A/N: Before we start, I want to point all of you to /emerald.html where you will find the most wonderful picture of Harry and Lucius, depicting a scene from chapter four of this story.
"What is going on here?" thundered Albus Dumbledore's voice as he entered the ballroom of Malfoy Manor.
Lucius Malfoy approached him, and answered back. The argument flared, as Snape got involved, but Ron wasn't following the words that were shouted by the adults. Instead, his only concern was for his friend, who was lying, re-aged, in Draco Malfoy's arms. There was a lot of blood on the floor, and on Harry's clothes.
Hermione had grabbed hold of his arm, and seemed to be standing only because of that grip. Carefully, so as not to be noticed by the still arguing adults, where it seemed to be the elder Malfoys against Dumbledore and Snape, Hermione and Ron made their way to Draco and Harry.
"Oh, Harry," Hermione said softly, "are you all right?"
Harry didn't answer; in fact, he didn't even look at them. He had burrowed his face in Draco's chest and it didn't look like he was moving anytime soon.
"He's fine, for now," Malfoy said.
"He tried to kill himself," Ron stated.
Malfoy nodded, and pulled Harry a bit closer. For the first time, Ron saw that the protection Malfoy had seemingly felt for little Harry, extended to sixteen year old Harry too.
"Why?" Hermione asked, sounding half desperate, half sad.
Malfoy sighed, and whispered something in Harry's ear. Harry nodded, but still didn't look up.
"He was abused, badly, by those, those things," Malfoy choked out.
Ron sighed. He'd expected it, but still.
"He can't go back there," Ron said, although the silent 'he'll kill himself if he goes back' was heard by all.
"We won't let him go back," Hermione said forcefully.
"You're right," Malfoy said, "we won't. That's why we re-aged him before you came. We did a blood adoption."
"What does that mean?" Hermione asked. "Can the Ministry oppose it? Can Professor Dumbledore?"
"It's means he's a Malfoy now, no, and no," Malfoy answered.
Ron decided to elaborate a bit more, as it seemed Malfoy was either forgetting the fact that Hermione would have no idea what a blood adoption meant, or more likely, he didn't care.
"A blood adoption gives you two sets of biological parents. If a test was done to show Harry's parents, both James and Lily Potter as Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy would show up as his parents. That's why nobody can take him away; they're truly his parents," Ron said.
Hermione frowned. She got a look in her eyes that Ron recognised from many hours of studying together; she was connecting ideas together on a level that Ron knew he could never achieve. Then her eyes became a liquid storm, and Ron took a step backwards before he consciously recognised it as pure anger.
Hermione resolutely, and apparently very angrily, approached the adults, who where still fighting.
"You bastard!" Hermione screeched. "You absolute bastard!"
"Now, Miss Granger, I can assure you that I…" Lucius Malfoy started.
"Not you," Hermione interrupted, "him."
She pointed at Dumbledore.
"My dear, whatever have I done that got you so angry with me?" Dumbledore asked, sounding puzzled.
"You made him go through that hell, every summer, claiming blood wards! A simple blood adoption would have given him the opportunity to live somewhere else, under blood wards! You knew, you knew, yet you condemned him to that hell!" Hermione said, sounding calm and very dangerous because of that. "If it wasn't for the Malfoys, Harry would be dead now, and it would have been your fault! I respected you, but now, now I loathe you, perhaps even more than I loathe Voldemort. At least he was straightforward about wanting Harry dead!"
With those words, she turned to Narcissa.
"Could you help us get Harry to his room? He needs to rest," she asked Narcissa, sounding very pleasant and polite.
Ron was baffled for a moment about her sudden change of mood, until he met her eyes. They were still blazing with anger, and Ron knew that Dumbledore would regret making Hermione Granger angry. And, he was angry too. He was controlling it, knowing that anger from him would only diminish Hermione's destroying words. Right now, he needed to help Harry, and then they could plan their revenge. Oh yes, revenge they would get. For once, Ron was looking forward to working with the Malfoys. Surely, as one of the top Death Eaters, Lucius Malfoy would know some neat tricks. Yes, Dumbledore would pay for what he did to Harry.
In the end, Hermione and Ron went back with Dumbledore and Snape to Hogwarts, while Harry and Draco stayed the night at Malfoy Manor. The next day, they rejoined the student population of Hogwarts. Nothing more was said about Hermione's rant against Dumbledore, or about Harry's adoption. It seemed as though Dumbledore had accepted the fact that nothing could be done. The peace and quiet however, was shattered on the first day Harry was back in classes, and by none other than Harry himself.
"Mister Potter, can you tell me the three main rules when one transfigures something that is meant to be permanent?" McGonagall asked.
"It's Malfoy," Harry said.
Ron, who was sitting next to him, stared at Harry. Surely, he couldn't seriously mean that, could he?
"I'm sorry?" McGonagall said.
"I was adopted, Professor, so it's Harry Malfoy now," Harry answered calmly, although Ron could see his hands were shaking where he held them under the table.
Apparently, he did mean it. McGonagall seemed baffled for the moment, but decided that she would just gloss over the name. She asked the question again, this time not naming Harry at all. The lesson continued as normal, but at the end of the lesson, she asked Harry to stay behind, again, without saying his last name, but everyone knew who she meant.
"Only if it's about something else than my last name," Harry answered.
Ron wondered if Harry was still suicidal, it seemed that way. Everyone seemed to hold their breath, waiting for McGonagall's answer.
"Mister Potter," she began, but didn't continue as Harry just walked out the door.
Ron followed him out, Hermione and Malfoy on his tail.
"Harry, mate, wait up," Ron said, but Harry didn't slow down at all.
Eventually, they caught up.
"You do realise you don't have to change your name," Malfoy said.
This made Harry stop, he turned to Malfoy.
"I can't be a Malfoy in name?" he asked, but the tone in his voice revealed there was more to the question than there was being asked.
"You can, but you don't have to, you can still be a Potter if you want to," Malfoy said.
"What if I don't want to?" Harry said, sounding very much like he was five again.
"Then you're a Malfoy," Ron said.
He could accept Harry as a Malfoy, after all, Harry was still Harry. He then looked at Malfoy. With a big sigh, he decided that he'd better start calling him Draco.
"So, Draco, want to study with us?" he asked.
Harry's happy smile was a sign that he'd made the right decision.
Not long after Harry was back at school, Halloween was upon them. The teachers had gotten used to calling him Mister Malfoy, as Harry pointedly refused to listen to anything else. The Slytherins apparently found it all really amusing, and had stopped bothering the Gryffindors. Skeeter had got hold of the story of the adoption, but the next day a much nicer story about Harry's adoption was printed. If Draco's smug smile was any sign, it was probably Lucius Malfoy that had something to do with that remarkable turn-around of opinion.
"Harry, you need to eat something," Hermione said at breakfast.
"I can't," Harry answered, throwing his fork down. "Do you have any idea what day it is?"
"Well yes, it's Halloween," Hermione said, puzzled, "but that still doesn't explain why you're not eating."
"Something always happens on Halloween," Harry answered.
Just at that moment, the doors to the Great Hall opened, and a party of men entered. Ron made a grab for his wand, until suddenly he recognised Lucius Malfoy amongst them.
"What's he doing here?" he asked.
Harry shrugged his shoulders.
"Ah, gentlemen, you're early," Dumbledore said, standing up. "May I all introduce you to our esteemed governors, who are here today to witness normal proceedings of the school, and to partake of our Halloween feast. Please, don't let them interrupt your day."
"I can't believe it," Hermione said. "Out of all days, they pick this one?"
"Yeah," Harry said, a faint smile on his lips, and he resumed eating.
Ron sought out Lucius's eyes, and tipped his head in thanks. Yes, the Malfoys were good for Harry.
Ron was nervous, very, very nervous. He'd gone through all of his clothes, and picked out three outfits to wear. But, when he'd asked Harry what he should wear, the boy had shrugged his shoulders, and just said he didn't have any fashion sense.
"What do you mean, no fashion sense? You always look great," Ron said.
"Yeah, because Narcissa bought me a wardrobe that would match no matter what I pulled out of the closet," he answered with amusement in his voice. "Apparently, she didn't trust my fashion sense."
Ron groaned. He was doomed, he knew it. There was no way he could pick out the right outfit, and Hermione would take one look at him, laugh, and that would be the end of their date.
"Mate, don't sweat it, she likes you, and she's used to how you dress," Harry said, still smiling wildly.
Ron sighed, he supposed it was true. He picked the outfit that was lying closest, and decided it would just have to do. He'd thought asking Hermione out had been scary, but this, their first date, was much scarier.
"So, what are you going to do?" Ron asked, trying to take his mind of the date for a moment.
"I'm going to do some Christmas shopping with the Slytherins, then I'll see you and Hermione at the Three Broomsticks for lunch. After lunch, I'll go with you guys and we can do some Christmas shopping, since I'll still need to get a present for Draco, and some candy for the rest of the Slytherins," Harry answered.
"You know, it's still weird to hear you talking about shopping with the Slytherins as if it's normal," Ron remarked.
"I thought you were all right with me hanging out with them?" Harry said, sounding hurt and scared.
Ron looked at his friend, and saw the almost desperately pleading look in his eyes. Sometimes it was so easy to forget just how hurt Harry was, and how fragile.
"I am, I've got no problems with it. They're mostly all right, but it's still weird, you know. It's just not something I'd expected at the beginning of the year, and sometimes it all seems, I don't know, like a dream or something," Ron said.
"Nope, no dream," Harry said. "Come on, let's go, I'm sure Hermione and Draco are all ready waiting for us, and I don't think either of them is going to be happy if we're late."
"Yeah," Ron answered. "Who knew they'd be so scarily similar."
Ron sat across from Hermione in a small tea-shop in one of the many side alleys in Hogsmeade. Scarily enough, Draco was the one who suggested it to him, and it appeared he had been right. Ron had wanted to know where to take Hermione for their date, and when Draco had recommended this place, Ron hadn't wanted to go there first. Mostly because he was a bit wary about trusting Draco with something so important. However, when Harry had remarked it could in no way be worse than taking Hermione to Madam Puddifoot's, Ron had decided to follow Draco's advice, and it seemed as if he'd done the right thing. They were having a wonderful time, just talking, and Ron was even holding Hermione's hand. He felt like he was in heaven, and, feeling generous, he decided he was going to buy Draco a really good Christmas present to thank him.
"We should be heading to the Three Broomsticks," Hermione said, although she didn't sound eager to be off.
"Yeah, we should," Ron said, but still they stayed seated for a few more minutes.
Five minutes later, they dropped down in their seats next to Harry, who was looking at them with a big grin.
"So, how did the date go?" he asked them
Ron blushed, but Hermione answered that it had been great. Harry smiled, and Ron was happy Harry didn't seem to be jealous, or even afraid that they might abandon him now that they were together.
"So, how was shopping with the Slytherins?" Ron asked.
"Please, don't ask. It's like a man's worst nightmare, I swear. I thought only women liked to shop, but boy Draco and Blaise sure know how to shop too," Harry said, sounding tortured.
"You have my sympathies, mate," Ron said, very amused.
Madam Rosmerta interrupted their conversation to ask them if they wanted anything, and they ordered lunch. Soon after, they were all enjoying their food, but Ron noticed Harry wasn't eating much. It usually meant that something was bothering him.
"Something wrong?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, no, I don't know," Harry said.
Ron sighed; that made the problem so clear. Yes, he could really help with such an answer.
"Harry, tell us," Hermione said softly, placing her hand on Harry's.
Ron felt a stab of jealousy, but waved it away. There was nothing going on between those two, except for being really close friends. He turned his attention to Harry's story.
"It's just, I've been invited to the Malfoy's for Christmas…" Harry said.
"Mate, you're a Malfoy now, part of the family, of course you're invited," Ron said, not seeing the problem.
"But I have no idea what to buy them!" Harry exclaimed, then softened his voice, as everyone had looked up at his exclamation. "I don't want to disappoint them, and I want to show them I'm very grateful for what they did for me. I don't want to buy them just anything, you know?"
Harry looked at them, pleading with his eyes for their help.
"We'll help you find the perfect gifts," Hermione assured him, "won't we, Ron?"
Ron nodded, his mouth full of food. They would, although he knew that it would probably be Hermione who would help, he wasn't exactly good at giving the perfect gift. It had taken him long enough to figure out what to give to Hermione, and he knew her.
They spend the rest of the afternoon wandering from shop to shop, going into even the most unlikely places to find the perfect gift for the Malfoys. Narcissa's gift was the easiest, and they found it fairly quickly. Ron suspected it had been the easiest because Hermione was a woman too, and she would know what women really liked. Lucius Malfoy's gift took a lot longer to find. The biggest problem was that the man was filthy rich, and had probably bought everything he wanted the minute he wanted it. Eventually though, they found something in a tiny shop in an even tinier alley.
But it turned out that Draco's present was the hardest to find. Hermione, and even Ron himself, had made several suggestions, but each one was rejected by Harry. It was almost five o'clock now, and they were getting desperate, or better said, Harry was getting desperate, almost to the point of being hysterical.
"Harry, mate, calm down. It's not the end of the world," Ron said, in an attempt to calm his friend down.
"No, Ron, you don't understand. I need to have a present for him, I just need to," Harry said frantically.
Ron sighed. He didn't understand why this was so important for Harry, but it was, so he would stand by his friend.
"All right," Ron said. "Over there is an alley we haven't tried yet."
They went into the alley Ron had pointed out. The buildings there were mostly houses, but there was one shop tucked in between two of the houses. Entering it, it became clear it was a second-hand shop, were there were all kinds of treasure hidden amongst the junk. The trio split up, and once in a while either Ron or Hermione showed Harry something that could be given as a present to Draco, but each time Harry rejected their choice. Ron was ready to give up, certain they had searched the entire shop, when he heard Harry give a triumphant exclamation.
"Look at this," Harry said, holding up his find.
Hermione gasped, and stretched out her hand, but stopped short of touching the object in Harry's hand.
"It's perfect," she said, breathlessly.
Harry nodded, looking scarily like one of the twins did after they pulled of a successful prank. Ron grinned too, relieved that Harry had what he wanted, so they could go back to Hogwarts and get something to eat.
Ten minutes later, the three friends left Hogsmeade, all content. Harry with his treasures, and Ron and Hermione with each other.
Ron sat on his bed, looking bemusedly at his friend. Harry was packing his trunk; nothing special about that, but he was humming. Harry never hummed when he packed his trunk, because Harry was never happy that he had to leave Hogwarts. Now though, he was. The next day they would leave to celebrate Christmas with their families, and for the first time, Harry had a family to celebrate with.
The fact that Harry was so happy, however, wasn't the reason that Ron was so bemused. No, the bemusement came from a rather cryptically worded invitation, issued by Draco. Both Hermione and he were invited to spend boxing day at the Malfoys, so they could exchange presents with Harry. Nothing really weird about that, if you forgot the fact that a Malfoy invited a Weasley and a Muggleborn. No, the mystifying part was that Draco had said they could exchange presents and talk. How he had looked when he'd said they could talk made Ron think that it meant more than just a friendly talk. Hermione had gotten the hidden message too, and they were both very interested in hearing what they would be talking about. They had no doubt that it was about Harry, about how they could help him, about the fight against Voldemort, and about how to take revenge on Dumbledore for putting Harry with those monsters.
Yes, Ron thought, he might not get why Draco was involving them, but he was not going to let this chance slip away. Oh no, he would stand by Harry, even if it meant standing by the Malfoys. Yes, he was looking forward to this talk. But for now, he was going to pack his own trunk, and then go to dinner. After all, one mustn't do anything important on an empty stomach, even if it was only dreaming about revenge.
A/N: thanks to my fantastic beta Logical Quirk
A/N2: This story will have a sequel, called An Emerald Alliance, where Harry will deal with his problems, being a part of the Malfoy family, Voldemort and much more! However, I am going on holiday tomorrow, so the first chapter of the sequel will have to wait until I get back. It will probably be two weeks, or slightly more, before I will be able to post the first chapter of An Emerald Alliance.