“Mmm,” Hermione grunted in pleasure as Ron squeezed her left breast. It had been a week – or maybe two – since they'd last had a bit of private time. Tonight, however, Hermione had sent the baby to her parents and they were planning to love each other until they passed out from sheer exhaustion.
Ron had only unbuttoned her shirt enough to expose her bra, and now pushed her bra up and out of the way so that he could suck on her nipples. He loved the fact that she was still producing a little milk despite having gone back to work nearly a month ago – which meant that she was more or less weaning their baby. He hummed happily as he drank a couple mouthfuls of the sweet liquid.
Hermione moaned, loving how different her husband's mouth felt on her sensitive breasts. She tangled her fingers in his thick red hair and arched her back to encourage him to keep doing exactly what he was doing.
“Hermione!” Harry cried out urgently as he emerged from their floo. “Merlin's moldy toenails! I'm so sorry!” He added as he spun to face the wall instead of them making excellent use of their couch. “I'd leave if I could, but we have an urgent case.”
Hermione and Ron both sighed in aggravation. Ron shifted his mouth from her breast to her mouth to give her a tender kiss. As she returned her husband's kiss, she pulled her bra back into place.
“What's the case about?” She asked as she got to her feet.
“You know how nearly everyone registered their dark artifacts after the war?” Harry asked as he turned around to look at her.
“Yeah,” she replied in a tone that prompted Harry to continue.
“Well, one wizard in particular reported that his collection has been stolen and he wants to make it clear that if any of the artifacts turn up in crimes, he had nothing to do with it. We're supposed to go to his house to search for clues to see if we can figure out who stole them and where they are.”
“I can see why they want us to hurry,” Hermione muttered grumpily since there was a certain spell that became less effective the more time that passed after a crime. “Let's go.”
“Er... 'Mione?” Harry murmured with a tiny smirk.
“Yeah?” She questioned curiously.
“You should probably button up your shirt,” he pointed out.
Shaking her head and with a sigh that suggested that she was tempted to smack herself, she buttoned her shirt, kissed her husband goodbye, and went to the fireplace. Ron chuckled, mouthed: You shouldn't have said anything to his best friend, and then added aloud: “Love you! Try not to get cursed by dark wizards!”
Harry laughed silently at Ron. He worked with his brother George in a joke shop and it was just like him to wonder how long it would take his wife to notice on her own that she was giving people something interesting to look at. They patted each other on the back.
“I'll try to have her home as soon as possible,” Harry said, knowing that try was the operative word.
“Don't worry about it, just do what you have to to catch criminals,” Ron replied as Hermione tossed a pinch of floo powder in the fire and called out: “Ministry of Magic, Auror Department, Harry Potter's office.”
Harry grabbed a pinch of powder and quickly followed her. Once in their office, Hermione strapped on her arm holster so that her wand would be easy to grab at all times. Her left arm now had faint creases from where her holster resided so often. As did Harry's. On her right wrist, Hermione fastened what looked like a simple muggle watch with a cover, but was really a small container that she'd cast an Undetectable Extension Charm on. It held literally everything she thought she might need access to while on the job.
Harry had a similar case – which Hermione had actually made out of inexpensive muggle watches – but his held very little in comparison to hers. He usually just had the case files he was working on, an extra wand, and a bento box or two in there. If he were honest, he couldn't think of anything he might need that Hermione didn't have already.
When ready, they decided to floo to the public access floo closest to the victim and Apparate to his house from there. He was expecting them and met them at the door.
“I did my duty in reporting my artifacts, but now I think that they never would have been stolen if I'd just kept them secret!”
“I understand your concern,” Harry murmured soothingly in an attempt to reassure him. “But the Ministry is confident that registering dark artifacts is best in the long run for exactly this reason. What if you hadn't registered them and they'd been stolen and used to murder someone? Without registering them, you wouldn't be able to report them stolen, and then you'd be the prime suspect.”
Rather than be reassured, the victim quietly grumbled about over-reaching Ministries and impingement of freedom.
Meanwhile, Hermione seemed to be in a half trance as she stared at the empty case where an Orb of Destiny had been. Harry busied himself making up an inventory of what had been stolen, along with what hadn't been. He hoped he'd eventually find a pattern to suggest why they had been stolen and – Merlin willing – who had stolen them. The victim answered all of Harry's questions with a minimum of grumbling.
Suddenly, Hermione spoke. “Ready. Ready?”
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed.
Now that she had the absolute single-minded concentration necessary, Hermione was able to pull out her wand and cast a spell that would... In muggle terms, replay security footage. Most witches and wizards didn't bother with surveillance type spells since they were often a waste of magic. Only the most paranoid used them, which meant that it was not a simple matter of reviewing anything picked up by such spells. Instead, Hermione was taking something like a snapshot of time.
This was why this particular spell needed to be cast as soon as possible after a crime. It took an enormous amount of magic – both power and control – to be able to use this spell with any success. And Hermione was one of the few people on the planet with the mental focus necessary to be capable of using it. After she cast it, a few seconds passed in silence before their entire surroundings seemed to glow just slightly and the missing artifacts looked like they'd suddenly been returned. Using her concentration, Hermione was able to “fast forward” through the snapshot of time until the thief appeared.
“Is that Nott?” Harry half whispered so that he wouldn't make her lose focus.
Slowly, as if it had taken a few seconds for his voice to reach her, she turned her head to respond. “I. Think. So.”
When Nott had left with his stolen goods, Hermione ended the spell and slumped in relief. Harry knew this would happen and was waiting to catch her. He held her supportively as she took quite a few deep breaths. When she seemed a little steadier, Harry pulled out a square of her favorite dark chocolate with caramel, pecans, and sea salt, popping it in her mouth before giving her a tiny peck on the cheek.
When she had recovered enough, she turned to the victim. “This happened during your habitual stroll to the pub for lunch?”
He nodded. “I suppose it did.”
“Then why didn't you report it until after dinner?” Hermione wondered suspiciously.
“I didn't come in here and notice them missing until then. I firecalled the Auror department as soon as I realized they'd been stolen.”
Hermione accepted this with a nod and a sigh.
“We should go start on our report,” Harry suggested.
Hermione simply nodded in agreement. Back in their office almost ten minutes later – they had stopped by their favorite tea shop to buy cuppas – they flopped into their respective chairs with a sigh. Hermione rubbed her mildly aching temples.
“I know we should, but I really don't want to organize a raid at this time of night,” Hermione muttered. Not that it was all that late – only about half eight – but still, it was after the time when most employees of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement went home. Now that she was a mother, she found it extremely hard to justify tearing the other Aurors and Officers away from their families for a raid that could easily wait for tomorrow. Hopefully.
“Actually,” Harry mused, stroking his chin and looking toward the ceiling. “I think we shouldn't raid Nott. At all.”
“What?” Hermione asked, sitting up completely straight in her surprise.
“Didn't...” he murmured to himself as he rummaged through a pile of Daily Prophets tossed in the corner in case they needed to verify something quickly. “Aha!” He tossed a paper on Hermione's desk.
“Nott's tying the knot,” Hermione read, suppressing a sigh over the fact that she had forgotten that. One of the reasons she was so smart was that she had an excellent memory and could recall lots of seemingly useless tidbits. Even so, it wasn't perfect – to her eternal frustration. “Theodore Nott is officially set to marry Daphne Greengrass on... that's next weekend!”
“Exactly!” Harry stated with a grin. “Which will give us time to set up an undercover operation. We can attend the wedding and see if there's anything more going on.”
“What makes you think... wait...” Hermione bit her lip in thought.
“I don't think there's anything going on, but if there is...” Harry trailed off with a shrug.
“It's likely to happen at the wedding when everyone is preoccupied with more important things,” Hermione admitted. She tossed the paper back in the pile and opened her watch/case. A moment later, the paper from that morning was in her hand. “I'd just barely scanned this, but now that you've reminded me that Nott is marrying Greengrass...” She tossed the paper to Harry.
He read it. “Greengrass wedding attracts guests from around the world. Prestigious people such as a certain Bulgarian Seeker have confirmed their attendance...”
Hermione pointed at the picture of Daphne greeting Viktor Krum. “Look at that man half hiding in the background. I'd kept this paper on hand because I thought he looked familiar, but it took me until just now to realize that he's part of the Russian Stregge.”
Organized Wizarding Crime Families Harry's brain supplied helpfully. “Great...” he muttered unappreciatively. This meant that there probably was something more going on after all.
“How do you propose we attend the wedding undercover?” Hermione asked. “It's highly unlikely that we'd get an invitation this late – unless you ask to attend as Harry Potter, and since it's well known that you're an Auror, chances are you'd scare away any shady characters we're there to find.”
“Good point,” Harry acknowledged. Summoning a piece of clean parchment from his desk drawer, he focused on jotting down anything he could think of – no matter how unlikely or just plain crazy it sounded. Eventually, the perfect solution would come to him.
As it turned out, there was a very famous set of twin witches that owed Harry a favor – that just so happened to be invited to the wedding. They hadn't confirmed their attendance because they hadn't actually wanted to go, but at Harry's urging, sent back the RSVP with their unique magical signature on it. Then they handed Harry a few strands of hair from each of them.
Which led to now. Hermione was carefully placing a single long hair into a flask of Ministry standard pre-prepared Polyjuice Potion. Harry was doing the same to another flask. They'd been careful not to mix the hairs up, but in this case, since the hairs came from identical twins, it wasn't such a big deal. When ready, they each took a swig from their flasks.
After the somewhat painful change, they looked at each other in amazement.
“Wow!” Hermione exhaled in awe. “I'd seen pictures of them, but I still managed to forget just how beautiful they are!”
Harry nodded in agreement. Hermione's expression turned sly. “Tell me again, exactly why did they owe you such a big favor?”
Harry blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Er... I'd agreed to shag them... together... for an entire weekend.”
Hermione giggled. “I thought as much. That was shortly after you won the war, right?”
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed. At that time, Harry had gone just a bit mental from relief at having defeated Voldemort, so when men and women started throwing themselves at him more frequently than mosquitoes in a swamp, he'd thrown caution to the wind and agreed to bed all the ones that caught his eye.
For some strange reason, his inner Slytherin – that the sorting hat had been so convinced existed – had emerged in full force at that point, prompting Harry to demand future favors in return for the privilege, which meant that he actually had quite a few influential people that owed him. And if you believed the Daily Prophet, he was still racking up those favors on a nightly basis. Sadly, this just wasn't true.
Merlin's sweaty arse! It had been so long since Harry last got laid that he couldn't actually remember when it was! A year? Please not longer than that!
Hermione interrupted his suddenly horny thoughts with a giggle. “I get to be the beautiful woman for once.”
“Aww,” Harry purred in sympathy. “I always thought you were beautiful.”
“Perhaps, but honestly, you shagged this woman but never considered shagging me, so...” She spread her hands wide as she shrugged, as if saying that Harry not wanting to shag her was proof that she wasn't beautiful.
Harry rolled his eyes. “I never seriously wanted to shag you because it was obvious from pfft! What? Our third year? That you and Ron were made for each other.”
“Well, there is that,” Hermione acknowledged with a smile. Then she tilted her head toward the bed to indicate the gowns that they had bought with the help and advice of the twins they were now impersonating. “We should get ready.”
Harry nodded, knowing that the witch they'd hired to professionally style their hair and apply their makeup would be arriving soon. Harry picked up the gown and frowned.
“Remind me again why I agreed to wear something that looks like it shows off more than it covers?”
Hermione giggled. “Because we are going undercover and you have to remain in character.”
“Yeah but... this is literally sheer!” Harry protested.
“Just keep telling yourself that it's not actually your body you're showing off. In fact, it's nothing that most of the Wizarding World hasn't already seen,” Hermione advised.
“Yeah, alright,” Harry grumbled as he stripped off.
Two minutes later, he was infinitely grateful that they'd agreed to get ready together because he had no idea how else he'd have zipped up the back! The dress was made up of red silk thread spun with a subtle hint of golden silk thread that was then crocheted into thousands of intricate little lacy motifs that really didn't provide adequate coverage. Thus, he wasn't wearing a bra or underwear of any sort either.
“It's not fair!” Hermione burst out as she examined the way she looked in the dress. She turned to help Harry zip up. “It's not fair how firm and perky these tits are! Even before I had a baby, mine were rather saggy. I could never wear a dress like this!”
“Hermione!” Harry spluttered. “I didn't need to know that!”
Hermione simply rolled her eyes at him. “Harry, you've seen me breastfeed and I'm fairly sure you've heard me complain about my tits before. It's not like I'm saying anything I haven't already. So what's the problem?”
Harry groaned and rolled his head around on his neck. “The problem is that I look like this and it's making me inexplicably horny, and now you're talking about tits!”
Hermione giggled again. “Oh? I thought you were leaning more towards men at the moment?”
“I am, but that doesn't mean that I'm blind or dead,” Harry informed her. “I think the gayest most bent man on the planet would want to shag this body.” He jabbed a thumb toward his chest in case she somehow thought he was referring to someone else.
Laughing too much to come up with a reply, Hermione simply turned her back to him so that he could zip her up. The hired witch arrived at that point. Ron had showed her to the room, but was too preoccupied with trying to calm Rose down to come check on their progress.
It didn't take the witch long at all to cast a series of beauty spells designed to style their hair in elegant up dos – that were slightly different since the twins in real life liked to give little visual clues to tell them apart. Not that they ever confirmed which was actually which. More spells had their faces covered in a subtle layer of makeup that enhanced their beauty without looking obvious.
Which just left putting on their shoes. Their sexy yet dangerously high-heeled shoes. Harry was already dreading walking in them.
“Thanks,” Harry told the witch as he paid her. She merely nodded before leaving.
“If I ever have to go to a gala for real, I'm definitely hiring that witch again!” Hermione praised as she once more inspected her reflection in the mirror. Then she smirked at Harry. “I'm rather glad that we have extra strands of hair...”
Harry promptly thought of several things she could be referring to and cleared his throat. “Oh?”
“Let's just say that Ron will find himself very lucky one weekend – if we can ever find enough free time and a babysitter!”
Harry chuckled because not only was it funny, but yep! That's exactly what he thought she was referring to. Then he cast a Tempus Charm to see how long they had before they were supposed to arrive at the wedding. They were told to time it so that they showed up about twenty minutes before the ceremony started – which would make them later than “fashionably late,” but very much in character.
“Just under an hour left,” he announced.
Ron came into the room frowning at a blanket in his hand as if wondering what it was doing there. “I finally got her to take a nap and Merlin's inverted nipples! Y-y-you l-l-look gor-gor,” he gulped as he stared at them with wide eyes. “Bloody gorgeous!”
Hermione giggled and cast Harry a look that said: See? I told you. She took just one step toward her husband before Ron pulled her into his arms.
“Don't hate me, but when will I ever have another chance to kiss every man's wet dream and not be cheating on my wife?” Ron asked before snogging Hermione so passionately that she nearly swooned. She kissed him back, thankful that her makeup was magicked not to smudge.
Harry bit his lip before deciding to heckle them. “Er, Ron? Why are you kissing Harry like he's your dirty little secret?”
Ron eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets as he half flung Hermione away from him. She took this in stride and snickered.
“Bloody hell! Why would you kiss me like that?!” Ron asked in horror.
Hermione shrugged. “I rather like snogging blokes.”
“But! But!” Ron scrambled to find a coherent protest. “We're best mates! You're not supposed to kiss me like that!”
Hermione simply shrugged again, as if she didn't have a care in the world. “What can I say? Even I need a decent snog from time to time.”
Harry finally gave into the urge to bend over and hold his sides as he laughed. “I should've took a picture!” He roared. “I'm never going to let him live this down!”
“We should tell George and let him heckle Ron too!” Hermione added.
Ron was currently so red that he was actually turning purple. “Don't! No one ever needs to know about this!”
It was at that moment that Harry was secretly willing to bet that Hermione wouldn't be able to talk him into that kinky weekend after all. Ron fled the room before they could see him spontaneously combust from embarrassment. Hermione gave Harry an impulsive hug.
“Thank you! It's so rare for me to be able to pull off a joke on Ron!” She gushed, still giggling merrily.
“Hard to prank a professional practical joker,” Harry agreed with a nod. He was also still shaking from laughter.
“I should go kiss him again,” Hermione suggested with a snicker.
“Nah, he'll probably recognize your hair. It's the only thing about us that is different,” Harry pointed out.
“Are you suggesting that you go kiss him?” Hermione asked in perverse delight.
“As much as that would be hilarious, I'd feel bad when Ron finds out that he didn't really kiss me until I took advantage of the fact that he thought he had and that I'm you. Or something like that.”
Hermione nodded and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Alright. We have a bit of time to practice acting like these twins.”
Harry sighed as a physical signal to get serious again. “Well, they're always holding hands.”
“And kissing each other on the cheek,” Hermione added.
“And they occasionally stroke each other suggestively,” Harry murmured before blushing. “Please Merlin! Tell me that we won't have to take it that far!”
“What?” Hermione asked curiously.
Harry gave her a look asking how stupid she was.
“Er, right. You said they insisted that you shag them together, so obviously, they can get rather inappropriate with their affection,” Hermione explained to herself.
“Exactly,” Harry stated.
Hermione smirked. “Well, if I do have to snog you, I'll just tell Ron that I found it unfair that he got to kiss you while you looked this hot, so I did too.”
Harry shook his head even as he chuckled. “You want him to murder me, don't you?”
With an unrepentant shrug, Hermione listed a bunch of other little details that the twins did in public.
Just after taking another swig of Polyjuice and transferring the rest of the potion into ring flasks that were glamoured to look like expensive diamonds, Harry and Hermione took each other's hand and Apparated to the coordinates on the invitation. They did their best to be subtle about looking around and memorizing as much detail as possible. To their relief, the other guests were far too preoccupied staring at their dresses to really notice what their eyes were doing.
This could come in handy, Harry admitted to himself. Even so, he was infinitely glad that Hermione was with him, otherwise he didn't think he'd have the confidence to strut around all but naked in front of a group of mostly strangers.
The press immediately went wild, rushing to take pictures of them from every angle. Hermione ignored them, spotting the man belonging to the Russian Stregge. A squeeze to Harry's hand signaled him, which he responded to with a nod. Without a word, they pulled out their wands and cast spells that sent out beautiful birds made out of vibrantly colored light. This was something of a “notice us” calling card the twins performed wherever they went, but it also covered the fact that Hermione also cast a spell to let them listen to everything their suspect said.
“Once you test the dagger, it and the rest of the artifacts will be brought back as gifts for him,” the Russian informed someone. With a start, they realized that it was Nott, who had looked around to make sure that no one was close enough to overhear them.
“Just beware that I've cursed them so that if you don't acknowledge that I'm the one who stole them, they'll burn anyone who touches them,” Nott warned in a rather pleasant tone – as if discussing what dessert he planned to have after dinner.
The Russian pretended to be offended as he ground out: “Of course...”
Nott cast a Tempus Charm, and then sighed. “I'm supposed to be getting married in just 15 minutes, but I have a strong suspicion that my darling perfectionist of a bride is running late. Care to make a wager on whether she's five minutes late, or ten?”
The Russian snorted in amusement. “You're marrying a woman nicknamed Queenie and you think she's only going to be ten minutes late? I'll wager 20 of your British Galleons that she's 20 minutes late!”
“I'll take that wager. If she's on time or less than 20 minutes late, I win, if she's 20 or more minutes late, you win,” Nott stated, and then they shook on the bet.
“No wonder the twins advised us not to show up sooner,” Hermione muttered. “Running late must be a pureblood trait.”
By this time, other guests had gathered up the courage to approach them, making them grateful that the listening spell only let them hear the conversation. Everyone else was blissfully unaware of the undercover surveillance. A man mustered up the courage to take Hermione's left hand in his – since her right was still holding Harry's.
“I find myself exceptionally blessed!” The man informed them as he kissed Hermione's hand. “I do hope you'll save a dance for me.”
Hermione sniffed haughtily. “We'll see.”
With a pleased grin, the man backed away before he could risk offending her. Other men quickly took his place. Some of these men were so good looking that both Harry and Hermione were secretly disgruntled that they were playing women who spurned almost everyone. Until they felt that the moment or the person was right and could be useful somehow. Harry especially would be thrilled if they were known for being imprudently affectionate so that he would have an opportunity to snog people at random.
It really has been too long since I last shagged! I might just have to choose a lover and have a one off in the loo before I let this potion wear off...
Hermione gave him a look that made him wonder if she'd read his mind, but no. She was warning him that a group of men containing Draco Malfoy was headed their way. Taking the hint, Harry led her over to the group of people surrounding Viktor Krum and his wife.
Ginny glared at them so venomously that Harry was tempted to check himself for snake bites. He couldn't help but raise a brow in confusion. A glance at Hermione proved that she found this rather unusual as well.
“How many times must we tell you that Viktor and I are happily married and do not want to invite you into our bed!” Ginny growled.
“Er...” Harry droned, temporarily too flustered to come up with a good response. Thank Merlin for Hermione!
“Please! As if we still wanted that!” Hermione scoffed, waving her left hand back and forth dismissively. “We can have anyone we want, there's no need to chase after someone who doesn't want us.”
“Your loss,” Harry managed to add with a shrug.
“Hmm,” Ginny sniffed suspiciously. “Come Viktor, let's go find someone better to talk to.”
Viktor chuckled. “You're only jealous because you think I might be tempted by their revealing dresses, but you should know by now that you're the only one for me.” He proved this by kissing her quite thoroughly in front of everyone.
Ginny purred and returned his kiss with equal passion. Harry and Hermione exchanged happy looks, pleased that their friend was so very in love with her new husband – and he her. They hadn't seen Ginny for more than a few minutes since her wedding last year because both of the newlyweds were famous seekers and traveled all the time. Harry honestly had to wonder if they even had time to see each other that often.
Deciding to leave the couple in peace, the fake twins wandered over to a spot in the lovely garden that might give them a bit of privacy. Thankfully, Nott and his Russian were still making idle chitchat that they didn't need to pay much attention to. The important part was:
“He said they were going to test the dagger?” Harry murmured.
“The only dagger on the list we have was cursed to steal the magic from a victim,” Hermione muttered.
“Unless they're referring to the thing called 'Will Reaper' which I apparently forgot to make a note of exactly what it was. I think it was a knife or a dagger of some sort,” Harry informed her. They discussed this in relative peace for a while before being surrounded by eager men. To his dismay, Draco Malfoy was also approaching them again.
Draco was perfectly courteous and polite though, giving them a gallant bow. “Allow me to escort you to your seats since you're assigned to sit next to me.”
Harry gave him a look that clearly stated he was sure Draco had manipulated the hosts into seating them next to him. Two gorgeous pureblood witches on the arm of the sole heir to a fabulous fortune? Yeah... it wasn't a stretch to imagine that the Slytherin was in the market for someone blonde with the right family and connections to marry and create an heir with.
Draco actually let them see his puzzled expression for a moment before smoothing it out. “Something wrong?”
Hermione shook her head. “Not at all, my sister simply doesn't like men who have hair that's more delicate and prettier than ours.”
Draco smirked at that before bowing again. “It's probably good for all involved that I'm not interested in your sister then.”
Harry was glad that Hermione was handling the exchange of subtle insults because Harry was too busy studying every single detail of Draco's appearance. After all, the prat was likely to be involved in any and all shady dealings, and Harry might need to answer questions. Such as what he was wearing. Or how long was his hair.
The answers were: Draco Malfoy was wearing an obviously expensive set of robes in dark blue. They were probably made out of silk and had been embroidered with silvery thread. The thread made faint swirling patterns that led to clusters embellished with tiny bead jewels – probably diamonds since the git was so rich. His hair was currently ear length, cut in a style that framed his face in the front but was rather short in the back.
Additionally, it might be required for Harry to know that Draco had a rather sexy single diamond stud in his right ear. His right hand bore a gold ring with the Malfoy crest – that Draco had worn for as long as Harry could remember – and his left hand had a interesting ring around his middle finger. It was also gold but was clearly an Ouroboros – an infinity snake. The ring was beautifully intricate with defined scales and a fanged mouth biting a ringed tail. It symbolized lots of things, but the thing that sprang to Harry's mind first was: recreating something; giving it new life.
Harry's eyes snapped to Draco's when the posh bloke cleared his throat significantly. “I assure you that staring at my left arm so intently is considered extremely rude.”
“Er...” Harry droned for a moment before flushing. “I wasn't! I was looking at your ring.”
Draco held up his hand to show off the snake wrapped around his middle finger, arranging his fingers to very subtly emphasize a rude gesture. A two fingered salute. However, Harry couldn't be entirely sure that the gesture was done on purpose.
“I just, er,” Harry hesitated, and then decided that he couldn't afford to hesitate when the woman he was pretending to be was known for being bold, occasionally offensive, and always unapologetic. “I just liked the symbolism of the Ouroboros. Introspection. The cycle of destruction and recreation. Life and death. Rebirth.”
“Choosing to be a better man,” Draco added as he flattened his hand out in front of Harry so that he could get a better look.
“It has tiny gems for eyes!” Harry gasped, not sure why this delighted him so much.
Draco gave him a genuine smile. “Cat's eyes. Some ancient cultures considered them the birthstone for June.”
Harry was suddenly struck by the perfect thing to say. Something that he was certain the twins actually would say that was also a subtle in-joke and hint worthy of a Slytherin. “I once shagged someone who spoke Parseltongue.”
Draco quirked a brow. “Oh really?”
Harry tilted his head toward Hermione. “We did him together. It was a night to remember for so many reasons, but him hissing oh so sensually made it stand out all the more.”
Hermione played along with a mischievous smirk. “What was that thing he said the most?” She then hissed every bit as sensually as Harry had implied Parseltongue was.
“No, I think it was,” Harry basically imitated her, but made it slightly different. “Which he said translated as: you can bend and flex almost as well as a snake.”
Hermione purred and leaned in to kiss him, getting very suggestively close before veering off at the last second to whisper in his ear. “Why are you flirting with Malfoy?”
Harry chuckled, whispering behind their joined hands in return. “Because I'm far too horny and he's looking better than I remember him ever looking. Perhaps being in these bodies is also a bit to blame. They really are sex kittens after all.”
“Mmm... You might have a point because even I'm feeling a little turned on by how hot he looks right now,” Hermione admitted, also behind their joined hands.
Harry smirked and kissed her cheek before muttering: “I'll be sure not to tell Ron you said that.”
“Er...” Draco looked like he couldn't decide whether to be amused or repulsed by their nearly inappropriate behavior. Then he gestured toward the place where guests were finally settling down. “Seats?”
“Of course,” Harry replied with a haughty sniff, allowing Draco to take his free hand and escort them.
“It would almost be worth letting him in on the secret just to see the horrified look on his face,” Hermione said almost silently in Harry's ear. Harry could only laugh and squeeze her hand at the moment, but he reckoned she understood that he agreed.
Just then, Nott said something that caught their attention – via eavesdropping spell. “The artifacts are in the somewhat gaudy white with red and gold spots paper. When no one is looking, I'll have those 'presents' moved into the infinite pocket of your cloak. But now, it seems I've won the bet. Only ten minutes late and here she comes.”
“Go get married, and congratulations my friend,” the Russian wished genially as he patted Nott on the back and slipped him the promised 20 Galleons. Nott nodded once and then moved to where he needed to stand while waiting for his bride.
Hermione bit the nail of her left thumb in thought. If Nott could use the ceremony as a distraction, then so could she. Now that everyone was standing to watch the bride walk down the aisle toward her groom, it would be beyond easy to... She looked at the Wizard on her left to be sure that he was busy staring at the bride. With Harry on her right between her and Draco – who was right next to the Aisle, only three rows back from the ceremonial archway – she should have plenty of cover.
Very subtly, Hermione removed her right hand from Harry's left and grabbed her wand. Unlike earlier, she couldn't risk using her left hand as she cast a spell to slowly tag and then shrink all the tacky spotted presents. As they shrunk, the entire pile of sleek and shiny presents shifted, but there must have been a spell to deal with exactly this, because the pile automatically stabilized itself.
Once they were no bigger than pebbles, Hermione quietly summoned them, making them fly in a pattern that might seem natural for a swarm of ladybugs. As far as she could tell, the one witch that bothered to look away from the bride long enough to notice the miniscule presents, simply shrugged it off as some sort of planned magic.
As the swarm of shrunken presents got closer, Hermione brushed her left thumb across the gorgeous ruby bracelet on her right wrist. It was actually her watch/case glamoured to look like a bracelet befitting the person she was pretending to be. Once it was open, the presents simply flew inside it. The moment they were all safely inside – which coincided with the bride reaching the end of the long aisle – Hermione sighed in relief and rubbed her thumb back across the case to close it.
She nearly gasped in surprise when she realized that Draco was frowning at her thoughtfully. She had glanced at him enough times to know that he had mostly had his eyes on the bride, but he had also occasionally glanced at Harry – who had done his best to ignore Hermione and act like nothing strange was going on. Rather than panic, Hermione simply scratched her right wrist as if doing so again, and then slipped her hand back in Harry's, who promptly gave it a reassuring squeeze.
“Witches and Wizards,” the stern looking man who was performing the ceremony began. “We are gathered here to witness the wedding and bonding of this blessèd couple. In keeping with an ancient family tradition, the vows will be sealed in blood.”
As he said this, the Officiant pulled a dagger out of his inner breast pocket with his right hand as he held out his left in an invitation for the bride to place her hand in his. She looked puzzled for a moment, but seemingly decided to trust him. The moment she placed her hand in his, he asked her to turn it palm up so that he could extract a little blood.
Harry didn't even take the time to pull his hand free from Hermione's. He simply raised both their hands so that he could grab his wand from its holster – that had been glamoured to match his dress – and prepared to cast a spell. “Accio dark artifact Will Reaper!” He cried out in a nearly silent whisper.
“What?” Draco asked in a voice that wasn't quite a whisper, but not very loud either. Then he noticed the dagger flying right at them. He couldn't help it, his seeker's reflexes kicked in and caught the dagger at the exact same time as Harry, who sighed in mild aggravation and glared at him.
Before Draco could process the fact that he was now holding a dagger inside a delicately feminine hand, said delicate female yanked the dagger free, inadvertently slicing Draco's hand. The blade was sharp enough that he didn't actually feel the cut at first, but blood dripping from his palm drew his eyes, which seemed to inform his brain of the injury, which resulted in it stinging rather painfully.
“Ah!” He cried out softly, and then quickly cast a minor healing spell to stop the bleeding.
Meanwhile, Harry was staring at the dagger in his hand. Most of the blood on the blade was Draco's, but some of it was his from where he'd cut his thumb due to catching and thus holding the dagger improperly. A feeling of inevitability filled him.
Of course... Of all the stupid things I've done, summoning a dark artifact called a Will Reaper and catching it with my bare hand just seems par for the course. I can only hope that I haven't just sentenced both me and Malfoy to a horribly painful death. Or worse, a state similar to being kissed by dementors!
Everyone was staring at Harry in confusion. Deciding that it was now or never, Harry held up the dagger for everyone to see.
“This is a dark artifact called the Will Reaper!”
Hermione took over. “It's intended to strip the wife of her will and give it to her husband!”
Harry whipped his head to look at her as he sincerely hoped that this was just a bluff. Otherwise, he may have just doomed himself to serve Malfoy for the rest of his life. Speaking of, the gorgeous and rather fit Slytherin was staring at him with an expression that was rapidly changing from incredulity to outrage. This suggested that Draco suspected that it would be the other way around. Sadly, Harry was just too much of a bloody hero to enjoy it if Draco did end up bound to serve his will.
Clearing his throat, he cast an Incarcerous at the decently handsome groom. “In the name of the Ministry, I hereby arrest Theodore Nott on charges of stealing dark artifacts with the intent to use at least one of them on his unwitting bride.”
At the same time, Hermione cast an Incarcerous on the Russian so that he couldn't sneak or just plain run away while they were arresting his partner in crime. When Harry finished speaking, she took her turn. “And I hereby arrest Dimitry Karbelnikoff on charges of conspiring to smuggle dark artifacts out of the country.”
There was a resounding silence as everyone wondered what – if anything – they should do. Rather unexpectedly, Nott – understanding that he was well and truly caught and there was nothing he could do about it – burst out laughing.
Daphne Greengrass was now glaring at him. “Were you really going to steal my will?”
Theo shrugged the best he could with his hands magically bound together and to his waist. “That actually wasn't my idea since I love you just the way you are, but I had to prove that it worked, so...”
“Then why are you laughing?” She demanded, baffled since this made no sense considering he was about to go to prison for what might well be a long time.
“Because!” He snickered gleefully. “Draco is now irreversibly married to a woman!”
“What?!” Harry blurted out, embarrassed to realize that he'd been thrown off by the laughter and hadn't moved to take Nott into custody.
The Officiant held up his hands. “I had no idea that the bride wasn't aware of what the dagger did. Otherwise I would not have agreed to use it during the ceremony. The Will Reaper is classified as a dark artifact because it irreversibly binds two people together in marriage – whether they are willing or not. It does not even require a ceremony; so long as the dagger harvests blood from the both of them, they are bound together for the rest of their lives. Obviously, this was created in olden days for use by pureblood patriarchs to enforce their will on reluctant sons and daughters, but the darker effects of the dagger only activate the more the couple resists it. In other words, if they are in harmony, there's nothing to worry about, but if one partner fights the bond, his or her will is slowly drained until they become compliant.”
Theo stole a kiss from the woman he probably wouldn't get to actually marry for a long time now – if ever. “That's why I wasn't worried about it. I knew that we were both willing and in love. And being bound to you forever sounds brilliant actually.”
“Hmm...” Daphne replied with a light glare. She obviously couldn't decide if she wanted to forgive him so easily, and yet, it was actually rather romantic. In a way. A sort of creepy way.
Meanwhile, Harry and Draco were staring at each other in horror. It was probably a good thing that Hermione was still on the ball. She casts a Mobilicorpus on Karbelnikoff so that he couldn't attempt to break free of the magical binding on his hands and feet, and floated him over to her. Then she nudged Harry.
“We'll deal with this later,” she muttered, referring to the unexpectedly sudden marriage Harry was now trapped in. “There must be a way to undo it by now.”
“Nope!” Nott informed her gleefully.
This made Harry glare at him as he finally stepped forward to take Nott into custody. “I thought Malfoy was a friend of yours, so why are you so giddy that he's forcibly married to me?”
“He is a friend! But I hope even you have to admit that it's hilarious for a gay man to be irrevocably married to a woman simply because he caught something out of sheer habit,” Nott explained with a grin.
Draco – who had been rather pale and shaky – now sighed in aggravation. “Theo, you're an arse. I'm almost glad you're going to prison. However, if I wasn't so adversely affected by the situation, I'd probably find the fact that you're being arrested at your own wedding rather hilarious, so...” he trailed off with a shrug.
There was a snort from Theo's best man – who was Blaise Zabini. “Actually, that is rather hilarious!”
“Slytherins,” Harry muttered under his breath as he reached out to take hold of Nott.
“Wait just one moment,” a powerful looking older wizard called out from the second row. “As Mr. Nott's lawyer, I insist that you provide proof that you actually do have the authority to arrest my client.”
Harry let out a long-suffering sigh because he had rather hoped that he'd be able to get through the arrest and leave the party before anyone found out that it was he who was here. Since Nott wasn't resisting his arrest, Harry trusted him to stay put for a few seconds. Then he swiped his left thumb across the gorgeous ruby bracelet around his right wrist – which opened his glamoured case. With a well practiced flick of his wrist, Harry tossed his Auror Identification Badge at the lawyer.
The lawyer caught it and read it without really reading it at first. Then it occurred to him what he read and his eyes bulged. He turned the badge side to side as he read it over and over. Then he took a deep breath and bowed his head to Harry before tossing the badge back.
“My apologies. By all means, haul my client into the Ministry, but beware that I will be meeting with him immediately.”
Harry nodded in acceptance, extremely grateful that the lawyer didn't feel the need to out him in front of everyone. Just as he grabbed Nott's arm, one of the reporters decided that this was such a juicy story that she simply had to uncover every detail – such as who exactly was the undercover Auror arresting the groom? Thus – using a well-aimed banishing spell – the reporter hit Harry and Hermione both with Potions intended to reverse Polyjuice, end glamours, and just generally bypass most magic that could be used to disguise a witch or wizard.
Which was how Harry came to be standing in front of a crowd of mostly strangers, wearing a dress that didn't really cover anything to begin with, but was now stretched and torn open to reveal even more, while reporters nearly wet themselves in their eagerness to take pictures and ask questions. “Why me?” Harry muttered, not entirely sure who he was asking.
Hermione stepped forward until she was between Harry and the cameras as much as possible. “That is enough! Stop before I charge you all with interfering in an active investigation!”
Harry privately thought it was unfair that she looked every bit as good in that dress as Hermione as she had as a gorgeous blonde twin. Maybe even better since she almost never looked so glamorous – mostly because she didn't have the inclination or occasion to dress up the majority of the time. It took all he had to maintain the sheer nerve to stand there as if he was in the habit of strutting around nearly naked while wearing drag. Especially since Hermione appeared to still be wearing makeup and her hair was sort of still done up – which meant that the same must be true for Harry.
He spared a moment to glance over at Draco, who was staring at him with an expression that looked like he couldn't decide whether to be aghast at the fact that he was now married – Merlin's wart covered back! Married!!! – to Harry, or inexplicably intrigued by what Harry was currently wearing. Or not wearing, as the case may be.
Once more, Nott burst out in raucous laughter. “This is officially the best day ever! Queenie! I need you to frame the picture that is going to appear in the Daily Prophet of Harry Potter hanging onto me while looking like that!”
“Fuck you,” Harry sighed out so softly that it was likely that not even Nott heard him. It was not that he was actually angry at Nott, just that he felt like this was all becoming far too absurd. In fact, if he was standing here with Ron, that muttered curse would have been obviously affectionate. He could see why Draco had called him an arse but still considered Nott a friend.
Before anything else happened, Harry pointed his wand in the air and willed his power to shatter all the wards around the area so that he could promptly Apparate Nott into the Ministry holding area. It technically wasn't possible, but he was Harry Potter – strongest wizard in the world, so far as anyone knew. Thus, the wards shattered as intended.
The moment after Harry arrived in the Ministry – where other Aurors were standing by in case he needed to call for back up – an alarming wooziness overwhelmed him until he passed out.
“Harry... Harry? Can you hear me?” Hermione's voice slowly came into focus.
Harry groaned rather pathetically and clutched his head. “What happened?”
“The – er – bond considered your abrupt Disapparation as resistance, and reacted by knocking you both out,” Hermione explained.
Harry cracked an eye open to look at her and realized that they were in their office. More importantly, she was currently looking somewhere other than him. He shifted slightly to get a look at what she was looking at. As it turned out, Draco was still passed out and now lay on the floor next to him.
“And just so you know, while I was assessing Draco for sudden dark curses, and having the situation explained to me by the Officiant, the Aurors standing by had time to get over their shock of you passing out so suddenly and took advantage of the situation by getting plenty of pictures – some of which they posed in, and some of which Nott posed in too. It was like a party in here by the time I returned with Draco and Karbelnikoff in tow.”
“Arseholes!” Harry muttered, again in that half exasperated, half fond tone. He was distracted a moment later by Draco groaning and clutching his head.
“Where am I?” Draco asked a moment after his eyes opened.
“Our office,” Hermione informed him.
Draco shifted to look at first her, and then Harry. “Must not have been out too long, you're both still wearing what you were.”
This made Harry look down the length of his body and throw his hands out as he sighed in resignation. Hermione snickered but had the grace to try to hide it.
“Sorry, I only just managed to rescue you from the party in the holding cell,” Hermione explained.
“The next time I have to go undercover, if I absolutely must Polyjuice into a witch, I'm picking a nun!”
Hermione giggled much more openly now. “That might actually be worse if you change back while wearing a constricting habit. You might end up strangling yourself!”
“Yeah, I suppose there wasn't enough of this dress to hold me back during the change,” Harry admitted, chuckling since it was rather funny now that he wasn't in front of a crowd of people delighted to have an opportunity to ogle their Savior.
Hermione sighed as a way to banish the giggles. “So, here's what you need to know. The bond is fairly straightforward. You are irrevocably married. I still think I might be able to find a spell to sever it, but I'm told that it's highly unlikely. Anyway, if the two of you manage to work together, you'll both retain your full will. If either of you tries to fight the bond – such as Apparating away from the other without coming to an agreement about it first – you'll both suffer the consequences. That's not to say that you can't bicker or argue – you can – just that if you try to resist the bond , you'll be punished. That said, apparently, if you do argue a lot, the bond will eventually choose the one it feels is causing more problems and...”
“Take away his will until he's more agreeable,” Draco finished for her. “To maintain the best interests of the bond.” He sighed and slumped just a tiny bit. He was pretty sure that this would apply to him.
“Yes,” Hermione agreed sympathetically.
Draco decided that it was in his best interest to cooperate with the bond as much as possible. Getting to his feet, he removed his bespoke robe and held it out to Harry. “Here. We're not the same size but it's loose enough that it should fit you.”
Strangely touched by this act of kindness, Harry sat up, took the robe, and slipped it on before he could remember that he had a spare uniform robe in his desk. Happily, Draco had been right, it did fit Harry well enough. It was sort of tight, and just a bit too long, but nothing Harry couldn't deal with.
More importantly, Harry was inexplicably interested in the fact that Draco was wearing a well-tailored, muggle style suit. It wasn't quite a formal tuxedo, but it was a finely cut suit in a sort of soft black shade that Harry thought might be called charcoal. The trousers and jacket matched exactly, having a subtle pin-striping – Harry discovered when he took a closer look – and the jacket was open to reveal a nice vest in the same shade of light gray as the pinstripes. The vest was embroidered in the same swirling and lightly jeweled pattern as the robe – except the thread used was a dark blue that matched the silk shirt that completed the ensemble. Aside from the tie. The tie was also charcoal, but was embellished with the same silvery thread that adorned the robe.
With a mild blush, Harry realized that they now matched...
As Harry was studying Draco, Draco was studying Harry's face and hair. The makeup really had been subtle, so now that Harry was himself again, the makeup didn't make him look garish or hideous. If the shades had been chosen to match Harry's somewhat swarthy complexion, he'd probably look very handsome. Instead he looked... just a little bit pretty.
Meanwhile, his hair... There was no way around it, it was simply atrocious! The magic of the stylist wasn't enough to tame Harry's wildly disobedient hair, and so it was now clumped up and sticking out in defiant spikes. And yet, it sort of worked for Harry.
Hermione watched them both with interest. Suddenly, she cleared her throat. “I think I'll just head home. I can work on our report from there just as easily as I can here.”
“Yeah, alright,” Harry agreed, turning to give her a kiss on the cheek, which she returned. “See you tomorrow.”
With a nod of agreement, she went to the fireplace and tossed in a pinch of floo powder. “Briarwood Cottage!” A moment later, she was gone.
Harry took a deep breath, feeling awkward all of a sudden. “So...”
“Obviously there are a few things we need to decide before we do anything else,” Draco stated.
“Such as?” Harry wondered curiously.
“Such as where we want to stay tonight. How exactly I'm going to break this news to my parents – preferably before they read about it tomorrow in the paper. What we want to eat for dinner since my plans were so thoroughly derailed. Things like that,” Draco clarified, sounding like he was biting back an acerbic retort or ten, except that just a hint of venom dripped through anyway.
“Ah,” Harry murmured in understanding. “Yes. All very important.”
They both fell silent and stared at each other warily for a minute. Before either could come up with something else to say, the door to the office burst open. “Excellent work today, Potter!”
Harry turned to look at his boss.
“Even better, our preliminary interrogation of Karbelnikoff suggests that you'll be able to recover quite a bit of smuggled dark artifacts if you're careful and probably damn lucky. You and Ms. Weasley will be departing for Russia first thing in the morning!”
“Er,” Harry interrupted him awkwardly. “I'm not sure I can go to Russia!”
“Whyever not?” the Head Auror asked with a look that suggested Harry currently had three heads and spoke in Gobbledygook.
“I'm marr – er – bonded to Draco, and we can't be that far apart, as I understand it,” Harry explained.
“So? Bring him with! It can be like a honeymoon!” Before Harry could protest any further, his boss left as abruptly as he'd arrived.
Harry sighed and cast a Tempus Charm. “Yep, that should be just about the perfect amount of time.”
“Time for what?” Draco asked curiously as he tried to decide if he wanted to go verbally filet the Head Auror for daring to – essentially – order him about.
Rather than answer, Harry held up a finger as he walked over to the fireplace. “Don't worry, I'm just going to make a quick firecall.”
A moment later, he was bent over with his head in the fire. Exactly as he had assumed, Ron and Hermione were currently on their couch, trying to devour each other's mouths as Ron's hand disappeared between Hermione's legs. Meanwhile, Hermione's hands were slowly pulling Ron's shirt up his back.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Harry called out.
“Merlin's deformed left testicle!” Ron roared. “Stop popping in when the baby's finally asleep and we have five minutes before she wakes up!”
“I'd seriously never deter you from having sex with your wife if I could help it,” Harry informed him. “But I just had to tell Hermione something important – now, before you got even more embarrassingly entwined.”
Hermione sighed in frustration. “And what's that?”
“We're leaving for Russia in the morning,” Harry announced with a purposely innocent and nearly bland smile. “That's all. You can go back to shagging now.”
“What the – Harry!” Hermione cried out. “Don't you dare leave before you explain that statement!”
“What's there to explain? Smuggling. Artifacts. Russia. Us. Do I really need to go on?” Harry asked impertinently.
Hermione sighed again. “I suppose not.”
“Then I guess we need to shag extra quickly so that you can pack before we go to bed,” Ron stated to let his wife know that he accepted her mission and supported her career.
“I suppose so,” Hermione agreed, sounding rather put upon.
“Sorry again. Have fun,” Harry bade them. Just as he was about to pull out of the fire, he heard their monitor charm blare out the fact that Rose had just started wailing.
“Fuck!” Hermione swore under her breath.
“I've got 'er,” Ron assured her, giving her a kiss before rushing off.
Harry bit his lip and pulled out of the fire, thereby ending the call. Then he gave into the giggles that he just couldn't fight anymore. It got to the point that he plopped back onto the floor and pounded it with a fist as he held his head with his other hand.
“I only heard half of that conversation, but I assume that something happened to prevent said shagging,” Draco drawled in amusement.
“Rose!” Harry blurted out. “I know I shouldn't laugh, but...” He just couldn't stop. It took him close to five minutes, but finally, he calmed down. “So... We go to Malfoy Manor tonight, break the news to your parents and hopefully get a bite to eat, and then go back to mine so I can pack.”
Draco sighed as if put upon even though he was still rather amused from watching Harry laugh so hard. “I suppose that sounds like the most logical course of actions. Although I hope you know that I will be sending your boss a scathing howler the moment we get settled in our accommodations in Russia.”
Harry grinned at him. “Be my guest, just don't mention me please.”
“At least not more than I have to,” Draco promised with a shrug.
Back at Harry's a few hours later, Harry roared in frustration from his en suite bathroom. “How in Merlin's raunchy hole do you get this off?!”
One discovery that they'd made was that they couldn't be farther than approximately 50 feet apart, thus Draco was currently sitting on Harry's bed as he waited for the nauseatingly heroic man to finish showering. Draco was tempted to let Harry suffer, but bit his lip and held back a laugh as he walked to the bathroom.
“May I come in and offer some assistance?” Draco asked after opening the door just a few inches.
“Anything!” Harry cried out in mild desperation.
Draco entered the bathroom to find Harry looking unbearably sexy. He was completely naked, dripping from the spray of the shower, and mouthwateringly fit. Taking a deep breath to suppress the urge to start licking Harry's neck, he pulled out his wand and cast a spell to end the active effects of someone else's magic on Harry's face and hair. Then he cast a cleaning spell to remove the makeup.
Harry sighed in relief. Then he noticed the barely concealed interest on Draco's face. This was surprising because Harry didn't think Draco would be willing to consider shagging someone who used to be an enemy.
“Do you know if the bond will force us to have sex?” Harry asked.
“I'm not sure. It might in the long run since, traditionally, marriages are meant to produce children,” Draco theorized. “But I'm not feeling any sort of compulsion at the moment. Just what I normally feel when I look at attractive naked men.
Harry smiled at that. “Same here; no compulsion. Look, I know that neither one of us was expecting to get married so suddenly, and certainly not to each other. But I say that we may as well make the best of the situation. By that, I mean shag. Unless you don't want to. Or wait! You don't suppose that the bond will make it possible for you to get me up the duff, do you? I'm not ready for kids yet.”
Draco grinned. “So you assume that I'd be the one getting you up the duff?”
Harry blushed. “Well, yeah...”
“Lucky for you that I find the idea of being buried balls deep inside you utterly enticing. And no. I don't think the bond can change our physiology. At least not without a fertility potion,” Draco hazarded an educated guess.
“Good,” Harry stated in agreement, with all statements.
Taking this as encouragement, Draco pulled off his suit jacket and tugged on his tie to loosen it. Harry watched avidly as Draco unbuttoned his vest and shirt next, moaning unconsciously in longing. When Draco smirked at him, Harry scrambled for anything coherent to say.
“Something has me curious,” Harry murmured, not even trying to hide the fact that he was staring at those refined hands unfastening those posh trousers. “Why only one stud? Why not one in both ears?”
Draco smiled. “I was told by a previous lover a few years ago that some muggles used to consider it necessary for straight men to only wear an earring in the left ear. Implying that earrings in both ears – or especially – a single earring in the right ear was a secret sign of a gay man. I liked the symbolism of that. So, now that it's widely accepted that men can wear earrings however they like, I wear one in just my right ear as an outward reflection of who I really am. Just like I wear the Ouroboros as a constant reminder of who I want to be.”
Harry blushed lightly and looked away as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Now that we're, er, married...” it was still hard to say that without goggling incredulously. “I think I'd like to have a matching ring made, which we'd wear as our wedding bands...”
Draco paused before tossing aside the shirt and vest he had just finally got around to removing – considering that he'd unbuttoned them ages ago. “Ruby eyes... that's sort of appropriate, all considering...”
“Er, what?” Harry asked in confusion.
“Ruby. The birthstone for July. Having an Ouroboros made with rubies for eyes seems rather appropriate considering a certain egomaniac you once saved the world from,” Draco clarified.
Harry twisted his lips in wry amusement. “I hadn't even thought of that.” Then he sighed in feigned aggravation. “Are you ever going to finish getting naked and come over here and shag me?”
“I didn't expect you to be so eager,” Draco murmured, lightly scratching the patch of skin directly above his tight, black silk briefs – which were just barely revealed by his open trousers. Harry's eyes watched Draco's fingers with an unnecessarily intent expression, as if he was determinedly willing them to move lower and scratch something more interesting.
Draco smirked. “Rumor has it that you bed someone new almost every night in exchange for promised future favors. You can't seriously be that desperate for sex.”
Harry flushed, but didn't move his eyes away from Draco's continued teasing. “I used to; the year or so right after the war. But I stopped when I realized that I was turning into someone I didn't like – which is not to imply that I have a problem with copious and frequent shagging. Just that I realized that I was abusing my name and using people, and I didn't like it one bit.”
“Ah,” Draco murmured in understanding. In other words, his tenacious inner Gryffindor had reemerged in full force. Considering that Draco wasn't exactly the most patient of men either, he stopped wasting time and finished stripping off. Harry groaned as if someone had just handed him his favorite cookie and told him not to eat it.
Draco stepped into the shower and tilted his head curiously. Harry had already spun around and pressed his chest to the wall. “This is more or less our wedding night and you want our very first sexual encounter to be up against the wall in the shower?”
“Fuck yeah!” Harry exclaimed far more honestly than he planned. “I tell you what, do your best not to go off until after I have and I'll let you drag me to bed and keep going until you pass out or we have to leave for Russia. Whichever comes first.”
“I find that there is no downside to this suggestion,” Draco murmured huskily.
“Unless we get hexed to death by criminals because we were too busy shagging to get a decent night's sleep,” Harry pointed with a shrug.
“In which case, we won't have to worry about sleep ever again and can just keep on shagging until the end of time,” Draco theorized.
“Sounds like an excellent plan to me,” Harry stated with a grin, wiggling his arse to remind Draco why they were both in the shower at the moment.
“What exactly do you plan for me to use as lube?” Draco wondered since there didn't seem to be anything appropriate on hand.
Rather than answer, Harry simply waved his hand in circles in the general direction of his arse. “There! Fully prepared and lubed up.”
Draco was frankly impressed. “Nonverbal and wandless...” he whispered in awe.
“Draco, I swear that if you don't shag me in the next five seconds, I'm going to go find someone who will!”
“Alright, hold your Hippogriffs,” Draco muttered as he grabbed Harry's hips.
“Sorry, it's just been ages,” Harry explained. “And I spent all day in a body that seemed to start out horny and just get worse as the day went on.”
Draco chuckled. “Yes, I can see how that would be frustrating.” With the fingers of his right hand, he checked to see how well Harry actually was prepared, only to find him utterly perfect. It took everything he had to suppress a groan of longing. Without giving himself even a moment more to think about it – because that might invoke detrimental psychological warfare which would make him nervous – he pressed his long and thin shaft into Harry's tight hole.
“Yes!” Harry hissed happily as he pushed back toward Draco.
“Fuck...” Draco exhaled reverently. “You feel so good!”
“I'll feel even better when you bloody well get on with it!” Harry promised impatiently.
Draco took this as his cue to really pound into Harry. Something surprising happened that shocked both of them. Apparently the bond let them feel what the other was feeling. Thus Harry not only felt the delicious way that Draco was pounding his prostate, but he also felt all the delightful friction on Draco's shaft. They had only just barely started and already Harry was oh so close to orgasming. And so was Draco because he was feeling what Harry felt. Their climax hit them with the force and intensity of a trainwreck.
When they became aware of their surroundings again, they discovered that they were now in a heap on the floor of the shower – which was thankfully an open design and had plenty of room. Even so, Draco rubbed the back of his head, fairly sure that he must have hit it on something when he blacked out. He chuckled softly.
“I can't decide if I should be disappointed that ended so quickly, or grateful that I just had the best orgasm of my life,” he muttered wryly.
Harry chuckled too. “Yeah, I feel exactly the same.”
When they could summon up the energy to move, they turned off the shower, dried off, and then went to bed. It wasn't until they were snuggled up and drifting off that something occurred to Harry. Something that made him frown in concern.
“Do you think we're being affected by the bond after all?”
“What do you mean?” Draco asked in a lethargic voice.
“Well, it just seems that we both accepted the fact that we were married against our will far too easily,” Harry clarified. “I know that I'm the type to make the best of any situation, but I really thought that you would be looking for a way to break the bond as soon as possible. So, maybe the bond is already taking away our will in regards to resisting the bond.”
Draco sighed heavily, wondering how Harry could resist the powerful soporific effects of the orgasm they'd just had. “I can't speak for you, but as for me, I'm married to a man, rather than the witch my parents want. One who's willing to let me shag him. One who's attractive. And possibly most important of all, one who I used to like winding up and bickering with. If nothing else, we'll never be bored. There's not really much to be upset about.”
Harry shifted to look him in the eye, even though Draco's were currently shut. “Really? But you hate me!”
This actually made Draco open his eyes and look at Harry. “No, I hated the way you snubbed and dismissed me. I hated the way you'd act like an arrogant bastard toward me, but I don't think I ever actually hated you.”
“Huh!” Harry exclaimed in surprise. “See? This is why I think you're being affected by the bond.”
“So... you're saying that you're so sure I hate you that I'm either lying about not, or the bond has taken that away from me? And you.”
Harry sighed. “Well, I know I stopped hating you a long time ago – right about the time you refused to confirm that it was me when I was captured and brought to Malfoy Manor. I just think it's strange and a little bit creepy that we've been getting along since being bonded.”
It was Draco's turn to sigh. “Rather than assume that we're being controlled, why not just accept the fact that we've both grown up. Or – if that's too unbelievable for you – assume that we both have enough intelligence to make an effort to get along so that we don't have our will taken away by the bond.”
Harry chuckled. “The trying part's not so hard to believe, it's the actually doing it part that I'm suspicious of.”
“Potter, for the love of Merlin, please just go to sleep!”
With an amused smile, Harry gave in to the soft and fuzzy feeling that was urging him to do just that.
In the morning, Harry was surprised to find that he was still sleeping when his alarm charm went off. This was so rare that Harry wasn't entirely sure it had ever happened before. He normally woke up a couple of times each night because of nightmares, until he finally gave up on trying to sleep and just got out of bed to finish up his reports.
This morning, he felt well rested and ready to take on the world. Apparently a good shag did wonders. Or would that actually be a good orgasm since the shag itself was too quick to be considered good? Make that a bloody fantastic orgasm! Harry nearly swooned just thinking about it.
Sadly, as much as he would dearly love to see if they could make that happen again this morning – and take care of his morning wood while he was at it – Harry reckoned that he probably wouldn't have enough time to do so, recover and/or nap, eat breakfast, and make it to the Ministry in time for the Portkey to Moscow. With a sigh, Harry slipped out of bed and went downstairs to start on breakfast. He didn't even think about the fact that the kitchen was more than 50 feet away... until he got there and felt a moment of panic that he might be hurting Draco.
But nothing happened.
Harry stared up the stairs for several long moments as he wondered why the bond was letting them be this far apart. Was it simply a matter of Harry miscalculating the distance between his bedroom and kitchen? That didn't seem likely.
“Problem?” Hermione asked, startling him.
He whirled around to face her. “Why are you here already?”
She chuckled. “Well, I'd actually expected you to be awake a while ago. I figured that we'd eat breakfast and get a good start on learning what we need to know for our mission. When I realized that you were actually still sleeping, I decided to let you sleep as long as possible.” She then swept her hand out to indicate the table, which had a couple of plates full of food under a stasis charm. “I made breakfast... Although you might want to put something on before you sit down. I think you might hit the underside of the table rather painfully – or at least be highly uncomfortable trying to sit in that state.”
Harry blushed as he realized that yep, he was still naked and suffering from morning wood. He really hadn't given a single thought to the possibility of needing to put clothes on because he was usually awake and puttering (naked) around his house while the rest of the world was still slumbering. Plus, he had planned to put a kettle on to heat up while he went to the bathroom so that it would be ready to steep tea by the time he returned.
On the other hand, Hermione had seen worse during the time that she and Ron had lived with Harry, so he simply shrugged. “Yeah, I need to visit the loo anyway.”
“What's the matter? Did your wedding night not go well?” Hermione asked in a clearly teasing tone.
Harry smirked at her over his shoulder. “Actually, it went well enough that thinking about it this morning is at least partially responsible for my current predicament.”
“Good for you,” Hermione replied, genuinely happy for her friend. She may not know what to think about Harry being married to Malfoy, but he deserved any bit of happiness he could get.
In the short amount of time it took for Harry to visit the loo and pull on a summoned pair of pajama bottoms, Hermione had made a fresh pot of tea. Harry sat at the table and promptly began devouring the food that was waiting for him. Hermione had already eaten, so she simply read a book.
When Harry had eaten about half his breakfast, he tilted his head to the side and frowned. “Last night, Draco and I couldn't be more than 50 feet apart, and now we're what? 200? 300? Feet apart.”
Hermione smiled and took a sip of her tea. “That's probably because you shagged. According to this book,” she pointed to the book she was reading. “Which is the first thing I could find in the Wizarding Public Library concerning the Will Reaper...” she trailed off to think about something.
Harry was tempted to smack himself! Why hadn't he thought of that?! One would think that he didn't care in the slightest about the little matter of being irrevocably bonded for the rest of his life. Then again, he probably assumed Hermione would do exactly as she apparently did.
Ever since Hermione had urged Irma Pince to coordinate with other such influential Librarians around the Wizarding World, finding books on just about anything had been easier than ever. The Librarians and Hermione had created something like the muggle inter-library loan system in which all a person had to do was peruse a catalog – that reminded Harry of a muggle website since it was a single small sheet of paper that could be interacted with and even had a search function – well... All one had to do was request any book they wanted from the catalog, and so long as it was available in any wizarding library (public or participating private) in the world, it would be owled, flooed or otherwise transported directly to them. It was brilliant and oh so Hermione. Harry often wondered why she hadn't chosen to be a librarian instead of an Auror, but then he thanked every ounce of luck he possessed that she was his partner and left it at that.
Hermione shook her thoughts away. “Anyway, just as the Officiant said, the bond only turns dark if the couple resists it. That means that if you cooperate, the bond relaxes. I am fairly certain that the fact you shagged proved to the bond that you both intend to cooperate. You probably still can't be too far apart, but across the length of a single house – even a big one – seems reasonable,” she explained with a shrug.
“Oh...” Harry purred, trying and failing to sound uninterested. “So you mean that it's in our best interest to shag as often as possible?”
Hermione snorted a soft laugh. “Do you really need an excuse?”
“No, I suppose not,” Harry admitted with a grin. Then he frowned lightly. “It was strange though. Things were normal – seriously hot and kinky, but otherwise normal. Then when he was finally buried inside me, it was like both our pleasure double or tripled. I could feel what he was feeling, and since it felt so good, BAM! We orgasmed so hard we woke up on the floor who knows how long later.”
“Hmm...” Hermione bit her lip as she thought this over and flipped through the book. “Oh! This might explain it. At least one couple reported that the more they cooperated with the bond, the more in tune they became with each other. So, I suppose that the bond is linking the two of you together. Have you felt what he was feeling when you weren't having sex?”
Harry took a moment to think this over. “I... I don't think so. When we were in bed, I remember thinking that it seemed like he was being affected by the bond, but when I asked him about it, I might have felt a surge of annoyance that wasn't mine. However, I was genuinely annoyed that he didn't seem concerned, so I'm not sure.”
“Out of curiosity, where were you when you were having sex?”
“In the shower,” Harry replied, smiling idiotically as he thought about it.
“Any chance that you two simply slipped and hit your heads?” Hermione asked with a smirk.
Harry shook his head with a grin. “Nope! It felt way too good to be that.” His expression turned serious again. “Have you ever orgasmed so hard that you passed out?”
Hermione gave him a genuine smile. “Yeah. It was before I had the baby – of course, since we haven't had an opportunity since – but we had hours to play, and near the end of it...” she trailed off, spreading her hands wide as if saying: well, you know.
“Can you two please stop discussing sex so that I can get a cup of tea?” Draco demanded, calling their attention to the fact that he was standing a few feet up from the bottom of the stairs. A light blush suggested that he might have been there a few minutes.
“Sure,” Harry agreed with a fond smile at him, and then gestured to the waiting plate. “And get something to eat while you're at it. We probably have less than an hour before our Portkey leaves.”
Hermione cleared her throat. “So... while he eats, do you want to go through your mail? I'm sure most of it can wait until we get back, but there's a few things you might want to open.”
“Oh? Such as what?” Harry wondered.
Hermione held up her watch/case, as if Harry needed to be reminded that it existed. “I put everything important in here since I thought you might not have time to go through it until we get to Russia.” She opened the case and summoned a package. “This is from Ginny.”
Harry read the attached note first. “Dear Harry, sorry I was such a bitch to you yesterday, but I honestly had no idea that you were in disguise, and those twins are incorrigible! Anyway, congratulations on your marriage. I'm going to heckle Ron and George forever that I was actually at your wedding and they weren't, hahaha! Love, Ginny.”
With a smile, he set the note aside and opened the package. It turned out to contain two necklaces. Both were gold and made in a fancy squarish chain link that looked both manly and delicate. One necklace had a bold H dangling from it and the other had a D. Biting his lip, Harry wondered which was intended for him and which for Draco. It seemed obvious, but knowing Ginny, she might have thought it would be funny to charm them so that they could only wear the opposite initial.
While Harry was looking them over to see if they held any clues, Draco took the one with the H from his hand. “The chain is lovely. This is a surprisingly thoughtful gift. If I'd thought about it, I wouldn't have thought your ex-girlfriend would be willing and capable of giving us such an appropriate wedding gift.”
Harry glared at him.
“I meant that I thought she'd be jealous and give a cheap gift – not that she was stupid or anything like that,” Draco clarified. Then he opened the clasp, put the necklace around his neck, and refastened it.
Harry half gaped at him, not expecting that in the slightest.
Draco saw his look and frowned. “What? We're trying to keep the bond happy and retain our free will, right?”
Harry nodded because it was true, but even so, he would have bet his last knut that Draco would refuse to wear anything associated with Harry. “And you're absolutely certain that you're not being controlled by the bond?” He asked as he put the other necklace on.
Draco appeared to give this some thought, but it was so obviously overdone that it had to be a sarcastic gesture. “Hmm... I can still think that the man I'm married to is an idiot, and imagining hexing you is still rather entertaining. Shall I try it and see if I'm suddenly turned into an obedient housewife?”
“Prat,” Harry muttered affectionately, relieved that Draco still seemed to be himself.
“I think the next time you ask me that, I'll just cast a stinging hex at you,” Draco continued. “That way, we'll both have proof that I'm in control of my actions.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “You make it sound like it's a bad thing that I'm concerned.”
“Bad? No. Just... annoying.”
Hermione frowned as she watched them. “Actually, Harry has a point. Both of you seem surprisingly... compliant...”
Draco sighed. “What do you want? You want me to admit that I'm seething inside? That for the rest of my life, I'm going to have to tag along on Auror missions. That even if I don't lose my will, I'm never going to be able to do what I want again.”
“Well... what do you want to do?” Harry asked even as Hermione gave Draco a look full of sympathy.
Draco shrugged. “You're not going to believe me. All I really want to do is stay home and tend to my garden while researching and making variations of potions that might actually help people.”
Harry bit his lip in thought. “Hmm... If Hermione is right, you might be able to do that after all.”
Draco looked surprised. “How?”
“Well, it's something about making the bond happy enough to relax it,” Harry explained, but obviously, this wasn't entirely helpful.
With a nod, Hermione pointed to the book she was still half reading even as she watched them. “According to this book, some couples have reported that after a while, the bond responds to cooperation by relaxing to the point that they can even travel separately if necessary. If you two reach that point, you should be able to do what you want while Harry does his job.”
Draco nodded thoughtfully, lightly humming as he considered the current status of the bond. It hadn't escaped his notice that they were able to be father apart this morning. He looked up at Hermione.
“Didn't the Officiant also say that the reason we both passed out when Harry Disapparated was because we hadn't agreed on it first?”
Hermione looked a bit surprised. “Actually, he did. I hadn't thought of that. Maybe during our downtime in Russia, we'll have an opportunity to test that out.”
Draco simply nodded in agreement.
Hermione turned back to Harry, her left hand hovering over her right wrist until another letter flew out of her case. “This is from Ron, who is practically depressed that he wasn't able to pop in for a few moments himself to – as he put it – commiserate.”
Harry read the letter to himself this time, thinking it might be safer with Draco sitting right there half glaring at him. Mate! You're married?!?! To that pointy git Malfoy of all people!!! I honestly didn't believe 'Mione when she first told me; I really thought she was having me on, but then she explained it in detail, and then I almost couldn't sleep! I couldn't decide whether to laugh at the mental image of you wearing that dress, or rush over and tell George the news before he reads it in the Daily Prophet. I eventually decided that I wanted to see the look on his face when he reads it. So... Congratulations if you're resigned to and possibly happy about what happened. Condolences if you're not. I'll help in any way I can if you decide to try to find a way to break the bond. Can't wait until you return from Russia – I'll throw a belated stag do. In the meantime, be careful and try to make sure my wife isn't killed by dark wizards. Love, Ron.
Hermione cast a Tempus Charm to check the time. “We still have a little time. Want to read the Daily Prophet now?”
Harry sighed in reluctance. “Yeah, might as well.”
Hermione nodded. “I read my copy, but yours arrived as part of a package, so I have no idea what's in it. That said, I did scan it for curses, potions, and other threats and it's clean, so...” She handed the package over.
Harry opened the package, cringed when he saw that yes, the front page was a picture of him as him, practically naked, and taking Nott into custody. The Headline read: Our Savior Ties the Nott! Which was an obvious play on words. Rolling his eyes, he set the paper aside to look at what else was in the package.
It turned out to be a photo album. The first photo was of Harry and Hermione in disguise just after they'd arrived looking so hot that Harry was getting horny again, damn it! There was a photo of them casting the Birds of Light Spell. A photo of them talking with Ginny and Viktor. Then – to Harry's surprise – a photo of Draco holding out his hand to show Harry his ring. It was captioned with: Bride and Groom meet for the first time since shortly after the war.
Harry didn't know whether to be impressed that the Daily Prophet had thought to send him such a lovely gift, or aggravated since they obviously had a tongue in cheek attitude as they complied the photos. He held the album up to show Draco and Hermione.
“Apparently they've decided that I'm definitely the bride in this marriage,” he grumbled.
Draco smirked. “Well...” he drawled with an impish shrug.
“If you dare suggest that just because I like to bottom that I'm somehow feminine, I swear I will hex you the moment we get settled in our hotel in Russia!” Harry warned him quite seriously.
Draco rolled his eyes. “I wouldn't be attracted to you in the slightest if you were feminine. I'm a gay man, and I like my men to be men.”
Hermione decided to back her best friend up by heckling Draco. “Besides, you look rather feminine enough for the both of you.”
Draco glared at her. “What is that supposed to mean?”
She shrugged as if she hadn't a care in the world. “Oh... just that you are always perfectly groomed, look beautiful, and wear immaculately tailored clothes. All feminine traits.”
Draco sniffed haughtily. “All pureblood traits.”
“If you say so,” Hermione acquiesced in a soothing tone that subtly conveyed sarcasm. She also glanced at his clothes, which were obviously expensive and made him look stunning.
Draco glared at her lightly. “Don't think you will win this little game. No matter how smart you are, you weren't trained in the art by Slytherin House.”
Hermione grinned at him. “I know.”
By this point, Harry had come to the picture of him and Draco catching the dagger. It was captioned with: The adoring couple makes their vows. The strange thing was that if one didn't know that it had been done on accident, they might have believed it done on purpose based on the expressions of this picture. Draco looked a bit stunned, like he couldn't believe it was really happening, and Harry looked a bit determined, like he wasn't going to let anything get in the way of them getting married. Somewhere deep down inside him, Harry was glad that someone had managed to take a picture of him getting married. It had been minorly tearing him up that he wouldn't have a decent ceremony with pictures to commemorate it, but this album was actually pretty sweet – in a heckling sort of way.
Harry showed the picture to Draco, who looked thoughtful as he examined it. Apparently, not even he could find anything to complain about, because he simply nodded in acceptance. Then he smirked.
“Too bad your wedding dress got destroyed. We look surprisingly good together like that.”
Harry gave Draco a flat look before rolling his eyes. Then he nodded in agreement. “Yeah, we actually do.”
He flipped to a photo captioned: Bride arrests Groom – which was a play on the fact that Harry, as a bride, arrested Theodore Nott during his wedding. Harry rolled his eyes again. The next photo was captioned: Bride turns into Groom! The look of helpless resignation on Harry's face in the picture made him chuckle. The last picture was captioned: Groom faints from the shock! It showed Draco's eyes roll toward the back of his head as he swayed and then fell to the ground.
It was times like this that made Harry grateful that wizarding photos were animated – so to speak. He showed the picture to Draco with a smirk. Draco scowled but didn't say anything.
As it turned out, the Daily Prophet had run at least half of the photos from the album. Surprisingly, the story that accompanied it was fairly accurate. Normally, anything having to do with Harry got embellished wildly until there wasn't much discernible truth left, but this barely had any speculation or unverified rumors in it! Harry would have lost a fortune had he been betting on the contents of the article!
When Hermione's alarm charm went off, Harry hastily levitated the Paper, album, and letters into his watch/case – which already contained both his and Draco's luggage – and banished the dirty dishes to the sink so that they could wash themselves. A moment after he returned from getting dressed, they gathered into a circle so that Hermione could Apparate them to the Ministry Portkey Office.
The moment the three of them arrived in Moscow, a man stepped forward to greet them. Harry plastered a genial smile on his facing, knowing that this was an employee of the Russian equivalent of the Ministry, and that he had been expecting Harry – thus was likely to ask Harry uncomfortable questions about the war, Voldemort, and Harry's sex life.
In rapid Russian, the man chattered a greeting that Harry couldn't understand a word of. “Good morning, Mr. Malfoy. Shall I send word that you are visiting?”
“No thank you. I'd prefer to not make a fuss,” Draco replied.
“As you wish. Just so you know, she's currently on vacation on Lake Baikal, so you'd have the townhouse all to yourself.”
“Excellent!” Draco proclaimed with a grin. Then he turned to find Harry and Hermione staring at him in astonishment. “What?”
“You speak Russian?” Harry asked incredulously.
Draco shrugged. “Well, yeah. My grandmother has been living here with her lover since shortly after my grandfather died. My family has come here for a visit at least once every year and speaking the language was required. The good news is that dearest grandmama is practically on the other side of the country, so we can use the townhouse if we want. It's heavily warded, which might come in handy...”
Hermione bit her lip in thought. “Yes...”
“In that case, take my hand so that I can Apparate us,” Draco stated, holding his hands out for them.
Before they could comply, the man in charge of greeting them interrupted, speaking in English. “It's a pleasure to have you in our country, Mr. Potter. Here are the Apparation coordinates to meet with your liaison when you're ready. Agents from our 'Auror' department are already working with agents from yours to gather intel and come up with a plan. The only thing truly useful so far is that there was supposed to be a meeting last night, but since Karbelnikoff was arrested, that didn't happen.”
Hermione held out her hand expectantly. “Give me the coordinates to that meeting right now!”
“Er... What good will that do?”
“Just do it,” Harry insisted, adding a smooth and polite: “Please.”
With a shrug, he dug in a pocket to find a piece of paper that had all the intel they'd gathered so far. It was part of a dossier that was supposed to be given to Harry and Hermione anyway. Hermione took the dossier, studied the paper for a moment, and then nodded in satisfaction.
“Thank you,” she stated as she grabbed a hand from both Harry and Draco. Before Draco could protest or ask what was going on, they found themselves in the shade of a dingy bridge. The spot was surprisingly secluded, considering that they were in the middle of the poorer and more crowded section of the city.
Harry pulled free of Hermione's grasp, knowing that she was already too focused to remember to let go. Then he looked around for any clues that might have accidentally been left behind. As he did so, he pulled out his notepad and jotted down anything and everything – whether it seemed important or not.
Draco stared at his hand in Hermione's in amusement for a few moments, until it became obvious that her mind was somewhere else completely. He slowly pulled his hand free, glancing back and forth between Harry and Hermione. The two Aurors were so used to working together that they didn't even need to discuss what they were doing – which made Draco feel a bit left out.
Just when Harry was prodding a used condom with his shoe, as if wondering if it might be from their criminal, Hermione murmured in a far away voice: “Ready. Ready?”
Harry walked closer, but didn't reply. He didn't need to. Hermione didn't wait for a reply anyway before casting a spell that Draco had never even heard of. When their surroundings started to glow, Hermione squinted as if searching for something. Draco nearly gasped – startled – when he realized that the spell was showing them things that had happened yesterday. Such as a shockingly young couple making use of the condom around noon – judging by the position of the sun. That was followed about half a minute later – which seemed to be an hour or two of fast forwarded time – by another couple, only this was obviously a prostitute and her customer, who didn't use a condom.
Eventually, a group of men arrived and whatever was making time rush by stopped so that they could see and hear everything that was happening as it happened. This turned out to be a lot of grumbling about waiting, Karbelnikoff being late, and muttered threats of severe abuse for not arriving on time. Talk eventually turned to crude jokes. After nearly two hours, during which Draco had translated everything since he didn't have anything better to do anyway, the men finally left.
Hermione was markedly white by this point and collapsed into Harry's arms the moment she was able to release the spell. Harry swept her into a safe princess carry and turned to face Draco. “Now would be a good time to visit that place you talked about.”
“Right,” Draco agreed with a nod, grabbing onto Harry and Hermione and Apparating them to his grandmother's Moscow home. The moment they arrived, Draco ordered a house elf to bring them to a suitable guest bedroom. Then he watched as Harry set Hermione in bed, covered her with a blanket, brushed the hair out of her face, and gave her a tender kiss on the forehead.
“Just rest,” Harry murmured even though Hermione probably couldn't hear him. He stroked her cheek and whispered: “Love you,” before reassuring himself that she was going to be fine. He kissed her forehead again, and then turned to Draco. “Can you order a house elf to watch over and guard her?”
“Of course,” Draco stated before doing exactly that.
“I'd normally never leave her, but since you said this place is well warded and she'll have a guard, I should meet with the team so that they can review this memory in case it has any important hints in it that we didn't catch,” Harry explained.
“Yes,” Draco murmured in agreement. “I can see how it might make a big difference if they were speaking in code and talking about their plans.”
“Exactly,” Harry agreed with a nod. He pulled the paper with his Ministry contact on it out, memorized the coordinates, and then held his hand out for Draco to take.
Close to two hours later, Draco sighed and mentally kicked himself for not realizing sooner that it was going to take Harry and his Russian 'Auror' comrades at least as long to review the memory as it had taken to witness the event the first time. Which meant that he was sitting alone in a... Well, it looked like an interrogation room. He sighed again, bored and more than a little nervous to be in such a room without his lawyer.
Without warning, an extremely hard and stern looking women opened the door and carried a tray into the room. She set it on the table with an expression just a few shades lighter than a glare. “I'm am not a maid nor am I a babysitter,” she muttered.
“I apologize. It was not my idea, I assure you,” Draco informed her sympathetically, clearly surprising her.
“You speak Russian?”
Draco held out his hand. “Draco Malfoy, pleasure to meet you.”
She was surprised all over again. “Druella Black's grandson?”
“Yes,” Draco confirmed with a faint smile.
“Petra Angelov,” she replied, finally shaking his hand. Then she snatched the tray up. “Give me a moment to bring you something better than this swill.”
Since she didn't really give him time to protest before leaving, Draco simply remained silent and waited. Only three minutes passed before she returned with a noticeably nicer tray carrying a full tea service. He smiled at her reassuringly before pointedly casting detection spells over it. When it came up clean, she smirked at him.
“As if I would dare risk harming the only legally legitimate grandson of the woman who has been dating the head of the Stregge for over a decade,” she stated a bit coldly.
Draco shrugged, knowing that he would have made her think him stupid and foolish if he hadn't checked. As he sipped from his rather excellent tea and nibbled on the dainty, buttery biscuits, Petra gave him a genuine smile that actually managed to soften her stern features.
“If you would prefer, I have a small bottle of vodka that would have cost me an entire year's worth of wages had I not won it in a bet,” she offered.
Draco smiled at her in return. “I'd be delighted to drink vodka with you.” He knew that this was a sort of unspoken ritual of bonding between potential friends.
With a grin, Petra pulled out a glass bottle in the shape of a flask that probably only carried enough vodka for three or four shots for each of them. She waited for Draco to scan it, and then broke open the seal. Draco transfigured his now empty tea cup into a shot glass as she downed her tea so that she could do the same. After the shot glasses were full, they lifted them up and lightly clinked them together.
“Za zdorovje!” They exclaimed in unison, which was a phrase that meant to your health and was actually more popular in the wizarding population than the muggle one. Or perhaps it was only more popular among the Stregge and Draco just didn't know any different. In any case, the phrase seemed to be heartfelt by both of them, so they promptly downed their shots and slammed the glasses down on the table.
“Again!” Petra cried out as she refilled their glasses.
Just 15 minutes later, Harry entered the room to find his new husband with an arm around a woman he didn't know. Both were laughing rather raucously, and the woman waved an empty bottle of alcohol around animatedly as she talked. Draco laughed a bit harder and positioned his free hand about two feet off the floor – as if saying: It was about so high. Harry was frankly dying of curiosity and raised a brow as he watched them.
One of the Russian Officers escorting Harry started snickering at whatever they were talking about. The other grinned and added his two cents to the conversation, which had everyone else laughing all the harder. Harry mentally kicked himself for not insisting that he have Hermione cast a super annoying translation spell on him after all; he'd give almost anything to know what they were saying!
With a sigh, he admitted that there was a reason that both he and his best friend had opted against the spell, and that was that it was often more confusing than it was worth and gave the person a nasty headache. Hopefully, Draco would take pity on him and let him in on the joke. Speaking of which, the gorgeous blond noticed Harry and lit up like a Christmas tree. This surprised Harry enough that he took a wary step back.
Draco said something to the woman as he extricated himself from her side, something that seemed to astonish her and the Officers. Then Draco stood up and pulled Harry into a hug before giving him a kiss that would have been wonderful had Draco not tasted and reeked of alcohol. Harry pulled back and shook his head wryly as he stroked Draco's hair.
“I see you're having fun.”
Draco grinned. “Petra was just telling me about her time at Durmstrang and all the prank curses she was able to get with. We were both surprised to discover that we have something in common. I once transfigured Greg into a fluffy poodle and she transfigured a boy who annoyed her into yapping pomeranian.” Then Draco pointed to the other Officer. “And he is an animagus who can turn into a pitbull – and liked to bite unsuspecting first and second years.”
This renewed the snickering, however, everyone was watching Harry and Draco with a guarded expression. Harry noticed this with a frown. Something wasn't quite right.
Even drunk, Draco realized that Harry was concerned about something, so he looked around. Surprisingly, he was able to figure out the problem. “Ah. Don't be too worried,” he said with a slur.
“Worried about what?” Harry asked in concern.
“Here in Russia, muggles frown on and have made it illegal for same sex couples to be married. The wizarding community is slightly more tolerant – after all, wizards have to hide much more important things from muggles than sexuality. Even so, they aren't used to seeing two men be so openly affectionate in public,” Draco explained, only slurring lightly, which made Harry wonder just exactly how drunk he was.
Without realizing it, Harry was stroking Draco's back. It also didn't occur to him to let Draco go. Holding his husband seemed almost as necessary as air at the moment.
With a smile, Harry gave Draco a very basic overview of what they'd learned. “Which means that we have some time to think things through and plan out the best course of action. It also means that we can return to Hermione.”
“Brilliant idea,” Draco stated with a grin that suggested he had very different things on his mind. Harry chuckled in amusement.
“Something has me curious,” Petra informed them in English. “How is Harry Potter married to someone who was on the opposite side of the war?”
“Bad luck,” Draco answered even as Harry blurted out: “As usual, the fates love to mess with me.”
Harry's right hand took hold of Draco's left hand. “Are you safe to Apparate?”
Draco scoffed haughtily. “Please Potter! As if this little bit is enough to affect me!”
Petra roared with laughter. “Little bit, yes, but potent enough to take down a bear!”
“Perhaps you should use the floo,” one of the Officers suggested prudently.
“Yes,” Harry murmured in agreement. “Come, husband, let's go check on Hermione.”
Draco pinched Harry's cheek and wiggled it slightly. “You're ador-buhble when yer concerned.”
“And you are most definitely drunk,” Harry responded in amusement.
“I most certainly am not!” Draco protested indignantly, then betrayed his nearly sober sounding speech by hiccuping.
“Riiiight...” Harry drawled as he rolled his eyes. Without another word, he held Draco's hand as he followed their escort to the floo.
The moment Harry was satisfied that Hermione was still resting peacefully, Draco dragged him to the nearest available guest room, muttering: “My turn,” just before he pulled Harry's Auror uniform robe open and attacked the newly freed neck.
“Your turn for what?” Harry wondered as his shirt was torn open and tossed to the side – along with his robe.
“Attention,” Draco stated. Obviously this meant something very clear to the drunken man, but Harry couldn't quite decipher the full meaning. He very quickly forgot to care since Draco's hands were all over him, followed by that sinfully posh mouth.
The bond did something very funny, making Harry feel like he melted into a puddle under Draco's touch – or perhaps it was more like he was dropped into an ocean of bliss. It took him a long time to realize that he was feeling rather drunk now, even though he knew he hadn't had a drop to drink. Draco pushed him onto the bed, and with a start, Harry realized that they were both naked and he had no idea when that had happened.
Harry rolled Draco under him so that he could explore the gorgeous man in return. He started by licking and biting the right side of Draco's neck. Then he followed a sparse trail of curly hair ever farther down until he reached a neatly groomed nest of hair that really did nothing to hide the long, thin shaft that was very much standing at attention. Harry took that beautiful shaft into his mouth and immediately felt like he was being punched with pleasure.
Less than a minute later, Draco gripped Harry's hair in his fist and yanked Harry away. “Inside!”
Now that Harry was definitely feeling what Draco was feeling, he felt too drunk to interpret that, but the feeling of determination that accompanied the order led Harry to believe that Draco wanted something very badly. It wasn't until Draco pushed Harry to the side and shifted to lay fully on top of him that Harry realized that Draco wanted to be inside of Harry. Oh! That actually made sense...
Harry simply spread his legs, just barely remembering to cast preparation spells to make it easier on both of them. Draco was already sliding home before Harry finished, but it wasn't bad since Draco's pleasure more than made up for Harry's momentary discomfort. Once again, it was like their pleasure combined to double or triple, making it nearly impossible for them to hold out longer than a few seconds. At least this time when they were overwhelmed by something that felt like they were being thrown off a cliff, they were already laying down.
Despite only being maybe six hours since they'd woken up, the orgasm combined with being drunk – even though technically only Draco was – put them back to sleep. A deep sleep that nothing could have roused them from. Not an alarm charm. Not a person determined to shake them awake. Not an explosion. Nothing short of a screaming baby in bed with them demanding to be fed.
Or – as it turned out – a very selective spell that was cast on just Draco in the middle of the night. Draco opened his eyes to find a house elf staring intently at him with one finger pressed to his mouth. With a nod of understanding, Draco pointed to an armoire that almost certainly held a bathrobe. The elf summoned the robe and held it out for Draco as he slipped from bed. Once ready, Draco took hold of the elf's hand and let himself be Apparated away.
“Draco, my boy!” A man greeted in delighted Russian, which almost seemed to be an oxymoron.
“Sir,” Draco replied with a polite bow. Normally, he would be happy to see the man that was sort of a grandfather to him, but at the moment, he couldn't afford to be anything less than cautious.
Sensing that Draco was not going to be able to relax until the matter at hand was taken care of, the man sighed. “Care to explain why you've brought a very famous Auror into my home?”
“Wasn't planned,” Draco stated apologetically. “We were bonded rather unexpectedly yesterday, and when we arrived and were informed that the townhouse was empty at the moment, well, it would have looked suspicious if I didn't at least invite my husband to stay in my family home. I didn't really expect him to agree, but he did.”
“Ah,” the man replied as he stroked his chin in thought. “So this is a family visit?”
Draco sighed in reluctance. “I wish I could say it was.”
“I thought not, since my spies in the Ministry tell me that he is in the country on a mission. What's the mission?”
“They arrested Dimitry Karbelnikoff for smuggling dark artifacts yesterday, and are now here in order to recover other smuggled artifacts – and probably bust the smuggling ring,” Draco explained.
“I see...” There was soft hemming and hawing for a few moments of otherwise silence. “This will give me an opportunity to clean out a few of the undesirables from my organization. I'll do my best to ensure that your grandmother doesn't find out about this before the situation is resolved, but in return, you must promise to visit with her for at least a week.”
“I'd be delighted to,” Draco replied with a sincere smile.
“She's planning to adjourn to our little cottage in the Valley of Geysers. I'm sure she would love for you to join her when you can.”
“I'd like that as well,” Draco murmured fondly.
Their 'little cottage' was practically a palace by any other standards; a jewel nestled in a unique paradise in Kamchatka. There was quite a community of wealthy wizards who owned property between the Valley of Geysers and the Clouds of Steam – in some places only possible because of powerful magic that protected them from the effects of active volcanoes. Such as ash. And earthquakes. The property their family owned was actually the best of the best, taking full advantage of both a gorgeous landscape and isolation – including a few hotsprings.
“Good. You may return to your husband now.”
Draco bowed again, relieved that he hadn't been asked to give any information that couldn't be obtained by spies. In fact, it probably already had been and this was just a little test to see if Draco would dare lie. Even better, he hadn't been trusted with any information that he couldn't tell Harry – not that he would volunteer the little bit he did know without being asked directly. Considering the bond would probably take lies as resistance, he didn't want to lie to his husband, but what Harry didn't ask wouldn't hurt him. Either of them.
To his relief, Harry was still sleeping when the elf brought Draco back. He slipped into bed and did his best to wake Harry up for another round to test out if their sex was always going to be far too quick and pack a hefty punch. To his delight and dismay, the pattern seemed to be holding.
“I still say Draco should remain behind,” Harry stated with a light glare.
Hermione sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Harry, we've been over this. We have no way of knowing when the bond will decide that one or both of you isn't cooperating and knock you out. What if that happened the moment someone aims a hex at you? Or what if it happens when you are alone with one of the criminals? There'd be no one to stop him or her from killing you!”
Harry sighed in frustration. “I know that! But I really don't like the idea of bringing someone with no training on a raid!”
Draco was glad that they were having this argument in private because there was no need to let the others know that Draco wasn't technically trained as an Auror. So far, they'd gotten around the questions by saying that Draco was a special consultant, thus no one knew that they were magically bonded and unable to separate too much – which was information that could be used against them.
On the other hand, news of it may have reached the entire world by now since it was highly public information. In any case, Draco preferred to be considered part of the team rather than someone who was tagging along because he had to. He held up a hand to forestall more arguing.
“Harry, I was trained to fight on the, er, wrong side of the war. Thus I can protect myself. There's no need to worry about me,” he pointed out.
“I can't help it!” Harry roared in frustration.
Draco tilted his head and gave Harry a look of both curiosity and disbelief. Then it hit him. “Right. I actually forgot, you can't help but want to save and protect everyone,” he grumbled. “You should consider seeing a Mind Healer about that.”
Harry rolled his eyes but dropped the argument when the Officers and 'Auror' equivalent strode into the room to gear up.
“Our confidential informant has just confirmed that the Auction is definitely taking place today,” Petra announced to the room at large. “If we're lucky, we'll be able to recover quite a few artifacts in addition to arresting a couple dozen rotten bastards! This should be a good day, my friends.”
“Here here!” Her coworkers cheered as Draco translated her words. Harry and Hermione had broken down and cast the annoying translation charm on each other, but it was still preferable to have Draco do so as well since the charm was literal, which was often confusing. Having someone who was fluent in the language translating too helped them learn the idiosyncrasies that otherwise threw them off.
Of course – to Harry's disgruntlement – Hermione's excellent memory was helping her learn and retain the language quite rapidly. With a sigh, he shook off his thoughts and paid attention to the meeting. As he did so, Hermione gave Draco back an expensive watch he had borrowed to her so she could carefully modify it. He now had his own case that was fully stocked with anything they might possibly need.
“I suggest you put your extra wand in there in case you're disarmed or somehow lose your preferred one,” she informed him, which he simply agreed with and did. Harry was interested to note that Draco's spare wand was the same one Harry had used to defeat Voldemort with – that Harry had returned shortly after the trial acquitting Draco of all charges.
Harry opened his case and made sure that he had his extra wand in there – which he did. He summoned a plain sugar biscuit from his case and nibbled on it while Hermione double and triple checked her much larger inventory. To his amusement, Petra was now looking over their shoulders in an obvious attempt to see what was in their cases.
“Handy,” Petra murmured, biting her lip in thought.
When everyone was ready and the Auction was about to begin, the team enacted the plan – which began with Apparating to a certain distance from the location to set up anti-escape wards.
“So far, so good,” Hermione muttered under her breath when the wards were set. All they needed to do now was creep closer and wait for the signal to burst in and start arresting people.
“Remember to stay behind us as much as possible,” Harry whispered in Draco's ear.
“I'll be fine,” Draco assured him.
Before Harry could fret too much, a just barely audible noise let them know that the wards intended to protect the criminals had just been broken. This signaled the start of the fight, and make no mistake, there would be a fight. The group of Aurors, Officers, and Draco swarmed into the rather small and private warehouse.
The predominant spell cast was Incarcerous, followed by shield spells. The criminals responded by casting a wide variety of hexes, curses, and other nasty spells – in between defending themselves and trying to free any of their comrades who'd already been caught. It was pure chaos for several long minutes!
To Draco's amazement, Harry started chuckling in a soft and rather insane way early on and hadn't stopped yet. Harry's back was to Hermione's and the two of them literally blocked Draco from harm as they turned in half circles and cast spells that brought down more criminals than the rest of the team combined. Draco was impressed and spent several minutes thinking how lucky Voldemort had been that he hadn't ever had to deal with this Harry. The entire war would have been over in a matter of minutes!
The only thing Draco really had to do was keep an eye out for anything the two of them missed. Which meant that he saw the two or three curses that they hadn't in time to put up a shield. This made him wonder why the third member of the golden trio hadn't become an Auror too. If he had, the three of them probably would be unstoppable. Plus, Draco could be back to back with Harry while Hermione was paired with her husband.
This thought made Draco mentally kick himself. Ugh! I sound like I'm planning to become an Auror myself! Even if he was inclined to remain more on the right side of the law than the wrong, being an Auror would be very much like shooting himself in the foot.
Speaking of which! To Draco's horror, one of the wizards – who was taking cover behind a large crate – had put his wand away and pulled out a muggle gun, which was aimed directly at Harry! Bullets were usually too fast to shield against!
With absolutely no time to think about it, Draco tackled Harry to the ground. This saved Harry from being shot, but unfortunately, Draco hadn't been quite quick enough to avoid the bullet himself. He panted as a searing pain tore through him.
“Draco!” Harry roared in anguish, momentarily too distracted to do anything other than carefully slip out from under his husband and take the injured man into his arms.
Once again, Hermione stayed on the ball, casting and maintaining a powerful orb shield charm to protect them from any further harm. To all their surprise, the man in charge of the criminals started babbling frantically.
“Fuck! It'll be all our heads! Stop hexing! Hands in the air! Now!”
At first, the team thought that the criminals were trying to trick them. It really didn't seem likely that they were all surrendering. However, not a single one resisted when the team gathered up the courage to round them up.
Even so, Harry had gone into some sort of panic that activated his magic so that it was crackling along his skin and making his hair stand out in thick spikes. He glared at the wizard who had shot Draco, unable to prevent a surge of magic from shooting out and striking the potential murderer, making him fly back into a different crate. The whole room grew positively frigid. Criminals and Officials all exchanged wide-eyed looks of awe, disbelief, and more than a little fear.
“If you have killed my husband, I will cast a Cruciatus Curse on you so powerful that you'll still be suffering from it when your great-grandchildren die of old age!” Harry threatened quite seriously.
“Harry...” Draco murmured, brushing his hand along Harry's cheek in an attempt to calm him down. “I'm fine...”
Hermione sighed impatiently and rolled her eyes. “Stop being such a drama queen and cast a few first aid and healing spells!”
Harry flinched sheepishly – his out of control magic evaporating as abruptly as it had erupted. “Er, right.”
Draco was amazed all over again a moment later when a sensation like tanning in the Bahamas at noon rolled over him. It was so warm and all encompassing that aches he hadn't even realized he had simply melted away. If a simple healing spell from Harry felt like it was powered by the sun, then apparently it was a real shame that Harry hadn't decided to be a Healer instead of an Auror. And hell! This was what Harry's power felt like after using it for nearly 20 minutes straight!
For the next half an hour as the criminals were taken into custody, Draco sat on a crate in the corner wondering exactly what it meant that Harry seemed to go bat shit crazy the moment Draco got a little hurt. Okay, a lot hurt. Though he would never admit it out loud, the bullet had hit something that made the world grow cold and dark rather quickly. Draco probably would have died if Hermione hadn't had the sense to snap Harry back to reality.
After that thought, Draco perversely depressed himself by wondering just how crazy Harry would have gone if someone he truly liked or, you know, loved – such as Hermione – had gotten shot instead. Especially since, in that situation, Hermione wouldn't have been aware enough to chastise Harry for overreacting. Which might have led to her death followed by the destruction of the entire planet as Harry went out of control and – wait... Isn't that the plot to one of those muggle movies? Or a book or something? Draco really felt that he had heard that scenario somewhere before.
It was going to bug the fuck out of him until he figured it out.
“Problem?” Harry asked with one brow quirked in amusement as he looked at Draco siting with his left arm across his chest supporting his right elbow as his right forefinger and thumb pinched his chin. His nose was scrunched adorably, his brows were lightly furrowed, and his eyes squinted slightly in deep thought.
“Er... no,” Draco said dismissively. He purposely smoothed out his expression and rested his hands at his side.
“Oh...” Harry murmured, and then blushed lightly and looked away as he rubbed the back of his neck. “So, er... I realized something very important today.”
“And...?” Draco drawled snarkily, his eyes staring intently at Harry as his right hand rolled around a bit impatiently.
“Well, I thought you were going to die. I thought I was going to lose you. And I didn't like it at all!” Harry ended in a rather fierce tone of voice.
“I noticed,” Draco remarked dryly.
Harry looked away and muttered something in a voice that was both too low and too fast to understand.
“What was that?” Draco asked in bemusement.
“I said...” Harry took a deep breath. “I realized that I must sort of love you. Quite a lot, actually. When I thought you were dying, I went out of control in a way I never have before. In that moment, I would have gladly taken up the mantle of the next Dark Lord and gone on a rampage. So, er...” he faltered, still looking away and blushing lightly.
Draco smiled and used a hand to force Harry to look at him. “I wouldn't call what I feel love just yet, but you've been on my mind since the first day we met. If I thought you were dying, I'd probably run mad too. In fact, I remember quite clearly watching you be carried out of the forest while supposedly dead, and my heart clenched painfully. I never wanted you to die...”
“So...?” Harry prompted hopefully.
“So when you asked why I wasn't upset about being bonded to you so abruptly, that's why,” Draco informed him with a shrug.
Harry smiled at him. “So... we're in agreement that we're going to try to make this marriage work, and not just because the bond could take away our will if we didn't?”
Returning Harry's smile, Draco stated: “Exactly.”
When their lips met, it was like the world fell away. Without any thought whatsoever, Harry shattered all remaining wards and Apparated them to the bedroom they were currently sharing. Feigning a put upon sigh, Hermione shook her head, rolled her eyes, and muttered: “Boys...”