12. Once a Malfoy, Always a Malfoy

"So, are you taking Potter's name after you get married, then?"

It was the only question-asked in this case by Blaise Zabini-that Draco could clearly remember from his pre-wedding celebrations at the Hog's Head with his fellow Slytherins, before the rest of the evening turned into a series of blurred memories, no doubt due to the freely-flowing firewhiskey.

Perhaps the question stood out because it was asked so many times, by most of Draco's friends, including Astoria, and even Draco's parents.

Draco also suspected that several of Harry's Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw friends had made a similar inquiry at Harry's pre-wedding celebrations in Diagon Alley, and other members of the wizarding world (including its journalists) were probably asking the same question, albeit more discreetly and indirectly.

After all, given Harry Potter's history and achievements, and all of the history books and articles that mentioned his surname repeatedly, not to mention his desire to always remain connected to his parents and their family history, it almost went without saying that he was never going to give up on his surname or do anything to alter it, regardless of whether he was married or not.

Blaise might have raised his eyebrows and stared at Draco with a look of apparent disbelief when Draco shook his head and replied that he would be keeping his Malfoy surname after the wedding and that he wasn't even going to opt for a double-barrelled surname, but this reaction of shock and surprise was by no means unique to Draco's close group of Slytherin friends.

He was certain that the rest of Slytherin House also thought him foolish to not make the most of all of the benefits that marrying a Potter would offer, and even non-Slytherin members of the wizarding world-who would have heavily disapproved of him using the Potter connection in his favour-were still shocked, given the circumstances, that Draco wasn't going to do just that.

Although Draco offered Blaise a customary glare and a sigh of exasperation in return, he couldn't really blame his friend-or the rest of the wizarding world-for their surprise at the idea that he was going to carry the Malfoy surname with him for the rest of his life.

He understood exactly where they were all coming from; the name 'Malfoy' was still spoken in hushed tones and with disapproving sighs in the wizarding world, with many witches and wizards keeping their distance from Draco based on the bad memories that his name evoked, and Draco knew that the name would always be a sort of curse-it could possibly block promotions or prevent important work connections.

On the other hand, using Harry's surname instead of his own (which he would be well within his right to do, after the wedding) would open the door to so many opportunities for Draco.

The name 'Potter' was spoken with respect and reverence all over the world, and Draco would be able to use this to his advantage, especially when it came to his career-now that the sales of his homemade potions were steadily starting to increase, meaning that he was going to be less dependent on working at the Ministry of Magic, and it would be rather useful to have an easier method of establishing connections outside of the Ministry, as well as the trusted 'Potter' signature at the end of every official contract.

The surname could also mean invitations to exclusive parties and gatherings all over the world (something that Harry never actually took advantage of, given his dislike of social events where he would be pestered by devoted fans and admirers), as well as possible memberships to the exclusive clubs of the wizarding world, if Draco were still enough of a typical Slytherin (like he was back at Hogwarts) to care about that sort of thing.

Going even deeper than connections and parties, Draco also knew that changing his surname to Potter would be viewed as a statement of Draco's willingness to present himself as a changed character, somebody who was completely different to the spoilt, Slytherin teenager at Hogwarts.

The wizarding world would perhaps see it as a plea for forgiveness, a vow to adapt to a more Gryffindor way of thinking in the future. Or, perhaps more worryingly for Draco, witches and wizards alike would see the surname change as a subtle way of admitting defeat, choosing to protect himself in the most obvious (and perhaps cowardly) way possible, accepting that the Malfoys had been on the 'wrong side' during the war and now it was time to make a connection with the 'right side'. In that case, they would definitely see it as an attempt to distance himself from his family and the Malfoy family ideology, a way of cutting ties with his parents.

However, from the moment that the topic came up with Harry when the two of them were discussing the practicalities of their wedding, Draco had been adamant, in spite of all logical reasoning and the assumptions of most of their friends and family, that he wasn't going to be changing his surname, and thankfully, Harry had readily accepted his decision.

When Draco first talked about this decision with Astoria over a cup of tea at Madam Puddifoot's, she had assumed that it was some kind of 'Once a Malfoy, Always a Malfoy' philosophy. After all, she had also grown up in a pure-blood family, and she fully understood the sense of pride that went with pure-blood surnames and family backgrounds, as well as a desire to carry these surnames into the future, especially when it came to producing an heir.

Draco had to admit that this sense of pride was a part of it, in a way. It was definitely difficult to shake off years of pure-blood prejudice and the instinct to believe that the Malfoy name was a superior one.

There was still the side to him, left over from the past and his childhood, that would always feel the sense of supremacy whenever the Malfoy name was mentioned, as much as he knew that Harry always got rather irritated by that particular side of him.

Not to mention that Draco was certain that a preference for the Malfoy surname and a desire to let this name thrive from generation to generation would have featured somewhere in the Malfoy Rule Book, as it had definitely been a rule that was almost always referred to or alluded to throughout most of Draco's young life. Although Draco wondered if it would have been presented differently to the other rules-if the Rule Book were actually real-given that the 'Always a Malfoy' idea would probably have been more of an unspoken or an implied rule, a rule that would already have been assumed in advance by the Malfoys, a rule that didn't really need a direct instruction or command.

Yet he also knew that in making such an assumption, Astoria hadn't exactly understood the whole story, or the big picture, especially now that he was a little older and wiser and the Malfoy Rule Book was no longer such an important influence in his life.

After a lot of careful thought, Draco had eventually reached the conclusion that his desire to remain as a Malfoy for the rest of his life was due to a combination of several different reasons:

The first was that the name had been an important part of his past. Almost every part of his experience at Hogwarts, for better or for worse, had been very closely tied to his surname and his family background, and Draco had therefore come to view the Malfoy name as a very important part of his identity. He worried that without the surname, he would start to lose touch with his past and his sense of 'self'.

A lot of his memories of his youth might have been painful ones, but they also served as an important reminder to Draco of who he had once been, and how much he had changed as an adult, while still keeping the essentials of his personality and without having to resort to denying the past, or walking around in some form of disguise, or trying to ignore his true character. He knew that a change for the better was possible whilst still being a Malfoy.

Draco had also achieved moderate success in both his work and his personal life as an adult, even though he sometimes felt like he had to work twice as hard to prove his worth and overcome past perceptions, but still, all of his achievements and the significant moments of his life had taken place with and in spite of the Malfoy surname, and Draco wanted to keep it to remind himself that past issues could be overcome, that he could be successful as a Malfoy, as himself. Moreover, Draco wanted all future achievements to be entirely of his own merit, without the wizarding world trying to claim that he had only done well due to his connection with the Potter surname.

On that note, he was also determined to prove, if only to Harry, that their marriage was going to be based on love and mutual support, rather than a 'marriage of convenience'. He could think of nothing worse than gossip and whisperings about how the wizarding world suspected that Draco had only married Harry Potter in order to reap the benefits of the connection. Besides, marriages of convenience were all too popular in pure-blood circles, and after experiencing what he believed to be real love, Draco had no desire to return to discussions about loveless marriages based on power and family connections.

Moreover, Draco viewed the Malfoy name as an important connection to his parents. He was well aware of the fact that his parents were still very unpopular in the wizarding world, and that a lot of non-Slytherins were of the opinion that Draco would gain more support and approval if he distanced himself from them, with this being an especially popular opinion immediately after the Battle of Hogwarts.

However, Draco had never paid close attention to these opinions, because in spite of everything, he still loved his parents and longed for their approval. They had been the two most significant figures in his life for many years, as well as being his closest companions during his childhood.

Draco knew, deep down, that they would have given up all of the wealth and power that they had once craved if it meant choosing between the Death Eaters and Draco's life.

As cold as his parents could sometimes be, after the Battle of Hogwarts, before he started to spend time with Astoria, it had often felt as though his mother and father were the only two people in the wizarding world who cared about him, and their support had got him through some dark and difficult times.

He might have been getting married to a former Gryffindor, but Draco was determined that he was never going to cut the ties with his very Slytherin parents, and as much as he knew that his father would never be entirely comfortable with his marriage to Harry Potter, he also knew that his father would be devastated if his only son gave up his surname, meaning that the family name would be lost for ever in the next generation.

Perhaps most importantly, Draco was proud of the fact that Harry Potter had fallen in love with Draco Malfoy. He loved Draco for who he was, flaws and flawed surname included. He might have tried to deny it, but Draco suspected that Harry loved the sneers and the sarcastic comments and their arguments and their competiveness. For Draco, there was never a dull moment when he was with Harry, and he hoped that his fiancé felt the same. He also doubted that his future husband really expected him to change all that much after the wedding.

It would have been so easy for Harry to end up with another typical Gryffindor, or someone who idolised Harry Potter, or someone who was seen as a hero in the wizarding world, just like him. Yet based on his experience of being Harry's boyfriend, Draco was sure that Harry needed someone who complemented him, someone who challenged him, someone who saw both his good and bad points, rather than someone who agreed with everything he said or someone who always went out of their way to please him.

Harry had enough fans out in the wizarding world, and enough witches and wizards who would have loved to have married him in order to spend the rest of their lives boasting about the fact that they were now a Potter, too. Draco really didn't want to be one of those people. He reasoned that as Harry had fallen in love with a Malfoy, there was no reason why he couldn't continue to love Draco Malfoy for the rest of their lives together.

After Draco's conversation with Blaise at the pre-wedding party, he had simply enjoyed the rest of the night, and he hadn't given his 'Always a Malfoy' decision much further thought.

He didn't think about it very much in the run up to the wedding, when he and Harry were so busy with their last minute plans, sending out final invitations and purchasing decorations in all of the four House colours (Harry's idea) and even paying a visit to Madam Malkin's to purchase their robes for the wedding, going back to where they first met to mark the occasion, with the two of them purchasing dress robes of both green and red and gold and silver.

He definitely didn't think about his decision during the formal part of the wedding ceremony, which took place in the clearing of the forest where Draco proposed, with only a stern-looking witch from the Ministry overseeing the proceedings and Ronald and Hermione Weasley and Astoria and Dennis as witnesses, and not forgetting little Teddy Lupin, who had become almost as close to Draco as he was to Harry, and the two of them wanted him to be a part of the whole day.

They both spoke their vows, which Draco had taken a while to write, because he wanted them to be perfect, and he felt a small twinge of competitiveness when Harry's sounded even more emotional and heartfelt, before he reasoned that Harry was a lot more practiced at public speaking, given his constant invites to talk at Ministry events and anniversary celebrations.

There were references to their first meeting at Madam Malkin's in Harry's vows, as well as a few 'in-jokes' about their rivalry at Hogwarts and on the Quidditch pitch, followed by mentions of how they had started to understand each other a bit more around the time of the Battle of Hogwarts, before eventually falling in love a while later.

Harry even thanked him, for challenging him, for helping him to understand himself better, and for helping to make his adult life interesting and exciting.

Of course there were also numerous references to Draco's fictional Malfoy Rule Book in the vows, and jokes about all of the rules that he had broken, coupled with a lot of snickering from Weasley and lots of knowing nods from Astoria.

They ended the proceedings not with a kiss but with a handshake, although Draco was sure that only he and Harry (and perhaps Harry's two best friends) would understand the significance of the gesture.

Then Teddy was applauding and jumping up and down in excitement and the ceremony was complete and their marriage was official, and Draco let out a sigh of relief, and his body started to let go of tension that he hadn't even been aware that he was holding on to, as though he could relax now in the knowledge that their lifelong commitment was more real, that nothing had got in the way or ruined everything at the last minute.

After the ceremony, they headed to the grounds of Hogwarts to celebrate with the rest of their friends and family. They had both reached a mutual decision to celebrate their wedding at Hogwarts, because their former school had played such a significant part of their past, and they were sure that it was also going to play a part in their future together.

They started the celebrations with a drinks reception in a marquee set up in the school grounds, and Draco and Harry even managed to slip away for a short while to pay a visit to Myrtle in her bathroom. She sulked at first and moaned about how sad it was that all of the attractive wizards were always married, whilst Harry rolled his eyes, but she seemed fairly happy for them (as happy as Moaning Myrtle could look, at least). It was in Myrtle's bathroom where they finally shared their first kiss as a married couple.

Before they headed back to their guests, the two of them wandered around the building hand-in-hand for a little while. They didn't feel the need to say anything to one another as they did so, but Draco felt like they had both needed to do something like this. It was as though they were letting go of some of the ghosts of their past, putting an end to their bitter rivalry and the angry divisions throughout their Hogwarts years, and trying to come to terms with all of the bad events that had taken place and the cruel words that had been uttered within these walls. It now felt like they were returning to Hogwarts together, fighting any future battles hand-in-hand.

After they returned to the marquee, they enjoyed a meal and even more drinks with all of the guests. It was during the speeches, when Draco had to endure many more 'amusing' references to his Malfoy Rule Book, as well as Weasley's 'hilarious' jokes that Draco didn't find at all funny (especially not the S.P.E.W ones) but the rest of his captive audience seemed to appreciate, judging by their loud laughter, that Draco finally had the time to take a good look around at all of the witches and wizards in attendance.

A few people stood out, like all of his Slytherin friends, Astoria and Dennis's baby boy, his parents, Andromeda, the Weasleys (even Ginevra, much to Draco's surprise, who had warned Harry in advance that she probably wouldn't attend but she had apparently shown up just as the first drinks were served, and she had even managed to offer her congratulations and shake Draco's hand), a few of his former professors, Luna and Rolf, Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott; but what held Draco's attention was the realisation that witches and wizards from all of the four houses were here, in the same place, celebrating, uniting for something positive rather than an enduring battle, and he might have broken his Malfoys Don't Cry rule for a couple of seconds.

The evening consisted of a somewhat competitive game of Quidditch in the Hogwarts grounds, before they all headed to the Hog's Head in Hogsmeade for the night-time celebrations, with Draco grinning a few times as he recalled his and Harry's first kiss just outside the pub. It felt like so long ago for Draco, and he decided that this was because so much had happened in the meantime.

The night consisted of music and a lot of dancing, with Draco impressing most of the guests with his formal dancing at the start of the night when he and Harry had their first dance, and the Gryffindors impressing the rest of the guests with their more 'enthusiastic' dancing as the night went on.

The celebrations culminated in Draco and Harry returning to the privacy of their flat together to enjoy their first night as a married couple before they left for their planned honeymoon in France.

It was only when they arrived at their flat that Draco spotted a wrapped present shaped like a book that seemed to have been placed on the mantelpiece at some point during the day, along with a card from Ronald and Hermione, and when he and Harry opened it, they were both surprised and amused to find that Harry's best friends had made them their very own 'Malfoy Rule Book', complete with their own suggestions as to the rules that they believed Draco had broken.

After he rolled his eyes a few times, Draco decided that they should leave it displayed on the mantelpiece, to serve as a reminder of how the book had brought the two of them together, in its own unique way.

After the honeymoon, Draco still had no regrets about keeping his Malfoy surname.

In many ways, he still carried on being 'him': his potion-making business thrived, with his skills in Potions class back at Hogwarts continuing to benefit him in his adult life; he still went to the Manor to visit his parents; he met with Astoria on a regular basis to drink tea and go shopping and to gossip about the people in their lives (just like Harry continued to spend a lot of time with the Weasleys); he continued to go for drinks and attend lavish parties and social gatherings with his Slytherin friends; the sarcastic comments and the competiveness with Harry and the rest of the Gryffindors were still second nature to him.

However, he might have kept a lot of his Malfoy traits, but after Harry Potter became his husband, Draco couldn't ignore the fact that there was even more of a Malfoy-Potter merge: both of their groups of friends started to spend more time together, even resulting in a few more Gryffindor-Slytherin relationships; trips to visit Draco's parents often equalled visits with Andromeda and Teddy at the same time; Draco's solo visits to Hogwarts and Myrtle's bathroom quickly turned into joint visits with Harry-or, more often than not, visits to meet Harry at Hogwarts when he became the full-time Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor.

And, not long after the wedding, they purchased a cottage just outside Hogmeade, both of them making the choice based on a preference for the privacy that it would offer, as well as an inexplicable desire for the extra space, as though they were preparing for somebody else to be there, apart from Teddy.

The cottage was instantly filled with both of their belongings, and their lives became a perfect mixture of red and gold and green and silver scarves, Defence Against the Dark Arts books and Potions books, Weasley jumpers and designer robes, S.P.E.W badges and potion ingredients, copies of Witch Weekly magazine and editions of The Quibbler, along with all of Teddy's toys and books, ready for the weekends when he came to stay with them.

Amongst all of their belongings, the Malfoy Rule Book still took pride of place on the mantelpiece next to their S.P.E.W badges, and Draco even took it down now and again so that he could read over it, add passages and paragraphs and edit a few of Ronald and Hermione Weasleys' comments that were scrawled all over the pieces of parchment. It was as though he were preserving his and Harry's story, and preparing to tell it to others, one day, even though he wasn't sure who those 'others' would be.

As well as feeling as though his connection to Harry deepened over time, Draco also started to notice subtle changes in himself as he continued to break the Malfoy rules over and over again. He no longer relied so much on insults and sarcastic comments, especially when children like Teddy were around, and with the extra security of knowing that he was spending his life with the person he loved, as well as the knowledge that he had his own career and money and independence, Draco started to feel slightly calmer and a little less bitter about the past and his life in the wizarding world. It was so much easier to drop the scathing comments and the defensiveness when he no longer felt like he was in constant competition with Harry Potter, and when he was no longer living a life of uncertainty, constantly looking over his shoulder, on the lookout for threats.

He even began to attend anniversary celebrations with Harry (albeit rather begrudgingly), genuinely applauding and feeling proud when his husband gave uplifting speeches.

However, he only decided that he was finally a fully mature adult on the day that he attended one of Hermione Weasley's speeches about house-elf rights.

As his life continued to intertwine with Harry's, and as he continued to notice the subtle changes in his personality, Draco started to realise that in spite of his earlier well-intentioned vow to keep his Malfoy surname, he had in many ways broken the 'Always a Mafoy' rule anyway. Yet instead of feeling the once familiar sense of anxiety that used to come with his rule-breaks, Draco felt a sense of calmness and clarity as it finally made sense that perhaps one's character and future were not as dependent on surnames and family connections as Draco had once believed.

Draco's marriage to Harry was by no means a perfect 'happy ending'; they still had their arguments and their disagreements, and they still faced constant criticism and scrutiny from certain journalists and members of the wizarding world. But, when he thought about how his future could have turned out, based on what his life was like just after the Battle of Hogwarts, Draco knew that life with Harry was the closest thing to perfect that he was ever going to experience.

Anyway, he was sure that he and Harry still secretly thrived on their constant bickering and their competitiveness.

The fear was still there for Draco though, sometimes, especially in the first few years after the wedding; it was a worry about whether he had made the right decisions in his life, not about marrying Harry but more as a result of the now-familiar feeling of guilt that his rule breaking had hurt people, that it could hurt people in the future, and the panic that things wouldn't work out for the best, given his awful luck in the past.

But then, some years later, when the Hogwarts letters for their two sons arrived, with 'Albus Malfoy-Potter' written on one envelope and 'Scorpius Malfoy-Potter' written on the other, and Draco finally saw the two surnames joined, united in the best way possible, and he knew that this unity of two names had brought about something positive, and he thought about how both boys would be going out into the wizarding world and off to Hogwarts together, with an older but loving Teddy to guide them, he was finally convinced that every single broken rule in the Malfoy Rule Book, right up to the twelfth rule in the epilogue, had been worth it.