He gripped the warm, rough hand for dear life, feeling the Gryffindor’s heartbeat pulse through his skin. He felt like a basilisk was squirming around in his gut as they scaled the stairs, the white marble walls devoid of decoration or embellishment making that hallway cold and barren. Even in the cold leeching air, he could still feel the warmth radiating from the grip of his lover. They followed the stairs to the top where the portraits hung like bookends to their wedding portrait.
Draco could feel his heart beating like an owl flapping its wings within his ribcage. There was no movement in the portraits and he felt with a momentary relief that they were asleep. He glanced back to make sure Harry was still there, not being able to bear the thought of being alone. Harry peered around him looking at the portraits, very real and solid behind him. He pushed his glasses up his nose before looking up at Draco. He smiled a tentative smile as he glanced back at the paintings. On seeing his lover’s emerald eyes, he felt more grounded and justified. He took a deep breath before clearing his throat, he watched for movement in the paintings.
His father was sat in a large comfortable looking chair with a tall back, in the background were books and a door, the painting having been set in the Malfoy library. Lucius’s long blond hair was tied back by a ribbon as he rested his head on his arm. There was an open book face down on his lap.
His mother’s painting was set on the right and it was painted in a summer garden. His mother dearly used to enjoy walking through the grounds enjoying the fresh air. Malfoy Manor could be seen in the background as she sat posed on a bench, a rose hanging from her hands. Both pictures sat either side of a wedding portrait and even Draco could see the resemblance between himself and his father, especially as he had grown older.
He cleared his throat again and noticed that his mother seemed to breathe into life as her hair began moving in an unseen breeze. She turned as if she had been called she looked out of the painting and as their eyes met her face broke out into a smile. It wasn’t the uncouth grin that most mothers would show, it was a small upturn of her lips and a wrinkle appearing at the corner of her eyes.
“Dragon, my darling” She breathed. “Are you well my son?”
“I am Mother” Draco responded, feeling something loosen in his chest. It had been the first time he had spoken to his mother since her death and he felt the relief and sadness course through him. “Are you well?”
“The garden is wonderful, darling, the roses and wisteria are in bloom and the doves have returned to the cote” She looked off into the picture a happy glaze over her eyes. She looked back with a small tear in her eye “This painting is wonderful my darling boy. Your father walks with me sometimes too.” She smiled again as she looked at the cut rose in her hand.
“Father?” Draco called as he turned to the other painting and realised His father was already awake.
“Draco. My son, are you well?” He asked in his usual stiff tone. Draco knew there was love there, even if people outside the family didn’t.
“I am good, father, what are you reading?”
“Phineas Astor’s book of theoretical alchemy,” He said with his usual drawl.
“Dragon, who is that behind you?” His mother’s voice called his attention.
“it’s Harry Potter mother,” Draco said calmly, knowing that his mother wouldn’t react too much
“Ah, Mr Potter, how are you?” Draco saw Harry step to his side and did a small bow,
“I am good, thank you Mrs Malfoy, your garden looks beautiful,” He remarked, and Draco had to bite back a smile. He saw his mother smile and nod and waited a second before looking at his father.
“Mr Potter,” His father said sternly. “What brings you to my house?” Draco cringed at the tone.
“I am here visiting Draco sir, as it is his house now” Harry retorted, and Draco looked down briefly to hide his features. He heard his father huff as he looked up.
“Very astute of you, Mr Potter, but why are you here?” Lucius asked, his voice raising an octave. Draco saw Harry glance at him but before Draco could say anything Harry replied.
“It has been fifteen years since the battle of Hogwarts, Mr Malfoy. Your son and I have put our rivalry behind us and found we have a lot in common.” Harry replied tactfully. Draco stood and wondered for a moment how Harry had avoided being put into Slytherin house.
Draco looked up at his parents and noticed Lucius was about to speak again,
“Fifteen years, my that has flown by,” Narcissa said. “What have you been doing with your time Dragon?”
“I’ve travelled Mother, I ended up in Romania and I’m now a world-renowned Dragonologist,” Draco replied proudly. It was something of his own, something he had earned without using his name to gain the advantage. He heard his father snort and felt his pride diminish under the guilt that he hadn’t followed a career his father would have approved of.
“A Dragonologist? That sounds very exciting” His mother nodded and Draco could tell she was trying to sound encouraging, he appreciated it.
“I can’t believe any son of mine would go into something so…” He waved his hands around as if looking for the right words. “Vulgar and indecorous, really my son? You could have done so much with your life” His father paused for a moment. Draco noticed the look in his eyes and knew the exact moment the thought came to his mind. “Draco, if it has been fifteen years since the fall of the dark lord, how come we have not been introduced to your wife?” Draco could feel the bile riding up in his throat. He felt Harry twitch beside him and knew he needed to speak up.
“I am unwed, father,” He said and was satisfied that his voice rang clear with no hint of his inner turmoil.
“Are you courting any young witches? The Greengrass daughters were always very well turned out, one of them would have been a good match” Lucius stroked the arm of the chair thoughtfully “You are losing time, there must be an heir for the Malfoy name to continue”
“Lucius,” Narcissa said calmly, as she appeared in the portrait with her husband. “I believe that our Dragon has come here to tell us something” She sounded calm and soothing “Be supportive” She chided and Draco felt his heart begin to race again.
“Indeed mother” Draco looked at Harry and held out his hand. Harry took it without a moment’s hesitation. “I am courting Harry, Father,” He said as he waited for the outburst. There was a stillness to the Manor as if the portraits were muggle painting which were never designed to move.
“Oh Dragon,” His mother said after a moment, and Draco wasn’t sure what tone she was using. Remorseful? Disgusted? Betrayed? “I always knew, are you happy?” Draco’s felt his brow furrow in confusion.
“Mother?” He asked not sure he had heard correctly.
“Are you happy my son?” She repeated. Draco couldn’t seem to get the words out through his confusion. He had expected anger and shock, expected the guilt trip and the pleading to reconsider this phase. He had not expected anything else. His brain seemed to freeze in the face of this unexpected reaction. He heard Harry clear his throat and turned to him, knowing he was pleading for help with his eyes.
“If I may interject?” Harry started as he glanced at Draco. “I have spent the last twenty-three years searching for something which I never realised I needed, wanted or whether it even existed. When I rediscovered Draco, I realised that I had found that ineffable something. We’ve not been together very long, but I hope that we are together for the rest of our lives” Harry squeezed Draco’s hand, his emerald eyes shining at him from behind his glasses. Draco’s mouth was dry and his mind blank as he stared at his lover, his mind no closer to being coherent.
“I will not hear of it” Lucius shouted as he tried to get out of his chair. “No son of mine will cavort with the Potter boy, you bring sha-”
“Lucius, you will sit down and listen to me this instant,” Narcissa said without raising her voice. The look on his father’s face was priceless.
“But Cissi?” Lucius argued.
“No Lucius, you were delirious with sickness in Azkaban when our trials were in process, Harry Potter was the only person to step forward and defend us. He stopped your son and wife from following you to Azkaban. I will not hear a word said against him. Our son is a grown man and old enough to make his decisions. If Draco wishes to court Mr Potter, as long as he is happy you may not speak of this in such a way, so help me, Salazar!” Draco actually took a step back and it was only Harrys hand which stopped him falling. He had never seen his mother talk to his father in that way. He felt pride and love for his mother in a way he had never before.
“I see,” Lucius said, unhappily but brooked no argument. Draco’s mother smiled as she stood behind the chair.
“So Dragon, are you happy with your choice?” She asked. Draco, still caught by the question, felt the warmth radiating from his hand and looked at his lover. He felt a blush spread up his neck and into his cheeks as those warming green eyes stared into his soul. He nodded.
“Yes mother” He replied as he turned to look back at her. “Beyond words”
“Very well then, now if you will give us some privacy, I need to discuss some things with your father.
“Thank you, Mother, Father” Draco nodded and pulled Harry down the corridor swiftly and into a darkened room. Once in there, he thrust Harry into the wall, releasing his hand and pushing his hands along the stubble threatening to emerge on his jaw as he pressed his lips to Harry’s. He held his face tight as their lips worked together before running his fingers gently through the greying mess of Harry’s hair, Harry moaned as he let Draco have dominance for a few moments before he tried to take control, his free hands running down Draco’s back to cup his rear, then jerking him tightly into the line of his body.
Draco heard the undignified groan escape his lips as the warmth of Harry radiated through him as the Gryffindor forced their bodies together. He let his fingers work through the soft, damp hair at Harry’s nape before running them through, bringing an intake of breath to Harry’s mouth. Draco pulled away and just gazed into his lovers darkened face. His bottomless green eyes lost in the darkened room.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked after a moment. Draco nodded as his lips pressed to the Gryffindor’s forehead. He rested there for a few moments before leaning back and looking down at Harry’s face.
“Do you believe in Karma?” Draco asked smiling when he could almost hear Harry’s confusion at the subject change.
“Erm, yeah I guess, what goes around comes around kind of thing?” Draco nodded then realised that Harry couldn’t see him.
“Then yes, I think you get back what you put out for the most part”
“I don’t believe in it,” Draco said as he let Harry go and pulled away slowly. He turned his back to Harry and walked further into the darkened room. He heard Harry sigh as he tried to follow him further into the room before shortly walking into the furniture which Draco had deftly avoided.
“Why?” Harry said through gritted teeth. “Lumos”
Light filled the room and Draco blinked against it.
“Nox” Draco countered. “Let us stay in the dark just a little bit longer, please?”
“Are you alright?” Harry asked and Draco could hear the concern in his voice.
“I’m fine, just sometimes, saying things in the light make them more real, and seeing your eyes and how you look at me, I’m not strong enough at the moment”
“Sorry” Harry replied and Draco could hear the guilt.
“Shut up Potter!” He said with a bitter laugh “Never say you’re sorry, it’s a sign of weakness”
“Right…” Harry replied not sounding convinced, and Draco could hear him back up and sit over by the wall.
“What I mean is, if I say this in the dark I can pretend I never really said it” Draco sighed waiting for Harry to talk again but Harry was silent and Draco did suddenly feel alone as if speaking his thoughts to the night.
“I’ve made a lot of wrong choices in my life, as well you know, sometimes I feel every choice I made was wrong. From trying to impress you in that robe shop, to then making fun of Weasley and Granger, then all of the things I did to you at school. I don’t think I ever said thank you for saving my life from the fiendfyre, nor for cursing me with that spell in sixth year.” Draco sighed again almost hoping Harry would interrupt. He didn’t. “I remember lying in the hospital wing that night thinking that you saved me from myself.” He sighed as he sat on the bed
“Remember when we were in the tea shop talking about me and Pansy at school? It was you, the one I wanted. Even before I knew you were the great Harry Potter, from the moment I saw you in that robe shop I just wanted to impress you. As we got older it got worse, and the more you refused me, the more determined I got. I tried to tug your pigtails so-to-speak just to get you to notice me. After everything I did to you and everyone else, I don’t know how karma could deem it fair to reward me with what I’ve always wanted. I’m an awful person, I’ve done terrible things. I don’t deserve you” He felt the tears slide silently down his face in hot itchy trails.
“When we apparated here I was so worried that you would remember everything, that time you were captured by the snatchers and how horrendous it was. That you would forget me and only remember my younger self. I thought for certain after coming inside and standing directly in the space where I was supposed to identify you, you would realise and snap out of it. Realise you’d made a dreadful mistake, or finally awaken from some sort of imperius charm that I didn’t realise I’d cast. I still understand why you are still here with me” Draco sniffed and cursed himself, realising he just given away the weakness rolling down his cheeks. He had said everything he needed to say. He waited for a long moment, wondering for a moment whether he truly was alone in the room. He sighed as he lit the room.
“Lumos” He looked around the room to find Harry sat on the floor by the door, a contemplative look on his face as he blinked against the light.
“Are you finished?” Harry asked tenderly. Draco turned around and nodded. He didn’t want to see the truth returning to Harry’s face as he realised what Draco had said was true. He felt the bed shift behind him as he was pulled sideways into Harry’s arms, to lie on the bed. “Very deep and meaningful for this early in the relationship but I guess we’ve been dancing around this for twenty-three years so I guess now is as good a time as any to talk about it.” Harry raised his wand and extinguished the lights again. He wrapped Draco up in his arms holding Draco’s head to his chest.
“You are right, you did awful things, but I think even then I never truly thought you were a terrible person, and now looking back as an adult I know you weren’t. We were both children being controlled by the decisions and plans of others old enough to know better. I was thrust into the limelight and held there, you were thrust into the shadow and could not escape. I don’t think you made all the wrong choices, I think you never had a choice. I sat in on every trial you had, I heard all the evidence and obviously, I had my own accounts. If our roles had been reversed I don’t see how I would have done anything differently.” Harry stroked his hair gently and soothingly as he talked. Draco lay in wonder, never having been as intimate as this with anyone, even sex had never felt this intimate.
“As for Karma, I think she is clever, I think she knows the heart of a person. She knows when people have been punished enough and when people still haven’t learnt their lessons. I think she gives us exactly what we need when we need it. And if you don’t believe that then maybe I’ve just been good enough for the both of us” Draco felt his smile and heard him chuckle as he lay there and smiled himself stroking Harry’s arms as they cuddled.
“Nothing in this world or the next would stop me feeling the way I do about you right now. I’m not ready for the three big words yet but I am completely head over heels in like with you Malfoy” Draco felt him smile again.
“I’m in like with you too, Potter”
“Now, aren’t we supposed to be getting you packed up to move?” He said lightly.
“Indeed, not doing very well, are we? All this emotional baggage” Draco laughed into Harry’s chest.
“Shall we put the light on?” Harry asked
“I guess” The light came on again leaving them both blinking. Draco looked up at Harry as Harry looked back down at him.
“I’m in like with you Draco” Harry repeated as he gazed down at him.
“I’m in like with you too, Harry”, Draco raised his hand and stroked the darker man’s neck as he lowered into the kiss. The kiss was slow and gentle, loving and tentative and it had Draco’s toes curling, needing more. Harry pulled away slowly and after seeing Draco’s face smiled.
“The quicker we get you packed and unpacked, the quicker we can transfigure your bed” He winked as he rose. “So where’s your room?”
“This is my room, Potter” Draco replied as he too got up. He’d forgotten what his bedroom looked like after so many years out of it. Deep red drapes hung from the bed, matching the silk sheets. Golden pillows with red embroidery scattered over the floor. The walls were still the cool white marble that flowed through the rest of the estate but warm tapestries hung on the wall matching the bed’s colours.
“Are you sure? This is eerily similar to my old dorm.” Harry said with a laugh.
“Just because I was in Slytherin, doesn’t mean that my favourite colour is green!” Draco retorted.
“That’s good because it just might interest you to know, I still have my school tie and Quidditch uniform at home,” Harry said with a serious face, but Draco could see the start of a smirk at his mouth. Draco’s own mouth had gone dry at the thought of Harry in his Quidditch uniform. Harry looked at him and after crossing around the bed to him he pulled him close. “If we get this done quickly, I may even pop home and get it.” Draco felt his heart leap as they separated and began looking around the room for things Draco wanted at his new flat. Draco now had new motivation to get moving.