Title: There's a Pure-Blood Custom For That
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Partial AU after DH (Draco has Scorpius but is not married to Astoria, Harry is not married to Ginny), some angst, off-screen violence
Pairings: Harry/Draco, past Draco/Astoria, Ron/Hermione
Summary: The day that Harry stops Draco Malfoy and his son from being bothered in the middle of Diagon Alley starts a strange series of interactions between him and Malfoy. Who knew there was a pure-blood custom for every situation?
Author's Notes: A series of loosely chronological, short "chapters" based on silly pure-blood customs, and a developing relationship between Harry and Draco. This is more humor and fluff than anything else, despite the angst warning.
There's a Pure-Blood Custom For That
Diagon Alley Rewards
"What are you doing here?"
Harry sighed and leaned out the front door of George's shop, which he helped manage on the days, like this one, when George felt too bewildered by a world without his twin to get out of bed. That sounded like the voice of Natalia Shwin, who he'd just helped choose a large bag of pranks. She had complained about their poor stock, about the lack of George being there today, about everything except the weather and the prices of the pranks. It made sense that she wouldn't even get three steps from their front stoop when she would find something else to complain about.
But today was a bit unusual, in that she was confronting a fair-haired man and his little boy, clutched by one hand, who had just been walking along the alley. Harry blinked, and looked at Natalia's side. No, the bag of pranks still hung there, undisturbed. Harry shook his head and stepped out of the shop.
"I want an answer!" Natalia snapped, and stepped forwards to face the man, reaching for her wand as she stared at his face. He turned a little, and Harry realized that he was looking at Draco Malfoy.
"I don't need to give you one." Malfoy's voice was low and rough. "I have as much right to walk down the middle of Diagon Alley as—"
"No, you don't!" Natalia had her wand out now.
Harry rolled his eyes. The last thing they needed was an altercation right on the steps. George might think it was great fun if he was here, but Harry wasn't George, and since the war, he really preferred to be at a distance from trouble. It was one of the reasons he hadn't become an Auror.
"Expelliarmus," he said, and Natalia's wand soared across the distance between them and landed in his palm. Both she and Malfoy turned to gape at him as Harry came down the steps, shaking his head. "What's wrong with you? The war was ten years ago. Get over it, or leave England."
Natalia clutched her bag of pranks, and didn't say anything. Harry had seen her pull the routine of heartbroken widow on others—although Harry happened to know that her husband had been imprisoned just before the war for crimes that had nothing to do with it—and wail about how much she had lost to the Death Eaters. But even she was a little embarrassed to do that in front of the Defeater of Voldemort.
Harry planted his hands on his hips. He didn't use his fame often, but he would definitely use it when it could get him out of trouble, and he did now. "Unless you have something to say to me about the war and how much you suffered," he added.
"No," said Natalia, and glared at Draco. "But Death Eaters shouldn't be walking around free."
"Neither should people who attack other people in the street in front of our shop," said Harry. Malfoy had actually served a year in Azkaban, but Harry saw no reason to go into that with Natalia. She wouldn't listen anyway. "Go away, before I let the Aurors know about you." He tossed her wand at her.
Harry might not have joined them, but there were several Aurors who considered him one of them anyway, and some people who had joined that had life-debts they owed to Harry. One or two would be here in minutes if he sent his Patronus, slavering to arrest someone. Natalia knew it, and moved off with one more sullen glance and one especially saucy swing of her bag of pranks.
"Why did you do that, Potter?"
Harry glanced at Malfoy without much interest. The small boy beside him with one pudgy thumb stuck in his mouth was obviously his son, though he had eyes that were paler than Malfoy's, closer to blue than grey. "Because she was in front of my shop, and causing trouble," Harry said. "And because you've paid any debts that you owe society. Enjoy the rest of the day, Malfoy, Malfoy." He nodded to the boy, whose name he had read in the paper when he was born but didn't remember, and went back to the door.
Malfoy spoke again just as Harry touched the handle. "I haven't paid the life-debts I owe you, however."
Harry rolled his eyes at the sky. He had had enough talk of people owing him and arguing in the paper over whether he owed the wizarding world something, and even of them passionately defending his right to live his life the way he chose. As far as he was concerned, everyone was equal who had survived the war. Harry was here to take care of the people he loved, like George and Molly and even sometimes Ron and Hermione, who had been hurt by the war, and the rest of the wizarding world, he presumed, was doing the same. "I don't want them. I forgive them. I don't care."
There was a loud gasp that didn't sound like Malfoy, and made Harry glance over his shoulder in annoyance. The last thing he needed was someone else wandering into this situation and darting off to the papers. Harry had used a few minor Memory Charms in the past to prevent things like this.
But it was Malfoy's son, who had taken his thumb out of his mouth and was pointing at Harry with it. "Life-debts are important," he said. "Daddy said so." He looked up at Malfoy with a worshipful expression that made it clear his world began and ended with "Daddy said so." Well, like Draco, like Lucius, like nameless kid, Harry reckoned.
"Fine," Harry said. "They're important. But I still forgive them." There was a drizzle coming on, the kind of fine, pattering rain that he suspected was building up to a bigger storm. Harry shoved the door open.
"Then you're subject to the pure-blood custom of Equal Reward," Malfoy announced.
Harry leaned his head on the wood of the doorframe. "What are you on about now, Malfoy?" he asked. "Something you invented?"
"Of course not." Harry turned around, because it was becoming increasingly obvious he had to, to find Malfoy at his haughty best, colder than the rain. "It's the pure-blood custom that says someone who saves the current head or heir of a line with no thought of increasing or incurring a life-debt for himself deserves a reward." He looked at Harry down his nose, despite standing in the street below the quite high stoop of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. "And you saved both head and heir."
Harry shook his head. He suspected Malfoy was yanking this load of bollocks out of his arse, but he saw no reason to object, not really. If it would get him out of this potentially awkward situation sooner, he'd go along with it. "Fine. Then I demand the excruciating reward of one Galleon."
"You don't get to set the reward," Malfoy said, while his son gaped back and forth between him and Harry. Someone had poured iron down Malfoy's backbone in the years since he got out of prison, Harry thought idly. "The person who tells you that you deserve one does."
"Uh, right," Harry said. He wondered what Malfoy would think he deserved. A bow? A thanks?
"A handshake," Malfoy announced, and his voice slotted effortlessly into the place waiting for it in Harry's mind.
Isn't that more a reward for you than for me? But Harry wasn't that small and petty anymore; he could think lots of petty things, but he wouldn't speak them. He nodded and came down the stoop, holding out his hand. "Fine."
He expected Malfoy to shake his hand and be done with it, but instead, Malfoy clasped it while staring intently into his eyes. Harry raised his brows. Malfoy didn't let that make him get flustered or back out of it. He only gave Harry a tight little smile, as though they were mutually agreeable acquaintances, and then loosened his grip and stepped back. Now he did bow, a creaky gesture from the waist.
"Thank you," he said.
"You're welcome," Harry said, shrugging. This had taken longer than he'd thought it would when he confronted Natalia, but not that much longer. And it wasn't much time out of his day, after all.
"Daddy did it!" said the boy, staring up at Draco with that awe again. Harry had to grin. It was kind of cute. And it was even more refreshing to have someone stare like that at a person other than him, for once.
"We both did," said Malfoy, giving Harry a faint, satisfied smile. "Good-bye, Potter. Come along, Scorpius." And he hauled the no longer nameless, but still really unlucky, kid away with him.
Harry snorted and went back into the shop. Well, that had been a minor diversion between customers.
He wondered if that pure-blood custom really existed, but honestly, he didn't care enough to look it up. In ten minutes, it would be time to close up the shop and take lunch to George and try to coax him to eat.
And there it probably would have ended, except for Malfoy's propensity for paying attention to any mention of Death Eaters.