Life accelerated after that moment. There was much to be done and few weeks in which to do it. Draco approved the refinishing of Malfoy Manor and began the process of ordering his personal effects back into the house. He summoned the family's house elves to return to work, although at Harry's insistence he offered a sock to each so that their return was voluntary rather than compulsory.
They finalized their plan to make their relationship public in a controlled setting, disagreeing here and there on details but ultimately coming to a compromise they both could live with. Harry was nearly sick with anxiety, but he was committed to going through with it. Draco reassured him whenever possible that it wouldn't be as bad as he feared. Harry worried about organizing such an event until Draco introduced him to the idea of hiring an event planner.
"No one plans their own parties, Potter," Draco said with mock disdain. "We let the help take care of such things. You're about to join the ranks of the very wealthy, it's time to acquaint yourself with the lifestyle."
They planned the event for the third week in June, immediately following the End-of-Term feast. Exams would be over, results would be in, and the students would be released from school obligations. The guest list included virtually every Hogwarts upperclassman and their families, all of the Hogwarts staff, every social connection Draco could think of who ever did business with his family, the entirety of the Ministry of Magic, and anyone else with significant influence. Lastly, they invited reporters from the Daily Prophet to attend, knowing they would cover it anyway.
"Might as well let them get the first-hand story so they can report it right away," Draco justified. "Otherwise they'll cobble the story together from guests and it will reek of gossip."
He felt surprisingly calm about planning the event. He had been raised in social settings, and had attended more formal occasions than he could count. He knew what was expected, and how to deliver. The part about exposing his personal life to public scrutiny was a mere detail. He didn't tell Harry that he had a backup plan if everything went pear-shaped. The Malfoy estate included several additional residences in Europe and overseas. If London wouldn't accept them, they would relocate. He decided not to offer that option unless it was needed.
The invitations went out at the end of May, beautiful, elaborate, enchanted invitations that self-unfurled with fanfare and sparkling streamers. They had chosen to theme the occasion around the rebirth of the Malfoy name. It was intriguing enough for even the most reluctant guests, who may have harbored resentment against the once sinister family. The theme implied transition, the passing of the family name to a new generation, and explicitly mentioned the complete remodel of Malfoy Manor. They invited guests to arrive by carriage or Floo; no Apparation, please.
Only one invitation stirred its recipient to protest. Blaise Zabini, a strategically invited guest, stormed into Draco's dorm room moments after the envelope arrived via owl post.
"What is the meaning of this?" Blaise huffed angrily as he threw open Draco's door.
Draco looked up from his studies and regarded Blaise pityingly. "It's an invitation to the event of the year, Zabini," he said as though the other boy were a bit thick.
"I mean why have you invited me?" Zabini demanded. "You told me I was disinvited from all of your events."
"Burying the hatchet, I suppose," Draco set his quill down and gazed thoughtfully at his rival. "We used to be friends, and it would be a shame to end our school years together on such a negative note. Slytherins must stick together," he added with a haughty, inclusive smile.
"Nothing has changed," Zabini said meaningfully. "I have not conceded."
"I realize that," Draco turned back to his studies. "That matters less to me than you might think."
"Don't think for a moment that I've given up on my goal," Zabini added.
"I would never think that," Draco flipped through his text and resumed his note taking. "You are, if nothing else, tenacious. But please consider attending my party anyway. Everyone who is anyone will be there. You won't want to be caught absent."
Blase flounced from the room and stomped down the hall to the common area. Draco smiled to himself. The next few weeks would require great care, but he would see Zabini's ambition crushed.
Aside from the one protest, the responses to the invitations were favorable. Notable social figures would be there in droves, possibly because it was always a good idea to cozy up to money. Draco was fine with that, it was part and parcel of belonging to a wealthy family. He would worry more when important figures no longer wanted to be associated with his money.
Around exams and party planning there was also the matter of the engagement to consider. The timing was such that it became a significant distraction to Draco and Harry. They couldn't look at each other without grinning, without touching. They had to focus on preparing for their exams, when they wanted nothing more than to while away the time with each other. They had to stop meeting for study sessions because they simply couldn't concentrate. They just needed to get through the first half of June. Once exams were over, they would finally be able to relax and enjoy each other fully.
Given the potential for distraction, Harry chose not to share the news of their engagement with Weasley and Granger until after exams. They had actually decided to keep it private for now, but Harry insisted that his best friends must be told. He wanted them to know before anyone else, and their acceptance was more important to him than anything. For the first time, Draco understood.
Exam week arrived with a bang and ended with a whimper. The seventh- and eighth-year students emerged from the N.E. with battered spirits and anxious second guessing. There were no celebrations to be had, not until results were posted. The weekend after exam week was never particularly joyous, and this year was no exception.
Draco and Harry found Weasley and Granger after supper and asked them if they'd like to join them for a walk down to the lake. They strolled together down the front steps and through the gate to the rambling green lawn that led to the dock. Everywhere they looked they saw students sprawled in the grass, no joy in their postures, a mix of relief and worry. They walked side by side with their hands in their pockets, a foursome of friends to any observers. The dock was occupied by several would-be swimmers, if not for fear of the giant squid. Harry and Draco steered the Gryffindor couple towards the treeline in search of privacy. They climbed up on an old stretch of stone wall that had slowly been engulfed by trees and moss over the years. Harry glanced around furtively to make sure no one else was within earshot.
"What's eating you?" Weasley asked bluntly as they sat on the unevenly stacked rocks. He was less tense than the other three, having been convinced by his girlfriend to pursue a career in animal studies. N.E.W.T.s were far less important in that field of study than others. Draco secretly wondered if Weasley could have simply written his name on the exam and handed it in blank for sufficient credit.
"We have some news," Harry smiled bashfully and scratched his head.
"We know you're coming out at the party," Granger said in that know-it-all tone that used to drive Draco crazy.
"Obviously," Draco said coolly. "We have some other news."
"What is it, then?" Weasley looked back and forth between them.
"Well,' Harry scratched his head again, and Draco bumped his elbow to get him to stop. "I don't know how to say it exactly."
"You brought us out here to say something that you don't know how to say?" Weasley looked at Harry cockeyed. "You haven't knocked any sense into him yet, have you, Malfoy?"
"Not quite," Draco gave Harry a stern look. Harry cleared his throat and started again.
"Well," he took a breath, "We've been talking and we made a decision. We've decided to get married."
Granger and Weasley froze like statues. If Draco hadn't known otherwise, he would have thought they were struck with Petrificus Totalus.
"Hello?" he raised an eyebrow. "Oh come now, it's not that shocking."
"How?" Weasley blurted out.
"How what? A man reads some vows and we say I do, that's how." Draco looked at Harry in amazement, "I expected surprise but this is ridiculous."
"But," Granger blinked rapidly as she absorbed the announcement, "but can you even do that? Two men? Is that even possible?"
"It's permitted by muggle law, which the Ministry observes," Harry assured her.
"Why?" Weasley managed another monosyllabic question.
"Why not?" Draco tossed back. Harry laid his hand on his arm to quiet his quick retorts. He bit his tongue and let the other boy handle it more delicately.
"Why does anyone get married?" Harry shrugged.
"To start a family, usually," Weasley said. "And you two don't have the proper equipment to do that."
"That's not true," Granger stepped in. "I want to get married, but I don't know when I want to start a family. If at all."
"What does that mean?" Weasley's eyes bugged out. "You don't want to have kids?"
"I want a career first," Granger said firmly. "You know that."
"Okay so you two have some issues to work out," Draco interjected in spite of himself. "That's neither here nor there for us."
"We could have a family someday," Harry added. "Just not with pregnancy and stuff."
"But what's the difference between what you're doing now and getting married?" Weasley still didn't understand. "Can't you just agree to be a couple and leave it at that? Why do the marriage part?"
"Because," Harry looked skyward for help, "because we love each other."
Draco reached over and squeezed his shoulder. "Because we want it known that this is forever. It's not a passing fancy."
Granger teared up and clasped her hands beneath her chin. "I'm so happy for you," she said breathlessly. "I'm sorry I didn't say that right away."
She leaned forward and threw an arm around each of them, hugging one on each side. It was like Christmas all over again, except this time Draco found himself hugging her back. Before he realized it, his arm was curled around her shoulders and he was actually hugging her. His cheeks burned furiously as he realized what he was doing. Hugging Granger! As if!
She felt it, too. She dropped a kiss on Harry's cheek, then one on Draco's. She glanced down at his arm, still in its half-embrace, and she smiled warmly. Draco cursed himself. Eight years of keeping the Gryffindor trio at bay with well-honed hostility, blown away in one sappy moment. He was marrying one of them, hugging another. What was next, a big sloppy kiss for Weasley? He shuddered at the thought.
The following week brought scores and celebrations, as well as some despair for the lower performing students. Draco and Granger scored very well, as was expected by all. Harry commanded a respectable score, even in Arithmancy, to his utter shock. He more than qualified for entry into the Auror Academy. Weasley performed well enough, average scores that were sufficient for any course of study he wished to pursue. Draco checked his housemates' posted scores, noting Blaise Zabini's excellent performance and Pansy Parkinson's meager, albeit passable ranking.
With exams behind them, Harry and Draco were free to indulge in their desire to be close. And while they knew they had to be especially careful to avoid exposure by Zabini's efforts, they made every possible arrangement to ensure they spent every night together. Now that their future lay so clearly before them, they wanted to wake up every morning by each other's side. As Harry cleared his cluttered dorm room in preparation for his last departure from Hogwarts, Draco transported his belongings to Malfoy Manor. Over the weekend they visited the Manor to meet with the event planner and finalize the details of the party. Harry found homes for his possessions, as he and Draco debated the function of many of the rooms. Draco was used to occupying so much space, but Harry, who had once inhabited a cupboard under the stairs, had difficulty figuring out how they would fill the enormous residence.
"What do you mean I can't put my clothing in this closet?" Harry demanded, standing in the doorway of the dorm-sized enclosure, a jumper in each hand.
"That's my closet. The one next to it is yours," Draco pointed as he unpacked more of Harry's items from his trunk.
"You can't possibly need that whole closet for yourself," Harry protested.
"The other closet is right there," Draco pointed again. "I'm not asking you to put your things out in the hall. It's two steps away from my closet."
"What are you planning on keeping in there?" Harry muttered.
"All of my love for you, Harry. It takes that much room," Draco smiled winningly.
Harry rolled his eyes, "I'm going to sneak one of my shirts in there one day, and you'll never find it because you'll never use all of that space," he shook his head.
The End-of-Term feast was right around the corner, which meant their moment of truth, their public announcement, was almost here. They headed back to Hogwarts for their final day, their final supper, their final feast. They resigned themselves to the necessity of spending this momentous evening apart, seated at separate tables with their own housemates, pretending they were barely friends. There was nothing to be done for it, though, not if they wanted to save their news for their own event, which was scheduled to begin immediately following the Hogwart's celebration.
The house cup went to Ravenclaw this year, a surprise to everyone in attendance. Draco recalled previous years when the only question was whether it would go to Slytherin or Gryffindor. Times had changed more quickly than he expected. He realized suddenly how quickly their legacy would fade from common memory. The lower classmen would create their own rivalries and legends, and aside from the most fantastic stories of their era, the names of Potter and Malfoy and the rest would fade like old newsprint. It was a sad thought, but Draco tried to focus his mind on the future.
The End-of-Term feast concluded and the students filed out excitedly. The upperclassmen rushed back to their rooms to change clothes for the fanciest party most of them had ever been invited to. Draco and Harry found a private alcove and Disapparated back to Malfoy Manor to do the same. They checked on the staff, the decor, the food, the entertainment, and rushed upstairs to get dressed.
Harry was a ball of nerves, jittery and fumble fingered. Draco had insisted that he buy a nicely tailored suit for the occasion, but Harry could barely button the shirt without help. Draco brushed his trembling hands away and slipped each button into place, speaking calmly and evenly to help soothe Harry's anxiety.
"See, this looks brilliant," he said brightly as he attached silver cufflinks to Harry's sleeves. "Do you know how to tie a necktie? That's okay, I can do it." He slipped the tie under Harry's collar, then stood behind him to tuck and fold it into a proper knot. He helped Harry into his jacket and buttoned the middle button. He turned the other boy and smiled encouragingly. The black suit fit like a dream, and made his green eyes stand out like emeralds.
Draco quickly dressed in his own suit, a neat charcoal gray cut perfectly to fit his long, svelte body. He knotted his tie with a well practiced hand and checked his hair to make sure it laid exactly as it should. Harry smiled lopsidedly at him in the mirror, glancing up at his own messy hair. Draco considered doing something about it, employing magic if necessary.
"I can't do anything with it," Harry said apologetically.
Draco reached up and ran his hand through it, savoring the familiar softness under his palm. He shook his head. "It's you," he said softly. "It's perfect the way it is."
Harry heaved a shuddering sigh and looked down. He adjusted his round glasses and ran a nervous hand through his hair. Draco watched him, taking it all in. The quirks, the gestures, the unconscious way he showed his state of mind, it was comforting in a way Draco found himself helpless to describe. It wasn't just the happy moments, or the thrill of sexual exploration, or the ridiculous way their personalities ricocheted off of each other. It was the serious moments, too. The fear and the sorrow and the insecurity, and the way he knew he could fold his arms around Harry and offer him comfort, the same way Harry would do for him when he needed comforting. It was the way they could look into each other's eyes, fully aware of their history and everything they had been through, and knowing that falling in love was inevitable and more right than anything else they'd done in their lives.
"It sounds like guests are arriving," Harry cocked his head and listened to the rising sound of chatter downstairs in the great hall. The musicians had started playing, filling the house with upbeat, lively tones.
"We're not needed downstairs yet," Draco drew Harry over to the sofa and sat. "We'll wait for everyone to arrive and then make our announcement. Then, if you want to, we can stay for the rest of the party. Or," he held Harry's hand gently in his, "we can just leave if you'd like."
"Let's see how it goes," Harry chewed his lip.
They sat in companionable silence as the guests filtered in. Draco asked a house elf to bring them a running tally as the crowd grew. He made a mental note every time someone of importance showed up. He had a private list of names he expected to be present before he would consider descending the sweeping staircase for their entrance.
An hour and a half after the party's official start, Draco stood and pulled Harry to his feet. He kissed Harry softly and looked deeply into his eyes.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you, too," Harry smiled. He seemed significantly calmer. The anticipatory jitters had all but disappeared, and his posture said he was ready. Draco cupped his cheek in his hand and tweaked his ear.
They exited the master suite and made their way down the long corridor to the sweeping staircase that led down into the grand hall. The enormous ballroom was filled with a celebratory throng, hundreds of guests milling about, eating and dancing and talking. They stood at the top of the staircase and looked down over the crowd, each picking out faces he had hoped to see. Draco saw Harry's eyes fix on Granger and Weasley, who were standing near a set of French doors with the rest of the Weasley clan. Draco scanned the guests and spotted a few Ministry members whose presence he had deemed crucial in order to lend legitimacy to the event. He spotted the Daily Prophet reporters, and sitting at a table near the band he spotted Blaise Zabini.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," the voice of the event organizer rang out clearly across the vast space. "Now entering the hall, your hosts, Mister Draco Malfoy and Mister Harry Potter."
The crowd applauded and turned as one towards the stairs. Draco felt his stomach tense as hundreds of eyes focused on them. He felt Harry quake, but he stood his ground. They descended to the first landing, just high enough to address the crowd. Draco cleared his throat and dug deep, searching for the training his father had instilled in him for formal occasions such as these.
"Thank you for coming tonight," he called out, his voice magically amplified by a charm cast by the event planner. "This is an ambitious event," he continued. "We timed it to coincide with the end of the Hogwarts school year, our graduation, the delivery of our N.E.W.T exam results, and the completion of the renovation of Malfoy Manor. Which, if I do say so myself, came out better than I had hoped." A round of applause agreed with his assessment. Draco smiled at Harry, who stood patiently by his side.
"For those of you who have been here before, it probably looks rather different," he looked out into the crowd and nodded in acknowledgement of a few socialites whose faces he recognized from his father's engagements. "There is a reason for that. Malfoy Manor needed a change. The Malfoy name needs a change." He paused, and the room was absolutely silent. "For years the name Malfoy has been synonymous with darkness, with unspeakable evils, and death. My father, rest his soul, damaged the reputation of our ancestors, a proud wizarding family who does not deserve to be lost in the shadow of his choices. I will not live in the shadow of his choices."
In the back of his mind, Draco marveled at the way in which he had captured the attention of the room. Not a shuffle or a cough or a whisper emerged from the sea of faces. He pressed on, hoping to get to his point before losing their interest.
"This event marks the beginning of a new era for the Malfoy name," he continued. "I am the sole heir and thus I am solely responsible for the legacy I will leave behind. I am announcing today that Malfoys no longer do business in the Dark Arts." A small murmur arose from the crowd. "I am also announcing that I intend to establish a relationship with the philanthropic community, and I am looking for new business partners to replace the Dark business alliances that I am immediately severing." A louder murmur spread across the room. The tone did not sound disapproving, though. His words were having an impact, as he had hoped they would.
"To make my commitment clear I offer this evidence," he removed his jacket, which Harry immediately retrieved for holding. Draco quickly rolled up his left sleeve and offered a clear view of his forearm to the crowd of guests. "The Dark Mark, which I was unfairly branded with against my will, has been fully removed," he said loudly, raising his voice above the chatter as the crowd marveled and the closest guests confirmed for those behind them that the mark was indeed gone. "It has been a long and painful process, but more than symbolic of my rejection of my father's dark ways."
He rolled his sleeve back down and accepted his jacket back from Harry. He took the opportunity of the crowd's disruption to slip it back over his shoulders and secure the middle button. He waited for the clamor to die down before speaking again.
"And one other announcement, if you'll indulge me with another moment of your time," he smiled warmly. The crowd hushed again. He took a deep breath, feeling the words in his throat, knowing there would be no turning back. "I am sure you are all familiar with the gentleman standing here beside me tonight. Harry Potter, whose reputation precedes him, of course."
He had to pause again as the crowd applauded enthusiastically. Harry ducked his head and waved, his cheeks flushed pink. Draco turned to look at him, watching for any sign that he should not proceed. Harry nodded once and smiled without any sign of his previous anxieties.
"Harry and I," he paused, his words catching in his throat. He took a breath and tried again, "Harry and I," the words stuck again. Harry reached out and took his hand. The simple public gesture encouraged him and he found himself able to speak, "Harry and I are making it known tonight that we are together, that we are bonded together in love." The murmur this time was more dramatic, punctuated by gasps as guests realized what he was saying. The reporters for the Daily Prophet started furiously snapping photos of the two boys standing hand-in-hand on the landing. It would be front page news.
"In fact I have to apologize for imposing upon you one last time," Draco squeezed Harry's hand. "We chose tonight to make our relationship public, and in fact be married right here, before all of you."
The murmur rose to a crescendo as some of the older, more conservative guests protested loudly. Other guests hushed them, and some even cheered. Draco raised his hand for attention and called out over the din, "It is, of course, a fully recognized legal union under Parliamentary law, which is honored and recognized by the Ministry of Magic."
The crowd hushed again as his words reached their ears. The protesters averted their eyes and muttered amongst themselves, dubious of his claim. Those standing near members of the Ministry quizzed the representatives, seeking verification. Heads nodded around the room, some reluctantly.
"We understand that some of you may wish to excuse yourselves from witnessing our union, so we have extended the party onto the back patio, where you are invited to enjoy the gardens," Draco gestured to the long line of French doors, which swung open on cue.
He paused again as the crowd shuffled around. Small clusters of guests made their way to the exit, some notable social figures among them but mostly nonentities whose opinions were unlikely to affect their future. He wasn't naive enough to believe that the majority who remained were all supportive of his announcement. He knew many of them remained purely for the spectacle. He was okay with that.
A regal figure in dark robes and a peaked hat separated herself from the crowd and ascended the stairs to the landing.
"Now arriving, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Headmistress Minerva McGonagall to officiate," the pleasantly bucolic voice of the event coordinator reverberated through the space, arresting the crowd's attention once again.
Professor McGonagall laid a hand on each boy's arm and smiled with authority. She conjured a parchment and seated her glasses across her nose. She took a breath and spoke, her voice so clear and ringing that the amplification charm was almost unnecessary.
Later Draco would think back on the ceremony with only a fleeting recollection of what was said. For the immense importance of the event, he would retain only glimpses and snatches of words. What he would remember most was the emotion, the overwhelming joy of the experience, standing before what was for all intents and purposes the whole world, declaring his love and commitment for the person he cherished most.
Harry would tell him later that he nearly fainted twice during the ceremony, and that his head was so filled with static that he almost couldn't speak. But he spoke, answering the right questions at the right moments, which was all that really mattered anyway. His voice was strong and unwavering when he said, "I do."
When Professor McGonagall extended her hand and offered the matching platinum wedding bands they'd selected the week before, they retrieved them and slipped them onto each other's hands without fumble or pause. They would both remember saying, "With this ring, I thee wed."
It was over so quickly that Draco worried briefly that they had skipped a part. Weren't wedding ceremonies usually longer than that? But sure enough, all that needed to be said was said and before they knew it the Headmistress of Hogwarts enjoined them to seal the union with a kiss.
Draco turned to face Harry and couldn't feel his fingertips. His face was beaming in a most un-Malfoy way. Harry was grinning, too, his cheeks flushed and his hands reaching. They kissed, and Draco's head swam with the realization that it had really happened.
The crowd applauded as the band at the back of the room played the classic wedding recessional music. The following days and weeks would inspire debates in households across the wizarding community about the role of marriage and whether same sex couples should have the right bestowed upon them. Many would support with the right, many more would not. But all would agree that it was nearly impossible to hold one's applause when two people shared their love in a ceremony of commitment.
Draco and Harry descended the stairs to the floor of the ballroom, hand-in-hand and smiling beatifically. As though coordinated in advance the guests queued up in a spontaneous receiving line so each could extend a congratulations.
Granger rushed to the front of the line, determined to be first to hug her best friend. She dragged Weasley across the polished marble floor and threw her arms around Harry's neck. She gushed excitedly into his ear and had to be pried free by her boyfriend. She then turned to Draco and threw her arms around him with equal zeal. Her face was damp with happy tears, which promptly moistened his collar.
Draco paused for only a moment before wrapping both arms around her waist. He hugged her back, returning only a fraction of her ferocity, but returning it nonetheless. As she flooded his ear with breathless well-wishes he realized that for better or worse Hermione Granger was now a permanent fixture in his life. He smirked. For better or worse.
Weasley pried her free again and swept his hand in for a hearty shake. He met Draco's eyes with reserved warmth, but his expression read acceptance. Draco clapped his hand to Weasley's shoulder and found himself unable to say anything.
"Oh come on, mate, it's a wedding," Weasley pulled Draco in for a manly hug. He pounded Draco's back and released him. Harry grabbed Draco's shoulder to steady him as he staggered for balance.
The line of guests seemed endless, but once it began they were obligated to finish. Draco kept a mental tally and noted which guests chose to abstain. Plenty of Ministry members chose to skip the receiving line, as did members of the most vociferous pureblood families who regarded themselves as defenders of the old ways. This was unsurprising, and the unending line of gracious party goers helped push any lingering concern about their absence out of his mind.
The Weasley family eventually made their way through, and Molly Weasley shed overjoyed tears on both Harry's and Draco's suit jackets. She was visibly conflicted about what she had witnessed, but she was unconflicted about her desire to see her unofficially adopted son happy. Arthur Weasley shook their hands firmly and wished them well with a touch of trepidation. The Weasley brothers jostled and joked about which one would be the wife and why hadn't Harry worn a gown. George was reserved but offered a compulsory congratulations. Ginny seemed stunned, and asked Harry for a chance to speak privately. Draco slipped his arm through Harry's elbow and smiled apologetically.
"You dodged a bullet, Miss Weasley," he said wryly. Ginny's expression was confused, but she moved on without further protest.
Their housemates moved through the line, too, many of whom were shocked by the evening's revelations. Neville and Seamus were both nearly speechless and were unable to offer more than, "Cheers, mate," when shaking Draco's hand. Pansy Parkinson wept openly, distraught over the notion that she would never have a chance to seduce Harry Potter. She slapped Draco on the arm angrily, then hugged him, then slapped him on the arm again.
Blaise Zabini hovered near the edge of the line and appeared for a moment as though he might join the queue of guests. Draco met his eyes, too generous with the joy of matrimony to revel in his victory. If ever there was a time to show the classic Malfoy sneer, it was now. But he just couldn't do it. Blaise met his gaze and raised his chin proudly, not quite an admission of defeat, rather a gesture of truce. Draco lifted his chin in response. Having dispensed with the only pleasantly he had to give, Blaise exited to the patio.
After what seemed like hours the line finally dwindled and Draco was able to lower his hand and waggle his exhausted fingers. They had received a surprising amount of support, particularly from classmates. He was satisfied with the number of Ministers who had remained for the ceremony and had personally offered polite congratulations. Several important business owners and social figures had also passed through the line, assuring him that his money was still good in the wizarding community.
They thanked Professor McGonagall gratefully as the line ended. The fact that she had agreed to officiate and had stood beside them through the entire guest procession was a strong endorsement of their union, one that made a statement about Hogwarts' stance on diversity. She had put her reputation on the line first by appearing at Malfoy Manor, and second by standing up for social change.
The evening was getting late but the party was still in full swing. Draco tapped Harry's shoulder and they slipped through the servant door to the kitchen. The cadre of hired chefs and resident house elves raised a rumble of congratulations as they passed through to the rear staircase which bore them up to the second floor. They walked quietly down the corridor, their dress shoes clicking on the wood floors and padding softly across the thick woven runners. They pushed through the doors of the master suite and fell onto the sofa before the ever-flickering charmed fireplace.
Harry raised his left hand and gazed at the ring on his finger. The cool platinum finish reflected the golden flames, curving and warping the light around the circular band. Draco lifted his hand and placed it next to Harry's, his band reflecting the same fire. Harry rolled his head over and regarded Draco with a small smile.
"What now?" Draco asked softly as he reached up and caressed Harry's bottom lip with his thumb.
"I don't know," Harry murmured.
"Do you want to stay or go?"
"Well," Harry looked to the fireplace for an answer. "We owe it to ourselves to have a proper honeymoon, right?"
"Certainly," Draco smirked. "Do you want to go now or in the morning?"
"Let's go now," Harry said firmly.
"Are you sure?"
"It took us eight years to get here," Harry turned to look at him again. "Let's not wait another minute."
Draco stood and crossed the room, retrieved a small wooden box from the bookcase and brought it back to sofa. He set it down gently on the table and lifted the lid. Inside was the portkey puzzle from christmas, two pieces of blue glass with uneven cuts along the inside edges. Harry lifted one and Draco lifted the other. They set them down on the table and slid them together until they connected with a soft click. A miniature brass palm tree appeared in the center, suspended in the translucent blue mass.
Harry retrieved his wand and flicked it, zapping the block and shattering the glass. The brass palm tree was freed and fell to the wood tabletop with a tiny clink.
Draco grasped Harry's hand firmly and they looked into each other's eyes. Their smiles were soft at first, then grew to a pair of roguish grins.
"Are you ready?" Draco asked.
"Let's go," Harry nodded.
Together they reached out and brushed the debris aside, then as one they grasped the portkey.
And just like that, they were gone.