Title: The Name I'll Give to Thee
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairings: Harry/Draco (eventual), Ron/Hermione, Lucius/Narcissa
Warnings: Heavy angst, violence, illness, references to canonical child abuse, forced adoption.
Summary: Harry just saved the world—again. But he did it by pulling on the magic and lives of all the wizards tied to him, and the Malfoys had the most to lose. Now Draco is demanding the ancient payment of such a debt: that Harry become a Malfoy, in name and life and tradition.
Author's Notes: This is going to be a long, slow-moving story, with lots of angst, especially at the beginning. I don't yet know how long it'll be. The title comes from a variation on a line in the poem "Be Mine, and I Will Give Thy Name" by William Cox Bennett.
The Name I'll Give to Thee
Chapter One—For Passion, For Pride
They came out of the ground. They came out of the water. They came floating down from the air, and although they burned in fire, that was not enough to stop them. Humans could not live in fire, must venture outside it sometimes, and so they came, and so they touched humans, and so they died.
They were the ghosts of Dementors, which the Ministry had slaughtered two years ago, and they took the place of human souls and mutilated their bodies, and so they died.
The Ministry fought. The Aurors fought. The war wizards fought. Even the Muggles fought, in their dim and misunderstanding way. But no one could stop them, and so they died.
And so once again it fell to Harry Potter to save the world.
Harry felt himself flying before he began to fall.
He had created the spell, or he and Hermione and Ron had, their brains working at fever pitch and pace, their hands weaving together words and pages from books and random, wild ideas until they knew that it would work. It was as much ritual as spell, and both Hermione and Ron had freely offered their magic for Harry to draw on.
Harry had thought it would be enough. Why not? These were his best friends, and they had always been enough before. They'd walked with him on the Horcrux hunt and gone after the Philosopher's Stone and into the Chamber of Secrets. Maybe he was always alone at the end, the way he'd been before the basilisk and the mirror and in the Forbidden Forest, but they could help him get there.
The ritual should have worked. It should have allowed Harry to spread pure life-force out into the world—or at least this little section of isolated and rocky promontory, where they had already created a trap to draw the Dementor ghosts. The ghosts could take over lives that were inside human bodies, but should, at least according to Hermione's research, be vulnerable to life-force spread outside that. They were creatures of death and despair, and life-force was vitality, was joy.
But it wasn't enough, because the ghosts were swarming, and Harry had never realized how many there were, how deep they massed, how they would move towards him in grey swarms and try to suck him dry.
He imagined it, imagined the way they would torment Hermione and Ron by making his body die in creative ways. Then he imagined them taking Hermione and Ron, and other people after that, and finally, he reached into his rage and produced a magic as deep and bright as the Dementors were deep and grey.
The magic shook and rocked and rang him, and gave him wings to fly with once again. Harry screamed, and let the life-force pour out of him, through his eyes and nose and mouth and ears, the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, beneath his nails, any place that it could find an opening. It was more than just his, he thought dimly.
He had managed to draw on Ron and Hermione, he thought then, to create this brilliant white fire, born of all three of them, that raced across the sky and scoured the dead Dementors, lit them like matches and burned them all away, at last, the way the Ministry had thought it had done. Harry would have been worried about another false victory, but he could feel them dying, their shrieks as they faded, how they tried to flee and the ghosts late in arriving caught death like a disease from their wisping fellows, and Harry laughed aloud and dropped to his knees, nearly breaking his legs with the force.
He lifted his head and watched them fleeing, dead in the lightning. Maybe the essentially random mark on his forehead had had a hidden meaning after all.
Ron and Hermione crawled up around him and took him in their arms. Harry turned his head and hugged them, his arms around their shoulders, their waists, anything he could reach.
They panted, and they rocked, and they lay there, and Harry finally lifted his head and smiled at them. "You were right, Hermione," he said. "I couldn't do it alone. But you were wrong about needing to bring other people." He could do that, now, tease her about being wrong, when the fate of the world wasn't riding on it anymore.
Hermione looked at him and bit her bottom lip. "I don't think it was just us, Harry," she whispered. "There was—too much. Too much life-force, I mean. We couldn't have contributed it just by ourselves, or we would be dead."
Harry shook his head at her, refusing the sadness he thought she was trying to drape over him. "But that can't be right. There was no one else in the ritual. No one else could have shared with me. Maybe we're just more powerful than we thought, or being close to death so many times made it stronger, or something." Hermione had read one of the books they'd prepared the ritual out of that suggested that might happen.
"I—don't know," Hermione said, her hands twisting together. "Most of the time, you're right, nothing like that could have happened, because everyone else would be too distant to help us even if they wanted to. But I wonder. So many people are connected to you, Harry. The Weasleys adopted you, and the rest of the wizarding world worships you."
"Sometimes," Harry reminded her.
That wasn't enough to stop Hermione. Of course, mere words had never been enough to stop Hermione. She said, "Yes, but right now it's mostly worship. They trusted that you would do something to save them the moment you proposed it, and they haven't turned away from that. I wonder…" She stood up and shook out her robes. "I think we need to get back, and see what happened."
Harry turned to look back at the empty sky and ground one more time before they Apparated. He knew what had happened. The world was at peace and safe, again. The Dementor ghosts were gone.
And no one had better ask him for anything else that he didn't feel like granting, ever again.
Harry woke up with a twist and a jerk. He had gone to bed the minute he got back home, and it really wasn't any wonder, when he'd been up all night preparing for the ritual, and nights before that had barely any sleep as they stumbled through book after book, hoping for a cure.
But the pounding that had woken him didn't let up, and Harry was worried about what might happen to his door if he didn't open it. He fell out of bed and limped across the room, muttering and promising himself that he could return to sleep as soon as he'd dealt with this.
When he opened the door, Hermione fell into his arms. Harry staggered under the weight, shook sleep and his recent promise out of his mind, and carefully dragged her into the drawing room, while watching over her shoulder in case someone else came charging up behind her. But his house was isolated, on the outskirts of Hogsmeade, and surrounded by wards that would only let Hermione or one of the Weasleys through. The chance that someone would be pursuing her was, he had to admit, small.
"What happened?" he whispered, letting her down gently to the ground and stroking her shoulders. "Hermione? Are you all right?"
Hermione caught her breath and closed her eyes, lying there so still that Harry reached out to check her heartbeat. Then she startled him even more by opening her eyes and noisily bursting into tears.
"Hermione." Harry hugged her again, pulling her close to him, smoothing his hands up and down her back and wishing he knew what to do. He had never seen her taken apart like this.
Which must mean that I took life-force from more people after all, and I'm probably a murderer.
Harry gulped, and shivered. Then he reached out for the strength that had sustained him in the years since the war. Sometimes he used that strength against threats, the way that he had with the Dementor ghosts, but other times, he just used it to support the burden of living with his memories, and his grief, and the wizarding world howling after him ever since Voldemort died. It looked, now, like he might need it to do both.
If I killed someone, then I'll pay the price. Azkaban might be—nice. Without the Dementors. Kind of soothing.
Hermione finally stopped crying, and Harry pushed her hair back from her eyes. "What is it?" he whispered. "Is it Ron?" It had suddenly occurred to him how stupid it was for him to automatically think everything came back to him, and when Ron wasn't with her… He stood up, looking frantically around.
"Ron is fine." Hermione wiped her nose with the back of her hand, at least until Harry Summoned a box of tissues and held it out to her. Then she blew her nose with a murmured thanks and shook her head. "And I don't think—I don't think that he could do anything about this anyway. Oh, Harry, it's so awful…"
Harry swallowed. Yeah, it had something to do with what they had done, or what he had done. He had been the one to yank that strength from other people. Someone was probably dead because of him.
He got Hermione settled in the largest and softest red chair in the middle of his drawing room and sat down across from her, rubbing her hands. "Tell me. Please."
Hermione hesitated a bit more, then nodded. "All right," she said, and blew her nose again. "I don't think anyone died. But the Burrow—it's almost gone, Harry. And George collapsed in the joke shop this morning, and although he's fine physically, they can't get him to wake up."
Harry stared at her, and wondered for a moment where his wand was.
"He's going to wake up in a few days, the Healers say," Hermione finished quickly. Harry relaxed and leaned back. "It seems to be the life-force of the people who were closest to you. Ron and I are all right, because we had the ritual to protect us and we knew how to brace ourselves. But you've spent an awful lot of time with George in the past few years, and he didn't know what was going on."
Harry nodded. "What about Teddy?" He wondered if he should be grateful, now, that Tonks and Remus had made him Teddy's godfather just by naming him that way, without the magical ritual that was sometimes performed.
"Fine," Hermione said, with a fleeting smile that said she loved him for asking, and Harry smiled back, loving her for checking. "Andromeda fell down and had a mild seizure at the exact time you pulled on all that life-force, though. The Healers think that she'll recover in time, but it'll take longer than it did for George."
"Of course," Harry echoed softly. "She's older, after all."
Hermione squeezed his hand. They both knew that Andromeda's age wasn't the major reason why it would probably take her longer to recover.
Harry shook his head. "I need to—to talk to George, and the Weasleys, and Andromeda. I need to find out what I can do for them."
Hermione looked at him, then nodded. Harry could see the exact moment when she decided that it wouldn't be worth it for her to oppose him. "Of course," she said, getting up. "George is in St. Mungo's, and Andromeda is at home with Molly and Teddy. Where would you like to go first?"
Harry leaned back against the wall next to George's bed, and rubbed his eyes. The Healers said that George looked better than when Ron had first brought him in, with color creeping back into his cheeks and his breathing no longer the loud, rumbling pants that it had been.
Harry could only say that if George looked better, he wouldn't have wanted to see him when he was first there.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly, while George went on breathing and the monitoring spells went on working and no one else was in the room. "I didn't mean to do something like that, but it was no excuse. I should have thought about what would happen when I reached out for extra life-force, and it didn't come. I should have come up with a different plan that wouldn't rely on risks like that, because Ron and Hermione and I just didn't have enough."
George didn't respond, of course, and neither did anyone else. But Harry reached out and took George's hand, squeezing hard.
"I should have done something different," he whispered. "I cost—well, the cost could have been a lot worse, but what happened is bad enough. If you need any help when you're up and about, let me know. I can help in the joke shop, make you tea, test out pranks. Whatever you want."
"Do you mean that?"
Harry leaped to his feet, eyes fastened on George's face, and only then realized that George hadn't been the one who said that. He turned, instead, and found Malfoy leaning against the open door of George's room, staring at him.
Harry hadn't seen Malfoy in five years, since the day in the Great Hall after the battle. There were all sorts of rumors about what Malfoy had chosen to do after that, like going to Durmstrang or hiring a private Dark Arts tutor or hunting down the remaining Death Eaters, but he hadn't come back to Hogwarts. Harry had technically testified at his trial, but it was really Lucius's trial, and Draco and his mother were involved in it only by the circumstance of sharing the same last name. Harry had come in, told the Wizengamot what he knew and what Draco and Narcissa had done for him, and then left again without seeing either of them face-to-face.
And if George looked awful, Malfoy looked like the walking dead, like someone possessed by a Dementor ghost that hadn't been destroyed. His face and his hair were almost the same shade, and his fingers twitched constantly, down by his side. His nostrils randomly flared open and shut in the same way, as though he couldn't control them. Harry swallowed.
Hermione hadn't thought to look for victims outside his immediate friends and family. Why would she? His connection with them was closest, making them the most likely victims.
But Harry had forgotten the life-debts that bound him to the Malfoy family. Or preferred not to think of them, since he thought he had done all he could for the ones he owed by testifying for Draco and Narcissa, and he never intended to claim the ones they owed him.
"What happened?" Harry whispered. "What did I do to you?"
Malfoy nodded, a motion so quick that Harry thought he would have missed it if he had glanced away. "Good," Malfoy murmured. "That at least reassures me, that you are willing to take the blame for it." He pushed off the doorframe, never looking away; Harry wasn't sure that he had blinked yet. "Come with me, and we'll see if you meant what you said, about being willing to do anything to heal the hurts you inflicted."
His words should have sounded ridiculous, Harry thought as he followed Malfoy, the way Malfoy's words had always sounded in the past when he got dramatic. He wasn't meant for grand gestures; they always went wrong on him, like the time he had tried to ambush Harry by pretending to be a Dementor.
But this time, those words sounded like winter. This time, Harry was inclined to think that Malfoy did know what he was talking about.
And that Harry might have done the kind of harm he couldn't repair, except perhaps with sacrifice.
"When the magic came," Malfoy began, sitting in the middle of one of the small scrubby rooms that St. Mungo's set aside for grieving family members, his hands folded on the wrought-iron table between them, "my mother fell."
Harry swallowed, and stirred some more sugar into his tea, even though he didn't usually like it that way and had no intention of drinking it. He wanted to say that there was no reason for that, because Narcissa wasn't as old as Andromeda and hadn't had to bear the crushing weight of grief for losing three members of her family in the war that Andromeda did.
But the life-debt that tied them was probably a different kind of connection, and Narcissa had had her husband go to Azkaban for life. Perhaps that was enough.
"What happened to her?" Harry asked, bracing himself with one leg curled around the leg of his chair.
Malfoy eyed him in silence for a moment, then nodded. "You do seem ready to bear the consequences of your actions," he murmured. "My mother literally fell, and then when she got back up, she had aged fifty years. In body, and in mind. She's on the near side of senility now, Potter." His eyes were bright and hard, and Harry knew how much he must have struggled not to weep. "The Healers tell me the magical aging can be reversed and she can be cured, but it will take time and money."
He paused to drink his own tea, then put the cup down and gazed directly at Harry. "Time that I don't have, since the wards on the Manor shattered as well. You took magic from us, along with life-force."
Harry closed his eyes, opened them. "You're afraid your father's enemies might come after you, with the wards down."
Malfoy nodded. "As soon as they hear of it, which thankfully hasn't happened yet. And I don't have the funds to pay private Healers to work on my mother, either, since the Ministry took so much money in reparations." He reached into his pocket, pulled something out, and set it on the table between them.
Harry stared again. It was the hawthorn wand, but shattered like a tree struck by lightning, carved up and down with blackness, split at the bottom and barely clinging to its dangling halves.
"Yes, you did that," Malfoy said, when Harry met his eyes again. "The wand was connected to you, part of it always belonged to you even after you gave it back to me, and there's no—" His jaw trembled; then he clenched it shut. "If not for the Floo network, I couldn't even have got here, Potter. And it'll take me at least a year to bond with a new wand and train back up to my former level."
Harry swallowed. He understood the picture Malfoy was trying to paint him better than Malfoy could possibly have known. Pinned, surrounded by enemies, no defense possible, was the way he had felt sometimes among the Dursleys.
"Shit, I'm sorry," he said at last.
Malfoy slammed his hand into the table hard enough to make the hawthorn wand fly up and almost fall on the floor. Harry recoiled before he could help himself, and then cast a quick spell that snatched the wand up and put it back into place. A Healer looked around the door of the small room, but by then Harry had already curled his arm in a direction that would hide the wand, and smiled at the Healer.
"We're fine," he said. "Just…" And he lowered his eyes and thought about George, about Andromeda, about Narcissa, about what he had done.
The Healer, probably used to more violent displays of grief, nodded and withdrew. Harry huffed out a breath and turned back to Malfoy, who was staring at him.
"This may work after all," Malfoy said. "That was an impressive bit of lying, Potter."
Harry shrugged. "Lots of things have changed in five years." He leaned forwards. "I take it that you don't want my apologies. What is it you want? All the money I have is yours, if you want, to buy a wand and get Healers and rebuild your wards."
"Ultimately," Malfoy drawled, leaning back in his chair and letting his arm dangle over the back, "that wouldn't help. There would almost certainly be someone among the people we hired who would betray us before the new wards were enacted or I was good enough with my wand. No." He leaned in, eyes burning. "I want you."
Harry stared at him. "You want my life?" He had heard of some old pure-blood laws that insisted someone who deeply wronged a family should be executed for it, but it seemed useless for Malfoy to ask for that; among other things, he and his mother weren't the ones who would inherit Harry's money if Harry died.
Malfoy laughed, deep and low, rumbling. "In a sense, Potter. In the old days, if someone did something like this, inflicted harm without actually costing a life, he gave over his life in return. But not by death. Death was only in return for death. If my mother had died…" He stretched his hand out. "But she didn't. I want you, Potter. To become part of my family, to join your money to ours, your strength to ours. With someone as strong as you in residence, our enemies are less likely to attack. And, yes, Malfoy money could go to repair the wards and hire Healers then."
Harry sat there in silence, and then said, "You want me to become a Malfoy?"
"You've gained some eloquence, too," Malfoy mused, leaning back and lifting a leg to cross it over the other one. "This won't be as unbearable as I was fearing."
"All right," Harry said, forcing the words through numb lips. He hated the thought, but he had said anything, hadn't he? The Ministry didn't have the right to ask more of him, because he had bloody saved the bloody world again and again, but it wasn't the Ministry he had hurt.
He did, though, have to remind Malfoy of something. "Are you sure that you want a half-blood in your family? I can—I can change my name and give you the money and everything else, but I can't change my blood."
Malfoy smiled slowly, his lips drawing back from his teeth so that he looked like a vampire. "Oh, I know that, Potter," he whispered. "But in this case, fame and power and magical strength outweigh your muddy blood. It's not widely-known, but some members of my family did this in the past—adopted a half-Muggle cousin as an heir, for example, because the cousin's power shone so pure and bright." He reached across the table, and Harry kept still, thinking he was reaching for the wand, until he caught and crushed Harry's hand in an unrelenting grip. "You're one of the strongest wizards in the world, and a hero many times over, and rich, and a survivor. Yes, I find you more than acceptable."
Harry bowed his head, and sat there. This wasn't what he wanted, wasn't what he would have chosen.
But then, his choices weren't always the best ones, either. When they only affected him, it was okay. But George was lying in hospital, and Andromeda was sitting with Molly, and Malfoy's mother was probably on the verge of death, either because of what Harry had done to her or because people wronged by Lucius would notice the lack of wards on the Manor soon.
He lifted his head. Malfoy was watching him with hollow, hungry eyes.
He needs me to believe this, Harry realized. He knows he can't force me, that I'm too strong for him. It's my conscience that he'll have to use as reins.
Fortunately for Malfoy, unfortunately for Harry, this time his conscience was a whole damn bridle. Apologies weren't enough, money wasn't enough. This was a debt that Harry could repay, in a certain specific way, and he would have to.
Along with doing whatever Andromeda and George asked of him.
But there was a strange peace in that notion. Harry had lived under certain rules most of his life: the Dursleys', and then the ones at Hogwarts, and the prophecy, and the rules of the Ministry after that, and the ones he'd constructed for himself when he realized how seriously some people took him and would do whatever he asked, even if only jokingly. You held yourself carefully, you walked lightly through the world, when someone would probably kill themselves if you suggested it.
"All right," he said. "I'm yours."
He would have said, a few days ago, that he had never seen anything more appalling than Malfoy's smile, but now he had, and he didn't resent it.