Dahlia huffs as she dramatically drops into a chair, scolding and folding her arms.
“You can wipe that pout right off your dramatic little face, young lady. We’ve had this conversation six times in as many weeks. Our answer is still no.”
“‘Our answer’? Are you sure you don’t mean your answer?”
Draco counts to ten slowly in his head as he takes deep breaths. “Harry and I have discussed it-”
“Clearly not lately since Pops went out and got himself a tattoo without telling you.” Dahlia smirks as she watches the emotions fly across her dad’s face.
“POTTER!!!” Draco bellows across Grimmauld Place.
Harry walks sheepishly down the stairs. He tries for nonchalance. “You called?”
“Any idea why our daughter would tell me that you have a magical tattoo, when you know bloody well how we feel about them?”
Harry rubs at the back of his neck, knowing full well that he’s been caught. “Well, I…you see, er…you remember when I was out with Ron and the guys last week? Seamus was showing off the tattoo that Dean designed him- real classy, that- but as it turns out, drunk-Harry thought it would be a great idea to get one of his own. Rest assured, sober-Harry is totally against the whole thing.”
Draco doesn’t yell, and that makes Harry more uncomfortable than being scolded by him. Draco just stands up, looks disappointed, and walks off to his study where he slams the door a few moments later. Harry sighs and sits down next to Dahlia. “I thought we agreed to keep it a secret until I could talk to him. You were never meant to see it anyway.”
“I’m sorry! I just thought maybe if he knew you had one then he would go easy on me.”
“I haven’t gotten around to telling him yet.”
“To be fair, I don’t know how you’ve kept it from him for so long.”
Harry blushes. “I’ve made sure to wear a shirt to bed. But that is not the point! You shouldn’t even know about the tattoo!” He sets a hand on Dahlia’s shoulder. “I’m going to go talk to him. I still think you’re too young for this but I’m willing to let you if, and when, Draco agrees. If he says no, then he says no.”
He brushes a kiss to her forehead and goes to Draco’s study. Harry knocks on the door and, when he gets no response, he tries the doorknob. It opens, which he takes as a good sign. He peers inside the room and finds Draco staring at a photo album with a glass of firewhisky in his hand. Harry shuts the door with a quiet click, but Draco flinches like he slammed it.
Without speaking, Harry walks towards Draco and slowly takes off his shirt.
“I don’t need the strip show, Potter, though I appreciate the enthusiasm.”
“Shut up and just look at it.”
Draco makes a show of taking his time setting down his glass onto the side table. “I don’t know what you’re trying to prove by-”
“Just look at it,” Harry says again.
Draco rolls his eyes before looking up at Harry. Harry stands still and calm with his hands at his sides. Draco sees the name Sirius emblazoned across the left side of Harry’s chest, right above his heart. After a few seconds a dark, shaggy dog runs in front and the name disappears. Draco opens his mouth but before he can say anything another name appears. This time: Cedric. A golden snitch comes out from behind his name and flitters randomly around it before disappearing again.
For the first time since he came into the room, Draco looks up into Harry’s eyes. But then another name appears on his chest and Draco looks away again. One name after the other cycles through. Remus, Tonks, Colin, Fred, Dobby, Hedwig, Dumbledore, Lily, James, and back around to Sirius again. Each has their own animation and Draco is speechless.
“Drunk-Harry made a good choice, I suppose. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. All of that talk from Dahlia must have put the idea in my head.”
Draco’s eyes go dark again and he looks away from Harry’s chest. “She’s too young.”
“I think so too, but have you asked her why she wants to get it done?”
“Have I asked our daughter why she wants to permanently mutilate her body? No, can’t say I care to hear her answer to that one.”
Harry sits down next to him and places a hand on Draco’s knee. “I think…I think you need to hear what she has to say.”
Draco covers his left arm angrily. “I have a feeling I already know what she’s going to say.”
Harry wraps his arms around Draco and whispers low into his ear, “We’ve done pretty well by her for the last 8 years. We can listen to what she has to say and still tell her no. She’ll get over it eventually. We just can’t shut her out.”
“Is she still in the kitchen?” Draco asks with his eyes pinched shut.
“That’s where I left her, though she may be getting ready for bed by now.”
Draco snorts. “Dahlia? Asleep before midnight on summer hols? Not a chance.”
Harry laughs and helps Draco up off his uncomfortable work stool. He puts his shirt on before taking Draco’s hand again, and the pair walks down the stairs together. Dahlia is right where they left her, a slight scowl still on her face as she texts rapidly on her cell phone. Draco clears her throat to get her attention.
“Will you accept an apology from your poor, old father?”
“That depends,” she says slowly. “What are you apologizing for?”
Draco holds back a sigh. “You’re not going to make this easy on me, are you?”
“Nope,” Dahlia says with a loud popping sound on the p.
“I’m sorry for not taking the time to listen to you over the last few months. I haven’t changed my mind and neither has Harry; you are just too young to get a tattoo. When you turn 17 we can have this conversation again.”
“When I turn 17 I can get one without your consent,” Dahlia mumbles to herself.
“That may be,” Harry says, having heard her mumbling, “but you will still wait.”
Draco takes the chair next to his daughter. “That being said, I still want to know why this is so important to you.”
Dahlia looks at him with wide, brown eyes. “Promise not to get mad?”
“I promise to just listen and not pass judgement.”
“Thank you. I guess it started when I was flying with Ginny and Dean over Easter. She was telling me about how much she used to tease Ron, even though she’s younger. Do either of you remember a rumor she started that he had a pygmy puff tattooed somewhere inappropriate?”
Harry guffaws but Draco just look confused. “I’m afraid I missed that one.”
“Well, Gin bet Dean ten galleons he couldn’t get Ron to prove it really wasn’t there. That turned into Ron almost pulling down his pants but thankfully ‘Mione stopped him in time. She told us that, without a doubt, there was no pygmy puff on his arse. Gin said that wasn’t good enough and he had to prove it wasn’t anywhere on his upper body as well, so Ron took his shirt off. We all saw the deep scars on his shoulder.”
Harry’s laughter dies down quickly at that. “He got splinched when we tried to escape the Ministry.”
“I know. He told us.”
Draco is impressed. “I didn’t know he was so open about what happened.”
“’Mione told me that he used to not talk about it, but that scars are something you should be proud of because it shows you survived. She showed us where Bellatrix Lestrange carved the word ‘MUDBLOOD’ into her arm. And I already know about Pop’s hand.”
Draco looks from Dahlia to Harry. “You showed her that?”
“Years ago, now; it’s kind of hard to miss. I knew she would see it eventually.”
Dahlia nods and then keeps going with her story. “Anyway, Dean said it would make a stonking tattoo and asked if he could sketch it for later. That got everyone talking about the matching magical tattoos that George and Percy got. Dean showed me a picture on his cell phone, since he and Luna were the ones who designed them, and it just made me really want one of my own.”
“Then we told you no, but I went off and got one of my own, and that takes us up to now,” Harry finishes for her.
Draco needs time to process. He asks for a moment to think and make some tea. When the kettle whistles, he pours three mugs- two with far too much sugar- and settles back down at the kitchen table. “Thank you for telling me and sorry again for not listening sooner. You still have to wait, but do you know what you would want to get a tattoo of?”
“I was thinking one like yours?”
Draco chokes on his tea, porcelain smashing to the stone floor. Harry pounds a hand flat on Draco’s back and casts a quick Reparo on the teacup.
“YOU MOST CERTAINLY ARE NOT!!” Draco shouts as soon as he gets air back into his lungs.
Dahlia throws her hands up in the air. “Why not?!” she shouts back exasperatingly.
“It stands for something evil and disgusting and I never want you to have that disgracing your skin!”
“Then why do you have it?!”
“I was a stupid kid who thought he had no other choice!”
“Well what about now? Why do you still have it??”
“It’s cursed,” Draco answers, much quieter now. “It can’t be removed. I’ve tried potions and spells. I came extremely close to burning the skin off with acid but I was told by someone I trust that even that wouldn’t be enough to take it away.”
Harry scooches his chair closer so he can wrap an arm around Draco’s shoulder. He gives a light kiss to his cheek before leaning his head on his shoulder. He knows that Draco has done everything he possibly can to remove the Dark Mark. Right after they got together, Harry used to cast protective spells on him before bed so he wouldn’t scratch it open during the night. He even caught Draco holding a knife to it once. That night was the most helpless Harry had felt since the war ended. He was able to talk Draco out of it, but he asked Madame Pomfrey to schedule a Mind Healer to come in from St. Mungo’s once a week for Draco. He doesn’t want to tell Dahlia any of this but he has the impression that she gets the idea without the graphic details.
Dahlia places her hand gently on top of Draco’s left sleeve. His body jerks but he doesn’t pull away. “Have you ever thought of getting it covered up?”
Draco lifts and lowers his shoulder in a slight shrug. “After everything else was a bust, I guess I never thought of putting something over the top of it. I doubt it would work anyway.”
“Can I at least ask Luna and Dean what they think? They work with a guy in Diagon Alley.”
“I don’t want you to get your hopes up.”
“Thank you, Daddy!” She hugs Draco tightly, catching Harry in the hug as well since he’s still wrapped around Draco, and then runs off to her room to start writing letters.
Draco’s head drops as soon as she’s out of the room. Harry presses more kisses to his face and neck. “That didn’t go as poorly as I was expecting,” he admits.
“What exactly were you expecting, then?” Draco asks with a humorless laugh. “I didn’t mean to yell but there is no way she is getting the fucking Dark Mark anywhere on her body. I knew the kids born after the war would be jaded but I figured we had told her enough stories.”
“She doesn’t want that because it’s what the Death Eaters did; she wants it because you have it. She loves you, Draco. She doesn’t look like either of us really, but she definitely doesn’t look like she’s related to you. Rion on the other hand is basically your clone. We can’t really fault her for wanting to share something with you. Remember right after she came home with us and she drew all over herself in permanent marker? She wanted to be like you then and she wants to be like you now.”
“I yelled at her then, too. I hate how much we fight.”
Harry thinks about what he wants to say before proceeding carefully. “You and Dahlia have very different personalities. You’ve always clashed. But you’ve always made up. I think it’s better to shout and get things out in the open rather than keep everything bottled up. You have never hurt her and you always apologize. The rest is just part of being a parent, I think.”
“Thank you, love.” Draco yawns, jaw clicking from overextension.
“And it always wears you out. Let’s go to bed, yeah?”
The next day Dahlia asks to go next door and spend the morning with Megan. Harry can’t help but tease her, asking if they’ll be talking about boys. She blushes fiercely and storms out the front door. Ron drops off Hugo on his way to work, and Draco takes both boys up to the lounge to play. Harry uses the time to catch up on some lesson planning he’s been putting off.
The calm is broken by a rapping at the front door. Harry isn’t even surprised when Luna is standing there. He greets her with a quick hug and then shows her up to the third floor lounge. Draco is equally unsurprised she waltzes in with Harry. Luna gives a quick kiss to each of the boys (who squirm away from her like any six year old would) before settling onto the sofa next to Draco.
“Can I see it?” she asks with no preamble.
Draco quickly glances at the boys on the floor before unbuttoning his left sleeve and rolling up the cuff. Luna takes his arm gently into her dainty hands, turning it over. “May I touch the mark?”
Even though he was expecting this, Draco appreciates that she asks permission. He swallows a few times before nodding. Luna runs her fingers slowly over the mark. “The skin is smooth, not puckered or pocked. The color runs deep; spelled all of the way down, I imagine. Does it hurt when I touch it?” Draco shakes his head. “How about when I press a little harder?” Draco clenches his fist but still shakes his head no. “That’s good. I’ll have to talk to Marc to be sure, but I think this could work. Do you have any idea what you would like to have done?”
Draco is frozen in place, so Harry answers for him. “I think you’ve overwhelmed him, Luna. He never thought this was even possible and now…he’ll have to get back to you.”
Luna just smiles as she carefully rolls Draco’s sleeve back down and buttons it up again. “I’ll talk to Dean and we’ll draw some things up. This is very exciting, being able to help you move on. Whoever designed the Dark Mark did not have an eye for art.”
Harry is caught off guard and he laughs uproariously at Luna’s dark joke. Rion and Hugo run over then, bumping into Draco and jarring him from his thoughts. “Can we have a snack, Dad?”
“Of course. Mud and dust sandwiches will do, right?” Harry teases them.
Both boys laugh and take off to the kitchen with Harry right on their heels. Luna turns to Draco and gives him a soft look. “You’ve tried to get rid of it before, haven’t you?” Draco can’t meet her eyes. “I understand, Draco. I lived through the war too. Let us do this for you. Let us bring you at least this little bit of comfort; a chance to move on.”
“Alright,” he says quietly, so quietly that if it were anyone else besides Luna it wouldn’t have been heard.
Luna comes back one week later with Dean and a stack of drawings. Harry helps them spread out the papers on the kitchen table while Draco pours beverages for everyone. Luna starts by showing two abstract pieces. They use every color in the rainbow to mask the thick, dark lines of the Dark Mark. Draco praises her abilities but determines that they are not for him. Dean then shows off a tribute to Slytherin house as well as a general Hogwarts themed collage. Harry laughs at the face Draco makes and tells Dean, “I don’t think that’s the direction he wanted to go.”
Luna and Dean keep showing sketches to Draco until Dahlia gasps and grabs one from the bottom of the pile. “This one, Dad. You have to.”
Draco takes the thin paper from her hand and examines it. While colorful, it is not as obnoxiously painted as the abstract one Luna started with. The lines flow with the shape of the snake and skull already on his arm, but completely covers the Dark Mark. Having seen his father give his mother some of them each year on her birthday, Draco is happy to see the narcissus flowers in the bouquet. He smiles at Harry as he points to the bright orange lilies and purple dahlias.
Tears well up in Draco’s eyes. He looks between Luna and Dean, mouth moving open and shut without sound.
Dean smirks knowingly. “You’re welcome, mate.”
“Thank you,” Draco utters in hushed awe, having finally found his voice back.
Harry drops Dahlia and Rion off at Ron’s house before meeting Draco outside of the tattoo parlor in Diagon Alley. Luna is waiting by the front door, practically vibrating with excitement. She opens the door and shows Draco into the waiting area. A man around their age comes out from a back room already mid-conversation with Dean. He introduces himself as Marc Tyler, a muggle with a wizard brother. “I do the traditional part of the tattooing and then Dean here adds a little magic and there you have it! A beautiful piece with a bit of flair.”
Marc shows Draco a small, clean room and has him remove his shirt. He gestures for him to sit on the reclined table and then pulls up a stool on Draco’s right side, which allows Harry to sit by him the entire time. He then unwraps his sanitized tools and sets out endless cups of dye. Marc places Draco’s arm on the table and applies a template. After getting approval for the placement he asks, “Ready?” and fires up his needle.
Draco pales, which is difficult for someone with his skin tone, and Harry grips his right hand comfortingly. Once the actual tattooing process gets underway, Draco is surprised to find it far less painful than he anticipated. “I suppose it’s not so bad when it’s not the Dark Lord carving into you with magic alone.”
Marc pauses in his work and looks up at him over his glasses. “He’s the one who did this to you? Wow, I’m sorry. You should have come here sooner.”
“Well, I’m here now,” Draco replies tightly.
“Right you are. I’ll go ahead and keep going then, if you’re alright?” Draco nods and he resumes his work.
Marc takes small breaks every hour or so, checking to make sure Draco is still doing okay. After three hours Dean brings them all bottles of water and Marc stretches out his fingers. Harry makes small talk, asking about his family and his job, for which Draco is thankful. Another three hours and Marc is putting on the finishing touches. Dean comes in right at the end and gently places his wand to the tattoo. Draco turns his head away, whimpering a little, but from his memories not from physical pain.
Marc cleans Draco’s arm with an antibiotic spray before spreading on a soothing gel. “There we go; all done! Tell us what you think.”
Draco slowly opens his eyes and risks a glance at his arm. He gasps when he sees what they’ve done. Gone is the ugly black skull. Gone is snake he swore he could still see twisting and turning. Gone is the pain of past decisions. In its place is a beautiful bouquet of flowers that remind him of the most important people in his life. “I…I…”
“In my business, I call that a job well done. I’m going to go clean up and give you a few minutes alone. Meet me up front when you’re ready.”
Harry waits until Dean and Marc leave before talking to Draco. “What are you thinking?"
“That Marc was right and I should have done this years ago?” Draco laughs breathlessly. “I just never…I didn’t…I thought I was stuck with that forever.” He looks up at Harry. “How could I let you live with that symbol of hate for so long? How did you ever stand to look at me like that?”
Harry climbs up onto the table, straddling Draco’s legs and being careful not to jostle his arm. “I loved you before and I love you now. I’m so glad that you like how this has turned out- it’s beautiful- but you’ve always been beautiful. You’re more than the ink on your arm.”
He swipes a few stray tears from Draco’s cheeks before kissing him. Draco wraps his right arm around Harry, pulling him closer. The kiss quickly turns into heated snogging and they lose track of time. The sound of giggling causes them to break apart and they look to find Luna by the door. “We were waiting for you but Dean had to leave to meet Seamus. Marc said you can have the room for as long as you need, but I have the feeling he’s just being nice.”
Draco’s entire chest flushes a deep pink and he shoves Harry from his lap. They compose themselves before quickly going out front to thank Marc and pay for his work.
“Keep your galleons, gentlemen. I am more than happy to help out good friends of Luna and Dean.”
“Are you sure?” Draco asks him. “This took a long time and you did beautiful work. I want to compensate you.”
“Just show it off and tell people where you got it.” Marcus shakes their hands and Draco thanks him profusely. Luna waves them off with her trademark ethereal grin.
They barely get through door to Ron and Hermione’s house when Dahlia runs to Draco and begs to see his arm. Draco chuckles at her enthusiasm as he turns his left arm over so she can see the tattoo through the protective film.
She gasps as she sees the bright flowers slowly bloom. "Dad…it’s beautiful!”
Draco beams. “And it’s all because of you. Thank you for writing to Luna and Dean, and for pushing me to do this. I would have just lived with hating that ugly thing my entire life. But this? This is something I could never be ashamed of. Thank you, little flower.”
Dahlia hugs Draco as tightly as she can. Then she pulls away with a mischievous look in her eyes. “Does this mean I can get a matching one now?”
“Not until you’re 17,” Draco says with a slight eye roll that ends in a smile. “But nice try.”