Title: A Very Determined Universe
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione, Pansy/Neville, Ginny/Luna
Summary: Draco is determined that his first time with Harry will go absolutely right. That means checking all the circumstances to make sure they don't get accidentally telepathically bonded, like all their friends. No unexpected astronomical conjunction, ritual they didn't mean to perform, or hidden creature heritage is going to make things go wrong for them.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Bonding fic, fluff, humor
Epilogue compliant? Nope. EWE
Word Count: 9100
Author's/Artist's Notes: Written for hueyswife in the 2013 Glompfest at serpentinelion. As you can probably tell from the summary, this story is mostly fluffy and humorous, with bonding the central trope. I hope you enjoy. My beta was my friend Linda, tremendously accomplished as always.
A Very Determined Universe
Draco paused to stare at the rings in the shop window. He was in the middle of Diagon Alley, and knew there were eyes on him. If he turned around, of course, all those people would promptly go back to their business and pretend they'd never been staring at him. They had better things to do, their shoulders and the set of them would suggest, than staring at an admitted Death Eater.
Who happened to be dating the Chosen One.
Draco felt like turning around and spitting that in all their faces sometimes. It wasn't the normal witches, or the normal wizards for that matter, with their dreams of green-eyed children and a life full of parties and the flash of cameras, who'd got Harry. It was him, nasty little scar on his arm and all.
Draco squared his shoulders. Yes, he had Harry, and they'd been dating for almost six months, and they'd spent a few nights in bed together, but tonight was still special. Tonight was still the first time that they intended to go all the way.
Which meant he had a mission to complete here, and it didn't include mooning over rings while people stuck out their tongues at his back. He pushed open the shop door with a jangle of the bell on it sharp enough to bring the proprietor, a plump little wizard with an oiled black beard, running out.
He looked like his tongue had turned backwards when he saw Draco, but he seemed to remember in time who Draco was dating, and what he might be there for. So he bowed and said, "How can I help you, sir?" He forced out the "sir" against his will, apparently, but Draco didn't care much as long as it was there.
"I want to know about those rings," Draco said, and pointed at the pair in the front window. "Are they made of silver with needles hidden inside them that will pop out and poison anyone who twists the stone?"
"N-no," the shop owner fumbled, obviously wondering whether that was a good answer or not.
Draco nodded. "And they also don't have needles that carry a mystic poison that would make the people they touched unable to leave each other's sides?"
The man clasped his beard in his fingers and combed his hand through it this time. "No," he said, his voice a little firmer. "I don't think there is such a poison. Maybe you ought to talk to a Potions master—"
"I already have," Draco said, and that was true, since he'd spoken to Professor Snape's portrait at length before he set out.
He must have said the words in just the right tone, because the man bowed submissively. Draco continued. "And what are the rings made of? They look like platinum, but I don't think they can be."
"They are platinum," the man protested, wounded. "The stones are real rubies, and I'll have you know that I supervised the making of the settings myself."
Draco sniffed. "And are they absolutely identical? No doubt with mystic symbols engraved on the inside of the bands?"
"No symbols." The man was back to staring at him as if he was mental again. He wouldn't, Draco thought grimly, if he could know some of the experiences that Draco's friends had gone through in the last few months. "The bands are left blank, for the sake of any names or blessings that the couple wants to put there."
Draco turned and gestured. The proprietor hurried forwards to lift the rings off their soft silken cushions just inside the window.
Up close, Draco had to admit that they were even more beautiful than he'd thought. The rubies glimmered like sullen fire, and when he reached out and touched one finger to the platinum, he found it exactly as cool and silky as he should have. He had spent some time with platinum in his hands in an apothecary before coming here, so he knew what the ordinary metal felt like. If it had been charged with any Dark or bonding magic, he would have known.
Especially bonding magic.
The rings themselves were plain, without the carvings of lions or snakes Draco had once dreamed of, but that was probably all to the good. Then it couldn't turn out they were the long-lost rings of some pure-blood family, and merely wearing them would mean that you were bonded for life.
Draco snorted to himself. When he had said something to Granger about avoiding a bond, she had looked at him indignantly and asked him if he really didn't mean to stay with Harry, then.
Aside from the fact that he and Harry had only been together for six months and Draco thought it was a little early to be talking about marriage right around the corner, there was the fact that Draco actually wanted to choose the bond that would someday connect them, not just wake up and find that they were chattering into each other's minds. But when he had started to say that, Harry had seized his hand and pressed it down, hard, and Draco had been obliged to give it up.
He cared a lot more about what Harry thought of him than what Granger did, anyway.
"You're going to take the rings, then?"
Draco snapped back to the present, and to the shopkeeper who didn't know anything about the inconvenience of having your friends all be in telepathically bonded couples, and to have to watch their smiles and frowns and chuckles and scowls as they chattered back and forth in their heads, in conversations you couldn't join. At least the rings looked perfectly normal. Draco examined them one more time, then nodded graciously.
The man murmured his thanks and appreciation, and offers of further special boxes for the rings, which Draco declined to listen to. He handed over the Galleons for the rings and stepped out, placing the plain silver box the man had handed him deep in his pocket.
Nothing was going to go wrong tonight.
Harry leaned back in his chair and studied the chart of stars in front of him with a frown. Granted, he had never been the best at Astronomy, but it looked as though Mars was in the wrong place in this particular picture of the sky.
"Something I can help you with?"
Harry grunted and handed over the chart to Aurora. She was better with them anyway—as she should be, being the Astronomy Professor. Harry dug into his sandwich and shook his head, only clearing his throat with difficulty. "I have a ritual to perform tonight, and I want to make sure that Mars isn't in the wrong place to interfere with it."
"That would depend on the kind of ritual you want to perform," Aurora answered absently, still studying the chart.
Harry flicked her a sharp glance, but she didn't seem to know anything about how advanced his relationship with Draco was and the ways they were trying to keep it from going wrong, at least if the innocent line of her throat was any indication. Harry finally swallowed and said, "It's, ah—a ritual to make sure that I have some luck in love, actually. Find someone who wants me for myself and not for my fame." Or because I'm good at Defense. To Harry's bewilderment, that had actually been one of the reasons that some of his students fancied him.
At least Draco loved him for reasons other than that. Really good ones, actually.
Aurora glanced at him with a funny little smile that made him think she did know after all, and murmured, "No, Mars won't interfere with that. You're worried about an accidental bond?"
Harry grimaced. He might as well admit it, he supposed. "Yeah. Ron and Hermione performed their wedding ceremony on the night of a full moon, with Jupiter apparently in conjunction with Venus or something."
"Not Venus," Aurora said authoritatively. "It wouldn't be Venus."
Harry shrugged. "Well, I don't remember. But suddenly they were telepathically bonded, which they didn't plan on."
"Yes, a telepathic bond can be a trial," Aurora murmured with such sympathy that Harry wondered if she had been bonded herself. But during all the years that he had worked as the Defense professor—nearly six, now—she had never talked about it, and he had to wonder.
Then he looked at her, and had to smile in spite of himself. Aurora had the reminiscent grimace on her face that meant she had known someone who was bonded.
"They're always talking to you as though you're the slow and strange one, because they have to use words with you," Harry muttered.
"And laughing at nothing, and then trying to reassure you that it's not something you did or said," Aurora agreed, shuddering a little. "While you never know when to believe them. And you have the sensation that they're making dirty jokes behind your back, in their heads."
"And turning red in the face and spluttering into their food." Harry shuddered back. "Sitting beside Ron when he's really hungry is a trial already. I don't need to know whatever it was Hermione said to him to make him blush like that. I don't need to feel it, either."
"Feel it?" Aurora looked at him with raised eyebrows.
"Mashed potatoes landing on your ear." Harry rubbed the side of his head. "Half-chewed mashed potatoes, mind you. Once felt, never forgotten."
Aurora nodded. "I can see that." She studied the star chart again, moving the edge of it out of the way as her plate whisked itself back to the kitchens. "It would depend on whether you're looking at this for a wedding or a more, ah, intimate joining."
"The second one," Harry mumbled, aware that his face was turning red and that the students at the tables were watching him eagerly. A lot of them thought that a sudden telepathic bond with the Hero of the Wizarding World would be "romantic." Harry already had to evade multiple love potions in his food and gifts they gave him, and even spilled on the corner of a paper once, in the case of an extremely persistent third-year Hufflepuff. It made Draco angry, and Harry anxious.
Harry would have wished that some of them would get bonded, if not for their age, and learn that it wasn't as romantic as they thought. Even without being in a bond, listening to Ron's and Neville's and even Ginny's distressed explanations made it sound bad enough.
"Then you should be well off," Aurora proclaimed, handing the chart back to him. "No influence from the heavens to favor a bonding."
Harry grabbed the chart and squinted at her. "Do you know something?" he demanded. "Something that could cause a bonding? Something you're not telling us?"
"I only see one person sitting here, and I don't think he's bonded yet," Aurora retorted, and then her eyes softened. "No, Harry. Honestly. As far as the stars are concerned, you should have a happy future, inside your own heads. It's just that there are so many strange things out there, as proved by the sudden rash of bondings among wizards of your generation."
Harry shook his head and folded the chart. "I know. That's why we're splitting it up to check on all the possible influences. Draco and I," he added at Aurora's raised eyebrow, although he was sure that she knew who his partner was.
"Good luck." Aurora saluted him with her cup and returned to what looked like one of the more respectable new papers launched by the failure of the Daily Prophet to report on anything but bondings now. They might as well change their name to the Matchmaker, Harry thought in irritation.
He looked at his watch, and scrambled to his feet. He would check on the next item on his list during lunch, but for now, he still had classes to teach.
"Veela," Draco said, looking at his list.
His mother paused with her teacup halfway to her lips. "Excuse me, dear?" she asked, in a voice that indicated that Draco should hold himself lucky to be excused.
Draco shook his list at her. "I want to know what kinds of creature heritage we might have in our family line," he explained. "Specifically, creatures that might be prone to demanding a mate and bonding telepathically to the first suitable one. You've eliminated vampire and merfolk for me. Thank you. But now I need to know if there's any Veela. Harry was afraid there might be, since you were blond in a family of dark-haired children."
Narcissa put her cup down next to her plate with deliberate movements, and patted her lips with even softer little motions of her napkin. Draco winced. He wished that he had brought Harry with him for moral support, but Harry had slipped out of that duty with some excuse about having to work.
"Is this your polite way of asking if I'm a bastard child, Draco?" His mother's voice was very low, and very soft, and very gentle. Draco thought he knew how the guards at Azkaban felt when his mother went to visit his father. "My mother was Druella Rosier. That was never in doubt. Are you asking whether my father was Cygnus Black?"
Draco darted his eyes around the room. There were no knives within grasping distance, and his mother hadn't drawn her wand yet. That was good. That was good, right?
Not really. It just made him wonder what else she might pick to kill him with.
"I was asking if there was any Veela blood in our lineage." Draco cleared his throat and managed to hang onto his courage with his fingernails. Dating Harry was good practice for that, really. Harry had never met an opponent he didn't want to fight, or a cause he didn't want to champion, except the cause of blood purity. "I didn't think there was any in the Malfoy line. I just wanted to know if any could have come through the Black line."
"Or the Rosier?" His mother was still smiling at him. It was the most frankly terrifying thing Draco had seen in a long time.
"I didn't mean to insult you," he said helplessly.
Narcissa finally sighed and leaned back in her chair, one hand on the table. "Please tell me what lies behind this request, Draco," she said. "You're asking about Veela specifically, in a way that you didn't with the blood of the other creatures. That was going down a list. This is a real request. Why?"
Draco managed to avoid gaping, but it was hard. How did she do that? Read his mind and tell what was really important to him?
"Practice, and being a mother," Narcissa said, and smiled at him when Draco's jaw fell open this time. "Now, close that and tell me where this is coming from."
Draco swallowed and stared at the table. "Lovegood," he admitted. "Luna Lovegood," he added, when his mother's raised eyebrows forced him to admit that she would have no reason to be familiar with the family who ran the Quibbler. "It turned out she had Veela blood, and she bonded with Ginny Weasley when they—when they were intimate."
His mother lifted her cup to her lips and gave a polite cough. Draco stared at her suspiciously. It sounded as though she was concealing a laugh, but he didn't know if that was true or not. He didn't know why she would want to, or why she would think this a laughing matter.
"I see," his mother said, and cleared her throat in turn. "No, Draco, we have no Veela blood. Go on and ask the next question."
Draco nodded and looked down at the list, feeling excitement squirm in his belly. It seemed more and more as if he and Harry might have the chance at a first time unmarred by any bonding.
Well. Always assuming that Harry found that the star chart was clear and that the next matter he had to attend to was also transparent, of course.
"Speak to me, Slytherin, Greatest of the Hogwarts Four!"
Harry had to admit he felt absolutely ridiculous standing down in the Chamber of Secrets and bellowing that at a statue, but he would feel even more ridiculous if it turned out that he and Draco bonded because he was secretly related to Slytherin.
The mouth of the statue fell open. Harry braced himself, but no basilisk came rushing out. Harry sighed in relief, and held up his robes as he splashed through the remains of the last one he'd killed. He could have managed if another one had shown up; after six years as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, he'd learned spells that would have made his twelve-year-old self gape in awe. But he and Draco did have a schedule to keep to.
The chamber beyond was musty, dark, and heated with unobtrusive Warming Charms, just the sort of place you'd imagine would be needed to keep a giant snake alive. Harry wandered up to the mystic carvings on the nearest wall. The walls were covered with mystic carvings, of course. They would be. Harry didn't know if all of the Founders were like that—he rather hoped Gryffindor had had better taste—but Slytherin was, there was no doubt of it.
Harry began to press on all the carvings he could find, mostly serpents and spears (which made him wonder exactly what Slytherin had been compensating for), and speak to them in Parseltongue. So much for Dumbledore's theory that Harry had got the ability to speak Parseltongue from having Voldemort's Horcrux inside him; the ability had remained when the Horcrux was dead. Harry just wanted to make sure that he wasn't connected, by blood or magic, to Slytherin, supposedly one of the most powerful wizards ever to live, and that that connection wouldn't come out in an inconvenient fashion when he and Draco were having sex.
But none of the carvings he pressed slid back into the wall. None of them reacted, no matter what words he hissed at them. Harry called himself Slytherin's heir several times in Parseltongue, and it never took. Harry ended up panting from the Warming Charms, feeling a right mess with the snake guts he hadn't been able to avoid smeared on his boots and his hair plastered to his forehead with sweat, but also sure that he hadn't been mistaken. Tom Riddle had really been the last heir of Slytherin. Harry was a Parselmouth for some unfathomable reason. It had nothing to do with a close enough connection to Slytherin to command the Founder's magic, though.
He left the room, shaking his head. Draco had the strangest ideas sometimes, but Harry was willing to do almost anything to make him happy.
And it wasn't like Draco hadn't been willing to do his own share of bizarre checking, to make sure that there was nothing that could possibly bond them.
"I might have known you would show up sooner or later."
Draco smiled at Pansy and stepped into the house. "I assume that Longbottom isn't home?"
"No." Pansy closed her eyes for a second and clasped her hands in front of her. "Let me just shut the bond so that…there, now he knows you're here but he won't know what we're talking about. Anything to do with sex so embarrasses him, you know." She rolled her eyes and led Draco further into the house, past a conservatory filled with flowering plants and into a kitchen that had Pansy's touch, complete with luxurious and gleaming covers on the table. "I sometimes wonder how I ended up bonded to him."
"There was a story about rare plants, and a dusting of pollen, and someone who thought it would be fun to seduce a blushing Gryffindor virgin," Draco muttered, expertly ducking the swat that she aimed at his head a minute later.
"Keep that up, and you'll get no help," Pansy said, shaking her head as Draco sat down and admired the pattern of damask roses throwing sunlight on the wall through the glass window. "I don't have to, you know."
"No, you don't have to." Draco reached across the table, took her hand, and squeezed it, smiling at her. "Which means that I'm exceedingly grateful that you took the chance and decided to speak with me."
Pansy exhaled hard enough to flutter the hair on her forehead, and shook her head in response. "You're too charming for your own good," she muttered. "I suppose that was what Potter saw in you. Now." She held Draco's gaze. "You're going to promise me that this goes no further than Potter?"
Draco nodded. "No further than me, really. Harry will be satisfied not to know the details as long as I can reassure him that the same accident that happened to you isn't going to happen to us. And since we're not getting bonded…"
Pansy smiled again. "Good."
But then she sat looking out through the window next to her, as though the sight of the immense gardens would remind her better what she meant to say next. Draco ate the lovely biscuits that a house-elf brought out and didn't interrupt her. He did wonder if the house-elf belonged to the Parkinsons or the Longbottoms. Pansy's family didn't have much money left, but Longbottom's family didn't have much sense.
Pansy finally turned around. Her forehead and her jaw were both set. Draco sat up and stopped thinking about irrelevant things. Too bad that the questions that had brought him here meant he couldn't stop thinking about distasteful things.
"I did decide that it would be fun to seduce a blushing Gryffindor virgin," said Pansy quietly. "But I also was attracted to Neville for his own sake, you know. I met him at the Hog's Head and he spent thirty minutes telling me about how he got a black rose to grow in hard soil."
Draco blinked, but nodded. The things he and Harry talked about would probably sound just as boring to Longbottom and Pansy.
Although probably not that boring.
Pansy's eyes strayed out the window again. "It was sweet. He was so nervous. He wanted to, but his hands kept shaking. I thought he would knock the glass over before we could get out of the Hog's Head, but luckily we weren't that bad.
"No, we got home and he showed me his black roses. They were perfect, Draco. Really black, not that kind of dark blue they try to sell as black." Pansy turned around and looked at him. "Black as the Dark Lord's heart."
Draco winced despite himself. "You're the only one who would say something like that, Pansy," he muttered.
"Now." Pansy tossed her head. "But a few years ago, before everyone got so humorless about the war, you would find other people who could admit that they might like to hear a joke."
Draco met her eyes and rotated his wrist.
Pansy sighed. "Fine. So I kissed Neville there in the garden, and we got too busy to go inside. When I next—paid attention to something other than what was right in front of me, there was some pollen on my wrist. Neville said it didn't matter. The black roses couldn't actually breed with each other yet. They were all sterile, and Neville had to grow them each year. So there was nothing that the pollen could do even if it got on me."
Pansy rolled her eyes, with a faint smile on her face. "That comforted me until we woke up the next morning hearing each other's thoughts."
Draco leaned forwards, intent. "Did Longbottom ever figure out what went wrong with the plants? Why that particular kind influenced you? Is it something that could happen with any magical plant, not just a magically created one?"
Pansy's smile turned wicked. "Why, Draco, where are you planning to take Potter tonight? Into the middle of the Forbidden Forest?"
Draco said nothing. Pansy would know that wasn't it, and frankly, that was as much as Draco wanted her to know.
"Be that way, then," Pansy said, and sighed again, to confirm to Draco that she was most dreadfully disappointed in him. "Neville still isn't sure what happened. Why the flowers' pollen managed to affect us when it was supposed to be sterile, I mean. He's sure that no other magically-created plant would have the same effect, though. It wouldn't matter how much pollen you got on you. He does know that it happened partially because he'd been helping the plants to breed, and then he engaged in his own act of…breeding…right in front of them."
She cocked her head a second later, and a smile that was far too blissful for Draco's tastes curled her lips. "Oh, dear. He knows that we're talking about the sex now, and he's shocked at that, the poor thing."
Draco waved his hand. He could listen to Pansy's meanderings any time. What he wanted to know at the moment was whether she could offer him anything else. "And he doesn't think that it could happen in his greenhouses? Or with flowers that were attached to someone else?"
Pansy shook her head. "The bond between Neville and his plants is on the level of ritual magic, almost, Draco. He figured that out a little too late, but that's what it has to be. The exact mechanics of the ritual still escape his research, but as long as neither of you has that talent in Herbology, then you should be safe."
Draco nibbled one more biscuit and sighed in satisfaction. "Thank you, Pansy. This is delicious, and the news is what I hoped it would be."
Pansy picked up a biscuit, finally, and ate it, cocking her head at him like a curious bird. "Why are you so desperate to avoid the bond? I do keep hearing that it's very nearly the done thing to do nowadays."
"Yes, but everyone's was accidental," Draco pointed out. "Even the way that Weasley and Granger bonded wasn't what they expected. Perhaps someday Harry and I will want a bond like that, but for now, we want to be able to choose the way we interact. Not suddenly wake up hearing each other's thoughts because the stars were aligned or we have cursed rings."
Pansy studied him in a long moment of silence. Then she shook her head and whispered, "You are gone on him, Draco, aren't you? You love him so much you don't even want the edge of manipulating him that the bond would give you."
"As if you're any less gone on Longbottom." Draco snorted.
Pansy gave him an indulgent smile. "That's true. But I manipulate him all the time." She concentrated, and Draco couldn't tell what she'd done until she continued. "In bed, in the bathroom, on the floor, against the wall…"
A moment later, she laughed, and he knew that she'd unblocked the bond and, somewhere, Longbottom's ears were turning red.
"Mr. Potter. What brings you here?"
Good old goblins, Harry thought. It wouldn't matter to them whether he was a professor or an Auror or the savior of the wizarding world, they would never call him by a title. And they would always be grumpy.
Of course, part of that might have had to do with the way he had broken into Gringotts during the war, but oddly enough, Harry didn't think it did. The goblins hadn't exactly forgiven him that, but there were other ways of handling debts. Harry had done his share of them, and now the goblins just treated him like any other wizarding customer who came in and tried to remove gold from their possession.
"I need a list of bloodline artifacts in the Potter vaults," Harry said, and placed a piece of parchment in front of the goblin, who had brightened up at the news that he wasn't going to withdraw money. "The goblin Ornug told me that pricking my finger and dropping blood on this special parchment should create a flawless list?"
The goblin nodded, lips pursed as if he hated to admit to anything, and then leaned forwards. Harry ignored the bustle around him, other eyes staring at him—even now he was an object of gawking for humans, who were less polite than goblins—and drew his wand. "Diffindo," he murmured, aiming at the end of his finger.
Luckily, he had got better at this demonstration recently, since it was helpful for a lot of spells he cast in Defense, and the drop formed, trembled, turned hesitant, and finally fell on the parchment. Harry watched as the blood spiraled away, thinning and lengthening, until finally it spun in place in the middle of the parchment and formed into letters.
It was longer than Harry had expected. A few enchanted rings, enchanted mirrors, a sword—for dragonslaying, the list said—a unicorn horn, a glass dagger, and some crystal rods that Harry noted were for various purposes, including translation of different languages. The goblin in front of him stood impassively still, as though he wasn't interested. Harry knew perfectly well he was probably reading the list upside-down.
It didn't matter, though, because Harry saw nothing on the list that related to sex, marriage, or bonding. That had been what he had come here to find out, and he stepped back from the counter with a large sigh of relief.
"Mr. Potter?" The goblin was frowning again, probably because Harry had been disappointing this time by refusing to act like a normal human. "Did you find everything in order?"
Harry shrugged. "I didn't know the name and nature of every bloodline artifact in my vaults until now, but everything seems in order." He handed the parchment to the goblin, who made it vanish. Harry was sure that it would find its way to the goblin who handled his accounts on a day-to-day basis; any goblin would do to witness the creation of the list in the first place. Harry trusted goblins not to gossip, if not to pry. "Thank you."
He turned and walked out of the bank, and stares and murmurs followed him. Maybe because he was there at all, maybe because he was leaving without huge bags of Galleons, maybe because of the huge grin on his face that he was carrying.
But the last avenue they had been able to think of had been closed off, at least if Draco was successful—and Harry knew he would have owled him if he'd found something. No crazy star alignments or secret bloodline curses or secret heritage would bond them against their will.
Tonight was going to be perfect.
Harry's voice was so low that Draco thought he had imagined it at first. But Harry sat up and turned towards him, and Draco knew he hadn't.
They were in his private dining room in the Manor, one that had a deep ledge right below the giant window that looked out across the gardens. Draco wasn't sure what the point of that ledge was—perhaps one of his ancestors had put a huge ward or vase there—but he had covered the bottom of it with cushions and turned it into a seat. Harry's hair sparked a little in the light of the candles as he turned around, and then his eyes did the same thing.
Draco put down the tray he was carrying on the single table, small and smooth and of polished wood, and crossed the room to kiss Harry unhurriedly. Harry rose equally slowly to his feet, smoothing Draco's hair back from his face. His hand lingered on Draco's cheekbone, and Draco closed his eyes and turned his cheek into it, rubbing back and forth until Harry chuckled and withdrew his hand.
"You'll make me forget what we came here for," he said.
Draco opened his eyes and grinned at him dizzily. "Aren't we here for this?" He and Harry had snogged and exchanged handjobs and blowjobs before, but this was the first night they would spend together in a bed.
"Yes, but we wanted to eat first." Harry kissed him again, intense enough to make Draco want to melt, and then stepped back. "There's also the step of presenting the rings, in case you forgot."
Draco laughed breathlessly. He felt as if he was floating in a cloud of light and silk and joy and noise, and he had forgotten the rings enough that the little weight of the box in his pocket surprised him when he reached down again. "I chose them because I had to," he explained, passing the box over to Harry. "You have no taste." He paused and pretended to consider that again, then shook his head. "Well, you had some, but you used up your lifetime supply in choosing me."
Harry took the box and smiled at him, and then he opened the box and saw the rings, and caught his breath. Draco had a single, terrifying moment when he wondered if the rings reminded Harry of a painful memory.
But then Harry looked back up and said simply, "They're beautiful," and then slid to a knee and held up one of them. Draco looked down on him and swallowed. He had been able to hear his heartbeat and the flickering of the candles a second ago. Now they seemed to have gone silent.
"Will you marry me?" Harry asked softly.
It wasn't a surprise. It had no reason to hit Draco like a soft punch that seemed to bloom outwards through his body.
Maybe I didn't really believe he would ask me until I heard it, despite how much I trust him, Draco thought, and extended his hand in wordless answer. The ruby shone up at him as Harry slid the ring he held onto Draco's finger. Draco sighed at the feel of the platinum from the inside, and then reached down and plucked the ring still lying in the box deftly up.
"Only if you marry me, too," he said, which he felt might make up for some of his stupidity in standing there and gaping at Harry.
"I will," Harry said. "I think part of me has been waiting all my life for this."
He held out his hand, fingers splayed so that Draco could slip the ring onto the proper one without touching the others. Even Harry seemed to fall still when the ring was actually in place. Draco stroked the ruby, up and down, and Harry's hand twitched a little, before he suddenly lunged forwards and seized Draco's waist in a strong grip, drawing Draco against him.
Draco didn't have time for a squeak, because Harry's mouth seized his the way his arm had wrapped around him. Draco was glad, and not just because the tongue pushing into his mouth had a delicious taste. This way, it meant that he hadn't squeaked, and his reputation for dignity was at least still partially intact.
Harry let him go from the kiss, put his hands on Draco's shoulders, and shook him a little, grinning at him.
"Let's have the betrothal dinner quickly," he said. "I find myself looking forward to the betrothal night too much to waste time."
Draco tossed him an arch glance and walked over to the table and the tray he'd set on it, glad that there would be a chair to catch him and prop his arse up. His legs were still shaking.
Harry had never had such a delicious dinner. The soft red jellies and the myriad different kinds of cakes and the thinly-sliced meat and the cool cheeses that splayed and splashed out onto the thin china plates Draco handed him all combined to make a delicate, fine meal. It was like stepping into a splashing fountain and being refreshed.
But he doubted he would have found it so delicious if Draco hadn't been sitting across from him and feeding Harry most of the food with his fingers.
It had taken them a while to work out the best way of doing that, actually. Draco picked up the first quivering cake, and it slid through his fingers in an explosion of cream and dropped to the plate. Harry laughed, mostly at Draco's expression of utter dismay, and Draco looked back up with glowing eyes and cheeks.
"Fine, then," he said. "Since we can't eat it one way, we're going to eat it another." And he held out his cream-smeared fingers to Harry's mouth.
Harry stuck out his tongue and lapped at Draco's thumb, up to the knuckle, sucking the sweet cream and keeping his eyes on Draco's face. When Draco's face spasmed and his jaw set and his eyes started rolling back, then Harry grinned and moved onto Draco's other fingers.
The rest of the meal went like that. Draco grazed a slice of cheese from Harry's palm. Harry draped his fingers in juice by moving them back and forth over the silky surface of a piece of thin ham and then rubbed them across Draco's lips. Draco cupped a cake in his hands like a child offering a treat to a unicorn, and Harry came around the table and dropped to his knees to eat it. Then he ate the next one from Draco's lap, paying serious attention to the motions of both his tongue and Draco's squirming hips and flushing face.
When Draco returned the favor, Harry had had enough. He waited until Draco had eaten the last of the cake, though, both because he didn't want Draco hungry later and because Draco would complain if cream got onto the sheets, and then he pulled Draco to his feet and kissed him again, hard enough to smash his lips flat.
Draco tried to climb him, so Harry deduced he approved. He grinned into the kiss and steered Draco to the side, towards the door that he knew opened into the bedroom. Draco moved with him, eyes wide and hazy.
The bedroom had been Draco's for years, ever since he stopped being a child and his parents let him choose where in the Manor he wanted to sleep, and Harry had to grin at the accumulated books and cauldrons and clothing, and the stuffed cupboards that held what wouldn't fit on the tables or the hooks. Draco tilted his head back haughtily, a flush that had little or nothing to do with what they'd been doing spreading down his chest.
"This is my home," he said. "And the house-elves would clean it up if I asked them to. I just don't often ask them to."
"I think it's wonderful," Harry whispered back into his ear, and nipped the earlobe to make his point. "Among other things, it's about as far from a brooding old room full of secret artifacts that could bond us as possible."
Draco looked startled before he laughed, and Harry knew he'd forgotten the possibility of a bond. Well, so had Harry, to be honest, until he brought it up to comfort Draco that he didn't disapprove. He dropped to his knees and began undoing Draco's trousers.
Draco gasped and almost stabbed Harry in the chin with his erection. Harry turned his head to the side and let his cheek rub against it, but persisted in undoing Draco's trousers. He hadn't got good at curses and clever with his wand for nothing; his fingers made swift work of the buttons that he would have found horrendously complex only a few years ago.
When Draco was free, Harry took him lightly in hand and held him there, stroking, for long seconds before he looked up.
Draco was staring at him, transfixed, and Harry lunged up, forgetting all the other things he had thought of doing, to kiss him. That look made him want to touch Draco, do things to Draco, draw Draco down with him into a maelstrom, but above all, not tease. Things had to happen now.
Draco seemed happy to agree, and drew Harry along, moaning, towards his bed, which was filled with a surprising amount of frills for someone who kept insisting that he'd once been a big, bad Dark wizard. Harry tipped Draco onto it, and Draco bounced.
Both with his body and with his erection, Harry was happy to notice.
He lay down on top of Draco and started kissing his chest while he pulled his shirt off. Draco wasn't much help. His arms seemed to flop around him, and he stared at Harry and shook his head now and then. Harry was afraid that might be doubt, so he kissed his mouth, and things got complicated.
"Your shirt, too," Draco whispered at last, when their mouths were free again, because fainting from lack of breath wasn't sexy.
Draco's voice was, though. Harry thought he might have scored himself with his nails getting the shirt off, and hoped not. That was for Draco's fingers to do, if he wanted to.
Draco's eyes snapped downwards when Harry's shirt was gone, though, and Harry laughed and stripped off the rest of his clothes, too. It seemed Draco couldn't wait to get a look at him, even though he'd seen Harry plenty of times before.
But this was the first time with a ring on his finger, Harry reasoned.
Draco reached out and held his hand motionless in the air. Harry knew what he wanted without having to ask, and conjured lube onto Draco's palm. Then he coated himself by rubbing back and forth, letting Draco feel the length of him, the warmth of him, and the way that Harry's nail traced a circle on his hand when he reached down to soak his fingers in turn.
Draco tilted his head back and moaned. Harry was glad. That meant Draco wasn't looking at his cock, and didn't see the way Harry twitched at the sound of his moan and almost came.
Then Harry knelt down, separated Draco's legs—which were parting, but not fast enough for him—and glided his finger impatiently into Draco's entrance.
Draco huffed out and muttered, "See if I ever do this for you again."
Harry grinned, kissed his knee, and added a second finger. Draco winced. Harry just kept them moving back and forth. Wincing didn't mean stop. It just meant that Harry was doing something right, because the next instant, the taut muscles in Draco's legs relaxed, and he once again gave an impatient moan.
Harry didn't even get to find Draco's prostate, or at least he didn't think so. Not unless Draco reacted to getting his prostate touched by locking his legs around Harry's head and insisting, "That's enough!" He never had before.
Then again, this was new in a lot of ways.
Harry rose to his feet and looked Draco in the eyes as he took himself in hand. Draco licked his lips and nodded. Harry guided himself in this time, closing his eyes even though he really wanted to keep looking at Draco. It was just too much, the stars bursting in his head and his blood singing and leaping behind his eyelids.
The pleasure was there. Draco's pleasure was there, from the way he arched towards Harry and wordlessly begged with his hips. And the gleam of the rings was there when Harry opened his eyes to look. That was the final reminder that everything was new.
They had wanted to wait, and it had been a good decision.
Fully seated, Harry leaned down and kissed Draco's chest again. Draco gasped with the shift in pressure, and Harry grinned and thrust his hips a little. Then he thrust them a lot more, a lot faster than he meant to. Fuck, fucking felt good.
But fucking Draco felt better than that, and while Harry had wondered once if he would feel confined or impatient when he settled down with just one person for the rest of his life, he knew better now.
"Please," Draco whispered, less a prayer than a curse, and Harry began to thrust again. The whole bed shifted with them, the frills trembling, the curtains swaying in a way that made Harry hope the rods didn't fall down.
Then he decided that one could have worse goals than to bring them down, and he reached out and gathered Draco's wrists in his hands, holding them back against the pillow, firmly holding Draco's eyes in tandem.
Draco gasped for him, writhed for him, and arched his neck for him, showing Harry the flush deepening along his throat until he thought that he'd be driven mental. Then again, Harry was thrusting for Draco, and groaning with his mouth open, and his own chest was flushed when he looked down.
They were together. They both deserved whatever they could give each other.
Harry lost himself in the rocking, the rattling and swaying of the bed, and all the colors Draco turned and the sounds he made, most of which Harry hadn't known about before. When he began to speed up, he found himself as surprised as Draco, who took in a deep breath and held it.
And who released it as a steady stream of come, against Harry's chest and stomach.
Harry rose on his knees, thrusting steadily, trying to draw out Draco's pleasure, waiting for the moment when Draco's head flopped back and his eyes shut. Draco hadn't shut his eyes one time, Harry thought. He was faithful to their pleasure.
Or trapped in it.
The thought made Harry pump his hips, hard, and the bed rattled again, and Harry came just as the rods fell down after all, and draped the edges of the bed with thick swathes of silk and satin and whatever else the curtains were made of.
Draco laughed as he reached up to caress Harry's back, and made little whispering noises more delicious than words, which just urged Harry further along, until he thought he'd come everything his body could hold. Then he turned his head and kissed Draco on the cheek, because it was what he wanted most at the moment, although his brain felt stuffed with rocks.
"Don't worry," Draco mumbled. "I don't object when the house-elves come into my room to repair things."
"Then they can bloody well wait until tomorrow," Harry muttered, and reached out to draw one of the curtains over them.
Draco might have voiced a protest about using his curtains for things they'd never been intended for, but he was snoring. Harry smiled slightly and shut his eyes. He was more than drained, more than exhausted.
He was happy.
Draco opened his eyes slowly. There was a buzzing in his ears that made him wonder if house-elves were hovering at the doors of his room already, agitated because Draco hadn't let them in to clean.
But when he lifted his head and turned it, he realized he had something else to worry about. Harry's eyes opened at the same time, and Draco heard from the direction of his head, more clearly than he had heard Harry's voice last night, What is that?
A telepathic bond, Draco said, and then screamed.
Harry groaned and rolled away from him, hands locked over his ears. He seemed to realize a second later that that wouldn't work, and why, and dropped his hands, shaking his head in disgust. How did it happen? We were so careful.
Draco waited a second, feeling things shift and fall into place in his mind. He could sense Harry's emotions now, where he never had before, but it wasn't as disconcerting as he would have expected.
You went around expecting this?
Draco shook his head. He had listened to Pansy's account of her bond, and what little of Weasley and Granger's conversation he could stand, and he had expected to be lost and swimming in confusion. But he and Harry just seemed closer than Pansy had described. Their emotions were already the same in a lot of ways, and he could sense the confusion and surprise in the same way. They shifted around and along his, and Draco knew he could distinguish them from his. But he also knew that he wasn't going to lose himself in the bond, any more than he was going to lose himself in his love for Harry and forget about other people.
Are you sure about that?
Draco reached out and caught Harry's hand, squeezing a little. "I am," he whispered, careful to speak aloud this time, because he wanted to hear what it sounded like. Normal. He relaxed and smiled at Harry. "Yes, I am. This happened, but it's not the end of the world. We'll manage."
Harry rolled slowly closer to him. Concentrating, Draco could make out the touch of his silken sheets on Harry's skin, but the physical sensation was a lot more distant than the emotions. He liked that. He liked pretty much everything about this new bond, in fact. He reached out and brushed his hand over Harry's shoulder, and shivered as the sensation flowed back to him in more surprise, and pleasure.
"No star alignments," Harry said, his frown deepening. "I trust Aurora's word. No link to Voldemort. Could there be some kind of creature heritage in your family that you forgot to ask your mother about?"
Draco rolled his eyes. Of course, it's my fault.
Harry touched him again, and Draco felt the quick dart and recoil of his feelings. He had wanted to think that Draco had overlooked something and he hadn't, but he also didn't want to hurt him.
Draco caught his hand and kissed it. He had to admit that he probably would have believed that before, but it was nice to have confirmation. And the other couples they knew had got used to their bonds while being, in Draco's private opinion, a lot less in love than he and Harry were. They would do even better.
Harry laughed. Why do I find even your arrogance charming?
Because I live up to it, Draco said, and kissed him.
The physical sensations actually dimmed as they kissed, because Draco kept losing his concentration on it in the swarm of emotions in his mind and Harry's. Beating waves, sunlight, a flowing stream…all the metaphors were inadequate.
"I don't think it was my fault," Draco continued, when their lips separated again. Harry rolled his eyes, but kept quiet, and Draco stormed on. "I mean it. I asked my mum all the questions I could possibly think of, and I performed enchantments on the rings once I got home to reveal any bonding magic. There was none. There are no plants in the gardens that could have bonded us, either, and we were inside the house. It has to be something you overlooked."
"I did everything you asked!" Harry protested, while his emotions swirled and darted again. He was a lot more volatile and dynamic than Draco had ever known. It fascinated him. Draco was just the sort to express his feelings more openly around someone he trusted, but it seemed that Harry still held a lot back. "Asked around on what we agreed on, and I asked at the bank, too. I don't think anything could fool the goblins' parchment and the blood test. There's no artifact in the Potter vaults that could have done this."
Draco stared at him. "The Potter vaults?"
Harry folded his arms. "Unless you're going to tell me that I should have checked the nonexistent Evans vaults—"
Potter, you idiot. You hold the Black vaults, too. And I'm of Black blood, which would make me just as susceptible to the artifacts—assuming that our betrothal declaration last night didn't bring me within the sphere of its influence.
There was a long silence, and then Harry slapped his hand over his forehead.
Draco leaned in and kissed him. The bond between them was alive with darker emotion now, and Draco had no desire to feel it. He would probably have to do this more often, something to make Harry happy, because now he had to deal with the way Harry would plunge down into depression himself instead of just seeing the results.
But that was all right. It meant he got to take care of Harry and request that Harry take care of him in return, and that made him feel as though he was on top of a tower with the wings to soar off it.
You're not angry? Harry's fingers crept hesitantly over his face.
Draco laughed. Do I feel angry?
There was a flicker from the bond, before it steadied, and so did the current of emotion flowing through him. Draco smiled and leaned his head on Harry's shoulder. Harry had sometimes disbelieved him before this when Draco said that he wasn't angry, but now he couldn't. Draco sighed in contentment and lifted his head to regard the broken canopy of the bed.
We'll get through this.
Harry smiled at him and held up his hand that bore the ruby ring, taking Draco's in turn and rubbing his fingers along Draco's ring. We'll do more than that. We'll thrive.
And the last barrier to Draco's enjoyment was broken, and he could lie back and take up the implied promise to the physical level. Harry was the one laughing a second later, saying, You're insatiable.
I promise to make you just as much so. And to fulfill all the desires that you raise.
Harry kissed him again, and their ruby rings flashed, and their bond did the same, and Draco lost himself, not in lovemaking but in love.