Friday, 31 July 2009
“There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you!”
Harry grinned at the annoyance in Draco’s voice. “You act like I’ve been hiding,” he snorted. “I’ve been here the whole time.”
“Yes, giving the kids flying lessons, I just remembered,” Draco said, waving a dismissive hand in the air. Harry chuckled. Draco always acted as though it was Harry’s fault when he forgot something. It was as endearing as it was annoying.
“By the way, thanks for making me wear that V-neck,” Harry said, making a face while he put the kids’ brooms back into the closet. “One kid saw my tattoo.”
“Liam kept bugging me to take my shirt off, so he could see it properly.”
Draco’s lips stretched into a lopsided smirk. “Did you do it?”
“No. But… I let him peek down my shirt.”
Harry almost stuck out his tongue when Draco laughed.
“Did you explain to him what it means?”
“Yes,” Harry grumbled. “He called me cheesy.”
That only made Draco laugh harder. “Well, he’s right.”
Harry tried to fight it, but he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. He knew Draco loved that tattoo. It was his star constellation after all. Okay, yes, maybe it was a little cheesy.
“That’s rich, coming from you,” Harry quipped. “Do I need to remind you what’s on your bedside table?”
Draco raised his chin and straightened his shoulders as though he was about to draw his wand and duel Harry. He knew the gesture all too well. Just like Draco knew how much Harry cherished it that Draco kept that picture of them at the charity gala from the blasted Daily Prophet article seven years ago.
“It’s fine, though,” Harry said. “I won’t tell anybody you’re the sentimental one."
“Oh yeah?” Draco said, edging closer.
“Yeah,” Harry said, grinning from ear to ear. “I haven’t forgotten what you told me last night when we were making love.”
For a moment, Draco looked like he was suffocating. He quickly put a hand on Harry’s shoulder before he burst out laughing. “I can’t believe you just said we were ‘making love’. Merlin, you can’t be serious. You,” he jabbed a finger at Harry’s chest, “don’t ever get to call me sentimental again!”
Harry snorted and pulled Draco into a hug. “Oh no, no, what you said last night tops the bill,” he said, kissing the corner of Draco’s mouth.
“Well,” Draco said with a sniff. “You agreed.”
Draco’s expression softened and he leaned forward to brush his lips against Harry’s. “You realise we’ll have to go to the Ministry for this, right? It will probably end up in the papers.”
Harry let out a sigh. That was the only thing that made him hesitate. He really didn’t miss the articles and the ridiculous headlines. The papers had gone mad when they had found out he had quit Auror training and was dating Draco Malfoy. It was almost as though it was giving them some sick, twisted bliss to publicly tear Harry apart. It was just what they had been waiting for, for him to do something ‘scandalous’ as they had called it.
Never in his life had Harry gotten more letters than in the following months. Not even after Voldemort’s death. A few people had congratulated him, told him how happy they were for him, but most of the letters had just been downright nasty. They accused Draco of using dark magic to lure Harry in, they accused Harry of betraying the Wizarding World… it wasn’t pretty.
Matters had been complicated further when the reporters dragged Ginny into it, portraying her as the epitome of ‘a woman scorned’. Apparently, the concept of bisexuality was lost on the majority of people.
So, honestly, it hadn’t been a hard decision to turn his back on the Wizarding World. Naturally, his sudden disappearance had caused yet another uproar. Nobody knew where he was, except for his friends of course. A bunch of reporters had tried to find him; for months they snooped around, until they had finally given up. If only they knew he was right in front of them.
He had Draco to thank for that. It had been his idea to build a house right next to the infant school and extend the Muggle-Repelling charms, so no unbidden wizards or witches, reporters included, could enter the premises. Since they both worked full time at the school now, it was the perfect solution. Going out and meeting friends was a little more tricky, though. Harry knew he was lucky to have such amazing friends, who would take a portkey to France, Sweden or Italy just so they could enjoy a few drinks together in peace. An article, speculating on his whereabouts, would still pop up every now and then, but now, it was almost amusing to him.
Nobody had gone as far as to declare him dead, but every once in a while, he read a crazy story about how he got attacked by dragons somewhere in Bulgaria and was suffering from amnesia. Of course they would turn the whole thing into a massive, tragic sob story. People loved that, apparently. And given how crazy his life had been up until then, it actually wasn’t that hard to believe. But in reality, his life had turned out to be anything but a tragedy.
Honestly, he was doing better than ever.
It felt so good to be free of the media’s attention, not to be watched and scrutinised 24/7. It had given him and Draco the chance to explore their relationship without any disturbance from the outside. All in all, Harry loved flying under the radar. But he knew he couldn’t do it forever.
“You know,” he began, stroking Draco’s back and leaning forward to kiss his cheek. “I actually had an idea.”
“Yeah,” he murmured, tracing Draco’s cheekbone with his nose. “How about we change our names?”
“What?” Draco’s brows furrowed in confusion.
“Our last names,” Harry clarified.
“You want— You—” Draco’s mouth dropped open. “Are you saying you want to get married?”
“Oh, no,” Harry grinned. “We talked about that, there’s no need for that, don’t worry. I just thought…” He wasn’t sure how to explain it. “I just thought you could take my last name and I’ll take yours.”
Draco stared at him. “That’s got to be the stupidest idea you ever had. And that’s saying something!”
“But think about it,” Harry said, his fingers tingling with excitement. “I hate being Harry Potter. I’m sick of it. I don’t want to be Harry Potter anymore.”
“Then just take my name,” Draco shrugged, as though it wasn’t a big deal.
“I want to. But the thing is, you don’t really care about your family name anymore, do you?” He waited for Draco’s reaction, but he just kept staring at him. “I mean, your mother took her maiden name again, so you’re the last living Malfoy and I know you wouldn’t want the name to get extinguished completely… Just like I wouldn’t want my parents’ legacy to be forgotten.” He brushed a few strands of hair out of Draco’s face. “I just thought…”
“Why would you want to be a Malfoy? The only Malfoy?” Draco murmured, clearly astonished.
Harry bit the inside of his cheek. “Well, you know I don’t give a shit anymore what people think about me… but…” He shrugged. “It would send a message.”
“A message,” Draco echoed, his brows still furrowed.
“You said you didn’t want to get married, and I don’t need to, either, but… I hate that people don’t seem to be accepting our relationship, even after all these years.”
“And your solution for that is changing our names?”
“Like I said, it would send a message.”
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Draco interjected. “How does ‘Draco Potter’ and ‘Harry Malfoy’ send a message? It would only lead to more confusion. Isn’t the point to… end up with the same name? To be… I don’t know, united?”
Harry shook his head and cupped Draco’s cheek. “But we will be. It might get confusing at first, but… I want the world to know who I belong with.”
Draco blinked at him and Harry could sense a teasing remark about his cheesiness coming his way. Before Draco got the chance to open his mouth, Harry pressed their lips together, until he felt Draco relax in his arms.
“I also think it would piss off a lot of people, which, frankly, is a very big plus,” Harry grinned.
Draco rolled his eyes in exasperation. “I think it would piss off people enough if we hyphenated. And,” he scrunched up his nose in mock disgust, “the world will still know who you belong with.” He tightened his grip around Harry’s waist and was obviously trying to fight down a smile.
“I guess,” Harry began, rubbing his beard against Draco’s jaw, which made him shriek indignantly, “hyphenating sounds like an acceptable compromise.”
“But can we even do that? Without getting married? Will they let us?”
Harry gave him a toothy grin and wiggled his eyebrows. “I think this is the one time being Harry Potter might come in handy.”
“Harry Potter-Malfoy,” Draco said, as though he was correcting him.
“How about Harry Malfoy-Potter? Has a nicer ring to it, hasn’t it?”
“You’re impossible,” Draco snorted.
“No, I’m just full of surprises,” Harry retorted, rubbing their cheeks together. He loved doing that. Draco always acted as though it annoyed him, but it always made him laugh, just like it did then. He pulled Harry into another kiss that made his heart stutter.
“That reminds me,” Draco said, “we have a little surprise for you.”
“We?” Harry grinned.
“They’re waiting in the kitchen.”
Harry took the hand Draco was offering and let himself be led out of the classroom. He blinked against the sunlight. It was such a beautiful day, maybe they could have a picnic in the garden later.
He paused when he felt Draco shudder as they reached their front door.
“Merlin, can we please, please get rid of those creepy snowmen already?”
“First of all, they’re not creepy,” Harry said. “And second, Celia loves them. You know that. That’s why they’re here in the first place. Stop hurting their feelings.”
Harry chuckled when Draco mumbled, “Sentimental,” under his breath. They made their way into the kitchen where they were greeted with a bunch of balloons and confetti.
Harry smiled and got down on his knees. He had just enough time to open his arms before Celia and Teddy slammed into him.
“Happy birthday, Harry!”
“Thanks, guys,” he murmured, burying his face in their mingled hair.
“We made cupcakes for you,” Celia beamed.
“We made them the Muggle way,” Teddy added proudly. “Draco only helped with the oven.”
“It’s true,” Draco smiled.
Harry’s eyes darted to the kitchen island, to the huge plate with the colourful cupcakes. He felt the familiar surge of panic rise inside him. He often wondered if it would ever go away. Maybe not. But he had much better control over it now. It was still hard and he couldn’t always do it, but the excitement in Celia’s and Teddy’s eyes was just too endearing to make up an excuse.
“Try one,” Celia said, her blonde curls bouncing around her shoulders as she grabbed a cupcake and practically shoved it in his face.
Slowly, he licked at the frosting and gave her a big smile.
“You have to try the whole thing,” she said, impatiently, waving the cupcake around. Harry was pretty sure she got frosting on his beard. He brushed his thumb over her cheek and took the cupcake from her. It was so small, it was basically just one bite. Trying to block out the fact that all eyes were on him, he popped it into his mouth. Hmmm, mint… and chocolate. His favourite kind of cupcake.
“Yaaaaaay!” Celia started jumping up and down, clapping her hands together. It didn’t take long until Teddy joined in.
“They taste fantastic,” Harry said, pulling the kids into another hug. “Thank you.” He caught sight of Draco watching them, understanding and sympathy written all over his face.
“And while we’re at it,” Draco said, kneeling down beside Harry, “we have a surprise for you as well.”
“Oh?” Celia’s eyes were huge and Teddy went completely silent.
Harry and Draco grinned at each other and Harry nodded at him to keep going.
“Harry and I… we were talking,” he began, taking one of Celia’s hands. “You’ve been here for quite a while now. I mean, you’re practically living with us…”
Celia’s lips parted and her expression turned from excited to horrified. “Are— Are you kicking me out? Don’t you— Don’t you want me here anymore? Please— Please don’t send me away.”
Harry quickly took her other hand and cupped her cheek. “No, no, that’s not what we’re saying. At all!”
“We wanted to ask you,” Draco said, his expression so soft, it made Harry’s breath catch, “if it would be okay with you…” He peeked at Harry and bit his lip.
“If it’s okay with you,” Harry continued, “we would like to officially adopt you.”
For a moment, the room was completely silent. Harry felt Celia’s hand twitch, but her face was unreadable. She looked shocked. Oh. They hadn’t talked about the possibility she might not want to be their child. Oh no, did she not want—
Harry and Draco both jumped when Celia let out an ear piercing scream.
“Really? Really?” she shrieked. “Do you really mean that?”
It took a second for Harry to understand the screaming was an expression of happiness, that she was trembling with excitement.
Draco was already nodding and Harry’s heart warmed when he watched Celia jump into his arms. Her little hands were gripping Draco’s shirt so tightly, Harry thought she was going to rip it. She giggled when she turned to him and threw her arms around his neck.
“We love you, Celia,” Harry murmured. She pulled back and beamed at him.
Teddy, who had been bouncing around the kitchen the whole time, quickly grabbed Celia’s hands and started spinning them around.
“Awesome,” he exclaimed. “You’ll officially be part of the family, then!”
“Merlin,” Draco groaned, hopping out of the way, “McGonagall is going to hate us for sending you both to Hogwarts at the same time.”
“Don’t lie,” Teddy said. “Harry said she’s going to love us!”
“Oh, we got our letter today,” Celia squealed. “Can we go to Diagon Alley tomorrow?”
“Ugh, Diagon Alley is hell on Saturdays,” Draco muttered.
“Please? Please, please, please?”
Celia and Teddy both looked at Draco with their best puppy dog eyes. Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to resist them long.
“Fine,” he sighed.
“Can I get a pet?” Teddy asked.
“We’ll have to talk to your grandmother about—”
“Oh, can I get a pet, too? Oh! Can I get an owl?”
Before Draco could say anything, Harry brushed his fingers through her curls. “Sure,” he said.
Celia and Teddy resumed clutching each other’s hands and hopped through the kitchen.
“Traitor,” Draco muttered in Harry’s direction.
Sniggering, Harry picked up a cupcake with pink frosting and leaned closer to Draco.
“Here, have a cupcake. I have a feeling it might be your favourite flavour.” Honestly, Harry was a little surprised not all the cupcakes were raspberry flavoured.
He scooped up a little bit of frosting on his index finger, an impish grin on his face as he held it out to Draco. Without hesitation, Draco sucked his finger into his mouth. Harry’s grin widened when he felt the push of Draco’s tongue against it. He leaned forward to kiss him, and the second their lips touched, he heard gagging sounds and cries of disgust.
“Uncle Harryyyyyy,” Teddy whined. “No kissing when we’re around, remember? It’s gross!”
“But it’s my birthday,” Harry said teasingly. “Everyone gets an exception on their birthday.”
“Ugh!” Teddy stomped his foot. “Come on, Celia, let’s go out to the garden.”
Harry chuckled as he watched the kids run out of the kitchen.
“Do you really think we’re ready to be parents?” Draco asked, his gaze fixed on the doorframe where Teddy and Celia had just vanished.
“We already are, Draco,” Harry smiled.
“What if we mess this up?”
Harry could almost feel Draco’s trepidation. He understood. His parents hadn’t exactly been great role models; neither had the Dursleys.
“We will make mistakes,” Harry said, kissing the tip of Draco’s nose. “That’s inevitable. We’ll just figure it out as we go. Just like we did… with us.”
Draco turned to face him, his expression soft, but still, there was some worry left in his eyes.
“We made a lot of mistakes there, too.”
“I know,” Harry sighed. “But you know what, I don’t regret them. Look at us now. It’s not too bad, is it?”
“Not too bad,” Draco echoed in agreement.
“Yes, because I make excellent choices,” Harry announced.
“Oh yeah?” The skin around Draco’s eyes crinkled as he gave him an amused look. “Like what?” he asked.
“Okay, one excellent choice,” Harry said, nudging Draco’s nose with his own. “Keeping you around.”
Draco snorted but let himself be pulled into a kiss. Like always, he tasted like raspberries.
He really meant it, he didn’t regret any of his mistakes. Not anymore. It had taken him a long time to get there and a lot of help from Draco. He knew they could count on each other no matter what.
So, no, it didn’t matter how many mistakes he had made or how many he’d undoubtedly make in the future. At least, Harry thought, he did one thing right.