Draco sipped at his wine and tried not to grimace at the taste. Vinegar tasted better. Handing the goblet back to Tans, he waited as the little elf quickly mulled it with sweet herbs and spices and a generous dollop of sugar. It was a much more palatable drink when he got it back. “Thank you, Tans.”
From the way the little elf’s ears moved, he was pleased with the praise. Draco was certainly pleased to have him there. Within hours of accepting the bond, Tans had organized their rooms, gotten their laundry done and was working on their armor. He hadn’t felt so spoiled in months.
He set the goblet aside and picked up his sword again. The lumos he had cast earlier was still glowing over his head and Draco used the steady light to check the edge on the blade. Straight and pure, the razor finish he was putting on the sword went all the way to the tip with no hesitations or curls. Both edges showed sharp and clean when he inspected them. No chips.
Next to the sword, he had the blade’s sheath. Cleaning the leather and metal contraption was not easy. A clean rag threaded through a metal rod and dusted with oil and he was ready to condition the inside. Draco kept stuffing the rod down the length of the sheath with new rags until one finally come back clean. Only then did the outside of the leather get treated and the blade slid inside. He had no intention of letting the leather rot or the blade rust.
Tans had apparently finished with the mail and moved onto Draco’s plate armor. He wore a combination of the two in battle since they covered different areas in different ways. But no matter what he wore, it was bloody heavy. And feather-light charms didn’t last due to the energy for them coming from his core. Exhaustion played hell on charms.
The bond he shared with Harry was slowly feeling thicker, as if he was getting nearer. Harry was exhausted from what Draco could tell, but he also seemed to be rather ecstatic. So whatever he and Merlin had done, it had gone well. When the feeling of his lover’s presence seemed to be within the fort, he cleared his throat.
“Tans, please get a hot bath together. My bonded mate is going to be arriving soon,” Draco directed.
“Master wants Tans to get good smelling soaps, too? Tans knows where to find some,” the house elf asked as he set the plate armor aside.
“Not now, Tans, we have some. Just get a hot bath with plenty of water together. And maybe a bath sheet or two,” he said as he waved at the trunk at the foot of their bed. Rather than carrying all their toiletries around, they had commissioned the trunk just for that purpose.
“Okay. Tans gets,” the little elf agreed before snapping his fingers and one of the deep tubs that the laundry used appeared. The elf peeked in the wooden vessel and huffed. “Humans is so messy!”
Draco smothered a chuckle at the disgust in Tans’ voice. From the impatient snap of his fingers, the house elf was less than pleased. A second snap brought water in and filled the tub. He could feel the clammy cold of it before Tans stuck his finger in and it started to warm. “Can master tell Tans if water is warm enough?”
Getting up, Draco appreciated how much warmer the mass of water made their room. Dipping his hand in, he sighed in pleasure. “That’s perfect, Tans. Excellent job.”
The elf wriggled his ears and went to the chest for soaps. As he was poking through the various bottles, the door to their room opened and Harry walked in looking tired, but elated. As soon as he got a look at the room, his lover stopped.
“What have you been up to?” Harry asked as he dropped his backpack on the bench by the door. “And how did you get the tub in here?”
“Tans do! Master Draco’s mate is stinky and needs a bath!” the elf called from the chest. “Does Master Draco’s mate like sandalwood or unscented?”
Harry looked at the ears wriggling over the chest and goggled. Draco was incredibly amused by how surprised his mate was. When Harry pointed at the elf, Draco just shrugged. “He said he felt us, and that I needed him first.”
“Master Draco was lonely and needed Tans. Master Draco’s mate had a house elf before?” Tans asked as he took the sandalwood soap out and set it beside the tub. “Water cools, Master Draco’s mate.”
“My name is Harry, Tans. And I had an elf many years ago,” his lover told their new servant.
Draco sighed softly. They had discussed Dobby and how he had died not long after they had started dating. None of those discussions had led him to believe that Harry wouldn’t be able to handle the reality of Tans. And where Tans was, more elves were sure to follow. It was just a fact of life when a house elf tied itself to your family magic.
“He’s been very helpful,” Draco offered as he walked up to his tower and kissed him hello. Harry tasted of something roasted, as if he had grabbed a bite of meat on the way past the kitchens.
“They always are,” Harry sighed into his mouth, before dropping one last kiss on his lips and moving away. He made his way over to the tub and dipped a hand in. At the feel of how warm the water was, a tension Draco could barely see seemed to melt away from the smaller man’s shoulders.
Watching Harry strip was a pleasure that Draco indulged in every chance he got. His lover had finally hit his full adult stature before they had been pushed back in time and had been sleekly muscled before. He was even more muscular now with all the swordwork he had been doing. He was also browner than ever, and Draco could feel his eyes be drawn to the line of skin at his waist where his tan faded into the milky white skin of a true Englishman.
“Stop staring at my ass,” Harry muttered as he bent over to work his boots off.
“Never going to happen,” Draco immediately vowed as he walked over to pick up Harry’s pack to deal with it.
Harry snorted in amusement and then groaned in bliss as he sank into the hot water. Draco let him soak as he poked through his pack, putting things away. He was fairly sure that his lover would share what he could of the week he had been away. Bag empty, he dropped it on the bench again and moved back to his chair.
“So animagus forms. I know you have one and it’s a dragon. I just never found out what type,” Harry called from the bath before ducking under the water to wet his head.
Draco picked up his book and marked his page carefully. He wasn’t interested in it any more. A quick flick of his wrist returned the book to his bracelet and he settled back in his chair to enjoy the show his mate was giving him. The part of him that was a dragon, specifically a Hebridean Black, looked on possessively. His mate was gorgeous.
“Pervert,” Harry told him fondly. Tans dropped a flannel over the side of the tub before hanging two bath sheets near the fire to warm. Draco watched as his lover scrubbed up, white suds running over skin he wanted to taste. Harry was apparently enjoying the bath enough to hum softly as he cleaned up from his travels.
“So why did you want to remind me of my form?” Draco asked finally.
“Merlin is a bastard,” Harry started, and Draco snorted. Yeah, the old wise man was that and much more. But he was also generous with his knowledge and willingness to teach Harry all that he knew. He just liked to play head games with everyone on occasion. “I’d teased the edges of my form years ago. I knew it had wings, but I didn’t hear feathers and that made me hesitate. When I lost Hedwig, I stopped looking. It took you daring me to catch a snitch against you to get me back on a broom.”
If his father hadn’t been dead, and thus far out of his reach by more than space and time, Draco would have hexed him to death, just for that. Hell, if he had known about that when they had been in the future, he likely would have gutted a few of the surviving Death Eaters over it. Harry had loved flying since the first time he had gotten on a broom. For him to be scared off flying for almost five years was a wretched thing.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. His temper did not belong in the discussion they were having. “So, you have wings and don’t have feathers. A dragon?”
“Yup,” Harry agreed with a pop of sound on the ‘p’.
Draco could be patient while his mate dipped below the surface of his bath to wet his hair again before starting to later soap into the semi-sentient mess. He even refrained from tapping his fingers in impatience as he waited for Harry to finish washing his hair.
“So, I’m apparently a pale cream color with pearly scales and my eyes are multicolored with no pupils.” Harry told him after rinsing the last of the suds out of his black locks.
Draco froze and racked his brain for a moment, trying to remember why that description was familiar. “An Antipodean Opaleye?”
“I guess. I wasn’t all that interested in dragons when we were in Creatures; that was more Ron and Hagrid. And I learned enough about the dragon I had to deal with in Tri-Wizard Tournament so I wouldn’t die, but that’s about it. No curiosity,” Harry told him as he dropped his head against the side of the tub and settled in to soak.
“Master Harry is wanting to stew?” Tans asked as he popped back into their room with a tray of food.
The laugh bubbled up unexpectedly and Draco let it roll out. Biting off his chuckles, he shook his head at the elf. “Tans, he’s just relaxing and enjoying the heat of the water. Can you make sure that it stays as warm as it was to start?”
Tans looked back and forth between Harry and Draco and shrugged. “Not stewing?”
“I’m not stewing, Tans. The bath you put together for me is lovely and it feels great. Thank you,” Harry told the little creature before dropping farther down in the tub.
“Water will stay warm, Master Draco,” Tans told him carefully. “Should I have a tub built so I can return this one?”
The one that he had borrowed had to be from the laundry given it was big, big enough for the two of them if they were willing to share space, and Draco eyed it carefully. With judicious usage of a shrinking charm, a tub could be stored in their room without problems. And save them from having the go to what passed as public baths in the fort and dare the state of their water. Sold.
“Yes, please do. And Tans? How are you hiding yourself?” Draco asked carefully. Some magic might be known and accepted, but house elves were another species. And even in this time, someone would notice a little floppy-eared person running around in a linen toga. Because that was all he had managed to get on the elf before he got upset about the possibility of being handed clothes. He was going to have Harry deal with that issue.
“Tans use illusion to look like short human,” the elf told them proudly and with a snap of his fingers, there was a… well, as he had learned, painfully, a little person. Tans appeared to be fully human and dressed in clothes that could pass for anyone else’s in the fort. Excellent.
“You look great, Tans! Well done,” Harry complimented their servant.
Draco watched, fascinated, as the house elf blushed at the praise. So weird.
“Now, with you going around and about, is the weather giving you any problems with that toga of yours?” Harry asked as he scooted to the side and waved a lazy hand at Draco, inviting him in. Draco suppressed a sigh of relief at his lover taking the clothes issue in hand. He was certain Harry could get their elf into better clothes without a problem.
Head cocked to one side, the elf let the illusion fall. “Is cold, Master Harry, but Tans is used to it.”
“Right. Well, to make sure that you can keep serving us correctly and without fail, I want to put forth two rules,” Harry told him, eyes on the elf. “You are to wear the correct clothes for the weather. That means a shirt, trousers, shoes and socks, along with a cloak as needed. That does include the toga if it’s the correct item for the weather. These are not clothes to dismiss you, these are your uniform. They belong to Master Draco and I; you use them to make sure that you are, and stay, healthy enough to serve us.”
The scared look on Tans’ face cleared up at that. He had been getting more and more upset as Harry had laid out his clothing demand. S.P.E.W. had been a horror, and Granger had been a nutter for trying, but she had had some good points on how an elf dressed. If his servant was wearing dirty rags, it looked bad on him. And Draco wasn’t willing to have that.
“And second thing?” Tans asked.
Harry’s eyes were level and very serious as he laid out the second condition. “Since you are set on serving Master Draco and me, we require that you vow on your magic that you will not betray us or our secrets by thought, word, or deed. And if anyone or anything puts you in a situation where you think you will violate that oath, you come to one of us and let us know. Understood?”
Tans stood still for several seconds before pulling in a deep breath and making the vow that Harry had demanded. “I’s going to get clothes made for me,” he said before popping away.
Draco finished undressing and slid into the bath beside his lover. The hot water slid over him like a caress and he sighed into the heat before pulling his lover into his arms. “Well, that went well.”
Harry just laughed at him.
“How are you doing today, Arthur?” Draco asked as he slid into his chair in the king’s study.
The large, burly and healthy man that he had started this process with was gone. Arthur had lost weight, he looked haggard and no matter how much food or sleep they pushed on him, he seemed frail. Actually, Draco was certain that the man was holding on by sheer willpower alone.
“I’m dying, how do you think I feel?” Arthur retorted dryly. “Let’s not talk about the upcoming depressing event of my death. Let’s talk about how you are going to deal with the meeting of the other kingdoms.”
Draco glared slightly and then sighed. Arthur had officially named him his heir, and his knights had all stood up and approved of and for him. The general populace had also rallied behind him with a great deal of goodwill. Harry found it hilarious.
“Well, smacking them all with the flat of my sword isn’t going to go over well if they start being arseholes,” Draco settled into his chair and pulled the pitcher that had been softly steaming on the table closer to him. Sniffing the steam, he smiled. Mulled cider. Pouring himself a goblet, he waved the pitcher at Arthur and filled his when he pointed at his own cup. “In all honesty, I’ll be sitting there, watching and trying to keep up our end.”
“I’ll give you a list of goals that we want to have come out of this,” Arthur told him as he sipped at the warm beverage. Draco took a sip of his own drink and enjoyed the rich and mellow liquid. “I know you aren’t thrilled with this, but I’m very glad that you and Harry showed up.”
“I’ve come to terms with what brought us here, Arthur. I have no problems with being your heir,” Draco allowed. “Actually I’m honored beyond all measure that you are want me to take care of your kingdom.”
“I would say that you are welcome, but I know what’s coming for you.” Arthur smiled and then started to cough.
Draco quickly grabbed the cup out of Arthur’s hands before handing him a cloth to cough into. He wasn’t going to mention the blood on the cloth if the king wasn’t. He sat back down only when the other man was breathing easier.
The deep breath that Arthur took sounded far too wet, but Draco ignored it. “Now, since you will be there as my heir, we need to discuss that.”
Eyebrow raised, Draco waved a hand at him to continue. “Hesitating over this isn’t going to help any, Arthur.”
“You need to marry Guinevere,” Arthur told him with a straight face.
“You realize that I’m actually bonded to Harry in the way that you weren’t to Lancelot? And that even if I take Guin to be my wife, I’ll never touch her? Never have children by her?” Draco demanded as he sat up in his chair. “And have you even talked to her about this? Or Harry?”
“Merlin and I have spent the last few months working out what’s going to happen when I die, Draco. You know that he’s going to be dying not long after me due to the stress of keeping me alive this long,” the king explained as he picked up his own cup. Draco ignored the shaking of the other man’s hand. “And yes, we are both aware of your relationship with Harry. Guin isn’t interested in you that way either, but there needs to be an heir.”
“Harry and I are wizards, you know this, right? This means that we have other ways of actually producing a child. There will be heirs,” Draco told him, voice short and clipped. He really didn’t want to marry anyone but Harry.
Arthur nodded. “Talk it over with both of them. Harry will be your Merlin anyway. Plus, it isn’t like we’re somewhere far north of the wall and uncivilized. The two of you being together isn’t anything unusual.”
“Well that’s good to know,” he muttered. “Write your lists for the meeting, old man. And make sure that you explain exactly why you want things that way.”
“I can get that done. Are you going to hold court today?” Arthur asked.
“Judgment court? Where I get to actually show that I’ve learned something from you? Oh, yeah.” Draco nodded before standing up and shaking his tunic out.
“You look good. Very kingly,” his mentor told him before coughing into his cloth again.
He had gotten dressed in the clothes that Tans had laid out for him. The little elf was making sure that he was actually dressing in something other than black. Greys, greens, reds and blues were the major colors in his wardrobe, besides the black. His elf had started looking into what he needed to do to make his clothes stand out even more. Draco, for all that he had grown up rich, hadn’t picked up the affectation of decorating everything he owned with gemstones. As nice as they were, they weren’t practical for the life he was living. That left jewelry, and at this stage in his life, he had very little to choose from.
“Tans makes sure of it. And Harry is aiding and abetting him in his efforts to make me look like a glittering peacock.”
Snickering softly, Arthur waved his hand in dismissal. Draco gave him an abbreviated bow before walking out. On the other side of the door, Tristan was waiting for him. The semi-feral knight was as well dressed as he ever was and Draco didn’t even blink as he slid into place beside him.
“It won’t be long now.”
The feeling of regret washed over him and Draco sighed. “No, it won’t. I have no idea how he’s hanging on, but he is. He wants to make sure he’s here for the meeting between the kingdoms.”
“Galahad says that he’s staying for this meeting to make sure that everyone knows that you are his heir. And to impress upon them that messing with you would be a bad idea. Merlin and his Woads have done a lot to give us the forces we need to beat back the Saxons, but the kingdoms to the south are another matter.”
“They are,” Draco agreed. “It’s edging towards spring and the planting. Once we have that done, we need to see if we can get some training in for the men. It shouldn’t be five knights protecting this place. And maybe talking to those people you know in Londinium about contracting for some troops.”
Tristan just hummed for several moments before nodding. “They have humans they use, so I’m sure they can offer a recommendation.”
“I bet they can,” he agreed. “How did you meet them anyway?”
The side-eyed look he got was assessing and Draco stared back. Tristan was, well, feral was the best descriptor for him. But he was also very observant and liked to surprise people. He was also the most private of the surviving knights. Whatever he was looking for in Draco, he apparently found it. “When we came out here with the legion, we passed through Londinium. One of the legionaries was like us and took several of us to the bank. We met the little people who control it, and I have an account with them; it’s where all my pay went. With the spring, one of their people will be coming up to talk to me about keeping my funds with them.”
“Good to know when they will be here. Do they help with anyone else’s funds?”
The knight shook his head. “Everyone else like me died. Dagonet was the last. He adopted Lucan the night before he was killed. Kid might as well light up like a bonfire.”
Oh, sweet merciful magic. A child with strong magic here? And no school to send him to? “Who’s teaching him?”
“So far, I am and Guinevere. We’re planning to ask your mate to lend a hand soon. Seeing as he’s been trained by Merlin to hold the magic of the land and teach,” Tristan told him.
“I think he would be happy to help. And I know I can teach, too,” Draco offered, voice dropping slightly as they came to the room where Arthur had held open court for petitions, disputes and judgments. He had been standing with the King at most of the events since he had been named heir, but this would be the first one where Arthur wasn’t present to back him up. It would be interesting to see how that changed things.
Walking up the length of the room, he tried to take a measure of the people in it. Mostly farmers with some of the craftsmen and a few soldiers, which seemed a very normal content for judgement. No one was setting off any danger signs to him, which was nice. Sitting in Arthur’s chair was still surreal, but getting less so all the time.
Draco nodded at Jols and pulled the first paper towards him to review as he listened to the first case. Time to earn his keep.
With the confirmation that Draco was Arthur’s heir, he had been given new quarters. They now had a sitting room, a bedroom and a garderobe. Tans had been ecstatic about the increase in room and had set up a small area for himself off the sitting room. As for the… facilities, he was still looking at some spell work to keep the place from becoming a horror in the summer months. Since it was winter, the area was just damn cold.
Draco headed back into their room and found his lover was up to his neck in hot water. Again. Unlike a number of the men and women of the kingdom, Harry liked being clean. And Draco enjoyed him being clean. Frankly, keeping his face straight and not showing his disgust took all his concentration some days when he was around some of the more fragrant of his kingdom’s people.
“If I actually gave a shite about what the priests go on about, I might have to worry about your obsession with being clean,” Draco told him as he started stripping off his own clothes.
Harry paused for a moment and Draco could almost see him parsing out what he had said. Snickering slightly, he slid into the bath and then hissed at the heat. Bloody fantastic. “I love Tans and his ability to keep us in hot water.”
“Nutter,” Harry told him fondly.
“Like you aren’t, love? Now why the bath at this time of day?” Draco asked as he grabbed some of their dwindling soap supply. Mentally adding it to the list of necessities to try to trade or buy, he started lathering up.
“Merlin had me delivering a baby,” Harry told him before ducking under the water. When he came back up, he leaned against the side of the tub and started at the ceiling. “I got some pretty disgusting stuff on me, so bath time. Since baby birthing apparently comes with the job, I’m instituting standards of cleanliness I can live with.”
“It was that gross?” Draco wasn’t really healer material, even if he had some of the aptitudes. He just. Well, to be frank, he didn’t like people enough to want to try. He would far rather brew everything that Harry needed and let him deal with the squishy bits.
“It was that gross and more. Mom wasn’t too happy to have me there, Dad was even less happy and Merlin was being an arse and letting me handle everything. Then again, the old bastard is fading just as hard as Arthur, he’s just better at hiding it,” Harry told him with a sigh. “We have weeks, Draco. Merlin’s about burnt himself to a cinder to get us this far.”
Draco pulled in a deep breath before wrapping his arms around his knees. Now or never. “I know. And I need to talk to you about something that Arthur’s been planning.”
Laying out the plan wasn’t easy. Marrying anyone other than Harry felt like the worst sort of betrayal and there was nothing that he could think of that would take that feeling away. Political marriage or not, it was going to have to look real. Keeping his kingdom out from under the collective thumbs of Kent, Gwynedd, and Sussex was a big draw though.
“So let me get this straight; Merlin has been training me to be his successor, all so you can take over the kingdom from Arthur, marry Guin, have fat healthy babies and make sure the place doesn’t burn to the ground?” Harry asked, eyes shifting slightly to take on the gleam of his dragon.
“No shifting in the bath, please. It makes a mess,” Draco tried to interject some humor into things. From the glare his lover was sending him, it mostly failed. “I already told Arthur that if this farce takes place, I wouldn’t be touching Guin. No way, no how. And that you are the only one I’m having kids with.”
“If we aren’t married, Draco, the kids are magically bastards and that’s bad. Even back here,” Harry bit off. His skin was starting to shimmer with a pearly sheen and the sight was breathtaking.
“We’re bonded in love, life and magic, Harry. In all the ways that matter, you are my spouse and I’m yours. Any kids we have will be completely legitimate, and my heirs. Guin has never expressed any desire for me or you, or anyone else that I know of,” he tried to explain, hands up and empty in supplication to his mate.
Harry was growling softly and he just let him. There was no way to make that better, and Draco knew it. Damn Arthur and Merlin for this plan. And damn Guin for agreeing with it.
“Five years,” Harry offered. “We’ll give it five years and then Guin can retire from public life as your wife. That should be enough to let the kingdom recover from Arthur and Merlin’s death and get used to your rule. And at the end of five years, we will have a child and that child will be your heir. And I’ll need to look for my own.”
The sigh that burst out of him was deep and long. Draco had no idea what had been the tipping point, but whatever it was, he would take it. “Five years. I think Guin will agree. And by that time, it should be somewhere close to when Hogwarts gets founded.”
“Good,” Harry muttered and then flicked his wrist to pull out a flask. Draco saw some smoke subtly escaping Harry’s ears after he took a small sip of the liquid within. “Lucan will need it by then. And any kids we have.”
When Draco had been a child, his mother had hosted glittering galas, filled with every sort of person imaginable. For weeks before each event, the house would hum with the sound of cleaning, polishing, cooking and the like. Now, as he watched the preparations for the initial meet and greet with their nearest neighbors, he sighed in satisfaction. It wasn’t the ornate insanity of his mother’s parties, but it was pretty damn good none the less.
Kent, Gwynedd, and Sussex had all sent confirmations that they were sending ambassadors to the meeting. The four surviving knights and Arthur had sat him down and passed on everything they remembered about the last time Arthur had dealt with the three kingdoms. It had been a sobering discussion.
The kings had been less than gracious to Arthur when he had been a mere general in Rome’s legions. Now that he was a dying king with an unknown heir, no one expected even the appearance of civility. Draco wondered which of them would try to get him to agree to become a client state? Not that he would, but he had to wonder who would try. And who would try to threaten war if he didn’t do that they wanted?
Tristan was gusting around the edges of the various parties as they come within range. He was sometimes obvious, sometimes not, but always effective. No one ever looked at him and saw more than he wanted them to, and his reputation for being feral was well known. What was less known was his ability to see through bullshite.
Merlin and Harry had managed to cobble together something and it had given Arthur a boost. The king didn’t have much time, but right then, no one could tell. He looked just as healthy and in charge as he had when Draco had first met him. While nothing could hide the weight loss, his personality was totally unfettered.
While Arthur was being assisted, Draco work his way into a headache getting every one of their fussy guests settled. But they had managed, and now that all parties had arrived, he was sure the drama was going to show up, too. Everyone had their assigned places and roles for the evening, and it took everything he had to not hover over every detail.
Galahad, as the least physically imposing of the knights, was pressed into the herald role, announcing everyone’s names and titles. Harry had made him a list, spelled to show who had passed through the runic arch at the door, and the knight was getting every name right. From the faint expressions of irritation crossing some faces, Draco was sure that some of their guests weren’t too pleased to be so easily identified.
Bors, as the most physically imposing member, was standing two steps to the left of the throne, visibly armed. The knight was glowering at everyone, and had his hands crossed over the blade of Dagonet’s axe. Subtle Bors was not, but he was as effective as Tristan.
Gawain, lion-headed menace that he was, was stationed to the right of the throne, hands tucked into the broad leather belt around his waist. Just like Bors, he was heavily armed and had made no effort at concealing that fact. Unlike the scowl Bors normally wore, Gawain’s face was blank, no expression at all crossing his features.
As heir, Draco was standing one step down from the throne, dressed in his best, with a silver circlet crossing his brow. Unlike the knights, he had no obvious weapons other than a small belt dagger. His clothes were lush and of a heavy fabric that was keeping him warm without charms. Harry had appreciated the deep green color and what it had done for his looks.
Draco kept an eye on everyone in the room before turning his attention to the king. Arthur was seated on his throne and looked very regal in his black fur-lined cape and dark blue doublet. His crown was also silver and was much, much more elaborate than the one that graced Draco’s brow. He and Harry had spent time with the king’s regalia and managed to embed several different charms into each item to make them as comfortable as possible for the dying man.
When the last of the diplomats were announced and had taken their bows in front of Arthur, Draco stepped forward. “Welcome to our kingdom. King Arthur greets you and will be meeting with each of you to discuss our relationship with your kingdoms. For now, please mix and mingle and get to know us and each other.”
Stepping back, Draco moved to stand by the king. The throne was high enough to get a good view of the room, but still center enough to be involved. Arthur was alert, eyes bright and entertained as he watched the whirls and eddies of the reception. The blocks of people from each kingdom started breaking up and mingling, raising the noise levels in the room.
Guinevere was doing her part now. Where the knights were the overt threat, the open weapon, she was the subtle knife against a forearm, the garrote curled around a wrist. The fact that Draco knew she actually had weapons on her like that was just a lovely bonus. But she was also mixing and mingling with their guests, putting them at ease. Women in this world were not often seen as threats by men in power. More fools they, then.
Many of the other women from the fort were also dressed in their best and mingling. He would have to make sure that their visitors knew not to expect comfort from them. Or from the servant wenches the fort employed. Their guests were going to be making use of their own hands if he had his way. Unless they went to the one whorehouse in the fort, and then that group of women had his total permission to bankrupt them.
“Tans,” Draco called with intent.
The house elf poked his head out of an alcove, wearing his human disguise. Over the months he had been with Harry and Draco, he had learned how to blend in with the populace. His disguise, his clothes and his word choices had all improved in an effort to keep him safe.
“Master Draco calls?” the elf asked as he trotted over to stand by his master.
“I sure did. Let Agnes know if any of our guests come to her for her people’s services to charge them double. And make sure that Cecily isn’t to service or be seen by any of them,” Draco directed.
Tristan might not have much of a thing for the mother of his son, but it would do no one any good if she got hurt at her job. Everyone in the fort knew if they went to Cecily for some entertainment they were to treat her well. The new guys? Better to not take the chance.
“Tans tell,” the elf promised before walking back to his alcove and popping out.
“He’s not subtle,” Arthur muttered out the side of his mouth. “And good idea on Cecily.”
“He’s a lot better than he used to be,” Draco retorted. “And we don’t need a bloodbath.”
“No, that would not be in the best interests of making peace for the future, now would it?” Arthur murmured before leaning slightly to the side and nodding towards a far corner of the room. “It looks like one of the boys from Kent has Harry cornered. Should I be worried that the poor bastard is going to lose something vital? Not that I’ll mind too much.”
“Harry won’t kill him, sir. I won’t either,” Draco told him softly. He wasn’t going to look over to see the confrontation, but he could feel his lover’s irritation at the moron in front of him. “Now, Tristan might. You never know.”
“Tristan just likes to kill deserving people,” Arthur muttered with a savage smile.
“True,” he agreed. The king had gotten a lot more pragmatic in the months since he had been told he was to die. His faith in his god was still going strong and no one had the heart to try to argue with the man over it. But he had also learned how to take his optimism and use it to make plans for the future. Draco didn’t have the heart to tell him that some of his ideals wouldn’t be a reality until 1500 years in the future, and, even then, only in some parts of the world.
“Try to not let him keep leaping off that particular cliff?” Arthur asked as he took a goblet of mulled cider from one of the servants. Draco took a deep breath and smiled slightly. The drink was one of Harry’s concoctions and the cider just a carrier for the potion they had in it. Full of calories, with enough taste to mask the potion, the cider was something that Arthur would drink no matter what.
“I’ll do my best, but it’s Tristan and he listens to me about as well as Harry does. That is to say that he either laughs in my face or straight up ignores me.” Draco shrugged slightly as he kept his eye on the conversations happening around them. “I believe Ywain, the ambassador from Gwynedd, will be the first to brave the gauntlet to come talk to you. Should I stay?”
Arthur eyed the man in question over the rim of his drink and nodded slightly. Bors and Gawain let the ambassador through when he came up to the throne and Draco stepped back further until he was behind the throne and on the king’s right. Unmeant pleasantries are exchanged before Ywain turned to look at Draco with a curious expression on his face. “We did not know that you had an heir.”
“I’ve had an heir for a year now, Ywain. And your king was informed as soon as I chose him. Please stop trying to play the fool. It serves you ill and irritates me,” Arthur bit out. He was as relaxed as possible in his chair, but Draco could read the tension in him by how tightly he was gripping his drink. Casting his memory back over back over the hours of meetings they’d had in preparation for this event, he was well aware of why Arthur was acting the way he was. Gwynedd was powerful, had a very nice army, and the king was eyeing his neighbors like they were prime slabs of beef.
Very disconcerting, that.
“Not everyone is as straightforward as you are, General,” Ywain told him bluntly, eyes flicking back and forth between them. “Not every situation demands a decision via a sword. Sometimes using your words is the better option.”
“Do not try to teach me diplomacy, Ywain. Settling things by the sword is a nice idea, but I’m tired of war. I don’t expect much from your kingdom. But, then again, straightforward dealing is beyond you,” Arthur told him bluntly. “You’ve seen my heir. You’ll get to talk to him in the negotiations tomorrow. I would suggest you leave.”
The ambassador gave him a peeved look before sketching a brief bow to them both and leaving. There was a subtle relaxing of the shoulders as the man passed out of reach from both Bors and Gawain and Arthur’s fingers relaxed on the goblet. What in the hell had they not passed onto him about the arsehole?
“Let me guess, Lancelot was the one who was actually the more diplomatic of you two?” Draco asked as he covered his words by pouring more cider. “Because that was ruder than I have ever seen you be to anyone. And that includes the priest who came through here over the winter.”
There was a loud cough from Bors, and Arthur’s lips twitched briefly as he stared up at Draco. “He was worse. He just wanted to kill them all and let their gods sort them out.”
“Fucking fantastic. Menaces, the lot of you.”
The choked off giggles from his mentor were totally worth the shite that Draco knew he was going to be facing in the morning. Turning his attention back to the party, he heard the small pop of noise that signaled Tans was back.
“Master Draco, Agnes says that she’ll skin them for all she can. And she’s already sent Cecily to knight’s quarters. Master Tristan asked Jols to look after her and boy,” the elf reported before moving away.
“Good job, Tans,” Draco called softly as he watched the next ambassador walk up. Kent if he wasn’t mistaken. “So which one of you pissed this kingdom off?”
“Gareth. One of their lordlings thought that Galahad was someone they could trifle with. He disabused them of that notion. With his fists,” Gawain muttered out the side of his mouth. “He died about six months later.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Draco muttered, keeping his expression neutral and relaxed. “And if you see that lordling in the group, let me know. He won’t be doing that shite again.”
“Good. Some people need killing,” Bors muttered, eyes fixed on the ambassador.
Draco snorted softly. “Who says I would kill him? That’s over too quickly.”
The rough chuckle that shook all four men caused a hitch in the ambassador’s gait, and Draco suppressed a smile at the sight. Good. If he was off balance, they had an advantage.
The room where they were holding the meeting wasn’t the one with the round table. That was only for Arthur and his knights. Draco, Harry and Merlin were allowed in, but he didn’t expect to get full access until Arthur died. And even then, there was a part of himself that felt he should close it up and preserve it for posterity.
But history and the march to the idolatry that came with being on the side to write it, was far from his mind this day. Jols had worked hard with Tans and the rest of the servants to put together a room where they could hold the meeting and not give any one person or group an advantage. Well, anyone other than their own people.
Harry settled into his spot to the right of him and dropped a sheaf of documents on the table before him. His lover had completed his training with Merlin a fortnight before the ambassadors had arrived and the tattoos of his new rank were a brilliant blue against his skin. Draco found them fascinating and traced the whorls and patterns of them as often as Harry would let him. He could feel, faintly, the power of them thrumming under his skin. The sight of them certainly caused a distraction wherever Harry went, and today, that was an advantage.
His lover and counselor had a second batch of fresh hemp paper bound together to take notes on. Draco eyed the pad and tried to remember when actual paper had come onto the scene, instead of vellum. “This had better be a new universe,” he muttered, leaning close to Harry’s ear. “Because I don’t think paper showed up in England for at least another 600 years.”
“You worry too much,” Harry muttered before patting the pad. “Besides, I spelled this to only show up for you or I. Everyone else sees a bunch of vellum.”
“Good to know,” Draco murmured before sitting back in his chair. He kept an eye on the room as everyone settled in. From where he was seated, he couldn’t tell if anyone was armed, and he was hesitant about checking magically. On the other hand, he had a number of people scattered throughout the room who were perfectly willing to kill their guests if anyone got stroppy, so it all balanced out.
Only when the last person sat down, did he bother to stand. “Welcome, my lords, to our hall. King Arthur isn’t able to meet with you today, but, as his heir, it is my duty and honor to stand in his place.”
One of the men from Kent stood and stared down the table at Draco. From what he remembered of his briefing, he was Thomas, a second cousin to the King of Kent and rather smarter than anyone gave him credit for. “When we last met Arthur, he was a general for Rome and her armies. Now, he is a king. Who has declared him king? My liege needs to know who has granted him this grace.”
Eyebrow raised slightly, Draco watched as the other two delegations nodded in agreement. It seemed that they all wanted to know who or what had pushed to put Arthur on a throne. Fantastic. When Harry touched his leg, he sat down. His mate had this in hand.
“That would be Merlin,” Harry told the room at large. His facial tattoos shone blue and vivid against the skin of his forehead when he pushed his hair back. “And I am his heir. All you need to know now is that Arthur is king until his death and Draco is his heir. So, shall we get down to the reason for this meeting? Working on the treaties between our nation and yours?”
“Merlin declared him King?” Ywain asked as he half-stood, half-leaned against the table. “And you are his heir?”
“I am now Merlin, yes,” Harry confirmed and let his eyes glow with the power he had spent a year learning to harness. Draco settled into his chair and tried not to smirk. The plan that Arthur and Merlin had put together was audacious in the extreme, but it seemed to be working. The doubt that had been floating through the room wasn’t gone, but it was, mostly, pushed to the side.
“You expect us to believe that Merlin has taken this boy as his heir? That he is worthy to be Merlin? I doubt it,” sneered Merick, the Ambassador from Sussex. “This boy is making fools of us all. Arthur has some plan…”
The explosion of movement from his right was totally expected, and Draco didn’t even blink. He, better than anyone else, knew that Harry had a temper. So having that temper unleashed beside him was not a surprise. It was for the moron at the other end of the table who got pushed up the wall in a display of power that made everyone else in the place freeze like scared little bunnies.
“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” Harry ground out between clenched teeth. “This is not your kingdom. It’s Arthur’s and will be until his death. You are here by invitation only. It would be wise if you remember that.”
With that, he let the Ambassador drop to the ground and sat back down. Draco took a deep breath and tried not to bust out in laughter. He was going to be teasing the hell out of his lover when they made it back to their room. Quoting Darth Vader at someone had to be the best thing he had seen yet.
“Thank you, Merlin. Shall we get started?” he asked as he looked around the room. Merick didn’t say anything as he took his seat. “Good,”
“That was an interesting reaction,” Galahad observed as they sat in the anteroom set aside for them.
“Wasn’t it?” Harry asked as he moved over to the sideboard that was filled with food.
“Why do I have the feeling that making someone piss themselves was a goal for today?” Galahad asked as he moved around the table in the middle of the room to take a seat. Of all the knights, he was actually and truly the nicest one. As if the fighting they had done for the years of their enlistment had only impacted him on the surface.
Draco chuckled softly as he sat down in his chair and leaned his head against the back. The negotiations had been an unholy mess of shouting, vicious verbal backstabbing, and a few more instances of Harry making his displeasure known by pinning people to a wall. He had the start of a vicious headache, and if he hadn’t been around the knights, he would have pulled a nice pain potion out without hesitation.
“Here,” he heard as he felt a vial tap his shoulder. Harry was staring down at him, eyes warm and concerned. “Take this.”
Thank goodness for dimensional stores, he thought as he pulled the cork out of the vial and drank the mouthful of liquid. Unlike his godfather’s potions, this one was cherry flavored and worked quickly. Severus hadn’t been a nice man and had gotten his digs at the student population every chance he got. The necessary potions he had supplied to Pomfrey had all been perfect in every way that counted. However, the ones for discretionary uses like headaches hadn’t worked quite as fast as anyone had ever wanted them to, and they had all tasted like shite. When he had started to brew his own potions, he had made sure that his worked quickly, completely, and tasted decent.
Harry hadn’t been all that surprised to find out that Severus had been skimping on the non-emergency supplies. Neither, frankly, had Draco. He had been well aware that the man was an arsehole.
Grabbing his lover’s hand, he kissed it in thanks. Tipping his head back further, he let it rest against the chair again and closed his eyes. Harry had let him hold on for several beats before tugging lightly. “You need to let my hand go, love. I need to eat.”
Draco squeezed the hand trapped in his briefly and then let it go without opening his eyes. He wanted a nap. He wanted a drink. He wanted not to have to deal with this massive shite storm that was building around them. When a plate was dropped in front of him, he opened his eyes and sat forward. What he wanted wasn’t going to happen right then.
Looking over at Galahad, he shrugged. “Making someone piss themselves wasn’t a goal, more a bonus. The real goal was to actually hammer out some peace treaties. I say we have a good start on that.”
The mutters of agreement echoed through the room and he settled in to eat the meal he had been served. From the choices, he was certain that Harry had loaded the plate and Tans had done the cooking. The first bite was a chore to get to his mouth, but as soon as he tasted it, he dived in. The hunger he had been ignoring all morning came roaring back, and he cleaned his plate before going back for seconds.
He made it through his second plate before business came back up.
“So, who do you think is going to give us the most trouble?” Harry asked as he sipped at his drink.
“Oh, I would say that Sussex is going to want to try to get his pride back,” Galahad muttered as he took a deep drink of his own.
“Should we make sure he has a fresh chair when we go back in?” Draco asked as he contemplated a baked apple for a sweet finish to the meal.
“Please. Smelling him was bad enough this morning. Hopefully he’s changing his pants,” Tristan muttered as he speared cubes of meat. Pointing the knife at Harry he raised an eyebrow in question.
Snickering softly, his lover nodded. “Yes, I can change his pants out, but do you really want to see his tiny dick while everything switches?”
Everyone in the room shuddered slightly and shook their heads. “Let’s not,” Draco announced. “Maybe wrap a kilt around him before dealing with the pants?”
“I can do that,” Harry assured him. “Or I can just dump his dumb arse in the nearest horse trough. Since he stinks, even without the scent of piss.”
“Oh, gods, yes. He does. I think Kent will cause us the least problems. Their main argument seems to be with Arthur, and with him dying, I think they’ll hold off to see if I follow in his footsteps.” Draco dropped his opinion on the matter out and then got up. That apple sounded too good to pass up. “I vote for Sussex to give us shite while they’re here. Just from this morning’s display.”
The discussion that sparked lasted through the rest of the food and all of the drink in the room. Draco was happy they had a strategy at the end though. Once the joint meetings were done with, he would be meeting with each of the ambassadors on his own, and wouldn’t that be problematic?
Filing back into the meeting room, he made sure to check out Sussex’s pants. New. A discrete sniff told him that the man at least had attempted to clean up after himself. He sat back down in his chair and nodded at Galahad to recount the last issue discussed. Once their memory was prompted, he picked up the threads of the meeting and started pushing his agenda again.
Their time was running out. Everything, this meeting, the meetings with each of the ambassadors, the bullshite with the delegations, all of it, needed to be done and done soon. Even his marriage to Guinevere. Before Merlin lost his hold on the magic that was keeping Arthur alive and burnt out. Before Arthur died and went through the Veil to meet with his soulmate.
They were under a countdown. And no one could tell him how much more time there was on the clock.
Draco and the knights had placed bets on when one of the ambassadors would try to meet with him alone and try to get him to bow to their plans. Merick, the ambassador to Sussex broke the bet by arranging a meeting right before the three parties were to leave. He was actually upset since it meant that he now owed Tristan money.
Once he let the older man into his office, he sat and stared at Draco for several minutes before firing his first salvo. “You are young yet to be taking over a kingdom.”
“Not really,” Draco disagreed. “I’m older than your king was at his coronation.”
Merick snorted and waved a hand. “Still, you are young. And wholly untried. How will you hold the realm together when Arthur dies? You will not have his advantages, his knights, his training, the reputation he built while laboring for Rome.”
“True. But I am his heir. Chosen and trained by him for the position. So, Ambassador Merick, what does that mean?” Draco asked as he watched the other man settle into his chair.
“You should let us help you,” Merrick offered; eyes shrewd as he stared at Draco. “We can help you solidify your rule, make sure you have the resources you need and advisors to teach you how to lead.”
“What makes you think I need any of that?” Draco pushed slightly. He wanted to see how far Merick would go.
“Arthur will be dying soon. His knights have stood by him and stayed when they had the leave of Rome to go. There is no guarantee they will stay with you. As a new king it will take you time to gather the reins of power to yourself. We can help with that,” Merick explained.
Draco sat back in his chair and tried to figure out how to tell the man to go fuck himself without being too obvious. He wanted to keep some kind of relationship with his neighbors after all. But not at the expense of them thinking he was weak.
“With Merlin taking an apprentice, will he still be by your side? After all, Merlin worked against Arthur for more than a decade before joining forces with him,” Merrick observed. “What is to say the new Merlin won’t start working against you?”
“The new Merlin is loyal to me, thank you, Ambassador Merrick. And the knights who served Arthur serve me as well. Your offer of advisors, military assistance, or economic help, while generous, isn’t needed,” Draco told him. Because fuck it. He would deal with the fallout, but he wasn’t going to appear to be weak. Nor would he let Harry be seen as disloyal. Rumors like that had a tendency to cause major problems later.
“We shall see,” Merick sniffed in disbelief. “I will be telling my king that you aren’t willing to work with us.”
Draco laughed with no humor. “You mean, since I’m not willing to let my kingdom become a client state to yours, you are going to tell him I’m too independent to control.”
The frustrated look that crossed the ambassador’s face was sweet, but he knew things were going to be rough for at least a few years thanks to this conversation. Then again, Sussex didn’t have anything he desperately needed. Londinium and the Alley were the only things that held any interest for him in the kingdom, and the goblins were their own nation. He had a completely separate meeting planned for them.
Merrick just glared at him for a moment before smiling. “You may be independent now, Prince Draco, but that won’t always be the case.”
“Don’t push your luck, Merrick,” Draco advised.
”Don’t think we can’t handle your little upstart of a kingdom,” the ambassador shot back before exiting the room in a huff.
Draco waited until the ambassador had left the room before laughing. Merick had damn near flounced out of the room, and the last time he had seen that mannerism, his father had been the one to pull it off. Merick had given it a good try though.
Kent and Gwynedd didn’t try to corner him, and for that, he was grateful. Holding his temper through two more meetings would have been impossible. Besides, he thought as he watched the caravans carrying the ambassadors disappear over the horizon, he had a wedding to plan.
Trotting down the steps on the wall to the main courtyard of the fort, Draco headed over to Arthur’s rooms. There was a countdown going in his head, and they were very close to the year deadline Merlin had given them. After that, it was anyone’s guess if Arthur would make it day to day. The longer he held on, the better. But the cost to the king would be high.
Knocking softly, he poked his head around the door. “Arthur? Are you awake?”
“Yes. Come on in.”
Draco walked in to see Guin curled up in a chair next to the king’s bed. From the scattered parchments, he had a feeling that Arthur was still pushing himself to work. He couldn’t find it in himself to be upset. He had taken over the day to day running of the kingdom, but the planning for the future? His lessons with the king had been through, but still, having someone outline a plan he could use? He was all for that.
“Planning something?” he asked as he took the seat beside his future bride.
“Crop rotations, percentages tilled, taxes demanded of the barons, levees of fighting men, royal forests, where to build the royal castle. More farms because people have babies, storage for grain… The lists are endless,” Guin muttered as she pointed to piles of paper.
“Things to look forward to,” Draco muttered as he looked everything over.
Arthur chuckled, voice dry and brittle as he laughed at the disgusted look on Draco’s face. “Ah, lad, I said the same damn thing when I got this place turned over to me. And it was a lot smaller an area. Merlin has us claiming lands above the Wall, up past where Marius Honorius claimed as his home. I figure the least I can do for you is help plan for what might be coming, since I’m leaving you with all of this.”
“Thank you,” Draco told him dryly. “But can you two put that aside for a moment and maybe concentrate on a wedding? Since Guin and I need to be wed soon.”
The look the Woad woman flashed him was just as dry as his voice. “You sound so thrilled to marry me.”
“Guinevere, you are as fair as any maid ever born. And are as fierce as any warrior to carry a blade, and as brave as a dragon. You love with everything in you, and that is so very rare in the world,” he told her with brutal honesty. “But, you are lacking in one thing for me.”
“A penis?” she asked, eyes suddenly twinkling.
“You aren’t Harry, love. The penis is just an added bonus. Unless we’re required by some obscure law to actually have sex?” he asked the king.
Arthur was giggling slightly as he listened to them. “No, you actually don’t have to consummate the union. There’s nothing magical or binding about the ceremony that Merlin is planning. It’s just a wedding.”
There was a large part of Draco that was deeply relieved to hear that. He hadn’t been lying when he had praised Guinevere on her various virtues. But that was the extent of his regard for her. She was indeed lacking the things that he needed in a mate, and he had found in the form of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, all around Gryffindor, and general prat. Plus his dick was quite nice too.
“I know this isn’t for the rest of our lives, and I’m good with that,” he asked.
Guin shook her head and he took a deep breath. The look she passed him was full of understanding and resolution. “Five years. We only have to be married for a handful of years. And there will be no requirement of fidelity from me or you.”
“And that won’t look bad on you?” Draco pressed. Even if she was blameless and everyone knew what was going to happen, she was still going to be seen by some as the guilty party if they split.
“No. I think I’ll be disappearing from history. I have a new name and identity worked out and I even know where I’ll be going. And what I’ll be doing when I get there.” Guin smiled, a bit crookedly, but it was a smile.
Draco cocked his head to the side and nodded. If she wasn’t going by Queen Guinevere, daughter of Merlin, she could probably hide who she was. If nothing else, it would put a layer between her and anyone looking for her. “What will you be doing, love?”
“Did Harry tell you that I helped Merlin train him?” Guin asked instead.
“Yes. He said it was some of the most intense training he’s ever had in his life and you taught him more about combat magic that he had learned before,” Draco confirmed. “I was very jealous and still am.”
His future wife laughed softly and shook her head. “I taught him more than that. And we’ll have five years where you can learn just about everything I can teach you. Him, too. I still have more to pass onto him.”
“Thank you!” Draco cut in quickly. Combat magic was something that, as a king, he would need to know, if only to counteract it. If she could teach him how to wield it, that would be even better.
“Once the five years are past, I’m planning on heading north.” Guin pulled a map over and tapped a point much farther into what would be the future Scotland. “Years ago, Merlin set four of us to a task. It’s to found a school and teach a codified and repeatable course on magic. We’ll be using my years here to iron out everything.”
Draco felt a terrible suspicion move through him. He knew, he knew, the date that Hogwarts had been founded. He even knew the names of the founders. Who didn’t? After all, the very houses that students lived in were named after them. But was Guin going to be who he thought she was? She had a decidedly black thumb, so that left Hufflepuff out. The accepted portrait of Rowen Ravenclaw looked nothing like the woman in front of him and well… Slytherin and Gryffindor were both provably male.
“So what will your new name be? Once you and I are no longer married?” Draco asked, anticipation and curiosity pooling in his gut.
Entering their quarters later that night, Draco was still trying to wrap his mind around what Guin had told him. There was no way that he would ever have connected a woman reputed to be one of the biggest intellectuals of her age with the same woman who kicked his arse on the practice fields. And she knew that he had been flabbergasted by something that she had said. Arthur, the bastard, had just sat on his bed and cackled like an arse.
That alone made her reveal worth it. But her revelation really had knocked him off his pins and he needed to know if his lover knew. Because if Harry had known and hadn’t told him, he was going to shave the dear man bald. He had always been curious how long it would take before the semi-sentient hair came back.
“Bedroom,” his lover called.
“Just out of curiosity, why are you never in the sitting room?” Draco asked as he walked into their inner room. Harry was curled up in front of their fireplace, reading one of the books that had been in his bracelet when they had come back. Tilting his head, he saw that it was Lord of the Rings. “You know, now that I think about it, I’m really glad that we didn’t get sent back before I saw the last one of those in the theaters. I think I would have broken magic trying to figure out how to see it.”
“And weren’t you the one who told me that Muggle entertainment was lackluster compared to the stuff the Magical world puts out?” Harry asked as he flipped a page. Draco noticed that he hadn’t answered his question either.
“Being smug is bitchy, darling,” Draco huffed as he threw himself into his own chair. Sitting on the table beside it was a leather-bound copy of The Hobbit. “Then again, you carry smug well.”
“Kiss arse,” Harry told him cheerfully. “So what’s got you in a swivet?”
“I just got some news from Guin. We’re going to be getting married in about two weeks, if that’s okay with Merlin. Once we have me established, she wants me to set her aside because she plans to head north with three friends of hers. And she’s going to be changing her name,” Draco reported as he leafed through the book. It was illustrated and he was charmed by all the hints the images were giving him to the story. “Is this one going to break my heart?”
“Yes. And frustrate you. You’ll still enjoy it,” Harry told him bluntly. “I sit back here most of the time because I don’t want to deal with the various leeches that try for my time now that I’m taking over for Merlin. It’s getting to the point where I want to get someone like Jols to be my public face.”
“You threw one of the ambassadors into a wall, Harry. And you did it without touching them. Merlin hasn’t had a display like that in decades,” Draco told him. “I agree, you need someone there to act as a buffer, but Jols is a little rough around the edges. And I don’t think Tristan would be good.”
Snickering quietly, Harry nodded. “Yeah, he’s not quite the image I want to project.”
“What about Bors’ oldest boy? He’d got at least a touch of magic, and, if I’ve got his age right, he’s about twelve? Maybe thirteen? Old enough to apprentice at least,” Draco suggested.
“I’ll check him out tomorrow. If he passes the check, I’ll talk to Bors and the kids’ mom.” Harry looked up at him. “Now what did Guin do?”
“She’s… Harry, she’s planning at the end of the five years to go north and help found a school for magic. And she’s going to be one of the teachers.” Draco closed his book at put it back on the table so he could get up and pace. Waving his hands, he struggled to get the whole conversation out in a way that made sense. “She’s going to be using a new name, and it just floored me, because the woman doesn’t match the image at all!”
“Uh-huh. I’ve got a pretty good idea,” Harry prompted, and waved him on when he would have stopped. “Who is she going to be?”
“Bugger,” his lover breathed and then sighed. “And did you manage to get a glimpse of the other three?”
“No, they aren’t here yet. She expects them to arrive this summer. Apparently, Merlin set this up years ago. Everyone has basically completed their magical training, so now they need to actually serve somewhere. This will let them get some experience under their belts, maybe some acquire a nest egg, and then strike north,” Draco explained.
It actually made a fair amount of sense. Merlin, Harry’s mentor, hadn’t had a great deal of wealth. He was rich in influence, in magical power and in favors owed, but money was thin on the ground. So having a royal house sponsor the school, maybe support it in the first years, help staff it and even protect it? Was a gift of immense worth. Five years as court sorcerers wasn’t a bad tradeoff for either party. And if he could get Helga Hufflepuff to help him set up his crops?
Yeah, he was a Slytherin, not a moron. Hufflepuff, in the histories he had read, had been reputed to be the best horticulturist of her age. He was going to take every advantage of that he could. Gryffindor had had a talent for building and working with stone, and, hey, he needed a castle now, didn’t he? Slytherin had been described as a whiz at the subtle traps that allowed a defender time to overwhelm any invaders, and he had also a dab hand at medicine. Something that even their Muggle healers could pick up on.
So, yeah, he was going to be picking a LOT of brains over the next five years.
“She’s also offered to continue training us while we while away the next five years,” he offered as a consolation.
The look his lover shot him was full of wonder and irritation. Draco was reasonably certain that his plotting had made it across their bond and Harry was at turns amused and appalled at what he was thinking. Not that he was worried. His lover had been conspiring just as hard.
“Rowena Ravenclaw is the person who trained me in hand to hand, dagger fighting, advance combat magics and how to pinpoint aim spells?” Harry asked as he marked his place in his book and set it aside. “And then takes me out to have a beer and tell bawdy stories?”
“And I’m marrying her,” Draco confirmed.
“You poor bastard,” Harry told him, sarcasm thick in his voice. “You have to marry a beautiful woman. One who is a legend throughout history under her own name and the use name she’s taking.”
“Very funny, Merlin. You have your own legends,” Draco shot back.
“Are we arguing?” Harry asked as he raised an eyebrow at him. Draco stared and then shrugged. Hell if he knew. “Because if we are, I want to skip the whole screaming mess and go straight to where you and I see who can fuck who into the mattress.”
Draco opened his mouth and then snapped it shut. He really couldn’t see a problem with that, and skipping the argument that they were gearing up towards didn’t bother him at all. “You’re a genius; I am all for getting fucked through the mattress, getting pissy with you just… Why would we be arguing?”
“Over who has the biggest legacy?” Harry asked as he climbed out of his chair and headed towards the bed. A wave of his hand and the covers were pulled back and the pillows piled out of the way. “Are we going to wrestle for who’s on top?”
“Love, you know you adore getting fucked. Do you want to give that up just to plow my arse?” Draco asked as he pulled his shirt over his head. To press the point, he turned around then bent over to pull his socks off. He knew that the move did good things for his arse, and, from the sound of his lover choking on air, so did Harry.
“Plowing your arse is looking mighty fine from here,” Harry admitted. “But I have a better idea. Something that will get us what we both want. Now get over here so I can play with your arse.”
Draco laughed softly as he kicked his trousers and pants off before crawling onto the bed. Lying down, he made sure that his dick was tucked up against his belly. The sheet covering the mattress was just a bit chilled and he could feel his nipples crinkling up from the change in temperature even as his cock enjoyed the cool cloth.
“Should I put a warming charm on the bed?” Harry asked as he ran his hands up Draco’s legs. Thanks to an ancestry that was slightly broader than the average purebloods, he had very little body hair. Harry had been fascinated by that when they had first gone to bed, and Draco had reveled in the attention. His lover, on the other hand, was furrier than people would expect, and he had been just as fascinated. The hair felt fantastic moving against his skin.
“No charm, I’m good,” Draco admitted as he spread his legs.
“You are not all that subtle, love.” Harry laughed against the back of his knee. He bit the tendon that ran there, and Draco could feel the shiver move over his skin.
“Why try for subtlety when directness gets me what I want?” Draco asked, voice breathless as his lover bit his way up the back of one leg and down the other. Harry was well aware of exactly how turned on Draco got when he was bit that way.
He had to shift slightly as his cock throbbed and he slid one hand down to palm it. Smoothing his hand up and down the shaft, he turned his head and moaned as his lover parted the globes of his ass. He clenched down, suddenly feeling empty and his runes hadn’t even been touched.
The feel of Harry’s tongue gliding up and down the skin of his perineum got another moan and he whined when he felt the wet tip circle his arsehole. He didn’t bother to hide how much he was enjoying himself as his lover slowly, lovingly, and with great concentration took him apart with his mouth. He let his hand rest against his cock only, and pushed back against Harry, trying to get more.
“Pushy,” Harry muttered right before he turned his head slightly and bit the skin of Draco’s arse.
He panted, voice overwhelmed by the need he was feeling from himself and his lover. The hand he had resting against his cock was almost a tease and Draco shifted to grasp the shaft, not trying to stroke, just holding it. Just as he had his hand clamped down tightly on his cock, Harry activated his prep runes, and the rush of pleasure tipped him over and he screamed his orgasm into the mattress.
When his brain came back up, he could feel the hot length of Harry’s cock in his arse. His lover wasn’t moving, just resting in the clench of the muscles as they rippled with his orgasm. “Fuck me. Please, Harry.”
The growl as Harry pulled out was deeply satisfying and he relaxed into the pleasure burning through him. The orgasm he just had felt like it had only primed his need, and he wanted, oh he wanted, the next rush of pleasure that the cock in his arse was promising.
Hissing slightly at the burn and stretch, he pulled a bit of his magic out and cast a spell that they had talked about, but never used. From the shout and hard thrust of his cock into Draco’s arse, Harry was discovering the benefits of it.
“You beautiful freak,” Harry panted as he slammed harder and harder into Draco. “I can feel a cock made of magic in my arse and it’s amazing. I am so doing this to you as soon as I can.”
The thought of maybe feeling a cock in his arse as he fucked his lover, or even two cocks in his arse as he was fucked, was just too much. The white hot pleasure that had been teasing him with each stroke of Harry’s cock exploded from its spot at the base of his spine and into his brain. For the second time that night, his brain went white with his pleasure and all he could do was ride it out.
Two weeks later, he was standing before the old Merlin and promising that he would respect, honor and provide for his new Queen, Guinevere, to the extent she wished for as long as she wished. In turn, she promised to do the same. The promise that was inherent to his magic, his kingdom, took hold, and he could feel it settle into his core. The room that they had left for themselves within the vow would let them have their own lives until they ended their five-year marriage.
The wedding feast was as lavish and as sumptuous as they could manage, and everyone got to eat their fill. After that, the celebrations, both public and private, went on deep into the night, and Draco got to experience the magic cock as he fucked and was fucked by Harry. It was a fantastic night, and he slept far later than he had expected.
When he woke up, the knights were standing in his sitting room, all decked out in their most formal armor. Dressing quickly, he stepped out and carefully closed the door.
“Okay. Let me have it,” Draco told them.
Galahad took a deep breath and nodded. “The King is dead. Long live the King.”
With that announcement, the four remaining Knights of the Round Table dropped to one knee and swore their loyalty to him in a united voice. Draco ignored the tears running down their faces as they ignored the tears streaming down his when he accepted. They were on their own then.