Actions

Work Header

Christmas Courting

Chapter Text

8. Title: Family Ties

Country of Origin: Unknown

Circa: Unknown

Description: This Ritual is something that exists in most relationships at one point or another and is a mandatory Ritual for everyone involved in a Christmas Courting. For both parties involved this is a chance to meet and prove themselves to the respective families and show to their ancestors that they deserve a place on the family tapestry and will continue the family blood line. It’s also a chance for both families to get answers to any final concerns they might have before the final stages of the Courtship ends.

All Suitor’s should ideally be seen in the same day in order to directly compare them to one another and to not show priority over the families involved. The order in which they’re seen through the day can still demonstrate some level of preference, particularly for whoever is given the dinner slot.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

A light jingle of chimes came from his wand, gradually increasing until he tapped it to turn it off, a much better alarm than Harry’s evil blare-y thing.

Draco had a full day of impressing families to get on with and have been up since just after midnight panicking about it. He’d imagined every single outfit he could possibly wear, had gotten up to make sure he had the shirts he was thinking of at least three times through the night. He’d woken from panicked half dreams about what questions they’d ask him. Ranging from an interrogation about what flowers he’d planned to have at the wedding to them holding a chainsaw over his arm screaming at him to prove he was no longer loyal to Voldemort.

He could accept that was probably an extreme.

It didn’t make it easier to ignore.

The thing about panic was that it was never rational and, to be honest, he had enough to actually panic about without his anxiety adding tonnes on top of it. That didn’t stop it though.

He had sent out messages last night confirming the run order:

Dmitriy Selwyn – Afternoon Tea

Sullivan Fawley (blue eyes) - Lunch

Alexander Burke - Breakfast

Harry Potter - Dinner

To be clear, the only reason he’d put Harry in for Dinner was because it seemed like he even worked through weekend days now. Besides, with no family, maybe it would be a calm end to the day … he doubted it would actually go that well, but it was a nice thought.

Or, maybe Harry would want to stay over for the night again.

Not that he expected it, but they did mention it was possible …

He dragged himself out of bed, now wasn’t the time to think about that. He had two hours before Alexander’s family came over. He could hear the house elves running around downstairs setting up already, he’d given them enough instructions to … drive everyone mad really.

Giving them all the instructions and trusting them to see it through had the bonus of making sure there was nothing he could mess up in his panic this morning. Unfortunately, that also meant it came with the negative of giving him nothing to distract himself with. At least … not for the Courting.

He still had the note from Harry about the feather. He was bound to ask when they saw each other tonight, he might as well make sure he had at least one good answer for the harassment he was getting ready to deal with for the day.

He’d had an idea about the feather anyway. Not about who made it, or what really went into it, but there might be a potions answer to where the hell it came from. It had been a while since he’d had time to do anything with potions … if he wasn’t so nervous it might almost have been an exciting job for the day. At least locking himself in the basement until he was fetched for breakfast meant he’d be out of the way.

He grabbed the feather from the mantlepiece on his way through the house, twisting it delicately between his fingers as he headed down the stairs. In the dark it was easy to see the magical residue glittering in the air. Whatever they’d done to make this feather was beyond impressive. He’d give anything to be able to make them like this on his property. The uses were … incalculable. It was almost unfortunate that he couldn’t sell it, or use it as a potions ingredient. Tradition said that he had to keep it, and he wouldn’t really want to part with it anyway, it was beautiful. It was just nice to image what could be done.

He set it down on his work bench, kept pristine, just like everything else in the house. He hadn’t touched anything down here since about his fourth year at Hogwarts, before everything went … well … hectic. But, the elves took care of it for him. Even as a child he’d put everything back in the right spots, it was easy to find what he was after.

One flat pewter tray, Large enough to fit the feather and deep enough to act as a cauldron of sorts. Usual spells to clean the air, protection spells thrown over him, bubble mask for breathing, just in case – all the safety measures that were completely unnecessary but Severus had drilled into him so many times that they were just done, before he even thought about opening the first vial.

From there he tested the feather.

The location test he’d thought of proved useless. There was a chance it was too strong in its own rights to react as he though or maybe it had just been in his house for too long already, it was only feeding back information about the manor.

Other tests proved more interesting. Magical bonding tests to see what kind of magic was used on it. What kind of wand was used on it proved negative, backing up his theory that it was just pushing back any potion reactions.

But the creature magic … well … that certainly gave a reaction worth telling Harry about.

It seemed likely that someone at the Ministry would have already run the tests … but maybe not. It was always the Pure-bloods reminding people to test for magical creature residue and interference. If they didn’t have anyone who knew enough about them on the case them maybe it did go undetected. Besides, he didn’t know enough about how the Auror department was run to assume they had potions experts for anything.

If it put him in a better mood he may as well assume that he’d found out something that the Ministry had failed to. That he could show off – just a little – like he used to do.

He was scribbling down the results, trying to work out what other options he could explore when there was a gentle knock at the door a Mipsy stuck her head around the edge.

‘It’s being time to get ready, Master Draco.’

Just when he’d found something interesting to get into. Of course.

‘Can you make sure no one moves anything down here, please?’ He waited for her nod before taking his notes and heading upstairs.

Alexander was first. He was kind of using this as a trial run. Make sure he was ready when it came to the main options, or the people most likely to rip him apart.

The meals played out how he expected them too. Alexander’s family was polite enough, sometimes speaking out a bit more … Death-eater supporter-ey than he would have liked, but it went smoothly enough. Alexander was a bit more careful about his views at least, it backed up that he could definitely manage their family. Just … he had no real interest in being associated with them.

Chalk him up to a last resort.

Then it was the Fawley’s for lunch.

Every word spoken through the meal felt like it was stepping on a landmine. Starting with inviting them into the house. The Hufflepuff way was an annoying combination of not directly confrontational, but no where near as skilled at the snide subtle comments as he was used to in Slytherin in general. They took one look around and straight away.

‘Looks like you’re doing pretty well. That’s impressive considering how some other families came out of the war.’

No delicate. The apologetic looks and Sullivan’s interruptions didn’t go very far to make it an enjoyable lunch. He caught him afterwards though.

‘I’m really sorry about that. They’re not usually that bad, just are nervous about how all this will look to everyone else. Annoyingly, I can’t control what my parents think, or say. But, like I’ve said, I don’t care about any of it. I really think we could make a great family together. I hope they don’t change your opinion.’

Those annoying blue eyes looked so earnest. And he had tried to stick up for him. Besides, if Draco’s parents were still around, he probably would have been in much the same boat. Worse even, he wouldn’t have even had the guts to pursue some one his father hadn’t picked out for him.

He managed a drained smile and a loose hug in response.

‘I get it. Thank you for standing up for me.’

Then came Dmitriy Selwyn and his family …

They were … intimidating to say the least. They seemed to speak over the top of him. He knew in theory that he was part of the conversation; he just didn’t seem to have any control over how what he said was taken, or where the conversation went from there. It took him far too long to realise that they were planning their future. Redecorating the house for parties and grandchildren. He wasn’t sure how, or when it happened but Draco thought he might have agreed to three?

That was how conversations with Pure-blood Slytherin’s were meant to go. He was just far too far out of practice.

They also talked around what creatures and upkeep the estates needed. In a way that few others would even be aware to do and still without mentioning anything specific by name. He felt like every time they turned to him or paused in the conversation he’d been thrown a bomb and needed the right words to diffuse it or pass it on.

It was terrifying.

It was exhilarating.

He just had to hope that every implication he threw back was continuing the correct conversation, adding the right information and was interpreted the way he meant it.

His parents smiled at him as they left. That seemed like the ultimate approval that he’d done well. Until Dmitriy stayed behind.

‘Yes?’ He sighed, leaning against the doorframe as soon as his parents were out of view, he honestly didn’t feel like he had the strength to stay standing on his own.

‘I’m going to be honest with you Draco.’ That wasn’t the best beginning of a conversation, but Draco nodded for him to continue.

‘Potter may be good for a sudden reputation boost, but do you really think he’ll be any use rebuilding your name? You’re smart Draco, but you’re marked. They won’t let you do anything in the Ministry, they won’t listen to you in the Ministry, how long do you think you can sustain this without power on the inside?’ He gestured to the Malfoy grounds, pointedly at the woods in the distance.

Draco pushed himself off the post, straightening up to come as close as he could to intimidating beside Dmitriy’s tall frame. He knew he was right, that was half the point of this whole thing, along with the need for money. Hearing it so bluntly from someone else though … He refused to be told what he couldn’t do.

‘I’d manage. Malfoy’s always survive.’ The words came out as prickly as intended, but he seemed ready for them.

‘But do you want to just survive? Or do you want to take power back from the idiots who think they’ve stolen it from you?’ Dmitriy lent forward, tucking a strand of hair behind Draco’s ear, the backs of his fingers brushing and lingering against his cheek.

At first Draco didn’t pull away because of the Courting, because he knew how bad that would look at he couldn’t afford to lose a Suiter at this point. But his skin was warm, his eyes didn’t faulter and he spoke with the kind of assurance that he’d been desperate for.

‘You’re one of the Sacred 28.’ He purred into his ear. ‘You hold the manor and the land. Your bloodline is strong, but no one can do this all on their own. You don’t have to do this all on your own. Unlike the great Harry Potter, I know what I’m offering to step into, and we could be a great team together.’

He hadn’t felt the tingle of the wards because he knew there were people leaving. He hadn’t even thought of anyone coming in. But he heard someone clearing his throat from behind Dmitriy and he just jumped, pushing him away instantly. Which, on reflection, made him look a lot more guilty than he would have been otherwise.

And, of course, it was Harry there. Here early.

Shit.

Dmitriy glanced over his shoulder, confirming who it was and looked back to him with a confident smirk, leaning back in close to brush a kiss against his cheek. Damn pale skin, he knew his

‘I thought you were doing all of this because you understood your responsibility to your family, Draco.’ He whispered before stepping away, walking towards Harry, looking over him head to toe before turning back to Draco. ‘Just make sure you make the right choice, for the right reasons.’

With that he followed his parents down the drive. Leaving Draco in the worst position. What the hell was he meant to say though? That it was a Courting? He was allowed to … what? Talk quietly to someone? Nothing had even happened, but if it had he would have been allowed.

That sounded way too defensive.

Harry turned to watch as Dmitriy left while Draco was just wishing his blush would fade. From the look on Harry’s face when he turned back towards him it probably hadn’t worked.

‘What the hell does he mean by that?’

‘Uhhh …’

 

---

 

Bad day, turned worse.

Why was it the December just seemed like a month of bad bloody days.

He was dragged into work. Again.

Needed to help out with someone else’s field work, so in the middle of a fight. Again.

And, of course, yelled at about making no progress. Because he hadn’t. There was nothing new, nothing more for him to do but trace his steps and wait at this point. They all knew it, it was just easier to blame him for it. They couldn’t give it to someone else either or they’d have to admit just how stupid and stuck the damn case was. So, it was the same dreadful day, on repeat, including his damn weekend.

And no this.

‘You’re early.’ Was all Draco could manage.

That’s fine. Harry knew he had dates with the others. That’s what the Courting was meant to be about. Anything they did he had every right to do with all the others … he could be kissing them all for all he knew. Godric help him – that would be fine.

He knew how to play by the rules. It didn’t matter that his stomach was churning. That he wanted to punch the stuck-up git in his smug face (not Draco this time, the other one). He didn’t have any right to actually act on any of it … so focus on what he did get to do.

Harry pulled out the letter he’d gotten about today’s Ceremony.

‘So … Family Ties … Well … do we flip a coin to see which cemetery we go to?’ He shrugged, trying to lighten the mood.

Draco looked up, kind enough not to roll his eyes at least and gestured him into the house.

‘I obviously didn’t have you in mind for this one. At least it means I get the night off.’ He groaned, collapsing into his armchair.

He looked like he needed the night off. Harry had no clue what he’d been through and he knew he shouldn’t push it. But when he’d gotten the letter there was only one thing he’d thought of. He’d planned to say it. It just came out.

‘I guess we could go see the Weasley’s.’

If looks could kill …

‘Yeah … that’s not going to happen.’ Draco groaned, not resisting the eye-roll this time.

‘Why the hell not? What’s wrong with them?’ Harry lashed back, Draco had been playing nice with all of the other families, why the hell was his one not okay?

Unless he still wasn’t treating him like a serious Suitor.

‘It’s about family, Harry. I get that they’re close, they might be all you have. But this is meant to be genuinely what gets sewn onto the family tapestry. That’s not your Weasley’s.’ He groaned, reaching out to pour himself a drink, he tipped the glass to Harry who snatched it off him and dropped it on the mantle.

‘So, because I don’t have any blood relatives that give a shit I don’t get to do this Ritual at all? Do you want to go meet my abusive Aunt and Uncle? You might actually get along well with them.’

Draco winced at that, standing up to face him properly.

‘Harry …’

He was on a roll now though. Screw that. He didn’t get to just be counted out because of things he had no damn choice in!

‘Or is it because the only damn option I have aren’t the right kind of people for you?’ The other three still actually contending for his hand were Pure-bloods – it was hard not to see the difference.

‘Not the right kind of people for me? And I guess they all celebrated when they heard that you were part of my Courting? Not because you told them, by the way, but because you had no option but to be seen in association with me. At the last damn minute might I add.’ Draco’s voice rose to match his. ‘It’s not my fault you have no one that matches the requirements for this damn thing!’

‘I didn’t CHOOSE to have no one to match your stupid requirements here!’

He didn’t want to be fighting. Why the hell was this a fight?

Just, hearing any kind of comment from Draco about his family made him think of all the comments Draco had thrown at him in school about his dead parents. And, worse than that, all the comments his Aunt, Uncle and Cousin had thrown at him growing up. This was just another thing that he got wrong because he didn’t have parents here. He was sick of that still effecting his life.

‘You chose your family the first day of Hogwarts when you stood beside a Weasley.’ And not me was left unsaid, but Harry heard it. ‘And it’s not a family that a Slytherin would ever be welcome in!’

He could throw Blaise and George in his face here. But that wasn’t his secret to tell. So, he went to his other back up. The Weasley’s weren’t the problem here, it was the other half of the equation.

‘You Pure-bloods are the ones that dictate who you can be with. You’re the one saying I’m not good enough to join your elite fucking family,’ That was what Dmitriy was talking about, that was where everyone else beat him, ‘that no one wants to be associated with! Don’t you dare try to put this on the Weasley’s.’

‘My elite fucking family?!’ Draco paused at the thought of it, closing his eyes and stepping back a pace.

Harry watched his chest rise and fall with slow deep breaths before he continued, his voice quiet and level again.

‘You have a temper when you’re having a bad day, hey?’ He mulled softly, looking Harry over carefully.

‘What the hell?!’

‘I mean, I always knew you had a temper – obviously – but, you honestly just start lashing out when you’re in a bad mood. Want to talk about how work’s going?’ He raised a delicate eyebrow, as though he actually expected an answer to that?

Prat.

‘Shut up, I don’t. You’re just being a dick about this and-’

‘I might be, I often am about this kind of thing.’ He shrugged, carelessly wearing the insult, refusing to start up the fight again.  ‘But I thought we were up to the talking, not just yelling at each other for it point?’

‘We are.’ Harry answered hesitantly.

‘So … what are we doing now then?’

‘I …’ There was a chance … Draco might have a point, usually after work he was just back at his house, alone, no one ever had to put up with it before. ‘Shit. Sorry. I might be in a bit of a mood.’

‘Oh, really?’ He droned sarcastically, his old smirk across his face.  

‘Not helping, Draco.’ Somehow, he was grinning back at him.

He could let that go, neither of them really meant anything, which meant they still needed an option for the Ritual though.

‘I guess it’s Teddy, then? If you’re talking about the literal family line. Godsons go on tapestry, I turned up on the repaired Black one.’ He offered, that sounded like it was matching Pure-blood requirements, right?

Draco sighed, his face dropping as he reached out for his drink again.

‘Of course you find an even worse option.’

‘You better not be saying anything bad about Teddy or Andromeda.’

‘No, jeez, calm down a bit would you? I just mean, firstly, he is a family tie for me already, so he’s on the damn tapestry. But … meeting them … I … I really don’t think I’d be welcome.’ Draco refused to look at him, he seemed … nervous?

‘Hyporcrite.’ Harry goaded carefully.

‘Excuse you?!’

Too easy.

‘You’re the one always going on about how Pure-bloods understand the bond of family better than everyone else, aren’t you? But they’re blood relatives that your precious Pure-blood family kicked out. They’re your family that you don’t count.’ He kept his voice level, careful to make sure it didn’t really sound accusing.

 ‘It’s a lot more complicated than that Harry, but they chose to remove themselves from the family.’ He ran a hand through his hair, pulling strands loose, he was definitely uncomfortable. ‘I’m not saying I agree with the terms of the family that led them to leave, but they left. My current issue is that I don’t think they’d want to meet me.’

His voice was flat, bored, enough that Harry wanted to push the fight. A month ago, he would have. But he knew better now. That flat voice only really came out when he was particularly emotional. From the way Draco was angling away from him, he was definitely nervous. Maybe- He could try at least …

‘They don’t have any other family left either Draco. They might actually like to meet you. I mean, this ritual is your turn to woo me again, right? Play nice with them and I promise I’ll be impressed.’

‘Argh, you’re such an annoying do-gooder.’ That almost sounded like a compliment. ‘Can we please at least do it tomorrow?’

‘Sure …’ He looked around the room, if they were doing their Ritual tomorrow, what did that mean for right now? ‘Do you want me to go then?’

There was a pause. He almost thought he wasn’t going to get a response. Almost turned to leave before:

‘Would you stay?’