A Gentleman's Gentleman, ch 15
Note: This chapter was very difficult to write, but I am happy with it. I haven't had time to reply to all the comments, but I enjoy reading them all. Thank you for taking the time to read this story
Beta: A huge thank you to Hidden Lily
Chapter 15: Experiencing life, together.
Soft, lingering lips caressed Harry's cheek, moving towards his own slightly parted ones. He breathed deeply, almost sighing in sleep. Draco smiled secretly, his alert eyes scanning his lover's face. It was so peaceful he was loathed to wake the man.
'Harry,' he whispered, kissing those pale lips again. He had already been up to pull the curtains, and the sun shone across Harry's face and bare torso. Draco played with the dark hair, something he was growing increasingly fond of. He pressed his lips to Harry's again, more firmly this time, letting his tongue just peak out to taste.
'Hmmm,' Harry murmured, his eyes fluttering open. He smiled when he realised his lover's proximity and immediately started kissing him properly. He threaded his fingers through Draco's smooth hair and pulled him closer. It was then he realised Draco was already clothed.
'You've been up?' he asked.
'Yes, I am used to getting up before you, after all. I have breakfast ready and you have quite a few letters waiting for you.' He sighed at the thought, but rose to face the day.
In the kitchen there was a small stack of letters waiting by Harry's place. He decided to eat a little first before facing the missives. Draco eyed him curiously, but did not comment. After a somewhat tense breakfast Harry opened the letter from Mr. Prewett first. It contained the statement for the Daily Prophet Harry needed to sign, along with details on who Mr. Prewett had contacted and that the Ministry were waiting for Draco. Harry was surprised at the number of rather high-society people who were willing to support him, but Prewett also noted a few who were most likely to be in favour of Zabini.
Harry read letters from the Changs and other families, most of which were either vague in their support or openly dismissive. Still, Harry was hopeful at a few of them. What he dreaded were the letters from his friends.
Hermione Granger's letter made him smile. She was already a member of the Human/Creature Rights group Mr. Prewett had mentioned. She gave her promise that she would not rest until they had achieved justice.
Ron Weasley's letter would have made Draco cringe at the poor penmanship, but it was heartfelt and sincere, despite the author's clear discomfort with the subject. Harry was gratified to have such a fine friend. Arthur Weasley had written a very nice and warm letter on behalf of his family and Harry had to close his eyes for a moment to stop the happiness to overwhelm him. He had not lost his friends, or those he considered his family. In fact he had received letters from some he had not even written to, like Seamus Finnegan, who's boisterous nature showed in his letter; he insisted Harry "show the world what Gryffindors are made of" by declaring war on the "pureblood pompous arse." Harry coughed at the language, but was grateful nonetheless.
The next letter was from Ginny, and Harry was rather reluctant to read it, but in the end he knew she deserved as much. She did not seem too bitter, but she had clearly been upset upon commencing the letter. Fortunately, she seemed to calm down and ended the letter by thanking Harry for not leading her on and expressing hope that they could become even closer friends. Harry lay the letter down with the other opened ones with a small smile of relief.
He shifted through a few letters from complete strangers, not bothering to read them through if they began in a hostile fashion. He was a little surprised at people's audacity to write to someone they did not know in such a manner. He was just about to toss the rest out without reading any more when he saw a letter addressed to someone else.
'Draco, this letter is for you.' The blond looked up from the Daily Prophet, whose headline read: "Rumours of lawsuit against Zabini. Friends speak out about Lord Potter's relationship" (of course these "friends" were nothing of the sort).
'Oh?' He took the letter, his brows furrowing as he examined the fine script. His eyes widened suddenly, clearly having recognised the hand.
'Who is it from?' Harry asked, feeling intensely curious. Draco did not answer, ripping the letter open in his haste. This is what it said:
I always imagined that despite everything you would do well in your new life. You have always been stronger than you believe yourself to be. I could not in a million lifetimes, however, have prophesised this particular future for you. I am not certain if I should be amused, horrified or proud…
What, in Merlin's name, made you decide to become Lord Potter's valet? I knew the father of the young Lord at school, and he was nothing short of an arrogant show-off. I suspect his son's personality is similar. Draco, tell me honestly, has he taken advantage of you? I know how devastated you were after Sébastien, but you must not let disturbing memories cloud your judgement. If you feel used in any way, please come home to France. No one need know you are living with me.
If, on the other hand, it is the other way around and you have everything under control, then I congratulate you. Please write me as soon as possible and clarify the matter.
Draco was surprised. He had not thought Severus Snape was a man who cared to keep up with British news. Perhaps the gossip had spread to France? That idea was not at all appealing.
'Are you all right?' Draco looked up and forced a smile. In truth he did not know how to feel. He was glad his former mentor had written to him, but a little upset about some of the content of the letter. He wanted to write back and explain everything as soon as possible.
'Yes, I'm fine. If you would excuse me for just a moment?' Draco did not wait for an answer; he did not need permission anymore after all. 'Might I borrow your study?' Harry nodded and Draco quickly made his way to the library. He sat down behind the desk he had observed Harry sitting at so many times. He found parchment, ink and quill and began writing.
I was surprised to hear from you, but very glad. I have missed you dreadfully. I did not know you read the Daily Prophet? It does not matter where you heard the story; it is undoubtedly filled with inaccuracies. Let me tell you the real story.
I did not give much thought to becoming Lord Potter's valet. I knew our families had once been connected, but he used to be an orphan, not a born aristocrat. He has none of the airs of a Lord, or the manners, sometimes, but I think I have improved on him in that regard. I find his occasional awkwardness charming even. He has so many redeeming qualities I do not even mind that he often flouts rules and norms. He is honest to a fault. Forgive me, I am rambling on.
I fear I am not making my point as clear as I wish to. Let me say this: he is a wonderful man. He has opened my eye. He has freed me from old chains and demons. I love him dearly. I have no longer any fear of discovery either. We are free, together, and I am no longer his valet, but his partner.
That is why we plan to fight Zabini. It is a long story, but the short version is this: he recognised and blackmailed me. Harry wants to make sure we can live in peace, and I agree. There are no doubt many other couples who must hide their love. There was a time when I thought it natural and proper, but now I see it is nothing but prejudice.
I hope you will decide to feel proud, as I am proud of Harry. Your opinion matters most to me above all others', save Harry's of course, but you will not begrudge me that I think.
Just when he had finished there was a knock on the door. 'Yes?' Harry entered. Draco noted the opposite imaged they created. The valet behind the desk, while the Lord knocked before entering his own study. But they were equal now. 'Come and read the letters, Harry.' The young Lord Potter came and read both Snape's and Draco's letter over his lover's shoulder. A blush he had not had for a while crept up his neck as he read the compliments Draco had written. He looked down and smiled at his lover.
'I meant every word,' Draco said, blushing a little himself. Harry leaned down and their lips met softly. Draco reached up and cradled Harry's face, deepening their kiss. Eventually, he let go when he realised Harry could not be comfortable in his position.
'We need to go to the Ministry. I floo called Mr. Prewett, he will meet us there.'
'Harry!' Lord Potter pulled back roughly when he realised that his lover actually wanted to say something. The blond was sprawled underneath him on their bed, still fully clothes, but Harry had been about to rectify that mistake.
Their day had been long and arduous, but productive. Harry wanted to celebrate. The Prophet had run a special edition with all the facts and Harry's statement, as well as theories surrounding the upcoming trail. Zabini had even been taking in for questioning. The Human/Creature Rights group held a rally for them and the public was now well informed about the case as well as others Harry had not heard of before. Although the other side was strong and the Wizengamot conservative, Harry felt more confident than he would have thought possible.
'What is it?' Harry asked.
'I want us to… experience each other completely.' Harry's heart skipped a beat, hoping he had understood Draco's meaning. By the look in the man's eyes, Harry supposed he had.
'You want me to…?' Draco smiled and nodded, pulling Harry's head down for a long, thorough kiss. Harry tried to calm things down a bit, knowing they needed to take their time. He had read enough of the books in his collection to know the basics, but the thought of actually performing such an act, well, it was equal parts thrill and terror.
They undressed slowly, kissing each inch of skin revealed. Harry lit candles and directed them to float above them, casting flickering light across Draco's marble skin. They lay down facing each other, Harry's arms around Draco, with Draco's hands splayed out on Harry's chest. They paused for a moment, looking into each other's eyes and seeing their feelings returned, flowing freely between them. For Draco, who had lain with Sébastien, this was still a novel experience. He thought, with a faint smirk gracing his lips, that surely nothing could prepare you to be loved the way Harry loved. For Harry it was all new despite the volumes of information he had consumed. Theory will only get you so far, after all.
'Here,' Draco whispered, taking one of Harry's hands and bringing it to his lips. He sucked in two fingers and moistened them. Harry's pupils dilated and his breathing became slightly laboured. Draco smirked around his mouthful at his lover's dazed expression. He placed the hand behind him and urged it downwards. Harry took control, sliding it downwards. Draco closed his eyes.
'Are you… does it feel pleasurable?' Harry asked softly, wondering if he was doing things right.
'Oh, yes,' Draco assured him, pushing back against Harry's invading fingers. Harry continued his ministrations, delighting in every gasp he produced in his lover. He stared intently as Draco's eyes fluttered open, only to roll back as he moaned.
'Harry, please, no more teasing. Give me my wand.' Harry extricated his fingers reluctantly and took the wand from the bedside table were its owner had left it. Draco performed a spell Harry recognised from numerous stories, then tossed the piece of wood aside, staring at Harry with a feral look. 'Take me.'
'With pleasure,' Harry answered, taking his lover back into his arms and rolling so he was on top. He groaned as their sensitive areas aligned, thrusting a few times. Draco cradled him with his thighs, kissing the breath out of him.
When he finally moved his hips down and filled his lover, it was a powerful moment. Harry's body felt nonexistent and yet all-existent, a complete paradox in and of itself, yet it wasn't "of itself" anymore. They moved together, drawing, receiving and giving pleasure to each other unselfconsciously. Harry would have been ashamed of the noises he made if not for Draco's answering sounds. He felt exquisitely and excruciatingly sensitive as his urgency mounted.
'Draco, I-' Harry tried to hold on to his control.
'Let go,' Draco moaned. 'I want all your passion. Free.' Harry groaned and virtually pounded into his lover, while Draco met every thrust. Their love-making culminated in such blinding pleasure that Harry did in fact go blind for a few moments.
Afterwards they lay together and spoke quietly of what was to come, and of the past, Draco's head on Harry's shoulder.
'I cannot help but think of what my life would have been like if I had not come here,' Draco said softly. 'It would have been such a dull existence, and I would have remained the same shallow person.'
'You were never shallow,' Harry admonished. 'You were taught to put more value on certain things.'
'You are too kind to me, but I enjoy it too much to argue.' They both smiled.
'Perhaps in time you will prefer a dull life. This trial will not be easy, we may not even win. We may end up leaving England.'
'But we will leave together, and only as a last resort. I will not abandon you, Harry. I will never run from anything again.'
'I know. You are strong, Draco,' Harry kissed the top of his lover's head.
'Because you give me strength,' Draco murmured, feeling sleep taking hold of him.
'And you me,' Harry answered. They fell asleep together, as they would every night for the rest of their lives, together. A Lord and valet, perhaps not a conventional pair, but a couple that would be an inspiration to many people from all walks of life in the years to come.
Yes, that is the end, but for those who absolutely must know what happened to our "dear" Zabini, I offer this note:
Blaise Zabini would eventually lose the trial and his entire reputation, along with most of his fortune. After spending five years in Azkaban for blackmail, he would remove to his family's villa in Italy, from where he would never leave. Draco and Harry would both be saddened by the rumours that he did not change his ways at all, and all good company shunned him. After a few years he would drink himself to death. Not due to the physical effects of alcohol (easily fixed with magic), but because he drunkenly spelled his wine-cellar to refill his glass at certain intervals, while spelling the glass to pour in his mouth. He fell asleep while the glass kept pouring, and drowned. His mother out-lived him some twenty years.
Endnote to readers:
Many of you would probably have liked to have seen the trial. But the story of Harry and his valet (o.O) is over and dragging the story out would not add anything worth reading in my opinion. I hope you liked the story despite this.
Thank you to all the readers, reviewers and commentors on LJ and FF. I was surprised that so many liked a "period fanfic." A big thank you to my beta, Hidden Lily, who provided excellent comments and ideas while working so quickly.
As for future projects, I have a few in mind (and don't forget I'm in the HP Spring Fling on LJ) but I probably won't be posting anything until my exams are done on the 26 th of May. I will be writing whenever I feel inspired, but my French courses must take priority at this point.
I hope to see you all again come summer.