A/N: And just because every story needs a dash of Epilogue, here it is…two ex-slaves talking about life in general, more Hermione!bashing, and more Harem Boy!Draco (with just a dash of Pirate!Harry). Arrrrrr….
Disclaimer: I still don't own Harry, or Draco, or even Dr. Doolittle, much less property in Puddleby-By-The-Sea. I wish I did, though….
BY MAGIC BOUND
Love Slaves of Diagon Alley
Oliver Wood stepped easily from the floo at Potter & Malfoy Investments, Ltd., the automatic cleaning charm—a gift from Herr Zintiffens—tingling against his skin as is brushed away the soot from his exit. Nodding a hello to the secretary, he stepped quickly across the room and stuck his head in the open door of Draco Malfoy's office.
"Hullo, Drake,", he called, rapping on the doorframe with his knuckles. "The Gruesome Twosome back yet?"
Draco looked up from the thick book he was copying out of and grinned at his friend's description of the firm's founding partners. "Not yet, Ollie. They're still stuck in that meeting in Paris, and I really don't expect them back until close to nightfall. Just come from practice?"
Oliver shook his head, his still-damp hair letting his shake a few drops around Draco's office. Ignoring Draco's protesting 'Oi!', he grinned—completely and totally unrepentant—and plopped down onto the comfortable couch that faced Draco's desk. "Yeppers. It's raining krups and kneezles in Puddleby-By-The-Sea, so Coach called practice early. I grabbed a quick shower, and here I am!" he said, spreading his arms for emphasis.
"So I see," Draco said dryly. "Say, Wood, answer me this: why is the team Puddlemere United, when the team offices and practice pitch are in Puddleby-whatever?"
Oliver smiled at his friend. It was a question that he'd fielded dozens of times. "Are you wanting the 'official' answer, or the scandalous rumor that's probably the real reason?"
"Both, of course," Draco grinned, leaning forward, his eyes twinkling. A casual wave of his hand shut the door, just in case the scandalous rumor was really that good.
"The 'official' version is that since both villages have supported the Team since it was founded, one village got the stadium and the other the training facilities and offices. Practically, the stadium is built in the center of a dense little copse just outside Puddlemere, which makes it easy to hide from the muggles. Not very many people go into those woods, which makes charming the trails and the area around the stadium with Confundus, Misdirection and Notice-Me-Not charms something that a fourth-year could do. The stadium is actually one of the oldest in the country, and the charms are so well-established by now that the woods has a bit of a reputation and no one much bothers going there. Of course, it helps that the whole woods isn't much bigger than three or four stadiums, so anyone getting 'lost' there doesn't come out too terribly far from where they might want to be, anyway."
Draco nodded. It had long been 'the way things are done' to make misdirecting the muggles as easy on all concerned as possible. Practically, as long as something didn't bother them terribly, most muggles were quite forgiving about little things like trails that didn't go where they ought to, and such. Of course, that fool Voldemort had turned that on its head, like so many other things. Once again, Draco realized just how glad he was that the Dark Lord hadn't succeeded in his plans for domination and immortality.
Oliver was still explaining. "So, it just makes sense to keep the stadium where it is, in Puddlemere. Practically speaking, it's a twenty-minute walk between the two, or two minutes on a slow broom. But, Puddleby-By-The-Sea is the bigger village, and has the harbor and a small train station. So, naturally, the residents think they're more important."
"I see," Draco said, imagining just that. Both villages together wouldn't make a good neighborhood in London, but such rivalries had always gone on, and always would.
"At any rate, Puddleby has two pubs as opposed to just the one, and it has the fish market. Other than that, I can't see two shakes difference between the two," Wood said. "Both are highly mixed magical/muggle populations, so much so that the Statute of Secrecy is pretty much ignored all 'round. There's been so much intermarriage over the years that almost everyone is related to a wizard or a squib in some way, and they're so closed-mouth to outsiders that it's not a problem. Plus, having the team located there is a tremendous boost to the local economy, and no one's going to threaten that. Both are actually nice places to live," he finished, smiling.
"I heard a story about a Ministry Oblivator who responded to a report of a wizard talking to animals, and was found Oblivated himself, wandering around outside of the Ministry's London entrance."
"Actually, that's probably a true story," Oliver laughed. "The town doctor was actually a squib who developed a 'sport' talent for animal languages, and quit medicine to become a rather famous veterinarian. Well, the Puddlebians didn't take well to a strange man from London going around wiping people's memories, so he was just dealt with. I suppose the Ministry took the hint, because it only happened the one time."
"You didn't just call them 'Puddlebians,'" Draco snickered.
"Actually, yeah," Oliver grimaced, and then snickered himself. "That's what they call themselves," he went on, holding up his hands in a 'what can I do?' gesture.
Shaking his head, Draco gestured for him to continue. "Okay, I get keeping the stadium in Puddlemere, and that both villages are idyllic, mixed hamlets where wizards, squibs and muggles live together in peace and harmony and all that rot…but I still haven't heard why the team offices and practice pitch are in Puddleby-By-Whatever."
Now it was time for Oliver's eyes to take on a twinkle on their own. "Well, both towns have several inns, mostly to deal with the Quidditch trade, right? It turns out that, right about the time the team was founded, that Puddleby-By-The-Sea had the only inn with an 'extra' floor…and 'extra' bar wenches to 'work' it," he said, using his fingers to make quote marks in the air as he spoke.
Draco's eyes widened and his mouth dropped into an 'O' as he caught on to what Oliver was saying. "You mean to tell me…the team headquarters for one of England's premier Quidditch teams was built in the village with the bawdy house?"
"Pretty much," Oliver answered dryly. "Right down the street, as a matter of fact."
Draco leaned back, his hand over his mouth. "Oh my…oh sweet Circe…" he sputtered, then dissolved into giggles.
"That's not all," Oliver said, grinning. "That particular inn has been run by the same family since that time, passed down from mother to daughter. Plus, each of them has been a powerful witch, and the head of the local coven, which is just as old."
"Merciful Merlin! But…what about any sons?" Draco couldn't help but ask. After all, for centuries property had been passed through the paternal line in England, not the maternal.
"Not an issue, apparently. Something about an ancient curse on the first owner, only to bear daughters and never sons." The Quidditch player shrugged. "It's never seemed to matter, as far as I know. Oh, there's always a man or three around the inn, tending bar, minding the stables and whatnot…but there's only one Lady of the House."
"I suppose not," Draco said seriously. A line of witches like that, with an old coven behind them…Merlin only knew just what forgotten magics they played with on a regular basis. No wonder the Ministry left well enough alone, in Puddleby-By-The-Sea. "Remind me to never visit you there without my incredibly powerful boyfriend to protect me, will you?"
Oliver snorted. "As if you two would ever go anywhere without the other! I swear, you too ought to be stuck together at the hip!"
"You're one to talk," Draco smirked.
"Don't change the subject," Oliver went on, smiling. "And just when are you and Harry going to start working on heirs? Both Potter and Malfoy families need at least a couple."
"I'm not the only one that might be the broodmare for the Malfoy heir," Draco fired right back. "Of course you'll look a bit odd, sitting a broom when you're seven or eight months along, now won't you? I wonder how much trouble Father's tailor will have making a set of maternity Quidditch robes?"
"Git, that's not going to happen any time soon! I'm just starting to get my career back." Oliver protested. "Besides, I happen to know that a certain green-eyed Gryffindor has always wanted a huge brood of his own to spoil rotten."
Draco nodded, not even bothering to try to hide his smile. "We've talked about it," he admitted. "Still, we want to wait a bit longer, let things settle down some more before we take that step."
Oliver nodded, deciding not to push things by asking just who would be the 'mother' for the first one. It was something he knew that Harry and Draco were arguing over, since each of them wanted to carry their first child. Oh, well…they'd work it out, Wood figured.
"So, how's Quidditch training going?" Draco asked, changing the subject.
"Great, actually," Oliver answered, willingly going along with the change. "I'm still blowing off the rust, as you'd expect, but I think I've got a good shot at reserve Keeper for this season, which is probably going to be Simpson's last."
"Angling for the first spot next season, then?"
"Yeah. If I can't get back to where I can do the job in a year, then I need to rethink just what I'm doing there," Wood admitted.
"I doubt that you have anything to worry about," Draco smiled at his friend. "After all, we both happen to be sleeping with two of the team's owners."
"I know, and I'm afraid that everyone will think I've gotten the spot because of that, and not because I'm good enough," Oliver spat. It was an active sore spot with him.
"I'm not worried about that in the least," Draco said calmly. "The only people who will say that are idiots who don't know you. Oh, I'm sure that Father and Harry would 'put the fix in' if you asked. But, I also know that you'd die the Death of a Thousand Cuts before you'd ever ask; and if they actually did anything like that, you'd rip both of them a new one. So, no worries," he said, waving away any concerns.
"I guess," Oliver said, slumping back. "So, how's Flint doing?" It was something of a loaded question. About a week after his collar had been removed Marcus had verbally unloaded on Harry for almost an hour, while Harry just sat there and took it. When Flint had finally exhausted himself, Harry had only apologized once more and called Auggie Pye to see to the former slave. Flint's sessions with the mind healer had started the next day, and quickly progressed to include Severus Snape in their sessions. It had been hard on everyone, especially when Harry was 'invited' to a series of meetings, but finally Snape and Potter had managed to admit that their mutual loathing had played itself out on Flint, who was the innocent of the piece.
It had, by all reports, been thoroughly unpleasant when Snape finally admitted that he had been doing to Potter for years exactly what he despised Potter for doing to Flint during his enslavement. After that, things went much more smoothly, for everyone.
"He's doing well, actually. He and Harry seem to be well on their way to becoming friends, now that the air's been cleared between them. He's enjoying working with Snape, and is the go-between Harry and Snape whenever one is needed."
"Those two..." Oliver sighed, shaking his head.
"Harry Potter and Severus Snape will never be friends, not in a thousand years," Draco agreed. "Still, they are being civil to each other, which is more than I'd ever hoped for. It's helping that Harry and Father are working so closely with Snape's new business, I think."
Oliver nodded, wholeheartedly agreeing. The partnership between Snape, Neville Longbottom and the Weasley Twins that had first been discussed 'that' night at Number 12 Grimmauld Place had resulted in the formation of Potion Specialists, Limited—a company that now was biting off large chunks of the pre-made and 'do it yourself' potion kit markets in England, and was moving rapidly into the Continental markets. They had pioneered the use of 'pre-potions' in easy to use kit form, where several steps were carried out (under the most stringent of quality controls, naturally) in their factory and the products magically sealed and frozen in stasis. When a potion was needed, all a consumer had to do was open the kit and follow simple directions: 'empty blue vial into clean cauldron, add red vial, stir six times deosil, add yellow vial, stir thrice widdershins, drink'.
There were even pictures, with arrows, in the instructions, to make things even simpler.
They had already far outstripped any products that Brewster's offered (although, they did have competing versions at comparable prices and higher quality) and were in negotiations with St. Mungo's for a regular supply contract. It didn't hurt that the label proudly advertised 'Herbs by Longbottom Nurseries', which of course, was something that Brewster's would never be able to say.
"Are you still half-timing with Snape?" Oliver asked. With him spending so much time across the country re-training at Quidditch, he had fallen out of the loop about the comings and goings in London.
"Most weeks, yes," Draco preened. "We're still actively working to expand the line, and I like being able to keep my hand in. The rest of the time, I'm here, working the business end of the operation. It frees up Harry and Father to do other things," he said proudly.
"Like go and do dog-and-pony shows like today," Oliver said, and the two grinned at each other. Both of them knew that was exactly what was happening, as both Lucius and Harry had complained about it, rather loudly. No matter how much work was done beforehand, there were still clients that insisted on meeting with the principals in person to sign the paperwork. "If I didn't know better, Lucius actually misses not having me there to disrupt his meetings at the hour mark," Wood smirked.
"That's because he does miss you, for that very reason," Draco laughed. "I think that if he could get away with it without causing a scandal, he'd put you right back into harness and lead your almost-naked bum around the Alleys all day long."
"That's 'cause your father has a nasty pervy streak in him a mile wide, and he likes having people envy him for who he is," Ollie smiled.
Draco snorted. "Do tell?" he said, his voice rich with sarcasm. "I never would have noticed it, had you not mentioned it just now."
Oliver laughed outright. "Oh, of course not! Not you, Draco!"
"Certainly not," Draco answered primly. Then, he smirked, as something occurred to him. "Have you heard the latest about Granger?" he asked.
"No, I haven't. I don't get much time to read the papers, and Lucius doesn't like to talk about what's going on in the Ministry," Oliver answered.
"Well, two days ago she was in here demanding that Harry do something about a situation she's having with some of the magicals in the muggle government."
"Oh, I'm sure that went over well," Oliver laughed. "What did she want Harry to do?"
"Well, I'm not sure I understand all of it, but apparently the muggle government has been very slow in approving her request for something called 'computers' that have been adjusted—I think they call it 'hardened', whatever that means—so that they work around magic." Draco paused, thinking. "I think it's like the cell phones that we carry—normal muggle ones go bad if they're exposed to magic, but there are ways to fix them so that it won't happen." Oliver nodded, letting Draco know he understood. The knowledge that muggle devices could be made to work with magic was slowly seeping through the wizarding world, despite staunch opposition from certain quarters. "The magicals in government have been using computers for years, but getting them for the Ministry requires Granger to have a 'security clearance'. And, for some reason," Draco's eyes twinkled as he spoke, "her clearance keeps being delayed…and delayed…and delayed."
"Let me guess: no matter how much she rants and raves, it just keeps getting delayed more?" Oliver laughed outright.
"Pretty much," Draco acknowledged. "One of these centuries, she'll learn that nagging and screaming at people isn't the best way to make them go out of their way to help you."
"I doubt it," Oliver snickered.
Draco just grinned, then went on. "At any rate, she wanted Harry to call the PM directly, or better yet, the Queen, and have it 'taken care of it immediately'. After all, she needs those 'computers' for her 'important work'." The roll of his eyes let Oliver know just exactly what Draco thought about Dame Granger's 'important work'.
"So, let me guess…Harry immediately dropped everything to pop over to Buckingham Palace and take care of Granger's little problem?"
"Oh, exactly," Draco said, then both of the dissolved into laughter.
"All right, now tell me what Harry really said," Oliver said, when he could speak coherently again.
"Harry just said that he had no control over their security verification process, and that Granger would just have to go through the regular channels…but, he thought that screaming at the people responsible for moving the process along probably wasn't the best approach to take." Draco smiled, remembering. Harry had been as cool as a cucumber, which had naturally only made Granger more agitated.
"She must have loved that," Oliver snickered.
"Fortunately, a simple Reparo fixed the window in Harry's door after she left," Draco smiled. Then, he leaned forward conspiratorially, meeting Oliver's eyes as he went on. "Harry had to find out what was happening, after all that, so he spoke with Finch-Fletchley about it. Justin had already had the joy of dealing with Granger when she complained to the Oversight Committee about her 'treatment' at the hands of the Government. Sadly, the Oversight Committee 'declined to become involve' in what was 'clearly an administrative issue'. Draco grinned savagely, then went on.
"Justin told Harry that the charms to make computers work around magic aren't hard to do, probably around OWL-level difficulty. He's done it himself on the computers in his office, and his home. There's even a pamphlet that you can get, with diagrams and wand movements and everything all drawn out for you."
Wood's eyes widened as he began to understand just what Draco was saying. "You mean…" he asked?
Draco nodded happily. "Oh, yes. If Granger hadn't been such a galloping hag to all and sundry, the magicals in government would have given her a stack of pamphlets, then she and her staff could have popped into any electronics shop, picked out what they wanted, and been off to the broom races within a day or so."
"Oh, Sweet Morgana!" Oliver breathed out, then began giggling uncontrollably.
"Wait, it gets better," Draco went on, between his own giggles. "Justin told Harry that he's seeing a girl in the office that handles muggle-magical interactions, and she told him that the Powers That Be have already decided just what the next delay for Dame Granger's request is going to be. It seems that, since none of the Ministry is 'wired' for the electricity the things run on, it will take them at least another three weeks to get that sorted out!"
By this point, Oliver was about to fall off of the couch. "Oh, that's just evil!" he gasped.
"Isn't it? Especially since there's a magical 'power cell' that can be used, in places where there's no electricity. Unfortunately, someone's also conveniently going to forget to mention that to Granger…since she is, after all, the smartest witch of all time, or something." Draco finished, and then gave himself over to his own mirth.
The two sat there, laughing with one another companionably for a bit, then Wood stretched out on Draco's couch. "Well, as amusing and interesting as your company is, Drake, I'm knackered. I'll just take a bit of a kip right here, and you can wake me when the grown-ups get back from Paris."
"And I suppose that I'm just to sit here and continue working quietly while you nap on my couch in my office?" Draco asked dryly.
"Something like that," Wood replied, then closed his eyes.
"Huh," was Draco's only response, as he (quietly) went back to the potions research he had been doing.
Oliver woke to a hand shaking his shoulder. "Wake up, lazybones," Lucius Malfoy's voice drifted down to him.
"Mmmph, 'lo, Lucius," he yawned. "How was Paris?" he mumbled, sitting up.
"It was Paris, and the meetings were horribly long and tedious," Lucius smiled, sitting down beside his lover.
"Still and all, it's done now," Harry said from where he perched on the corner of Draco's desk.
"Did you two get everything hammered out to your satisfaction?" Draco wanted to know.
"Most of it," Harry shrugged. "The rest, I'm going to let Perkins handle, since I'm getting rather sick of M. Bouvier's condescending attitude towards all things not-French."
"Agreed," Lucius said. "I think that he forgets that he is not the only importer in France. Perhaps it's time that we began looking elsewhere for our needs," he grimaced.
"I'd rather not, given how much time we've already put into the agreements with him, but I think you're right," Harry nodded tiredly. "Still and all, it won't hurt any to begin looking, and that's just one more bit of leverage we can give Perkins when he goes to finish things."
"I'll write a few letters tomorrow," Lucius promised, "but not right now. Right now," he grinned, pulling Oliver close to him, "I think I'm going to take this one home and have a quiet evening…and not think about business at all!"
"Be that way," Harry smirked. "I suppose that I could do the same, you know. Drag this one," he jerked his head at Draco, "home, and make him wear the harem boy costume while he feeds me grapes, or something."
"Or something," Wood laughed.
"I suppose that I don't have any say in the matter?" Draco asked coldly.
"Of course you do," Harry said warmly, smiling at his lover. "You get to pick which color harem boy outfit you wear. And, of course, I'll have to wear my leather pants and that blousy silk shirt you like, and be 'Pirate Harry'." He squinted one eye and growled, "Arrrrrrr".
"Well, okay, then," Draco grinned.
"And I've already heard more than I care to," Lucius said, rising smoothly and pulling Oliver after him. "I will see you both tomorrow, and if something comes up this evening that you need me for…" he paused.
"Yes?" Harry asked.
"Deal with it yourself!" Lucius said, sweeping out of the room, a laughing Quidditch player right behind him.
And They All Lived Happily (and Kinkily) Ever After…
except for Hermione, who's just a bitch!