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This is the last chapter of Bloody But Unbowed. Thanks for reading along!
Chapter Twenty—Brilliant as Blood or Love
Rogers and Kreacher turned around and looked up at Draco. A moment later, they had both vanished. Harry blinked. "Did you say something to them?" he asked, momentarily shaken out of his rising daze of lust.
"They know when we're serious and won't be persuaded otherwise." Draco shut the door behind him and began to undo his robes, his motions smooth and leisurely, as if he knew that Harry wouldn't run away or object this time. Harry licked his lips several times, and still couldn't make them moist enough to be comfortable or pull enough saliva into his mouth. "Unlike this morning," Draco continued, and his voice had deepened into a growl. "Unless something else has happened to convince you otherwise in the meantime."
Draco seemed satisfied with that half-involuntary gasp, given his flashing smile. He took another step forwards. His robes hung off his shoulders now, revealing a long strip of chest incredibly pale for someone who stepped out of his house more than once a week. Harry wanted to lick it.
And why shouldn't I? There was no law that said he had to remain motionless on the bed whilst Draco undressed. Harry stood and crossed the room with a few swift, silent steps.
Draco, his attention on a stubborn button, didn't notice until Harry was standing in front of him. He looked up with a slight gasp as Harry seized his chin, and then Harry was kissing him, thrusting his tongue in gleefully, to have more of that taste he'd only really experienced the day in the lab when Lucius sickened.
No need to think of that right now. It's past and done, and finally, finally you can think of Draco the way you were meant to.
Harry pushed Draco's robes out of the way and spent a moment tracing the line of his shoulder blade, running back to his collarbone. Draco stood still, his eyes shut and his breath departing his lips in quick little pants. Harry smiled and dipped his head to follow the path with his teeth and tongue. Draco swayed back and forth, seeming torn between writhing and remaining motionless to experience the sensation more intensely.
What happens if I scrape my teeth against his skin a little harder? Harry realized he had no idea how much roughness Draco liked in bed; it wasn't a common conversational topic, understandably enough, when his father was still sick. A deep thrill ran through him at the thought of how much he had to learn about Draco, how much to explore.
In this particular case, what happened when he scraped his teeth across Draco's shoulder was that Draco came to life. He twisted, grabbed Harry's neck, and hauled his face back up for another ferocious kiss. It was the first kiss in which Harry had ever forgotten where he was. He tasted only the smooth dart and liquid whip of Draco's tongue, heard only his own choked moans and Draco's hungry half-snarls, until Draco suddenly pushed him backwards. Harry didn't even have time to grasp at Draco's arms before he found himself flat on his back on the bed, Draco crawling above him and pinning him to the sheets with his knees around Harry's ribs. Harry panted, not sure whether the fall or the parting of Draco's lips from his had startled him more.
Draco stared down at him with a possessive, covetous look that made Harry's cock harden to the point of pain. Other lovers had looked at him much the same way, if not for the same reasons; Harry had discovered too late that Xavier used that expression because he was thinking of how he was the only person in the wizarding world to have Harry Potter in bed at the moment. But Draco's look seared as if he could change the past as well as the future, as if Harry had never had any lover but him.
He pushed his robes off his shoulders, never taking his eyes from Harry's. They collapsed in a soft puddle of cloth onto Harry's legs, teasing his groin with a whisper of fabric. He tried to push his hips into it, but Draco's legs kept him locked down, and the next moment the robe had been shoved to the floor.
"You should undress," Draco said. His voice was the guttural growl that had aroused Harry this morning. "I want you naked."
His eyes were brilliant with desire again, and Harry nodded agreement, not sure he could speak. He reached for his wand, but Draco caught his wrist in both hands, rubbing his fingers softly along the skin beneath which Harry's pulse beat. He smiled, and Harry found himself moving only as Draco directed, gripping the first button on his robes.
"The slow way," Draco said. "I've seen far too little of you, and I want to appreciate the first sight."
Harry felt himself blush. Draco's eyes were too bright. This, Harry thought, was the expression he had probably worn when ordering Rogers to hang the mirror in the bedroom. He looked as if he really thought Harry beautiful, as if he were someone who deserved to be looked at in such a fashion.
But Harry knew Draco wasn't stupid or thoughtless. Perhaps, this once, he could believe that he did deserve it.
He undid his robes slowly, holding Draco's fascinated gaze sometimes, and looking at the way Draco's hair hung around his face at other times. Light strands of it fanned back and forth; Draco's head must be quivering, perhaps with the swallows Harry could hear him making. Harry's fingers itched with the urge to grab that hair and drag down Draco's face for a kiss.
But he seemed intent on Harry undressing first, so Harry unbuttoned his robes until he reached the point at which he couldn't push them back any more because Draco sitting on him prevented it. "Draco," he whispered.
"Hmmm?" Draco's voice rang high on a rasping note at the end, like the humming of a bee.
"You'll need to lift up."
Draco blinked slowly, seeming to fetch back his brain from a very long distance. Then he gave a sly smile Harry groaned at. "I do, don't I?" he murmured, voice a growl again. "Well, I wouldn't want you to miss me too much in the meantime."
He settled back, rubbing his arse against Harry's cock. Harry bucked in sheer surprise at first, and then closed his eyes and matched his imagination to the firm flesh touching him. He had never seen Draco's arse without the protection of cloth, but not even cloth could disguise how good it felt.
And then Draco swung his leg away from Harry's hip and crouched on the bed beside him. When Harry popped one eye open to glare at him, he saw Draco had a smug smile.
Well, two can play at that.
Harry pushed his robes off as slowly as though he were about to change his mind any moment. He wore nothing but pants under them, so he had the satisfaction of seeing Draco's eyes widen and his breath quicken as he caught sight of Harry.
Then Harry rolled smoothly over, seized his wand, flicked it so that Draco's trousers rolled down his hips and off the bed—a charm he'd perfected for quickly undressing bleeding patients so that he could tend to their wounds—dropped the wand back on the table beside the bed, and bent to lick a long stripe over Draco's hip.
Draco let out a hoarse half-bellow; he'd probably intended to protest, but Harry had made him react in this undignified manner instead. Harry felt a moment's enormous glee. Then he moved his mouth and settled it over Draco's cock without warning, and that reaction was even better: an instant full-body flush and Draco's delighted, high-pitched "Harry!"
I'll be able to tease him about screaming like a little girl, Harry thought in contentment, before he closed his eyes and gave himself up to the sensation.
Draco's skin was salty and sharp-tasting in his mouth, laying a stripe of fire along his tongue very much like the one he must have created on Draco's hip. His cock was unexpectedly thick just below the head, nudging Harry's lips apart an uncomfortable but satisfying distance and nudging hard against his palate. Harry swallowed around the fullness and used the motion to pull Draco's erection deeper into his mouth. His tongue lashed under the head and lapped at the vein running towards the shaft, and Draco fell back on the pillows, his upper body limp, his lower body tensed and his hips thrusting helplessly.
Harry clenched his hands in the sheets to keep from touching himself. He wanted Draco to do that. But oh, it was tempting, when Draco's thighs quivered and then fell open, his back arching as if he were offering his whole body to Harry to do what he wished.
The only thing that could be better was if Draco reached down and grabbed his hair. And his hand had settled on Harry's head, his fingers twining into the curls in a moment. Harry moaned in anticipation and opened his mouth wider, meaning to take Draco as far down as his throat as he could and suck to cause his orgasm.
Well, that's a first. Not even Francis, when he was disappointed at Harry for not doing the things in bed that he wanted to do, had ever stopped him in the middle of a blowjob. Harry swallowed his disappointment instead, licked the head of Draco's cock one more time, and lifted his head.
"What?" He didn't care if he sounded annoyed. He knew he was excellent at giving head. Draco had no right to look as if he were struggling desperately to control himself. He was supposed to be losing control, and losing himself down Harry's throat at the same time.
"Not like that," Draco whispered. He'd recovered at last, but his eyes were so dark they looked as if they were all pupil, and the hand that he used to caress Harry's cheek shook so much his fingernail nearly stabbed Harry in the eye. Well, that was something, at least, a sign that Harry had affected him.
"You want us to both suck each other at the same time?" Harry eyed Draco's mouth in interest. Fantasies were rushing through his head now, so thick and brightly-colored that he barely had time to identify one before it gave way to the next. He licked his lips to tell Draco he had no problem with that.
"No." Draco stroked his cheek more steadily this time. His mouth curled in an expression of hunger that had Harry clenching his hand in the sheets again. "No, I want to fuck you."
Draco had no right to sound so good when he made the k sound of fuck, either. Harry's body bent towards him before he could stop it, as if it were under Draco's will and not his own. Draco closed his eyes for a moment when he saw that.
"Yes," Harry said, with all the dignity and serenity he could muster, "yes, I think I'd like that."
Draco was on him then, pinning him to the bed and kissing him insistently. Harry kissed him back and wrapped his arms around his shoulders, rocking for a moment, testing whether Draco would prefer to lie down and let Harry ride him. But apparently Draco was a traditionalist in some things, because he took Harry's wrists in one hand and pinned them to the pillows above his head.
That works, too, Harry thought, and spread his legs, showing his arse to Draco. "Well?" he prompted, when Draco simply stared at him. "Get on with it."
"You wouldn't like me to simply get on with it," Draco whispered, even as he reached for Harry's pants. He had to reach twice, because he couldn't take his eyes off Harry's arse. Harry felt another warm glow of satisfaction and power spread through him. He talked about how he needed to make me realize I was beautiful, but a look like that is better than all the words in the world. "I have the feeling it would be a bit too—much—for you to handle."
"Braggart," Harry panted.
"Oh, no." Draco tore the pants off, then seized Harry's wand. When he flicked the wand, a large pool of shimmering liquid appeared on Harry's belly and coating his arsehole, making him yelp and wriggle. "At this, I'm exactly as good as I say I am."
Harry had never tried to hold someone's gaze whilst they were fingering him. He had thought it impossible, given that his instinctive reaction to pleasure was to shut his eyes and toss back his head. But Draco wouldn't let him look away as he slid his fingers slowly through the liquid on Harry's stomach, coating his hand and trickling it down to join the rest at his entrance, or when his first finger slid into Harry's arse, Harry realized how much more intense it was this way, like trying to hold still during an orgasm. His belly was tightening with delight; he gasped silently again and again, because he couldn't quite get his breath behind the sounds to make them into full words.
"Yes," Draco said, voice so thick he sounded as if someone were strangling him.
Harry felt satisfaction stir in him at that sound. He might be more affected than he had ever been, but so was Draco, and he saw no point in hiding it, so Harry could fully enjoy the sense of giving Draco pleasure even though he didn't have his cock in Harry yet.
When the second finger joined the first, Harry had to concentrate more fully on the sensations inside his arse. Draco kept parting his fingers and then bringing them back together and crooking them slightly, a regular motion that was surprisingly hard to get used to. Or maybe it was the idea that Draco was partially inside him that made him pant and squirm. Harry parted his legs without conscious thought that he'd do so, and Draco murmured and bent to bite at his hip.
Draco moved to add a third finger. Harry laughed, and then frowned. He hadn't meant his voice to shake like that when he chuckled. Well, it had, and Draco was already looking smug. Harry planned to take that arrogant look away, anyway, in a moment.
"Two's enough," he said.
"How long has it been since someone fucked you?" Draco managed not to sound as if jealousy was eating his stomach out, but Harry could hear the effort it took him. He laughed again, and Draco scowled, his free hand tightening on Harry's waist. He'd moved it down when he saw Harry could be trusted to keep his own hands in place.
"Four months or so," Harry said. "And that was Xavier Brandeis."
"That fool who confronted you in hospital?"
Harry nodded. "And the one who cast the Beetle's Bite on me through the wards at Grimmauld Place."
Draco bristled like a cat. "You only forbade me from taking vengeance on the people who hurt my father," he said.
"But I did tell you that I didn't want you ever taking revenge for me, no matter what the situation was," Harry said.
Draco curled his lip.
"Listen," Harry said persuasively, determined not to discuss past lovers when they hadn't even experienced each other in the present yet. "You can take a better vengeance on Xavier than by hunting him down, even if he never knows it." Draco arched a brow, and Harry smiled. "Make me forget him."
"Yes," Draco said in that guttural way again, and leaned back on his heels. He gave Harry one more heavy-lidded look, one more chance to back out. Harry lifted his chin and stared back stubbornly. Draco nodded and then lined up his cock with Harry's entrance. Harry spread his legs still further and adjusted the angle of his arse.
"Keep doing that and I'll come before I get inside you," Draco muttered.
Harry threw him a look of scorn which he knew mingled challenge with it. "Even Xavier never did that."
Draco growled and bent forwards, pressing into him. Harry held his breath, then let it out slowly. That technique had helped him relax in the past when a lover's cock was entering him for the first time.
He had never been entered like this before, breached so inexorably or by someone he had so wanted to have inside him, and his attention remained on Draco no matter how much he loosened his muscles or slid down to welcome him. Harry accepted the burn of the penetration gladly; it was yet another sign that this was really happening and not just a dream or another scene that Rogers could interrupt.
Draco stopped at last, his balls resting gently against Harry's skin, his head hanging as if the effort to enter him had been too much. He looked extraordinarily proud of himself. "All right there?" he asked, bending to lick a line of sweat from Harry's chest.
"More than all right," Harry said, and grinned at him. "Besides, you haven't done anything yet. Do you want to be a rival to Xavier or not?"
Draco snarled and snapped his hips forwards. Harry cried out, the lower half of his body rising from the bed and his toes curling. Draco smirked; he knew a cry of pleasure from a cry of pain, which was a point in his favor. Harry had had to reassure Xavier every step of the way, though perhaps that was less because Xavier had been a poor lover than because he liked being praised.
Draco gave a slow thrust the next time, then two more long ones, then three quick jabs that hit Harry's prostate and made his eyes fall shut at last. Even in the darkness there was no escape from the keen, almost cruel pleasure. It hunted him down, and he let his head fall back and his arms twitch.
"Keep your hands there," Draco whispered. He had settled into a steadier rhythm now, helped by the thickness and softness of the bed, which worked as well as a pillow placed under Harry's hips. "I like that."
Harry laughed low in his throat. He liked it, too.
And he liked the way Draco's fingernails dug into his skin, pinching and scratching too hard and marking him. He liked the way Draco had begun to release quiet gasps on the end of every thrust, as if his happiness had to escape somehow. He liked the way Draco's tongue would dart unpredictably across his skin, or one of his hands would brush Harry's cock. The sudden touches were about as frequent as the hits to his prostate.
He didn't realize he was moaning and sighing until Draco said, "Quite a concert you're giving me, Harry."
Harry opened his eyes, unsure if he most wanted to smile or glare, and then Draco, staring straight at him, grabbed his cock and rotated his hand around it, squeezing the head, at the same moment as he rubbed Harry's prostate firmly with his cock.
Harry cried out, the vision of Draco above him blurring as pleasure struck him like a sudden meeting with the ground after a fall from a broom. The feeling seemed to start in his bones, then collect in his belly, wash around, and shoot out through his cock. Draco never stopped softly squeezing him even though it splashed his hand with white stickiness. Then he held out his hand to Harry to clean off, seeming utterly confident that Harry would instead of lying there limp and sated.
Harry sucked one finger into his mouth and clenched down with his inner muscles at the same time.
"No—fair—" The two words Draco spoke were just recognizable as he thrust forwards, paused, hesitated, froze, and then hammered out his orgasm into Harry, coming with force that sent him crashing onto Harry's chest before he finished, his hips still moving in languid pushes. Harry went on to leisurely clean up his come from Draco's fingers and enjoy, as he hadn't been able to before, the mere presence of Draco's cock in his body.
"I think that was a draw," Draco said at last, shifting around so he could see Harry's face without disconnecting their bodies. "I trust that I've sent Xavier entirely out of your head."
Harry put on the perplexed expression he had used to confound embarrassing schoolmates whom he didn't want to admit to knowing. "Who's Xavier?"
The best part was that Draco actually looked worried for a moment.
"Mr. Malfoy. Hello." Healer Pontiff nodded to him as she sat down on a chair in the ground floor room Narcissa had told Harry the family kept specifically for visitors whom they didn't want to see the rest of the house. The walls were bland and so was the furniture, white marble in the one case and brown wood in the other. Nothing in the room said anything about who the Malfoys were, the aesthetics they favored, or what they liked. Harry could admire the effect, as little as he thought the pretense necessary.
But then, one thing he hadn't managed to match his new family in yet was paranoia.
"Hello." Draco's smile was grim. Harry knew that look. Draco had worn it when he gave Harry a preliminary exam in Potions theory and realized how much he would have to learn. Harry had suggested abandoning the project if it would cost too much time for Draco to teach him, and Draco had suggested resuming his vengeance. That was the end of that conversation.
Healer Pontiff didn't seem to notice Draco's expression, or more likely she did and chose not to care about it. She smiled and held out her hand to Harry. He went to her, though he looked carefully at her palm first, to appease Draco. Draco had drilled him in the signs of the most common poisons that could be slid beneath the nails and sprayed across the palm, as well as some hand weapons that could be hidden up a sleeve. He appeared convinced that Healer Pontiff was an assassin who had trained in obscure Muggle martial arts.
"Thank you for coming," Harry murmured in turn. He saw no sign of weapons or poison, of course, only his mentor's hand, calloused from years of work. He clasped and shook it, making a mental comparison between it and the softness of Draco's hands. He was always doing that since he and Draco had become lovers. It was disconcerting; he was more physically aware of Draco than anyone he had ever shared a bed with.
Well, that only makes sense. You've never had a lover like him.
"Anything to free myself from suspicion in the eyes of my favorite student." Healer Pontiff settled comfortably back in her chair. "Have you finished putting the Veritaserum in the tea? I like a dash of sugar, no more than that."
Draco gave Healer Pontiff a steady annoyed stare as he tipped three drops of Veritaserum into the cup of tea standing ready, following it with sugar he had to summon Rogers to fetch. Harry concealed a grin as he sat down in the chair opposite Healer Pontiff. The more willing she was to take actions that would clear her name, the worse Draco seemed to hate it. Presumably he thought it was only reasonable that everyone should skulk about as he would, refusing to reveal their secrets.
Pontiff sipped the tea and gave a satisfied sigh. "Some amazing changes in the hierarchy of the hospital," she remarked to Harry. "Burne-Jones and Neverlong have been arrested. And Foxe. Really, I wouldn't have thought it of him. He seemed content to condone the minor forms of corruption whilst driving out the major ones."
"He lost a relative to Lucius, as he thought," Harry said quietly. "The conspiracy involved a wide range of people, both former Death Eaters, or their relatives, and those who thought it permissible to strike back because they believed the Wizengamot was wrong."
"Harry," Draco hissed, coming up behind him.
"I intend to ask her to make a Healer's Oath to me," Harry said calmly, "so that she can't speak to anyone about what we say in this room without our permission. It's used all the time when a patient has only one Healer and wants to keep the condition secret."
Healer Pontiff nodded. "Very good," she said. She drank a little more tea, with a long sip Harry had never seen her employ before. Of course, they hadn't spent much time around each other that wasn't in training, and she had discouraged her students from having food or drink then, fearing it would distract them from a course of lessons in which the small details were usually the most important.
Harry felt sadness touch him as he thought about that. Her words had been more important to him than anyone else's advice; she had been more of a mentor figure to him even than Dumbledore. And yet they didn't really know each other. Pontiff had told him in her letter that she rarely noticed anyone's behavior unless it related to Healing. Harry had admired her for that, and for her otherworldly detachment that let her be serene under the worst circumstances, but he could see the costs of them both now.
"The Veritaserum should have had time enough to take effect." Pontiff carefully set her cup on the table beside the chair and gave them that graveyard angel's smile. "Ask me what you will."
"Were you involved in the conspiracy against Harry?" Draco demanded.
Draco frowned. Harry thought he would have folded his arms and stomped his feet, except he had to maintain a more dignified demeanor in front of someone not part of the family. Then he smiled as if he had just thought of a cunning new question that was sure to trap her. "Were you involved in the conspiracy against my father?"
Draco clenched his jaw. Harry knew he had barely prevented his mouth from hanging open like Neville Longbottom's in Potions class. Pontiff watched Draco with bright, intelligent eyes, causing Harry to cough and take over the interrogation. "Why did you never mention the headache curse that Emptyweed put on me?"
"He put a headache curse on you?" Healer Pontiff blinked.
Harry nodded. "You never noticed?" Yes, there were limitations to placing Healing at the center of one's life. He hoped that he would never fall victim to them again, but knowing himself, he probably would. At least he had Draco at his side now with his complementary obsessions, to coax Harry to study Potions or talk about the Malfoy laws or have sex.
Harry blinked. He had not realized how full his life seemed to him now, and how cramped and small his life in hospital seemed, looking back on it. He had been happy, but anxious, always afraid he would lose the next patient or receive a case he wouldn't be able to do a good enough job on due to lack of Potions knowledge.
"No." Pontiff sounded disturbed. "I knew you had headaches, but I had no reason to look closely at you for anything but immediate wounds." She gave him a half-embarrassed, half-apologetic look. "I was often thinking of my next patient already when I treated you, since I knew you had the knowledge of Healing magic to help yourself even if I missed something. I was more worried about your keeping your wounds secret out of misguided stoicism for so long that you would collapse. Therefore, I wished to treat the obvious ones. Your headaches were not life-threatening."
"No," Draco said between gritted teeth, "only livelihood-threatening."
Pontiff shook her head at him. "It is understandable that you would wish to blame me," she said, with a kind of gentleness that Harry knew would irritate Draco like nothing else could, "but I had nothing to do with this."
"And I know that now." Harry squeezed her hand with his. Pontiff looked at him with a peaceful smile. "Tell me, how do you think these changes will affect St. Mungo's?"
"For the better, in the long run. We will have new administrators, and whilst they might also be corrupt, they will notice what happened to the last who dared to be too open in their evil and temper their actions." Healer Pontiff spoke with warm, comforting authority. Harry relaxed. It was no wonder he had trusted her for so long. "In the short term, the publicity from the trials and from reporters trying to find out why Harry Potter left the hospital so abruptly will cause some trouble."
Harry grimaced. "Would it help if I gave an interview saying I left the hospital to treat a patient, not because I was disgusted with what happened there?"
Pontiff's hand gently squeezed his in answer. "Will you ever come back?" she asked.
"If he does, it'll be a long time in the future." Draco was beside Harry now, an arm resting across his shoulders as he'd stood when they talked to Hermione a fortnight ago. "I'm tutoring him in Potions, and he'll become a full Healer. And then he can have a private practice if he wants it, or work part-time for private patients and part-time for St. Mungo's. But he'll still belong here."
Pontiff ignored him entirely, looking at Harry. Harry grinned. That was another thing that would infuriate Draco, but it was a natural consequence of her trusting Harry: she wanted to see what he would say.
"Yes, I think so," Harry said. "Eventually."
"And the Malfoys' gifts have not been too heavy for you?"
"I've learned to carry them."
"Why would you say such a thing in the first place?" Draco sounded like a particularly indignant adder, kept for his venom to be added to healing potions, that Harry had once talked to. He probably doesn't want to think she could ever have talked me out of coming to the Manor, Harry thought, and reached back to clasp the wrist of the arm resting on his shoulder. Draco shifted his balance, but didn't look at Harry.
"Because I have treated Malfoys, and seen them try to recruit Healers before, when they had reason to trust someone," said Healer Pontiff. "Other families with much the same heritage and laws do the same thing. In almost every case, bringing the Healer into the family did not work. The Malfoys, or the other pure-bloods, expected miracles and perfect conformation to their way of life. The Healers, even when they were part of the same culture, had chosen other paths for reasons that often conflicted directly with that way of life. They either broke from their new families quickly or sank and lost their principles and their ambition, being content to live in luxury." She stared at Harry. "I did not want either to happen to one of the most talented mediwizards I have known."
"It's a good thing your family doesn't always manage to follow its own rules," Harry said gravely to Draco.
Draco cuffed him on the back of the head, but he looked rather pleased than otherwise. Only a Malfoy, Harry thought wryly, would consider it a compliment that his family overwhelms other people's principles.
"I have some hope, since you have managed to fit in," Healer Pontiff continued, "that you will cease to neglect your own health so severely, Harry. I imagine the Malfoys would not care to have their pet Healer die."
"He's far more than a pet Healer," Draco said stiffly.
Harry cleared his throat. "Draco's already pulled me up short when he thought I was going too far," he said. "And he has a better memory than I do for such things. I thought for sure I'd told you about being hit with the Breath-Stealing Charm when you treated my wounds after the attack in hospital. That you hadn't given me a potion for my lungs was one reason I suspected your involvement with the conspiracy."
Healer Pontiff's eyes grew sharp. Harry winced. He had only been a cause of the disappointment he saw in her face now once or twice, and he hated it each time.
"You said you had been cursed," she said. "You gave me no details beyond the obvious and a few nods when I asked you questions. But you were weary to the bone by then, and needed sleep more than you needed an interrogation."
Harry sighed. Yes, his memory had been the culprit in that one, and probably also his own sense of injured dignity, which wanted him to think he had done everything he could to act responsibly and reveal his wounds. "I'll try not to do that in the future."
"I hope not," said Healer Pontiff. "A Breath-Stealing Curse is nothing to let lie, Harry."
"That's what I told him," said Draco, his arm bearing down hard again on Harry's shoulders. "He'll listen to me, at least."
Harry relaxed. Draco was speaking now as if he had found some sense of comradeship with Pontiff. Harry hoped so. He wanted two of the most important people in his life to like each other.
It probably doesn't hurt that he knows he can make me listen when she couldn't, either.
"Good." Pontiff stood and smiled at them. "Bless you both," she said. "You have found something as brilliant as blood, Harry, something as brilliant as love. I would hate to see you squander it. Either of you." Her eyes went to Draco's face then, as if she thought him more likely to do so.
"Thank you," Harry said, and took her Healer's Oath before she vanished through the fireplace that the Malfoys had temporarily opened to admit her.
"It's fine," Harry growled, and swatted a hand through his hair. The house-elves had spent hours tending it. He didn't need Narcissa fussing over it now.
"Fine is not the same as perfect," Narcissa said, "and Malfoys are always perfect when they appear in public." She took a step away from him, cocking her head and pursing her lips. Harry winced at the expression on her face. She was plotting something, and since she had insisted that he tuck his wand up his sleeve to create the perfect combination of reassurance and threat whilst she held her wand in her hand, he couldn't do anything to stop her.
All she did was swish her wand, but an immense amount of magic gathered over Harry's temples, sparking like a lightning storm. It pressed hard, and evidently made his hair satisfying for Narcissa, because she nodded. "Yes. Now go out."
Harry had no time to protest; he'd said he would give a press conference to the Prophet and other papers at one in the afternoon, and now it was one exactly. He ducked through a long green curtain they'd hung over the front door of Grimmauld Place to give him some privacy—of course the conference could not happen near the Manor—and the crowd went mad. They stood in a tent that used wizardspace to extend Grimmauld Place's yard and doorstep so they wouldn't spill into Muggle territory, and they began shouting questions so fast that Harry couldn't have kept track of them even if he wanted to.
Harry ignored them and spoke his prepared speech instead, which revealed the details of the conspiracy the family had deemed safe to release. The reporters learned, for example, that Lucius had been wounded, but not how, or how severely. They learned that several administrators of St. Mungo's were arrested, but Harry didn't mention which ones had Death Eater connections and which didn't.
And they knew, because Lucius had been quietly insistent about it, that Harry Potter from now on had a permanent association with the Malfoy family.
Harry added the part about not changing his name to Malfoy and about possibly continuing work for St. Mungo's in the future. But from the way that quills started industriously moving the minute he said he was accepted as part of the family and would spend some time living in Malfoy Manor, Harry had a feeling those amendments went ignored.
He was muttering to himself when he stepped down from the temporary podium Draco had Transfigured from one of the ugly kitchen chairs in Grimmauld, which was the only reason he could give later for not immediately noticing who approached him.
He looked up in surprise just as Julius caught him in a hug. Cameras flashed, of course. Harry could feel Draco's jealous, rage-filled glare from all the way across the room. He grabbed Julius's arms and pushed them off his shoulders in the next moment, but the damage had been done, at least for people who thought a picture was worth more than a speech.
"Julius, what the fuck are you doing?" he asked, and didn't bother to lower his voice.
Julius blinked at him, but the smile that covered his face hadn't faded yet. He would think being on the front page of every newspaper in Britain was just wonderful, Harry thought. "I wanted to congratulate you on solving the Malfoy case," he said. Harry had never managed to persuade him that Healers didn't speak of "solving" cases in the same way Aurors did. "And I wanted to give you some information you probably won't learn unless you follow the course of every trial, because the Wizengamot would consider it minor. I know you wouldn't, though." He gave Harry the wink Harry had once found so charming.
Harry swallowed back fury, then wondered why. He was a member of a proud pure-blood family and had an established lover; why did he have to be polite to someone like Julius? "Tell me, then," he said, and used some withering sarcasm he'd stolen from Draco to fill his voice.
For the first time, Julius acquired a faint frown. But he was too self-confident to suspect that something was wrong until it forced itself into his face. "Well," he said, "I found out that those people approached Xavier after he made that disgraceful scene in hospital." Harry waited a moment to see if the irony of Julius complaining about that when he had made his own scene would strike him, but he was continuing blithely on. "They thought they could use someone with a grudge against you and who knew you well, because he might be able to get past your wards. They weren't able to convince him to use more than a Beetle's Bite Curse, but still. It might have got nastier if you hadn't moved to Malfoy Manor when you did, since they had an expert in wards speaking to Xavier. Aren't you glad he was caught with the rest of them?"
Harry forced himself to nod. At least it laid some suspicions to rest. "And was he also the one who removed the stabilization fields on Lucius?"
Julius went pale.
Several things fell into place with a bang in Harry's head. "You incredible bastard," he said, and the slow wonder in his voice combined with the tone of it brought the reporters swarming around them. "It was you, wasn't it?" The anger overflowed then, and Harry would have lunged forwards and cursed him if not for Healer's ethics and what Narcissa would think of such a scene. At the moment, Harry thought, the latter was the stronger force. "What in the world did you think you were doing?"
"I thought—well, I wanted to give you a chance to show off your Healer's skills, and that seemed the best way to do it." Julius cleared his throat. "And if he'd died, then you could have paid more attention to me." He was pouting now. "I didn't like you choosing him over me, Harry, when I was just trying to tap you on the shoulder."
Harry stared at him.
"I knew you would come back to me if you left the hospital," Julius explained earnestly. "And you always said you would leave if one of your patients died. Besides, didn't Malfoy deserve it? He might have been the victim of that curse, but he did some horribly evil things."
"I'm not sure what's worse," Harry said slowly, putting his head in his hands. "Your faith I would come back to you if I gave up Healing, or your attempt to kill—no, wait, that was definitely worse."
"But you must miss me." Julius reached out as if to lay a caressing hand on Harry's elbow, but Harry jerked his arm back in an irresistible impulse; he would have felt cleaner if a giant shit-covered cockroach had been about to touch him. Julius stared at him. "Don't you? I was the best lover you ever had, and your objection to me couldn't have been serious. You would have told me to sod off it was."
"He would have told you to sod off if he wasn't too polite for his own good and in too much pain at the time," Draco said, and then his arms wrapped around Harry's waist and tugged him backwards. Harry leaned gratefully against the solid warmth of Draco's body. "And now, he's my lover, claimed and mine, and you've just admitted to trying to kill my father. I think Minister Shacklebolt will be extremely interested to know one of his Aurors endangered the life of a man the Wizengamot pardoned simply because of jealousy."
Julius lifted his wand a few inches.
Draco spoke a complicated charm that made boils open on every surface of Julius's body, including inside his nostrils and mouth and, Harry knew from experience treating the results of the spell, on his penis.
Julius howled and staggered away. He Apparated, but Harry was less concerned about that, because a number of reporters Apparated at about the same time. He was sure the Aurors would know the extent of Julius's crimes when the articles showed up on the front pages, if not earlier.
"Must you do that?" he demanded, twisting around to frown at Draco.
"He was lifting his wand," Draco said. "It was self-defense." He lowered his head to lick Harry's ear, though at such an angle it would be out of sight of most of the audience. "And you're mine."
"That, at least, is well-established," Harry said dryly. "But what you did—"
"Was the smallest thing it is possible to do and still retain the honor due you as a Malfoy." Lucius had appeared at Harry's side, his eyes scanning the crowd as if to make sure that Julius wouldn't reappear. "And you are a Malfoy now. Permanently." He gave Harry a crocodile's smile.
"You had me make that announcement because you wanted everyone to see the Boy-Who-Lived as part of your family," Harry said in resignation.
Lucius inclined his head.
"You're enjoying the notoriety we'll get out of this."
"As I told you once," Lucius said, and smiled precisely as a camera flashed at him, "motives can be double without hurting anyone involved. I can value you for yourself, as part of the family, and still be smug that we will earn public favor and glory from your allying yourself with us."
"I wish I could just give you the fame," Harry muttered, leaning back into Draco and trying to conceal his smile. Seeing Julius erupt in boils had been very satisfying, but he couldn't give Draco the chance to think that he approved of such attacks.
"That would be best," Lucius agreed. "It would rid you of an unwanted burden and give a precious possession into the custody of one who would value it as it deserves. Alas, we do not live in an ideal world."
Julius, Harry thought, isn't the only one who can't recognize irony.
"I can't understand this! It's hopeless!" Harry flung the stirring rod at the wall of the potions lab and vaguely hoped it would shatter. It only bounced, however. After the first few days, Draco had insisted on replacing all the glass stirring rods with wooden ones, though he still tutored Harry in the theory of potions that needed to be brewed with glass.
Draco stood behind the cauldron, arms folded and eyes narrowed. He waited until the echoes of Harry's shout had died before he spoke, in an infinitely patient voice that Harry could have borne if it were coming from Healer Pontiff.
"It's not hopeless, and you can understand it. You're not stupid. I've seen you have a few flashes of insight about potions already, do something correct without being told to do it."
Harry glared at him. "Those are things I remembered from Hogwarts."
"Then that proves your brain can retain some information about potions," Draco retorted instantly. "You are going to do this, Harry. And not just because I would go out and take vengeance otherwise." A frightening smile slipped across his face. Harry knew he was thinking of the news that the Healers had failed, for the sixteenth day in a row, to cure Auror Adoranar of his case of boils. Draco had said only that he'd added something "extra" to the charm when Harry asked. "You'll do it because I want you to pass your Potions NEWT with an Outstanding and become a full Healer. And I always get what I want."
"Not always," Harry said, with a pointed glance at Draco's arse. "Sometimes you even enjoy not getting what you want." He'd persuaded Draco to let him top last night, and it had been a marvelously pleasurable experience for both of them.
"A Potions master cannot have his mind always in bed, even if he is brewing love potions," Draco said, quoting one of the interminable books he'd made Harry read. "He must think of the colors, the smells, the fumes, that make up his work. He must have an intellectual passion for potions, or he will never succeed."
"Talking of being in bed," Harry said, because what he would have said in response to that statement otherwise would have offended Draco for several hours, "I wondered about something. How will you have an heir to continue the Malfoy line, if you remain the rest of your life with me? I don't want you to get some woman pregnant."
Draco gave him a pitying look. "Harry," he said, "how did we acquire you?"
"Adoption by blood?" Harry blinked. "It's that easy?"
"It is not that easy. It will require several months of intense negotiation with the child's birth family to decide which properties and duties of the Malfoy family he or she should accept, and it will take at least a year before we find a suitable child, I'm certain." Draco stepped forwards. "Not just anyone can become a Malfoy."
"You wouldn't know it, looking at me."
Draco crossed the distance between them in a few easy strides and clasped his shoulders. Harry shivered. He always did when Draco looked at him with those wide, earnest eyes.
"I find you beautiful," Draco murmured. "From that twisted scar of yours to the feet that are far too hard and calloused from running around barefoot in your irresponsible youth." He kissed Harry on his forehead, just above the scar. "I'll tell you that as many times as you need to hear it, until you believe it, too."
Harry swallowed. "That doesn't have anything to do with me, or our future child, becoming a Malfoy," he managed to say, in a huskier voice than he liked.
"Of course it does," Draco said. "We simply would not have accepted you, even with the Heart's Blessing spell, if you had been utterly unsuitable."
"That's not what you said the first time you explained the spell."
"The depth of your ignorance of proper pure-blood culture demanded that I speak in simplicities. Now you're ready for the advanced course." Draco stepped away and turned back to the cauldron. "And you will be ready for it in potions, too, if I have anything to say about it. By October, we agreed."
Harry smiled helplessly at Draco's back. His life had changed so many times and in so many ways in the last few months that it required a smile.
Especially when he thought of what he'd learned about the expressions Draco found most attractive, and which he would allow to coax him out of the potions lab and into bed—
Harry blinked and looked up. He'd lost himself in daydreaming, and Draco looked at him with a knowing expression that was not like Snape's or McGonagall's or even his parents'; it was uniquely his own.
"Time to get back to work."
Special Note: I will be moving at the end of this week (the 11th-15th of August) and don't know when I'll have Internet access again. It may not be for up to two weeks. I promise not to abandon my stories permanently.