A/N: Oh my, it's another chaptered story! *headdesk* I really need to stop starting these long stories when I have others going but this one has been sitting in my head for months and I really just wanted to start it. And I have to say, I LOVE it! It's so cute and promising, I can't wait to write more. As I have obligations to finish the others I started first, this one will be updated intermittently until those are finished. I promise, though, that this WILL be finished! As I don't have a beta as of right now, there will probably be a few mistakes but I did do my best. I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it! Reviews adored!
Warning: mentions of het sex and language (the use of the "c" word) There will be future slash sex and mentions of torture.
Title meaning: A circle is a symbol of something that is never ending, a harmonious cycle. Diamonds cannot be scratched or broken and are used as a symbol of purity and love.
The Diamond Circle
Chapter 1: Freedom and a Funeral
He ducked behind another cluster of dank, clinging shadows and took a moment to catch his breath.
Pain laced through his side from where he had been grazed by a curse he knew could have been particularly nasty if it had hit him full on but he couldn't stop moving. Not now. Not when escape was so close. He could feel them, closing in on him but he refused to give in. People had called him a coward his entire life and maybe he might have been once, hiding behind his family's money and his father's name. That was a long time ago, though.
Or, at least he thought it was.
It was hard to tell how much time passed when he was stuck in a dungeon for so long, deprived of light, movement and knowledge of the outside world.
Draco breathed in several more deep, hungry breaths, feeling the summer air cleansing his lungs that had been breathing in the scent of cold, dead stone and rotting flesh ever since he had been thrown down in that pit. It hadn't been summer when he had been captured but the problem he was trying to figure out was, just how many summers had there been since then? He wondered if he even wanted to know.
A hard footstep rang out through the alley and he bolted, using the shadows as much as he could in hopes that they wouldn't see him. This was their territory, not his and he was unfamiliar with the territory but he pushed ever upwards, knowing that eventually, he had to come to a door or a window that would allow him escape. The very thought of being caught and thrown back down there made his breath seize in terror and his weak legs work furiously even though they had so little strength to begin with. He couldn't stand one more moment of that cell or the darkness or the knowledge that, should the reason he was being held no longer matter anymore, he would just…cease to exist.
It was this thought more than anything else that pushed him far past his limits and finally offered the door that fell open under his touch…
And led to his freedom.
"Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life."William Faulkner
Their faces were so still, so quiet, like they had never once laughed or gotten angry or shed a tear. They lay side by side, the soft glow of the Status spell shimmering around them like a dome of glass, preserving them for the moment they would be put into the ground. Death mocked them, stealing everything that they had once been and replacing it with a cool, icy mask that erode and slip away until they were nothing more than sparkling memories within the minds of the people who had known and loved them.
Greif closed a tight fist around his throat again but once again he pushed the tears away, knowing he was the last person here that had the right to be crying for the two men upon whose faces he couldn't stop gazing. After all, it had been in his name they were killed.
Yet even after the third or fourth time he told himself to move away, he couldn't. His feet remained planted upon the soft, cool grass and his eyes riveted to the still faces as a web of golden sunlight peered through the leaves of the huge oak under which they would lay, forever. It was a small comfort that at least they would be together in death. It would have been even crueler to separate them in life. But he couldn't make himself believe that and he couldn't make himself turn away and he couldn't make his heart stop aching.
Beside the two elevated caskets that had been constructed of the most beautiful glass panes and fit together with magic were two gravestones, clean and white with newness, their surfaces engraved with two names he would never, ever forget.
Connor Lyle and Percy Weasley.
Wizards, he reflected as he stood there, blinking in the shady, summer air, had a very different way of doing things than Muggles and it seemed funerals were no different. He had once been dragged with his aunt and uncle when he was very young to the funeral of a distant relative and he could still remember the stuffy funeral home in which the wake had been held, freezing cold and smelling faintly of formaldehyde and death. The oppressive quiet and pale, pasty face displayed for the mourning family had just been creepy and had given him nightmares. Then the burial itself had been a tiny little cemetery behind an old church, the ground soft and uneven, making him think about all the corpses already buried there were reaching up through the ground, trying to drag him into their cold graves with them. Thankfully, it had been nothing like this.
The plot was a wide open space, filled with warm flowers of all colors and hemmed in with large, old trees that spread their branches generously to offer the coolest shade. The air was warm and full of sunlight, bees and butterflies undisturbed by the fact that there were people intruding upon their silence in order to mourn for their dead. Here and there a grayed stone would peek out over the tall grass, memorials of others long past but the ones he stood in front of were beautiful and yet untouched by time. Both Percy's and Connor's caskets were constructed of the clearest, unflawed glass that could only be created by magic and shaped to depict small scenes that shifted and changed smoothly. So far he couldn't make out what the pictures were actually supposed to be but he didn't really feel like trying, either. It was the faces that he was most focused on. Wizards didn't need to use chemicals to keep the bodies preserved but neither did they use make up and nice clothing to fake the appearance of life. They were never going to open their eyes again and there was no use pretending.
Harry had learned a long time ago that the truth was always better than a pretty lie, even if it hurt more.
He could hear the rest of the family and friends waiting quietly behind him, their soft murmurs barely breaking over the sonorous voices of the insects and gentle breeze and he felt another flash of crippling guilt. It was his fault that they grieved, even if they did tell him they would and could never blame him for something a crazed psychopath had done. They said that and their eyes were sad but not condemning and Harry knew the Weasleys would never see him as anything else but family. Still, he wished they would blame him, even just a little. After all, when the witness reports had come back, they learned that Percy and his lover of three years had been murdered because they had been close to Harry Potter.
Another dangerous psychotic bastard one the loose, determined to do everything in their power to hurt him. Heartache swept through him, crippling and huge and he had to close his eyes, the world fading away for a moment as the dark well of grief within his soul washed over him. It was the grief that was ever present, created from all of those he had lost when he was younger and expending to include two of the greatest friends he had after Ron and Hermione. There were no tears in this looming presence that resided within him because it was too deep for that but something still stung his eyes and he rubbed at them impatiently. Just as he had reoriented the two new names within his heart where all his beloved dead resided, a small voice brought him back to reality.
"Why are uncle Bird and uncle Otter sleeping out here, Daddy? Tell them to wake up!" he opened his eyes and looked down at the small face peering up at him, his heart breaking at the plaintive voice the boy had used. Trying to hold back the sudden flood behind his eyes and blocking his throat, he swooped down and scooped the little child from the midst of the bobbing head of the white and yellow flowers, the solid weight in his arms familiar and comfortable. Huge eyes the color of emeralds stared back at him, innocent and clear. Everyone remarked on how similar their gazes were but he knew his son didn't hold the haunted shadows that plagued his own.
"I'm so sorry, Harry," Hermione's short, neat curls were like a crown around her head as she dashed up to him, her brown eyes apologetic, "He just got away from me when I was looking the other way," Harry managed a small, warm smile but hugged his son closer to himself when she reached out to take the boy back.
"It's fine, Mione," he answered quietly, "I'll keep him with me," she nodded and turned to rejoin the rest of the family, her footsteps soft swishes through the grass. Harry looked at the boy who had turned in his arms and was surveying the two men in the glass coffins, his eyes wide and solemn. He felt a little bad because he had been terrified at the prospect of explaining to his four and a half year old son that his two favorite uncles that had a major hand in raising him would ever play or laugh with him again. How did one explain that while trying to preserve such innocence? Still, he could hardly let the boy continue thinking that Percy and Connor would wake up as if from slumber. He smoothed down the dark, flyaway curls and pressed a kiss to the round, unmarked forehead, "They aren't sleeping, love," he said in a soft voice, watching the small brows furrow in a frown, "They…passed on and they won't be coming back here anymore," the boy's bright eyes found his own and a small tooth snagged the plump bottom lip. The sight made his broken heart lift just a little because it was hard to ignore his son's charms.
"Never?" his voice chimed and Harry tightened his hold on the boy, hating the way the knowledge made the clear voice and round face shadow.
"I'm sorry, Sirius," his voice sounded choked but it did no good trying to clear his throat so he buried his nose in the fragrant abundance of curls at the top of his son's head, blinking away tears, "Someday, a long time from now, maybe we will see them again," Sirius was silent but the only sign of his distress was how he dropped his head to Harry's collarbone and pressed his face into the dark haired man's neck, his small hands clutching at the front of his father's t-shirt.
"I want Uncle Bird and Uncle Otter to wake up," the four year old's voice was a small thread and Harry buried a sob in his son's hair. Sirius had started calling everyone he knew by animal names when he was just learning about them and the names had somehow stuck. Some didn't really make sense but for some, like Hermione whom the boy called Auntie Owl, they were scary accurate. Hearing them now, though, only made this so much harder.
"So do I, little man," so much…
There had been a time when he had never really thought very highly of Percy. He was Harry's least favorite Weasley because he had always come across as a stuck up prick that thought he knew better than his family and looked down at everyone who didn't follow the Ministry. Something about the war, though, seemed to have jarred something loose within him and after he had somehow pushed Fred out of the path of a nasty curse, he had decided to reconcile with his family. Of course they had forgiven him instantly, with a lot of tears from Mrs. Weasley and back pounding from the twins. George was so grateful, in fact, they had later let Percy in on their business as an investor.
It was not until some months after the final battle, though, that Harry had a reason to start liking Percy personally.
The war had taken a toll on everyone but there had been some days when he had been sure he would fail and let down the entire wizarding community. The Horcrux hunt had been stressful and terrifying and was usually what mostly occupied his nightmares, even now. So no one could blame him when Ginny had found him one day, her hair bright and eyes dark and he let her lead him by the hand to the back room of the decrepit house he had been hiding out in. He didn't know how she found him and he couldn't remember her answer when he asked. All that mattered was that he was tired and stressed to the point of snapping and he was being given an outlet. It hadn't even mattered that he was no longer in love with her and that he actually found most of her brothers more attractive than he found her. None of that mattered; Ginny had been willing and the sex was better than he would have expected.
And when she had left in the morning, a soft smile on her face, he couldn't even feel guilty for leading her along because the release of tension just for that one night had been exactly what he needed. Only, there had been unexpected consequences of that night he could never call a mistake no matter how much it changed his life.
The war had ended in one final crash that resulted in his temporary death and enough fuel for nightmares that would wake him up screaming for the rest of his life. The death of the man who had once been known as Tom Riddle and who died at the end of a wand that was black and didn't even belong to Harry had left him drained and impossibly tired, like he hadn't slept in the entire year since he had left Hogwarts. It was only made worse when what felt like the entirety of the Wizarding world descended upon him and demanded to know every little detail of Voldemort's death. All he wanted was to crash on a bed in a locked and warded bedroom and sleep for a month but there had been interview after party after official Ministry function until he felt like he was a ghost of himself, propelled by other people's wishes. His friends tried to ward off the worst of it but they were powerless against the fever that had gripped Britain.
Then, three weeks after that final battle, Ginny found him again.
He had been lying in the grass in the Burrow's back yard, relishing the feel of the cool green blades brushing against his skin and the small window of peace he was given when a familiar voice said his name behind him. He remembers smiling, because even though he no longer loved Ginny like that, he had missed her anyway and she hadn't been around since he had seen her in the middle of the war. Only, when he had levered himself to his feet and faced her, he had found himself staring at a very different person than the girl that had left him after that night. Her brown eyes were hard and cold and her lips turned down in a bitter frown. In her arms she held a small bundle that moved once or twice as she watched.
"Hey, Gin," he had been hopeful that it was not him that she was upset with and that perhaps he could comfort her or cheer her up. But she had only glared at him, a deep hatred burning in her gaze that baffled him before walking calmly over to him and practically tossing the bundle she had been holding into his arms. He had caught it by reflex, confused and the girl had stepped away quickly, as if getting ready to make a run for it. When he looked down at the thing in his arms, alarmed when it squirmed slightly, his heart nearly stopped.
It was a baby, dark hair already dusting the top of its head and its eyes a foggy green.
"I thought I was in love with you," Ginny had started, her voice as hard as her eyes and her face lined as if she was ten years older than her seventeen years, "So I went to you because I didn't want you to forget about me and because I thought I was doing something to help," she had laughed then and Harry had looked down at the child he held, cradling it carefully in his arms as if it was made from glass when it uttered a soft coo.
"I don't understand," he had breathed, unable to stop looking into the huge eyes because the baby was so small and delicate and real it seemed impossible but he couldn't figure out why Ginny was going on like this after shoving the child at him. She snorted when she saw the confused look on his face, her arms crossed angrily over her chest.
"Of course you would be smitten with the little monster. You ruined me, Harry! That thing in your arms I have been carrying around for nine months and I HATE IT! Do you know what the worst part of it was? It wasn't even that I got pregnant at sixteen because I didn't know the proper protection spells or that I was alone when I had him. The worst part was that I suffered through that knowing that you never loved me, even when you where fucking me and you never will! Do you know how it felt, to discover that I was pregnant with your child only to overhear my brother talking about how the father of the baby would have enjoyed himself better if I HAD A COCK! Well, fuck you Harry! Take the baby because every time I lay eyes on him, I feel sick," and with that, she had stormed away, her long hair blazing in the sun just before she Disapperated off the property.
The shock had rendered him completely speechless and he was only pulled from his trance when the baby started to utter soft noises of distress, his tiny nose wrinkled and his eyes squeeze shut. The knowledge that this was his baby, his son, had swept over him like a tide of warmth and disbelief, leaving his knees weak so that he sank into the grass while still holding the little boy closely to his chest. His boy. And he was beautiful, the most beautiful baby he had ever seen, whose skin had lost the redness that came from being newly born and was fair and smooth and whose hair held the promise of being dark and his eyes green. This was his son and everything that Ginny had said to him didn't matter, the hurt swept away in a tide of love.
"I guess," his voice had been rough when he tried speaking so he had to try again, "I guess she didn't name you," the baby had stopped fussing when Harry started talking, looking up at him with eyes that couldn't quiet focus on his face and Harry had found himself smiling through tears, "So I guess that means I have to," he had thought for a minute, knowing he had always wanted to name one of his children after his father. But in that moment he had remembered his godfather, whom he had known if shortly and decided that Sirius was a good name, "I'll call you Sirius. Sirius James Potter," and the little boy had giggled softly when a warm tear had spattered on his little round cheek.
The Weasleys had found him like that, kneeling in the garden and staring quietly at the baby in his arms that had fallen into a peaceful doze. Fred, George, Ron and Charlie had burst through the back door carrying their brooms, quickly followed by Mrs. Weasley levitating a tray of lemonade behind her and they had all stopped short when they caught sight of the dark hair teen, his hair messier than usual and his eyes bright with confusion, joy and overwhelmed tears.
"You okay, mate?" Ron had asked and Harry didn't know how to answer. Thankfully, Sirius had chosen that moment to wake up and start bawling loudly, not stopping when Harry started to rock him, panicking. He had never been around a baby before and the sight of the distressed little face, red and wet with tears sent him into a tailspin. The brothers all reacted with varying degrees of fascinated shock, crowding around the bewildered young father, Fred even going as far to poke at the sobbing bundle until Mrs. Weasley had shoved them away with a few choice words and knelt down beside Harry, her expression gentle.
"It's okay, Harry. Let me see," she had held out her arms and after a moment of reluctance, he had passed Sirius on, watching the baby closely because he was even more afraid now that he was no longer holding him, "He's probably just hungry, love. Why don't we go see if we can find him something to eat, okay?" he was grateful for her reassuring smile and the fact that she wasn't asking questions just yet, content to follow her back into the house. After all, she had seven children of her own and Harry had told his strange jealousy that how well the baby fit in her arms was only because of experience. Only when he was seated in a comfortable chair in the living room and Sirius was once again back in his arms, sucking contently on a warmed bottle of milk did the questions start.
"Where the heck did it come from?" George had been leaning over the arm of the chair, staring down at the baby eating quietly, freckled face sharp with fascination and Harry looked around at the circle of red headed Weasleys that had pulled up chairs around him, all wearing similar expressions. The twins and Ron sat on his right, all of them leaning close, while Charlie sat on his left with his mother and Mr. Weasley, home from work that day, in the middle of them. Only the adults wore softer expressions but he could see they were still interested in his answers.
"He," he had said quietly, looking down at Sirius, "It's a he," and he knew that didn't answer the question but it hadn't mattered. He only had eyes for his son. Someone made an impatient noise that was quickly hushed by Molly and he smiled when Sirius wrinkled his nose again before resuming his noisy meal.
"Yeah, but, whose is it?" that was Ron, his voice strident. Harry had looked up at him and then realized that none of the Weasleys would be happy to hear it was Ginny who he had gotten pregnant. Blush heating his cheeks, he had ducked his head, hoping his hair would hide his embarrassment.
"He's…" he had to swallow, suddenly terrified because what if they got angry and kicked him out? But then he'd reminded himself not to be stupid and worked up his courage enough to answer, "He's mine," the words sent a thrill through him, making him forget for a moment that he could very well have a mob of angry red heads on his hands in a moment but Sirius's beautiful face was enough to set all the worries away for a few wonderful moments. Then he realized it had gotten awfully quite and he had lifted his head to see every single person in the room staring at him in shock.
"He's yours!" Ron had practically shouted it, making the baby jump and start crying and it took Harry a couple minutes of panicked terror and Mrs. Weasley's gentle instructions to get the boy calm again. Once Sirius was again sucking noisily on the bottle, Harry had lifted his head, cheeks still burning. It wasn't in shame, though. How could he be ashamed of the little person in his arms? Ron's outburst had earned him a quelling look from his father and a round of back of the head slaps from his brothers.
"Y-yeah. I named him Sirius James," and he couldn't help but grin because it sounded wonderful rolling of his tongue. They had all looked at him closely for a moment before Molly sniffed loudly, eyes full and smile tremulous.
"Oh, Harry," she had dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief, and the twins rolled their eyes at each other before looking back at Sirius, clearly taken with the baby, "Of course we will all help you take care of him. I insist that you stay here for a while and we can get everything straightened out. Don't worry about anything," Harry had found himself relieved at that, nearly forgetting there was a question that no one was asking but needed to be answered before anything else could happen.
"How do you know he's yours?" Charlie's eyes were sharp but not unkind, studying him and the child with interest, "How did he end up here?" and just like that Harry had been thrown into despair. Surely they would hate him if they knew but he couldn't bring himself to lie. So he told them the truth, about how Ginny had shown up on the lawn and dumped the baby on him like it was something disgusting and then just took off again.
"I swear I didn't know!" he had finished by saying, his eyes wide and Sirius beginning to fuss in his arms, discontent with the loud voice he had used, "I'm really sorry but she never said anything to me," and then he ducked his head, concentrating on how the baby didn't seem to want anything more to eat but not knowing what to do about it. For a moment he was sure they would all start yelling at him, furious that they had knocked up their daughter, their sister and then just left her to have the child alone when Molly leaned in and pulled the bottle out of his hands.
"Here," her voice and eyes were so kind he had nearly wept as she draped a cloth over his shoulder and rearranged Sirius so that he was upright and pressed against his shoulder the cloth was on, "You hold him like this when he's done eating and pat him gently on the back otherwise they can colic," Harry had done as he was told, determinedly not looking at the other men in the room though he could feel their eyes on him. Finally Ron shifted, drawing the dark haired boy's attention.
"I thought you were gay, mate," he said slowly and Harry would have thought he was just being dense if he didn't know him well enough. But he could see the glitter in his blue eyes that meant he was furious and was trying not to show it. The question earned him some more slaps from the twins but they were half hearted for they were watching the blush scrawling over Harry's cheeks and were looking thoughtful. Molly was clearly trying to ignore the topic, her eyes watchful and on him and Sirius but Charlie's lips were pressed thin and Arthur had a crestfallen expression in his face.
"I am, Ron," he answered in a small voice, face hot and eyes miserable, patting his son as he had been told while bracing himself for the barrage that he was sure would come. When it did, however, he was shocked to find that their anger was not directed at him.
"That absolute, fucking cunt," Ron's voice was a sharp hiss, his fists balled tightly on his thighs and his eyes blazing with such fury it stole Harry's breath. He had seen his friend mad before but not like this, not in defense of someone else. The twins were nodding darkly and Charlie looked like he might snarl like one of his dragons any minute, eyebrows drawn down so sharply they shaded his dark blue eyes and made them look like a brewing storm. Even Mrs. Weasley didn't react very much to Ron's strong language, which could only mean she was upset enough that she didn't hear it, "How dare she. First she has it without even telling anyone and then comes here and just…just…dumps him on Harry! It's her son too! Her son!" his voice was progressively getting louder and he was standing by then, pacing furiously. Any moment Harry was sure he would start tearing at his hair but the twins stood then, their faces dark.
"Calm down, little brother," George put a hand on Ron's shoulder, making him pause in his pacing, "You aren't the only one whose angry at her," Fred joined them and the three looked like they would swallow the room whole, their hair blazing like fire and their skin pale under their freckles. Just then there was a little burp in Harry's ear and Molly beamed at him, the bight expression not quite reaching her eyes.
"That's it, dear. He should be just fine, now. Why don't we find you both a place where you can both rest," Charlie had stood then, looking down at Harry with an inscrutable look on his face before nodding to him and herding his brothers into the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley rearranged Sirius in his arms again, his weight comfortable already and then went to find them a place they could sleep. The hazy green eyes were sleepy now, the small, thin lids sliding down to hide the promising color and Harry watching him, still in a state of disbelief as he tried to ignore the shouting coming from the next room. Only Arthur remained, his face haggard and sad.
"I'm truly sorry that this happened, son. I would not have expected this of Ginny," he'd said quietly and the dark haired boy had looked down at the bundle fast sleep in his arms, warm and safe and his. He could remember smiling softly, clutching the little boy to his chest, love curling lazily through his bones in a way he had never felt before.
"I'm not," and when he looked up, Mr. Weasley was positively beaming.
Harry had fallen asleep in that chair to the sounds of his friends' angry voices and his son wrapped in his arms, awoken much later to find Percy sitting across from him, reading calmly. The house was dark and quiet by then, though he could hear Molly moving around in the kitchen, and Percy looked up when he heard Harry stir, his eyes warmer than the dark haired boy had ever seen them.
"I heard what my sister did," the older man had started without preamble, putting his finger to hold his place in the book was he spoke, "and I would like to help you take care of Sirius," and that was where their friendship started.
Percy had actually proven to be an invaluable help in raising Sirius. Because Harry couldn't stay at the Burrow for the sake of his own conscience, the Weasleys hardly left him alone when he moved back into Grimmuald Place. He might have stayed, he thought sometimes, but he had walked into a room to find Molly in tears, sobbing as she asked the air why Ginny had chosen not to come to her family for help when she first found out she was pregnant and the guilt only ripped him apart. Ron and Hermione both came to stay with him but Hermione was in school then to become a lawyer and Ron had been accepted in the Auror training program so they weren't around much. Molly, of course, came by every day, bringing with her more baby clothes, blankets and toys until Harry didn't even know what to do with them all. But it had been Percy that had moved in and stayed with him and Sirius, watching the baby when Harry couldn't and keeping him company through the long nights.
He had found, after spending so much time with the man that Percy was actually quite funny in a dry, scathing sort of way that reminded Harry a little bit of Snape, whom he thought of now with regret and grief and he was extremely intelligent, his brain like a sponge so that he could dig it up again at a moment's notice. It was Percy that had been there when Sirius had spoken his first word at an early age and then again when the boy took his first step and then later helped keeping the normally rambunctious Sirius in line. If it hadn't been for him, Harry was sure he would have been utterly lost.
Conner didn't come into the picture until Sirius was two. He owned a little known bookstore in the less traveled alleys of Diagon Alley that Percy often frequented because the books there were rare and valuable. The tall man with the sandy blond hair had pursued the Weasley mercilessly until Percy really had no choice but to give in, letting Conner take him out for dinner a month after the man started his campaign. After that they were inseparable, doing everything together. Their personalities were completely opposite but together, they melded so perfectly it was almost like they were meant to be together. Harry liked Conner even more the first time he came to the house and fell in love with Sirius.
Just like that, the small boy that had grown into his wide green eyes and dark, tousled curls gained another guardian and Harry could never remember being so happy in his entire life. Even being at Hogwarts didn't compare. He had good friends who remained loyal despite the unfortunate circumstances and the family he had always wanted, even if it was a little different than he had imagined it. Sirius grew quickly, turning into an adorable little boy that could melt even the hardest of heart and whose charm held even Kingsley, now the Minister of Magic, captive.
And then with a single curse cast out of hatred, two of those people in whom Harry's happiness lie were gone.
The sunlight had turned golden and buttery as the day progressed, throwing the wide, flowery meadow into a comfortable warmth and he was grateful for it. It would have been terrible if it rained today, even if he wished that Percy and Connor could still look around and see the beauty of the place they were to be put to rest. White chairs were scattered in front of the large oak tree, occupied by older, less capable witches and wizards that were either family or friends, talking quietly to each other with comforting smiles and sad eyes. Several huge tents that were mostly open on the sides but gave those attending the funeral another place of the sun floated above the ground, their anchors not even touching the grass. The bodies had already been put into the ground and covered over by dark, fresh dirt and Harry had watched, Sirius in his arms and his friends standing around him, muffled sobs filtering through the crowd. It hadn't helped, either, when his son got distressed at the sight of the dirt covering the bodies of his friends now closed within their glass caskets, squirming and tears shimmering in his bright eyes.
"Daddy! Daddy, what are they doing! How am I going to see them again if they cover them up?" his shrill voice had sent Molly into hysterics and several of the other guests including Hermione reaching for tissues and Harry felt his own tears spill over, trailing hot fire down his cheeks.
"Shh, Sirius. It's okay, it's fine," the little boy looked up at him, registering his father's grief with tears of his own, arms clutching Harry's neck tightly, "I promise that this is okay. You'll see them again, right? Just not now, okay?" Sirius had merely nodded and rested his head once again in the crook of Harry's neck. It was an action that the young boy did when he was upset and wanted comfort and the dark haired man rubbed his back, murmuring soft words into his ear as the funeral ritual was finally completed and willing this day to be over.
Now he sat in the shade of one of the tents, watching as his four year old son capered around through the high flowers, the long stalks nearly reaching his chin while single mindedly trying to pick as many wildflowers as he could fit into his hands. Hermione sat beside him, a glass of chilled pumpkin juice in her hands, her face quiet as she too watched the green eyed boy. The thing he had always hated about funerals is how normal everyone was able to act even though they had just buried loved ones. It was a condition of being human, he understood that but he wished it was not the case. Molly was sitting in the next tent over, surrounded by a circle of sympathetic women who listened to her watery tales of Percy as a child and the twins were standing off to the side, talking adamantly with Kingsley who looked tall and impressive even amidst the tall red heads. Andromeda looked solemn in her dark dress robes where she stood keeping Mr. Weasley quiet company while her grandson, Teddy, watched Sirius from her side, his hair a bright yellow. It was always that color when he was looking at Harry's son, though no one had been able to figure out why. They were of an age and were actually already great friends but his hair was never that bright shade any other time. Hermione made a soft tsking sound beside him, drawing his gaze and he found her watching the new gravesite with lips pursed in disapproval.
"Can't they do that somewhere else?" she said, though her voice was resigned and Harry looked over to find Ron and Cormac, his Auror partner, bickering softly in the shade of the huge oak. Well, Ron was bickering. Cormac was probably drawling something in that deep voice of his if the smirk on his face was any indication. Harry bit his lip, feeling his first flash of amusement in several days. He didn't know why but the moment Ron had been paired with the brunette, he had claimed to hate him. At first Harry hadn't understood but after watching them interacting a few times, it clicked. Cormac was clearly a flirt. Well, he was with Ron, anyway and he had been trying for the two years they had been partners to get into the redhead's pants. He was blatant about it too, though never vulgar. Everyone actually really liked him because he was a good person who treated everyone else with respect but he was smitten with Ron and he let the man know it. Harry knew what the problem was, too, why Ron was so determined to pretend he hated his partner.
The man was bloody gorgeous, something that had been confirmed even by a very straight George one night and it was clear Ron knew it. Harry laughed softly now as he watched them, taking in the way his friend's blue eyes wouldn't look directly at the brunette and how he had his arms crossed over his chest as if using them for protection as the shorter man leaned towards him, saying something that didn't carry towards them. Whatever it was, it had Ron blushing hotly and glaring furiously at Cormac.
"Ron just needs to accept that he thinks the man is hot and get over this fear he has of being attracted to men," Hermione smiled back, her cropped hair curling around her forehead before she burst into fierce giggles that made his heart feel just a little bit lighter.
"Yeah, before Cormac gets impatient and makes him see just how gorgeous he is," her brown eyes sparkled in mirth. She and Ron had tried going out right after the war because it seemed like all their dancing around each other in school would lead to more romantic feelings but such was not to be. They lasted all of about a month before the fighting got so bad, Harry had to step in between them and inform them that they were breaking up and never allowed to date again for the sake of his own sanity. He was pretty sure they had been both been relieved and got along much better as just friends.
"I do hope this gorgeous bloke you speak of is either myself or gay, darling," the smooth tenor behind them made them both turn and Hermione grinned when a slender man with wavy brown hair tied back in a silk ribbon walked up to them, a glass of wine clutched in one elegant hand. Theodore Nott always made Harry feel scruffy and sloppy, his elegance wrapped around him like a cloak but he could remember when the man was not always like that. He had changed a lot since they had been at Hogwarts though he could still be a prissy bastard sometimes and Harry was always reminded of another elegant Slytherin that he tried not to think about when he spoke with him.
Why Hermione had agreed to go out with Nott was still a mystery to him but she must have seen something there because only a year later they were married. The man actually worshipped the ground she walked on, treating her so well that everyone with misgivings of his dubious background was forced to either get over them or keep quiet about them. They had met while she was in school to get her degree for being a lawyer and became good friends. Usually Harry liked Nott but ever since the death count had come in from the war, he had always been a little removed when dealing with anyone that came from the Slytherin house. It was hard not to remember…
"Oh, he's definitely gay and crushing horribly on Ron. You're good, Nott," Harry answered lightly with a smile in Nott's direction, making the man snort before he leaned down and pressed a kiss to his wife's cheek. It was a warm gesture that seemed private so he was grateful when Sirius pelted up to him, followed closely by Teddy who had slipped away from his grandmother, a huge bunch of flowers held out in front of him and a bright smile on his face.
"Look, Daddy!" he cried, stopping right before he collided with Harry's knees and holding out the colorful bouquet, "I picked them for Uncle Bird! Do you think he will like them?" Teddy was holding his own, smaller bundle in front of his face, shy in front of all the grownups but his eyes were hopeful and a clear, shining blue. Hermione's eyes were shining as she looked on, her husband's hands curled comfortingly on her shoulders and Harry felt the breath catch momentarily in his throat before he leaned down with a smile, tucking a stray curl behind a small ear. Molly had remarked once how odd it was for a boy, even as young as Sirius didn't mind being cuddled and touched. Usually at this age they started inserting their independence but he still melted against his father whenever Harry picked him up.
"They are wonderful, love. I think your Uncles will love them," he plucked one of the bright daisies from the bunch and tucked it behind Sirius's ear, making the boy giggle. He repeated the action with Teddy, who always watched on longingly when Harry interacted with his son before letting the young boys take each of his hands and drag him back towards the tree and the two white stones with the names of people he loved engraved on them. The bundles of flowers were scattered over the grave with a seriousness that made the grief catch in the back of his throat again, Ron and Cormac now watching on quietly as if they hadn't just been flirting/fighting a moment ago. Now words were needed and Sirius stared at the colorful riot covering the dark dirt before clinging to Harry's leg, burying his face in the denim.
The commotion started just as he was lifting the dark haired boy into his arms, Teddy's hair now a riot of dark curls around his head as he clung to Harry's other leg, eyes wide as he looked towards the tent. A loud, discontented murmur spread over the meadow, dark and angry, originated from a spot beyond the tents were Kingsley and several heads of red heads were gathered. He couldn't make it out at first, only registering that everyone was on their feet and were staring, many with wide eyes and hands pressed disbelievingly to their mouths. And then he heard the voice, thin and weak, crying out over the rumble of anger.
"…let me talk to him! I need to talk to Harry!" it was bitten off with a sharp cry, as if the person had been hit and Harry found himself halfway across the felid, flowers brushing his knees, strides long as his heart hammered in his chest. Surely that voice didn't belong to who he thought it did because that person was dead.
"You're not talking to anyone, you—" Fred's voice was a vicious snarl as Harry reached the circle, still unable to see who Kingsley and what looked like another Auror he didn't know by name was holding between them.
"Enough," he snapped, aware that Sirius was still clinging to his neck and Teddy was peeking out around his knee, eyes wide and fearful. He supposed he should let someone else take them for the time being but that voice called out his name again, the sound of it pathetic and raspy and he used the full weight of his glaze when the twins and Bill, all of whom had their wands out and pointing at this new person, looked as if they would protest, "Let me through," reluctantly they moved to the side but their wands never wavered and their eyes were hard.
Then Harry couldn't breathe because the voice he had heard was the same one from his memory.
"Malfoy?" at first he had thought it was Lucius caught there between the Minister and another bulky Auror, long, silvery blond hair sweeping around the man's shoulder and nearly reaching his waist. But then he realized that was impossible because if it was the Elder Malfoy, he would be dead already. After all, the reports from Percy and Connor's murder said that it had been Lucius who had killed them. No, the person he was staring at was supposed to have died almost five years ago and was staring through the lank curtain of his hair with bright, helpless eyes. Grey eyes, the same ones that sometimes haunted Harry's nightmares when he dreamed of the people he had been unable to save.
The blond looked like crap, too. His hair was dirty and tangled, looking like it hadn't been washed in months and he was surprised he could still tell the man was blond. His frame was so thin, it was a wonder he could stand at all, even with the support under his arms. Dark circles shadowed his pale eyes and the rest of his skin looked waxy and just as dirty as his hair. What clothes he had left were an unidentifiable gray and they might have been nice once but were now riddled with tears and holes. The worst part were the scars that peaked out on the pale skin, long and wicked looking. Blood that was already half-dried decorated Malfoy's left side, staining his shirt and his pants which meant he had lost quite a bit of it not too long ago. There was a soft cry from behind him that sounded like Nott and another voice, raised and angry that could only belong to Blaise who had also been attending the funeral with his wife and tiny daughter but Harry couldn't take his eyes off of the blond in front of him. It looked like it would almost have been a mercy if Malfoy had died.
"Malfoy, what are you doing here?" Harry asked in a gentle voice and the words seemed to do something to the man because he was suddenly free of the arms holding him and had thrown himself at Harry. There was a collective shout of alarm and wands raised but no one could cast any spells without the risk of hitting Harry and the children at the same time. It didn't matter, though, because Malfoy wasn't attacking anyway. He hit Harry with surprising force, making him rock on his feet even though he had braced himself, moving Sirius so that he wasn't caught between them when the blond wrapped his arms around the dark haired man's waist and clung to him, shivering.
"Please, don't let them find me again, Harry," his voice was terrified and when the Weasleys and Kingsley stepped forward to drag the other man away, he held up his hand. Pity, relief and concern poured over him and he rested his free arm around the man's frighteningly thin waist, letting him lean against him and feeling the trembling rattling in his bones. What had happened to Malfoy that he was like this, terrified and looking like he had just escaped from a concentration camp.
"It's alright. He's not going to hurt anyone," he said to the nervous circle of dangerous looking redheads, wincing when he heard a soft, mumbled thanks pressed over and over again into his shirt. It was a little awkward and more than a little uncomfortable because the blond didn't smell pleasant by any stretch of the imagination but then Sirius leaned forward, peering at the man currently hugging his father. At first Harry thought the boy was going to get angry or jealous like he sometimes did of other people monopolizing Harry's attention but then he broke out into a huge smile that made the sunlight seem dim in comparison. He reached out with a small hand and patted Malfoy on one sunken cheek, making the man turn his head to look at the boy.
"You are Daddy's Dragon," and the confident proclamation left the entire crowd speechless.
Draco had nearly been blind with fear when more hands grabbed him, harsh words hissed in his direction but he was so close, he struggled through his terror and his weakness, knowing the one he was looking for was close by.
Once, he would have hated himself for running to Potter for help. Once, when his pride was unbending and fierce, when he was determined to make every think he hated the dark haired boy as much as Potter hated him. But that was a long time past and when he thought about those blazing green eyes, shining with strength and determination and all he knew was that he would be safe. If nothing else, Potter had an unfailing sense of fair play and wouldn't attack him if he saw that Draco was weak and injured.
Of course, he also hadn't meant to throw himself at the man. That wasn't part of the plan. But thoughts of the dark haired man had been what kept him company during the long, unbroken darkness of his captivity and when he saw him in person, tall and strong and older than he remembered, he couldn't help himself. It was too much and he hadn't felt safe in so long that he somehow managed to break free of the hands gripping at his arms and jumped at the green eyed man, holding him tightly.
It was so real and Harry was so solid, he felt like nothing bad could happen ever again, even if there were half a dozen unfriendly wands aimed at his back. He didn't even hear half the words were spoken around him, just whispering what he thought were words of gratitude against the thin material of Potter's shirt and taking comfort in the fact that he wasn't being pushed away and in the strong, musky scent swirling around him.
And then something touched his cheek, small and warm, making him turn his head.
A small boy was seated in the crook of Potter's arm, a flower caught in his hair, and Draco felt his eyes widen at the miniature version of the man staring back at him with wide, familiar green eyes. The dark curls weren't quite as flyaway, perhaps and they held a hint of red in them he knew Potter's didn't but other than that, he could have been Potter when he was young. Then the boy smiled, huge and dazzling, eyes so green they made his breath catch and he pronounced in a loud voice,
"You are Daddy's Dragon," and the entire meadow went entirely still. Draco stared at the boy for a moment and then smiled.
Tell me something I don't know.
The day had been confusing and filled with raw things that he didn't understand. Daddy was more quite than usual and he didn't know why Uncle Bird and Uncle Bear wouldn't stand up and smile at him, telling him everything was okay. He loved his dad first, of course, but he wanted his Uncles too. He didn't like that they were being taken away from him. Sadness clung to the adults like wispy clouds and he could see it, hovering over his shoulder.
He could always see things, ever since he was young, colors and shapes that surrounded people and he had thought that everyone could see them but he could remember saying something to Grandma Molly and she had just said that he shouldn't worry about them. But he couldn't just ignore them because usually the colors and shapes were so beautiful he couldn't help but want to look at them. The ones that curled and flickered around his father were strong and brave, all different shades of gold and silver, shining like the sun but there was green there, too, so much like his eyes and Sirius often thought that his daddy had the prettiest colors he had ever seen.
But then he saw the man with the long hair and frightened face and he knew instantly that this person belonged to them.
Around him swirled the most beautiful shades of every color green he had ever seen, rich and jeweled and so strong, they rivaled his father's, edged with the same gold and silver that dominated his daddy's colors. And when the man pressed his face into the familiar chest, their colors had melded together, they could have been one person.
The gray eye shone like a many faceted jewel when it turned to him and he was reminded of the pictures of the dragons that Uncle Charlie brought home sometimes, fierce and proud and strong. He might not look it from the outside right now but Sirius could always tell what was really in a person's heart.
This man was a dragon and he was theirs.
Hermione watched from the sidelines, eyes wide as she clutched her husband's arm. Theo had nearly lost it when he recognized the man now clinging to Harry like the dark haired man was a lifeline and he now stood stiffly next to her, eyes wide and shining. She had known he and Malfoy had been friends at Hogwarts and that the brunette had mourned his supposed death, to see it firsthand gave her a little jolt. She had never liked the blond in school but then again, she hadn't really liked Theo either and she loved the man deeply. It was still unnerving, however, to see a wraith-like Draco Malfoy hugging Harry close like he was the last person on earth.
And then Sirius's voice ringing across the field made her gasp. Normally she would have brushed it off as a child speaking but Sirius had an uncanny ability to read people and predict things.
"But…but why did he pick Harry?" she finally managed, looking up at her husband who looked like he was caught in between shock and joy. Theo was just drawing himself out of his trance when a dark arm wrapped around his chest and Blaise was peering over the brunette's shoulder, eyes just as bright as his friend's. An arm curled around Hermione's waist then and she turned to see Luna standing beside her, a soft smile on her face and a bundle of baby girl in her arms.
"The question you should ask is, why Harry now?" Blaise's drawl made Theo laugh a little wildly but Hermione just looked at the two men in confusion. She didn't usually like Blaise; he was arrogant and snide but she had to admit he had a good heart. Anyone who married Luna had to, along with a considerable dollop of patience. He adored her, though, showering her and their seven month old daughter with expensive gifts and more love than Hermione had ever through capable.
"What do you mean by that?" she asked, just refraining from stomping her foot because even after five years, she still hated not knowing or understanding something. Blaise's eyes glinted when he glanced at her but it was Theo who answered, leaving her blank with disbelief.
"Are you kidding? Draco has been in love with Potter since we were kids,"
...To be continued
O.o Lots of odd pairings, right? Wait until you see who Charlie is with *evil chuckle* Anyway, please tell me what you guys think!