Chapter Six – Going Courting
"What is bothering you Draco, you have been silent for the best part of our interaction." Severus Snape was a hard man to surprise, but he had been getting nasty surprises a lot lately. From Lucius being revealed (he still couldn't find anything out about the elder Malfoy), to Draco's burgeoning friendship with the Potter boy and he had a horrible sinking feeling that this was going to surprise him once more.
Draco was silent for a moment longer before he bit his lip and looked up at his godfather. Severus was suddenly reminded of the conflicted little boy who had come running to hug him whenever he came through the floo with a yell of 'Uncle Sev!' Between Narcissa and the Dark Lord, a great deal of that little boy had disappeared.
"Do you know what happened to Potter this summer?" He asked, and that was probably the last thing Severus had been expecting.
"I assume you are talking about his inheritance." Severus stated and Draco nodded. "Then yes, I know that he is a Cruentus."
"Do you know who his mate is?" Draco asked softly and if Severus hadn't suspected beforehand then he knew now.
"Are you serious?" Severus sighed running his hand tiredly over his eyes. "Of course Potter had to pick my godson as his mate!"
"He didn't have a choice in it from what I can understand of these books!" Draco pulled our two small leather bound books from beneath his pillow, before falling silent again.
"What are you going to do?" As much as Severus didn't want to discuss his godson's love life he knew how conflicted Draco must be over this and as such wanted to be there for him, especially as Lucius couldn't be.
"I don't know! I told him I had to have some space to think about it but the way the conversation went it felt like I had already agreed to it!" Draco resting his head in his hands looking lost. Severus frowned.
"You do have a choice in this I hope you realise." He said dryly but Draco shook his head.
"Harry doesn't though, he has to be stuck with me as his mate whether he likes it or not and I…I think I might like him…"
"Then why are you conflicted? If you do 'like' him and he obviously likes you then the next logical step is to become a couple." Severus said.
"It's not that simple!" Draco cried. "We've hated each other for years! How do we get over that? Not to mention his friends! There's no way Weasley will ever like me nor will I ever like him but there's no way I could ask Harry to choose between us if it ever came down to it."
"Draco… I will not repeat this again and if you ever tell anyone I said it I will deny it." Severus began and Draco smiled which made it worth it. "You and Potter are perfect for each other. Even before his inheritance changed him physically you've both only ever had a passion for each other. When you used to come home and complain about him you would light up and the same went for him whenever I caught you two fighting. The passion wouldn't diminish, it would just change course."
A brilliant smile lit up Draco's face and Severus allowed himself a small smile himself as he thought that Draco would never be so open with anyone besides himself and Lucius.
"Thanks Uncle Sev!" Draco said and Severus nodded.
"I must leave now. I will check in on you as soon as I can." Severus had been working non-stop to find Lucius dead or alive, though he was desperately hoping, wishing for alive. Before he left he glanced back at Draco who was still smiling.
"Potter?" Draco knocked on the door Hermione had directed him to with a knowing smile, he hated to admit it but he had missed talking with her as much as he had missed speaking with Harry. She was amazingly smart and had a dry wit that went well with his, but he hadn't spoken to anyone in three days until Uncle Sev had talked some sense into him.
"Draco!" Harry must have leapt up to answer the door, his hair was more mussed than usual but he was grinning widely. "I thought we agreed to call each other by our names?"
"Old habits and all that." Draco said dryly and Harry nodded gesturing for Draco to enter the room.
It was tidier than he had expected, sure there were a couple of odd socks scattered around and the bed hadn't been made but it was an organised mess. Draco stood awkwardly in the doorway as Harry went back and sat on the bed, he patted the covers beside him.
"Did you make up your mind?" Harry asked and Draco nodded.
"My Uncle talked some sense into me." If it weren't their relationship he was talking about Draco would have taken great pleasure in the way Harry's face dropped as he obviously thought Severus had talked Draco out of it. "I'm willing to allow you to court me."
Harry's jaw dropped open.
"Wait a second! Snape talked you into dating me!" He exclaimed and Draco rolled his eyes.
"I did not say date, I said court. I'm a pureblood and we have certain expectations of our suitors, especially our serious candidates for marriage." Draco said haughtily. "But yes, Uncle Sev did manage to convince me to give you a chance."
"Oh…uh, okay, but what's the difference between dating and courting?" Harry asked nervously, Draco resisted the urge to roll his eyes again.
"Dating implies that you already have me, courting is a period between meeting and dating where you convince me that you are worthy." Harry's eyes darkened suddenly and he licked his lips.
"And I can do anything I want to convince you?" He asked his voice dropping lower and Draco let an amused smirk cross his mouth.
"I should think not." He said enjoying the petulant look on Harry's face. "Ask Granger for information if you must I'm sure she has a limitless supply of it. I will not be giving you any clues."
"Aww but Draco!" Harry complained but Draco shook his head holding his hand up.
"I expect to see you soon Harry." With a mysterious smile Draco slipped from the room chuckling to himself as he heard Harry's sigh of exasperation. He made his way back to his room feeling proud of himself, it was a clever solution. This way most purebloods would recognise them as a real couple when they got that far and it gave him some time to get used to Harry and for Harry to get to know him. He slipped back into his own room and lay down on the bed feeling a rush of anticipation, he had no doubt that Harry would rise to the challenge he had presented.
"So I'm supposed to give him gifts?" Harry asked while thinking how superficial this whole courting thing sounded.
"Have you been listening to anything I've said?" Hermione asked. "Courting is an ancient tradition going back to the middle ages in the Wizarding World. It is a way for the two participants to get to know each other before marriage or in more modern times, to get to know each other before taking any big relationship moves. You'll only give him about four gifts but they are important as they are meant to signify how well you know the person and how far you think your relationship has progressed. In the past the first gift was most commonly a flower, it's not an expensive gift so it shows you have no ties to the person yet and no obligations but the beauty of the flower was to represent how you think the relationship will turn out."
"Okay…" Harry said slowly. "I get the gift part now but from what it sounds like it's just dating!"
"In muggle terms I guess it is, but it's much more formal and needs to be thought out carefully. You take him on four dates over a span of a month and give him a gift every week and by the end he gets to decide if he wants to continue the relationship with you or not." Hermione said and Harry nodded.
"What can I do for the first date then? I mean what's appropriate?" He asked and Hermione smiled approvingly.
"It's meant to be something that shows off yourself so the person being courted can see your personality." Harry nodded thinking hard; he wanted it to be perfect for his mate. He couldn't mess this up. A grin lit up his face as he realised what he wanted to do.
"Thanks Mione you've been really helpful." Harry grinned. "Do I have to ask him in any specific way?"
"No." Harry nodded and gave a quick wave goodbye before practically running from the room.
Draco opened the door to see an out of breath Gryffindor waiting for him with a wide grin on his face.
"I assume you've learnt all you can about Courting from Granger?" He asked and Harry nodded enthusiastically before thrusting a flower in his face. Draco raised his eyebrow and took the orange rose.
"I know it's kind of cliché to give a rose but there wasn't much option of flowers here and I thought that most people liked roses and I wanted to get you something you'd like and I asked Hermione about the colour because I remember from somewhere that roses have meanings and she said orange was a good colour to give for starting a new relationship cause they mean passionate desire, pure enthusiasm and fascination and I feel all those things but I've got a really good idea for our first date, well not a date I guess since it's courting more of an outing but you'll really like it I bet!" Harry finished with a deep breath realising he needed to breathe but he was just so nervous and excited about this.
Draco looked down at the rose with a smile; it was sweet that Harry had put so much thought into the first gift.
"Thank you, I really like it." He said softly and Harry nodded before biting his lip nervously.
"Will you come with me please?" He asked offering his arm and Draco laughed causing Harry to look at him with a lost puppy looking for attention, it was almost overwhelming.
"Let me put the flower in my room." Draco said quickly entering his room and casting a stasis charm on the rose so it would stay fresh for a very long time. When he came back out Harry was looking more nervous than he could remember seeing him, he threw him a bone and smirked, sniffing haughtily. "I hope this lives up to my expectations Potter."
Harry laughed at the mockery of Draco's own behaviour before grabbing Draco's hand and dragging him down the stairs and outside where Harry had had the argument with Weasley.
"What are we doing?" Draco asked curiously. Harry grinned and showed his other hand which held two miniature versions of broomsticks. Taking a step away he enlarged the two and passed one to Draco before pulling a snitch from his pocket.
"I bet I can beat you." Harry grinned and Draco raised an eyebrow.
"But what do you bet?" He asked.
"If I win I get to kiss you." Harry stated so firmly that Draco had no doubt he had planned it, pursing his lips Draco thought about it. It wasn't customary within courting to have any sort of physical interactions but when was their relationship anything resembling customary.
"But then I won't want to win!" He pretended to be put out and Harry threw the snitch into the air with a bark like laugh. Draco kicked off and shot after it.
They went through a series of winding turns and daring moves, each trying to best the other, trying to show off. Draco saw a glint of gold in the corner of his eye and darted after it, Harry hot on his tail, he pushed his broom faster. He needed to win this, to prove he could win this.
His hand stretched out but just as he closed his fist around the snitch another fist swooped from below him and snatched it out of the air and Draco ended up folding his hand around Harry's. Pouting he let go and turned to face the Gryffindor who was grinning like the cat who got the cream. Draco moved closer, so close he could feel Harry's body heat, something that was entirely too arousing.
"Well…" He began in a low voice next to Harry's ear and he could hear Harry swallow dryly. "You did win."
"Yeah." Harry whispered leaning closer. Draco smirked wickedly and shot out of Harry's reach.
"But you've got to catch me first." Draco saw the frustration and amusement on Harry's face as he followed Draco's movements. They went through a second elaborate chase this time for something completely different to a snitch and Harry won again grabbing Draco's wrist and forcing him to spin the broom around.
"That wasn't fair." The raven pouted, "You promised me a kiss."
"I don't remember promising anything." Draco smirked as Harry's face fell. He leant forward and quickly pecked his cheek which instantly turned a bright red along with its twin. "But I guess I didn't mind that so much."
They dropped to the ground windswept and grinning.
"I had a great first 'outing'." Draco mocked Harry's earlier phrasing and Harry's blush deepened. "I hope the next one is just as good."
"I uh, well I…" Harry seemed slightly speechless and Draco's smile softened.
"I'm not expecting anything too grand considering that we are stuck in this house." Harry nodded but frowned as if he wanted to make lots of big grand gestures.
"Do you want me to walk you to your room?" Harry was afraid it seemed of making Draco feel too like a girl.
"I would be insulted if you didn't." Draco offered his arm and Harry brightened up. They walked in silence back through the house, thankfully not meeting anyone on the way.
Draco froze as he saw his Uncle Sev standing in the doorway of his room looking more distraught than he had ever seen him.
"Uncle Sev…" Draco whispered.
"We've found your father." Draco's heart leapt into his throat and his hand clenched tightly on Harry's arm.
"He's in my room. I came to tell you, he's alive." Draco let out a near sob of relief. "But he's in a coma and hasn't awoken yet."