A/N: This is NOT the universe of canon, the Deathly Hallows, or THAT epilogue. This is a slightly different universe altogether. WARNING: CONTAINS M/M SLASH—don't like, don't read. I've had most of this story on my hard drive forever, and the blame for it belongs to antarprince, who put the original idea in my head ages ago. This story has Harry/Draco, Lucius/Oliver, Snape/Flint, and a generous dollop of Hermione!Bashing (because I hate her oh so very much). No spoilers. Everything is written except the Epilogue, so expect a rather quick posting schedule.
The subtitle for this fic is 'Love Slaves of Diagon Alley'. That pretty much sums it up.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, the Royal Family of Great Britain, any part of England or Europe. I'm not making anything from any of them, either. If the Queen is reading this, I'd appreciate a favorable review—I tried to put her in a good light, 'cause I'm something of a fan.
BY MAGIC BOUND
Love Slaves of Diagon Alley
The shop sat just inside Knockturn Alley, off Diagon, on the left. *Potter & Malfoy Investments, Ltd.* proclaimed the tasteful bronze plaque to the right of the door. Shuttered windows protected the interior from scrutiny by the passing hoi poi, and the understated elegance of the façade conveyed a sense of stolid prudence, gravitas and competence.
Inside the empty shop, a blazing fire burst into life in the magnificent hearth, almost immediately changing from bright orange to brilliant green. A tall, spare man with a stark, pointed face and cold grey eyes stepped out of the flames, followed immediately by a much younger, slightly smaller man of athletic build. The younger man was wearing very little except a collar and tiny loincloth. Of course, the thin leather straps of his harness and the leash the older man held loosely in one black-gloved hand could also be considered garments, but only by the most charitable of souls.
"Well, I see that, once again, we are the first to arrive." Lucius Malfoy handed his serpent-headed cane to his slave and stripped off his gloves. Muttering a quick charm, he banished the ash and soot from himself and his companion. Nodding to the reception witch, he strode across the room towards his office, not looking to see if he was being followed.
Once in his office, Lucius propped himself on the edge of his desk, waved a hand to darken the windows, activate the hush charm and shut the door, then gestured his boy closer. Cupping the young man's face in his hands, he pulled the almost-naked figure into a deep, rich kiss, claiming the lush mouth and full lips.
Oliver Wood returned the kiss with equal passion, flushing with excitement and feeling his garment shift as his excitement built. He squirmed against Lucius, pressing his body into his master, eager as always for his touch, his caress, his punishment, his love. Oliver's nipples hardened, and his leather harness scraped them as he pressed against Lucius' garments. His arms went around the older man's neck and he moaned into the mouth that covered his, incoherently begging for more of the ecstasy they had shared only a few hours previously.
Certainly the former Keeper for Puddlemere United had never thought to be another man's bond slave, but there could be no denying the genuine enthusiasm that he displayed while kissing the head of House Malfoy. No, of that there could be no doubt, especially as his swollen erection now held his loincloth straight out, leaving nothing to anyone's imagination.
Lucius finally broke the kiss and gently pushed Oliver back just enough to keep the boy's rampant member from touching his clothes. Indulgently, Malfoy chuckled as the smell of Wood's musk wafted up to his nostrils, mews of protest filling his ears.
"Now, now, love, mustn't stain me before the meeting." He smiled gently into the beseeching young eyes. "There will be time for that, and more, later tonight. First, though, we have business at Gringott's, and then I thought I'd take you shopping."
Oliver sighed, rubbing his cheek into the hand that still cupped his face. "Oh, all right…but it's not at all nice to tease me like that. You know that I'll be hard for the rest of the day, don't you?"
"Yes, and that's exactly why I did it, my beautiful one." Malfoy's eyes tightened slightly and his voice dropped into a low purr. "I want everyone to see just how magnificent you are, just to give them all the more reason to envy me." He spun the almost-naked man around and pulled him into an embrace, reaching around his well-muscled torso to caress and hug the buffed body. Hands gliding across the smooth, prominent planes of pectoral muscles, he kissed one ear, licked it lightly and whispered into it.
"So beautiful, so wonderful, so marvelous…and all mine." Lucius dropped his head down to nuzzle the base of his slave's neck.
Wood laid his head back against his lover's shoulder, sighing his pleasure and contentment. His erection waved in front of him, but he knew that Lucius was as good as his word; it would be some time before he was allowed release. He consoled himself with the sure knowledge that, once that release was allowed, it would be a tremendous, shattering experience. His Master was nothing if not an incredible lover.
For several minutes they stayed just like that, enjoying the peaceable closeness of each other. Occasionally Wood would grind his buttocks back on Lucius' obvious erection, which invariably earned him a slap on those very same luscious buttocks and a laughing "bad boy"…which, of course, did absolutely nothing to compel Wood to cease his actions.
The jingling of the bell over the shop's door—faint, but still recognizable through the hush charm—announced someone's arrival. Various putterings and mutterings in the lobby were heard distantly by both men, then Malfoy called out.
"Perkins, is that you?"
A muted crash sounded from the outer office, followed by "Oh, yes…Mr. Malfoy, is that you, sir?" Shuffling footsteps could be heard nearing the darkened windows.
"Yes, Perkins, who else would be using my office at this time of the morning? Don't disturb me, I'm occupied. Lord Potter should be here shortly, make up the fire for him, there's a good man."
"So…you're occupied? Is that what they call this?" Wood whispered, rubbing his entire body back against Malfoy. His Scottish burr caressed Lucius' ears.
Another slap, and "cheeky brat" was Malfoy's only response before he returned to nibbling across Wood's shoulder. Oliver's answer was another grind of his hips, which of course earned him another gentle slap and a bite to his ear.
Shortly, a moderately loud commotion was heard coming from the direction of the fireplace.
"Oh your Lordship, sir, it's you and your, er, escort." Perkin's voice could be heard clearly through the walls.
Malfoy and Wood both sighed then parted, opening up what was considered the proper respectable public distance between them. At the same time, Wood's demeanor shifted dramatically from ardent lover to the downcast look of a well-trained and disciplined slave. He held his leash out for Lucius to take, quickly making a brief adjustment to his loincloth so that it was perfectly centered and arrayed.
Lucius Malfoy also adjusted himself, steeling his face into the mask he wore in public, especially when in the company of his business partner. A brief caress of Oliver's fingers was all he allowed himself, and inwardly he raged at the circumstances which kept him from openly displaying his feelings for his beloved.
Who would have guessed that a scant five years after Voldemort's defeat at the wands of Harry Potter and his allies (especially that most surprisingly resourceful and courageous Longbottom), bond slavery would once again be not only legal but fashionable among the elites of wizarding Britain? Certainly not one Lucius Malfoy, who had been as surprised as any when he was released from Azkaban at the request of that very same Harry Potter. It had taken several weeks, during which he not only recovered from his stint in durance vile but also adjusted to the new world in which he found himself, before he came to understand just what had happened in his absence. Even once he knew as many of the facts as he could discover, it was another several months before he truly began to comprehend the significance of what had happened during the final confrontation between Lord Voldemort and the Boy-Who-Lived.
From what he had been able to ascertain, it had been Hermione Granger's idea initially. Certainly the brightest witch of her age, and well aware of the information revolution sweeping the muggle world, she had single-handedly initiated and supervised a massive sweep of every wizarding library she could find for hexes, spells, charms, any information that would help Potter and the Order against the Dark Lord. What started as a desperate search for information about the identity and location of Voldemort's horcruxes had quickly become much more. Her initial cadre of student/researchers had made short work of Hogwarts' library before branching out, first across the three kingdoms, then to Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy. They had even started to make inroads into the libraries and magical schools of America and India at the time of the final battles of the war. One of her discoveries, rumored to have come from an ancient cache of scrolls found in Ireland, had contained a curse which drained all magical ability from the victim, transferring most of that ability (and power) to the caster. Along with a few other choice foreign spells which Voldemort had no experience with, Potter had literally sucked the Dark Lord magically dry before finally, permanently destroying him.
Of course, what no one realized was just how much of the curse victim would be transferred to the curse user. The Harry Potter that had come back from that final battle had been a different, darker man than the boy who had gone in. No longer anxious, humble and self-effacing to a fault, the new Potter was cool, calm, self-assured and quite willing—to the point of utter ruthlessness—to use his status as the Man Who Killed Voldemort to advance himself and his favored causes. Oh, he was still Harry Potter, but he was…changed, and had apparently come to terms with his inner Slytherin. In the immediate aftermath of the war, Potter and his friends in the Order had run roughshod over the bureaucracy of the Ministry, conducting (more or less) a purge of those whose actions had been…less than satisfactory, in their opinion. When the dust finally settled, Potter was a member of the Wizengamot, Granger was Head of the new Department of Magical Informatics, and Kingsley Shacklebolt was the Minister for Magic.
Malfoy still remembered the day Potter (newly created The Right Honorable the Earl of Little Whinging Sir Harry Potter, Knight Commander of the Most Ancient and Honorable Order of the Bowl and Sickle, Order of Merlin First Class) had come to him in Azkaban.
"Malfoy, you've got a visitor." The guards, damn them all to muggle hell, had given him no warning at all. He remembered hastily trying to arrange himself before turning to face….
"Harry Potter. Well, I must say, you are the last person I expected to see here."
"Hello, Malfoy. Prison gray suits you, I see."
Lucius had seen no reason to be polite, snapping back "not as well as funeral black would suit you, Potter," almost without thought.
Potter had just smiled. "Odd, I seem to remember that black was your color, Malfoy."
Lucius hadn't acknowledged the hit, only looking back at the younger man calmly. Finally, Potter had broken the stare, and moved straight to the reason for his visit.
"We could stand around here all day trading insults, or we could talk about the terms of your release, Malfoy. Which would you prefer?"
Lucius had initially refused to believe what Potter was saying, then been wary, then suspicious about the motives of whomever had sent Potter to speak with him. Ultimately, he was forced to accept what Potter was saying. Undoubtedly, that Potter himself had come with the offer played a large part in convincing Lucius that it was indeed genuine and legitimate.
Potter had explained to him that a number of Death Eaters were still at large. Some few had survived the final battle, scattering to the four winds. It was also suspected that an unknown number of Voldemort's sympathizers had not been present at the final conflict, either being held back as a reserve or choosing the better part of valor at the last moment. Unfortunately, a large number of wizards who were not Death Eaters had also managed to disappear in the days prior to the war's climax, and it was hoped that they were not dead but merely deep in hiding, biding their time until they felt it was safe to return.
The Ministry's problems were immediately obvious. All a low-level Death Eater had to do was to reappear, claim to have been "in hiding" all along for "safety", and be instantly reintegrated into wizarding society. For those who never reappeared, had they been victims of the Death Eaters, or had they just taken this opportunity to disappear forever? Apparently several who had yet to reappear had taken out rather large loans from Gringotts shortly before they had vanished, and the goblins were…concerned, to say the least. Then there were matters of wills, estates and probates, all of which (so it seemed) had at least six legitimate claimants, each clamoring for some definitive answer from the Ministry.
And then, just to make things even more exciting, it was becoming almost commonplace for someone to be accused of having been a sympathizer, or a collaborator, or a supporter, or whatever term was on the front page of The Daily Prophet this week. Demands for trials were being made, and quite stridently. Of course, with the rampant rumors of the development of multiple ways of removing the Dark Mark without a trace, quite a nice case of hysteria was building in the general wizarding public.
In short, the Ministry wanted a Death Eater of their very own to help sort out the mess. A senior, but tamed and tightly leashed Death Eater to confirm or deny, or at the very least help make sense of some of the more ridiculous claims that were starting to be made.
"And you want me to be the Ministry's own personal Death Eater in residence? I must say, Potter, the offer is more appealing than remaining here in Azkaban, but only just." Lucius had realized that the Ministry's position must be extreme indeed for them to even make such an offer to him, and had determined to wring every last bit of advantage that he could from their difficulties. What he had not counted on, however, was the explicit cooperation of one Harry Potter, the Man Who Killed Voldemort.
"Oh, I think that the Ministry might be convinced to provide you with certain incentives, Malfoy." Potter hadn't so much as batted an eye at Lucius' attempts at negotiation. "I strongly suspect that a case could be made for the return of your confiscated assets, including Malfoy Manor and all of your Gringotts accounts as a condition of your…rehabilitation. Perhaps a partial return initially, with the remainder to follow after a year's appropriate behavior? Of course, I will be watching you myself, Malfoy…."
To his credit, Lucius hadn't fallen out of his chair when Potter went on to suggest that, as a condition of his parole, he provide assistance to Potter himself in managing the considerable wealth of the Black and Potter fortunes, to which Potter was the sole heir. It would present a strong reassuring impression to the general public that Harry Potter himself trusted Lucius Malfoy to manage his own money. And so, an agreement was reached, and Potter and Malfoy, Ltd. was born.
Potter had been as good as his word in that dreary cell that day. He had convinced the Ministry to release the Malfoy fortune with only minimal 'adjustments' to cover damages to those injured in the war. Potter had also wasted no time in moving a significant portion of the Black monies into the Muggle markets with spectacular success. (Lucius had been mildly surprised to learn that the bulk of the Potter Trust was already diversified into Muggle investments under Muggle management, which was the primary reason why the Trust had done so well following James and Lily's death.) Of course, the very name of Potter was a kind of magic to conjure with, and before many months had passed Potter & Malfoy Investments, Ltd. had become the premier wizarding investment house on the island. Naturally, with their great success had come animosity from their competitors as well as libelous accusations of inappropriate usage of magic to influence the markets. However, their ledgers and dealings were all scrupulously correct, and nothing ever came of those vile rumors. Harry was fond of saying that he 'just had a bad feeling, like when old Voldy was about to get snarky' about British cattle futures, causing them to get out of the market mere days before the Mad Cow fiasco hit the news. Oh, how some had howled about that! However, the day the wizarding world tried to prosecute Harry Potter for acting on his 'bad feelings' looked to be a long way off, indeed.
Curiously, none of those doing said howling had been clients of Potter & Malfoy who had acted on their urgent advice to withdraw from the cattle markets.
Malfoy, too, had kept to his part of his agreements with Potter and the Ministry. In return for pardons for himself and his wife (and the return of the bulk of his fortune), he had provided the Ministry with the names of those war dead which he definitely knew had been killed by Death Eaters. He had also compiled a list of those few of Voldemort's followers known to him to have survived the war. Perhaps most helpful was his knowledge of how the Death Eaters organization had operated. This let him, in most cases, quickly sort probable claims of Death Eater association from the frivolous, malicious, petty and vindictive; this alone had saved the Ministry thousands of galleons and countless hours of effort.
It was in the fourth year following the defeat of the Dark Lord that bond slavery returned to wizarding Britain. Azkaban was overflowing with convicted criminals and Death Eaters, and despite the Ministry's best attempts to locate a site for a second prison no progress had been made. No town or city would allow another wizard prison near it, considering the potential for disaster should anyone escape. Malfoy had never been able to discover just who put forth the idea initially, but within weeks it swept the country and firmly established itself in the minds of the average John and Jane Wizard. Why not convert some of Azkaban's many residents into bond slaves? Certainly, with the proper spells and charms, all but the most powerful and dangerous magical criminals could be rendered harmless. And, what more fitting punishment, especially for those Death Eaters who had killed innocents during the recent unpleasantness? By forcing them to be publicly displayed in their humiliation, it was argued that these convicted and enslaved felons would serve as a most potent deterrent to those who might entertain thoughts of following the next Dark Wizard to arise.
Some had argued against the idea, citing the Rights of Englishmen and the ideals of the Enlightenment. However, these voices were quickly drowned out by a public clamoring for further punishments for those who had committed the most horrible acts during the recent war. To borrow a phrase from American history, those in favor of the idea had 'waved the bloody shirt' of Voldemort's reign of terror, and the Wizengamot felt they had little choice but to endorse the concept.
During this debate, both Potter and Malfoy had taken pains to remain absolutely silent on the issue. Malfoy, as a former (now rehabilitated and reformed) Death Eater knew that any position he took would be suspect; Potter, because of his 'well-known reluctance' to influence the political process. As with any controversial position, neutrality prevented them from alienating the vast majority of their clients—clients who, given the hefty fees being discussed, would be among the small percentage of wizards able to afford the new 'personal abettors—correctional chattels' or PACCs, as they were being called. The closest either of them had come to any comment was a brief statement by Potter to the effect that he hoped that stringent standards of protection for the general public would be in place before any of the Azkaban prisoners would be released.
Lucius Malfoy, being neither fool nor Gryffindor, had gone to Greece for a month while the issue was being debated and (ultimately) passed. It had given him a chance to see Narcissa once again—she had moved away from England as soon as propriety allowed—as well as meet her new 'houseboy'…and chauffer…and gardening staff.
Amicable separation or not, it had been a most…interesting…visit, and Lucius actually found himself glad to return to London and the daily pressures there.
And so, bond slavery was introduced to wizarding Great Britain, yet another repercussion of Voldemort's bid for power and immortality. Elaborate, multitudinous and variegated were the safeguards put in place by the Ministry and Wizengamot to protect the prospective owners (and to a much lesser degree, the slaves). Tracking and location charms using both magic and GPS; anti-magic, anti-aggression and obedience charms that fell just short of the Imperious curse were all required. Also established were standards for the care of the bond slaves, including limits on the activities they would be required to perform (few), mandated health inspections (regular), and minimum standards of dress and grooming (very minimum). Early on it came to be assumed (but not spoken of in polite company) that many of these bond slaves would be providing sexual services to their owners. There was some concern about corporal discipline, but as one 'prominent citizen' was anonymously quoted in The Daily Prophet, "as long as the bloody gits don't bleed on the streets, I don't much give a fig". After all, it was rationalized, their main function would be to serve as a deterrent to any who would aspire to follow in their footsteps, and no one wanted to be the person who lobbied for decent treatment for Death Eaters.
Hermione Granger, naturally, was a special case; and as usual, was largely ignored by all and sundry.
As an initial trial, twenty convicted Death Eaters serving various sentences in Azkaban were selected, fitted with non-removable collars and brought to London to the Ministry of Magic main building. For practical purposes, the collars had been decided upon as the best way of ensuring that all of the appropriate spells and charms would be in place for each slave. Each collar was manufactured to exacting specifications and Auror-checked and certified to contain all of the necessary magic. Rather than having to perform several complicated spells on each slave, it was only necessary to lock a collar in place. The collar then served not only as a 'control' device but also to monitor the location of each slave. Additionally, medical information including the date of the slave's last examination and any treatments rendered was also permanently stored in the collar. Each collar was thus fairly expensive to produce, but as this price would be added to the initial sale price of each slave it was not felt to be a significant issue.
The day of the first bond slave auction arrived with, predictably, much media fanfare. The auction itself was held in the Ministry's largest auditorium, but many more people than the room's 400 seats would accommodate actually arrived, clamoring for admission. Ultimately, seating was restricted to the members of the Wizengamot, chief Ministry officials, a few hurriedly selected members of the press…and 200-odd wizards and witches willing to immediately place a 5000 galleon bond as earnest money and proof of sincerity. The remainder of the crowd were then allowed seating in several smaller rooms on a first come, first served basis (where they could watch the auction on enchanted screens, similar to muggle television) or simply turned away.
Both Potter and Malfoy were in attendance at that first auction. Harry Potter announced to the press that, as a member of the Wizengamot, he felt it was his duty to observe and to monitor the proceedings. Malfoy, attending in his capacity as Death Eater expert in residence for the Ministry, succeeded in avoiding having to answer any press questions at all.
For the first auction, none of the more notorious Death Eaters had been chosen. Rather, less nefarious and well-known criminals, several of whom had maintained their innocence even after their convictions, were offered. The first two slaves sold—a tubby little witch from Dover and a middle-aged, balding man from the midlands—were quite unremarkable. Each only barely managed to fetch the minimum 2500 galleon bid, much to the disappointment of the auctioneer and the crowd. The third Death Eater offered, however, changed all that. A sultry, raven-haired witch from London stood proudly on the stage as if defying anyone to bid on her. Her price reached a quite respectable 6400 galleons during a spat of furious bidding, much to everyone's delight.
The next slave offered proved to be the most interesting of the lot, at least to the general public. Marcus Flint, formerly of Hogwarts, most recently of Azkaban following his conviction for the multiple uses of Unforgivables. The boy who was once described as looking as if he were part troll had obviously changed dramatically in the years since Hogwarts. His frame, large to begin with, had filled out with an impressive musculature. Lucius, observing from the Ministry seats, also noticed significant changes in the young man's face. No longer brutish, his features appeared strong and rugged. Most noticeable were his teeth, which no longer protruded from his mouth. In fact, Lucius would have been willing to bet a handful of galleons that Flint now had a cosmetically perfect smile, to match the rest of his face. Malfoy also noted that there did not seem to be any evidence of active charms or glamours. Muggle work, then? He mused. Oh well, no matter…Malfoy was scarcely interested in the former Slytherin. He had known of him distantly, both from Draco's years at Hogwarts' and during his stint as a Death Eater. Their closest interaction had probably been when Lucius arranged for Draco's position on the Slytherin Quidditch team. Flint had initially refused outright, but the promise of new racing brooms for the entire team had finally persuaded him as to the true depth of Draco's skill. Lucius snorted in remembered amusement at just how quickly the youngster had come to a new appreciation of Draco's Seeker talents when Lucius had inquired as to whether he preferred Nimbus or Comet brooms. Memory satisfied, he shifted into a less uncomfortable position (who had designed these hellish auditorium chairs?) and continued to observe the auction.
Obviously, persons other than Lucius had noticed Flint's appearance, as the bidding quickly moved past the level of the last offering. Malfoy was careful to note who was bidding and what amounts on young Flint, who looked as if he were moments away from snarling at the audience. Several of the initial bidders were known shirt lifters; three were middle-aged women (one of whom was married to a much older man), and…Severus Snape.
Until he bid, Malfoy hadn't noticed Snape in the audience. He certainly hadn't expected a Professor at Hogwarts to be bidding in this auction, and briefly wondered just how the man thought he could afford a bond slave on an academic's salary. Of course, he hadn't followed Snape's career much since his release from Azkaban. He had felt it better not to associate with any other former followers of Voldemort, no matter which side they ultimately claimed to have been on.
As the bidding continued to climb, Malfoy noted that Snape seemed to become more and more tense. Of course, he hid it well—only Lucius' long history with the man let him recognize it. One by one, the other bidders dropped out until only Snape and one of the women (the married one, Malfoy noted) remained. As the amount climbed towards 10,000 galleons, the audience became more excited. Snape and the women-Malfoy tried to remember her name but could not-matched each other bid for bid. At 10,000 galleons, the women appeared to become flustered, especially as Snape again topped her bid by 100 galleons. To all appearances, Snape was cool, calm and collected, but Malfoy knew by the slight twitch of his eye just how agitated the Potion Master was truly becoming.
It appeared that Snape had taken the bidding at 10,100 galleons. The audience was holding its collective breath as the auctioneer announced the bid going once, going twice….
And then, a voice called out from the Wizengamot section, "Eleven thousand galleons!"
Lucius Malfoy's head was not the only one that whipped around to see who had entered the bidding fray. There in the middle of the Wizengamot, suddenly the focus of the entire auditorium sat…Harry Potter.
Potter was just sitting there, a lazy smile on his face, looking not at Marcus Flint on the stage but at Snape. From his seat Malfoy couldn't see Snape's face, but it was obvious that Snape and Potter were locked eye to eye. Then, as his smile became a smirk, Potter gave a small nod to his former Professor as if to say 'your turn'.
Snape turned back in his seat, the rapidly rising red on his face the only sign of his emotional state.
"Eleven thousand, one hundred galleons" he said in the same voice that had once chastised a young Harry Potter. Now Malfoy could see that the twitching around his eye had become more pronounced. It also appeared that Snape was clenching his jaw as he struggled to maintain his control.
"Twelve thousand," came Potter's immediate reply. The audience gasped, then all eyes turned to Snape.
"Twelve thousand, one hundred galleons," Snape grated.
The auctioneer was beside himself. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a bid of twelve thousand, one hundred galleons. Do I hear another?" He looked expectantly towards Potter's seat. He was not to be disappointed.
"Fifteen thousand galleons," Harry Potter said easily, as the smirk spread across his face.
When Potter upped the bid so much, Snape's control finally snapped. He spun towards his former student, rage written across his face. "You…you…" he sputtered, and then managed to reign himself in sufficiently to give a nod in Potter's direction. "I believe you may have won the auction, Potter," he said. Then, even as the auctioneer called for final bids, Snape rose in a swirl of black robes and made his way towards the exit. He was not quite out the door when the auctioneer announced that Marcus Flint had been "Sold!" to Lord Sir Harry Potter for the sum of fifteen thousand galleons.
Given the pandemonium that broke out with that announcement, it was really quite remarkable that the auction was only delayed for twenty minutes before resuming.
Malfoy leaned back in his seat, thinking furiously. Potter had not mentioned anything to him about desiring a bondservant, nor had he given any hint at all over the past few weeks that he intended to bid in the auction today. Given that their business and personal arrangements gave them reason to not only see each other almost daily but also discuss significant financial moves with the other; this was completely out of character. Then, Lucius had a flash of understanding. Snape! Potter's animosity towards his former Professor was no secret. Quite the opposite, in fact! Nodding to himself, Malfoy was convinced he knew the reason for Potter's actions. Harry Potter, now immensely wealthy, had seen an opportunity to one-up Snape publicly. Even more, he had done it impulsively, almost casually, knowing that it would drive home the point that fifteen thousand galleons was a mere pittance to the Man Who Killed Voldemort. Oh, such sweet revenge for all those detentions, all those old humiliations in Potions class, all those points taken from Gryffindor.
Malfoy snorted in amusement. 10 points to Potter, he thought. Not for the first time, Lucius Malfoy wondered just why in the world the Sorting Hat had not sorted Potter into Slytherin, where he truly belonged.
Lucius Malfoy jerked back from his musings about the past as an angry knocking sounded on his office door.
"Oi! Malfoy! Stop snogging that poor boy and get out here! We're going to be late!"
"Sod off, Potter! I've been here since half-past, waiting on you!" Lucius grinned at Wood, who blushed prettily. Taking a final moment to check that his attire was perfect, he retrieve his cane and stepped to the door. As he passed his slave, he moved his hand just a bit, causing their fingers to brush ever so briefly. Then, his usual haughty countenance in place, he dissolved the privacy charms he had placed on the room, opened the door, and led his slave out of his office.
There in the central waiting room stood his business partner, their chief clerk Perkins, and Potter's bond slave Marcus Flint. Like Wood, Flint was scarcely clad in anything at all. However, there was a subtle yet palpable difference in the way the two men carried themselves. While each maintained the common, respectful eyes-downcast look that was usually insisted upon, Wood carried himself easily and confidently. Wood's leash hung loose between his collar and Malfoy's hand, and he moved with his master with such perfect timing and grace that it never had a chance to tighten. In contrast, Flint seemed almost surly, and moved only with a tug on the constantly taught leash.
Malfoy pressed his lips together into a thin line of disapproval. He could clearly see faint traces of cane and whip scars all across Flint's backside. None looked too recent, but the contrast to Wood's perfect, unmarked skin was quite noticeable. Of course, the scars could have been easily erased with a few applications of Scaradicate Salve and a minor charm or two. That Potter had chosen not to do so with his bond slave sent a clear message to any who cared to look, and Malfoy was not sure that he liked that message.
When Wood gave a slight gasp at Flint's back, Malfoy was certain that he did not care for that message.
Unfortunately, Harry Potter had rather good ears, and turned at Wood's faux pas.
"Malfoy," he sneered, "you might want to have a word or two with your boy about proper decorum."
Lucius met Potter's glare with a single raised eyebrow. "Oh?" He paused, saying nothing else, waiting for Potter to go on.
Grumbling, Harry broke their eye contact and waved his hand in a dismissive gesture as he turned away. "Oh, never mind…not that it would do any good at all, what with the way you spoil him…."
"Harry, do I tell you how to deal with your bond slave?" Lucius' voice was calm, measured, gently inquiring.
Still looking away, Potter shook his head, "No, of course you don't; never mind, forget that I said anything." He straightened abruptly, looking around. "Perkins! Where the devil are…."
"…right here, sir," Perkins seemed to appear from thin air, but there was none of the popping of displaced air that always accompanied apparition.
"Oh, so there you are," Potter grumbled. "Do you have all the papers we'll need for the meeting today?"
"Oh, yes sir," the clerk gushed. He held up a battered leather portfolio. "Everything's right here, sirs, in triplicate."
"Well done, Perkins," Malfoy jumped in before Potter could argue any more. "Well, Potter, Perkins, shall we be off?" Smiling, sounding much more cheery that he actually felt, Malfoy caught Wood's eye and then swept towards the door. He refused to look back, but a brief shuffle of footsteps let him know that Potter was literally dragging Flint behind him.
Despite his robes and his cloak, Malfoy felt a bit of a chill as he stepped outside. Stepping out of the doorway, he pulled his wand and performed a warming charm on Wood before he even felt the cold. Glancing down, he strengthened the spell on Wood's feet that provided as much protection as a pair of steel-toed boots while allowing his slave to appear to be barefoot. He felt more than heard Wood's murmured appreciations as he turned to Flint.
"Hold up a moment, Potter, let me charm Flint against this chill," Malfoy said crisply. He wasted no time in placing the warming charm, and was engaged in the foot protections before Potter could answer.
Harry had stopped in the street when he heard Lucius, and was frowned his distaste as Lucius finished. "I swear, Malfoy, you pamper them too much. They're slaves, man, a little discomfort for them is part of the reason we have them in the first place."
Lucius smoothly put away his wand and, leash dangling loosely from his hand, began strolling towards Gringotts. "I know that there are those who agree with you, Potter, but I don't believe it serves any purpose to take slaves out in this weather without proper protection from the elements."
"'Suppose you're right," Harry continued to grouse, tugging Flint after him. However, his own wand never came out, and he didn't do more than just mutter a bit.
A handful of steps carried the small group to the junction of Knockturn and Diagon Alleys. Almost directly across from them was the impressive front façade of Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Stepping into the press of wizards and witches moving up and down Diagon Alley, they crossed to the bank, ascended the stairs and made their way down the long central corridor without incident. Remarkably, no one seemed to recognize them as they pressed through the crowd. Malfoy wondered at this. Had Potter done a bit of wandless charming because he was in no mood to be disturbed?
Before they had quite reached the back of the bank, the five-some was met by an elegant goblin in the black and white attire that was the bank's de facto uniform.
"Lord Potter! Mr. Malfoy! How good of you to come today!" he proclaimed. If he even noticed Perkins or the two nearly naked men with them, he gave no sign. "If you would follow me, gentlemen? Herr Zintiffens asked me to show you to a conference room and see to your needs until he arrives." With a slight bow and wave of his hand, he spun and headed off into the bowls of the bank through a door marked "Authorized Personnel Only…Violators Will Be Eviscerated".
Shortly Lucius and Harry found themselves seated around a massive conference table in a luxuriously appointed room. The walls of the room were paneled in rich, warm-toned wood and the surface of the table—made of some wood so dark it was almost black—was polished to a mirror shine. Parchment, ink and quills were precisely stacked in the center of the table as well as on sideboards around the room. Crystal vases of water and glasses were also conveniently placed, and one sideboard at the end of the room was generously supplied with biscuits and scones, the makings for tea, a shiny coffee urn, and several bottles of top-shelf brands of firewhiskey, bourbon, vodka and other beverages.
Lucius had asked for, and quickly received, a kneeling pillow for Wood as he took up his accustomed place at Lucius' feet. The goblin attendant had also brought a second pillow for Flint, but Harry had declined it.
"No, he hasn't been good enough today to merit a cushion…the carpet will be good enough, thank you." He had directed at hard look at Lucius as the goblin gave a small bow and left, almost defying Malfoy to make an issue of his decision. Lucius, however, refused to rise to the bait. Instead, he concentrated on getting his own slave settled comfortably, with Wood leaning against his leg, Wood's head within easy reach for Lucius to reach down and play with his hair.
"Honestly, Lucius," Harry continued, "I don't know why you wanted to bring him along today at all. We both know that he doesn't do well in meetings like this."
Lucius turned and smoothly answered. "I brought him because it pleased me to do so, my lord," and he put just the slightest emphasis on Harry's title, "just as you did." He smiled gently at his partner, who seemed determined to fume about something today.
"Oh, I'm certain you did. I suppose the fact that Wood won't tolerate any meeting longer than one hour and you want to go shopping afterwards had nothing to do with it?" Harry asked sarcastically.
Lucius was about to reply when Perkins jumped in. "Oh, sirs, I seriously doubt that this meeting will take the full hour. After all, this is just a brief review prior to signing the documents of intent, which have been thoroughly worked out over the last…"
"Yes, yes, Perkins, we know…we've been doing our homework, haven't we, my lord?" Lucius interrupted with a wave of his hand. "And really, Harry, you should come with us shopping today. You know, get out, see and be seen by the people, allow your devoted public a chance to see the Hero of the Wizarding World…." Malfoy grinned, his tone unctuous.
"Bloody mindless rabble," Harry grumbled.
"Why, Harry Potter, you sound like someone I used to be," Lucius laughed and gave Wood's hair a playful muss. "That's hardly the attitude I'd expect from someone with his face on not one but three different collectable chocolate frog cards!"
"Bloody hell! Sodding cards." Potter was still grumbling, but he rolled his eyes when Lucius mentioned them. "And I suppose that you'll help me if your little shopping excursion turns into another 'Harry Potter fan fest'," he asked.
"Actually, no…not at all," Lucius smirked. "We reformed Death Eaters must maintain the proper distance from adoring crowds…purely in the interest of public safety, don't you know?"
"Wanker." Potter snorted.
"Saint Potter." Lucius retorted.
"Hmmph." Potter groused, but Lucius could tell that his heart wasn't really in it. He decided to dangle a bit of bait, just to see if Harry would bite.
"Actually, I was planning on stopping by the Weasley's shop first thing," he said. "I was going to pick up some confections to send to the EU council meeting next month."
"Lucius Malfoy, you will do no such thing!" Potter slapped the table. "I won't have you turning Europe's wizarding governors into canaries or gerbils!" Then, he grinned, "Unless, of course, you put someone else's name on it."
"I was thinking of assisting the Chinese consulate in The Hague, actually…I'm told that they've neglected to send any kind of missive to the EU council, which is a terrible oversight on their part. Rather than embarrass them and cause them to loose face, I was just going to send a little something in their name." Lucius just sat there, working hard at maintaining a kindly, helpful expression. It was, after all, such a rare expression for him to have….
Potter laughed loudly at that, his first real laugh of the day. Lucius also felt Wood burying his face in his leg, to muffle the laugh. Even Flint, seated on the floor beside Potter, snickered softly at Lucius' plan. Unfortunately, Harry heard him, and immediately reached down to cuff him. "Quiet, you!" he hissed.
"Now, Harry," Lucius tried to intervene, "just what has gotten into the both of you? I know it's none of my business, but…."
"You're right, it's not," Harry snapped. Then, he sighed. "I'm sorry, Lucius. Snape owled me yesterday, with another offer for Flint. Somehow, he's managed to scrape up 25,000 galleons, Merlin only knows how on a professor's salary, and he keeps begging me to sell."
"And doing anything Snape wants is completely impossible for you?" Lucius asked neutrally.
"Merlin's bones, Lucius, the man was absolutely horrible to me for years! Yes, now that I can, I'm going to do anything in my power to pay him back!" Harry was truly angry now as he remembered his treatment at the hands of his Potions professor.
"How Slytherin of you, Harry," Lucius said mildly. "Hold a grudge until it dies of old age, then have it stuffed, mounted, and display it on the mantelpiece. I thought you Gryffindors were above that sort of thing."
Harry just snorted. "I haven't been a good little Gryffindor for years now, thank you. Considering just how much grief trying to be a good little Gryffindor caused me…."
He was interrupted by the door opening. The same goblin that had escorted them into the room led the way, obviously performing the same service for the corpulent man who followed him. Two other men, obviously assistants to the first, followed along with two more goblins.
The first goblin was making introductions as Harry and Lucius rose.
"Herr Zintiffens, this is…." He was interrupted as Harry extended his hand.
"Potter, Harry Potter, Herr Zintiffens." Harry was all business as they shook.
"Ah, Graf von Potter, such an honor it is to meet you at last." The man's heavily accented English was only mildly difficult to follow. "Even in Germany have we heard of your most daring exploits, and at such a young age, ya? To have killed a Dark Wizard such as Voldemort when only just a young man, it is most impressive. And then, to have gone on to such success as a financier…it is a wonder!" He nodded in agreement with himself, his chins shaking up and down with the motion.
Harry maintained his polite smile even as Zintiffens gushed his praises. Lucius couldn't help but think that Potter had had plenty of practice at doing just that over the last few years. If he was angered or offended, he gave no sign of it as he replied. "The honor is all mine, Herr Zintiffens, and I thank you. You know Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Perkins, of course?"
Lucius reached across the table and briefly shook the offered hand. "Herr Zintiffens, good to see you again." He and the German nodded briefly, having met several times over the last few months in preparation for this meeting.
"Herr Malfoy, you are looking well. Herr Perkins," he nodded, but made no attempt to stretch across the table, as the other man was obviously out handshake reach. "These are my assistants, Grieg and Spatzer," he nodded to each man as he introduced them, and hands were shaken all around. Pulling out a chair, Zintiffens dropped heavily into it, his assistants flanking him on either side. "Shall we to work, then?"
Perkins immediately produced a sheaf of documents and proceeded to lead the discussion. Malfoy, well aware of what the documents were about, dropped his hand into Wood's hair to gently caress it while striving to listen attentively to the incredibly boring proceedings. His fingers lightly danced through the thick mop, and he felt Oliver press closer to him in response.
Lucius' face was a model of attentiveness, a useful skill that he had mastered while in the service of Voldemort. It allowed him to present the proper appearance while his mind roamed to whatever topic interested him. He only paid just enough attention to the proceedings to be able to respond to any questions he might be asked. His fingers continued to muss Wood's hair while inwardly he smiled. Potter and Perkins had frequently commented on how poorly Wood tolerated meetings such as this. Inevitably, at somewhere between thirty and forty minutes into a meeting, Wood would become restless, shifting and moving frequently enough to be a minor distraction. After another fifteen minutes or so, he would usually begin making small sounds of discomfort and tugging on random legs for attention. Once, during a particularly horrible session with a group of geriatric investors from Cornwall that had lasted nearly three hours, he had crawled up into Lucius' lap, wrapped his arms around his master's neck, buried his face in Lucius' neck and whined piteously. Lucius had excused both of them and immediately taken Wood back to his office to be 'punished' for his unseemly behavior. Of course, Wood's 'punishment' had been a few token swats to his behind (just enough to leave a faint reddish glow) before snogging the boy senseless, followed by Lucius taking Oliver in hand, bringing him to an explosive orgasm in short order.
What his partner and staff suspected, and was actually true, was that Lucius and Wood had established a system of signals so that both of them could be freed from the extended meetings they both despised. Malfoy had always believed that any meeting that lasted more than an hour was due to lack of organization and a waste of his time. Having a slave with such a 'poor tolerance to long meetings' allowed him a ready excuse to leave such meetings. As for Wood, he was more than happy to listen to any number of comments about his 'bad behavior' because Lucius always made certain that his promised 'most severe chastisement' was something to be gleefully anticipated. The two of them had had several good laughs (in private, of course) over the horrible reputation Wood had developed within Britain's wizarding financial community. And of course, it was now common knowledge that anyone who wanted Malfoy to attend a meeting in person had to plan the itinerary with Lucius' 'bad slave' in mind.
As a consequence, Malfoy's face-to-face time was never scheduled for more than an hour for any reason…exactly as he preferred. And, since Potter was his partner, it soon became the standard practice for them both, much to Potter's delight. As for the rest of the financial community, well, they grumbled a bit but had no choice but to go along with the principals of Potter & Malfoy.
Fortunately, their current meeting was the culmination of months of discussion, arrangement, negotiation and bargaining, done only for a final review and then signing of agreements between Potter & Malfoy Investments, Ltd. and Herr Zintiffens' Berlin-based financial group. Malfoy had assured Wood that it would only last half an hour, at most, and then promised the handsome young man (who, at that particular moment, had been cuddled against him in their bed) a shopping trip in Diagon Alley.
Malfoy took the documents Perkins handed him and silently perused them. Potter, who had been less directly involved in the process, seemed to be more closely reading certain sections. Lucius did note that Potter was not so engrossed in his reading that he didn't know when Flint shifted minutely beside him, reaching down to deliver a swat to the side of his slave's head without even looking down at him.
If the Germans noticed this, they gave no sign. They had already made their opinions known as to their discomfort with the entire concept of bond slavery, but as this was an ongoing area of contention between Britain and the wizarding communities of other nations, they politely refrained from bringing it up at this time. After all, what Harry had just done was well within both the letter and the spirit of the law, as well as being well within his rights as slave owner and master.
That Lucius found it not only crass but also sad in its own way made no difference. His only response was to subtly pull Wood closer to him, and he felt Wood come willingly.
Potter was asking a question.
"I see that the question of galleon/pound/euro conversion is addressed in section 2, paragraph 5?"
Malfoy glanced at Perkins, who was already answering.
"Oh, yes sir. We felt it easier to convert galleons into pounds prior to converting them to euros for funds being transferred say, from Gringotts of London to the Berliner Bank. Of course, the reverse would also apply for funds transferred the other way."
"This method also avoids any suggestion that we might be inappropriately adjusting exchange rates, Herr Potter," Zintiffens spoke up. "By using the standard rates posted at the time of the transfer, we avoid any suggestion of impropriety."
Harry nodded his agreement, then turned slightly to Perkins.
"And the goblins are okay with this? They're not insisting on direct galleon—euro conversion?"
Perkins was smiling as he replied. "Actually, my lord, they were the ones who were most adamantly in favor of this method. Apparently it simplifies their bookkeeping, and relieves them of the responsibility of setting yet another exchange rate. Additionally, the contracts specify that the all wizarding to muggle conversions will be done only in London, which will hopefully minimize any cross-Channel currency speculation."
Potter grinned. "And, no doubt, the goblins of London will no doubt heroically shoulder the burden this will place upon them…for their usual cut, of course."
A series of chuckles ran around the table at Potter's comment. There were words for people who expected something from a goblin for free: 'idiot' and 'fool' being the most common.
"And, it is to be hoped, this will reassure your English investors, to have their galleons tied not to our euro but directly to the British pound," one of Zintiffens' assistants, Grieg, spoke. "We understand that there continues to be some…uncertainty about the euro." He shrugged in a 'what can one do?' manner.
Potter seemed satisfied with that, and went back to his reading. Malfoy couldn't keep a small smile off his face. Merlin bless the hoary old pound sterling! Fortunately, the euro had settled down, but no one could deny that it had had a bit of a rocky start. Not that he hadn't made a tidy profit out of the euro's initial fluctuations, mind you….
Finally, Potter finished his reading and looked up.
"Well, everything looks to be as we discussed, and I have no more questions. Gentlemen, shall we sign?" He looked around the table expectantly.
Malfoy merely nodded once, as did Herr Zintiffens' assistants. Zintiffens himself was beaming and nodding with all of his chins, while Perkins was smiling brightly. There was the usual mild confusion over who was to sign which documents, and in which order, but this was easily dealt with by Perkins, Grieg and Spatzer.
Finally, all the documents were signed and sealed. The meeting closed with handshakes all around, and the parties made their exits from the conference room. Lucius made a point of giving his hand to Oliver to help him stand, carefully not noticing the look Harry gave him. Harry's only other response was to give Flint's leash a more forceful tug than usual as he clambered from under the table.
Perkins, as always, studiously avoided noticing the way both of his superiors treated their chattels. If his expression sometimes appeared a bit forced, well, that was simply the way of things. However, his beaming at this moment was genuine.
"Congratulations, gentlemen! Potter & Malfoy Investments, Limited has now officially moved onto the Continent!"
"Today Germany, tomorrow the EU, eh, Perkins?" Harry also looked genuinely pleased as he regarded his partner and staffer.
Lucius merely smiled faintly, although he too was greatly pleased with the arrangements they had just signed. Being formally aligned with Herr Zintiffen's Berlin-based financial group would allow them access to significant opportunities both in the EU and further east. Truly, a bright future seemed to lie ahead of them—a far cry from the dismal prospects he had all too recently enjoyed in Azkaban.
"Well, gentlemen, if that concludes the morning's business," Lucius said, "I promised someone a trip to Fortescue's." His smile grew as he looked fondly at his bond slave. "And, I think a trip to the Weasley's shop would also be appropriate, if for no other reason than to let them know that we will be able to facilitate their European expansion plans through our new associates in Berlin. Harry, why don't you and Flint join us? Perkins can handle the office on his own, I have no doubt." Perkins nodded once, confidently, when Malfoy glanced at him.
Harry scowled. His initial reaction was to beg off, not wanting the inevitable recognition he would get walking through the Alley. Then, he thought about seeing Fred and George…and their bond slave. He sighed, not realizing that Lucius noticed it.
"All right, I'll come. But," he said, glaring at his slave. "One instance of disobedience or improper behavior out of you, Flint, and I'll beat you to within an inch of your life when I get you home! Understand?"
Flint nodded, never looking up, his voice quiet. "Yes, Master." Lucius could not detect any flaw in Marcus's form or response, but it only seemed to barely satisfy his master. Harry just snorted as if he only barely believed his slave, but did allow him time to free himself from the chairs around the table before he led the way to the door. Marcus followed closely behind Harry, never letting his leash draw tight.
Lucius and Oliver followed behind, Oliver occasionally brushing against Lucius' shoulder. That his hand occasionally strayed to Lucius' arse was something only the two of them knew about. Part of the game they played while in public involved small acts of affection carried out in unnoticed ways under the noses of a sure to be disapproving populace. Lucius knew it was silly and juvenile, but he cherished each and every gesture.
In contrast, Harry Potter seemed to be actively avoiding any contact between himself and Flint as they left Gringotts. He did pause long enough for Malfoy and Wood to catch up with him before they left the Gringotts atrium for Diagon Alley proper. Harry seemed to be steeling himself for exposure to the throngs of people in the street, and Malfoy could easily see the tension in his face as the doors opened.
Sure enough, they had gone scarcely a dozen steps before they were recognized.
"Oh, Lord Potter! Good day to you sir!"
"Gor'blimey, 'arry Potter! Gave ol' Voldy a right propa walloping, ye did! Good on, mate!"
"Bless you, Mr. Potter, bless you, sir."
"Beggin' yor pardon, yor Lordship, but I just wanted ter say thank yer from the bottom of me 'eart."
Their progress through the streets was slowed to a crawl, mainly because Harry would at least smile and nod at everyone who spoke to him. Lucius, while only rarely recognized, had years of experience with the cultivated, aloof, expressionless and standoffish mask of the upper class. At best, people in the street would nod politely in passing. Most (excepting those who snarled at him) were content to pass quickly by, eyes downcast. Poor Harry, he thought. Too much the common man for his own good, even now.
Lucius counted himself fortunate that he only rarely was the target of over-ripe produce these days. Not so very long ago, such a walk would have emptied several garbage bins as his detractors sought suitable ammunition. Now, as a respected business figure, Ministry consultant and partner of the Man Who Killed Voldemort, he was once again able to walk the streets in relative safety. Of course, he was not above noticing the looks which his and Potter's bond slaves gathered. Wood and Flint were the only slaves he could see on the street; not at all surprising, as bond slaves were still a rarity. Even had he and Harry not been recognized for who they were, the very fact that they were accompanied by the near-naked slaves would have marked them as persons of great wealth and power.
Reactions to the slaves this day ran the usual gamut. Most people simply ignored them, pretending they didn't exist. Some gave disapproving looks, while others frankly leered. A few hurled curses and taunts, calling out 'Death Eater scum', 'where's Voldy now?', 'finally getting what you deserve', 'showing a bit more than the Dark Mark, aren't we?' and the like. One young tough hawked and spat on Flint, who shied back reflexively only to receive a snarl from his master in response. Emboldened, the tough grinned, hawked again and turned towards Wood…only to find himself face to face with Lucius Malfoy.
Malfoy was not smiling.
"I strongly suggest that you swallow that," Lucius said smoothly. Giving the young man his best Malfoy Death Glare™, he continued. "Should you in any way deface, taunt, frighten, annoy or otherwise harass my property, you will find yourself dealing with me. I doubt you would find such an experience pleasant. Do I make myself clear?"
Gulping loudly, the youngster beat a hasty retreat, as the rest of the crowd seemed to give Malfoy and both slaves a bit more room. When Wood's shoulder rubbed against his, Lucius whispered 'later'. From the corner of his eye, he saw Oliver's tiny wink and smiled inside. He knew that they would both have a good laugh about the episode later on, and that Wood would feel that he deserved special thanks for his protection. Given just how creative Oliver Wood could be with his thanks, Lucien considered his actions well worth the effort. Fortunately, his robe concealed the partial erection he developed in anticipation of said thanks.
Eventually, the foursome made their way to 93 Diagon Alley, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. As always, several customers were browsing the aisles when they arrived, testament to the brothers' booming business. Within moments of their arrival, however, what Lucius had secretly come to think of as the Obligatory Potter Mob-fest was well under way. Harry was surrounded by well-wishers, fans and what Malfoy was convinced were at least a few romantic hopefuls. Potter had once confessed to his business partner that it was not at all uncommon for him to receive slips of paper bearing names, love notes, floo addresses or even cell phone numbers during these times.
Lucius, upon learning what cell phones were, had immediately procured one. He had also acquired the habit of giving them to all his acquaintances as gifts. Clearly, in the area of instant communications, the muggles had achieved a level of competence which wizarding society still lacked. If P&M, Ltd. was also the primary backer of a small company working to extend magically-adapted cell phone service to otherwise isolated areas of wizarding Britain, well, that was just good business.
The Mob-fest was showing no signs of weakening until one of the Weasley twins came out of the back offices.
"Harry! Good to see you, come on back!" Pushing through the throng, the twin (Lucius couldn't tell which one) put an arm around Potter's neck and literally dragged him back towards the offices. Laughing, he shouldered a path through the crowd. "All right, people, let the man pass, there's a luv, step aside, step aside."
Lucius caught Wood's eye and signaled with a quick jerk of his head. Pushing forward and reaching out, he caught Flint's leash just before it would have jerked in Harry's hand. When Harry turned his head with a glare, Lucius lifted the leash in his hand and spoke.
"I've got these two, you go on." Nodding once, Harry let go of his end of the leash and let Fred (George?) lead him out of the clamoring throng.
With the object of their adulation gone, the crowd quickly dispersed. Malfoy found himself standing alone with the two slaves. He was about to follow Harry and George (Fred?) into the back of the shop when Flint brushed against him lightly.
"Thank you, sir, for everything you do for me," he whispered. Lucius glanced at the young slave instantly, but Marcus' eyes were downcast. Malfoy felt a tiny shudder run through Wood's leash right before he pressed himself close to his master. Lucius immediately realized that Wood had heard Flint's whisper and needed the contact. A brief surge of compassion for Harry's ill-treated chattel swept over him, followed by anger at his business partner. Lucius Malfoy certainly had no qualms about discipline when needed, but cruelty for its own sake had long since lost any attraction for him.
Lucius' tone was brusque as he turned to Flint and tugged on his harness. The straps were so tight that he moved it only with difficulty. It had to be very uncomfortable for the boy, needlessly so in his opinion. And, since a Malfoy never asks another's permission before acting as he see fit….
"I simply must have a talk with Potter about the proper way to groom a slave for appearing in public!" he groused. Fingering the leather straps with both hands, he affected not to notice Flint's wince of discomfort. Humming, muttering and tut-tuting to himself he pretended to adjust Flint's harness at various places, all the while using the nonsense sounds and gestures to hide the spells he was subtly working. In a matter of moments the rough leather straps were smoothed, stretched to a comfortable length, and imbued with the same non-binding charm that he used on Wood's rig. Turning the young man around, Lucius put no-pinch charms on the buckles and made sure that his resizing had worked to his own satisfaction. He restrained himself with some difficulty from healing the multiple wounds he saw on the boy's back but did allow himself to put a long-acting analgesia spell on him.
Shifting slightly so that his robe hid Flint from prying eyes, Lucius worked lower, putting the same comfort charms on the straps that circled the boy's waist and upper thighs. Gentle pressure on Flint's hips turned him to face the older man. Long, elegant, uncalloused fingers drifted over the too-tight pouch that confined Marcus' genitals in what had to be a painful fashion. Flint initially tensed when he realized where Malfoy's hands were headed, but he stoically braced himself for what he feared he was about to endure. When the slave felt the pleasurable release of the crushing leather followed by a wave of comfort from a healing spell, he sighed in relief. Malfoy was somewhat surprised and more than a bit pleased that Flint's groin showed no signs of scars or bruising. It looked as though mild discomfort, relatively speaking, was as far as Potter was willing to go with his slave…at least, in this particular area. Well, that was something, Lucius supposed.
"Deportment, Flint, deportment!" Lucius Malfoy snapped. "I will not have Potter's lax standards rubbing off on my slave, do you hear me?" Despite the bite in his words, the grip he had on Flint's chin, raising his face so that they made eye contact, was gentle. "Now, step back and let me look at you."
Obediently, Flint moved back a step, turning when Lucius twirled one finger in the air. To Lucius' eye, he appeared to move much more easily and freely. Satisfied, Malfoy nodded.
"Very well, much better, my boy, much better. I shall make a point of keeping a careful eye on you in the future, though, so mind you, no slacking!"
"No sir, I won't, sir," Flint whispered, not raising his eyes from the usual downward position. "Thank you for the…instruction, sir." If there was a slight pause in the phrase, it was not enough for anyone who might have heard to find noticeable.
"Mmmmph," was Malfoy's only reply as he stood, thinking. Reaching a decision, he pulled out his cell phone, flipped it open one-handed and enunciated clearly "call Magic Mart". Putting it to his ear, he proceeded to speak.
"Hello, Marbly? Lucius Malfoy…yes, I'm glad we were able to put you onto that little venture…some for your wife, too? I don't see why not…yes, Perkins will be in everyday this week, if you feel it can't wait…very good, then…say, Marbly, you know my boy Oliver Wood, comes in for me?…yes, played for Puddlemere…well, I'm sending him around with Potter's boy. I feel a celebration coming on…no, of course I can't tell you, the ink's not even dry yet…oh, shut it, when have you ever had cause to doubt P&M, eh?..well, come by and see me personally if you don't want to see Perkins, just call or floo ahead of time, you know the drill…now, shut up and let a man give his order…give me two, no make it three bottles of the '82 Veuve, you know which one I like…yes, that's it…two bottles of freshly-squeezed orange juice, make sure you use the good Spanish ones this time…and some kind of biscuit assortment, some breads, butter, spreads…brunch-y nibbly bits, that kind of thing…six to eight, should be just about right, always let the staff have at the overage…no, my account, but the boy'll have a few galleons, let him get what strikes his fancy…oh, and Marbly? We had a bit of annoyance from some ruffians on the way over, you might want to let out the word that Mr. Malfoy and Lord Potter don't take kindly to defacement of their property, if you catch my drift…excellent, Marbly, see you soon, ciao."
Turning to the two waiting slave boys, Lucius smiled and spoke to both of them.
"Oliver, Marcus, I want you to run down to the Mart and fetch the basket I just ordered. It should be ready by the time you get there." He noticed that, while Oliver Wood merely smiled and nodded, Marcus Flint visibly paled at the thought of being sent out into Diagon Alley unescorted. "Don't worry, Flint, I send Wood out all the time. You'll be fine. Tell, him, Wood," he ordered, and then tuned out the two boys while he rummaged in a pocket of his robe for some coins. Pulling out a handful, he handed them to Wood, but kept one back. Bringing up his wand, he thought for a moment before tapping his wand against the sickle.
"Portus duo locus mei", he intoned. He tapped again, saying "strennus portus erus". The silver piece in his hand promptly split into three equal parts. Putting his wand away, he gave each young man a part of the coin before slipping the third into his pocket.
"Firstly, remember that you are both in the service of Lucius Malfoy, and he who molests you insults me…understood?" Lucius waited until both Wood and Flint nodded. "Secondly, don't dawdle. Thirdly, Flint, follow Wood's lead. Finally, should a scene begin to develop, just say 'portus erus', and you'll be right back here at my side." He noticed Flint cast a hasty glance at Wood, who was standing calmly. "Wood, use those galleons, get something for the both of you, too." He winked at Oliver, who winked back. Lucius purposefully did not look at the astonished Flint, who looked as if his jaw was traveling towards his navel. "Now, off with the both of you!" He made a small 'shoo-ing' motion with his hand, and the two spun and bolted for the door. Smiling to himself, he turned to the door leading into the offices of WWW, Ltd.
Strolling through the small reception area, he heard the twin's voices as they were telling yet another story of how their products had been used.
"…and that teacher has absolutely forbidden any student to bring him any candy whatsoever!" One of the twins finished, and both they and Harry dissolved into laughter.
Lucius paused a moment before entering, just watching a laughing Harry Potter. It was a sight so rarely seen by anyone these days, even by his closest associates and friends. That the twins could still bring out this side of Harry was nothing short of remarkable, and Lucius made a note to try to get the three of them together more often.
"Gentlemen, I hope I haven't overstepped my bounds," he said, sweeping into the room. "But I felt that a small celebration was in order, so I sent the boys out for refreshments."
"Brilliant!" "Celebration! Bring it!" Both twins were immediately in agreement with whatever Lucius had planned, but Harry's face immediately dropped into a scowl.
"You sent my slave off on an errand, Malfoy? That's quite generous of you," Harry spat out.
Lucius waved away Harry's anger. "Oh, don't worry, Harry, they're together, they'll be fine."
"You may trust Wood to run errands for you, but that little bastard Flint…" Harry's teeth were grating so hard Lucius could hear them from across the room.
"…will be with Wood every step of the way. Besides, I called Marbly, he'll keep an eye on them…and I gave them both a portkey back to me for emergencies. Don't worry, Harry," he finished, settling back onto an overstuffed chair. "Besides, I thought a bit of champagne might be appropriate, seeing as how we've just taken the necessary first steps towards Weasley's Wizard Wheezes going international." Smiling, Lucius raised his eyebrows as the twins exploded at his news. 10 points to Slytherin, he thought, for stopping Harry's rant before it had gotten a good start.
Indeed, Harry had all that he could do for the next several minutes, explaining how the agreement between Potter and Malfoy, Ltd. and Herr Zintiffens' Deutschzauberkunst GmbH gave immediate German market access to all of P&M's clients.
"So, Harry, what you're saying is, today Germany…" one twin began.
"Tomorrow, the world?" The other finished.
"Exactly, Fred." Harry said, being long used to the twin's habit of finishing each other's sentences. Lucius was careful to note which twin Harry identified as Fred. "But you might want to spend a day or so on the EU before moving on, don't you think?"
"Oh, Harry, there you go again…." Fred said.
"…thinking small. When are you ever going to learn?" asked George. "Oi, Malfoy," George said, turning as he spoke. "Can't you do something about this boy? After all, he's defeated a Dark Lord, rehabilitated Voldy's number one Death Eater, become one of the richest men in England…."
"Don't forget the title, and the knighthood…." Fred chipped in.
"Oh, yeah, and the knighthood and an Earldom, mustn't forget that." George was almost laughing too hard to speak.
Lucius just looked up at both twins and shook his head ruefully. "Yes, boys, I know it's sad…but what is one to do with a chronic underachiever like our Harry, here?" Somehow, he was able to maintain a straight face as he turned to a seething Harry Potter…just before Harry himself lost it and dissolved into a bout of giggles.
"I just want…you all to know…" Harry managed to get out between giggles, "that the lot of you are horrible prats…and complete gits."
"Oi, boy! Bring us some tea, before Lord Sir Harry chokes himself!" Fred called out.
Malfoy started to speak out that Wood and Flint should be back any moment, but stopped when the Weasley twin's bond slave entered the room carrying a tea set. Wordlessly, he put the set on the sideboard and turned to go. George, being nearest, stopped him with a hand.
"You are allowed to talk, you know." He chided the slave gently.
"Hello, Lord Potter. Hello, Father." Draco Malfoy never raised his head as he spoke.
A/N: So, I wanted to have naked (or nearly so) slaves wandering Diagon Alley. I also wanted to have Complete Bastard!Harry and Reformed!Lucius, and couldn't resist the chance to put Draco into a harem boy outfit. Plus, Harry/Draco is really my first love in fanfic, despite spending most of my writing efforts on my Harry/Cedric series. Yes, I know I should be writing on that one (and I am, truly), but this story has been languishing far too long. Now, it shall languish no more!
Next Chapter: Harem-boy!Draco, champagne and Weasley Twins! Can you stand it?