confidence if not for the shy hesitance in the green eyes.

Draco paused, swallowing hard at the thought, then nodded silently and waited to see what his boyfriend would do. A deep breath belied Harry’s indecision before he bucked his hips to dislodge the blond, then rolled them, careful not to come too close to the small table nearby. As soon as he had successfully reversed their positions, the brunette started to trail his lips along the skin he was steadily revealing as he worked open the cotton shirt Draco was wearing. As he pulled the last button free and moved to start on the belt buckle, the young Lord paused, his breath ghosting over the damp skin of his lover’s stomach.

Harry bit his lip as an overwhelming urge rose within him. He thought about what he had read as he helped divest his Promised of the shirt, trousers, and pants, then stood to remove his own clothing. The first time he had seen it mentioned in a book he had been surprised and rather put off, but the more he read and the more he thought, the more he realized the fluttering sensation in his gut when he pictured it was not from unease at all. It was from want. As he started to lean down to resume his previous activities, he wanted. He wanted so strongly that he could not keep himself from settling his hands on the pale hips and giving them a tug.

“Turn over?” He had meant to say it more as a heated command, but even he heard the almost timid question mark at the end of his statement. Harry bit his lip again when grey eyes glanced at him in confusion.

“Please?” the brunette asked even as he felt the self-doubt rear up in him. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Maybe he should wait and talk to him about it another time, let him read about it and then broach the subject more carefully to feel out how the blond might react to the idea. Then, if Draco was completely disgusted at the thought, he wouldn’t have to deal with any potential fall out of his having tried it. But then, he would never get to try it. He would never know what it was like. And he wanted to know. He wanted to feel, and taste. He wanted.

His hands trembled ever so slightly with a combination of fear and desire as he took hold of the pale hips once Draco had moved, a deep breath fortifying his courage before he pulled upwards to position his lover on his hands and knees. The Noble could feel his boyfriend start to tense, and gave in to another urge, his hands spreading out over the two, muscular globes of flesh and massaging them firmly for several minutes. Draco had done that several times for him, and it had never failed to simultaneously arouse and relax him. Harry was pleased when it did the same for his blond lover.

Unable to restrain himself any longer, he positioned himself behind the other wizard and leaned forward, exploring the skin of Draco’s lower back with his lips, and then his tongue. The brunette inhaled deeply as he kissed between the splayed fingers of his still flexing hands. He could smell soap from the shower the blond must have taken just before he came in, a distant part of him wondering if Draco had done so in an effort to relax or calm down before presenting the contract. Harry brushed away the thought absently, already absorbed by the idea of what he was about to do. Before he lost his nerve, he surrendered to the mounting desire and shifted his grip, pulling the gorgeous arse cheeks apart and kissing what had been hidden between them.

That desire froze within him as his lover reared up and pulled away at the first brush of warm lips on his entrance. “Harry? What?”

The shocked questions were drowned out by the voice screaming at him inside his head. What had he been thinking? Gods, that had been a stupid thing to do. The brunette scrambled to his feet, his shoulders hunching forward instinctively. “Sorry! Sorry. I-”

Green eyes darted away from the still kneeling figure of his boyfriend. Even as his face burned with embarrassment, he felt his entire body grow suddenly chilled. Harry wrapped his arms around his naked midsection, shielding himself as best he could from the cold and bracing against any further reaction. Before that could occur, he stumbled backwards, his legs hitting the low table as he turned, ready to escape into his bedroom while the silent recriminations gained ferocity and volume inside his head. One hand had loosened its grip on himself just long enough to grab for the doorknob when another, paler, hand took hold of his shoulder and kept him from opening the door.

“Harry, wait-” The words cut off the moment he made contact, Draco feeling a stab of hurt at the unmistakable way his Promised flinched at his touch. Loosening his grip, and softening his voice, the blond did his best to calm the shorter wizard and coax him back to the settee. “It’s all right, Harry. I’m not mad or anything. I just… What exactly were you doing?”

The brunette flinched again, hunched over in a display the likes of which Draco hadn’t seen since they were children. Unable to spare a thought to the fact that they were both still fully naked, or that the previous air of excitement and arousal had evaporated completely, the Malfoy heir focused on getting his boyfriend to talk to him. “Harry, luv, I don’t understand. I only want to understand.”

After a heavy silence, the brunette only shook his head, gaze resolutely on the two tanned hands gripped tightly together, covering his flaccid cock. Draco sighed, then inched closer to his lover on the silk cushions, but not close enough to touch. The sight of his Promised flinching away from him would not disappear in a hurry. “Please, just… explain it to me?”

The young Lord’s breath hitched at the pleading tone, his own voice a whisper when he finally responded. “It, it was nothing. It was a mistake. I won’t,” he hunched forward a little further, “you don’t, you won’t have to-”

When the voice cracked, his restraint cracked with it and the blond reached out to place a hand gently on the bare shoulder. “Luv, please… tell me. What was it you were trying to do?”

Another heavy moment of silence passed before Harry, braced against the rising embarrassment, took a deep breath and haltingly recounted what he had read. “I’m sorry, it was a stupid idea. Just, just forget about it. I won’t do it again, I promise.”

The hand still resting on his shoulder squeezed momentarily. “It’s okay, Harry. You don’t have to keep apologizing. It was just a surprise. I wasn’t expecting…”

The Malfoy heir trailed off, then turned and tried to catch his boyfriend’s eyes. “Do you, do you really want to… I mean, with your mouth… there?”

Harry refused to look up, his muscles tensing visibly. The blond was determined, however, and gently but firmly pulled the other wizard’s head up until he had no choice but to meet his gaze. “Do you?”

Green eyes fell shut once again, though he jerked his head minutely in a nod. If he had been looking, the brunette would have seen the hesitant expression on Draco’s face harden before the blond gave a decisive nod of his own. As it was, the response that followed caused those verdant pools to fly open in shock.

“Okay.”

Harry stared at his lover with a mouth hanging ever so slightly open before he croaked out a single word in disbelief. “Okay?”

Grey eyes stared back calmly. “Yes,” Draco said before he stood from the settee and smoothly dropped onto the carpet on his hands and knees, then looked back over his shoulder expectantly. Harry remained frozen, visibly shocked, unable to speak, for several moments. When the blond simply remained as he was, waiting, the shorter wizard slowly joined him on the floor.

“I- Are you sure? You- Draco, you don’t have to-”

The other former Slytherin cut him off. “It’s fine. Really, if you want to try this, then I want you to. If we don’t like it, we can always do something else.”

When the blond head turned forward, hanging in a rather relaxed fashion between the pale shoulders, Harry finally placed his hands hesitantly back on the tempting arse in front of him, but did nothing more. Draco responded with a quiet sigh. “I said it’s okay, luv. Go ahead.”

The Lord Potter bit his lip as he took in the sight of his boyfriend displaying himself so trustingly before him and felt a stirring of arousal. Keeping his motions slow, he rubbed the pale flesh lightly, pulling the globes apart an inch or so before he leaned in and placed a soft, tentative kiss on Draco’s arse. The muscles under his hands jumped a little at the touch and Harry jerked his head back. “Are you… is that okay?”

The blond quickly reassured his boyfriend that he was fine and told him to go ahead. Harry hesitated, then leaned back in, adjusting his grip and placing a second kiss on the tightly furled hole. When there was no notable response, he did it again, and then again, his kisses growing firmer as his desire returned. Pulling back a minute later, he checked to make sure that his lover was still okay.

“Yes,” Draco insisted, a touch of impatience coloring his voice, “would you just go ahead and-”

The blond cut himself off suddenly when Harry finally gave in to the urge to lick the rosy entrance. “Oh!” exclaimed Draco at the feel of the warm, moist swipe of his lover’s tongue.

Worried at the loud gasp, the brunette started to ask if he should stop when he was interrupted.

“Do that again.”

Harry blinked at the unexpected request. “Really?” he asked, pushing down the hopeful spike of arousal he felt at the idea of Draco actually letting him do this. White-blond strands danced lightly as he nodded, before looking back to repeat himself. The brunette swallowed hard, then dove back in to lick swiftly and with increasing pressure. His cock twitched slightly when he felt the hole flutter under his attentions, then start to loosen. He continued until suddenly, his tongue slipped just a little ways inside, causing them both to gasp at the unexpected sensation.

“Yes,” Draco moaned, forestalling any concern his boyfriend might have shown at the noise. “Yes. More.”

At that, Harry lost what remained of his control and began tonging his lover in earnest, licking around and over the small hole. Remembering something else he had read, he stiffened his tongue into a point and pushed it past the ring of muscles with a wet stab. The blond moaned, bucking back into the wet mouth, prompting the eager tongue to move in and out repeatedly in quick succession. Draco responded by grasping at the soft carpeting, scrambling for something to hold on to. While the pale arms flailed slightly, Harry closed his mouth around the now puffy hole and sucked.

Finally latching onto the legs of a nearby armchair, Draco cried out breathlessly. “Harry! Close. So close. Please. Put it in. I want it in.”

Hearing the pleas, the brunette stopped sucking immediately and began to stab his tongue back in as far as it could go only for the blond to gasp out, “No.”

“No, want you,” the blond groaned desperately. “Want you in. Want you to fuck me. Please. Fuck me Potter.”

Panting for breath, Harry pulled back far enough to meet the glazed grey eyes as they glared back over a pale, sweaty shoulder. Not sure what to say, despite the very obvious, and very solid opinion of one certain part of him, the young Lord stared back in surprise.

“Do you not want to?” demanded the blond, causing his Promised to almost choke on his words as he rushed to assure the taller wizard that he most certainly did want to. “Okay, then,” Draco answered with a none-too-subtle roll of his hips. “Get on with it, Potter.”

Harry swallowed hard against the tide of lust that threatened to overtake him. He fought against that tide just long enough to summon some lube onto his fingers and work one, then two, then three digits into the hole he had already begun to loosen with his mouth. Draco was soon pushing back against the fingers rather impatiently, insisting that he was ready. Finally giving into his own desire and his lover’s demands, Harry moved up until he was arched over Draco’s back, one hand guiding his cock and the other wrapping around the pale waist.

That arm tightened as his weeping head bumped against the pink hole, holding the blond firmly against him. Harry wanted that closeness if they were not going to be looking at each other as they had before. Pressing a kiss to the sweaty skin between Draco’s shoulders, he moved forward, pushing slowly and checking every few seconds to make sure he wasn’t moving too fast.

“I’m fine, really,” gasped the blond as the hard length moved ever deeper inside of him. “I, I’ve been stretching myself,” he admitted almost shyly, “ever since graduation.”

Wide green eyes met darkened grey in surprise, his progress halting momentarily to focus on the quiet words. Harry bit his lip, then with a deep breath gently started to move in and out, going a little further each time until he was as far as he could go. On a moan, he asked if everything was all right, afraid to move, but having to struggle to remain still against the pleasure of the tight heat that surrounded him.

Draco nodded rapidly as he panted. “Yeah. Yes. Just give me a moment.”

Harry held himself as still as he could, though a slight tremor made its way through his tightened muscles. He had a sudden surge of sympathy for how hard his lover must have fought to stay still when he had been on the other end of things the night of their graduation. At least a minute passed and he had to grit his teeth against the desire to move. Then the blond beneath him tilted his hips back, pushing against him and he let out a choked moan. Taking his cue from Draco, the brunette started to move. Soon, he was holding onto a pale shoulder and hip to help pull his lover into each thrust as he almost pounded into him.

He managed to gasp out a question in between thrusts, asking if it were too much, if he should slow down. Draco answered with a growl. “Don’t you bloody dare. Fuck me, Potter!”

Harry buried his face against the damp skin of his spine, absently kissing and licking at the sweat gathering there as he moaned a rather incoherent response. The two former Slytherins continued to slam into each other, the sound of skin smacking together as loud as their choked-off cries. After a few minutes, the brunette’s rhythm began to falter, then dissolved into wild movements. Harry screamed into his lover’s back as he came, reaching blindly around to grasp his boyfriend’s cock and pull frantically, desperate for Draco to cum with him. He didn’t have to worry, the blond stiffened and exploded before Harry had stopped thrusting through his orgasm.

The pale arms collapsed under him a moment later, causing them both to laugh breathlessly as Harry withdrew. They lay on their sides facing each other on the soft carpet even as a tanned hand fumbled for the nearest wand. When the brunette finally managed to cast a cleaning charm, he dropped the wand between them and simply waited for his heart to stop racing. Silence echoed in the wake of their panting breaths, neither saying anything until finally, the taller wizard spoke.

“So,” Draco asked with a grin, “are you convinced?”

Harry smiled back, leaning in without a word to kiss the blond with every bit of energy that remained.

The enjoyment and respite they had found in that physical negotiation was well timed as the rest of month proved rather busy for them both. Not only was it the middle of the Wizengamot’s Fall Season, but there was also Harry and Neville’s birthday parties, as well as the latter’s lordship celebration. It was only days after their friend turned seventeen that his grandmother abdicated her role as Regent of the Longbottom Lordship.

In his first act as Lord, Neville hosted an Introductory Party for his closest friends, a traditional event geared towards formally presenting a new couple to their social equals. It was something more or less only done by the Nobles, and only after a Formal Courtship had neared the end of the second stage or entered the third. Even during the negotiation, couples had been known to dissolve their courtships, though it was hardly a common occurrence. With that in mind, many chose to wait until Consideration ended, when they had signed their contracts and exchanged Betrothal rings.

Neither Harry nor Draco thought such caution was necessary and had been more than happy for their tawny-headed year-mate to handle that particular societal milestone for them. In addition to giving Magical Britain’s newest Lord a notable soiree to host and therefore establish his social standing among their Noble peers, it also gave the former Slytherins ample excuse and opportunity to tease their friend about his lack of romantic interest.

“I hate to see you falling so far behind, Neville,” the blond said with exaggerated concern, “perhaps you should give more thought to the list compiled by the Dowager Lady Longbottom.”

The Malfoy heir and the new Lord joked back and forth about the direness of the budding Herbologist’s straights. Harry spent most of the time rolling his eyes subtly while still smiling lordly at the many circling Nobles and socialites. He occasionally tossed in his own laughing comments regarding potential witches for his fellow Wizengamot member. The jovial atmosphere was prevalent throughout the younger attendees and was even somewhat apparent amongst the older individuals mingling around the large ballroom. A few groups of court members could be seen standing against the elegantly plastered white walls, their expressions almost indulgent as the younger voices bounced back at them off the slightly arched ceiling.

The event left the majority of their peers in the Wizengamot and the rest of the high reaches of Wizarding society with a favorable impression of the strength and future of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom. Those who still stubbornly clung to the fragments of Dumbledore’s name and reputation had not attended, of course, and could not be included in that evaluation. The number in that category had slowly reduced over the years since the old manipulator’s unveiling and subsequent imprisonment. Even so, Harry knew that the current and former members of that group were continuously monitored by various Nobles within the Potter/Malfoy voting bloc.

Neither his bloc’s activities nor his opposition’s was on the forefront of the Lord Potter’s mind. Despite the Summer Court Season, politics was not the focus of those green eyes, either. The Negotiation period for their Courtship was only three months long and Harry spent as much time meeting with his guardian and Godfather about that topic as he did in the courtroom and with his political allies. Not because there was really an overwhelming amount to be done on the contract, but because working on it gave him something to do with Sirius.

Harry’s relationship with the man his parents had wanted to raise him in their absence had never been what James or Lily had intended. The Black Lord had spent countless hours with Healers in the years since his release, trying to deal with the consequences of his time with the Dementors of Azkaban. He had made great strides in his recovery early on, but the isolation and mental torture had impacted his personality in such a way that having the wizard as any kind of caregiver had never been realistic.

The weekly meetings with the long-haired wizard had been important to his godson, however. If nothing else, the jovial – if permanently immature – Marauder had offered him a window into the past and a glimpse of his parents. Because of that, the recent graduate was determined to have the Negotiation experience with the Black Lord, and receive the elder wizard’s input in the process no matter how much he did or did not agree with his suggestions.

Sirius Black’s continual visits with Healers had recently uncovered a serious malady, which had been initially caused during his years in a cold, unsanitary cell. That illness had lingered in the background until it surged forward a few months before. The evaluations of multiple private experts had all shown that Sirius would be lucky to live another six months. With the looming threat of the wild Lord not being able to participate in much more of his Courtship process or what followed, James and Lily’s son did his best to include his Godfather in whatever he could.

That inclusion, while meaningful, was occasionally a source of additional stress for the brunette. The day before they had planned to exchange their betrothal rings, Draco found his Promised sitting in an unused parlor a few doors down from their bedrooms, one hand fisted in his unruly locks, and the other stroking gently over his familiar’s back. “Long negotiation session?”

Green eyes lifted at the sympathetic words, not surprised to meet a wry glance when he leaned back in his seat. Excalibur abandoned his efforts at calming his master at the entrance of the other wizard, jumping down and stalking regally from the room. Draco just grinned at the Kneazle as he situated himself on the brunette’s lap. Harry’s arms automatically rose to wrap around his lover’s waist, holding him in place as he leaned forward and brushed their lips together in greeting. Neither said anything else as they sat, wrapped around one another as they mentally prepared themselves for what was coming the next day. October, with its morbid anniversary, may not seem to some to be the most fitting time for the couple to exchange Betrothal Rings, but Harry was not bothered by the timing.

He preferred to focus on the connection between the upcoming Samhain, its emphasis on family and ancestors, and the act that would take them one step closer to starting their own family, just he and Draco. And that was the overriding thought on his mind as he slipped the ring of interwoven gold onto the blond’s finger and watched his best friend slip the wide gold band onto his own. After all, the giving and receiving of those rings did in fact signal an important step in that process, as it signaled the end of the negotiation period and began the countdown to the signing of the contract a month later.

For all that he had felt inundated with love and a sense of connection with his Betrothed when they had exchanged rings and formal words, November’s milestone was the most emotionally overwhelming step in their Formal Courtship as far as the Lord Potter was concerned. He may have almost dropped the ring box both times he had presented the pieces of jewelry to his blond, but when they had signed the contract, he had lost his grip on practically everything else, including Draco’s chair, the quill, the crystal ink pot, the contract itself, and his own composure.

Sirius walked him into the parlor of the refurbished Black estate, which his Godfather had taken great pleasure in redecorating in a blatant and ostentatious display of Gryffindor pride. As the Initiate, the contract was traditionally signed in his House seat, but with Potter House still in grievous disrepair following the first war, the Gryffindor Aerie having been abandoned in the eighteen hundreds, and the Peverell Castle not yet fully built, Black Manor was the only option. Harry was pretty sure he would have been more comfortable at Malfoy Manor, but tradition was tradition, and he did his best to present himself and his Houses with the appropriate dignity as he joined the blonds in the red and gold parlor.

The Malfoy Lord and his heir were sitting on the crimson silk chaise, with their Lady poised behind them, seemingly admiring the matching wallpaper. She turned when they entered the room, greeting her former ward with a smile. The brunette returned the expression, or at least attempted to, he was pretty sure his was as strained as Draco’s when the couple locked gazes a moment later. Sirius grinned, one hand landing heavily on Harry’s shoulder as he made an off-color joke in what the young Lord hoped was an attempt to ease the tension in the room but was probably just Sirius being as un-serious as possible.

Taking a deep breath, the dark-haired Noble took a seat, though his progress was hampered when his eyes became fixed on the stack of parchments laid out nearby. Hoping his blush did not match the ruby décor, Harry pretended he hadn’t stumbled whilst sitting down, and instead concentrated on wordlessly telling his Godfather not to say anything rude. Not that he would necessarily be saying it to be rude. Most of what he said was intended to be funny, but the exonerated convict had a much different sense of humor than anyone else currently in the room. Or, Harry thought to himself, anyone above the age of fifteen. Or, more to the point, anyone not intent on flouting their rebellion against Pure-blood traditions.

Doing his best not to dwell on the irony of him having gone out of his way to include such a person in the very traditional process of Courtship, the Lord Potter nodded deferentially to his Betrothed’s father. Taking his cue, Lucius began the short formal declaration of the House of Malfoy’s Reception of the final version of the contract and his approval of the match between his heir and the young Lord before him.

Swallowing past the butterflies in his throat as the Lord Black responded on behalf of his godson, Harry tried again to decide if he was thankful or regretful of the fact that this particular stage included the participation of their elders. When Sirius actually kept to the traditional script and then led the other aristocrats from the room, he decided on the former. At least this way he had one more moment to gather his nerve.

Not that he had any doubts or misgivings about what he was about to do. He very much wanted to tie his life to Draco’s. But the lingering fear of his lover deciding against sealing their betrothal now, as unlikely as that might be, had his stomach performing a rather accurate impression of a Wronski Feint in his chest. As such, he had to clear his throat twice before he could speak, and only the suddenly uncertain look on the blond’s face as he waited for Harry to begin located his voice for him.

“I Harry James Potter, Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, and heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, having reached agreement on the subject with the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, do now affix my signature to this Formal Contract of Marriage between myself and Draco Lucius Malfoy, heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy. In doing so, I will seal this contract and bind our Houses in perpetuity through the wedding which will take place seven months from this, the third day of November, 1998.”

He reached out to uncap the cut crystal pot containing the ink, only to send it careening to the floor. With a silent litany of curses, the Noble hastened to retrieve it, thankful that one of his ancestors had thought to charm it unbreakable. That haste only managed to override his inherent athleticism and cause him to trip as he shot up out of his chair. The green eyes closed, blocking out whatever look his Betrothed might be giving him at the display of uncoordinated anxiety. Sitting back down, he reached blindly for his wand and silently accio’d the ink pot back onto the table.

One more deep breath, and Harry slowly uncapped the little pot and after two tries, managed to dip the quill and bring it to the parchment. After maintaining an inordinate amount of focus on his penmanship, the brunette set down his quill and watched magic spark across his signature as it waited to seal the magical contract. It wasn’t until a pale hand crossed his line of sight and took hold of the quill that he finally glanced up to meet the familiar grey gaze.

Those silver orbs were lit with fond amusement, and Harry couldn’t help but smile self-deprecatingly as he shoved down his anxiety in order to enjoy the sight of his lover signing their contract with enviable grace. No doubt, his emotions were written as clearly on his face as Draco’s signature was scrawled on the parchment, because the blond smirked back at him as he began his own traditional words.

“I Draco Lucius Malfoy, heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, having reached agreement on the subject with the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, and the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, do now affix my signature to this Formal Contract of Marriage between myself and Harry James Potter, Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, and heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. In doing so, I will seal this contract and bind our Houses in perpetuity through the wedding which will take place seven months from this, the third day of November, 1998.”

It almost felt awkward for him not to say anything in response, but Harry was soon distracted by the bright sparks which danced over the signatures once more. It was a heady feeling to know that he was only two short spells away from being contractually bound to his first, and best, friend. He could tell that his lover felt the same, as Draco let out an audible breath before he drew his wand. This time it was the brunette’s turn to smile fondly as he placed his hand, palm down, on the table between them.

Grey eyes narrowed slightly at the expression before focusing on that hand while he positioned the tip of his wand just so. Before either had taken another breath, the Malfoy heir had begun the short incantation and the delicate wand motions that went with it, swishing between his signature and his Betrothed’s rings, then flicking sharply at them both. Harry could feel his Promise and Betrothal rings warm on his finger as he copied the other wizard’s words and motions, incanting his signature and his lover’s rings in the same fashion.

“Et magicae sunt et sigillum cordis fuerat alligabo!”

As soon as the last word left his lips, a rather impressive light show began on each of their hands. When the glow had faded, each wizard’s hand featured a single ring where before had sat two separate bands. It was said that the strength of a couple’s magic and commitment to one another directly impacted how smoothly their Promise and Betrothal rings merged into their wedding bands. With that in mind, the former Slytherins exchanged smug grins as they examined their new jewelry.

The slightly squared mithril band of Draco’s Promise ring had seemed to split down the middle and reform along either side of the braided gold Betrothal ring, perfectly even and symmetrical. The plain, smooth surfaces Harry’s narrow mithril Promise ring and his wider gold Betrothal ring looked to have wrapped themselves around each other seamlessly to form a twisted band of precious metals as smooth and level as magic could forge.

Finally feeling his stomach and heartbeat both settle, the young Lord couldn’t help but stand and pull his soon-to-be husband against him for an enthusiastic kiss. Draco was grinning widely when they eventually separated, his tone as relived and exuberant as Harry felt when he reminded his lover that their family was waiting outside to see the results of the signing. Letting out a sigh, the brunette reluctantly released the taller wizard and rolled up their signed contract. Then he held out his free hand to lead the blond into the adjacent dinning room where Sirius and the Malfoys were no doubt anxious for the young couple to join them for the planned celebratory lunch.

The elder Magicals were as happy to see them and coo over the new rings as Harry and Draco had expected, and the five aristocrats enjoyed two glasses each of a couple marvelous vintages before talk turned to the upcoming ceremony. With the contract now signed and their rings merged, the wizards had officially entered the third and final stage of a Formal Courtship, that of Consummation.

Named after the consummation of the contract embodied in the wedding ceremony, rather than what Muggles viewed as following the wedding itself, the stage lasted seven months and was essentially two-fold. For the Initiate it was the time for them to establish and ready an appropriate estate and household, and for the Recipient it was the time for them to plan and orchestrate the wedding. Those tasks were soon well underway, and as time consuming as the negotiations had been. They at least offered a tangible glimpse at the life they were anxious to lead together. A life at the side of their best friend and lover, which teased them with glimpses of the future they had been dreaming of, but which was still months away.

By April, things were truly coming together for them both. With the Winter Court Season having ended, and Draco busy going over seating plans and menu options with his mother at the Manor, Harry was able to take a lengthy meeting with his design team to review the interior décor for the second floor rooms. It was during that meeting that he received word that Sirius Black had finally succumbed to the lingering effects of his imprisonment.

When he first caught sight of the distinctive white-blond hair pass the door to the meeting room he was in, Harry had felt a thrill. Then, Draco had turned and he’d caught sight of the look on his face. He’d known before the words had come out of his mouth exactly what he was going to hear. Even so, the sound of it had hit him like a bludger to the gut. He hadn’t even been aware of leaving the meeting room, or arriving at the Manor. He was pretty sure Lucius and Narcissa had been there, and he had to assume they had offered some sort of condolences, but the next he knew, he and Draco were in their sitting room and he was being pulled down into the blond’s lap on the armchair.

“I’m so sorry, luv,” Draco whispered as he drew the dark head against his chest. There wasn’t much else to say. It certainly wasn’t a surprise. The Healers had all predicted that the Black Lord wouldn’t last beyond March.

“He always was one to go against what he was told,” the young Lord chuckled through his tears. Neither had to say that Harry had started to get his hopes up that his Godfather might live the two more months until their wedding. The blond also refrained from pointing out that Mr. Lupin, the quiet wizard Harry had seen often when visiting his Godfather over the years would still be at the ceremony as a last remaining link to his father. He didn’t need to. They had talked about it more than once since Sirius’ diagnosis, and now was not the time to rehash such things. Instead, the couple sat quietly, the brunette clinging to his Betrothed as he attempted to process the reality of Black’s death.

Finally, after nearly half an hour of silent comfort, Harry forced himself to speak, simply saying the first thing that came to his mind. “Can we change the second floor designs? I don’t think I can see them without thinking about…”

The blond tightened his hold briefly, placing a soft kiss on the disordered curls. “Of course. Why don’t we go to the site on Friday? We can check on the progress and maybe come up with some new ideas for those rooms?”

The Noble lifted his head slightly from where it had been resting on the taller wizard’s chest so that green could meet grey through the lingering haze of tears. He didn’t have to ask what they would be doing in the interim. It was traditional for a Magical to be buried within three days after death, and they both knew that they would all be busy until after the funeral. He almost asked who was starting the arrangements today, but was sure it would be his former guardian and did not want to bring it up long enough to have that confirmed.

“Sure. That sounds like a plan,” he agreed quietly before tucking his head back under his lover’s chin.

He stayed more or less in that position until they made their way down to a subdued meal during which the elder blondes shot him sympathetic smiles and soft words. Nothing was said in as many words, but they both knew no elf would interrupt them if they were to find themselves in only one bedroom that night. Which, of course, they did. Cuddled close in the dark bed, with the steady purr of Excalibur close by, they held on to each other tightly, even after both had drifted to sleep.

That same wordless sense of comfort followed them to Cornwall that Friday as they Apparated into the copse of trees above the former ruins. Draco saw him tense out of the corner of his eye, as if bracing himself for something unpleasant. A twinge of worry hit the blond. Maybe seeing the castle was a bad idea, maybe Harry already associated it with news of Sirius’ passing. Or maybe he was still too upset to allow himself to be cheered up by talk of their impending future and all the great things that were waiting for them despite his loss.

Those worries proved unnecessary as the new castle came into view and the brunette visibly relaxed at the sight of their future home. Once it became clear that they were the only ones there, Harry became almost upbeat as he turned to regard his Betrothed with a tender smile. “You arranged for the workers to leave this morning?”

The blond silently took his lover’s hand and after giving it a squeeze, pulled him down the now well-trodden path and into the partially landscaped courtyard. Upon reaching the large double doors, they spent several moments admiring the skill of the woodworkers and stone carvers. As it was to be the new seat of the Potter, Peverell, Gryffindor, and Black Houses, those House Crests had been worked into the design, carved in four of the twenty square recesses that covered the large double doors. With one last admiring glance at the detailing of the stone surrounding the entrance, the couple made their way inside, where they easily found new things in every room to examine and discuss.

The House of Pendragon, the original owner of the first Tintagel, was of course not forgotten in the design. Both eighteen-year-olds pointed out the various stone renderings of the Welsh Green which adorned some aspect of the castle in every third room or so. From the first floor window, they spotted a dragon carved into the exterior wall surrounding the casement, as if the creature were peering in through the glass panes. Draco turned back to look over what the designers had done to the room since he had last visited, only to look back and find his soon-to-be husband staring down at the brick courtyard with one hand on the glass and a despondent look on his face.

Unwilling to let his lover fall back into the melancholy brought on by that morning’s farewell to Sirius Black, he did his best to lighten the mood. “Maybe we should make this one of the nurseries? That way, Pendragon can help keep an eye on things for us.”

Green eyes drifted up to the stone dragon and then over to his best friend, a slight smile pulling at his lips involuntarily. “Nurseries? Exactly how many are you planning on?”

“Well,” the taller wizard drawled as he pulled Harry into a hug, “we have quite a few titles between us, luv. If we want to ensure they each have someone to continue them, we could end up with a castle full of little ones.”

The brunette couldn’t help but grin back at the teasing tone. They both knew he was anything but adverse to having more than one child. He had been working tirelessly to lay the legal groundwork in the Wizengamot that would ensure they did not have trouble establishing full paternity for them both, no matter which one of them donated the magical and biological samples to physically create the baby. They had even had a few tentative discussions between themselves, and even Narcissa, about witches they might consider asking to act as the carrier, and who they might name as godparents.

“Why don’t we just focus on the first few for now, hmm? After all, if those end up being complete terrors we may want to let them provide heirs for the rest of the Houses.”

Draco laughed and gave him a lingering kiss before pulling him into the next room, ostensibly to evaluate it as another nursery option, neither wanting to let go of the lighthearted conversation. They continued on that topic throughout the entire first floor, rehashing names for carriers, godparents, and the children themselves, as they went.

“Leon Alexander Malfoy,” suggested the young Lord. They both took a moment to consider the name. “Leon is Irish for lion, and that is the symbol of House Gryffindor. He will be the son of a Founder’s heir, after all, and Maeve helped train Magicals in Ireland before Hogwarts was founded. Plus, she did carry Merlin’s heir.”

“From whose line descended Slytherin,” Draco acknowledged, pleased with the idea that their Hogwarts House would be represented despite neither being actually related to that particular House. “Well, it would be fitting to honor Merlin since he meant so much to Arthur.”

“Not to mention Severus would be hard pressed to outright decry the middle name.

Alexander Severus was the Roman emperor from 222-235, but it is an indirect enough reference to him that as annoyed as he might be, he would be unable to really say anything against it,” pointed out the brunette.

The couple exchanged a rather deviously amused expression as they entered the next room. After a silent examination of the wallpaper and the delicate plasterwork on the ceiling, the blond offered up another name. “Lucas James Black.”

The brunette stilled. He didn’t have to point out that the suggestion utilized both of their fathers’ names as well as that of the wizard who should have been allowed to be like a father to him. Draco watched him closely as his lover thought silently for several moments, then gave a small nod. Harry cleared his throat in an effort to swallow back the tears he could feel threatening behind his eyes, then forced levity into this voice as he steered them back in a more cheerful direction. “And what if we have a girl?”

“Well obviously House Potter can have her,” he sneered playfully, then pulled his lover close for another kiss before turning ever so slightly more serious. “She would have fewer problems with inheritance as a Potter, since there are stipulations about gender in both the Malfoy and Black House charters.”

The brunette acknowledged that with a nod, then turned thoughtful. “And her name? What do you think of…”

The Lord Potter trailed off momentarily, then he bit his lip as if hesitant to voice his idea. “I had thought maybe Iolanthe Maree Potter. Iolanthe is the name of the last Peverell, of course, and it means violet in Greek. Sirius said my mum was just as obsessed with flower names as her mother had been, and I thought she might have liked that.”

Grey eyes glistened with a hint of moisture at the tentative words, then continued on where he had left off, knowing that his lover would prefer to keep the conversation light. “Well, I think it would be lovely, and it goes so well with Maree, which we both know is the most important part,” he said with an exaggerated smirk, referring, of course, to the fact that that name had once belonged to the granddaughter of Vivien Lac, who had first married into the Malfoi family in France.

Harry let out a soft laugh. “Yes, of course, luv.”

They both fell silent as they wandered over to another window, this one facing out into what would soon be a sprawling garden. “This would be a good view for a nursery. I think our children will be happy here.”

He had spoken the statements almost decisively, but the questioning tone proved his lingering insecurities in the wake of his grief. The blond moved behind him, wrapping his arms securely around his lover as they both stared out the window for several long seconds. He knew the shorter wizard was referring to more than just this particular room, and more than just their future heirs.

“Yes, they will all be very happy at Tintagel. And so will we.” Placing a soft kiss on the side of his neck, he gave the brunette a gentle squeeze.

“This is where you belong, Harry,” Draco whispered in his ear. The shorter man took a deep breath as he let those words seep in and wash away the last lingering scraps of doubt and insecurity he hadn’t wanted to admit were still there, stains from a past he had tried to leave far behind him.

There had been a time in Harry’s life, when he had hated everything. He had hated the unwanted freak he was, hated the people he was forced to live with, hated the perfectly normal house on its perfectly normal street. He had hated everything so much he wanted nothing so much as to be away, to be anywhere else at all. That had changed when he had wandered through a maze in the middle of an estate that was as far from perfectly normal as it could get.

He’d found magic, and acceptance, and a home. And now, more than a decade later, he looked around this grand house that was being built just because he had decided to build it, thought about the name he had made for himself and the world he was helping to shape with it. And he knew that he’d never want to be anyone else but the Lord Potter, or be with anyone else but the future Lord Malfoy, or live anywhere but the castle he was already silently calling Pendragon’s Keep. Harry Potter wanted nothing so much, so desperately, as to stay right here.

End

Note: for those interested, the spell to merge the rings, according to Google translate, is Latin for: with magic and heart I bind and seal


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Sunfire

I have been writing fanfic since I was twelve and after my sister forced me to read the first Harry Potter book in 2000 I have been addicted to the fandom. Despite my love of the books I have found plenty over the years to twist to my own purposes so this theme is going to be a blast. I love turning things on their head and looking at canon from a completely different direction and making it totally different without changing the core. I have been branching out in my pairings the last few years and finally have enough of my existing stuff finished to start playing around in a new ship or two.

35 Comments:

  1. And I’m just done! This blew my mind, with how much I enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

  2. Wow! Awesome story. Thank you

  3. Wow! And finished! Thank you for writing and sharing this wonderful story. You’ve taken me on a very satisfying emotional roller coaster… From anxious and worried, to happy, to crying, joyful and a whole lot in between. I’ve laughed and cried (poor Sirius) my way through this story.

  4. That was a wonderful read. I stayed up way past my bedtime because I could not stop. At all. The story flowed, and I got carried along with the characters and their plights and fights and resolutions. Thanks for the bittersweet ending and the tribute to a great love in the making.

  5. Awww, poor Sirius!

    His untimely end notwithstanding, I very much enjoyed this story. It is always good to read about a Harry who is removed from the ghastly situation JKR created for him and your method of saving him has the added benefit of spiking Dumblebore’s guns too.

    Thank you and congratulations on completing this magnum opus!

  6. Thank you so much! That was epic! I really enjoyed it!

  7. So amazing. I loved the breadth and depth of it. Thank you so much for giving us such a competent educated Harry, and for giving us such a great story.

  8. Wow. I loved your take on this.

  9. This is my new favourite thing, thank you hugs

  10. You made me giggle and swoon and cry. Thanks ever so much.

  11. This story is simply full of really great things. Lord!Harry, realistically Good!Malfoys, Court scenes, Dumbledore being shown to be the manipulative evil coot he was, adults actually adulting, Harry-Neville-Draco frienship, and, of couse, Draco/Harry, along with tons of other things. It was great! Thanks for sharing.

  12. this was fascinating, I loved it! the world-building and the way the Lords/Ladies worked to make their plans work out was brilliant!

  13. A lovely, fascinating read and a really unique take on the alternate guardianships of Harry Potter. Thank you so much for this epic tale.

  14. Wonderful story, I loved it!

  15. I enjoyed this so much! You did an amazing job.

  16. Lovely story, thank you

  17. Excellent story! Great job!

  18. I really like a story where adults behave responsibly 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us!

  19. Oh, wow! This was epic! Excellent! I really enjoyed it.

  20. This was seriously so good I don’t have words. I loved every minute of it and hated stopping for anything once I started. You did a wonderful job.

  21. So great and immersive! Thanks for sharing!

  22. What a wonderful story! So full of detail and compassion. Really loved it – well done.

  23. Amazing! This was such a fantastic story. Thank you ☺️

  24. I loved this story! I’m always a sucker for Harry growing up away from the Dursleys. And I loved the slow progression of Harry’s relationships, especially with Draco. Thank you so much for this story

  25. That was beautiful and lovely. The stone dragon circling the window and peeking in is the coolest architectural detail I’ve ever come across. I love it. This was a wonderful journey that I look forward to taking again in the future. Thank you so much for sharing this. I love how you did away with the riff raff and the asshats and never bothered with them again. Their future looks so bright and so full of Joy. Thank you.

  26. WOW! This was such an amazing story. I loved every bit of it Thank you so much for creating it 🙂

  27. Fantastic! Congratulations on crafting an amazing story!

  28. Well done! A very good story despite poor Sirius. Enjoyed your characters

  29. That was lovely and wonderful from start to finish. I quite enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

  30. That was very, very sweet.

  31. Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I liked how the initial change led to a better future for all, and the interactions Harry had with Draco and other characters.

  32. This was a wonderful story. I am a bit sad about Sirius but I’m glad he and Harry had more time than they did in cannon. I love how everything turned out really great for Harry. I am so happy that Harry and Draco have a wonderful future together, and at the same time they’re both working to improve the wizarding world for the better. Thanks you so much for writing this story, it was a fantastic read.

  33. I…

    You…

    THIS!!!

    thud waves hands before fainting completely. THANK YOU!!!!!

  34. Mistress_Threstral

    I cried reading the last chapter, especially when they started talking of children and their names. Also Harry’s pain at the loss of Sirius…his loss of another connection to his parents as well as what Sirius had started becoming for him.

  35. Very good story, thanks for sharing it with us

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