This is the final chapter of Sanguis Vita Est! I have worked so hard on this ending, it sort of snuck up on me, I got a bit lost in the story with you all and didn't realise how close we were to the end but here we are. I'm going to be so sad to see it go but I am happy to have had this journey with you all and I hope you'll read this story again and again :)
I'd like to personally thank all of you for your support over the last few months, every single person who read/reviewed this story. Please keep an eye on me for the next few installations of Draco/Harry lusciousness (and also a slightly more rare pairing for you to try ;) Thank you again everyone!
.: Chapter Twenty-Eight :.
In all his memory, Malfoy Manor had always been a place of darkness and dread, a place that housed only recollections of the Dark Lord's reign. Tonight eradicated any such memories. The gardens were blossoming with night-blooming jasmines that glowed in the evening dimness, dancing sparkles and tiny bluish lights hovering over the grand grounds and flowers like thousands of silent fireflies in the night. Narcissa truly had outdone herself.
The main, double doors were drawn open, allowing the lively yet sophisticated music and the warm, bright lights from within the manor to stream out onto the grounds, lighting up the finely cobbled pathway. The house itself was also decorated with neat drapes of twinkling lights, not unlike muggle fairy lights, Severus thought, feeling the hand looped in his arm tense as they touched the stone stairs leading up to the open doors.
The grand entrance hall was crowded with people, a din that seemed to stretch far into the ball room, dining room and all the other reception rooms he knew to be on the ground floor. Lucius had obviously seen fit to make the most of this, to take advantage and of course invite every reputable witch and wizard in the world. And then a few others, he added mentally, spying a few red-heads that could only be Weasleys amongst the crowd. Their presence is no doubt at Harry's insistence, he thought, squeezing his arm around Merritt's hand reassuringly.
"I have you," he said simply, his few words expressing everything he felt in his heart. No one would hurt him; the vampire had nothing to fear.
With a nervous smile, Merritt caressed the finely tailored sleeve of his midnight robes that he saved for special occasions. Both of them were dressed in fine attire, dark yet respectably so, they may have only been here on Draco and Harry's request, but it could not hurt to express decorum and class. They were both known professors at Hogwarts, of course.
"I'm fine, Severus. Honestly, I am simply a bit…apprehensive about being in there with so many people."
Severus led them up the stairs and into the brightly lit hall, bowing his head at Narcissa who was greeting some Bulgarian wizards at the threshold and moving on through the din towards the ballroom, where he knew Draco and Harry would be at Lucius's mercy, being made a spectacle of to the Malfoy family's advantage.
I almost feel sorry for Potter, marrying into such madness and eagerness for promoting the family name, he thought with mild despair, still finding it hard to believe that Lucius could be so pompous and overbearingly proud of his son for bagging Harry Potter as a partner. It couldn't hurt that Harry had succeeded in his career so dramatically after Hogwarts. Lucius always did know how and when to choose his sides.
"Surely this can be nothing compared to facing hundreds of ill-mannered students every meal at Hogwarts?" Severus jested dryly, knowing that Merritt had still not quite recovered from his ordeal as Claude's whipping-boy. Large, rambunctious crowds such as this had the tendency to bother him, and yet he was fine in the classroom, for some reason.
"It's different with the students, I can hardly deduct house points or assign detention to this lot if they start, can I?" Merritt replied, but despite his nervousness, he kept his chin up, his head held high and his rich hazel eyes began to scan the dance-floor boldly, not allowing his nerves to get the better of him as he searched for sight of Harry or Draco.
"Sadly no," Severus replied, "Although there is no doubt that the majority deserve it."
Merritt flashed his boyish grin, leaning in to lay a chaste kiss on the man's cheek. Before he could draw back, two bright voices carried over the vivacious music into their ears. Both Merritt and Severus turned to see two familiar faces and Severus gave a small, polite nod that was just as heartfelt as Merritt's gleaming smile.
"Thank goodness we've found someone civilized to talk to," the bushy haired girl gasped, glaring around at the surrounding people. "Lucius Malfoy seems to have invited every pompous dignitary on the planet."
"All the decent people, the ones we actually know are all holed up in the dining room by the refreshments, trying to steer clear of all the bad eggs," Ronald Weasley added, giving both of the men a respectable nod of his own. Neither had changed much in the last few years, but the two certainly seemed to scrub up well in their formal attire. Weasley in a rich, dark green set of rather fancy robes and his wife in fine attire that mixed muggle, glistening evening dress with wizarding robes stunningly.
It was quite obvious, even to those who didn't know them as well that the Weasleys weren't as poor as they had been any longer. As he understood it from Harry, Ron Weasley had joined the 'family business' with the twins, their joke shop having grown to be a major franchise in the last few years. It was nice to see good fortune come to good people for once.
Severus had not seen either of them this scrubbed up since their wedding that had occurred straight after their graduation from Hogwarts. The hope and happiness from that day was still dancing in their eyes now. He had a feeling it was a light that would never die. "Mr Weasley," Severus acknowledged, "Mrs Weasley, I was hoping Merritt and I would not be the only 'decent' people to attend tonight. I admit it seems that our host was a bit overzealous in his desire to give his son connections."
At that, Ron snorted and reached out to snatch a crystal goblet off of the passing tray a house-elf had been carrying. He downed the honey-coloured liquid like a shot of courage. "As if Draco is ever gunna need a better connection than Harry," he said. "Can't get much more connected than buggering the chosen–"
"Ron!" Hermione hissed, snatching the half-finished drink from his hand before striking the hand, chastising him. "While it's perfectly fine to talk in such an abrupt way in the privacy of our home or Harry's, and while Harry may find it hilarious to hear your…blunt way of putting things, we are in different company in this hall."
Ron went slightly pink and glanced around at the passing guests and those dancing by, as if checking if any of them had heard. "I was just saying, you know, Harry is the only think Draco needs to make a name for himself. Harry doesn't even stint on public appearances."
"Indeed," Severus interjected, "I found that most odd, given that I knew how fervently Harry loathed the media and public appearances. From what I gathered when they invited us to dinner last week, Draco is only permitted to ask him on so many events a year and he must pick and choose his battles."
Hermione nodded; evidently the two had assured her and her husband of the same thing.
"Bet Harry makes sure Draco makes it up to him though," Ron chuckled good-naturedly, making his wife flush and take a deep sip of the alcohol in the goblet she had snatched from him. As is suddenly remembering something important, she abruptly spat the liquid back in the glass. A few passers by muttered something and Merritt laughed while Severus raised a brow.
"As much as defiling Lucius's good crystal sounds appealing," Severus began, but Hermione quickly headed him off.
"Oh, no I…" She stepped closer, passing the goblet off to her husband, who luckily didn't see him pass it off on another house-elf. But Severus saw the thought in her eyes before she opened her mouth. He was friendly enough with the Weasley couple, he saw them frequently enough whenever Harry and Draco had them over for their private dinners, but they would never be as comfortable with each other as they all were with Harry and Draco. And so he saved her the awkwardness of having to say it aloud.
"Congratulations, both of you," he said quietly, allowing them a private smile. It was not as terrifying a thought as he would've thought a few years ago, more Weasley children. Offspring of the reputed golden trio. He barely withheld a smirk.
"Your little princess will love being an older sister, I'm certain of it, she is such a jewel," Merritt said brightly, looking around again. He frowned. "Where is the little Miss Weasley? I'd have thought she would have been showing off her new party dress that Draco and Harry bought her?"
At this, Ron made a face. "Those two spoil her rotten with new dresses and all that whenever they have new parties. Draco's the worst offender! Always sending her the 'best in fashion', a new bloody set of robes every month. S'pose she needs someone to talk fashion with, us being both rejects," he added, earning a glare of Hermione. "Well, with my Weasley jumpers and your bookworm genes she needs a little style from somewhere. S'what godfathers are for I s'pose. Draco showers her with dresses, Harry spoils her with all the toys and trinkets he never got as a child."
The tone darkened briefly then and Hermione looked away from her husband and around them quickly, before fixing her gaze on Merritt and Severus. "Never mind, Draco saw to putting that to justice," she murmured for their ears only.
Severus of course knew exactly what they meant. Not long out of Hogwarts, Draco had gone against Harry's wishes to forget what the Dursleys had done and had dragged the three of them to Siddlebury cottage and demanded they drop to their knees in apology. From what Severus remembered of Petunia Dursley (then Evans) he imagined Draco had done a considerable amount of threatening to get their co-operation, however.
"Even if Harry was furious with him for months, it's the best thing Draco's ever done for him, put things right with that lot," Ron agreed, his face twisting as if he could smell something particularly unpleasant. "Harry just pushed it aside after the war, reckoned he could just forget it, but he's seemed more at peace with himself since."
"They deserved far worse and considering Draco's temperament I think it's a tribute to how much he's grown and how much he respects Harry that he didn't just hex them," Hermione muttered hatefully.
"Harry should have remembered that Draco has a protective streak and a temper to match his own when he entrusted that information to him," Severus said, "Draco gets the scheming from his slytherin ancestors. They lie in wait. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they say."
Draco paid for that 'mistake' for many months following, and in the end, though Harry had said that it was wrong for him to disregard his wishes so blatantly, he had forgiven him, realising it was the closure he had needed, one way or another. The feud did not stop them from seeing each other, nor fucking, I imagine, Severus thought crudely, knowing the boys as well as he did. Their relationship had possibly grown stronger from an outsider's point of view.
They had even managed to (for the most part) find themselves able to be separated for a whole work day, though he imagined they would always be the kind of pair that spent more time together than others. They were inseparable and rather than driving each other mad as he would've thought a few years ago, even he had to admit that they couldn't seem happier. Yet despite that, the banter, the intensity still remained. A few of his students, just like Weasley and 'Granger'-Weasley would never change. He was glad of it.
"Harry is more the type of godfather to take her out fun places for the day really," Hermione said to Ron then, wanting to change the subject, it seemed. "And he at least tries to reign in Draco's need to pamper Harlene into oblivion."
"True, he'd send her a new dress every day if he could," Ron muttered.
Merritt was still smiling and leant further into Snape's side, glancing up at him. They knew the humble charm of Miss Harlene Weasley well, and how well she could use that charm with her beloved godfathers. For all that, however, she was still a polite, honest little thing that seemed a perfect combination of bookishness and daring recklessness from her two parents.
At this moment, as if sensing her cue, a light, excited voice rushed at them through the crowd, an incoherent squeal of delight. Snape, as the tallest of their small group, looked over the heads of the passers-by to the middle of the dance floor, where he could see the once dance floor shy Harry Potter swirling a five-year-old tot with bouncing, vibrant red curls across the rich oak floor.
It was hard to tell who was having a better time, Harry or Harlene. Perhaps, given that this excited display was sure to annoy Lucius, who disapproved highly of Harry and Draco's infatuation with Harlene and kept 'subtly' hinting that it was about time they 'acquire' some children of their own, Severus suspected Harry might be enjoying himself just that tad extra.
"Faster, faster!" Harlene squealed, the stunning, glittery white and pale blue dress swirling round with each twirl she gave.
"Both Harrys, at the heart of the action, as ever," Ron smirked, craning his neck to watch as some of those dancing stopped to watch. To his surprise, most of them were cheering, cooing over scene. Even these stuffy debutants. The world really had changed; it surprised them all sometimes, even now.
Not enough to make Harry like the press as much as his lover, however. It seemed that was impossible, for the moment the Daily Prophet representatives started snapping pictures, Harry schooled his features into a strained smile and had Harlene give a little curtsey to the audience they'd garnered before dancing her back through the crowd. He must have seen them, for he was heading straight for them.
"Severus, Merritt," he greeted them, his fake smile merging into a true one as he spied them there too. "I'm so glad you came." He twirled Harlene back into Hermione's arms and then stood back, gasping for breath, his cheeks coloured with vitality. "Bloody media hounds, they still snap at everything I do, you'd think they'd find some fresher news in all these years," he said breathlessly.
"I think given who you are and what you have done, you'll be the juiciest news for many years to come yet, especially given your partner's thirst for publicity," Severus said, setting his hand on Harry's shoulder firmly. "You look well; Draco's surprise suited you I take it?"
Harry smiled awkwardly now, blushing a little. "I still feel silly when he pampers me, don't think I'll ever be able to get over that, but yeah, Greece was beautiful. And of course, being a wizard, means I didn't get anything more than that 'sun-kissed glow' or whatever Draco called it. I forget he's a vampire sometimes, strutting around with me in the sun. He doesn't tan, of course. Oh, but I was so happy to see 'real' sand that he bottled some for me. Do you think every time I go on holiday will feel like the first time?"
Merritt bit back a grin at the blatant opening for innuendo there and while the other two thirds of the golden trio grinned, happy for their friend, Severus was the one who spoke. "It's possible, you have an endearing tendency to be thrilled with things others take for granted, I do believe it is one of the things Draco loves most about you."
That was something new too, Severus Snape, speaking openly about emotions, even if they weren't his own it was a vast improvement to the closed off creature he had been at the end of the war. Before Harry and Draco had opened his eyes, before Merritt…
Harry, still a tad breathless smiled while his flush darkened but as he opened his mouth to reply, an arm looping around his shoulder and presenting him with a glass of sparkling white wine. The tingling sensation in the scar of his neck (which just peaked out from the crisp collar of his robes) had alerted him to Draco's proximity and so he didn't jump, merely glanced down at the offered beverage questioningly.
Draco smiled behind Harry, circling round him to stand at his side, one hand at the small of his back while the other still offered the alcohol. "It's the elderberry wine you like."
"Is that the sweet one?" Harry asked, taking the glass from Draco, sipping at it. It was the right one indeed. He took a deeper sip. Draco often teased him about his 'immature' tastes in alcoholic beverages, almost as much as he delighted in how easily Harry got drunk. He smiled secretly to himself. A few times Draco had even said it made his blood taste sweeter, but he wasn't sure how true that was.
"Thank you all for coming, I don't think I'd have been able to drag Harry out of the house if I hadn't been able to assure him you were all here," Draco said, looking back to his lover. "You threw quite the tantrum didn't you?"
Harry glared mutinously over his glass of wine. "Well, honestly, another party in our honour? Your father doesn't need much of an excuse to flaunt us around like a great bloody flag to help the Malfoy reputation." It was a peeve of his that came up now and again, he would complain and Draco would pacify him and they would come to a compromise. If this was the biggest flaw he had to put up with to be with Draco, he thought he had it pretty good.
"Firstly, my promotion and our engagement aren't just any 'excuse' for a party," Draco began lightly, "and you said yourself that you don't mind helping the family reputation, my reputation, what will soon be your family too."
At that, Harry choked on his wine. He spluttered breathlessly for a moment, and Ron clapped him on the back helpfully, hiding his own snigger. "Bloody hell, that's a frightening thought," Harry choked out, his eyes watering. "Me, a Malfoy."
"An unlikely and yet happy turn-out," Severus added, taking the glass from Harry who was still wheezing a little. "You both started the change that spread across the whole world, you realise. Not just with criminal justice with the Hunters and the Ministry, but with your influence on the public. They see you both, once enemies, now engaged in the public eye constantly. It's having a positive effect on us all."
"Even you, Severus," Draco grinned, "when are you going to pop Merritt the question, you old romantic?"
Merritt returned his grin with relish. "When you lot stop getting married and procreating, we don't want you to steal our lime-light," he joked.
"You'll be waiting a while then, Hermione has a handful more to go before she catches up with Mrs Weasley," Harry smiled, patting his friend's belly and Harlene's red head discreetly. At Hermione's half-hearted scowl, Harry's smile merely broadened. "I reckon your job at Flourish and Blotts would have to take a back-seat if you did that. You're the manager now aren't you?"
"Assistant Manager as you very well know, Harry Potter," Hermione said, shoving his arm gently. "Molly Weasley is a brave woman, if I had a little Ronald or, heaven forbid, my own Fred and George I think I would lose my mind."
Ron looked terrified at the prospect and so it was probably best that Harlene chimed in then, having remained quiet and respected their conversation long enough. "Did you see me Daddy? Harry made me fly! Everyone was taking pictures!" She cried gleefully, twirling on the spot, fanning out her dress as she moved.
"Imagine," said Hermione, "two Harrys, one that hates the media and one that loves it." She flashed Harry a smile before kneeling down, presenting little Harry with a glass of water. The tot guzzled it down, and Harry watched her thoughtfully. He was uncomfortable at first with the idea of Ron and Hermione's baby being named after him. He didn't want any child lumbered with his name's misfortune, but 'Harry' Weasley was carving a name for herself.
The day he'd paced frantically outside the Hospital Wing, came back to him then. He remembered being called in, seeing the little pink think wrapped up and sleeping soundly in a white swaddling cloth. She had been tiny, especially so, considering she had come two months early. He had been afraid to so much as look at her, but she had been born healthy despite her size and had been pushed into Harry's arms not long after she had been born.
It was when he had been sitting there, with Draco at his side and the baby in his arms that his best friends had suggested the name Harlene to him. Harlene Weasley, whom everyone would call 'Harry'. The suggestion had stunned him at first, but the surge of emotion had overcome his doubts at the time and he had surrendered the subject. Thankfully, Harry Weasley was such a personality that there was no need to fear for his n namesake.
Moments after her naming, when Draco had touched a red forelock from her forehead, they had also had their fears for her magic laid to rest. Draco had been able to sense it as soon as he had touched her, and of course, the magical tantrums that had followed in her 'terrible twos' had definitely helped to reassure them. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Harry Weasley, except perhaps an unnatural amount of energy…
At that moment, Harlene reached up for Draco. "Can we dance now?" she asked sweetly, hopping from one foot to the other in excitement.
"The next dance is yours," Draco promised her, taking the little hand in his and kissing it like a prince taking a princess' hand. "I'm going to dance with Harry first though, can you be patient for me?"
She smiled. "I'm good with patience!" she exclaimed, and dutifully rooted herself to the spot in front of Hermione and Ron, lifting her chin. "I can wait. I wait for my treat until after dinner every day!"
"Which is more than I can say for some," Hermione said with a meaningful look at her husband, adjusting her daughter's hair bow where it had slipped slightly in her mass off silky curls.
Draco wrapped his arm round Harry's waist, directing him towards the dance floor where a slower, more powerful tune had begun to play. One of Draco's hands took Harry's the other took his waist and Harry frowned thoughtfully as he allowed Draco to move him slowly, with their usual, intimate rhythm to the music. It was now as if there were no one else in the world watching, only them. And he was sure he recognised the music.
"Draco, this song, is this–?"
"The song they played that day at the restaurant I took you to for our 'first date'? Yes," Draco answered for him with that usual devilish grin, guiding Harry to the song they knew even after all this time. "I thought such an occasion called for it, this gathering is to celebrate our engagement, after all."
Harry raised a brow. "You're lucky I know you so well, sometimes you make it sound like you only asked me to marry you for the sake of publicity," he squeezed Draco's hand, following his feet easily, without so much as looking down. "Happily, I know you better than that."
But it was Draco that looked thoughtful then and Harry opened his mouth hurriedly to assure him he didn't doubt the blond's intentions or affections, but Draco spoke first.
"Does it not seem…surreal to you? With what I am, I'm…I'm a vampire and yet with every year that passes, it seems to effect me less and less. I may as well be human for all it effects me," Draco murmured, for his ears only. This was obviously something he had been dwelling on for a while, and so Harry stepped closer into the dance, bringing their chests to touch.
Leaning close so that he could feel the vampire's breath on his cheeks, he met his bright silver eyes. "Well, you still feed from me regularly – happily, I think you know how much I enjoy it–?"
"That's not what I meant," Draco said. "Besides…drinking you, I can go out in sunlight, eventually I won't even need the potion for that, thanks to you. I am even upholding a job of great worth, I'm a godparent and by this time next year I will be a husband. Isn't that just…surreal, almost…almost…"
"Too good to be true?" Harry finished softly, studying the face he loved carefully. "That's the very thought that kept me from admitting my feelings to you in the beginning, you know. I know there is still bad in the world, I'm not so blind to say there isn't, but the world has changed in the last five years, a lot. Magical beings are respected, treated like normal citizens. Remus says his rehabilitation centre is growing every year out of necessity because so many people feel they can come forward now and ask for help."
Draco nodded, his movements never slowing, never faltering as he lead them through the dance. The world was simpler like this, with Harry close to him, it made him feel like he was floating on a lush cloud, unaffected by anything in the world below. Nothing but Harry. "Yes, but more than that, my life is almost normal, only better than normal. It's the life I didn't dare to dream of from the moment Voldemort slapped that brand on my arm, and it's all possible because of you. Everything I have is because of you."
Harry blinked at him, his cheeks colouring treacherously. That was something he doubted he would ever grow out of, no matter how many years passed. But as the words registered, he bowed his head to rest it on Draco's shoulder, his face turned into Draco's neck to hide it from the eyes watching them carefully. There were many other bodies on the dance floor but he new the press and guests were watching them. He didn't care.
Inhaling Draco's scent he smiled into his collar. "Surely you're not going all sentimental and romantic on me in public? You know it gets me hard," Harry teased, knowing very well that Draco knew he appreciated it when Draco confided his feelings to him. The vampire's rich laugh rolled over his ear.
"Harry Potter, the randy one," he chuckled, "yes, that's a much better anecdote. If only the world knew what an insatiable demon he was. Far more voracious than his blood-sucking fiancé."
"Never that bad," Harry answered with mirth, raising his head from the comfort of his shoulder to look at him again. I think I've definitely earned the most amazing blowjob for behaving myself tonight and not hexing any Ministry officials or Daily Prophet representatives, he thought, the smirk that touched Draco's lips telling him the vampire had heard the mental words loud and clear.
They swayed to a rhythm their bodies remembered well, their bodies locked together lovingly and Draco's hand that was on his waist snuck up to caress the back of his neck, stroking his hair as he pressed his forehead against Harry's.
I do love you, Potter, he whispered inside his head. Right down to the way you're blushing because you know we're being watched. Harry winced at that and drew back a fraction as they danced to catch a glimpse of the guests gathered round the dance floor, and the other dancing couples that glanced at them with every turn of the music.
"I thought my Harry didn't like dancing?" Draco asked aloud then, his devilish grin flashing across his lips. Harry almost expected to see fangs there, all of him visible as they were during their most intimate moments together. He couldn't explain why, but he relished those moments best, when he could see, feel the vampire in Draco. It felt like he was being trusted with a great precious sight, his lover's deepest secret. Or at least, the image of it was a secret, a sight for him only, the knowledge of it nowadays was very much out in the open.
"Why do you indulge little Harry and me so often if you hate it so?" Draco questioned him, punctuating his words by twirling Harry dramatically from his body and tugging him back in. Harry laughed as their chests bumped together.
"I think you'll find this is the first time I've indulged Harry in dancing in public," Harry said, "I usually leave the showing off up to you. And it's not that I don't like dancing with you, I just don't like people staring at me while I try not to fall on my face."
"Mmm, and what changed?" Draco asked, with an air of a man who knew the answer already.
"I realised you'd never let me fall, and that I don't mind the staring quite so much as long as you're the one doing it," Harry replied sheepishly. There was still a hint of awkward innocence in him that he didn't think he would ever lose, and that Draco had confessed to finding most endearing in him whenever the subject had been broached. Even now his cheeks flushed with heat and colour whenever their eyes met while their bodies were locked together in the intimacy of lovemaking. And still, he never managed to look away. Those silver eyes were as captivating as they had always been, and always would be.
The arms around him, guiding Harry in the subtle movements of the dance tightened briefly, but before Draco could give a verbal reply, the music ceased in a crescendo of dramatic symphony. A voice called out to Harry as they began to exit the dance floor, heading back towards their friends.
"Potter!" A female voice cried. Draco turned first with his superior speed, and when Harry finally met the eyes of the woman who had called him, he squeezed Draco's arm and gave her a polite smile.
Aurelia Alaric (Caius Alaric's mother) had been his instructor when he had first joined the Hunters. Then still overwhelmed by her son's death, she had taken a shine to Harry and almost reminded him of a more morose, quiet Mrs Weasley with her motherly pride and strength.
It had been a shaky start when he had first started under her wing along with a few others. Draco had been sceptical for a long time as had the rest of the wizarding world, but the first time Harry and his colleagues had rescued both humans and vampire younglings alike from a particularly brutal coven (during Harry's second year in his training) things had definitely begun to ease up. As had Draco.
Now they were as reputed as the Aurors, who they worked together with on many cases. They were respected now and still growing, undoubtedly making the world they knew a safer place for magical beings and mortals alike. Draco hinted endlessly that they had only risen this high from the rubble because of their association with Harry, but Harry had learnt to ignore him.
Things were not perfect, he had hard cases, he made mistakes, there were even some that got away, but he was safe in the knowledge that he was doing good in the world. And of course, thanks to Draco's gentle insistence, he still maintained a good deal of 'self preservation' and time for his personal life i.e. Draco. Although one of their joint favourite things was when Harry came home after a hard case, wound up and tense and Draco would pound him into a blissful, peaceful oblivion. He grinned at the thought.
Aurelia stopped before them, her usual conservative smile on her lips. She looked exactly like her son with blonde hair swept back off her shoulders and riveting icy blue eyes. She gave a small bow of sorts to both Harry and Draco, before meeting their gazes. "I want to thank you for inviting us. It's good to scrub up and leave the office for a reason other than hunting, isn't it?"
Harry nodded. "Living with a successful politician does lend itself to the more glamorous parties," he smiled.
"Even if we all know Harry Potter enjoys less sensational hobbies more," she replied gently.
"Oh, yes, he prefers a quiet gathering or rough-housing with a few demons to this no doubt," Draco said cordially.
"Or one in particular," Aurelia said, a light of teasing in her eyes before she reached forwards to take both of Harry's hands in hers. "I know you've lots of circulating to do here, so I won't keep you long but tonight is a special night to you and Mr Malfoy and there are things that need to be said. Corvus and I wanted to say this to you together, of course but…"
Harry blinked, embarrassed at her conviction, her belief in him. Corvus was her husband and Caius Alaric's father. He was a more outspoken man, gruffer, more hardy, but hardworking. He reminded Harry of a more polished version of Hagrid. "Where is Corvus?" he asked curiously.
Aurelia rolled her eyes. "Oh, you know him, his work comes first. I believe last I saw him he vanished out into the courtyard with the Minister. At any rate, we wanted to tell you, Harry, to express how…how grateful we are for all you did for Caius and for all you have done for the Hunters–"
"Really," Harry said, softly extracting his hands from hers. He felt awkward when people thanked him for simply doing his job. "It's my job, that good people are allowed to live happily is the only reward I want – and I'm paid good money for it. I do the same job as the others, I'm nothing special," he protested.
The woman shook her head with a thoughtful smile. "No, you shine far brighter than any other, Harry, you must believe this. The way you have helped our organisation grow over the last few years…it means that my boy did not die in vain, that what he suffered was for a bigger purpose and that…that means I can let him go, at long last."
Harry felt his eyes sting, but smiled through them, stepped forward to take her hands again. "He suffered, but his face showed only peace when he left this world. He is where he wants to be, I promise you," he assured her, his voice a little coarse with emotion. The Alarics were a polite but emotionally solitary couple, they had only asked once after how their son had died and Harry had never had the chance to assure her that his passing, though painful, was the only way he could have found peace. "He's with Vesper, I know that somehow. I can just feel it. He's alright now."
He saw the same resilience, the same struggle in her own vibrant blue eyes to fight back tears. She nodded vigorously, mimicking his smile. "Bless you, dear boy. You do so much for others, always the hero," she leant in then, kissing him on his cheek. "Just you make sure you let yourself be saved once and a while as well."
"He's getting better at it, Mrs Alaric," Draco said, his cool voice touched by sympathy as his hand ghosted over the small of Harry's back.
Harry squeezed her hands once more, before stepping back into Draco's arm. "I'll catch up with you again as soon as my father-in-law is quite done embarrassing me," Harry said to her, receiving a small chuckle in response, before Draco whisked him away up towards the main, sweeping staircase in the grand foyer, where everyone was beginning together.
The warm light bathed the great room as guests filed in and he and Draco ascended the dark wood stairs, the rich green carpet cushioning their footfalls. They stopped half way up, where Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were standing waiting for them, their arms linked regally, a snippet of their affection there for the world to see. Their loyalty to each other and their family.
Narcissa kissed Draco's cheek and he positioned himself beside her, Harry close at his side. Harry couldn't say time had warmed him to the way they displayed themselves for the public this way, but it was to the benefit of Draco's swiftly growing career and he was always given a choice as to whether he attended or not. If he thought of it as helping Draco he didn't quite mind as much.
Looping his arm in Draco's, he felt the blond's face turn slightly to him as the guests gathered below, all staring up at them. "You're getting quite maudlin in your old-age," the vampire whispered teasingly.
"Twenty-two is hardly old," Harry laughed. "And thanks to the bond we share, I'll probably never look or feel a day older than twenty." His ties with Draco, their frequent sharing of blood would mean that his aging would slow until eventually, he would stop altogether. The prospect was a daunting one, but he felt confident they would get through it together and those he loved, all witches, wizards or magical beings, they would all live magically lengthened lives in any case. He would not have to worry about losing them for a very, very long time.
A small jerk on the arm that was intertwined with Draco's tugged him back to reality. "No daydreaming before the masses, Harry, they'll eat you alive," Draco purred in his ear. Harry leant into him subtly. You can do that later, he answered him in their minds, just as Lucius Malfoy began to speak, the effects of a Sonorus charm helping his voice to carry out loud and clear.
"I would like to thank all of you for coming. My wife and I have of course had the pleasure of inviting you all here in honour of our son and heir's outstanding promotion to Deputy Head of the Magical Creatures and Beings Organisation Department in the Ministry of Magic. A department he has raised from the ground up since he left Hogwarts just five years ago. This of course, as you know, has helped us all immensely in the goal of living harmoniously, together in this world."
Harry barely refrained from scoffing aloud. Lucius Malfoy, a once Death Eater talking of harmony? Still the man meant well, more or less nowadays. And this was for Draco, he reminded himself, keeping quiet.
"I am sure that you will all agree that in conjunction with the work of others, such as his partner, Harry Potter, he has helped to make our world a safer, more just world to live in. So please, join us now and raise your goblets to the new Deputy Head, all of the good he has done and all he has yet to do."
As the crowds below began to raise their glasses, however, Draco squeezed Harry's arm and cast a wandless Sonorus on his own voice so that is carried across the foyer like his father's had. "But not only that, to the work of every single person who had improved our world, inside and outside of the Ministry for Magic," Draco interrupted, raising his own goblet that Harry had not even seen him grab on their way up the stairs. "To us all!"
An echo of his addition carried through the hundreds of people below, and Harry strained his eyes to try and catch sight of Ron, Hermione, Snape or Merritt. Remus, Tonks and Teddy hadn't been able to come since they were holding (a rather successful no doubt) fundraiser for the 'clinic' Remus still worked for after all these years. Draco had persuaded Lucius to make a rather generous donation himself as a gesture of 'good-will'.
"And one of the main successes of the department this year," Lucius said, his voice carrying over the dying cheers, "was the removal of many barriers of wizards and witches marrying magical beings. And it is with great pleasure that one the first wizard and magical being marriages to be held in England will be that of my own son and his long-time partner, Harry Potter."
Zealous cheers and whistles, even screams of delight filled the momentous room and Harry even had to wince at the sheer volume of everyone's support. He smiled through it, as did Draco, though his cheeks coloured tellingly as the applause soared to new heights. He swore the grand chandeliers hanging above would tremble and fall with the intensity of it all.
This was it; the world officially knew they were engaged. His stomach felt quite tight at the notion for some reason, as if he had missed a step going downstairs. It was real now. Oh Merlin, he thought to Draco as well as himself. I'm going to be a married man!
He heard Draco's chuckle inside his mind. Married to a vampire no less, they are the most demanding, voracious of partners, you know. They always claim their conjugal rights and are terribly possessive.
Not to worry, I've had practice with that, Harry replied, the tightness in his belly easing slightly at the tone in Draco's thoughts. Draco was just as nervous-excited as he was. Not for the first time, he appreciated how intricately intertwined their minds, bodies and souls were.
"Thank you so much." Draco's voice sounded over the congratulatory cheering, and he stepped forwards slightly towards their waiting audience. "It means a lot to us that we have so much support and so many well-wishers among you all. But on the note of announcements, there is something that I want to mention that I have only touched on in interviews with the Quibbler and Daily Prophet before…"
Harry frowned as he watched his lover's – no his fiancé's back, confused. There were only two announcements agreed between them tonight, so what was this? Judging by the look on the faces of Lucius and Narcissa, this was a surprise to them too. Draco was speaking completely of his own volition, whatever he was about to say.
"I know that it must have had more to do with Harry than me, but regardless, a few years ago, when I was still climbing my way up through the Ministry towards where I am now, I revealed a very precious secret to you all. One that could very well break the future I had painstakingly carved for myself had you not all accepted it so graciously."
Draco paused, allowing the words to sink in, allowing them all to realise what he was talking about before he continued, his once proud voice now humble yet still as confident as ever.
"It is a tribute to how far we have all grown as a society, that you could accept me so easily in spite of what I was. I was judged solely on what I had done with my life and my career, not what I was. I thank you all for your support during that time, and even now. I promise you that I will not give you cause to regret it and I hope we will all continue to grow for the better, together. I am content to live in a world where I need not fear being what I truly am, thank you, everyone."
For a moment, the expanse of hall was silent. Even Harry was stunned. Never had he heard Draco speak so openly, so completely from his heart, not to anyone besides him anyway. Then, slowly this time, like a natural ripple across a calm stream, applause began to build again.
It was more real because of the subtlety of its growth and when at last it reached the surmountable heights of the applause before, Harry swallowed and stood and Draco's side, locking their hands together. They had faced this much and come out stronger, better than before. He doubted there was anything that they couldn't endure now.
The clapping merged with the verbal cheers into one continuous sound that made the warmth of the room fill Harry's core. It rang off the marble accented walls, making the very floor hum with the harmony of their ovation. People could come together in darkness and incite a flame of hope, of light in the shadows, it seemed.
Harry gave a deep, exhausted yet blissful sigh as he sank down on the edge of the ostentatious four-poster that stood in the master bedroom of his and Draco's home. He kicked off his shoes and began to shed his dress robes, smiling to himself as he relived the night in his head.
The party at Malfoy Manor hadn't been too bad, and he and Draco had even had a quiet dinner at Siddlebury cottage with Remus, Tonks, Andromeda and Teddy afterwards. It was hard to imagine a time where he had been awkward with Teddy; the boy was practically stuck to him whenever he revisited his family at Siddlebury (which was often). Those trying adolescent years seemed very far away from where he sat now, almost down to his underwear in the large bedroom.
He had let Draco get away with his grandiose interior designs in some rooms, their bedroom and their en-suite mainly, since no one else could see the fine mixture of gold, silver and green, the obscenely large sunken tub nor the matching silk bed-curtains and window-dressings. Their bedroom was grand indeed but warm and luxurious and Harry had to admit he quite enjoyed the hint of luxury here and even in the bathroom.
The rest of their home was simply nicely finished, Harry hadn't wanted a home his friends were afraid to even sit in and after teasing him profusely for his conservative interior tastes, Draco had relented and chosen something traditional but stunning. It was an old Victorian manor, set out in the countryside just a short way from Siddlebury with exposed beams and a light, spacious feel. Not too large, not too small, a fine mix of them both to suit both Harry and his flamboyant lover.
Fiancé, Harry's mind corrected as he stood up, tossing his clothes into the hamper. Blimey, that'll take some getting used to. As he tugged at the waistband of his briefs, about to discard them to, the door joining the bedroom to the en-suite swung open and Draco stepped out, a towel around his waist. Stopped at the door by the sight of him poised to take his underwear off, Draco smirked. "A million-quid view, this one," he mused.
"Up yours," Harry swore teasingly, straightening up and keeping his black briefs on defiantly. Draco's grin grew and he continued into the room, running another towel through his wet locks. Harry had hopped out of their overlarge 'power-shower' earlier, purposefully avoiding the water-slicked tussle they would usual get into when they shared a shower. He had plans for Draco in the bedroom tonight, not the bathroom.
"I wonder if the party is still in swing at the manor," Draco wondered aloud, now towel-drying his body. They had left Malfoy Manor 'fashionably early' to head for Siddlebury cottage and knowing Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, they would milk every possible connection as much as possible. Harry could not help but admire their fearless ferocity in seizing every possible opportunity for their son. He could not fault them for that, whatever their methods. Sometimes he thought they did more than perhaps was necessary to make up for the dark time when Draco was first turned, though he would never say that to them aloud.
"Did you always think the fact that you're a vampire would be so easily accepted?" Harry asked thoughtfully as he sat back on the bed, watching Draco dry himself. "Back when we'd only just left Hogwarts, I mean." He would never be incredibly articulate, always blundering in with his incessantly honest questions and views, the exact opposite of Draco's smooth, tactful eloquence, but that balanced them out nicely.
Draco looked at him then, standing before him completely naked, with the soft glow of magical light above illuminating his pale, hard body. "I knew that there was a good chance, vampires were already quite accepted once they reached a certain level of authority and respect, once they'd already made a name for themselves, but I wasn't certain until I woke up one morning and saw the world changed."
Turning then, as if that was the end of his reply, Draco snatched his black, silk bath robe off the hanger on the back of the bathroom door and shrugged it on, only turning back to Harry once it was tied shut. It was almost as if he were trying to frustrate and evade Harry's gaze and touch, as Harry had done when he'd fled their joint shower.
"What do you mean?" Harry wondered, confused at that enigmatic answer. His lover levelled him with an adoring glance.
"When the work of you and others like you started to make things easier for magical beings," he explained. "Even Remus Lupin had a stable job before we left Hogwarts. And people like us have more rights, more protection. It's radically different to how it was before the war."
The vampire stood before him then and Harry leant into him, resting his forehead on Draco's sternum. He closed his eyes, breathing in his freshly washed scent. "I like the way you don't make out like I changed the world single-handedly," he muttered with no little relief. He felt Draco's fingers card through his own barely damp locks lovingly.
"I've been with you a while now, I think I can understand the baser things that piss you off," Draco mused.
Harry lifted his head and looked up into those silver eyes. They glimmered with the soft light. "So when we made the decision to announce the truth of what you were, you had faith that it would be alright?"
Draco set his hands on both sides of his throat the same way he used to, lowering his mouth to Harry's and smoothing his lips against his in a languid, sensuous movement. Their tongues touched briefly, a flickering glimpse of the pleasure they had the ability to share before they broke apart. "I had faith that I would be with you and that we'd get through it somehow," Draco answered. "I never doubted that we'd be alright in the end."
"Mmmm, don't, you know daft endearments make me hard," he chuckled, circling Draco's waist with his arms and pulling the vampire to him with a sharp yank. Draco spilled over him, flattening him to the bed and pinning his wrists above his head for good measure. The vampire gave a small, playful growl and Harry wrapped his legs around that pale waist.
"Ah, alas, you've deduced my cunning plan," Draco murmured, ducking his head to graze his lips over the soft shell of Harry's ear. "I suppose I do owe you 'the most amazing blowjob'." He caught the fleshy lobe of that ear between his lips and sucked, nipping at the very edge at the same time while his fingers slid to interlock with Harry's, keeping his hands pinned. At that moment, a familiar golden glow lit between their joined hands, shining brighter with every desperate heave Harry's chest gave, with every breathless writhe of his body.
Magic hummed in the very air around them. Harmless sparks that radiated warmth as they fractured from the glowing light conjured between their skin and danced off into the room, ricocheting off the walls. It had taken all this time, years of perseverance, practice and unified effort to get to this point and Harry swore they would've never found it possible if they didn't love each other so much, but the insurmountable joint power of theirs was finally theirs to control. They had harnessed it.
This was one secret that was only theirs, of course, shared only with Snape, Merritt, Ron, Hermione and of course the Lupins, one that they tapped into out of necessity only when Harry was on a particularly risky job and which they were now accomplished at doing secretly.
Now, it tingled, glistened vibrantly at the end of Draco's fingertips as he supported himself up on his elbow and traced the shape of Harry's jaw tenderly. Almost electrical vibrations teased his skin wherever Draco touched. Those long fingers danced along his neck, lingering over his throbbing pulse, skittered over his collarbone and down his sternum illuminating his flesh with a subtle gold. Little glittering bursts sparked off, zapping Harry's chest with sharp, sudden bolts of pleasure.
Harry groaned, one of Draco's hands still holding both of his together above his head while his body arched and sang rhythmically under Draco's ministrations.
Draco gave a warm laugh. "They say that love loses its fire after the first few years, what do you think of that Mr Potter-Malfoy?" Draco taunted him, his voice husky with desire and his eyes reflecting the magic of his fingers.
"I think I'm going to bite you in a minute, vampire or not!" Harry growled, his need roaring in his ears. "Need you – Draco, fuck me!"
"Just as demanding and eager as the first time," Draco breathed, trailing his fingers down over the taut muscles of Harry's belly, watching the electrical zings of magic tease every inch of them. "Open your legs for me, Harry," he whispered, sliding further down between them when his lover obeyed. "Now, I believe I owe you 'the most amazing blowjob'?" Draco asked, tugging down the black garment shielding the last part of Harry from view. "I'll give you that and more, fiancé."
"Even you can make a romantic endearment sound filthy," Harry said in a half moan, half chuckle.
***CENSORED. For full scene please follow one of the links on my profile**
They remained joined together in the two most intimate ways possible, Draco softly guzzling at Harry's neck in a mimic of their lovemaking while Harry's breathing and heart slowed gradually to their regular pace. He wrapped his arms around Draco lazily, the golden glow fading along with the mind-numbing pleasure into the soothing afterglow that overcame them.
Harry exhaled softly as Draco released his throat, kissing the sensitive flesh gently until the wound closed before rising up on his elbows again to look down into Harry's eyes. They stared at each other in silence for a moment, relishing in the closeness and then Draco swept that dark, damp fringe back from his lover's scar and caressed the faded mark before kissing his lips gently.
If ever there were physical gestures that could reassure him they would endure whatever the world threw at them, they were gestures such as this. He closed his eyes, returning the kiss sleepily, his fingers distractedly caressing Draco's arms as he said softly, "I love you, always."
"I love you," Draco answered, rolling onto his side so that he was facing Harry, bringing one of his hands up so that those fingers grazed his lips. "Sometimes I can't believe I found you amongst such darkness," he whispered, mostly to himself.
Rolling onto his side as well and curling into Draco's body, Harry rested his head against the vampire's chest, listening for a moment to his sluggish heartbeat. "Most of the time that's the way it happens," he replied after a while, thinking of all the good that had often happened during even the darkest of times. Some of which might have never even happened without the catalyst of those dark times occurring.
He remembered the time at the start of all this, where he had been unable to adjust to the fact that his and Draco's romance might have never sparked without the Vampire's First bond to bind them. It seemed so stupid now, looking back on his scared, adolescent attempts to keep any potential happiness away in fear of being burned.
Nearly every union he knew of only came together on the cusp of some terrible occurrence. Realising that was like gaining the ability to find even the tiniest rays of hope in the dimmest shadow. Night-blooming lights just like the jasmines in the Malfoy gardens.
"I wonder if we'd have come together even if you weren't turned into a vampire," Harry wondered aloud, his mind drifting.
"Of course we would have," Draco assured him, "you wouldn't have been able to resist my charms for long. We'd probably just have more 'vanilla' sex, that's all."
"Hmm, sounds dull," Harry mused, leaning closer still into Draco's body which he felt warming with his body heat. "I love all of you, fangs and all; you know that, don't you?"
Draco chuckled softly, wrapping Harry in a tight embrace. "Oh, believe me I know. Even the all-powerful Harry Potter couldn't fake the reactions you have to my fangs or my bite," he teased, his words suffusing Harry's cheeks with a reddish glow.
"I thought I was Harry Potter-Malfoy," Harry replied. He started at his own words, as if only just realising what that meant. His eyes went wide. "Oh, Merlin, don't let your mum go overboard with this 'wedding' she's bound to insist we have. I don't suppose we can just elope can we?"
"With public names like ours? Not a chance," Draco said cheerfully, turning to lay flat on his back and tugging Harry gently with him into their usual post-coital position, holding Harry against his body. "All the things we have endured together and you're worried about my mother throwing us a fancy ceremony?" he laughed.
Harry grumbled under his breath, trying not to think about the flamboyant, overwhelming event that Lucius and Narcissa were sure to insist upon. Draco was their only son after all. "I'd rather face a Hungarian Horntail," he mumbled to himself, wondering if he could at least persuade the Malfoys to invite only actual friends and family in compromise before letting out a deep sigh.
"We'll figure it out I s'pose," he said at last, "we always do."
Draco gave him an indulgent smile and kissed his forehead softly. "We always will, whether it's Hungarian Horntails or my mother's parties," the vampire said, his voice tinted with doting mirth.
Drifting slowly into slumber wrapped in Draco's arms, Harry closed his eyes and concurred fully with a small nod, "Together," he agreed.
AN: I'm still crying with sadness/happiness lol. Thank you all again so much, really, just by reading this you have made a difference to me.
Harlene – I developed it from the male name 'Harlon' which can be shortened to Harry. You can say it 'Har [car] lene [lenn]' or 'Har [car] lene [leen]' whichever you prefer, just wanted to be slightly different for Hermione and Ron's baby's name :) You can use the name if you want but please credit me.
Please keep an eye out for my other Harry Potter stories, I have two others already completed and up besides this one (co-written with my friends) and I have two more under my belt that I am working on – one Draco/Harry and one for a more rare pairing I hope you'll like. I'll upload one of them in a few weeks, haven't decided which yet, they're both very different.
Ta ta for now and best wishes!
Xxx chuu xxX