Yes, this is it. Finally finished. I first thought of this story while taking a course on the criminal and poor in 17-19 century England and Norway. That was way back in 2008 or maybe 2007, I can't even remember. Feels like ages ago. Then I kept putting it off, but now here it is all finished. I hope you've all enjoyed this story. Thank you so much for all your kind words. Someone said they wanted more sex, and I do aim to please. Nothing too graphic, though, as this is posted on FF too.
A Big Special Super thank you to Hidden Lily who's been such a quick and wonderful beta. You're awesome!
Chapter 26: The Price of Family.
'Hurry, Harry!' Draco seemed to flit effortlessly between the people. Harry seemed to bump into every one. Ever since he had become beater for the Slytherin team, thanks to his good arm and great aim, he had felt less than graceful when in crowds. Draco, ever the seeker, all but skipped ahead, though he would never actually resort to undignified skipping.
The fact that the crowd was muggle was the true cause of Harry's problem. In the wizarding world the crowds would part almost instantly when he wandered down Diagon Alley. Even after all these years, he was still the boy who defeated the darkest wizard in a hundred years.
That was why, whenever they had some celebrating to do, or just wanted a break from it all, they escaped into the muggle world for dinner at one of London's best restaurants. Harry knew Lucius loved to milk his aristocratic muggle name for all it was worth, and Harry was always glad to have the attention off him.
This time was a very special occasion. Lucius had just been appointed Head of the new Muggle Liaisons Office, where he would oversee the locating and instructing of muggle-born children. All kinds of muggle-borns were registered and helped in any way they needed. If they were found in the Workhouses or orphanages they were relocated to the Malfoy Orphanarium (so called thanks to Lucius' generous donation) if the muggle institution was deemed below standards.
Draco would be apprenticing with Severus after Christmas, while Harry would be going into Auror training.
It was all a dream come true.
The reason for their delay in beginning their respective careers was due to their taking a tour of Europe, at Lucius' insistence. He had thought all the new sights and experiences would make them see things clearly. When Harry and Draco had come back with their dreams and relationship intact, Lucius had shrugged and said he loved them despite their thickheadedness. Those were just words, Harry knew, and Lucius was as proud as he could be.
Harry managed to stop just in time to avoid walking straight into a passing carriage. He checked both ways this time and hurried over the street. Draco was waiting at the other side. His fashionable muggle clothing suited him more than Harry could ever tell him.
'Come along,' Draco said as if Harry were a child. Harry smiled and followed. They entered the restaurant. Harry loved looking at all the fabulous gowns and white collars. It was all so opulent in a way the wizarding world could never quite imitate. He supposed it was because he knew it was all done by hand, instead of being held together by magic.
Their coats were taken and they were shown to their table, where Harry could see Lucius was already sitting, along with another muggle he didn't recognise. They appeared to be talking intimately; clearly they knew each other well.
They rose when the two young men approached.
'Harry, Draco,' Lucius greeted.
'So sorry we're late, Father,' Draco apologised.
'Nothing to worry, I had Mr. Baines here to entertain me,' Lucius said, gesturing to the man beside him. 'Mr. Baines, allow me to introduce my boys. Draco, my son, and Harry Potter, my charge- or, rather not anymore.' They all shook hands as Lucius introduced them with a smile. 'Mr. Baines is the President of the Poor Law Board and a Member of the Privy Council.' Neither Harry nor Draco knew what those positions meant, but if he was a friend of Lucius, it was clear he was important. Harry was staring at the man, trying to figure out where he had seen him before. The name was- then it clicked. The man appeared not to recognise Harry, but it was the very same Mr. Baines who had helped Harry get back to the Workhouse of his childhood.
'A pleasure to finally meet you both,' Mr. Baines said. 'Lucius has spoken of you often, especially you, Harry.' The young man frowned slightly as he shook the man's hand, glancing at Lucius who suddenly looked slightly uncomfortable.
'Please, Matthew,' he said softly. 'Let's not-'
'You must forgive me,' Mr. Baines said with a wink at Harry. 'I can never resist praising Lucius' work with the Workhouses. Without him I'm sure our Workhouses would still be in the dark ages.' Lucius was about to speak up again, but Mr. Baines held up his hand. 'I won't embarrass you any further. I should be going at any rate. Thank you for the chat, Lucius. I'll see you again soon I hope.'
'Yes, of course.' The man left with another round of handshakes and the three remaining sat down silently. A waiter poured water for them and handed out menus. Lucius seemed reluctant to speak. Harry's frown hadn't left his face. Draco seemed to be biting his tongue.
'How … how long have you been working with Mr. Baines?' Harry finally asked. Lucius sighed and put down his menu. He took a sip of the whiskey he had been enjoying.
'Ask what you really wish to know,' Lucius said.
'If you know what I wish to know, why not tell me?' Harry countered. Lucius looked him in the eye.
'The focus of my work has always been on muggle-borns trapped in muggle institutions. The improvement of the Workhouses was a means to improve their lives.'
'Oh.' Despite this, Harry felt a surge of affection and pride for the man. Some still called him arrogant and even cruel, but he always had another surprise up his sleeve. Harry glanced at Draco, who gave him a knowing smile and touched his hand briefly. They went back to their menus.
'I can't believe he's been improving muggle workhouses for years without our knowledge,' Harry said later that evening. He was standing by the bed, loosening his collar and pulling off his necktie. Harry and Draco still shared a room at Malfoy Manor, but it was in a separate wing than Lucius', with a proper sitting room and study. Lucius hadn't wanted them so far away at first, but Draco had worn him down in the end, threatening to move out entirely if they weren't treated as adults. Besides, it was all the same house still, the same home.
'Quite shocking, I agree,' Draco said from right behind Harry. His arms snaked round the broader man, and those quick elegant fingers began unbuttoning Harry's vest. Harry smiled and let him, knowing this was Draco's favourite reason for wearing muggle clothing. 'Next we'll find out he's been secretly cuddling puppies.' Harry snorted.
'I've met Mr. Baines before,' Harry said, and Draco's fingers stilled. 'He helped me get to the Workhouse after I'd run away from home. I remember things were much better, but it was overshadowed by my … emptiness. I guess I didn't really think about it at the time.'
'He didn't recognise you,' Draco commented.
'No, but I only spoke to him for a few moments.'
'I would have remembered you,' Draco said, continuing his work. Harry smiled again and allowed Draco to pull off the vest and shirt. He stood still, closing his eyes as Draco moved about the room and blew out the lights until only a few candles were left. He didn't bother holding in his soft gasp as Draco's hands returned, running over his chest. Harry tilted his head back onto Draco's shoulder. In height they were now almost equal. Draco had finally had his growth spurt in their sixth year.
'I remember the first time I ever saw Lucius,' Harry said, keeping his voice low. Draco hummed and began kissing Harry's neck and shoulders. 'I thought he was a prince or king, with his long hair and fancy clothes. Then he picked me.'
'Hmmm, and then I picked you,' Draco murmured, clearly trying to distract Harry from his somber thoughts. Harry turned and Draco's lips were immediately on his.
'Thank you for that,' Harry whispered as he pulled Draco's buttons open, ripping it open as their urgency rose. Even after a year of shagging themselves silly across Europe, they could still act like hormone infested wizards. When Draco's shirt was finally off, Harry was abruptly pushed backwards with enough force for him to bounce slightly when he hit the bed. Draco smirked down at him, then leaned over to undo Harry's trousers. He took his time, allowing their passion to mellow again.
'You know, we should find Father someone nice,' he commented as he pulled at Harry's trousers, taking everything down with them. Harry obligingly lifted his hips.
'I don't think he'll appreciate that,' Harry said, not really following the conversation as Draco was slowly undoing his own trousers, swaying his hips slightly.
'I think he was a bit lonely while we were gone.' Harry made an impatient noise. Draco's smirk was in place, as it usually was when he had Harry in his current state. Harry could hardly complain. He loved the way Draco would tease him until he cracked, then allow Harry to have his way with him. He knew it was all part of Draco's plan.
'A nice witch, high society of course so we know she's not in it for the money,' Draco continued as if he wasn't dropping his undergarments. 'But not too high society. We don't want some snob who's only in it for the Malfoy name.'
'That's it.' Harry pounced. He dragged Draco onto the bed, eliciting a muttered 'finally' from Draco, and then rolled them over. They both groaned as their skin connected all over. Draco's skin was always so soft and delicious. Harry thanked his stars every day he got the opportunity. Their relationship had matured and deepened after the Voldemort incident. They still had their problems. Draco would never get along with Hermione for example, and Harry would never be comfortable around the other Slytherins.
'Quick,' Draco gasped, pushing his hips up repeatedly.
'Oh, now you're impatient, are you?' Harry growled, pressing Draco down and grabbing the man's wrists. Draco was so handsome in the candlelight, Harry wanted to kiss every inch of him.
Even though they were young and foolish, according to Lucius, they weren't complete idiots. During their year abroad they had decided to experiment, both apart and together. It had only served to somehow strengthen whatever was between them.
'Don't stop,' Draco moaned as Harry sucked on his neck. Draco mumbled a spell, so familiar these days that he could do it wandless. Harry knew what it meant and positioned himself.
Their joining was easy, but intense, as always. Harry gave a deep groan and rose up on his elbows to get leverage. Draco immediately locked his legs around him and bucked.
That was a clear sign that Draco wanted it hard and rough, and Harry was always very obliging in the sack. Well, usually. Now he forced Draco's legs down, lay himself down, kissed Draco hard and moved, slowly. Draco mewled in protest, but Harry never relented.
'You're horrible,' Draco gasped when Harry moved to nibble on an earlobe.
'From you, I'll take that as a compliment.' Harry finally picked up the pace.
'It. Was,' Draco panted with each thrust. He gave one last moan and went boneless. Harry did the same a few moments later. Harry rolled over, letting his breathing calm down.
As they came down from their high, Harry couldn't help but marvel at how different things were, yet completely the same. A few years ago, Draco barely made any noises when they were together. Afraid of being caught, mostly. Such a silly detail to get caught up in, but Harry was so absorbed in his odd musings he didn't even notice Draco leaning up on an elbow and staring down at him.
'Harry? Are you still thinking about the Workhouse?' Draco asked, clearly worried. Harry smiled and couldn't help a small chuckle.
'No, I was actually thinking about your sex noises.'
'What?' Draco sounded indignant. 'I do not make anything as barbaric as sex noises!'
'You do, just to make me crazy too,' Harry said. Draco didn't say anything, which meant it was true. 'I love you for that.' Draco reached out and traced Harry's face. Forehead, nose and lips.
'I'm glad I make you happy,' Draco said softly. He leaned down and gave him a kiss. Then snuggled up and went to sleep.
Quite a sappy evening, all together, but that was a small price to pay, wasn't it?