Again they had to guess Dumbledore's password. The professor's snacks this week kept trying to crawl away from him. Unfortunately, there were many wizard candies that were enchanted to move; but about five minutes of guessing later, they hit on it - "Juby-worms" - a mixed-fruit-flavoured jelly worm with a sour watermelon dusting.
Upon entering the headmaster's office, they saw a slight, hooded figure sitting in front of the headmaster's desk. Hearing them enter, it turned to face them.
Draco froze. "Mum?" he said.
"Come in, boys!" Dumbledore greeted them heartily. "Have a seat! Would you like some tea?"
Narcissa Malfoy smiled as she rose in greeting, removing her hooded cloak, and draping it over the back of her chair in the process. "Hello, son," she said as she accepted a kiss on the cheek from the blond boy. Looking over at Harry, she lost her smile and asked "Are you going to introduce me to your friend?"
Harry looked over at the headmaster, frowning, as they sat, and Draco's mother re-took her seat. Dumbledore had told Draco's father before they met in the office; why hadn't he told his mother?
Harry declined the tea, but noticed that the woman had a cup on the small table beside her.
Draco had been acting out of habit, his mind racing. After he took his seat, he just sat there, petrified; not with fear, but with indecision, trying to decide how best to handle the situation.
Harry didn't know why his husband hadn't responded to his mother, but he tried to distract her attention from the blond. He smiled at the woman as he said, "We met once at a quidditch game, Mrs. Malfoy. I'm Harry Potter. It's nice to see you again." Harry held out his hand to her, but the woman just glanced at him, then looked back to her son.
That bit of rudeness broke the young blond man's stasis. He knew what his mother expected of him. "Mother," Draco stated quite formally, "may I present my husband, Harry Potter?"
Narcissa looked at Professor Dumbledore, then back again. "Albus told me you'd married, but I wanted to hear it from your own lips," the woman said. She said it matter-of-factly, giving no clue to her own thoughts or feelings on the matter.
She having been married to Lucius Malfoy, Harry could understand that. She must have had a lot of practice. But it didn't help either him or his husband in deciding how to act - or react - with her.
Professor Dumbledore conjured tea and biscuits for the trio, and called a house elf to bring an assortment of finger sandwiches. "You have a lot of catching up to do, as well as getting acquainted," he said, "so I'll just leave you to it, then. There are refreshments if you wish them. Do just help yourselves." He didn't know if Narcissa Malfoy was a Death Eater or not, nor with whom her sympathies lay, so sat back to observe and be as unobtrusive as possible.
They thanked him, then Narcissa Malfoy turned back to her son. "And what of a Malfoy heir?" she asked.
Draco looked decidedly uncomfortable, and unconsciously leaned closer to Harry, who moved his chair closer, and put an arm around him. "We can make sure you have grandchildren, Mother," Draco replied, "but there will be no Malfoys from me," he said as gently as he could. "Our children will be Potters. I took Harry's last name."
That last bit of news was something of a shock, but Narcissa noted the body language, and it was to that, that she addressed herself. "Is it a love match, then?"
Draco looked at his husband with a fond smile, then sobered as he looked back to his mother. "It didn't start out to be, but yes, it is."
Looking at the two of them, she found she had a lot of questions, and among them was if her son's new husband was expecting to live off of them. "You have a lot to explain," she stated, settling in for a long conversation.
It turned out that Narcissa Malfoy was a lot stronger than anyone suspected. She hadn't known of Lucius' plan for her son, but once she learned why her son had run away, her anger was something to behold. It blazed from her eyes like a beacon as she stared into space and swore quietly at her dead husband. One would never think a woman of such breeding would know such words, let alone use them. Once she'd vented, she collected herself, and resumed their conversation as though the episode had never happened. Although she gently berated him for not taking her into his confidence, in the end, she thanked Draco for taking matters into his own hands. She was less than happy about her son being the 'wife' of Harry Potter, but it was better than him being Voldemort's sexual torture toy, or her sitting in Azkaban for spousal murder.
Draco related an abbreviated version of what had happened since he'd 'escaped' from Malfoy Manor, Harry inserting a comment or neglected fact he thought important enough to relate, from time to time. They did keep a few facts from her, however. They didn't tell her about the bonding, Draco just saying he'd gone to Harry for help, or that she was already well on the way to being a grandmother. Nor was Professor Snape's name mentioned at any time. They hadn't talked about it, but both felt that there had been enough shocks already. She didn't need to know about the bonding, the revelation of Draco's pregnancy could wait until their next visit with her and she'd had a chance to accept and deal with present circumstances, and Snape's involvement needed to remain secret.
The visit had reminded Draco of the good times she and he had shared, and how close they had been at one time. He made a decision. "I've changed my mind about something, Mum," Draco said, sending an apologetic look to his husband. "I'll go to Lucius' funeral with you; not for his sake, but for yours."
Harry started making the necessary emotional adjustments to allow his husband this. He wasn't looking forward to being around the kind of people who would hold Lucius Malfoy in enough esteem to attend his funeral, but for Draco's sake, he would do so; even if it meant them being under an invisibility cloak the whole time. But he was going to have to have a talk with his spouse about making decisions that affected them both without talking it over first, as well - especially one which involved such potential danger. It would have taken very little for them to have stepped out of the room for a few moments.
"That's why I came to visit in the first place, my darling dragon," she said fondly, "but with what I now know, it would not be a good idea for you to attend. A lot of your father's 'associates' will be there. If that red-eyed bastard is after you - and we know your... husband - is a target," she added after a pause, "then they will be expecting you to appear at Lucius' funeral - which may have been one of the reasons they killed him. Cosmic justice, that the man who used and killed so many should be used in such a manner."
"Excuse me, Mrs. Malfoy," a rather puzzled Harry said, "but you don't seem to be very upset about your husband's death?"
Narcissa looked at Harry a bit distantly, and said, "You're family now, Mister Potter. You may call me 'Mother'. But even as family, what my relationship with Lucius was, is none of your business. Let us just say that it was not a loving one."
Harry's face flushed. He had only been curious about why she was so calm. He hadn't asked what her relationship with Lucius was, and wasn't interested in knowing. But if this was what she was going to be like, he was happy he - they - had Grimmauld place, and they didn't have to depend on her.
"Mother! There is no reason to treat Harry so coldly!" Draco remonstrated.
The woman ignored her son; electing, now, to concentrate on his spouse. "You're wearing very nice clothing, Mister Potter," she commented. "Much better than the last time we met. Those, I believe, were little better than rags. Did you enjoy getting Draco to buy them for you?"
Both young men stared at her, then Harry's face flushed at the implied insult. However, he couldn't tell her off without taking the chance of alienating his husband. Draco smirked at her.
"What is so funny, young man?" Draco's mother demanded sharply of him.
"I made the same mistake, Mum," Draco said, his smirk metamorphosing into a full-fledged grin. "Harry's an orphan, and he used to wear hand-me-down clothing that was at least ten sizes too large for him. So you think he's without resources - am I correct?"
"It stands to reason," she replied, defensive and curious about what was going on.
"Sorry to disabuse you of your notions, Mother. Harry's parents left him quite a tidy sum in their vaults. And our cousin, Sirius Black, was his godfather. Do you remember him?"
Draco noticed a sad expression settle on Harry's face at the mention of the dead man, and since his mother had been less than accepting of his husband, got up and sat in Harry's lap to make a point, putting his arms around him, trying to comfort him. His mother had nodded in reply to his question, so after his move, he continued. "When he died, he left the majority of his estate to him. Since then," he told his mother, "Harry has made some investments that are bringing in very good returns." He suddenly grinned at his husband, then looked back to his mother. "As for the clothes - Harry bought my wardrobe, when he bought his own."
"I did depend on his fashion sense, though," Harry interjected.
"I assume that Lucius did cut off my funds after I left?" Draco inquired.
"I really don't know, but it would be like him to do so," she replied, somewhat sadly.
"I did get a decent sum upon my emancipation, even if I didn't need it," the blond replied, giving Harry a quick squeeze of appreciation.
"It does seem as though I owe you an apology, Mister Potter," a very chagrined Narcissa Malfoy said, with great dignity. Yet the apology itself was not forthcoming. Apparently the acknowledgement that one was owed was deemed enough. "So. I shall see you over the holidays, then," she went on, again acting as though the embarrassing episode hadn't happened.
Harry coloured. "I'm afraid the Weasley's have already demanded our presence," he said apologetically. "They've become a substitute family for me over the last few years. And I'm sure Voldemort will still be after us, so they'll likely be watching Malfoy Manor. I don't want to promise anything, but we can try to arrange to spend a few days with you - somewhere other than the Manor."
Narcissa nodded in acknowledgement.
"Thank you, love," Draco said, kissing Harry's cheek. Then turning his head to the platinum-blond woman, he told her "I'm sorry, Mum. He's right. But you should have heard the Howler Mrs. Weasley sent him!" he said, grinning.
"What did you do to deserve a Howler, Mister Potter?" she wanted to know.
Harry's blush deepened. "I married your son without inviting them to the wedding," he admitted.
For the first time since they'd entered Dumbledore's office, a smile for Harry passed over Narcissa's face. She could empathize.
"And please call me 'Harry'," the Gryffindor requested. " But we did have good reason for not inviting anyone, Mrs. Malfoy - Mother," Harry explained apologetically. "At the time, we were just beginning to get to know each other. The marriage, then, was just a way to give Draco more legal protection from Lucius than his emancipation might give him - and we didn't want to have to argue with anyone about it." Turning his head to whisper into his husband's ear, he asked "Is it just me, or did that sound entirely childish?"
"Not entirely childish," Draco murmured back, "just the last bit."
When Harry looked at him, the blond was smirking. "You've nothing to smirk about, love," he said, "You were right there with me at the time, so you're in the same pot."
"Heh-hem." Narcissa cleared her throat to regain their attention, but her smile was a bit larger. "I sympathise with your 'adoptive mother', Harry. I admit that if it weren't for my unlamented husband being the cause of it, I'd be tempted to do some 'howling' of my own."
Harry's blush deepened, and Draco looked a bit chagrined.
"We actually plan to have another wedding, Mother, when we feel we would have wished to marry on our own," Draco informed her.
"And you're not at that point, yet?" she asked, raising one well-shaped brow slightly.
The couple looked each other in the eyes for a few seconds, then Harry replied. "I'm sure the love is there, Mrs. - Mother, but we're still getting to know each other." He kissed Draco chastely on the lips. Then, looking deep into his silvery eyes, said, "If it weren't for that, I'd escort Draco to the altar of every religion, every day, until we were wed in all of them."
"That won't be necessary. When the both of you are ready, come to me," she replied mysteriously. Then she abruptly changed the subject, forestalling questions. "Well! I've taken up enough of your valuable study time, and I believe your supper is being served about now. Draco, you know how to contact me without interception. Let me know if you can free a few days for me, and I'll be thinking of safe places we can have our time together, if so." She was a mother; she knew the art of the subtle guilt trip.
Her leave-taking took precedence in Draco's mind over her curious instructions regarding their relationship, at least for the moment. Harry let it pass in favour of giving his husband a last few moments with his mother. As she arose from her chair, Draco got up from Harry's lap; incidentally giving the Gryffindor some relief from the pressure on the erection he'd gained soon after Draco had inhabited it. Fortunately, Draco had been the only one aware of it, and his subtle little shifts in position had proven that, without doubt - the little tease! Harry rose as well, to show respect for his mother-in-law, thankful that his robes concealed his condition from observers.
Or so he thought. After Draco had said his goodbyes, he gave Narcissa a loose hug, standing far enough away to be polite, yet near enough not to be stand-offish, and murmured "I'm glad we cleared up our misunderstandings, and hope we can become friends, Mother."
"I think it's possible," she replied just as quietly. "And I'm sure your husband will take care of your little problem." With that, thanking Dumbledore for his hospitality, and another quick peck on her son's cheek, she swept out of the room, leaving a stunned and very red-faced young son-in-law behind her.
They took their leave of the headmaster, and headed to the Great Hall for supper. As they walked, Harry told Draco what his mother had said to him.
Draco coloured. "Nobody can see through robes without a spell, Harry, and Mother wouldn't have," he said. "It must have been my teasing that gave it away." Taking Harry's hand, and stopping so he could look the Gryffindor in the eyes, he asked "Forgive me?"
"I'll think about it," Harry teased. "Right now I'm too hungry to think of anything else!" Grinning to show that the blond was forgiven, he started again for the Great Hall, tugging his husband to come along. "But teasing me in front of your mother! It was all I could do to ignore it. And you called me evil!"
"Payback, love," Draco said with a grin.
Harry had the sudden urge to spank his husband, but although it was deserved for the teasing Draco had done, this wasn't the place for it. He'd keep it in mind for another time, though.
Although they had meant their little table to be merely a temporary measure, they had become rather fond of it. By unspoken agreement they had decided to wait until they were invited to sit at a House table before doing so. Tonight was to be that night. They had no sooner sat down at their table than Hermione walked up to them. "Join us, Hermione!" Harry invited, with a wide smile.
"Actually, Harry, Draco, I'm here to invite you to sit at the Gryffindor table," she replied with a wide smile of her own at being able to deliver such good news.
The boys looked at each other, Harry giving a questioning look to his husband, and Draco answering with a slight, if hesitant, nod. Looking back at his friend, he asked "Is this a personal invitation, or from the House?" Even if Draco was willing, he wanted to be sure there would be no unpleasantness.
"All of our year, anyway," she replied.
"All of them?" Draco asked, eyebrow raised.
"Even Ron," she replied, nodding.
"In that case, we'd be happy to," the green-eyed young man replied. Standing, he took Draco's hand to give reassurance, and they walked with her the few steps to the spaces saved for them.
Everyone close by smiled at them in welcome as they sat. Ron's was a bit nervous, but that was understandable.
"About time you two got tired of sitting alone!" Seamus Finnigan said, welcoming them in his own inimitable style.
"What's the matter, Seamus? Get lonely?" Harry replied, grinning. Everyone laughed.
"Me? Harry, you cut me to the quick! I have to beat them off with a bat!" the Irishman replied, a mock-hurt look on his face.
"More likely knock them out, so they don't run away!" Dean Thomas put in.
Seamus aimed a cuff at the dark boy, who ducked, laughing.
"Well, Harry won't be having to worry about any of that," Hermione chimed in. "Welcome to the madhouse, Draco."
The blond smiled, and was putting up a very bold front, but Harry could tell that the Slytherin was tense. Naturally, he thought, Draco would feel out of his element, so he touched him often, offering reassurance and comfort; putting an arm around his waist for a quick hug, stroking his back, and so on, whenever it felt natural to do so. He even, despite catcalls, kissed his husband on the cheek a couple of times.
At their own table they would have been at least a little more demonstrative, so Draco couldn't claim Harry was babying him in this new environment, but the public affection where people were paying such close attention to it - and teasing - was something he could have done without, even though the touching did make him feel better. He didn't know what he wanted more - the reassurance, or less for their table-mates to tease them about. As a result he didn't do anything, and let things continue as they were; but his frustration with their childishness, and his resultant tension, grew. He would have dearly loved to verbally blast the lot of them for it, but restrained himself for Harry's sake.
Most of the pupils in the vicinity went out of their way to make Draco feel welcome at one time or another throughout supper. Ron, as could be expected, was pretty quiet, although he laughed a bit hesitantly a few times at a joke or someone's antics, and sent shy smiles in the couple's direction once in a while. None of this escaped the notice of either boy, and Harry expected that Ron would again try to make up with him sometime soon; possibly that very evening. He was fully prepared to throw it back in his face if the redhead didn't include Draco in that.
"Harry Potter, sir?"
Looking around, the raven-haired young man saw Dobby, and remembered that he'd asked that the elf contact him when he could. "Hello, Dobby," he said, kindly.
"Dobby is being sorry not to find you sooner. Dobby is having to do work for Dumbly. Should Dobby punish himself?" he asked, worriedly. He remembered how the famous boy had disliked him punishing himself before, so was torn.
"No, Dobby, it's quite all right. Professor Dumbledore is your employer, so you definitely should do as he asks of you. But we can't talk here. Could you come to our rooms in about an hour?" Harry replied.
"Mister Harry wants to talk to Dobby?"
"Yes, I do."
"Is Dobby being in trouble?"
"No, no trouble."
"Then Dobby is being happy to see the great Harry Potter, later," the elf declared, then disappeared with a *pop*.
Harry fended off their table companions' questions with the vague explanation of "housekeeping questions," then turned the conversation to catching up with what had been happening with his year-mates over the summer. When asked about his own, he said, "Dursley's," in a sour tone, and then enthusiastically added, "and then marriage!" giving Draco a short, one-armed hug, and a peck on the cheek in illustration of his happiness. The ribald comments and catcalls flew in response, making Draco go quite red with embarrassment.
Ron's face wore a sickly expression that was supposed to be a smile, but his greenish complexion belied it.
Asking Draco the same question would have been redundant, but of course someone did.
"Quidditch practice and visiting with friends, mostly," he replied, seething inside but not showing a jot of it. "Oh, yes; and somewhere in there I wooed and won the great Harry Potter," he added off-handedly, with a drawl.
Even Harry laughed, but then said with a grin, "That's not exactly how I remember it, love, but you can have your fantasies if you wish." When asked how he remembered it, he just laughed and said, "None of your business, you snoops!" No matter how they badgered, he just grinned and insisted it was none of their business.
He could tell that Ron was at least slightly tempted to tell, but unless the redhead wanted to completely ruin any chance of a reconciliation, he wouldn't betray the confidence that had been placed in him. Hermione played the part of being as much in the dark as the others, but didn't join in the questioning.
Later, in their rooms, Draco expressed his displeasure. "I wish you'd stop embarrassing me, Harry! I know you have a brain, but you seem to act without thinking!" he fumed. "As long as your friends are going to act so childish, I'd appreciate you not being quite so demonstrative when we're around them," he said severely. Seeing the surprised look on his husband's face, he softened, regretting the harshness of his words. It wasn't Harry's fault his friends were such arses. Putting his arms around his green-eyed lover and kissing him softly on the lips, he quietly said, "Really, Harry: I love you, and I love the way you act with me. It's just them and their incessant teasing I can't stand. It's not your fault - truly! But may we return to our own table?"
Harry shook his head. "I understand, love, it's just... They were teasing me, too. Most of it's just good-natured ribbing, you know, and the rest is because they're wanting a similar relationship with someone. A little jealousy." He sighed. "But of course we can return to our table," he told the boy in his arms.
Draco smiled, putting his arms around the Gryffindor's neck. "Teasing from your friends is one thing, love; but I only know them from the other side of a pointed wand," he reminded his husband, then kissed him. They were just beginning to get very involved with that, when there was a soft *pop*. Looking around, they saw Dobby standing there, a very contrite expression on his face.
"Dobby sorry to be interrupting. Should Dobby come back later?" the elf said apologetically.
Turning back to give his husband one last, quick kiss, Harry gave his attention to the elf. "No, Dobby; that's all right. Please sit down."
Dobby's eyes grew large, but he did as he was bid, perching on the edge of a stool.
The Gryffindor got straight to the point. "Draco and I are wanting to make some changes to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place - a property I have. Unfortunately we can't have strange people coming in to do the work, and nobody who knows of the place has the skills needed. At the moment there is only one old, slightly insane and mostly useless house elf there, named Kreacher." At Dobby's nod of understanding, Harry continued. "We figure we'll need about four more house elves - hard workers - who can do the renovations, and then stay on to do the other work needed around such a large place. Do you know of any elves who need a position that would fit those qualifications?"
"Mister Harry Potter once told Dobby that he was not to help him," the elf said hesitantly.
Harry grinned. "At the time you had come very close to killing me, on several occasions, while trying to 'help' me," he reminded the elf. "But what I actually said was not to save my life, again. But if you think you can avoid anything that might put me, or Draco, in harm's way, I believe we can forget all that. What do you think?"
Dobby grinned, his mouth almost bisecting his head. "Dobby think he helps Mister Harry Potter and bride the best he can!" he declared.
Harry almost snickered again at the elf's use of 'bride' to describe his husband, but seeing Draco tense up, he controlled that, and said, "Draco is my co-husband, Dobby, not my bride, but thank you. We will depend on you to find good workers for us, but we'll want to talk to anyone you find that you think will fit our needs. Okay?"
"Very okay, Harry Potter," the elf replied, but he was looking puzzled. "Is it being allowed for Dobby to ask a question?"
"Of course," Harry replied.
"House elves are there when you marry Master Draco, Mister Harry Potter, sir. They say they hear Master Draco say he is bride. Yes?"
"I said I was in the position of the bride, you stupid elf, not that I was the bride!" Draco snapped.
The elf quailed, then jumped to his feet and started banging his head against the fireplace stones. "Dobby sorry, Master Draco! Dobby won't do it again - don't hit Dobby - Dobby punish himself... "
"Dobby!" Harry shouted, running to pull the elf from his self-punishment.
"Draco!" Harry reprimanded gently, after calming the trembling elf. "He used to belong to your father. They have feelings, remember?"
Draco was still upset, but didn't like even the extremely vague and indirect connection of him with Lucius, and mumbled a barely audible "Sorry."
"It was an understandable confusion, love," the raven-haired young man explained. Then he turned back to the still-cowering elf. "It's okay, Dobby. I understand that same-sex marriage among humans might be a little strange to you, but to us the word 'bride' is reserved to a female that is in the process of getting, or has just recently got married. Draco is offended to be referred to as a female."
Dobby nodded, wide-eyed, but not very reassured, still glancing in apprehension at the blond every few seconds. "Dobby is being sorry to offend Harry Potter's love," he ventured softly.
"Draco?" Harry prompted softly, when it appeared the blond would ignore the apology.
"Oh, all right! Forgiven!" the Slytherin snapped petulantly.
"Perhaps we could talk of this another time?" Harry suggested to the elf. "I'm confident you will find us the best house elves you can."
Dobby nodded, slightly more confident now. "Dobby is doing his best," he replied, and with a *pop*, he was gone.
"After seeing that, how can you doubt they have feelings?" Harry asked his husband.
The blond felt slightly guilty, but his pride wouldn't let him apologise any more than he already had. He kept quiet, and sulked.
Harry wasn't going to have any of that, however. "No sulking, pet," he said seductively, kneeling on the sofa next to the blond. "You wouldn't want to force me into another tickle attack, would you?"
Draco looked up in alarm. "If you do, Harry, you'll sleep alone tonight, I swear! I'll sleep out here!"
Harry gave a low laugh, acted as though he were about to initiate a 'tickle attack', and fell on the blond, who naturally fell backwards while trying to escape - just what Harry was hoping for. Instead of the expected tickle attack, he instead attacked Draco's pale throat with kisses, licking, and nipping.
After an initial startled squeal, the only sound the blond was able to make was the occasional moan, or, "Oh, Harry... "