Fandom: Harry Potter
Related Works: Unexpected Blessings
“So, you can be civilized,” Harry heard as he sipped his coffee.
Harry looked up at his unexpected guest and suppressed a sigh and a bump of old, unwanted irritation. “And yet, you can’t. Interrupting a man’s lunch to butt in while being a smartarse,” he snapped out without thinking.
“Sniping is a time-honored tactic of the noble classes, Potter. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you need to have your head checked even more than I thought,” Malfoy argued with a sniff. He settled into the chair across from Harry and picked up a menu. “What’s good here?”
“Just about everything,” Harry admitted. He stared at Malfoy and tilted his head to the side as he studied the other man. “Why?”
“Why what, Potter?” Malfoy asked as he looked up from his menu.
“Why are you talking to me?” Harry asked as he cupped his hands around his cup. “You’ve avoided me and the rest of Britain for the last ten years. What changed?”
Malfoy pulled out his wand and tapped his selections on the menu before he folded it and set it aside. Then he placed his wand on top of it. Harry watched as he sat back and kept his hands away from the magical focus.
“After the war, I went to the International Academy of Magic to get my Mastery in Potions. I got that in two years versus the four it normally takes. I found it pretty easy in all honesty,” Malfoy said with no false modesty. Harry nodded once. Malfoy had been the most gifted brewer besides Hermione in their year, so it was no surprise. “A year after I graduated, I joined the World Court.”
“That was unexpected,” Harry admitted.
Malfoy tapped his left forearm. “And almost impossible with the Dark Mark on my arm. But there are a number of parselmouths in Europe. When I expressed interest in joining, I was directed to one that was willing to at least look at the damn thing.”
“It was a slave brand, wasn’t it?” Harry asked before he took a sip of his coffee. His meal popped into place and he sat back to pick up his fork.
“Worse,” Malfoy drew in a deep breath and slowly let it out. “It was a siphon, a brand and a tether. Voldemort used our own magic against us. For those who took it voluntarily, they will never get rid of it and will always be searching for their owner because he built loyalty charms into it. Depending on their strength of will, it might push them into behavior to support the search.”
“But you didn’t take it voluntarily,” Harry remembered. It had come out at the other man’s trial that he had been branded because of his father, the Malfoy money and because Voldemort had wanted him. Thankfully he had died before anything had happened.
“No, I didn’t. And I had done my best to resist its call. But we both know how that went,” Malfoy admitted with a wince. “After a lot of time and research, the parselmouth I was introduced to was able to pry the damn thing out of my magic, but it was expensive in terms of money and magic. It took me almost a year to heal from the way it had to be chiseled out of my core. The whole thing wasn’t a afternoons broom ride.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t,” Harry allowed. He wasn’t going to touch the information on Malfoy had been damaged while being healed unless invited. “Everyone else took it voluntarily, didn’t they?”
“Yes,” Malfoy confirmed. He leaned back as his meal popped into place. He started eating his food and hummed in appreciation at it. “This is very good.”
“I like it,” Harry agreed. He cleared his throat and decided to push his luck. “Now, why are you back here? And why meet me?”
“I’m here because I need to take my place in the Wizengamot,” Malfoy finally said after several moments. Harry took the time to eat more of his lunch. The food was too good to waste. “And as to why you? Potter, you’re a force of nature here in Britain. If you had declined to be seen with me or had spurned me? My ability to function here in the UK would be diminished.”
“Politics, Malfoy?” Harry asked. He had a number of reasons for not throwing a fit when Malfoy had sat down, but he was going to keep most of them close to his vest. For the moment.
“Politics, both social and not make the world go ‘round and by now, you should know this,” Malfoy snapped. He took a deep breath placed his silverware on either side of his plate. His wand was still sitting on top of the menu before him. “After seven years working for the Court, I want to come home, Potter. And that means that I need to make sure that I actually have a home to come back to, not just an empty title that will suck the magic from me if I let it.”
“Well this little show will help grease the wheels in society,” Harry said. He poked at his meal. “And I won’t cause problems with you in the Wizengamot. Well, I won’t cause problems when you take your seat. We’ll have to see what your agenda is for anything else.”
“That works for me,” Malfoy admitted before he tucked into his meal. “Eat, Potter. Before someone tries to feed you because you don’t like your meal.”
“You are such an arse,” Harry muttered as he started back on his meal. It was still at the perfect temperature and he appreciated the charm work needed to keep it that way. There were reasons why the café was one of his favorite places to eat.
The silence between them was…calm, Harry decided. He could not have imagined eating a meal like this with Malfoy when they had been at Hogwarts, but he had grown up a lot since he had graduated. When he finished the last bite of his meal he sighed and placed his cutlery on the plate, signaling he was finished. The charm-work took it away and he picked up his coffee.
“Other than getting my agreement not to be an arse in the Wizengamot, why crash my meal, Malfoy?” Harry asked. He had used the meal to think things over and it was too neat. Social politics could not be the only thing that had brought his former archnemesis to treat with him. He wasn’t willing to accept that was the only reason.
Now that he wasn’t distracted by his meal and a reflexive irritation, Harry took the time to study the other man. The white/blond hair hadn’t changed much in the ten years since school, but the frame that had been unfinished and too thin had filled out. Malfoy was never going to be a musclebound man, but he was lithe and there were honest muscles under his robe.
Malfoy toyed with his own drink before he set it aside. “How much have you found out about pureblood traditions?”
“My best friend in the whole world loves to research everything that catches her interest and we spent a memorable year finding out everything that we could about my family. And that included a large number of so-called ‘pureblood traditions’,” Harry admitted.
Malfoy stared at him before waving a hand. “And?”
“Oh, you mean the Book of Souls?” Harry asked.
“Yes, I mean the Book,” Malfoy snapped. “Did you ever go?”
“Am I married to Ginny Weasley?” Harry demanded.
“Well, there’s no wedding band on your finger, but that means nothing,” Malfoy said after glancing at his hand.
“Hermione discovered the tradition of visiting the Book about a month before the wedding would have taken place,” Harry admitted. “She’s nothing if not stubborn and it took her about twenty minutes to get me down to the damn room. To say that we were pissed would the mother of all understatements. You were gone. The only saving grace is neither of us had actually married the Weasley’s we were engaged to and no binding contracts had been signed.
“The fallout of us breaking those engagements was epic and the only ones talking to us now are the twins and Bill. Arthur is at best polite, but he has to deal with Molly, so I don’t hold his distance against him,” Harry said.
Malfoy sat back, slumping in his chair like his strings had been cut. “Thank Merlin.”
“Merlin had nothing to do with that,” Harry disagreed. “Hermione and I have been waiting on you to get your blond arse back into England for the last nine years. We were content to let things lie while you were in school but that changed once you graduated. Every time we reached out to the World Court, we got told to mind our own business and if we tried to contact you outside of their aegis, they would sanction us. We stopped actively trying about five years ago.”
“I promised the Court seven years in a contract for the help they provided in freeing me of the Dark Mark,” Draco revealed. “I had to be willing to pay for healing I got and was. Getting clean of Voldemort’s influence was worth the effort. I’m just sorry for the time we’ve lost.”
Harry took a deep breath and shook his head. “Hermione and I would have never wanted you to break that type of a contract. I’m sure it was sworn on your magic?”
“Oh, yeah,” Malfoy confirmed. “But I feel clean and have since the Mark was removed.”
Harry took in the clear-eyed look the other man was giving him. “Then the price was worth it.”
“Are you and Hermione married?” Malfoy asked. He glanced at Harry’s hand again.
“Nope. The Black title would let me fold you in if Hermione and I had gotten married since the Blacks were rather pragmatic about acquiring spouses. The Potter title won’t. So, for me to actually be able to marry my soulmates, both of them have to be there for the ceremony,” Harry explained. “Be glad she isn’t here because you have some ground to make up with her.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Draco promised. He slid one hand along the table to rest in front of Harry. “I’ve been ignoring the temptation you two represent for almost twenty years. I’m finally free to be able to go after what I want. And I want you two.”
“About damn time,” Hermione announced as she slid into the chair between them. She took both of their hands into hers and the bond that had been quiescent and hidden by age and immaturity burst into being. “About damn time.”