Draco was now magically bound to his ex-rival, emancipated from his family, and married to that same ex-rival, all within the space of a week - and school started tomorrow. Pupils would be arriving this evening on the Hogwarts Express. Nervous? Of course; they both were.
They had spent that evening cuddling, quietly discussing how to handle problems as they came along. Draco had agreed to try not to bait Harry's friends, although habit might make him slip every now and again, and Harry had given Draco his blessings to defend himself from Ron or anyone else, should that become necessary. The Slytherin would have done so anyway, but it was nice to know his husband (that was a word that was going to take some getting used to) wouldn't be upset with him when he did.
But Draco was rather looking forward to seeing everyone's faces when they saw Harry. Harry'd been something to see before, but with his new wardrobe... He'd have to be ready with a beater bat to repel would-be poachers. The only things really bothering him was the likely reaction of his own House, and Lucius' inevitable arrival. The man may not have known where to find them before now, but he knew his son would likely not want to miss his schooling.
His breakfast musings were interrupted by the arrival of both his and Harry's owls, who dropped small packages in front of them. Upon opening, they found identical silver bands: their wedding rings.
"Ah, I see your wedding bands have finally arrived," mused Professor Dumbledore, with a smile. "I'm sorry they're late."
Looking at each other, Harry took the band out of his box, and, smiling, took Draco's left hand, and slipped the ring on the proper finger. Draco looked from the ring to Harry, touched by the gesture despite himself, and repeated it on his co-husband. They hugged, then turned to thank the headmaster.
"Late or not," Harry said, "it was very thoughtful of you to get them. I'm afraid wedding bands were amongst the last things on my mind while we were shopping," he said, giving Draco a meaningful look.
"What?" Draco asked, a bit defensively.
"I'm afraid I was a bit busy trying things on, getting my hair cut, and making sure Draco got what he needed," Harry explained, ostensibly talking to the headmaster. "If he hadn't been so set on stinting himself... "
"It wasn't my money, Harry!" Draco exclaimed.
"Speaking of Draco's money," the Gryffindor continued, still pretending to ignore the blond, "do we know how much he has access to, now that he's emancipated?"
The old man had the grace to look just a tad discomfited. "As to that, I must admit my curiosity got the best of me; he has access to approximately seventy-five thousand galleons."
"Good!" Draco exclaimed. "Now I can pay you back for those clothes!"
Harry gave him a look that could best be described as stone-like. "That would be like paying yourself back, Draco. We're married, remember? What's mine is ours?"
"If that's the case, Harry dearest," Draco said triumphantly, with just a hint of sarcasm in his voice as he used the endearment, "I'll just close out my vault, and transfer the contents to yours!"
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but he'd rather painted himself into a corner with his own argument, and had nothing he could say that would now be logical. He had only one other course of action he could take. "Then I'd best instruct Gringott's that you have access to at least two hundred galleons a week from my vaults; unless you think you'd need more?"
Draco stared at him, then slowly said, "I haven't thought to ask before now, Harry, but just how much are you worth?"
"I'm not really sure," Harry said off-handedly. "Between the Potter vaults and Sirius' vaults, plus income from various rental properties and investments, I'm probably worth about as much as your family."
Eyes twinkling madly, Dumbledore chimed in. "About half again as much, Harry," he said.
"And you dressed in hand-me-down rags," Draco said, in wonder. Then his mood shifted. "Two hundred galleons a week? You piker! Make it five hundred," he said, grinning.
Harry groaned. "Not married a whole twenty-four hours, and he's already gouging me!" Then he burst out laughing at the indignant look on Draco's face before slipping an arm around his waist and kissing the blond's cheek when Draco petulantly turned away from a peck on the lips. "Can't accuse you of being a gold-digger, Draco. You didn't know I had more than enough to keep us comfortable when you came to me."
Draco snorted genteelly. "For a while, there, I assumed we'd be working to put food on the table," he admitted.
"But you were still willing to go through with it, so money wasn't the object, was it," Harry stated fatuously.
Draco shook his head. 'No, the object had been protection, and thank you so much for reminding me,' he thought.
Harry must have seen it in his face, for he became quite contrite, apologising profusely for his blunder. Draco let him go on for quite some time before he forgave him.
And then there were only minutes to go before a few hundred voices again flooded the halls. The teachers took their positions, and Harry and Draco tried to decide where they were going to sit. They had decided they weren't going to try to hide their marital status, and had been given permission for the two of them to sit together at any table they wished until they finished school. Slytherins were likely to be more dangerous, since more Death Eater children were in that house than any other, but the Gryffindors weren't exactly likely to be welcoming, due to the long-standing rivalry between the Houses, and Draco's (likely former) status as the unofficial leader of that House. They chose to ask the house elves to put a small table with four chairs near the Gryffindor table. (Harry expected they'd have at least the occasional stop-in.) Once the Gryffindors were used to the idea of Draco being with Harry, they could join them at the large tables. And if Slytherin House proved to be more amenable than was expected, they could trade off.
They took their seats at their table, and waited. Harry looked at his spouse and gave him a reassuring smile, then entwined the fingers of their hands together, laying them on top of the table for all to see. He gave Draco's hand a squeeze, and was relieved to feel the blond squeeze back. They would support each other.
A distant babble of voices, growing louder. They were here. They squeezed each other's hand again. And then the other pupils were flooding through the doors into the Great Hall, heading for the tables that belonged to their particular House; whether that was Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. The boys sitting at their own small table garnered not a few surprised stares, but nobody said anything, until, "Harry! We were so worried when you weren't on the train!" It was Hermione. Ron was beside her with a strange, twisted expression on his face. He was relieved his best friend was okay, but the scenario he was seeing was just... wrong!
"Ron! Hermione! Come sit down!" Harry invited cheerily, trying to hide how nervous he really was.
Hermione sat, looking warily and curiously at Draco, but Ron just stood there, shaking his head. "With Malfoy? I don't think so," Ron opined, as he answered Harry with a sort of blank wariness, looking at the blond. Then he turned on Harry. "And why are you sitting with him?" he asked angrily.
Harry sighed. He'd expected this reaction, but had hoped it wouldn't happen. "It's a long story, Ron, but this," he said, holding up his left hand to show off the wedding band, "is the short answer."
Ron's face went white, his freckles standing out in harsh relief. "Tell me that's just a friendship ring, Harry," he begged.
Harry shook his head slowly. "No, Ron; it's not. It's the real thing. I'll tell you all about it later, when we have more time. They're bringing the new First Years in, so the Sorting will begin soon. Please sit."
Ron sat, staring first at the ring, then at Harry, then Draco, then back at the ring again. When Draco put out his hand, with his matching wedding band on it, Ron added it to his round of staring for a while, much to Draco's amusement. Then the redhead gave up and just stared at his best friend, wondering how he'd failed his friend so badly that he'd wound up marrying a Slytherin - and Draco Malfoy, at that.
"Harry," Hermione began tentatively, "you're really married?"
Harry nodded. "Since yesterday."
"Just yesterday? But-"
"If I may have your attention, please?" Dumbledore called, as he stood at the head table. "I'd like to welcome..." The new school year had officially started. It turned out that Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw got the larger share of the new pupils, with Slytherin getting only seven, and Gryffindor five new members.
"Hah!" Draco gloated, "We got two more pupils than Gryffindor!"
Harry nodded with mock sadness. "Quality's getting harder to find, evidently," he said mournfully.
Draco looked at him in surprise, then burst out laughing. "I still think you should have been re-Sorted, Harry; that was good!"
Few people had ever heard Draco laugh so openly, without malice; so those who could hear, stared, including Ron and Hermione. Draco ignored them.
Harry looked very pleased with himself. He scooted his chair closer to Draco's and put an arm around him, pulling him close. Draco relaxed into the hug, and laid his head on the Gryffindor's shoulder. Their table-mates were looking totally lost, and Ron was looking just a little sick.
After the Sorting Feast, Ron was all for heading up to the Gryffindor common room. "Come on, Harry; we have things to talk about!" he said grimly.
"Where, Ron?" Harry asked, suspecting he knew exactly what his friend had in mind.
"The dorm, of course!"
"Ron," Harry said gently, "it still hasn't sunk in, has it? I'm married. I don't live in Gryffindor Tower any more. Draco and I live together," he said, using short sentences so his friend could absorb the situation more easily. "Come on; we'll show you and 'Mione our rooms."
Both of his friends plied him with questions all the way to their door, but Harry refused to say anything until they were comfortably seated in their quarters. Seating himself in one of the large chairs, he pulled Draco into his lap.
"If this is what it takes to get you to be more affectionate, I hope you tell all your friends one by one," Draco whispered in Harry's ear.
Harry slapped Draco's leg. "I am affectionate; I just didn't know you wanted more of it!" he whispered back, then planted a swift kiss on the corner of the blond's mouth before turning his attention back to his friends.
A faint glimmer of hope had crossed Ron's face with the slap, which quickly died with the kiss. "Harry - must you?" he begged.
Harry frowned at his friend "No, Ron, I don't have to; I want to," he said.
"Ron, do control yourself. I'm dying of curiosity, and your carping isn't speeding anything up!" Hermione remonstrated.
Ron scowled, but subsided, sitting back on the sofa.
"Now, are you two going to tell us what happened?" the girl demanded.
"Draco? This is mostly your story. You tell what you want, then I'll take it from there," Harry advised.
Draco looked a bit taken aback, but took on the challenge. He paused for a minute, considering what he'd rather not have these two know, while still giving the gist of what happened. He got up, walked over to the fireplace, and stood looking at the fire as he started talking. "I found out my father was going to bind me to 'You-Know-Who'; and not as a Death Eater. The only way to prevent it was to be bound to someone else, first. I went to Harry to ask him to help me, and he agreed. We did a binding ritual. If it had worked correctly, I would have been his vassal. But..." His voice had become slightly more stressed with every word. At this point he turned to his husband. "Harry?" he said, silently asking him to take over.
Harry had got up as soon as Draco started his recitation, and had stood behind him with his hands on his shoulders. He turned the blond around and pulled him into a loose hug as he continued the story. "It turns out we had hidden feelings for each other, and that changed the results of the ritual entirely. While the magic bound us as it was supposed to, it took our emotional states into account. We were bound as... Well, quite a lot more thoroughly than marriage."
"But that's not a legal marriage, Harry!" Ron interrupted. Hermione "shushed" at him.
Harry shook his head, but in agreement. "No, it's not, Ron. But there's more. There was a surge of magic at the conclusion of the ritual. Dumbledore says it was - and I quote - "the result of two powerful wizards completing a love-bond." I didn't know it, but Snape was the one who brought Draco to the Dursley's. He felt the surge and got us out of there in a hurry, so Voldemort wouldn't track us down by it. Once here, Professor Dumbledore advised Draco to file emancipation papers, and that we should get married to provide Draco with even more legal protection. So yesterday, we got married."
Ron and Hermione sat silent for a minute, overwhelmed.
"But... Harry? Why couldn't you wait until we got here, for the marriage?" Hermione finally asked.
Harry smiled sadly. Leave it to 'Mione to accept the necessity of something. "Mainly because I didn't want to have to fight with anyone about the decision, 'Mione," he said, looking pointedly at Ron.
Ron caught the look. "What?" Ron asked defensively. "Of course I would have tried to talk you out of it, Harry! You're my best friend! And he's... Malfoy!"
"I'm sure you'd think you were doing the right thing, Ron," Harry said gently.
"It would have been!" Ron said stubbornly.
"It's a moot point now, Ron," Hermione remonstrated. "It's done. Draco was already a permanent part of Harry's life anyway; the marriage just made it official. If we're going to accept Harry, we have to accept Malfoy, too."
Ron just settled himself deeper into his seat, arms crossed across his chest, with a look of stubborn determination plastered on his face.
"Actually, Granger," Draco chimed in, "I'd rather appreciate you not referring to me as 'Malfoy'. You may call me Draco, or Mister Potter."
The other three pair of eyes in the room turned to the blond, thunderstruck.
"Draco?" Harry said, asking for an explanation.
"Well, it's not entirely unknown for the bride to change her last name, is it?" Draco explained. "So I'm not a girl; I was still in the position of 'bride', and I changed my last name. I'm now Draco Lucien Malfoy Potter. No hyphen, thank you very much," he said primly.
Harry couldn't stop grinning. He gave Draco a rib-crushing hug, causing the Slytherin to protest, and mashed a big kiss on the blond's lips, which caused Draco to blush. "Why didn't you say something?" Harry asked.
"I wrote it out on the documentation, Harry," Draco said, somewhat acerbically. "Are you going to tell me you didn't read our wedding papers?"
Harry blushed, shaking his head, admitting he hadn't.
"Just like a man," Hermione said, laughing.
Harry turned to her with a smile. "Thank you for your support anyway, Hermione," he said, then turned to the redhead, sobering.
"Ron, I hope you're still my friend, but Draco is my spouse. Don't make me choose between you."
Ron looked up at his green-eyed friend, shocked. "You'd choose him over me?"
Harry gave his friend a steely look. "Would your father choose any friend he had over your mother? Better yet; would any true friend try to make his friend choose him over his spouse?"
Having given Ron some food for thought, he said, "I know it's not all that late yet, but it's been a stressful evening. Would you two mind letting us rest? We'll see you in classes, tomorrow."
Hermione gave Harry a hug, then after a moment's hesitation, gave Draco a rather tentative hug too, which rather startled the young man.
She noticed Draco's surprise. "You're married to Harry now, and he's my best friend; so I'd like us to be friends, too. So why wouldn't I give you a hug?" she asked him.
Draco just looked at her, then smiled and shrugged. The girl was still a mudblood, but he'd agreed to try to get along with Harry's friends, and these two were the most important to him. But he knew if he opened his mouth, he was likely to trip up.
Ron was still looking stubborn, but he wasn't glowering any longer, which gave Harry some hope. But Ron refused to do so much as say goodnight, although it looked for a moment as though he might. He just turned around, and exited.
With Ron and Hermione gone, it occurred to Harry to look at his class timetable. With everything else on his mind, he'd put that to one side. Dumbledore, or whoever he had do the timetables, had put them in all the same classes. Harry was rather relieved to find out he was no longer in Trelawney's Divination class, but he was going to need tutoring for Ancient Runes. He'd never so much as opened a book on it, before.
"Draco? I've been put in your Ancient Runes class. How good are you at tutoring?"
"You expect me to say anything but that I'm an excellent tutor? But you might want Granger to help, as well. She's also doing well in that class. Your classes got changed, did they? I haven't looked at mine, yet." A few moments later, "Blast and damnation!"
"What's wrong, mon ami?" Harry asked, with an atrocious accent.
"Well, Charms, DADA, Herbology, History of Magic, Potions, and Transfiguration are all required classes, of course. I had Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and Care of Magical Creatures as electives, and I've lost Arithmancy!"
"I got rid of Divination, and was put in Ancient Runes," Harry said. "I take it you were put in Muggle Studies?"
"How did you know?" Draco asked.
"I think we've got all the same classes together," Harry replied, handing his timetable over.
Draco compared them; they were identical. "You're right. We do."
"Makes sense, if we can't be all that far apart," Harry said. "You realize that we haven't even tried to test that?"
"The quidditch pitch?" Draco suggested. "It has distance markers that would aid us."
Harry nodded. "After last class tomorrow, then. I can get Hermione to come with us in case we wind up needing help."
"Good thinking. She doesn't seem a bad sort, when she's not punching you."
Harry gave a small laugh. "Well, you did rather ask for it," he said.
"Funny, that," Draco mused, "I don't recall issuing an invitation to fisticuffs. You'd think I'd remember something like that. Took me rather by surprise," he said, rubbing his face.
Draco's dry humour about the situation took Harry by surprise as well, and it had him laughing freely. When Draco arched an eyebrow at his behaviour, it set him off yet again.
"Daft. Quite daft," Draco commented to the air. "I'm married to a nutter."
None of this, of course, did the least amount of good towards sobering Harry up. Quite the opposite. And Draco was very pleased with himself.