Note: Thank you for all the review!! I hope this stuff about the Mark makes sense. Like I said, I've changed things around a bit, but then again we don't know much about it from the start. Enjoy!
Harry held Draco tightly, but the Slytherin didn't move to hug him properly. Harry sighed and pulled back to look into Draco's eyes. They were dull and lifeless as if it was Draco who had taken the Veritaserum. Harry grew more worried.
"Draco, listen to me. You did what you had to do," he said firmly. Draco let his gaze fall to his forearm and Harry followed it. He gently took Draco's arm and pulled back the sleeve, revealing the Mark, still back from the summons. Harry put his other hand over it, staring intently at Draco, who just continued staring at Harry's hand.
"Harry is right, Draco. You could not have done differently. In fact you did more than enough. You were brave and clear-thinking in a very difficult situation," Dumbledore said gently. Snape remained silent, standing off to the side with a grim expression on his face. Harry shot him a pleading look, silently hoping the Potions Master could say something since he was the only one who could really come close to understanding what Draco had gone through.
"I think we need to question Lucius further," Snape said slowly. Dumbledore nodded and moved towards the unconscious Lucius. Snape came forward and placed a hand on Draco's shoulder. The Slytherin finally looked up at his Head of House. "You did good, Draco." This seemed to get through and Draco nodded once. He then allowed Harry to lead him over to stand in front of Lucius. Snape walked around the chair and stood behind. Dumbledore nodded and Snape cast the charm. Lucius' eyes opened slowly this time. They grew wary when he realised he was still in Dumbledore's office. The Headmaster held up the same vial again and Lucius' glared at him.
"Now, now, Mr. Malfoy, I assure you this is the best Veritaserum on the market. The chances of damage are slim. Open up."
"You will not get away with this," Lucius' spat.
"With the things you have and will confess, not to mention your questionable release from Azkaban, I think it is unlikely that the Ministry will do anything except throw you right back," Dumbledore stated calmly. Lucius cast him one last glare before opening his mouth like before. Once the potion was administered it was Draco who suddenly blurted out the first question.
"Did you take the vow not to hurt Mother?"
"Yes." Dumbledore nodded approvingly at Draco who seemed less tense now. The Headmaster then continued with the questioning.
"I want you to explain to us exactly what your plans were. You wanted to save face with Voldermort by forcing Draco to take the Mark and hiding his relationship with Harry. But surely this lie could not be held for long. What would happen when you delivered Harry and Draco knew he had the Mark?"
"I would take the credit for obtaining Potter. I would inform My Lord of my son's death. I would give him back his memories, making sure he knew he had taken it of his own free will. He should never have born the Mark. I regret my decision now," came the dull reply. Harry glared at Lucius, pure hatred of the man welling up inside him.
"How would Draco die?"
"I would tell My Lord he died during the unexpected struggle to capture Potter."
"You would kill your own son?"
"But if ever Draco left the wards of Hogwarts again while Voldermort summoned his followers he would be able to detect the boy's presence. How were you going to hide that?"
"I would remove the Mark. He should never have born it in the first place."
"Impossible!" Snape suddenly exclaimed. "There is no way to remove it." Harry looked over at Draco and saw a glimmer of hope in the grey eyes. He felt it too. Dumbledore frowned in thought.
"You know how to remove the Mark?"
"How do you know?"
"My Lord needed help in crafting the Mark."
"Why? Why you?"
"It is a link between people and therefore he needed someone to experiment with when he first made it. I was the only one he could trust."
"Why can it be removed? Didn't Voldermort manage to make it permanent?"
"He could have made it permanent if he wanted, but other things he could not perfect and so it was necessary to make sure it could be removed in case." Silence followed as everybody digested the information. Harry's heart was beating faster. Could it really be removed? His hand found Draco's and they both held tight.
"Because of the nature of the Mark."
"And what is that nature?" The whole room seemed to be holding its breath as Lucius spoke in the same monotone dull voice while revealing his Lord's deepest secrets.
"It is a link between people. My Lord wanted to be able to call his followers to him, and to be able to detect their presence to know if they were alive or dead. That does not work in wards, only summoning works inside them, but it is effective on the battlefield. My Lord wanted the connection to go one way, but was unable to connect himself to so many. It was easier if it was a mutual bond between all the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord."
"You are saying that the Mark goes both ways?" Snape asked, clearly very interested.
"Yes. No one knows but any Death Eater can summon and detect the presence of another outside wards if he knows how to activate it." Harry's mind was reeling with the information, the implications of it and the many possibilities.
"Do you know how?"
"And Voldermort thinks no one else knows, but still found it necessary to have a way to remove it?"
"Yes, in case someone used it against him or his followers."
"And how is it removed?"
"There is a spell. It was made to be painful." Harry's tensed at this while Dumbledore frowned again.
"My Lord wanted it to be painful in case someone found out how to remove it. A punishment for daring to desert him, or for him to inflict if he found someone unworthy of his Mark." Silence fell once again. Dumbledore looked at Draco, who stared back with a blank expression. The Headmaster then looked to Snape who had a pensive expression on his face, clearly going over all the things they could do with the new information. He nodded at the Headmaster, though Harry was unsure what it meant. Dumbledore turned back to Draco.
"I believe we need to remove your Mark, Draco. Lucius will be sent to Azkaban, Voldermort will learn of it quickly. He will learn from others that you are alive also, and no doubt conclude you have betrayed him. Do not worry, we will protect you."
"What about Mother?" Draco asked. "She only took the Mark at Father's insistence."
"I will go to Malfoy Manor and collect her. The wards will let me in. I will make sure it looks like she fled," Snape said, forming the plan as he spoke. "I will bring her back here. We will question her and if everything checks out we can remove her Mark as well." Dumbledore nodded his agreement.
"This new information must not become known outside this room," he stated gravely. Harry and Draco nodded. "You must question Lucius Severus. Learn the spells connected to the Mark. He looks so out of it I doubt he will remember it was you who questioned him. In the meantime I suggest you two go and rest. I am certain you both require some rest." Harry took the Headmaster's meaning immediately and nodded his thanks. He walked out of the office, not once letting go of Draco's hand. Before they reached the door, however, Snape spoke up.
"Wait a moment." The two boys turned around as the Potions Master came towards them. He pulled out Draco's wand and held it out. Draco took it, but didn't meet Snape's eyes. "Forgive me for doubting you."
"It's not your fault. I would have done the same," Draco said softly. Snape nodded slowly, understanding that Draco knew he was a cautions man by nature and therefore forgiven. Harry led Draco down the stairs and towards the Room of Requirement.
The room they required was draped in different shades of blue. It was luxurious and cosy at the same time, with a warm fireplace and comfortable couch. They could also hear the rain for some reason, which had started not long after they had entered the castle. Harry found the sound soothing alongside the soft crackle of the fire. Amazing that one could even require the right sounds. Harry sat down in the big soft couch and pulled Draco down with him. His boyfriend seemed tense at first, but gradually relaxed and leaned against Harry's chest. Neither said anything for a long time. Harry was desperately hoping that Draco wasn't tearing himself up inside. The blond had hardly said anything since he found out about the Mark and Harry felt a lump in his throat. He wanted to reassure Draco more, but wasn't sure what there was left to say. He heard Draco sigh and hoped it was a good sign. Harry was just about to speak, but Draco beat him to it.
"I'm ok, Harry. I can feel you worrying. I'll be fine as soon as Mother is here and I have this… thing off me."
"Good… I know you'll probably scoff and tease me for this, and I think I've already said it, but I have to say it again…" Harry took a deep breath he knew Draco would feel. "I'm proud of you."
"Why? I was weak. I failed you," Draco protested. Harry hugged Draco to him tightly.
"No, you didn't. You did what you knew you had to to protect your Mother. I would have done the same." They lapsed into a companionable silence and Harry felt Draco relax even more. He knew Draco would be fine, once the Mark was off. They fell asleep soon, even though it was only slightly after noon.
They were awakened by a knock at the door. Harry had made sure to require that they could be found. He stretched his neck and looked over the back of the couch, feeling Draco stir as well, but he didn't think the blond had woken up.
in," he said softly, not really wanting Draco to wake up yet. He
carefully held Draco so he could rise from the couch, lowering Draco
down against the pillows. When he stood he went to the door and
opened it since the person had obviously not heard him. Outside
Dumbledore stood, along with professor Snape and to Harry's
surprise Narcissa Malfoy, looking tired and anxious.
"Harry, is Draco inside?" Dumbledore asked softly. Harry nodded. "Perhaps we should give them a moment?" Again Harry nodded and stepped out while holding the door open to Narcissa. She gave him a small smile of gratitude, the first genuine emotion she had shown him and disappeared inside, closing the door gently. Harry turned to Dumbledore and Snape, waiting for an explanation. "We questioned her under Veritaserum. She has indeed been following Lucius' will for fear of her life and is genuine in her desire to protect Draco more than following Voldermort. She has accepted our protection in return for her information." Harry sighed with relief, glad Draco at least had one family member who wasn't, in his opinion, completely insane.
Draco was dreaming of memories he no longer had, but the dreams weren't fully formed and he awoke slowly when he felt Harry move him. He heard the door open and close on the edge of his consciousness. He felt more than heard someone approaching the couch. Then he opened his eyes, unable to process what he was seeing.
"Draco, darling?" Narcissa stood by the couch looking down at him with worry and a bit of longing in her eyes. She seemed to him more like a mother than he had ever seen her, and he could do nothing but stare at her for a long time. He wished she had always looked like that. Slowly as if stumbling through a dream he pushed himself up and stood, feeling strangely drunk almost.
"Mother," he said. Suddenly he wasn't sure if he really was awake. She smiled at him and opened her arms. Now sure he must be dreaming he practically fell into her embrace and clung to her, as he never had during his childhood. When Snape had told him he would collect her a part of him believed she would refuse to come, that she did indeed hate him as he had concluded when he stopped hearing from her.
"Draco. Thank you, Draco. Severus showed me your memories. I owe you my life. Thank you." Draco pulled away slightly to look at her.
"You stopped-" Draco was about to ask why she had stopped sending her parcels, but he suddenly realised why. Now that he had seen the memories he knew why, it was obvious. Lucius had been checking the mail. She had been unable to send anything. He took a step back and composed himself. Narcissa did the same, but they couldn't help smile at each other now that they were both free to do so. A feeling of incredible relief was present in both of them.
"I'm proud of you, Draco," she said sincerely.
"Thank you," he said. He was realising that it was so much better hearing her say that than Lucius. They walked out of the room together and found the others waiting for them. When Draco's eyes fell on Harry he grew tense. How much did Narcissa know in that department? How much had she guessed from the memories? He looked at her and saw the same small smile on her face.
"Mother," he said with just the right formality in his voice. "I'd like you to meet Harry. My boyfriend." He gestured towards Harry who looked startled that Draco had jumped into it like that. Narcissa, playing the game perfectly, smiled at Harry as if they had only just met.
"A pleasure to meet you, Harry," she said and held out her hand. Harry managed to get a grip on his surprise and shake it, albeit a little clumsily. Draco smirked when he saw the slight blush on his cheeks. Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling.
"I think we should all return to my office and perform the spell," Dumbledore said. They all walked quietly together down the corridor, Draco growing tenser all the way. He didn't like pain, though obviously he could handle it better than he thought considering the memories he had witnessed. Harry seemed to notice this and took his hand again. Draco felt slightly better at the contact.
Once inside Dumbledore explained that it would be best if Draco waited outside while Snape performed the spell on Narcissa, and that she likewise not be in the room when the Mark was removed from him. Lucius was nowhere to be found, but Draco didn't bother asking what had happened to him. Snape explained that no one could touch the person while the Mark was being removed and it would therefore be best if mother and son not witness it in case the need to comfort became too much. Draco reluctantly agreed, though Harry stubbornly refused to let Draco go through it alone, saying he was used to seeing the ones he loved in pain and wanted to be there the second he could touch Draco. There was agreement after a heated debate and the two students left to wait outside while Narcissa was being de-Marked.
Harry stomach was in a knot as Draco stood in front of Snape in Dumbledore's office. He wanted the Mark off Draco, but now a part of him was regretting his decision to stay during the process. Snape raised his wand to Draco, who was holding out his marked forearm.
"Are you ready?" Snape asked. Draco nodded stiffly and Snape cast the spell immediately. Harry could see Draco's face contort in pain and felt the need to go to him, but restrained himself. After a long moment Draco finally let lose an anguished noise, barely stopping himself from screaming outright. Harry saw steam rising from the Mark and a sizzling sound like the skin was being cooked. The Mark was dissolving slowly. With a hiss-like sound the snake was the last thing that disappeared. Draco swayed slightly and Harry looked to Snape, who nodded. Harry rushed forward and was holding Draco the next second, gently turning the blond towards him.
"Draco?" The Slytherin was staring at his now completely smooth and bare forearm. When he looked up he was smiling and Harry smiled back, a warm relief flooding him. Harry thought Draco looked absolutely perfect in that moment, just like he was suppose to always look like in Harry's opinion. He couldn't stop himself from leaning forward and capturing Draco's soft lips with his own. The kiss was long and sweet and made both boys forget where they were and whom they were with. Several times Harry was sure he heard someone cough, but he just couldn't be bothered. Draco gently pushed Harry's lips open, finding little resistance and the kiss deepened. Harry was feeling more elated than he had in his life. Draco was unmarked and, more importantly, completely his. His mind was reeling from the wonderful snog as well as what a perfect boyfriend he had.
"Will you desist in your display of affection for one moment?" came a voice. Harry very reluctantly parted from Draco and looked around, promptly blushing a deep crimson when he saw Narcissa Malfoy was standing in front of them along with his professor and Dumbledore, all of them wearing amused expressions, except for Snape who looked like he wanted to throw up. Harry looked back at Draco, who of course was smirking and not the least bit embarrassed.
"Well, this certainly has been an eventful day," Narcissa commented, her voice full of affection and warmth and sounding very unfamiliar in Harry's case. Dumbledore nodded, smiling and almost humming in amusement.
"I have the perfect rooms for you, Mrs Malfoy," he said.
"Please, Narcissa," she said.
"Narcissa, of course. As I was saying, if Harry and Draco don't object." Dumbledore shot them a glance, but they simply stared back in confusion. "Perhaps your rooms could be right next to Draco and Harry's rooms."
"You mean I'd move out of Slytherin?" Draco asked. Harry wasn't sure if he sounded happy or not about the idea. Dumbledore nodded.
"The situation is such I think you'll agree that it would be safer not sleeping in the dorms. I thought perhaps you would like to share a room with Harry." Draco looked at the Gryffindor who nodded immediately. Harry liked sleeping in the Tower, but he would be damned if he was going to pass up private rooms with his boyfriend, even if they were right next to said boyfriend's mother. Draco smirked at him, looking like he was reading Harry's mind. "Very good. I shall have your things moved. Narcissa, if you would permit me to show you the rooms myself?" Dumbledore held out his arm in a very gentlemanly manner and Narcissa smiled at the gesture.
"That would be lovely, Headmaster."
"Please, Albus. Oh, and I'm sure the others are long since back from Hogsmade and wondering about you two. Perhaps you should speak to Ron and Hermione first?" With that the two walked gracefully out of the office. Draco and Harry glanced nervously at Snape, who was scowling. He jerked his head in the direction of the door and the two students didn't wait a second longer. Harry and Draco walked briskly from the office.
"You don't have to come talk to them if you don't want to," Harry said as they were nearing the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"I don't suppose they will be please to hear of you moving out. If you think there is a danger of them hexing me I'm sure I could be persuaded to wait outside," Draco drawled. Harry rolled his eyes.
"They won't hex you as long as you play nice."
"I have behaved perfectly towards them ever since they found out," Draco said defensibly. Harry knew it was true, but it didn't make him any less nervous. He had yet to bring Draco inside the common room, even though many students brought their partners from other houses to visit occasionally. They stopped before the portrait, both staring into each other's eyes. Harry's gaze wandered to Draco's hair, still pulled back in a ribbon. He gently lifted his hand and pulled the hair free. Draco didn't protest, but smirked knowingly. Harry suppressed the urge to roll his eyes and instead leaned in for a kiss. He couldn't help it if he thought Draco was absolutely gorgeous. But it wasn't just the hair or the good looks. It was everything about Draco that made him look like he did. His confidence, his pride, his cunning and brains, even his arrogance was something Harry would not change. He had seen another part of Draco today as well, his love for family. At least the part that wasn't homicidal and pure evil, Harry added. Everything about him shone through in his face. It all added up to Draco Malfoy. Harry made it his part of his life's mission to make sure Draco always looked like that.
Did you like it? I was toying with the idea of ending the story here. I feel that if it should continue it would have to be in a sequel. But I'm not sure. In any case the next chapter will have to wait as I'm taking a serious break from fanfiction to actually to some work so I don't fail completely for exams. Hope you liked it and please leave a review!