Chapter Seventeen: In Venere Veritas – Alternately, The Epilogue

Alternately: no, the chapter title has nothing to do with the chapter (if you bother to translate it from Latin) and if one of you gets the band reference I've been giving you with EVERY CHAPTER TITLE (hinthinthint) I will jump for joy and maybe cry a little.

Lucius Abraxas Malfoy was a frightening man.

He was perfectly aware of that fact, and relished it more than he probably should. Narcissa was constantly telling him off for trying to scare people off on purpose (especially if they were pitying or scavenging or just trying to be nice), but he was also a stubborn man. He loved his wife – really, he did – but, well, he was who he was.

He wasn't going to apologize for being the reason the Boy-Who-Lived was currently sitting petrified and ashen across from him at the table.

Draco looked somewhere between horrified and exasperated, a flush high on his cheeks. He gave his father a subtle hiss of 'Father! Was that necessary?'

Lucius raised an eyebrow, a silent yes. Draco huffed, rolling his eyes (when did his son get so disrespectful? If it wasn't his son, who was adorable in everything he did, Lucius might have been offended), and reached over to entwine his fingers with Potter's.

"Don't worry about him," Draco murmured. "He's just being difficult, you know that."

"He just threatened to castrate me," Harry hissed back at him. "And smiled!"

Even Draco couldn't help but smile a little. "It's just my father, Harry. Difficult, yes, but you'll win him over. We didn't fly to France just to sit here and wait for you to faint from fright."

"I'm not going to faint," Harry muttered, but managed a small smile in return. "I mean that," he added when Lucius snorted, a near perfect copy of his son doing the same thing.

The strange thing was, though, that Draco looked happy. Vaguely annoyed that his father was trying to give his boyfriend a heart attack, but happy nonetheless. There was a pink flush on his cheeks and a ring on his finger. His smile was a million watts and his skin was the slightest bit tanned from his vacation-turned-engagement party. He looked well-fed and taken care of.

Lucius wouldn't have supported this even months before. When he'd put Draco in Potter's hands after the accident at Hogwarts, he'd even been wary of doing that, half-tempted to go and pull Draco from school entirely until he was returned to his proper age. Only Narcissa's quiet suggestion that it might be good for him stopped him from grabbing the nearest portkey to Malfoy Manor. When the Prophet (still delivered faithfully to their owl perch every evening) had started announcing Harry's rise to public popularity once more due to his small charge, and then of their relationship, he'd been nearly livid.

Yet, when Draco and turned up with his boyfriend (fiancé, Narcissa kept reminding him), Lucius had been struck by how grown-up his son looked. One half of a beautiful couple with broad shoulders, silken hair, and an infectious smile. He hadn't seen Draco look that happy since he was much younger. Then, he catalogued the man attached to the hand Draco was holding. Same wild hair, same square jaw – skin tanner from being out in the sun, but otherwise mostly the same. Taller, perhaps, and more confident.

And blindingly in love with his son. He could tell from the moment he caught sight of the boy; he was a love-sick puppy and Draco let him carry on without reprimand. He seemed not to notice, only ever giving attention to it to give the boy a quick kiss and a flash of the same adoring eyes Potter gave him.

"Father, what are you thinking about?" Draco was asking him and he cleared his mind of all thoughts and smiled, maybe too warmly for company, he thought, as he watched Harry Potter look at him in alarm.

"Nothing, Draco. Eat your dinner."

His son gave him a roll of the eyes and smiled, glancing over to share a look with his mother (smiling affectionately at him as she was wont to do in his presence) then with the Potter boy. When he and his fiancé kept grinning at each other, Lucius rolled his own eyes heavenward and patted his wife's hand when she shot him a glare.

His family was alive and happy. He had no complaints.