(Okay, lovely readers. My muse and I sat down and had a long talk today. The final pairing has been decided. There was a clear winner in the polls, but as I said, the winner in the poll is not necessarily the winner for the fic. It depends on my muse. If I don't have the inspiration to write one pairing or the other, then I can't write it or it won't be the quality fic that my lovely readers deserve. I loved listening to all the reasoning that was done in the many lovely reviews that I received. There are several which I returned to over and over, as they were the most convincing. In the end… Well… Why don't you just read on and find out?
Oh! Before I forget! I have two challenges for you, my lovely readers:
1) The first lovely reader that goes back to Chapter 11 and rereads it, and figures out what two quotes I took from my former high school's Spring musical, and what the musical was, I will write a fic for them, with whatever pairing/plot they choose. This would be a good opportunity for any fans of the pairing that didn't win, even though I will be writing multiple fics for either pairing eventually.
2) The 325th reviewer will also get the opportunity to request a fic with whatever pairing/plot they choose. Do not go back and review multiple previous chapters in order to ensure you are the 325th. I promise that there will be other fic-request opportunities in the future. ^^
You may only win one of the challenges. Two lucky, lovely readers will have fics written in their honor. Since this is the last chapter, I will be Pm-ing the winners, so make sure that feature isn't blocked or anything on your profile. ^^ Now, on with the epilogue! :D )
June 5th, 2018
"Harry, if you don't tell me where the bloody hell we're going in the next five seconds, I will rip this blindfold off and strangle you with it."
Harry chuckled and tightened his arm around his lover's waist, continuing to guide him while his vision was hindered by the thick strip of cloth that he had secured there before leaving the blonde's house. "Why would you want to spoil the surprise like that? Just a bit longer, I promise. It will be worth it." Draco didn't seem too convinced, but he didn't try to strangle the brunette, which was good enough for the time being.
"Harry," rumbled the blonde again, warningly. Harry just grinned.
Draco went immediately silent. The murder that would have been in his eyes had they been visible was nearly tangible. "You said you liked my beard," he snapped defensively, one hand coming up to stroke his chin briefly, worriedly.
"I do, I do," Harry reassured him, fighting back a laugh. The best way to distract Draco would always be to insult his vanity.
"Salazar, Harry, I –"
Harry pulled them to a stop and whipped off the blindfold before the blonde could finish his threat. The words caught in Draco's throat, rendering him speechless as he looked up, and up, and realized he was staring at his home. His family home. Malfoy Manor.
"Happy birthday," whispered Harry, giving his waist another tight squeeze.
"You…" Draco swallowed, choking on the sudden lump in his throat. "You bought the Manor."
Harry hummed quietly in agreement. "Apparently it changed hands quite a few times since you sold it. By the time I got to it, they were practically giving it away. Seems some of the old wards were giving them a hard time when they tried to make use of the property."
Draco turned, his vision alarmingly blurry, and threw his arms around Harry's neck in a rare show of pure, uncontrollable emotion, clinging tightly for just a moment. Harry just held him close and buried his nose in his hair, smiling slightly. "Thank you." His voice was low and rough, strained with the effort it took to draw in his surging emotions. "Harry…"
The slightly shorter man smirked, and took a step back. "There's another surprise inside. I almost didn't think I'd be able to pull it off, but apparently even the youngest of Malfoys know how to get past the wards."
As the words sank in, Draco's whole face seemed to brighten. He held out his hand, and Harry took it, stepping closer as he was tugged within inches of his taller lover. "We'll have to see what can be done about getting the wards to make exceptions for Potters from now on," he murmured, closing the last few inches between them to kiss Harry softly.
Harry nodded, but it was something that could be handled later. Today was for Draco.
Inside, James, Albus, and Lily peered out of one of the upstairs windows with Scorpius, striving to see the two men. "See, look," said Scorpius, a streak of pride in his voice. "They're happy together." It was extremely hard to deny between Draco clinging to Harry for that single moment and the kiss that followed soon after before they began walking toward the Manor once more, still pressed close to one another.
"It's still weird," grumbled James. Scorpius shot him a discouraging look.
"It is… kind of…" agreed Albus reluctantly, and Lily nodded, agreeing with her older brothers even as Scorpius frowned at them. "But Scor is right. As long as they're happy together, that's what matters the most, right?"
James scowled, but eventually nodded. He wanted to say, "Just so long as they don't have us moving in together." It was bad enough that their Mom no longer lived with them without suddenly having Mr. Malfoy come into their lives like that, as if he was going to replace her or something. But…
He glanced to the side, his scowl deepening. It wouldn't be so bad if Scorpius was going to move in, too, if it happened. Not that he was going to say that part out loud. It sounded so sappy, more like something Albus would say.
Lily was the first one to look back to the window. "We have to go downstairs! They're almost at the door!"
All four children quickly jumped up and made a run for the door, sprinting along the hall and down the stairs. They could hear the knob turning, the door quietly creaking as it opened. They put on an extra burst of speed and nearly tumbled down the rest of the stairs, barreling toward the couple at the door even as they stepped past the threshold.
Harry fell onto his butt with the force of three children hitting him at top speed. Draco merely stumbled back a few steps, wrapping his arms around Scorpius tightly. As Harry swore and struggled and had his kids laughing at his antics, Draco dropped to his knees and faced Scorpius, still holding him close. "We've got the Manor back," said Scorpius with a smile.
"Yes, we do," agreed Draco, glancing to the side where the four Potters were sprawled on the ground, giggling almost hysterically at this point. "But I don't think it's just for you and me anymore." Scorpius followed his gaze, and his smile widened a little.
"That's even better."
Draco, of course, insisted on throwing a proper party now that the Manor was back in his possession. It took him the work of a day to sell the small house where he and Scorpius had lived, move their furniture to the Manor, and begin working on returning the house to its former glory, and then some. Harry could tell with every visit he made to the huge home over the course of a week that changes were being made for the better.
Whatever furniture had been stored rather than sold was returned, colors and styles were changed from the walls to the drapes to the flooring, the dust was banished and everything was soon glistening, as if brought back to life after a long hibernation. Scorpius was eager to help restore his old home, and could often be seen dogging his father's footsteps, prepared to do any and all tasks that weren't being done with magic whenever the Potter children were off visiting their mother.
The children basically lived at both homes, swapping from one to the other almost every day, except for when they were visiting Ginny. At Harry's they spent a lot of time in Albus' room, talking (or arguing) and fooling around for hours with whatever happened to come to hand. Scorpius took care to make time for Lily, making sure she was included in whatever they did. He seemed to be developing quite a soft spot for the girl, and she soon declared that he was her favorite brother, which got James all worked up as they argued the semantics of Lily calling Scorpius her 'brother'.
At the Manor, they explored the many, many rooms scattered from one wing to the other. Albus got the bright idea by the second week to draw a map of everything they did, so they would know where everything was later on, since there were too many rooms to ever remember what they all were. A large number of the rooms upstairs were guest bedrooms, and they spent hours testing each and every bed they found by jumping on it until Draco's thundering voice sent them hurrying on to their next destination, checking yet another room off their map. He never came upstairs to follow through on his threats, though, and so the jumping continued.
By mid-July, the Manor was complete. And so were Draco's party plans. He reassured Harry that he would even invite the entire Weasel brood, just to make him happy. Harry was more concerned about how many other people would be invited. "Think of it as a Hogwarts reunion," said Draco with a sly grin, and Harry groaned. Draco promised to take care of all the details, so Harry would have nothing to worry about. "You just make sure that you and the children are ready that night."
Albus and James rebelled at the idea of dress robes, but Scorpius seemed to share his father's love for dressing immaculately, always, and so he reveled in the opportunity to dress nicely. Harry was feeling a bit green around the gills as he heard the chatter of voices downstairs, but he dutifully ensured that the both himself and the children were properly dressed, reminding himself that it was better to be asked to attend a party in his lover's home than it was to be forced to attend a Ministry function. Draco seemed to share his distaste for them.
Scorpius swept into the room, dressed and ready, and arched a brow, looking exactly like his father as he did so. "Are we going to go downstairs before the party ends?" He brushed a piece of lint from his freshly-pressed black dress robes, and Harry smiled a little as he watched Lily peek around the corner, her hiding spot as she waited for them in the hallway given away by the hem of her pink dress; she seemed equally prepared to go downstairs.
Albus grinned and shrugged on the actual robe part of the ensemble, dashing forward to the blonde's side. "I'm ready!" he said, "We're just waiting on James."
"I'm nearly done, hold your bloody –!" The oldest boy turned, a sharp retort on his tongue, but it slipped away as green eyes met gray. Scorpius tilted his head at him, curious, and James quickly turned back to fumbling with his shirt buttons, willing away the faint flush that came to his cheeks. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous to be embarrassed, to be furious, over a bloody first year.
He yanked on his robes and turned again to face them, scowling. Second year, he reminded himself. And himself going into third. Still, ridiculous. Harry ushered them into the hall, and James found himself within half an arm's length of the blonde occupying his thoughts. Ridiculous, he reminded himself again, and yet…
He glanced at Scorpius, and received a small, reassuring smile for his trouble.
Perhaps not so ridiculous after all.
Albus shoved himself between them suddenly, bubbling with excitement and, with it, conversation, as usual. Scorpius' attention returned to the younger Potter, and James started down the stairs with the duo at his heels, refusing to feel slighted for having been knocked out of the spotlight by his younger brother. Ridiculous, his mind helpfully supplied again. But it wasn't quite so reassuring this time as before.
Harry was surprised as he looked around and realized that he knew almost every person in attendance. Draco hadn't been kidding when he had referred to it as a Hogwarts reunion. It seemed like everyone there had been in their year, and a large portion of them were Gryffindors. Of course, he saw the small huddle of upper class to one side, Slytherin through and through. But Draco wasn't among them, and it had Harry searching for his lover with a small frown.
Harry turned quickly, startled, and grinning, taking the glass Draco offered to him. "Draco…" The blonde winked, realizing he had already been found out.
"For an oblivious git, you're terribly perceptive at times," Draco teased.
Harry rolled his eyes. "It wasn't hard to guess. Most of these people are guests for me. And my birthday is in less than a week."
Draco smirked. "Well, I suppose the fact that you didn't guess it until the guests arrived still makes it a successful surprise, in the end."
Harry glanced around again; Neville and Hannah were talking to Luna and Rolf, George and Angelina weren't too far away, chatting with Teddy and Victoire, as were the rest of the Weasleys… The sudden weight of a person against his back, arms around his middle, nearly had him dropping his drink. And judging from the sudden ice in Draco's eyes, he could guess who it was. "Ginny," he said warmly, turning to embrace her properly. She kissed his cheek, and they both heard the soft hiss that came from their blonde onlooker; Ginny with amusement, and Harry with exasperation.
"Harry," she said with a smile, finally drawing back enough to Draco could slip in and wrap an arm around him possessively. "I'm surprised you convinced him to let me be invited."
Harry shook his head. "Draco did it all on his own." Ginny glanced at Draco, surprised, and he smirked at her.
"I'm more than capable of doing what I must for Harry, even if I'm not happy about it. He would have wanted you here, and so here you are." Pleasantries finished, as far as Draco was concerned, he looked down at Harry, dismissing her from further conversation.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Quite a catch, Harry. Come find me later when you don't have a snake hanging off your arm and we can actually talk."
Draco was sorely tempted to stick out his tongue at her, but he merely smirked and watched her walk away. "You're horrible," Harry scolded half-heartedly. The admonition was ruined by the laughter in the words.
"You love it," Draco retorted, taking his hand. "Come, let's dance."
Harry allowed himself to be dragged along, gaping. Everyone knew they were together at this point (after enough times of forgetting themselves and being discovered due to unlocked doors, nobody had doubted the Daily Prophet for once when it ran the outrageous story). But it was one thing for them to know it, and another thing for them to witness it. And Draco had always been one to protest a public coming out, for all their sakes, despite the fact that they had already technically been outed by the media.
"Is this my birthday present?" asked Harry in a low voice as he was tugged out onto the floor, not hesitating to curl an arm around his partner's waist despite the eyes that he knew were on them. Draco chuckled.
"I suppose. But I had rather thought that the stack of presents sitting over there with everyone else's were the actual gifts." Harry smiled as they slipped seamlessly into motion, joining several other couples that were already taking advantage of the music.
"I think I like this better," he admitted quietly, as if it were some great secret. He had feared a formal celebration, such as he had imagined were once held here for Purebloods by Lucius or the other Malfoy ancestors. But there was warmth here, closeness, despite the tensions that might run underneath here and there. The children were running around, unrestrained, giving their parents an opportunity to relax with friends while still knowing exactly where their children were at. The attire was a bit more formal than he liked, but it was a small price to pay for such a well-planned party, so clearly formulated with him in mind.
Harry smiled when he saw Lily eying them enviously. "Would you –" he began, but paused and watched out of the corner of his eye as Scorpius noticed as well from nearby where he was standing with Albus and a few other children their age. He pulled away from the conversation and crossed to her, extending a hand. Lily's eyes brightened and she beamed as if she had just been given the best present ever. She took his hand and Scorpius led her onto the floor, patiently helping her through the steps. He picked her up clear off the floor and whirled her once, and her shriek of laughter was the best sound Harry had heard all night.
"Do you mind if I cut in, Harry?" Blinking, Harry tore his eyes away from his daughter and looked at Luna with surprise, nodding without even thinking. "I mean with Draco," she added, and she was still the same as she had ever been, her smile patient and her eyes kind. "Ginny wants to talk to you, and I think Draco and I can find quite a lot to talk about to keep his mind off of how much he doesn't like her while you two dance."
Harry fought the urge to laugh. Still the same Luna. Blunt was an understatement. "Be my guest," he said, and Draco shot him a look before sweeping her off, though he didn't look particularly put out about it. Apparently he and Luna had reconnected during one of his cases at the Ministry months ago, and were actually rather good friends.
Meanwhile, James wandered over to where Albus was standing with Anthony and several other Gryffindor students, watching the dancing couples. "Scor is a really good dancer," commented Albus, and James nodded, following the smallest duo on the floor with his eyes. "Maybe, they'll bring the Triwizard Tournament back to Hogwarts, and we'll have a ball like Dad did."
James forced himself to look back at his younger brother. "Then we'd be stuck wearing these dress robes again."
Albus' nose wrinkled and he tugged at his collar. "Nevermind."
"James, Albus." Rose glanced out at the floor, and then back at them. "Would one of you come and dance with me?"
Albus shuffled back a step, so James rolled his eyes and stepped forward. "Sure, why not?" He took his cousin's hand and led her out onto the floor. Scorpius twirled by them with Lily and smiled, and then he was gone again. Draco and Luna whirled by, laughing together. Harry and Ginny were talking animatedly, both of them smiling at him when they saw him. They were clumsy compared to the adults, but it was still fun. Rose questioned him about Quidditch next year, and he forgot all about the strange tension that tended to settle in his belly when he thought about the youngest Malfoy.
Hours drifted past. The buffet replenished itself into the wee hours of the morning, and the music never seemed to stop. James dropped down onto the stairs, bloated with rich food and exhausted from dancing with every cousin he had never even known he had. Slowly, families were trickling out the doors, wishing Harry a happy birthday and promising to visit more often now that it seemed he had 'tamed the Slytherin Prince'. Draco didn't seem to like that so much, but it amused Harry greatly, and so it was allowed to pass unchallenged for the moment.
Albus was fast asleep on one of the abandoned tables, one shoe missing. He had started a line of dancing children that had snaked around and around the large ballroom, which had quickly worn out the majority of the younger party guests. The ones that had yet to go home were sprawled out much like Albus was, already fast asleep while they awaited their time to depart. The few adults that remained were sitting at tables, bunched close together, talking about the old days and telling stories that made some of them laugh and others blush, or yell and smack at one another playfully.
James glanced to his left, hearing footsteps, and spotted Scorpius. The blonde sat one stair below him and slid his feet out of his shoes, stretching his legs. "They are happy together," he said quietly, but didn't bother to look at the older boy sitting behind him.
James looked across at the tables again, saw the way his dad leaned against Scorpius', smiling and relaxed as he laughed at something one of the others had said. "Yeah," he admitted. "They are." As much as he hated to admit it, Mr. Malfoy made their dad happy, happier than he had been with their mom.
Scorpius leaned his elbows back on James' stair, still not looking at him. "At least you still have your mom."
"Yeah." James scooted down a stair so that he was level with the blonde, leaning back just as he was to get comfortable. "I still don't like it, but not because of your dad. I just wish they could have made it work."
Scorpius shrugged, unconcerned. "I used to wish my parents could go a full day without fighting. If divorce was what it took to make that happen, I wasn't going to complain." James glanced at him, then back at the tables, where his parents were sitting and not arguing, talking and laughing like everyone else. Scorpius' parents were still fighting; Astoria had not been invited to the party. All things considered, James knew he had less to complain about when it came to parents compared to Scorpius situation.
Scorpius yawned, and pushed himself to his feet. "I'm going up to bed. They're probably going to talk all night." He bent down and picked up his shoes, offering the older boy a faint smile as he straightened. "Good night, James."
James watched him head upstairs, then returned to looking straight ahead. "Yeah. Good night."
Three years later
"C'mon, Rose, throw me the Quaffle!"
"If you hit another Bludger at me, I'll go tell Mom!"
"Shut up and get back on the goal, Lil!"
James swerved around a Bludger and shot a glare at Fred II, tempted to complain about the close shot, but then he would sound as whiny as Lily, and he refused to be reduced to such. Surging upward, he pulled himself even with Scorpius, joining him in watching the tangle of brooms and balls below for some hint of the tiny Snitch.
"You should try to convince Albus to go for the team this year," said the sixteen year old conversationally, green eyes flitting around for a flash of gold. The blonde at his side never even looked up.
"You're trying to distract me. It won't work. And he refuses to play for the school team, you know that. Even though he's a bloody brilliant Chaser. He's just in it for fun." James rolled his eyes, opening his mouth to tell him just what he thought of 'playing for fun', when the fifteen year old suddenly sent his broom streaking downward, startling the brunette.
With a mumbled curse, James jerked his broom into a downward spiral and followed, finally spotting the Snitch that had sent Scorpius into motion. He urged his broom forward and they were soon neck and neck, dodging Bludgers and their fellow players in perfect rhythm. James chanced a look to his left, and saw that Scorpius was unflinchingly focused on his target, paying him no mind at all.
With a daring that he inherited from two generations of Potters, James hurled himself forward and skidded off his broom and into the dirt, clipping a fluttering golden wing but failing to latch on. He slammed his fist onto the ground and swore as Scorpius took advantage of the failed grab and managed to swipe the faltering Snitch, bringing his broom around in a sharp turn that allowed him to step off gracefully right in front of his fallen adversary. He smirked, and James' scowl deepened. "It's lucky for Gryffindor that I only play for fun, too," he said easily. "Otherwise I'd be Slytherin's Seeker instead of Keeper."
James got to his feet, brushing dirt from his pants. "Yeah, yeah," he muttered. "You say that, but it's just because you know you'd look like an idiot if you switched from Keeper to Seeker and then did a rubbish job of it."
Scorpius paused, glancing back at him. One eyebrow lifted, the gesture purely Malfoy. James halfway wondered sometimes if the blondes practiced the move in the mirror in the mornings. "Based on my performance this morning alone, I think it's clear that I would make a brilliant Seeker," he said, the beginnings of annoyance creeping into his tone.
Oh, yeah. James held back a grin. "Lucky shot," he snapped back, planting his feet in the dirt. Flames leapt into the normally-cool silver eyes, turning them molten with anger. Come on, come on…!
Scorpius surged toward him, his temper ignited. "I'll show you a luck sh –"
Albus was between them before either of them had time to swing, let alone land a punch, much to James' disappointment. "Hey, hey! Scor caught the Snitch, end of story. He's a bloody amazing Seeker, and you know it." Scorpius sent him a smug look, his anger already abating, but James merely scowled and turned to stomp away. Ridiculous. It was the most fitting word for their situation. Ridiculous, that a fifteen year old could twist his guts into knots like this. Worse, that his own brother was the part of the problem that had the knots sprouting thorns and digging in deep.
Damn summer to bloody hell. He was ready for Hogwarts again.
At least there he could find someone to distract him from what he couldn't have.
(And that's the end! *hides* I'm sorry, so sorry! Don't kill me!
The sequel is already being poked at! I hope to have a prologue up by the end of the week!
I hope everyone is pleased by the ending of this fic, I felt like it was suitable. Don't worry, there will be Drarry in the sequel, even if the plot will revolve more around the boys. ;) And Gilbert might even come back and put in a guest appearance, if my muse permits.
It has been a pleasure and a joy to make this journey with you, lovely readers, even though not all of you will be pleased with where it is ending. Remember my contests, and be sure to review! Keep an eye out for the sequel! :D
I feel as though none of my lovely reviewers will do so, but I must request it all the same: please no flames or horrible, negative comments regarding the winning pairing. I did what felt best for the plot. ^^ That is all.
Until next time, my lovely readers!