Draco dragged his feet as he made his way to the stairs. He wanted to stay in the room until the holidays were over, but his mum had visited him earlier and ordered him to join them while they opened their gifts. She had even guilted him into agreeing by using Teddy. And he hated himself for giving in.
He was almost to the stairs when he heard voices coming from the study on his left. He noticed that the door was slightly open. He was about to ignore it when he heard someone mention the name 'Malfoy', so he quickly cast a Disillusionment Charm and quietly tiptoed to the open door to eavesdrop.
Bill paced in front of the desk while his wife Fleur sat on top of it.
"Bill," Fleur said, making the eldest Weasley child stop, "you 'ave to stop zinking like a Malfoy."
Draco almost laughed at the expression on Bill's face.
Fleur stood up and went to her husband. Bill's arms automatically wrapped around Fleur's waist and Bill instantly relaxed as she rested her head on his chest. The couple stayed that way for a few minutes and Draco watched them intently.
They looked so content just holding each other and Draco felt his heart ache a little. He would never admit it, but he longed to have someone to share moments like this with. Maybe his mum was right about him being bitter because his mum had found someone, again, while he was still alone.
He was a Malfoy for fuck's sake. He didn't need trivial things such as love.
Yeah right, Draco. Maybe if you repeat it a few more times you'll actually convince yourself.
"You sound like Draco" — Fleur's voice made Draco turn his attention back to the people inside the room — "when 'e was still spitting all of zat pureblood nonsense. Try to zink like a Weasley, no? Zat's what you are, and Weasleys always use zeir brains when eet comes to matters of ze 'eart. Do you zink zat eef I 'ad let your family's views affect me, we'd 'ave ended up 'appy togezzer?"
"But I —"
"No." Fleur placed her forefinger on Bill's lips. "Your papa knows what 'e ees doing. 'Ee's not trying to replace your mama. 'Ee just wants someone 'e can share 'is remaining days wizz. Someone 'oo won't leave 'im because zey 'ave zeir own family to attend to. I'm not saying 'e doesn't need us. 'Ee does, but 'e needs someone 'oo will stay wizz 'im after all of you decide to fly from the nest. You knew your mama ze best, Bill. She wouldn't want your papa to remain lonely. I know I wouldn't want you to."
Bill sighed. "All right, I'll think about it. I'll talk to Percy and Ron as well." Fleur cleared her throat and Bill sighed again. "Yes, Draco too."
Draco stealthily moved backward until he felt his back touch the wall. He quickly stopped the charm and hurried upstairs. He needed to talk to Ron and Percy before Bill cornered them. The alliance they had was down one person and he'd be damned if he'd let Bill take one more from him.
"Are you sure no one knows where we are?" Draco asked Ron again.
Ron rolled his eyes. "For the tenth time, yes, they don't know where we are. Stop being paranoid, Malfoy!"
"I'm not being paranoid, Weasley, I'm just being careful," Draco snapped back.
"Fine, whatever. Let's get this done and over with. Pansy'll have my head if I'm late for lunch."
Draco stepped back and motioned for Ron to go ahead. The Weasel shrugged before entering the flower shop. Draco looked at his surroundings first, trying to figure out if he could see anyone familiar. Ever since they had passed by the twins' shop, he'd had a nagging feeling that they were being followed.
His gaze swept through the crowd near the shop once more, but when he didn't seen anyone he shrugged and followed the Weasel inside.
Four hours later, Draco was restless. He had been forced to join Harry and his mum for tea as soon as he had arrived at Grimmauld Place, and Harry had insisted on sitting beside him, because the prat wanted to play footsie with him under the table. The twat even had the audacity to ask him if he was all right when Draco choked on his tea because Harry's foot was resting almost dangerously near his bits.
Draco silently fumed when his glare had no effect, as Harry flashed him an all-too-innocent smile. He wanted to hex him under the table, but the thought of accidentally hexing his mum instead stopped him. Although it did not prevent him from pinching Harry's leg when he had the chance.
He had to hand it to the git, though, since Harry hadn't even uttered a sound or winced allowing Narcissa to remain oblivious to what was going on under the table. Draco discreetly hid the fork he was using earlier and was about to stab Harry's wandering foot when they heard a tap on the window.
"I'll get it," Harry offered, standing up and walking toward the window where the sound came from. The prat had probably realised how close Draco was to murdering his foot. A few minutes later Harry came back with a beautiful bouquet of roses. "Narcissa, these are for you."
Draco schooled his expression blank, but inwardly cheered when he heard the familiar whoosh of the Floo, signalling someone's arrival. Right on time, Draco thought smugly as Arthur, Fred and George stepped inside the room as Narcissa read the card that came with the roses.
"We're home —" Arthur Weasley never finished his sentence as Narcissa met him halfway, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. Arthur grinned while Draco grimaced. Wait… why was his mum kissing Arthur after reading the card? Surely…
"I never thought you were a closet romantic, Arthur," Narcissa said, unknowingly answering Draco.
"I am?" Arthur asked, puzzled at the situation.
"Oh, don't be shy. The roses you sent and the card you wrote was beautiful," Narcissa replied.
"They were?" Arthur looked at them, confusion evident in his face.
You're not the only one confused, Draco thought in irritation. How the hell did the card end up with Arthur's signature? Unless Arthur did send his mum roses and their order was still on its way. Draco subtly glanced at the window, hoping to see an owl delivering another bouquet of roses that looked hauntingly similar to the one his mum just received. One that Draco was certain Ron and he had chosen earlier. There wasn't.
Which meant that was the one they had purchased, but how…?
His confusion cleared once Fred spoke. "Dad, did you forget already? You sent George and I to the shop earlier to pick out a bouquet for the card you made for Narcissa."
"I did?" Arthur still looked uncertain, but it seemed like the smile on his fiancée's face dismissed his doubts. The older Weasley laughed. "I do have my moments. Don't get used to it, though."
Everyone laughed at the joke except for Draco, who was busy glaring at the twins. He knew someone had been following them earlier. He should have followed his instincts. This wouldn't do, this wouldn't do at all.
Time to step up the game, Draco thought as he saw the smug grins the twins sent his way. Draco sneered back. You had better watch out, Weasleys. I wasn't Sorted into Slytherin for nothing.
"We're running out of time!" Ron exclaimed as he plopped down on Draco's bed. "This is nice," Ron commented as he ran his hand across Draco's silk sheets, then looked at the Draco accusingly. "How come you've got silk sheets and I don't?"
Draco snorted and turned back to the parchment he had been reading earlier. "Because those are from my bed at the Manor. It's not my fault I can't sleep with the sub-standard sheets Potter provided."
"Oh right," Ron sniggered. "The princess can't sleep without his silk sheets."
Draco stared at Ron coldly. "If you value life and would like to keep this alliance, you will keep your insults to yourself."
"Fine, whatever," Ron agreed while rolling his eyes, which Draco ignored. "This really sucks, you know. The engagement party's two days away and we still haven't managed to put a wedge between them. It's like some magical force is preventing us from achieving our goal."
"Don't I know it." Draco huffed. "Although I was certain that your idea of a day out in the Muggle world with no magic would have worked. Of course, that had been until Granger and Potter had charmed the skirts off my mum by accompanying her on a shopping spree. You should have known better than to allow a Malfoy into a shopping district."
"How was I supposed to know we were going to a shopping district?" Ron defended. "Besides, it's not as if you didn't enjoy it as well. It was kinda funny seeing you and your mum trying to outdo each other in giving Harry a makeover."
"Ugh." Draco grimaced. "Don't remind me. I don't know what came over me. But you have to admit, Potter had been in dire need of a wardrobe change. So do you."
"I can manage on my own, thank you very much," Ron replied. "I have to hand it to your mum, though; she knew what she was doing. Pansy's parents were impressed when I wore that robe to the Ministry Christmas gala. That was bloody brilliant, by the way."
"Except that your dad had to ruin it by not acting uncomfortable at all and being a perfect gentleman. How come Percy never told us that some of the members of the Wizengamot were thinking that your dad was a good candidate for Minister of Magic," Draco asked, eyebrows rising in question.
"Beats me." Ron shrugged. "I can't think of any explanation except that Percy's a selfish prat and if Narcissa and other purebloods backed the campaign it would ensure Dad's victory and help him advance his career. It was probably too much of a temptation for him to resist."
"Glad to know that not all Weasleys are lost to the side of self-sacrifice. There is still hope I guess," Draco teased.
"Prat!" Ron replied good-naturedly as he threw a pillow at Draco, who ducked out of harm's way. "But seriously, though, what's with you and Harry?"
"Nothing, he's just being a git."
"That's not how I see it," Ron responded as he sat up and looked at Draco seriously. "I know we're not really close friends, but I just want to let you know that I care for Harry a lot, and if whatever's going on between the two of you is what will make him happy… I'll, you know… won't stand in the way or anything."
Draco felt something flutter in his heart. Loath as he was to admit it, the vote of confidence from the Weasel made him feel warm inside. "I'll keep that in mind, if it ever comes to that. I'll kill you if you tell Pansy or Blaise about this, but I think they're sort of right in choosing redheads. Besides, it's not as if Potter's bent."
Ron grinned. "If you say so, but that's not what I heard through the grapevine. Want me to ask Harry?"
"Sod off, Weasel!" Draco threw the pillow back at Ron and whooped when it hit the redhead square in the face. "And why are we talking about Potter anyway? We're supposed to be planning something evil."
"Yeah, yeah, no more talking about your closet lust for Harry," Ron teased as he fluffed the pillow and lay back down. "You know, if we weren't so opposed to this union and hadn't been at each other's neck since we're eleven, I'd say I wouldn't mind having you as a brother."
"In your dreams, Weasel," Draco countered, ducking his head to hide the small smile Ron's declaration brought. "But, you're not half bad yourself. Now if you're done being sappy, can we please go back to being Dark Lord wannabes, and plot?"
Draco and Ron had just arrived from their trip to Diagon Alley when everyone except for Arthur accosted them as soon as they exited the Floo into Grimmauld Place, locking them in the library.
Draco fidgeted in his seat, getting more uncomfortable by the second. Harry stood guard in front of the door, while the rest of their friends and the Weasleys were scattered throughout the room, sitting on every available surface. Draco gave Ron a questioning look, but the youngest Weasley male just shrugged. Draco directed his silent question to the rest of the room and almost choked when Charlie winked at him flirtatiously. He ignored the gesture, which earned him a chuckle from the twins, who had been watching him intently.
"All right," Ron said tentatively, breaking the uncomfortable silence, "what's this all about?"
Ten pairs of eyes turned towards Bill, who cleared his throat and spoke in the most authoritative voice he could muster, "Stop it. Whatever you two are planning, just stop it."
Draco snorted. "I have no idea what you are talking about. Weasley and I just went to Diagon Alley to shop for dress robes to use for tomorrow night's dinner. Right, Weasley?"
Ron nodded enthusiastically. "Malfoy's right; I needed help so I asked him. What makes you think we're planning something?"
"How about the fact that you and Draco are hanging out all of a sudden and you wouldn't even acknowledge each other as friends a few weeks ago?" Pansy asked her boyfriend, earning a few nods of agreement in the room.
Ron looked sheepish and Draco silently cursed Pansy for being the epitome of a true Slytherin.
"So what?" Draco asked. "Shouldn't you be happy that we're trying to be friends? Isn't that what this union is all about?"
"Yes, we should be. But if your friendship is based on your mutual dislike for the wedding, there's reason to think otherwise," Percy answered.
Draco sneered at Percy. "And you would have firsthand knowledge on that Weasley because you were privy to that plot beforehand, right?"
Percy had the grace to blush. "I am not denying my earlier involvement, but at least I had the sense to see the error of my way, unlike certain individuals who insist on acting childish."
"I'm not being childish!" Ron protested.
"Error, my arse." Draco snorted and then glared at Ron, who met his gaze challengingly. Draco broke the eye contact. No use being at odds with his only ally, he thought before turning his glare on Percy. "You only changed your mind when you realised how my family's money would help your dad's future campaign and your career."
Percy laughed, making Draco glare at him harder. A weaker man would have cowered at the intense hatred Draco sent Percy. But, just as Ron had said days earlier, Percy was a selfish prat and he wasn't affected by the Malfoy death glare. "I knew you'd bring that up. I'm not denying it. It's a good thing actually."
"Ha!" Draco exclaimed smugly.
"But I'd already given Dad and Narcissa my blessings even before I learned about that," Percy said. "Fred and George knocked some sense in my head, literally. And I was there when Narcissa talked to Mum's portrait. Just like Draco made Dad talk to Lucius's portrait at the Manor. And if the blessings of their late spouses weren't enough to convince me that they should get married, then I'd be a greater prat than the two of you combined."
Draco's jaw dropped. He hadn't actually believed that Arthur Weasley would talk to his father's portrait and ask for his blessing as Draco had suggested. He studied Percy's face, looking for any hint that he was lying, but there was none. And knowing that his mum had done the same made all of his arguments and the desire to fight drain from his body.
"So on behalf of everyone who wants to see these two people finally find their peace, please, stop being immature and don't do anything stupid," Charlie said.
"I didn't know Mum had talked to Narcissa," Ron whispered.
Ron's response was too much for Draco to handle, so he stood, stared at Harry until he unlocked the door, and left without glancing back.
Draco was not feeling guilty. Not one bit. He was merely feeling unwell. That's why he did not join everyone for dinner. That's why he was hiding — no, relaxing — in the broom shed in the garden. He wasn't even panicking because the Weasel seemed to be having second thoughts about their plan. He had avoided Draco's gaze when they bumped into each other on the way to the dining room. He was so perfectly fine and calm that he had even sneered at the Weasel and gracefully made his exit earlier saying he wasn't hungry.
Never mind that his stomach had been protesting for the last thirty minutes.
Draco punched the wall and winced as pain shot through his hand. It's not fucking fair! Why had Draco's father given his blessings? Why had Molly Weasley agreed with the wedding? Why were his friends all right with everything? Was he the only sane person who saw how wrong it was? And why the fuck was he hallucinating Harry standing in the doorway with a tray of food?
"That looks painful," the Harry in his hallucination said, placing the tray of food on the ground and reaching for his hand.
Draco must have really been hungry because the hand felt solid. He jumped in surprise when he felt magic tingling in his hand and then pulled his hand back when he felt lips touch his fingers.
"Fuck, Potter!" Draco exclaimed. "Don't you get tired of stalking me?"
"No," Harry replied as took the cover off and pushed the tray of food toward Draco.
"I'm not hungry," Draco said stubbornly, but his stomach growled when his nose smelled the roasted chicken sandwich. Draco gruffly took the sandwich and ate it while Harry watched.
"Is it really that hard?" Harry asked.
Draco did not answer. Instead, he grabbed the glass of pumpkin juice and took a sip.
Harry cursed Draco's stubbornness and continued his questioning as soon as Draco finished his sandwich and placed the empty glass back onto the tray. "Is it?"
"I don't know."
"Then why are you doing it?'
"Because she's the only one I have left! And your redheads are trying to take her away from me!" Draco shouted and then gasped when he realised what he had just confessed. He turned around and ignored Harry when Harry placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Just — don't," Draco pleaded.
Harry sighed and removed his hand from Draco's shoulder. He thought Harry had left, but then he heard the tray scrape on the floor. He was startled when he felt arms encircle his waist, gently coaxing him until his back rested against Harry's chest. Draco closed his eyes and let his head rest on Harry's chest when he felt Harry bestow a soft kiss on his nape.
"They're not," Harry said after a while. Draco did not answer and burrowed himself closer to the warmth. They stayed like that for some time, hearing and feeling each other's breathing. "For what it's worth," Harry whispered, "I'm here, and I'll always be here until you don't need me anymore."
The day of the engagement party passed by in a blur and, aside from avoiding Harry and anyone that had red hair, Draco's day was relatively easy. He was feeling nervous and anxious. He'd checked with the owl courier earlier and was relieved when he found out that the Weasel hadn't cancelled their instructions.
He would just have to wait for the right time, watching as his plan unfolded with delight. Although the nervous glances that the Weasel kept sending his way throughout the whole pre-dinner affair had his stomach tied up in knots.
He quickly dismissed the thoughts, since he was still certain his plan would work because the Weasel had not given any indication that he had terminated it.
Finally, his mum announced that dinner was served and he glanced at the window. He smiled in glee when he saw an owl swoop through the open window and drop a package in front of his mum and Arthur. Draco held his breath as his mum and Arthur checked the card on the box and smiled at him and Ron, then proceeded to open it.
Draco immediately covered his nose with his hand, knowing that the stench from the Dungbombs inside the box would cover the whole room once it was opened. But the stench never came. He looked inside the box and almost cried. Instead of Dungbombs, his mum was holding matching white wedding robes with the emblems of the Ancient Houses of Black, Malfoy and Weasley embroidered on the backs.
He glared accusingly at Ron, who looked at him in apology.
"Draco, Ron, this is beautiful! Thank you."
Draco tore his gaze from Ron and smiled tightly, diverting his attention back to his mum. He gasped when he saw his mum's eyes shining with tears and her whole face lit up in joy. Draco didn't think he'd ever seen his mother this happy. He thought he'd lost his chance of seeing that look of utter happiness and contentment on her face when his father had died. And now — Draco's heart broke into pieces as he realised how immature he had acted and how close he had been to destroying everything for her.
"It was nothing, Narcissa," Ron said shyly, making Draco wince.
Draco stiffened when everyone looked at him expectantly. He almost jumped when he felt a hand on his back. He glanced over and saw Harry smiling at him encouragingly. Draco held back the tears that threatened to fall, almost choking when he said, "I" — he cleared his throat — "I am happy for you, Mother. May the ancestors bless your union, as I do."
The relief on his mum's and Arthur's faces was enough to make him smile back. He saw Ron mouth a 'Thank you' in his direction before everyone turned back and proceeded to move toward the dining area.
Draco muttered an excuse about going to the loo, and then a hand stopped him and turned him around. Draco was about to ask Harry what he was doing when Harry leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. Draco stepped back and looked at Harry in confusion.
Harry pointed up and whispered, "Mistletoe," before turning to join the other guests in the dining room.
Draco blushed in embarrassment as he followed Harry inside. Most of his friends who had witnessed the kiss smiled at him teasingly. Draco pasted a smile on his face and watched, with a heavy heart, the interactions and banter between his soon-to-be stepsiblings and mother.
Everyone was happy. His mum was content and it made him finally realise that the only person complicating everything was himself. There was only one thing he could do to make everything right.
It'd been two weeks since Draco last saw his mum. Two weeks since he had decided not to return to school. It'd been two weeks since he had realised that he needed to disappear in order to help his mum settle in with her soon-to-be family. And it had been two, whole fucking weeks since he'd last seen Harry.
Damn it! It was just his luck that he had finally realised how much he liked Harry after he had decided to leave.
Draco sighed as he looked around the Muggle café he'd frequented since he had arrived. He was lonely. He missed the buzz and craziness of the Weasleys at Grimmauld Place. He missed Hermione and Theo's intellectual banter with the twins, and Ginny and Blaise's public displays of affections. Hell, he missed Ron and Pansy's bickering, and even Neville's clumsiness and Luna's weird declarations. And Harry.
Harry's smile. Harry's kisses and touch.
But damn if he'd go back and ruin everything again!
He had sworn he'd make everything right, and if keeping his distance from them was the answer, he'd bravely endure it.
But that didn't mean he couldn't go to Diagon Alley and purchase the new Potions book he had seen in the Daily Prophet yesterday. And maybe he'd pass by the twins' shop and steal a glance at Harry, who he didn't absolutely know had been helping out in the shop every weekend.
Keeping his distance was not easy, but those little glances while under a glamour helped ease the hurt, at least for a while.
Of all the rotten luck! Draco had to bump into Neville and Luna at the Muggle café he'd just discovered. He'd been discreetly making his way out of the door when Luna tapped him on the shoulder and now he had no choice but to sit with them.
A month of hiding — worthless. Draco knew Neville would not hesitate to tell everyone where he was. But then again, maybe he'd wanted someone to discover where he'd been. He was tired of being alone.
Neville smiled at him. "I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to."
"I know." Draco smiled sadly, surprising even himself that he believed Neville was telling the truth.
"Draco." Luna smiled dreamily. "The nargles have been following you every day. They might make you think you're all alone and have no one to turn to, but don't listen to them. A kiss from Harry will keep them away."
Draco choked on his drink. Neville smiled as he patted Draco's back. "Longbottom, your girlfriend... does not make sense at all."
"I know," Neville replied, looking at Luna fondly. "But that's what makes her special. Her words might not make sense, but she knows the right words to say to make me feel better. You know what I mean."
And surprisingly, Draco did, though looking at the way Luna smiled at Neville, their fingers entwined, made Draco's heart ache. He had experienced that before and he'd give anything to experience that again.
"Draco," Luna said, drawing his attention back to her, "don't let your stubbornness get in the way of your happiness. Sometimes, all we have to do is turn around and see that what we've been missing has been with us all along."
Luna stood up and Neville followed her. The Ravenclaw reached out and gave his cheek a light pat. "But if things are a little blurry, you should soak your hand in peppermint and vinegar. It's a fool proof plan to make the Scorse fairies leave you alone."
Draco laughed and for reasons he couldn't comprehend, he actually understood what Luna meant.
Draco looked at his hotel door in confusion. He was sure he had heard a knock a while ago, but maybe over a month of isolation had made him hallucinate. He shrugged and continued reading the Muggle book, A Midsummer Night's Dream, he had purchased earlier. He hadn't known Muggles could write this well. Maybe Hermione could recommend some other books he could read.
There it was again, the faint sound of a fist hitting his door repeatedly. Draco placed the book on the coffee table, walked toward the door, and peeked through the peephole. He took a deep breath before opening the door and saying, "Weasel."
"Ferret," Ron replied. Draco smirked when he saw how unsure Ron was before Ron asked, "May I come in?"
Draco shrugged and opened the door and waited until Ron entered the room before closing the door. He ignored the muttered, "First class, figures," and gestured to a chair before heading to the fridge and grabbing two cans of soda.
He handed one to Ron before making himself comfortable on the chaise he had been lounging on earlier. Minutes of silence passed before Ron cleared his throat.
"How are you?" Ron asked.
"This is awkward," Ron commented.
"Tell me about it," Draco replied. "How's everyone?"
"Miserable without you," Ron admitted. "Especially your mum and Harry."
Ron took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."
"Why did you do it?"
"Because I saw how much effort your mum put into preparing the New Year's dinner," Ron explained. "I may strike some of you as stupid, but I do know when someone puts their whole heart into making something special."
Ron's shoulders slumped in defeat. "It was like seeing Mum all over again and I know Narcissa's not used to doing things manually. But if you had seen her that day with Ginny, Hermione and Andromeda helping her and ignoring the burns she'd gotten while cooking, you would have understood too."
Draco looked at Ron in disbelief. What had happened to the Weasel he had known at school? He wanted to shout at him and tell him how much his betrayal had hurt him, but he couldn't. When had everyone matured and left him behind?
"I know you probably don't want to hear what I have to say and I know I'm not the one you really want to see right now," Ron spoke once more, "but Dad and your mum are willing to cancel the wedding if you would just —"
"No!" Draco shouted.
"I understand." Ron sighed. "I'll just —"
"No! You don't understand," Draco said, voiced laced with panic. "My sacrifice would be in vain if they don't get married! They have to get married or my leaving won't make any sense!"
"Whoa! Calm down!" Ron said as he walked toward Draco and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Are you saying you left because you thought it would make everything all right?"
Draco nodded, making Ron laugh.
"What's so amusing?"
Ron took deep breaths to calm himself. "Git. How would leaving solve everything?"
"Because then you'd have your perfect family once more without me ruining your white picket fence."
"We don't have a picket fence."
Draco laughed this time. "It's a Muggle phrase which depicts a perfect family situation."
"Oh." Ron nodded in understanding, and then smirked. "You've been reading Muggle books?"
"It's not so bad," Draco said defensively. "You actually learn a lot from them."
"I know, my ex-girlfriend and best friend lived in the Muggle world," Ron said. "Is it really that hard for you to think of us as your family?"
"I —" Draco took a deep breath. "Remember what I told you when we were planning the Dungbombs?"
Ron nodded. "If that was the case, why did you leave?"
"Because I can't bear the fact that Mum's attention will no longer only be mine," Draco confessed. "I'm an only child. I have a hard time sharing — and Mum... she's the only one I have left and your family's taking her away."
"Prat," Ron said, holding up his hand to stop Draco from protesting. "But I understand how you feel. I'm the sixth of seven children, and I'm not good at anything at all. How do you think I felt when I found out I would have to share Dad's and everyone else's attention with two more people?"
"Depressed, sad, fed up," Ron supplied.
Draco smirked and Ron answered with a smirk of his own. "We're a bunch of insecure prats; it's a wonder we had a hard time getting along."
"Much as I hate to agree with you, you're right." Ron mock grimaced. Draco laughed and Ron joined him.
"So, ready to go home?" Ron asked after their laughter subsided.
"Home. I like the sound of that."
"Good, because there's a certain war hero who's missing you and probably driving everyone mad by now."
"Really? I didn't know you cared about me that much," Draco teased.
Ron punched him playfully on the arm. "Git, I was talking about Harry."
Draco's face fell. "I don't want to be his experiment."
Ron shook his head in disbelief. "You really need to get over your insecurities. I kind of miss the pointy git who's made my life unbearable for the past ten years."
Draco swatted Ron on the arm. "I'll show you insecure, you prat! But first, make yourself useful and help me pack."
Ron just laughed as Draco stomped his way to his bedroom.
Draco cleared his throat nervously to catch his mother's attention. Narcissa gracefully turned around, dropped the flowers she had gathered and ran toward him, enveloping him in a tight hug.
"Oh Draco, my Dragon. Where have you been? I've been worried sick about you," Narcissa said quickly as she fussed over him. "I'm sorry, darling. I'll cancel the wedding if you want me to, just come back."
"Mum," Draco said as he untangled himself from his mum's tight embrace, "I'm fine. Please calm down." Draco steered Narcissa towards the nearest chair and motioned for her to sit down. Once Narcissa was finally settled, Draco kneeled in front of her and took both of her hands in his. "Don't even think about cancelling the wedding. You deserve a second chance at happiness."
He caressed her hands with his thumbs. "I've been a prat, I know, and I'm sorry. I thought that you marrying again would mean you wouldn't have time for me anymore. But I now know I was wrong. I don't need you to remain a Malfoy for you to love me. Because whatever your surname is, I'll always be your Dragon and you'll always be my mum."
"Oh, Draco, I would never abandon you."
"I know. I'm sorry, Mum," Draco said sincerely. "Forgive me, please."
"There's nothing to forgive, Dragon," Narcissa responded. "I'm so happy you're back."
"So am I, Mum, so am I."
Draco froze when he heard Harry call his name. He turned around and his heart wrenched in pain when he saw how miserable Harry looked. Ron wasn't kidding. "Potter, you look like shit."
Harry smiled. "When did you arrive?"
"About an hour ago. I just got back from talking to Arthur and Mum."
"That's good," Harry replied as he moved toward Draco, who instinctively stepped back. He immediately regretted the move when he saw the devastated expression on Harry's face.
"I'm sorry," Harry said as he turned to leave. "I won't bother you again. I'm glad you're back."
Draco flinched when he heard the pain in Harry's voice and reached out, pulling Harry against him. He cupped Harry's face and poured all of his emotions into a kiss, letting his lips and tongue speak for him. He relaxed when Harry kissed him back with a passion that equalled his own. Harry's arms encircled his waist and pulled their bodies closer.
Draco rested his forehead against Harry's when they finally broke the kiss, glad that Harry didn't relinquish his hold.
"I won't be your experiment," Draco whispered a few minutes later.
Harry looked up and met his gaze. Draco's breath caught at Harry's smile. "You're not, I promise. I'm done experimenting. That's what Charlie and I did last summer."
"You mean —"
Harry silenced him with another kiss. "Yes, but that's over. We've decided we're better off as friends."
"Good, because brother or not, I'll hex him into the next millennium if he so much as looks at you the wrong way. I'm selfish and I don't share."
"I might say the same for you," Harry replied and laughed softly at Draco's puzzled expression. "I think Charlie fancies you. I'm not selfish, but I won't share you with anyone. You're mine, so you better remember that."
Draco laughed, his heart bursting with happiness at the possessive tone in Harry's voice. "I'll always be yours, until you don't need me anymore."