Harry went silent, thinking fast and hard. He was only just realising that things weren't always what he'd thought they were. He'd thought that the Malfoys were just snobby, stuck up pricks who bullied Mister Weasley merely for his lack of money and ambition; he'd had no idea of the story behind what had started their feud. He was ignorant and he was beginning to think that maybe Hermione had the right idea; books contained all sorts of information and as Mister Malfoy led the way into Flourish and Blotts, Harry promised himself that before he went back to Hogwarts, he would do his best to read every single book he bought here today, even if there were twenty of them.
Chapter Two – Changing Tides
It was a little worse than Harry had first thought. He'd been forced to buy over sixty books and a lot of them had more than five hundred pages! He'd spent most of his time in his bedroom at number four Privet Drive, just reading and trying to understand what the hell the authors of the books were going on about as he encountered words that he had never seen before, so he had no clue as to their meaning, and as such he had no hope of understanding what the books were trying to teach him.
The Dursleys left him alone for the most part, as they had done all summer, because of the threat of his guard. He had been interrogated by Hestia Jones, though, an Order of the Phoenix member, when he'd come back late at night with a charmed bag bursting with books. He'd ignored her as best as he could, brushed off her questions and then he'd finally lost his patience when she wouldn't let him enter the house and he'd shouted at her that he'd been gone all day and that it wasn't his fault that she'd never noticed that he wasn't in the house like he was supposed to be. He'd gotten a letter from Dumbledore the very next day expressing his 'disappointment' that Harry had broken his rules and had needlessly put himself at risk by wandering around on his own. Harry had torn the letter to shreds in his anger that had flared bright and cold, burning furiously inside him.
He spent his days in a virtual rage when he stopped to think about things too much and he'd kicked his trunk more than once…he always regretted it. So instead, he had taken to annoying his aunt, practising the cardinal Dursley sin of asking questions to try and figure out what in the hell these books were going on about. That had ended badly, Petunia had thrown a dictionary at him when he wasn't looking and the thick spine, the part of the book to unfortunately hit him, had left a knot the size of an egg on the back of his head, but at least now he had a dictionary to help him, not that he understood much more of what the books were about even with the help of the dictionary.
He was back to being confined in his room, though. He didn't know what had changed or why the threat of the guards outside the house no longer worked, but he was back to being locked in his small, plain bedroom, but at least he had a mountain of books to read and a dictionary to give the illusion of helping him when in reality, it didn't help him understand anything at all.
Locked away in a small room, however, Harry had more time to think about everything that had happened and without the distraction of going down to the kitchen or out into the garden, he was stuck with his thoughts and the burning anger was making his head hurt. He couldn't believe what he'd found out. He still couldn't believe that Dumbledore hadn't told him that he had a seat on the Wizengamot, two of them after Sirius had died, or that he was sitting in them in his place! He'd had no clue about any of it; about Dumbledore being his magical guardian, the lordships, the bank vaults he had, his claim to the Black vaults and the Black lordship…he hadn't even known that his parents had legitimised him with Sirius' blood! Why the hell had no one ever told him these things?!
Everything was always about the war, always about him and Voldemort, about that damn prophecy and how he had to kill the Dark Lord to save the wizarding world…it was like that was all he was to them, a shield and sword combo to be pushed in front of Voldemort, something to be used to keep everyone safe and to hell if he was injured or even killed in the attempt.
He scrubbed at his damp eyes with the back of his hand. He'd been pulled around by the hand like a clueless child, doing everything they wanted him to do and they hadn't even had the decency to tell him about his own birthright. He swallowed hard and painfully past a bone dry throat, it was almost as if they were expecting him to die, so any information about what he could claim as an adult was irrelevant because they didn't expect him to live that long.
His body froze as his mind played that thought over and over again, he felt bile at the back of his throat and he swallowed it back down. He didn't want to die…all he wanted was to live his life in peace, maybe settle down with a partner, he knew he wanted kids, even if he had to adopt them and he wanted a nice house with a big garden. He wanted to be normal! He didn't want to be told of prophecies or be told that he had to kill someone. He didn't want to be dragged into this war, he didn't want to fight! Why should he? This wasn't his war! He hadn't chosen this, he'd been dragged into it and set up like a lamb to slaughter. They meant for him to die and they were slowly taking his control away from his birthright…his lordships, his vaults, his property and stock holdings…everything that his parents had wanted him to have, everything that they had planned and prepared meticulously, from his trust vault to his legitimisation and his lordship, it had all been slowly removed from him and he hadn't even known about any of it!
This was all Dumbledore's doing, he knew it. Lucius Malfoy might have been a filthy Death Eater, but he hadn't once lied to him. How the hell did it get to the point where Dumbledore had taken everything that should have been his away from him and Death Eaters were actually helping him? He couldn't understand it and it made his head hurt all the more as he tried to figure out what on earth was happening.
How had it gotten to the point where he could trust Lucius Malfoy more than he could trust Dumbledore? He was confused and angry and he didn't know what to do or even who to speak to! He'd even contemplated sending an owl to Lucius Malfoy asking him for his advice, that was how bad it had gotten. He didn't know where that moment of madness had come from, but he was so confused and he didn't know where to turn, how had this even happened really?
Things got even worse than that though as he had been summoned, via Ministry guard, to go to the Ministry of Magic and he had gone willingly enough. He had only just been let out of his room for the first time in days to sit at the table to eat his cousin's half-chewed toast crusts when the door had knocked. Dudley had been entertaining the verbalised thoughts of starting up an old game of 'Harry Hunting' and Vernon was in a particularly bad mood that morning, so he had jumped at the chance to leave Privet Drive when ordered to go with the Ministry workers, even if it was for a couple of hours.
His Order guard had seen him leaving, however, he could almost feel their eyes on him, and as he'd climbed into the back of an enchanted, green Ministry car, with all of his belongings as requested by his Ministry guards he might add, he'd seen the pale shimmering of an invisibility cloak as the person underneath it had spun on their heel and Disapparated, likely to tell Dumbledore immediately that Harry had been taken into Ministry custody.
He hadn't stayed in Ministry custody though, as soon as he'd arrived at the Ministry in London, he'd been greeted, informed briefly of what was going on, and then he'd been handed right on over to Lucius Malfoy, who, he had been informed, had taken legal custody of him in the name of the Wizardry Protection Movement.
He'd tried to fight it, shouted that he didn't want to live with Malfoy of all people, but no one had wanted to listen, as far as they were concerned, he had no rights as to where he even lived! He was underage and after what Lucius had fed them, they were all eating out of his hand and were eager to put Harry with Lucius, as a founding member of the Wizardry Protection Movement they claimed that he was the perfect person to take custody of him! He was told to calm himself down and go home with his new custodian as there was nothing else he could do, he was underage and nothing he said or did would change what had already happened.
It was just three days after his trip to Diagon Alley and all of his things were now in a guest bedroom of Malfoy Manor, which was almost as big as the entire upper floor of the Dursleys' house and he was still reeling from what had happened, the papers were going ballistic with the story that Lucius had taken custody of the 'neglected' boy hero and had adopted him as his own son, but Lucius Malfoy refused to comment on anything or his reasoning behind taking custody of him except to tell the media that Harry had been neglected. Harry was kept well away from the public and the reporters.
He was Lord Potter and Lord Black, the papers had figured that much out when Lucius had taken Harry to the next called meeting to introduce him, but he still needed a guardian until he graduated and Lucius Malfoy was now that person after filing for his custody on the grounds of severe negligence by his previous magical guardian.
Harry didn't know who was more shocked really, him or Draco, who Lucius had firmly told that he had to treat Harry like a brother now that they were adopted brothers. Narcissa Malfoy had taken it in her stride, not that she could complain much with Harry now being her Head of House as well as her adopted son.
It was so strange, Harry had thought, as stupid as it sounded in hindsight, that Voldemort would have been here waiting for him, but of course, that couldn't be true. Lucius was a top, loyal follower, of that he had no doubt, the very thought of being under the same roof as Lucius had seen him with many sleepless nights, but the man was also a high ranking Ministry official who was accused of being a Death Eater. Surely the Ministry would have tabs on him and his house and they'd know if Voldemort was here, though that still didn't stop Lucius from being a Death Eater.
Harry didn't like being here and he made sure that he never went anywhere without his wand, he was even bathing with it and he was having trouble relaxing and sleeping, but everyone knew that he was here now, so he was at least reassured a little that Lucius couldn't just do away with him, there would be questions asked and Lucius would be in the thick of it if he just disappeared.
So no, Harry didn't outright fear for his life being here and Lucius was actually taking lessons with him to help him understand what being a lord was all about and what was expected of him and he was running through everything that he didn't understand from the files that Nagnok had given him and from the books that Lucius had made him buy, he was so busy that he didn't have a damn chance to just sit back and think about what was happening, not thoroughly.
Of course, a million and one owls all swooped in on him the morning after it had been made public, two days after he'd actually been brought to Malfoy Manor, that he'd been 'adopted' by Lucius Malfoy due to 'unspecified negligence' which really could have been anything or meant anything. He had several letters from the Weasleys, one incredibly long one from Hermione, a short, inquiring note from Dumbledore and a panicked letter from Remus who thought that he'd been kidnapped.
He sighed as they all bore near enough the same message, keep his eyes open, keep his wand on him at all times, don't turn his back on them, don't trust them, find out what he could from them, follow and report their every move and they'd do their best to get him out as quickly as possible.
"I take it from your expression that your letters bear news that you'd have rathered not read?" Lucius inquired as he sipped tea from a fine, bone china vintage teacup that had a matching delicate saucer. It was almost comical to Harry to watch the Malfoys eat and drink, especially after the two weeks he'd spent with the Dursleys watching Dudley and Vernon shovel in as much as they could with every mouthful.
Harry scoffed. "Something like that. It's like they've all used the same template to write them, just in different words, they all contain the same points and 'advice.'"
"Around the lines of not trusting us and spying on us no doubt. Dumbledore always was a transparent fool." Lucius told him and Harry nodded absentmindedly as he rolled his eyes at Ron's letter and his declaration of getting the twins to rescue him once more like they had when he was twelve.
Draco was sat opposite him at the small, six seated table. The Malfoys had a larger, much larger, table in their formal dining room, but the family dining room was smaller and more intimate and though it seated six, there were only four chairs. Lucius sat at the head of one side and Narcissa on the other, Harry and Draco sat opposite each other on the sides of the table, it had made the first few days nearly impossible as Draco was a very spoilt, childish, petty person and kept kicking his shins, at least until Lucius had found out and had threatened to punish him for it if it carried on, that is.
Draco was still reeling from the embarrassment and humiliation of his last punishment, one administered for promiscuous behaviour and neglect of his studies, and he had no desire to earn another one. He hated Harry even more for telling his father the rumours flying around Hogwarts and he made sure that Harry knew about it too. He took every opportunity he could to ensure that Harry knew he wasn't wanted or welcome in his home, which he'd never had to share with anyone in his life, he wasn't big on sharing, just like Dudley.
It was sad really. He'd been taken from one unwanted home to be put in another, it truly was like he was unlovable, but as he was staying with the Malfoys, of all people, he tried not to let that bother him.
A week after he had arrived at Malfoy Manor and had everything turned on its head, Lucius had a day off from work and had woken him up at six in the morning, or rather he'd gotten a house-elf to come and wake him up at six in the morning and lead him to a room in the maze-like manor that he still wasn't used to.
Harry had been forced to sit through an hour-long etiquette lesson before breakfast and then after breakfast, which was perfectly balanced he might add, a tailor and two assistants had come to measure him for robes. That had taken three hours as they'd made him two sets of robes on the spot, complete with shirts and trousers, to wear while his new wardrobe was being created especially for him from a range of colours that suited his skin tone, hair and eye colour and the seasons. Lucius had gotten a house-elf to incinerate all of his old robes and clothes while he was being fitted.
Lunch was even more tense than breakfast had been as Harry was furious at being picked apart, pulled about, dressed like a toddler and then he'd found out that all of his own clothing had been burnt without his permission.
'You are a part of the Malfoy household, your actions reflect upon me and your appearance reflects upon me. While you are in my home, you will dress and behave as I tell you to.' Lucius had told him calmly after Harry had thrown a bitch fit and let out all of his pent up rage and frustration, which had only been growing the longer he remained here.
Sullen and still silently fuming, Harry went back to reading his new boring book while sitting on a chair in front of Lucius' desk in his study. He was doing work for whatever it was he did whilst supervising Harry's lesson so that he could be on hand if Harry didn't understand something, which was often enough that Lucius had once remarked that perhaps he should read the book to him like a child, which had, of course, embarrassed Harry into sullen silence.
"Are you going to start reading or would you rather continue staring blankly at the page?" Lucius asked without looking up at him.
Harry sighed and forced himself to go back to the book. He didn't know what was happening, everything was turned on its head and it was all going far too fast for him to take in, he needed everything to just slow down a little so that he could breathe and work through it all. He didn't know what to think, who to trust or what to believe. He'd even made a list in his bed suite at night, because such a large room, with its own attached en suite bathroom and a sitting area with its own fire, could not be called just a simple bedroom, so he'd taken to calling it his bed suite. This list had on it just a few names of people he knew that he could explicitly trust, bulletin points of everything he'd learnt so far and another bulletin list of all the books he'd read since that summer, just so that he could keep track of everything.
"I have made a list of all eligible young women for you to peruse if you're not going to read that book." Lucius told him several minutes later after Harry had spaced out yet again.
"What for?" Harry demanded angrily.
"For your betrothal, Harry." Lucius said patiently.
"I am not getting married to anyone and you can't make me!" He exploded.
Lucius Malfoy sighed heavily. "A betrothal is a simple contract that is easily broken if you wish it to be, but it's traditional for an heir, or an underaged lord, to be betrothed. It's more for protection as you cannot be betrothed twice, it is better to have a hand-picked betrothal than one not of your making. Draco is betrothed and has been since he was six years old, to Astoria Greengrass, which is why his 'bed-hopping' as you phrased it, with Miss Parkinson and Astoria's older sister, Daphne, is deeply disgraceful and is the reason why I put a stop to such behaviours. I don't expect my son to remain virginal until his wedding night, but I had thought that he'd have more respect for the daughters of other pureblood lines, who traditionally are expected to remain virginal, as unfair as that might seem to you."
"So there's no…obligation for me to marry this person?" Harry asked as he took the list of just a handful of names.
"None." Lucius told him smoothly. "This information will be in one of the books that you were given."
"I haven't gotten around to reading them all yet." He said with an averted gaze.
"Hardly surprising if you just stare mindlessly at the page and don't actually read them." Lucius said pointedly as he let his gaze linger on the forgotten book on his lap. "I understand that some of them are quite tedious, but it is all information that you now need to know, so I suggest that you apply yourself more than you have and retain the information you are taking in."
"I don't know any of these names." Harry said with a frown as he read down the list.
"You don't have to know their names, they are in order of suitability for a lord of your status, to have two lordships is a very attractive quality, even if your manners, etiquette, intelligence and personality are lacking."
Harry grit his teeth together, he'd lashed out once, only verbally, but as his guardian, Lucius now had the power and the right to punish him, as he'd done with Draco. Harry would not soon forget that punishment and he had no wish to ever repeat the utterly humiliating experience.
"Hmm, so you can learn. Good."
Harry sat sullenly in the chair, glaring at the parchment that had only five names on it. He couldn't pronounce two of them.
"There is a lack of pureblooded witches in Britain." Lucius told him as if reading his mind. "Those that are even close to your age group were betrothed years ago. I didn't think you would like a babe as your betrothed, nor a witch of advanced age, though I suspect Draco would thoroughly enjoy it."
Harry remained silent as he nibbled on his lip. Lucius sighed again. He was doing that a lot around him and Harry wondered if he really was that much of a burden or if the man was prone to sighing over everything.
"What is the youngest and oldest age that you would consider?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't like the thought of anyone younger than me, but people, well, they annoy me."
"Annoy you how?" Lucius queried.
Harry shrugged again; immediately a pain in his shoulder, like being hit with a wooden ruler, had him startling in surprise and rubbing his shoulder as he glared at Lucius, who had his wand out.
"I have warned you several times to stop shrugging like an ineloquent muggle." Lucius hissed at him. "Tell me, with your words, what you find annoying about other people."
"I don't know, most people my own age annoy me, little things like the way they act, the things they say, what they expect me to do or how to behave, it all seems so…pointless, so childish."
"Things like what?"
"Like pranks, or stupid games, calling other people names because of stupid reasons. I've never liked it. Everyone expects me to be this huge prankster like my dad was, but I have no interest in doing something so ridiculous as using other people for amusement. Or when Ron calls Draco a ferret because of what the fake Moody did to him in our fourth year or the Slytherins calling Hermione a beaver because of her teeth when it's something she couldn't control, it's all so pointless, what's the point behind it? It doesn't give either party anything so why bother doing it? It's stupid."
"Well well, it seems I misjudged you. You are a little bit more mature than I first thought. So you would actually prefer someone older than yourself?"
"I suppose." Harry said unhappily.
"Shall we say forty then?" Lucius asked patiently.
Harry nodded, the feeling of a ruler smacking into the back of his head had him gritting his teeth. "I mean, yes."
"Good. There are still no pureblooded witches of that age group in Britain who I deem suitable for you, but it opens up quite a bit for more European pureblooded witches."
Harry scowled and looked down at his lap. Lucius sighed once again.
"What is the problem now?" He asked less patiently.
"I'm…I'm not sure that I like women as a whole."
Lucius reared back as if he'd been slapped. Harry blushed and hunched himself over.
"I mean…I'm not really interested in anyone, but girls seem to be more annoying to me, so I thought that maybe boys would be better, but I'm really not sure what I am or what I like, I've never…I've never actually been with anyone in that way, so I don't know."
"There is no need for such a tirade, I am merely surprised. I didn't take you for the open-minded type, perhaps I should have. I will have you tested to see if you are able to carry children, I was going to do so regardless, but with this development, I will do so a little more urgently and I will write up a new list of appropriate candidates that are suitable for you. There happen to be more pureblooded wizards than witches, so there are quite a few of them leftover in Britain without a current betrothal match who I would deem suitable for a lord of your status."
"What do you mean 'to see if I can carry children'?" Harry asked dumbfounded.
Lucius sighed heavily. "Your ignorance truly knows no bounds. I will find that book for you as well, but certain wizards are able to carry children, others are not. Draco was tested before his betrothal and was found not to carry the gene that enables wizards to carry children, I will have you tested in due course, but thirty per cent of all wizards are actually able to carry children. Most never find out, as they are heterosexual and never let another man penetrate them in such a way and are never tested, but if you feel that you are more naturally drawn to men, then it might be because you need to be matched with one."
"So…so I would be betrothed to another man and that would be okay?" Harry asked uncertainly.
"Perfectly okay." Lucius clarified. "Now, run along, read your books. I want you to report to me tomorrow that you have made headway on the stack that you still have left. I will have the potion you need to take ready for tomorrow afternoon."
Harry nodded and he stood, taking the book he was currently struggling with and bumbling through with him. He ran into Draco on his way to his bed suite.
"Having fun, Potter?" He spat.
"Save it, Draco, I have absolutely nothing to say to you." Harry replied to the taller boy.
"You will stop referring to me so personally!" Draco hissed.
"I've been told to call you Draco, so I will. I have absolutely no wish to be punished again and I would have thought that you wouldn't want that again either, unless you actually like being turned over your father's knee and spanked like a toddler."
Draco went pink and shut his mouth. Being spanked by Lucius Malfoy hurt and badly. He and Draco had both been uncomfortable with the whole situation and then the next day they had had to suffer through the humiliation of not being able to sit down properly and as squirming would get them a hex from one or both of the elder Malfoys, they'd had to endure the pain while sitting completely still on an unpadded, wooden chair. Neither of them wanted to repeat the experience.
"I don't like you being here." Draco told him churlishly.
"I actually like being here." Harry said with a smile. "It's so surprising and I never would have thought that I'd enjoy being here, but I'm learning a lot and it won't be for long, at any rate, we'll be back in Hogwarts soon enough. Then it'll just be one more summer, then I'll be free of all guardians when I graduate and being the lord of the Potter and Black houses, I'll be free to do as I please."
"Not entirely, you're still expected to act as a lord." Draco told him. "You are linked to the Malfoy name now; I won't let you disgrace us!"
"Believe it or not I have no intention of disgracing the Malfoy name; I have a lot to be thankful to your father for, including setting up my betrothal for me so that I can't be taken advantage of by anyone else and giving me a respectable match in the process."
That took the wind out of Draco's sails. "Who is it?"
Harry just winked and left for his bed suite.
"Don't you walk away from me in my own home! Tell me who you're betrothed to!"
"It's none of your business! Though I was surprised to hear that your betrothal was to Astoria Greengrass, especially as you were…practising with her older sister."
"That has nothing to do with you! How did you even know about Daphne?"
"Oh please, everyone knows about that, Draco, and about Pansy's pregnancy scare too."
Draco went pale at the remembered fury of his father finding out that little bit of information. He sighed.
"That was my own fault." He allowed. "I wasn't careful enough."
"I got the impression that you weren't supposed to be doing that with them, careful or not."
Draco sneered. "How is it my fault if they slid into bed with me? They're the ones who should be retaining their purity; it's not for me to do it for them."
Harry conceded to that, the girls should have had more restraint, but still, it took two people to agree to sex, Draco could have refused them.
"Why should I have?" He asked when Harry pointed that out. "If they're offering me something that I want, I'm going to take it." He said simply.
Harry sighed. He didn't think he'd ever be able to accept such a selfish point of view, he hadn't been raised that way, being kicked and beat upon by his own family members, being forced into near servitude to them…he didn't have it in him to be a selfish person, at least not to the extent of Draco and the other purebloods.
He made it to his bed suite and Draco had let him go this time. He had a lot to think about and a lot to read through still, not to mention trying to get the hang of Ancient Runes, which had piqued his interest when he'd seen them at Gringotts, and the very difficult Arithmancy. Now he had the added worry of a betrothal set up for him by Lucius Malfoy too, to an older pureblooded wizard at that. There couldn't be many of them left around either if all the women were already snatched up. He was contented and soothed a little with the knowledge that he didn't have to marry them and that he could break the betrothal once he was a graduated adult.
He sat in his own personal sitting room and settled down with his book, he'd meant what he'd said to Draco, he had absolutely no desire to be spanked like a naughty little boy again and he took Lucius' threat seriously, so he sat and he read the tedious books that he'd been forced to buy at the goblin, Nagnok's, and Lucius' insistence. It was going to be a long, boring night, of that he was sure.
Harry had settled in relatively well with the Malfoy family he thought, even as his back was smacked again with a hex that made him feel like he was being hit with a thin piece of wood.
This time it was Narcissa Malfoy doing the hexing and he had been assured that the hex was a common one used by all pureblooded parents to dissuade their children from ill-mannered habits, as he'd been told by all three of the Malfoys. Draco had even told him some of his more prominent memories of being taught with the hex.
"Keep your back straight, your natural posture is curved because your spine is S-shaped." He was lectured as his shoulders were pulled back and an elegant hand pushed at the lower curve of his back, pushing his hips forward. "You've lived with bad posture for all of your life, it will take some time to get used to, but you will get used to it with some precise instruction. You have the wardrobe, now you just need the posture to pull it off, you are meeting your betrothed in a week, you need to be walking the walk and talking the talk by then or you'll be rejected, so learn quickly because being rejected is a huge humiliation for you and for the Malfoy family."
Harry nodded and he held his shoulders back and loose, as he'd been taught. He took precise, elegant strides up and around the huge rectangular ballroom, Narcissa following him, her wand out and poised to hit him with another smack if he put a foot wrong or tightened up his shoulders or let them slump. It was hard work keeping the posture and it pulled at his abdominal muscles and his back muscles, what Lucius had told him were his 'core' muscles. Apparently, he needed to firm them up and get them stretched and strong because all purebloods had strong core muscles due to their posture. It hurt.
He was smacked on the hip with the hex and he yelped, only to get a smack to the back of the head for such an undignified sound.
"You cocked your hip out." Narcissa told him. "I don't need to explain what the second hex was for, do I?"
"No, Lady Malfoy." He replied softly and respectfully. He liked Narcissa the most, she did not carry a Dark Mark and she had never personally done anything to him, so he was content to behave himself more with her around and the level of care that she took with him actually made his heart hurt…she made him feel, for the first time in his life, that he was missing a mother in his life.
"Good, you are one of the rare wizards who are capable of childbirth, so you need to be elegant and poised, gentle, yet strong and determined too."
Harry took a breath and adjusted his shoulders and his hips, keeping his chin at a right angle to his neck, he wasn't allowed to look at the floor, he wasn't allowed to look where his feet were stepping and he wasn't used to it.
It had come as a huge shock to him when the potion he'd taken had come back positive for the gene that allowed him to carry a child in his own body. He had thrown a fit, been punished, and then he'd denied it twice, refusing to believe the test and claiming that it had been rigged just to mess with his head.
Lucius had had enough of his 'needless denials' and on his next day off from work he'd dragged him to Saint Mungo's hospital and had them administer the test. It was irrefutable now and the hospital had given him two leaflets and a list of books for him to read. He had been forced to accept that the test was true and he was slowly coming to terms with it. The books were really helpful and informative too, even if he could have done without the moving pictures of the surgery he'd need to undergo to deliver the baby.
Lucius had actually smiled at the hospital results; apparently, there hadn't been a pureblooded man who had tested positive for the genes in a long while, so Lucius had said that he was going to be well sought after for a full marriage because he had tested positive for this gene and not just a mere betrothal when he was actually of marriageable age that was. Which was any age over fourteen with written parental consent or seventeen without parental consent, with the added stipulation that both parties were no longer in school.
It was also a point of pride for the Malfoy family to have a son able to bear children in their family, even though Harry hadn't actually been born to the Malfoys, he was constantly being told, and he was slowly coming to understand, that he was a part of their family now regardless and that his actions reflected on them and that their actions reflected on him. His humiliation was their humiliation and his achievements were their achievements because he'd been fully adopted into the Malfoy family. He had even appeared on their family tapestry!
Lucius was still protecting him from everything and everyone, including the media and reporters and he refused any and all attempts to see or talk to 'his son' as he'd reportedly said. Harry was still getting near enough daily owls, but Lucius was a strict man and he had restricted the use of owls for both him and Draco. Apparently, it was uncouth to send out a mass of owls.
So, due to this restriction, the only person that Harry responded to regularly was Remus, because the man seemed genuinely distressed and upset for him, he wasn't concerned about the Malfoys or what they were doing, but about him as a person, so Harry had responded that he was fine, that he was really well and he was happy that he now had a family. He told Remus that he was being taught the things that he needed to know and how he was learning so much. He kept his messages brief, to the point and elegant. Lucius reviewed all his letters and approved them, as he did the same for Draco, and he had even refused to let Harry send out letters in the beginning 'because his handwriting was abysmal and he couldn't have such hideous cursive attributed to a member of his family.' Harry's hand still hurt with remembered pain from the number of hexes it had taken as Lucius had painstakingly instructed him on how to actually write with a quill. His knuckles had been bruised and sore for days, but he had to admit that his writing was a lot more readable now and it was easier to go back over his own notes when he could actually make out his own words.
He'd attended a second Wizengamot meeting just after his sixteenth birthday and he understood a little more than he had the first time around, which proved that he was learning from the numerous amounts of books he was reading, but he mostly stayed quiet and sat as close to Lucius as he could while in public, listening and learning. When he was asked for his opinion or his vote, he took a deep breath and actually thought about what was being asked, having taken in the arguments and opinions of the other Wizengamot members at the D-shaped table, and thought about his answer before he gave it. He believed that he impressed at least some of them with his opinions and insight into some matters, or maybe it was merely because he wasn't bumbling around like a fool or just merely copying Lucius. He was young, he knew that, and as most of the other lords were forty years or older, it really made him stand out as a teenage boy to them. Yet on the same hand, he wasn't the youngest person to ever claim his lordship early, one boy had been just thirteen when he had joined the Wizengamot. So Harry was a little uncertain about everything, he was a lot less vocal than all of the other lords, at least for the moment while he was learning, but he was happy to know that he wasn't the youngest person to ever be on the Wizengamot and though he hadn't been raised knowing about his lordship or what it would entail, he was learning quickly. With Lucius' help too, he thought he was holding his own against the older, more informed lords quite well. He knew that they didn't exactly take him seriously, not yet, but they listened…not only was he Lord Potter and Lord Black, which was abbreviated to just Lord Potter-Black for the sake of convenience, he was also Harry Potter and because of that fact, he at least got people to listen to him instead of just laughing and cutting him off. Which he was thankful for as he'd been shitting himself when Lucius had warned him that the other Wizengamot members might do just that.
He'd met a lot of people that he hadn't known existed, particularly Lord Xerxes Lestrange, who had taken a great interest in him too. The man was huge and he was at least the size of two people in height and broadness, his hand was firm and rough when he stuck his hand out to shake, only he didn't shake Harry's offered hand, he took Harry's hand like he was a girl and he kissed the back of it with dry lips with a firm pressure that lasted for only a moment.
Harry bit his tongue and smiled softly, even if it was a little forced, remembering Narcissa's lessons. He was to be strong and gentle, graceful and eloquent; he would be a consort because of his childbearing abilities, he would be the 'lady' of the house…he'd been repeatedly hit with the smacking hex for the bitch fit that had followed that piece of information. He'd gone over Lucius' knee again once Narcissa had told him of his disgusting and despicable language and behaviour upon finding out his apparently 'superior' status once the man had come home from work.
"I look forward to seeing more of you very soon, Lord Potter-Black."
Harry turned to Lucius questioningly when they'd been let out of the Wizengamot meeting.
"Please tell me that you never betrothed me to him, he is not forty or under. I'll eat both of my feet, socks and shoes included if he's under seventy."
Lucius smiled at him. "He is seventy-four and he would make you a good match, he is strong, reliable, and he is enamoured of you. The Lestranges have good, strong genes."
Harry blanched, feeling a little faint and Lucius chuckled darkly. "You are betrothed to his younger grandson, Rabastan Lestrange, who is thirty-six. Though he will be thirty-seven later this year, we were friends in school and, of course, we remained friends later in life. They accepted my offered contract of you just yesterday."
"The one in Azkaban?" Harry asked with a frown.
"The one who escaped from Azkaban." Lucius corrected quietly.
"How can I be betrothed to an escaped felon?" Harry demanded.
"Not in public, my son." Lucius hissed at him.
Harry clenched his mouth shut and shifted his expression to neutral, he corrected his posture and made sure to call upon all of his lessons to avoid going back over Lucius' knee when they got home. If he impressed the man now then he might get a lesser punishment, like a restriction on his sweet treats or how many letters he could send, though he was already quite restricted on both of those to begin with, but he had no wish to be restricted on them even more than he already was, but it was much better than being spanked like a little boy and then made to stand in the corner while the pads on all his chairs were taken away.
"You're doing wonderfully well." Lucius praised quietly when they reached the Atrium. "Keep it up and you may pass for Lord Potter-Black after all."
Harry tried inexplicably hard and he forced the smile to stay mental and not show it on his face as he appeared disinterested and aloof as he tried as hard as he could to keep pace with Lucius, just slightly behind him as Lucius' legs were really long, unlike his own short, stunted ones. He didn't look left or right and he kept his chin up, looking straight forward. He was doing well, he thought, especially as he'd only been with the Malfoy family for a little under a month. He remained calm and he didn't dodge anyone, he made them move out of his way as Lucius did. At least until Dumbledore hurried across to them from the opposite side of the absolutely huge Ministry Atrium…there were a few people following him.
"Harry, my boy!" He called out to stop their progression.
Lucius immediately stepped in front of Harry neatly and placed a hand on his shoulder to ensure that he knew where he was standing at all times.
"Dumbledore." He greeted silkily. "I don't believe that I gave you leave to speak to my underaged son."
"Now, Lucius, we both know that he isn't your son."
Lucius chuckled mockingly. "I think that you will find that he is legally mine and there is nothing that you can do about that. You do not have my permission to approach my son in such a way."
"I am his Headmaster."
"Yet it is not school term time. All inquiries that you have about my son's education will be directed to me, if I feel that Harry isn't performing to the best of his abilities, then I will act accordingly."
"Are you alright, Harry?" Dumbledore asked around Lucius's side.
Harry averted his eye contact, not lowering his chin below ninety degrees, but turning his head in the opposite direction. He didn't answer. Lucius was his legal father and had expressly said that Dumbledore did not have permission to talk to him; Harry wouldn't undermine that by talking to Dumbledore, not after everything that Lucius had done for him over the last month. The man had taken him in, had meticulously taught him what he needed to know, he was caring for him in his own way, punishing him when it was called for, setting up everything for him and actually taking the time to tell him everything that he needed to know to survive in the wizarding world, no, he wouldn't go against Lucius, not now. He had nothing to say to Dumbledore anyway. At least nothing that wouldn't have him shouting at him in anger in an undignified display that would get him punished when Lucius got him back home.
"I assure you that he is better than ever. He is being taught properly and re-educated. Which reminds me, I have taken this time to change Harry's electives for his sixth year, as is my right as his father. I am homeschooling him myself in the missing subjects to get him caught up before the new school year starts. That is the extent of the conversation regarding my son's education. Come along, Harry, we have lots to be getting on with."
Harry immediately took a step forward, a nice, even, precise step and he fell in beside Lucius, at least until his arm was grabbed when he was in mid-step, which jerked him backwards and he let out a sharp exhale of air, which was the only reaction he gave to being so surprised. He hadn't expected to be grabbed in such a way.
Lucius spun around on his heel, his wand out and aimed at one of the men who had followed Dumbledore, the one who had grabbed and still had a hold of Harry's arm.
"I would suggest that you unhand my son this instant." He hissed angrily.
"He isn't your son, Malfoy! You've cursed him or something."
"I would have expected this sort of blatant disrespect from a muggleborn, but from a halfblood? Well, well."
Harry turned to see Lord Lestrange striding confidently across the Atrium towards them.
"I suggest that you unhand the young lord. He is a son of the Malfoy family, not one of them I'd want to cross either."
Harry felt a hand shoot out when Lord Lestrange came level with them and it twisted the elbow of the man holding him and Harry was released as the man went to the floor, howling. Harry made his way quickly to Lucius' side, escorted by the formidable, intimidating Xerxes Lestrange.
"I will see you pay for this disrespect, how dare you grab my underaged son from my side! You'll be hearing from my lawyers."
"Why don't we ask Harry what he wants?" Dumbledore said, even as he ignored the man on the floor who was holding his elbow.
"Very well, just this once I will allow it, but you have no business seeing or speaking to my son outside of term time." Lucius relented.
Harry assumed that it was because there was a gathering of people watching them, they'd caused a scene.
"I wish to return to my home with my father." Harry said clearly and concisely, speaking with care and with eloquence. It had taken several elocution lessons from Narcissa to get him speaking properly. He enjoyed the look on Dumbledore's face when he heard him speak, for as much as how he was speaking as the words he had said.
"You have him under the Imperius curse!" One of the men shouted out loudly to the crowd.
"That is a very serious allegation." Harry said. "To accuse me of being under such a dark, debilitating curse, though I assure you no such thing has occurred. I've always been able to throw off the Imperius curse."
"I believe that the young Lord Potter-Black is just finally coming into himself." Lord Xerxes Lestrange said simply. "It is always eye-opening to be taught the things one needs to know, things he really should have been taught in his childhood, yet, for some unknown reason, wasn't. He was a disgrace to all purebloods, I am glad that someone has finally taken him in and has set to teaching him what he needs to know. Someone needed to."
Harry had to clench his teeth together to stave off the smile at the look on Dumbledore's face. Those blue eyes dropped to his right hand, where the two lordship rings were sitting perfectly, looking chunky on his small finger, but no less regal and important. He had obviously missed the newspaper article about him claiming his lordships; Harry was glad that he'd gotten to see this first reaction in person.
Harry saw immediately when the penny dropped and Dumbledore realised why he hadn't been called to any recent Wizengamot meetings…because he wasn't on the Wizengamot anymore.
"I would have hoped that you would have come to see me before making such a drastic decision on your own, Harry." He said in a quiet, disappointed voice. "This will seriously disrupt your schooling; it is a huge responsibility to hold on your own."
"He wasn't alone when he made the decision, I was with him." Lucius said smugly. "I told him of the disruption and what would be required of him and he has agreed that though it will be difficult, he will reschedule his school work to fit in his duties as the lordships he has claimed demands. I have been helping him in the last two meetings, so he isn't technically holding them on his own either and despite what I would have previously thought, he's learning quickly."
Harry lifted his chin a fraction at the praise and he wanted to grin, but he didn't. Praise from Lucius Malfoy, even in the roundabout, insulting way that it was delivered, was high indeed.
"I think that this…conversation is concluded." Lucius said as he put a hand on Harry's shoulder and steered him away. "Say goodbye to your headmaster, Harry."
"Goodbye, Headmaster." Harry said dutifully as he turned with Lucius and left. Xerxes Lestrange walked behind them.
"Such an annoying, meddlesome man." Xerxes commented to Lucius.
"Indeed." Lucius answered. "It won't be long now before he is dealt with. I'm more annoyed with that halfblood actually laying his hands on one of my sons, disgraceful."
"On my future grandson and the soon to be carrier of my great-grandchildren." Xerxes said. "I would not have stood idly by and let such a thing happen, even if you did have everything under control." He said respectfully.
Harry sighed silently, everyone knew before him, it seemed, that his betrothal was to Rabastan Lestrange. He didn't understand the whole, carrier of the great-grandchildren though because he had no obligation to marry Rabastan when the contract ended, he'd seen that for himself in the contract that he'd signed.
"If he likes Rabastan, that is." Lucius put in silkily and Harry relaxed a little as he was reassured that his information was correct.
"I have every faith that he will like my Rabastan. He's a prominent pureblood, he's wealthy in his own right, he's intelligent, he's a handsome devil and he's fertile. I had him and Rodolphus checked when Bellatrix didn't fall pregnant after two years of marriage, there's no problem with either of them, but Bellatrix refuses to get checked."
"I could help you with that." Harry said smoothly. "I'm her Head of House; I could insist that she gets her fertility checked if you have concerns about it as her marital Head of House."
Xerxes chuckled and he touched Harry's shoulder gently. "I would appreciate that, Lord Potter-Black."
Harry nodded and he held Lucius' arm as they reached the Apparation area.
"I will see you soon, Xerxes." Lucius said and the two of them shared a knowing look. Harry took that to mean that there would be a Death Eater meeting soon. Nearly every letter he got now asked about Death Eater meetings and encouraged him to 'pass on' all of Lucius' comings and goings or anything he'd heard the Malfoys say, even if it was out of context. Harry wasn't going to do it, he was learning so much from Lucius, he didn't want that to end and for all intents and purposes Lucius was his legal father, he was family and he wouldn't sell out family.
Harry took a half step closer to Lucius and clenched his hand on his arm tighter and then he found himself suddenly back in the foyer of Malfoy Manor. He took a half step forward on the landing, but he was getting much better at it than when he had used to face plant the floor on his landings. Lucius had helped him with that too.
"You're getting much better at that now." Lucius told him, helping to steady him a little. "Your lessons are paying off."
Harry nodded. "All of them, I believe. I understood more of what was said in the meeting this time around."
"Yes, I was very proud of you during that meeting. How you conducted yourself, how you thought about what you wanted to say before opening your mouth and especially how much sense you actually made while speaking. I was immensely proud."
Harry smiled widely, almost beaming at the praise he'd received and he excused himself and rushed away, he wanted to delve deeper into his books so that the next meeting that was called, he could do even better.
"You stop running in your home this instant!" Lucius called after him sharply, not raising his voice, but making it carry to him, where he immediately stopped and looked back at Lucius with a sheepish smile.
"Sorry." He said a bit bashfully.
"You had better need the bathroom really badly." Lucius told him as he climbed the stairs to join him on the landing above.
"I wanted to get to my room so that I could read more so that the next meeting goes even better." Harry said excitedly. "There were some things that I didn't understand still, so I wanted to check up on those and I wanted to finish the one book that I'm reading so that I could get onto the next one."
"You're prattling." Lucius told him and Harry shut his mouth and ducked his head to the floor. That got him a hex to the back of the head and he lifted it up again automatically. "I never said that it was a bad thing, only something which you need to…limit." Lucius said as they carried on down the hallway. "I am pleased that you're so excited about your duties. Let us hope that you show as much enthusiasm towards your betrothed in a few days."
Harry bit his lip and nibbled at it.
"What if he doesn't like me? Just because I like older men doesn't mean he'll want a recently turned sixteen year old for a match."
"If his grandfather has any say in the matter then Rabastan would be proposing and whisking you off for a bonding ceremony before you went back to Hogwarts." Lucius remarked dryly.
"Doesn't he need your permission for that? And mine too?"
"Exactly right. Something I will not be giving, my sons will finish their formal education before they decide to start a whirlwind romance and fly off to get married."
Harry chuckled. "I never thought of getting married so young, I quite like the idea, just not yet. I'm still new to everything, so I want to learn as much as I can first."
"Then go and do that reading you were so eager to do just a few minutes ago. I will see you later this evening to see how much information you have actually retained."
Harry nodded and he said his goodbyes and he once again veered off for his bed suite, at a much steadier, calmer pace than before. He didn't know what to think about having a convicted, escaped felon as a betrothal match, but it was Lucius' decision, not his, and while he was under this contract, he had to have so many meetings with his betrothed and so much correspondence with him to fulfil the terms of the contract he'd signed, but there was still no obligation for him to marry Rabastan at the end of it, which he was thankful for. He liked having that bit of control over it all.
He was still nervous about meeting him in a few days, though, and he hoped that everything went well because he knew that Rabastan had been incarcerated in Azkaban for a very long time…fifteen years if he remembered right. Sirius had been bad after twelve years and he'd had his Animagus form to help him, he didn't want to think of the mental state that Rabastan was in and if he was anything like his sister-in-law, Bellatrix, then there was absolutely no way in this lifetime that he'd even consider an engagement at the end of their betrothal contract, let alone a marriage.
Xerxes Lestrange smiled at the document in his hands. Irrefutable proof that Harry James Potter was fertile and able to carry a child within his body. Lucius had willing produced the document when he had, rightly so, demanded proof of the nearly unbelievable claims that Lucius had made that the son he'd adopted had the gene that allowed him to carry a baby when he'd made the initial contract request for his Rabastan.
He laughed to himself, he should have suspected something like this…that boy was far too small and slim to be anything other than a gene carrier, but he had reasoned that the boy was still growing.
It was his soft face and that delicate, fragile-looking body combined with this document, which was signed by two different healers from Saint Mungo's that made the connection click. It had been so long since there had been a confirmed gene carrier who actually wanted to exercise their rare ability and have a child grown in their bodies that it was just a natural reaction now to disbelieve someone who claimed that they carried the gene.
The problem now was his stubborn, idiot son and his overprotective older grandson, both of whom opposed the match. His son was easily cowed, having abandoned his own sons to go and live in India for a decade and a half, leaving him to raise his two grandsons, one of whom had been just an infant, so Xerxes readily pointed out that they were more his sons and that Rhadamanthus had no right to claim them as his own.
Rodolphus, however, was harder to convince. He felt that Rabastan wasn't ready for the complicated bonding process of a betrothal contract and that the meetings would be a disaster because it was too soon. Xerxes was ready to agree with his older grandson when he thought back to the way that Rabastan had to take the lead from Rodolphus before he could do anything, but Lucius was looking for an immediate betrothal for his newly adopted son before anyone tried to do so on the boy's behalf, Dumbledore, for example. Lucius and Harry couldn't afford to wait and neither could he. He needed Rabastan married and he needed him to have heirs, and soon, and as an escapee of Azkaban it was going to be very difficult for him to even question another pureblood family about a possible marriage between them and his grandson…this way, with Lucius' contract, he could have the marriage between Rabastan and a fertile pureblood to get the heirs his family needed and keep his grandson safe at the same time. It was the only way and he couldn't afford to wait until Rabastan was more himself before accepting this contract, because Lucius was not going to wait around. Who knew when another offer this good would come up for Rabastan.
Azkaban had ruined both of his grandsons and Xerxes was never more distraught or furious as the day that they had been arrested and sentenced to life in Azkaban. He'd had his manor house searched several times after that incident looking for 'evidence' that it had been a planned attack, but they'd never found anything at his home because it hadn't been planned at his home. His grandsons were both reasonably intelligent men and had known that if he'd gotten so much as a sniff of what they were doing then he'd have put an immediate stop to it, not because he wasn't loyal to his Lord, and his very old school friend at that, but because he would have known that it was a suicide mission and he would have stopped them and encouraged them to wisely bide their time instead of going after the Aurors, Frank and Alice Longbottom.
In hindsight it was obvious that they hadn't known anything, what with their Lord telling them what had really happened with the baby Harry Potter, but emotions had been running high and for them, the truly loyal, it had been a time of great despair and a good few of them had almost outed themselves in the emotional lack of sanity that had followed the demise of their Lord. Or at least they had believed it was his demise until the rumours had started spreading of him still being alive.
Xerxes had followed these rumours carefully; he had subtly searched and gathered together some compelling evidence. He had never been happier than when he'd seen his Lord again for the first time. He hadn't been in the graveyard for his Lord's rebirth, though. He'd been in Albania searching out information, which had become more than just mere rumours to him at that time. He'd been welcomed back as an old friend once he'd gotten himself back to Britain after he had felt his mark heat up for the first time in thirteen long years, and after his Lord had seen from his mind that he had been searching for him and planning for his return, he had been named as one of his Lord's most loyal followers, as he always had been.
He had mourned for the lost men that his boys were, though, and what they could have been, what they could have done had they stayed out of Azkaban, but Frank and Alice Longbottom had been famous, popular Aurors, the reason why his two grandsons, Bellatrix, and the young Barty Crouch had believed they'd had information on their Lord, but inevitably the Wizengamot, devoid of most pureblood lords that day thanks to Barty Crouch senior, had punished them harshly with a life sentence in Azkaban.
He had tried over and over again, as many times as he could within a singular calendar year, to appeal the sentence for Rabastan and Rodolphus, but if he wasn't ignored completely, then he was denied without anyone hearing his full appeal, which angered him immensely.
His house had been raided twice so far this year by the Aurors, with warrants to search his property as he wouldn't let them onto his grounds without one, to search for his two grandsons as he was continuously accused of harbouring them. Something that he was actually guilty of, but this house was old…old, crooked and misshapen. It was incredibly easy to hide small alcoves behind tapestries, in the back of cupboards, and even in the walls themselves, the very reason for the unsymmetrical exterior that the Lestranges were ridiculed for, but not a single raid on this manor house had ever yielded results, something that the other pureblood families, with their perfect, pretty, immaculately measured manors, couldn't boast.
His wards would alert him to the presence of Aurors on his grounds, as they had to walk up his driveway as he refused to lift the anti-trespassing wards on his estate, at which point he sent his house-elf to Rodolphus and Rabastan and they hid themselves in the very walls of the manor house until the danger had passed.
Xerxes got the feeling that the Aurors knew that his boys were here, it was obvious that they were here, but without the proof, every failed raid was a stain on the Auror records and built proof for him to file against them for selective harassment, which would look terrible in the newspapers for them as he was now of an 'advanced' age. Regardless of who he was or what his grandsons had done, the harassment and continuous hounding of an elderly wizard who had proved his 'innocence' repeatedly was not going to go down well for the Aurors with the wizarding public. Thus, he and his beloved grandsons were mostly left alone for them to heal and when they did have any visitors he could hide them safely without any fear that they'd be found.
He thanked his early ancestors for being paranoid bastards and being intelligent and cunning enough to be able to build this house themselves with so many hidden rooms, alcoves and hollow walls that everything the Ministry would class as 'unsavoury', even his grandsons, could be hidden safely and the Aurors who came to search his house didn't find anything that they were looking for, even though they found the more obvious hidden rooms, even the steps to the underground basement which were located in the back of the pantry, they'd only found them because he had let the Aurors see these rooms and he happily allowed them to think that they'd uncovered his 'secret' hiding places, all of which were clean and free of all subjects that were considered 'dark' by the Ministry, which left the Aurors frustrated and angry at their continuous failed raids.
All of his books on dark or questionable magic were kept in a second library that was completely sealed off on all sides and could only be accessed by a painting on the second floor that had to be tapped with a wand in the correct sequence before it turned into a doorway. All of his dark artefacts were in several rooms that were all sealed in a similar way, but never exactly in the same way, for safety reasons.
He went to find his grandsons now, not surprised to find Rabastan sat nearly on his brother's lap, clutching at him as Rodolphus tried his best to accommodate his more than bulky brother while attempting to read a book.
"Rabastan, stop trying to climb your brother like a tree. Sit properly." He encouraged as he took the seat opposite them.
Rabastan did so reluctantly, but his hand slipped down to entwine with his older brother's. Xerxes sighed, it was likely the best that he was going to get, which was an improvement from when the two had first been broken out of the prison several months ago when Rabastan wouldn't even go to the bathroom on his own and they'd slept together in the same bed, entwined tightly around one another's bodies like lovers.
"I've just finalised the contract for you to sign. It has been confirmed by Saint Mungos that Harry Potter is a gene carrier and he is fully able to fall pregnant, so there are no problems in going ahead with the betrothal. Our Lord is very pleased with this contract, tying Harry Potter to one of his most loyal followers and with the boy actually going through with it too, he's very pleased."
"It's too soon, Grandfather. Rabastan isn't ready for such things…it's too intricate, the fine nuances and political manoeuvres are going to be too much for him, for the both of us, to handle and neither of us wishes to embarrass the Lestrange name through our actions at the bonding meetings, in front of the Malfoys no less."
"I'm sure it'll all be fine, Rodolphus. We have some time to prepare, but your brother will be forty years old in just a few more years, it's far past the time for him to marry. You were married at fifteen; thanks in part to your idiot of a father, but still, you are married. All Lestranges have married straight out of school, Rabastan is the only exception."
"This is because I can't have a child with Bellatrix, isn't it?" Rodolphus asked through gritted teeth.
"It certainly doesn't help." Xerxes said sternly. "After you both, there is no heir to the Lestrange line…our family, our heritage, will die with you both if you remain childless. Do you want that?! To be the ones to end our proud, noble lineage because you didn't feel ready to take up your mantles and produce a legitimate child for our line? We are the only ones left! We are down to just four men in the entire line and there are no more out branches of our family tree to rely on, not even any heirs to be had from a female line, they've all died out. I have done my part, your father, as useless as he is, has done his part by having you both. At this moment we are on the cusp of extinction, it's time for you to have as many children as possible to bulk up the chances of our line surviving another generation and as you are never going to have a child with Bellatrix then this pressure will fall solely on Rabastan as the only one left to do so. I will see this betrothal match made and I will see you married and with children."
"Where do I sign?" Rabastan asked.
"There." Xerxes pointed out to his younger grandson and watched critically as Rabastan took out the wand he was using in place of the one that was in Ministry control, split the tip of his finger and took the quill that was handed to him, dipped it into the well of blood on the tip of his finger and then signed his name as neatly as he could with his right hand, on the line at the end of the contract. It was still shaky, barely on the edge of being legible, but it was Rabastan's blood, which was the most important aspect of the signature. Harry's signature was already signed neatly on the contract, in blood, which made this betrothal a legally binding, magical contract where the terms outlined in the contract had to be fulfilled.
"I still say that it's too soon for Rabastan to even be thinking of a betrothal contract. We are not even fully healthy, Grandfather!"
"I will hear no more of this, you have time to prepare and there is a week before Lucius has scheduled the first meeting, we are to go straight to our Lord afterwards, he wishes to know, from us personally, how the meeting goes with Potter. He is counting on us and we will not let him down."
Xerxes strode away with the signed contract and he immediately sent it back to Lucius. He mourned for the men that his grandsons could have been, but he would not see his line end with them both. There would be a new generation of Lestranges, even if he had to force the issue for it to happen.
Harry bounced his knee against the floor and he shifted his shoulders uncomfortably as Narcissa had dressed him impeccably to the back teeth, not only in his finest, most expensive set of new robes but also in Malfoy family heirlooms, Potter jewels and Black gold and silver. He felt like a fucking packhorse.
"Calm yourself." Lucius insisted. "You are a pureblood, a lord to the Potter and Black families and an adopted son of the Malfoy family. Stay calm, clear, and be concise."
"I remember my first conversation with Astoria." Draco told him, his face pulling into a thoughtful faraway look as he stretched his memory all the way back to when he was six years old.
"Was it over which toys you wanted to play with?" Harry chucked.
Draco snorted. "Funnily enough, it was. She wanted to play with my brand new toy broomstick, which I'd only gotten a few days before if I remember rightly, and I didn't want her to touch it. I think I hit her with it."
"You did." Lucius said. "I was sucking up to Lord Greengrass for the next two years until I finally got him a deal that he couldn't refuse and the power was rightfully switched back to me. The things I went through for you."
Draco huffed. "I was six!" He insisted.
"You hit a three-year-old girl over the head with a toy broom because she wanted to play with it."
Harry couldn't hold in his laughter and after a short burble, he had to struggle with himself as he strived to contain his amusement, taking in huge, deep breaths and holding it to regain his composure.
"Laugh it up, Potter."
"Less of that, Draco. You're brothers." Narcissa chastised. "I would not have had any sons of mine refer to each other by anything other than their first names."
"Yes, Mother." Draco acquiesced meekly.
"It's no wonder that you prefer her sister if your first meeting with Astoria was you not willing to share anything and then hitting her."
"Less of that too, Harry." Narcissa told him. "Draco's…activities will not be shared so loosely with others."
Harry nodded. "I understand." He said before he could get a hex to the head for not using his words.
"Rabastan isn't so bad; you could have been stuck with any other number of hideous and weak wizards." Draco assured him. "Of course, he is my uncle's brother through marriage, so I'm obligated to tell you his good qualities."
"What about his bad qualities?" Harry asked nervously.
Draco shrugged. "I've only met him a handful of times since he got out of Azkaban and I was too young to remember him before he was imprisoned. He never leaves his brother's side and he doesn't speak either. He relied heavily on his brother while in Azkaban and now he can't do anything without him. It's only in the last few months that he's stopped clinging to his brother's arm all day every day. I'd heard that they even had to share the same bed."
"Enough." Lucius cut in sternly. "Our guests will be here momentarily, the Lestranges are not known for lateness. I will not risk having them hear such talk which could then compromise Harry's betrothal."
"Will…will he even speak to me?" Harry asked. He got a smack to the back of the head with the familiar hex for speaking when Lucius had closed the topic.
"He will." He was told tersely and he bit his tongue to stave off his other questions.
He sipped at his tea and tried not to spill it in the flimsy, vintage, china cup, nor slam it down on the matching saucer. Narcissa hit him with a hex every single time he did that and she got a sour look on her face too, for daring to risk her finest china with his rough handling.
"I'm going to be sick." He said softly.
"No you're not, you'll be just fine." Lucius all but demanded of him.
Narcissa came over to him, however, standing behind the settee that he was sitting on and she stroked her hands across his slim, narrow shoulders and hummed lightly to him, calming and soothing him and Harry sunk into her hands, into her care for him, he'd never known anything else like it before and he found himself craving it desperately.
"Stop pandering to the boy, Cissa, he's sixteen, not four."
"He wasn't raised as we raised our Draco; he's a different boy entirely, Lucius. We taught Draco how to handle pressure and nervousness, Harry hasn't had that luxury."
"You handle Quidditch matches alright." Draco told him.
"That's different. I can play Quidditch and I like it, it's just a game and the nerves make me perform better when I'm in the air. This is completely different; this is my future marriage I'm trying to sort out. It's not a game."
"Try and apply the same tactics." Narcissa told him kindly. "Use your nervousness to perform better today. Just remember what you've been taught. No nervous laughter, no embarrassing topics of conversation and don't create awkward silences, keep the conversation flowing."
"How do I do that when he won't speak?" Harry asked.
"He will speak, just be patient with him. He's still a man, Harry, and he will have his pride. He just needs his brother to fall back on after all of the hardships that he's been forced through. He's just a little lost, is all."
Harry nodded and sucked in a shaky breath and let it out slowly. His nerves spiked back up when he thought about what the hell he was going to say, what did he say to a man who was thirty-six and had spent fifteen years in prison?
"What do I talk about?" He asked quietly.
"Your studies." Draco told him immediately. "How you're doing in school, what career you want, how many children you want. You're not here to talk about niceties; you're here to set up the budding beginnings of marriage. Show yourself off, talk about your wealth, your lordships and how much you're enjoying the Wizengamot meetings. Do not mention the weather or anything else just as inane and nothing to do with the war either, or you risk offending them or making yourself look completely foolish. Talk about anything you think will help the Lestranges realise that you'll be the perfect bride for Rabastan."
Harry snarled and went to stand up to pummel Draco into mush, but Narcissa jerked on his shoulders and sat him back down, swatting his head with a careful hand as she did so.
"There will be none of that." She declared fiercely. "Don't goad him, Draco. It's far beneath this family. You know that he will be a consort, not a bride."
Harry calmed himself down, simmering the cold rage that had just been there, under the surface, waiting to come out. He didn't like this cold rage; he didn't like the thought that he'd take it out on just anyone when the one person that he wanted to unleash it on was Bellatrix. She had been the one to kill Sirius, it was her fault that he was dead and his body lost to the veil. He'd even tried to cast the Cruciatus curse on her…the next time he'd take her advice and really, truly mean it, right down to his very soul. The next time, she wouldn't be getting back up again and his curse would stick…
Harry felt a pinch to his shoulder and he took in a deeper than normal breath, but he didn't show any other sign that he'd been pinched by Narcissa. He looked to where Lucius was greeting four people, who had been shown in by a house-elf, and he swallowed, his heart started racing and his palms started to sweat.
He remained seated as was expected of him and he greeted Xerxes Lestrange first as the head of the Lestrange family. He smiled genuinely; he liked Xerxes, even if he was always sniffing around his ankles. Which was a hilarious analogy really as the man was three times the size of Harry at six foot six at least, whereas Harry was still waiting for a growth spurt at five foot three.
"This is my son, Rhadamanthus." Xerxes introduced and Harry had to force a smile at the cold, calculating glitter in those pale eyes.
Rhadamanthus was shorter than his father, at six foot two, but he had the same amount of muscle bulk and the same broad shoulders. It seemed that everything else he must have taken from his mother, from the pale hair to the paler eyes.
Rhadamanthus squeezed his hand hard as he brought it to his lips, but instead of laying a simple pressure on the back of Harry's hand with his lips, the man flicked out the tip of his slimy tongue and licked it, the angle made it impossible for anyone to see him doing such a thing, even Harry himself couldn't see it, but he could feel it and he knew that the man had just offered him an insult.
He calmed himself and forced his body not to react to what had been done, he forced himself to ignore the glistening wet patch on the back of his hand and he had to fight with himself to keep from wiping it. Xerxes he liked…his son, Rhadamanthus, was a filthy pig.
"This is my oldest grandson, Rodolphus." Xerxes carried on, not knowing that his son had just offended and insulted him and had actually slobbered all over the back of his hand.
Rodolphus looked a lot like his grandfather, tall at six foot five, broad-shouldered with a bulky rib cage and narrow hips, but that thick, dark hair had thinned out and looked a little listless, there were lines on his face that had nothing to do with age and his left hand twitched randomly, sometimes the twitch would carry on through his arm and up to his neck which would bulge with the effort it took the man to suppress the tick from finishing its movement.
Rodolphus was the ruin of a man, a man who had once been young, strong, and handsome. A man who was now plagued with nerve damage, thinning hair, and a body that would have been stunning if not for a serious amount of prolonged weight loss. He was too thin to carry off the broad shoulders and the robe he was wearing was oddly misshapen because his body was supposed to be carrying at least double the amount of weight that it currently had.
"A pleasure to meet you, Lord Potter." The man said darkly, those dark eyes that he shared with his grandfather glittered in almost the exact same way that his father's had. Harry wondered if this man was going to lick his hand too or just full out bite one of his fingers off.
He hadn't realised he'd been holding his breath until Rodolphus merely brushed his hand with his thin, too pale lips and then backed away. He was most definitely going to be sick, he swallowed hard.
"And this is my youngest grandson, Rabastan, your betrothed."
Harry didn't want to look, but the lessons that Narcissa had beat into him wouldn't let him avoid looking. Rabastan seemed completely lost. There was no other way that Harry could describe the way that Rabastan was staring at his older brother, almost longingly, like he wanted his brother to come back and get him and lead him to where he needed to be and he couldn't understand why his brother wasn't doing so.
"Rabastan, go and greet Lord Potter." Rodolphus told him in a quiet hiss as if he were trying to keep the rest of the room from hearing him.
Rabastan was tall. Taller than his father, but shorter than his brother; it was hard to tell exactly how tall he was because he was hunched in on himself, as if for protection. His long, thin, rake-like arms were crossed over his belly as if to keep himself standing, his dark hair was just as thin and lifeless as his brother's.
His face was wrinkled, like a raisin that had once been a grape but had had all of the moisture slowly sucked out of it. It didn't look natural, it looked like it needed feeding and then all of that wrinkled skin would be full, perfect, and unlined once again. Harry wondered if that was what Rabastan, and his brother, needed…feeding. Surely it couldn't hurt to feed them both, they were rail-thin, where he suspected before they'd been imprisoned they'd been strong, healthy, and reasonably big men.
They'd been out of Azkaban for several months now, he knew. Harry wondered how long it usually took to counter that amount of starvation. He knew from experience that he had to take things slowly once he got to Hogwarts after a summer with the Dursleys or he'd be sick, that was usually only two months' worth of a couple of missed meals too. He couldn't imagine fifteen years in that prison, being fed the slop that Sirius had told him the prisoners were kept alive on.
Rabastan still didn't move though, staring beseechingly at his older brother, Harry could almost see him wondering why Rodolphus wasn't coming to his aid and he could sense the mounting embarrassment of the remaining Lestrange family members as Lucius, Narcissa, Draco and him just sat and watched Rabastan expectantly. He understood that this must have been highly humiliating for the Lestranges and particularly entertaining for the Malfoys. Harry wasn't having any of that though, he wouldn't let anyone sneer or poke fun at this poor, lost man regardless of anything else.
With the whole room looking on at him expectantly and with an air of amusement, it heaped a great deal of pressure onto Rabastan and he was clearly ill-equipped to deal with it, so, as no one moved to help Rabastan at all, and another hissed command, from his father this time, didn't garner any reaction either except to spurn Rabastan to stare harder at his brother, Harry stood suddenly, yet elegantly and he made his way to Rabastan, who cringed away from him, but thankfully he didn't take a step back. Harry had no wish to chase his betrothed around the front room of Malfoy Manor.
He smiled reassuringly at Rabastan and slipped his hand into one of the huge, but almost skeletally thin, hands of Rabastan and he tugged him to the settee he'd been sat on. He sat down and thankfully Rabastan followed suit. He didn't think it would be taken too kindly if he shoved the man to get him to sit down.
Now that Harry could see his face properly, he saw that Rabastan's eyes were a very dark blue, though they were dull with nightmarish memories, not the dark brown of his grandfather and brother and not the pale brown of his father. Harry wondered where the blue had come into the Lestrange line.
Harry only realised that he was still holding Rabastan's hand when that thin, claw-like hand clenched tight around his with an uncontrollable spasm. Harry gasped and tried not to yank his hand away and do more damage to it, but once the spasm had passed, he couldn't help but pull it away, cradling his injured hand to his chest protectively. There was still some serious strength in that ruined body, enough so that he'd thought that Rabastan could have easily crushed his hand with a bit more pressure.
"This is not going at all as I'd hoped." Xerxes sighed sadly as he watched Harry inspect his hand critically.
"I told you that it was too soon, Grandfather." Rodolphus said as he came to sit beside Rabastan and he clenched those shoulders tight in a hug, comforting his confused, lost looking brother, who turned to him and smiled for the first time since he'd arrived upon recognising who was touching him.
"Dolphus." He said happily.
Rodolphus sighed and he looked at Harry with a little less venom than he had before.
"I apologise for my brother's actions, he can't control them. Neither of us can." He said sourly.
"I understand and I don't hold it against either of you." Harry replied clearly after a short pause. "If Rabastan isn't ready for this, then maybe it was a mistake."
That venomous, glittery eyed look came back quicker than a flash and Rodolphus actually bared his teeth at him like an enraged, feral dog.
"Is that your attempt at subtlety? Your roundabout way of rejecting my brother? He is still a Lestrange and deserves the respect of at least one full meeting before you just up and reject him!"
Harry took a breath and calmed himself, pushing away his fear and his anger.
"I can see how my words have been easily misconstrued." He said politely. "I wasn't subtly or otherwise trying to break the betrothal between us, just observing that perhaps this could have waited another couple of months, at least until the winter break. The news of this betrothal is new to the both of us; perhaps it would have gone smoother if we'd had more time to digest the contents of the contract first, before signing it."
Rodolphus had the wind taken from his sails at that and he deflated a little, his shoulders shaking from the exertion of keeping them raised even for a short amount of time. He looked to his grandfather.
"I see what you mean, Grandfather. He has got a tongue of silver."
"You should have seen him put down that jumped up mudblood Head of Magical Transportation in the Wizengamot meeting. He ripped him to pieces in a slow, deliberate way that completely ruined all of his points of view and left him unable to come back from such a blow. A little sixteen-year-old wisp of nothing rationalising such a complex situation and coming up with that compelling argument, on his own mind you, and that mudblood was completely lost for words, he couldn't even formulate a comeback, he was just gaping and mouthing like an uncivilised beast. I've never laughed so hard internally; I thought I was going to rupture my spleen."
Harry let out a soft choke of laughter before he inhaled deeply and got control of himself again, adjusting his posture and relaxing his shoulders as he dropped his hands to his lap.
"It was my pleasure to…enlighten him on the flaws of his proposal." He answered instead, to cover for his slip of composure.
"You've done well with him, Lucius. Imagine, just five weeks and you've turned him into this magnificent, intelligent beauty." Xerxes complimented.
"Thank you, Xerxes. It wasn't at all as difficult as you might believe. There is a reasonably strong, sound mind hidden under that hair."
"You're really beautiful."
Harry looked, startled, at Rabastan to find the man studying him incredibly hard, focusing on every feature of his face. It immediately stopped him from pouting at Lucius' roundabout compliment or complaining to him for making it, which likely would have earned him a punishment later, once the Lestranges had left.
Harry had expected Rabastan to have a shaky voice, one which perhaps cracked or went through different pitches and octaves, but it was the opposite. His voice was strong, deep and even, an almost complete contrast to his appearance. His voice hadn't changed over the years, but his appearance had. Harry found himself desperate to see the healthy body that matched that strong, deep voice.
Harry smiled at him. "Thank you for your compliment."
"Your eyes are different. Most purebloods have brown or blue eyes or grey, but they're rarer. Your eyes are green. I hope our children have your eyes."
"Calm yourself, Rabastan; you're here to talk about an engagement, not about potential children." Rodolphus chastised his brother.
"Since I lost my last betrothal fourteen years ago I've had no one else of worth express interest in me." Rabastan told his brother. "Who else will I marry and have children with if not the one who took the initiative and set up a contract with me?"
"What did I tell you about not sounding desperate?" Rhadamanthus snarled.
"He doesn't sound desperate, I assure you." Harry cut in as Rabastan drew back and reached for his brother's hand. "There's nothing wrong with thinking about children nor asking if your betrothed would like them. I would like them. I haven't much thought about how many I'd like yet as I am still young, but if I'm honest; I'd like at least three."
"Most purebloods don't have more than two, Harry." Narcissa told him patiently.
"I know, but I'm not most people, am I? I'd like as many children as I can get, but three is a minimum. Though I am open to hearing debates."
"You won't get any from me." Rabastan told him. That made Harry smile at him.
"Under usual circumstances, I would advise you to stick to two or three children, but as the lord for the Potter and the Black families, I would believe you have enough wealth to cover more if you wished for them and that is without carrying the heir for the Lestrange line or taking into account the wealth of your potential husband." Lucius told him.
"Rodolphus is still the heir to our line as my oldest son." Rhadamanthus hissed.
"Don't act foolishly." Xerxes demanded of his son. "Rodolphus and Bellatrix are not going to have children together; they can't even stand in the same room without infuriating each other. You well and truly messed that match up. If I had known about it, I would have stopped you, those boys are more mine than they are yours and a Ministry hearing would declare them as such, as you well and truly know."
Harry had done as he had sworn to do and he'd sent a clipped letter to Bellatrix, sealed with a blob of black wax with the Black family crest blotted onto it, which ordered her to have a fertility test. The results had come to him as her Head of House and the test had come back positive, she was fertile and able to have children; the problem it seemed wasn't an issue of fertility, but an issue of actually getting the two parties into bed together and actually engaging in activities that would lead to a child and not to the death of one or both of them.
Bellatrix was completely in love with Voldemort and Rodolphus resented Bellatrix for a multitude of reasons including her disinterest in him, the disrespect she showed him, her obvious love and longing for their Lord and to an extent, her older age over himself. That and Bellatrix was no beauty like her other two sisters. It was widely believed that overuse of dark magic had disfigured and twisted her and Azkaban was no spa resort either.
"What electives have you taken this year?" Rodolphus asked him, seemingly content to warm up a little to him from the venomous malice that he'd shown when he'd arrived.
"I'm still taking Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, History of Magic, and Herbology, but I'm also taking Arithmancy and Ancient Runes as I passed both of the exams I took over the summer to catch up. I had to take both my entry-level exams and my O. within weeks of each other."
"Which electives were you taking before?"
Harry grimaced. "Divination and Care of Magical Creatures, both of which I was going to drop as useless subjects this year. I regret taking them both now and in hindsight, I wish I had taken Arithmancy and Ancient Runes from the beginning. I have so much to catch up on, but Draco is helping me too."
"I was looking forward to Care of Magical Creatures." Draco put in.
"I was as well." Harry sighed. "Unfortunately, Hagrid's idea of a magical creature doesn't fall below four X's on the Ministry's classification guide, which would be brilliant if not for the lack of direction and safety. Those Blast-Ended Skrewts were particularly dangerous and disgusting."
"I'm telling you he bred those things himself. There is no way that the Ministry's Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures department would have allowed those beasts out to the public."
Harry chuckled. "You just didn't know how to handle them!" He insisted in an imitation of Hagrid.
"Funny, I seem to remember you being dragged around on your belly in one particular class. Leashing those monsters and having to walk them like they were mere crups!" Draco huffed indignantly.
Harry couldn't help it as he threw his head back and laughed. "Do you remember the lesson where one of them set Crabbe on fire?"
It was Draco's turn to snort in laughter. "I couldn't forget it, I share a dorm room with him, he was blistered all along his one side, including his face."
"Did it make much of an improvement?" Harry inquired in his best innocent tone of voice.
"Boys, calm yourselves." Lucius cautioned them.
"Oh, let the boys talk, it's entertaining. No one cares for those Crabbes; Vincent was matched to a thirty-year-old witch from Slovenia. Her blood is questionable as they claim she was born of her father's pureblooded wife who died in 'childbirth', but there are rumours that she's the daughter of her father's muggle bit on the side and that he killed his wife himself to stop her from telling the truth about his halfblooded wench."
"Wouldn't a blood test clear that up?" Harry questioned politely.
"It would clear it up perfectly, but adding fire to the rumours, he refuses to produce definitive proof that his daughter had pure blood and hides behind a wall of indignant anger that anyone would dare ask about his daughter's blood purity or dare call him a liar. I refused a contract between her and Rabastan immediately and answered back that I was insulted that he even considered his halfblooded bitch to be a worthy match of my Rabastan."
Harry chuckled politely, but he had to wonder what Xerxes thought he was, because Harry was actually a halfblood, even if he had been legitimised. Was the Lestrange family actually that desperate for a match for Rabastan? Draco had told him that the four men were the last of their line and that even the far-out branches of their once large and illustrious tree had thinned and then dwindled to nothing until the four men in this room were the last of their line and Rodolphus was married to Bellatrix who would not be producing an heir for the Lestrange line and Rabastan, who was not a good catch at the moment because he was an escaped felon and he was ruined by a decade and a half in Azkaban.
Harry didn't care for such physical aesthetics; he knew that given some time and a lot of decent meals and certain potions then Rabastan and Rodolphus would be perfectly healthy, handsome men once again. They'd always be mentally scarred from their fifteen-year stint in Azkaban, locked in with the Dementors, but the physical damage that had been done by the prison and the lack of truly nutritious food would be healed over time.
They were served tea and tiny, dainty little cakes an hour later at Lucius' command to a house-elf; neither Rodolphus nor Rabastan touched the food and Harry wondered why. Surely such a little cake would help them, or at least wouldn't hurt them.
"We're on strict diets." Rodolphus told him when Harry had politely inquired. "To help us gain the maximum weight in as little time as possible we have to stick to a strict regime of food and potions to help us combat the damage that Azkaban has done. Even something as small as those cakes would throw us off of a seven-month plan and could do us more harm than good. We need to stick to our scheduled eating times and our specially tailored meal plans or we might be forced to go back to square one and start all over again."
"Do not mention such things to your brother's potential suitor!" Rhadamanthus hissed.
Harry could hold back the chuckle. "It's not as if we can't all see the ramifications of their fifteen years in Azkaban. Why shouldn't it be mentioned?"
"Harry!" Lucius growled at him and Harry closed himself off immediately.
He resettled himself, straightened his spine, pulled his shoulders back and adjusted his chin to sit at a ninety-degree angle. He looked straight ahead and kept an empty, vapid smile on his face as his hands curled together in his lap.
"No, he's right. It's obvious that we've both been in Azkaban, look at us! We're hardly the picture of virile health and with our uncontrollable twitches, it's not like we can hide it. Rabastan almost crushed Lord Potter-Black's hand!" Rodolphus spat at his father.
A soft touch to said hand had Harry curiously peeking, he couldn't help it as his curiosity won out over a potential hex to the head for dropping his chin, but he found Rabastan's hand touching his own, not gripping it like he had when Harry had led him to the settee, but his shaky fingers brushed over the top of his hand gently as he cradled it in his hand.
Harry smiled and put his other hand over the top of Rabastan's holding it tight.
"I think we can leave it here for today." Lucius said. "The both of them seem to be receptive to one another and that's really all the first meeting looks for between the betrothed."
Xerxes Lestrange agreed with Lucius and Harry said a soft goodbye to Rabastan, honestly sorry to see him go. They hadn't interacted much, but there was a smothered vulnerability to the youngest Lestrange that Harry couldn't help but notice and it made him want to protect the older man and nurse him back to health. He hoped that he got to see more of Rabastan before he had to go back to Hogwarts; he had genuinely enjoyed his company.
A/N: I'm so very pleased at the response that this story has garnered! I'm so happy, thank you to all of you for your feedback and reviews, I loved reading all of them and hearing what you thought of this new fic! I decided to give you the second chapter early as I am so pleased with the response it's gotten!
A huge thank you to Lauren Saint for being the 100th reviewer for this fic. I still can't believe I got a hundred with just the one chapter and I hope that you've all enjoyed this chapter just as much!
StarLight Massacre. X