Contract Under Love Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Lucius Malfoy was a calm and patient man. It was something he had always prided himself on, the ability to remain calm when things didn’t go according to plan. This was a good thing too, seeing as how quite a few of his plans had been less then successful, particularly since Harry Potter had returned to the wizarding world. So it was with hidden joy that Lucius had bargained for the boy’s future. Lucius had no doubt that having Harry Potter marry Draco would bring the Malfoy name higher than it had ever been before, but this was only if the situation was dealt with carefully.

He had gone to great lengths to make sure that he had complete control of the situation, as such it was with great annoyance that the head of the Malfoy family picked up that morning’s copy of the Daily Prophet glaring at the pictures, the reporters had managed to dig up of Potter, and Draco. As his eyes scanned the article again for the third time since it had been delivered, he knew that this was something that was going to have to be fixed, and quickly. He would have to start with discovering who had already tipped off the Prophet.

Of course Lucius’ first thought went straight to Dumbledore. The old man had been convinced, even after the deal had been made, that Potter wouldn’t go along with it all that easily. And should the boy abandon the marriage at any point, for any reason, Dumbledore would find himself the owner of some very old magical properties. Lucius decided that it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the old man, but for now, he had to start with damage control.

***D***

Harry and Draco made their way down to breakfast once Draco had retrieved Harry from the library. Harry followed closely and silently behind the blond, still trying to memorize the way to the dining room. He was really starting to debate that map idea, at least then he would be able to go around the house and explore on his own.

When they reached the dining room Harry was surprised that Lucius wasn’t in there waiting for them. After the article in the paper, Harry had been sure that Lucius would want to talk to Draco.

“Good morning, Draco,” Narcissa greeted her son.

“Good morning, mother, I trust you slept well?” Draco greeted in return.

“Yes,” Narcissa said, nodding once, watching as her son took his seat at the table. “This is a pleasant surprise to see you at breakfast this morning,” Narcissa admitted, glancing at Harry, who hesitated a moment before sitting down next to Draco.

“I saw the paper this morning, and I suspected that Father would be displeased with me if I were to leave before he had a chance to speak with me,” Draco explained.

“A smart decision, Draco. Your Father is not happy this morning,” Narcissa informed him. Draco merely nodded; he already knew that Lucius would be upset about the article. He now just had to worry about what his father would try and do next to control the situation.

Narcissa turned her attention to Harry then, noticing how the young man looked nervous, though he tried hard not to show it. “And good morning to you, Mr. Potter. I hope that your first night here was comfortable enough.”

Harry looked up quickly. “It was very comfortable, thank you,” he said politely, though in truth, no matter how comfortable Harry had been, he had not gotten much sleep. The room and the bed had been far too big and he had had far too much on his mind. Harry thought he would honestly be surprised if he ever got comfortable enough to get a full night sleep in this house.

“Mother, if you are not busy this morning, may I ask that you show Harry your garden?” Draco requested. “He sounded interested in it last night, and I would hate to think that my fiancé was bored to death in his rooms with nothing to do for the day while I am gone.”

Harry frowned at Draco; being called the blond’s fiancé was still very strange, and Harry wasn’t sure he liked the title all that much. Even if that is what he was.

“Of course I don’t mind,” Narcissa said. “It will be nice to have someone in the house to share my garden with.” Narcissa smiled at Harry, who gave a small one in return before Pippsy brought breakfast in for the three of them. Narcissa ordered the elf to bring some to Lucius in his study; she then looked back at Harry. “Now then, Mr. Potter…”

“Please,” Harry interrupted, “can you just call me Harry? From what I understand I’m going to be stuck living here for a long while, and after Draco and I get married, I’m not really going to be ‘Potter’ any more, am I?” Harry said, trying to sound polite about it but from the look Draco was giving him, he had most likely failed.

“If you insist, Harry,” Narcissa agreed. “Though, I fail to see why you would not be allowed to keep your name. After all, you are the last living heir to the Potter name; even my husband would not demand you give up your name. You are also the heir to the Black name, are you not?” Narcissa questioned.

Harry nodded. “Yeah, Sirius apparently made me his heir,” he confirmed. “I didn’t even know about it until Dumbledore told me.” Harry clenched a hand into a fist under the table, as he felt the familiar emotions of sadness and anger well up inside him.

“That was something that you should have been told about as soon as you started school,” Narcissa said with a frown. “Along with your classes, you should have had to study what is expected of you, being an heir to the family name.”

“Well, I can just add that to the list of things that Dumbledore has ‘forgotten ‘ to tell me over the years.” Harry had a hint of bitterness in his voice as he said this. Draco frowned looking at the black-haired boy sitting next to him; he had always thought that Dumbledore was Harry’s mentor, someone who was like a grandfather to the young wizard, but from the sound of it, Harry didn’t even like the old man.

“So, I will really still be Potter?” Harry asked looking from Narcissa to Draco.

“Unless you don’t really want to be Potter anymore,” Draco said, smirking a little at Harry. “After all, the name Malfoy is much better,” Draco teased, chuckling when Harry rolled his eyes

“Whatever,” Harry mumbled before he started eating his breakfast.

“Yes, you can still be a Potter,” Draco confirmed. “There is no law saying that you have to give up your name, you and I will be bonded, but you can still be Potter and I will still be Malfoy,” he explained. “Unless we decide to combine the names and be either Potter-Malfoy, or Malfoy-Potter, which is also an option. However, we have a whole year to discuss this,” Draco informed him and started eating his own breakfast.

Harry nodded, feeling relieved that he would be able to keep his name. That was one less thing to worry about. He poked at his food taking small bites now and then, glad that both Draco and Narcissa seemed content to eat in silence. He wasn’t eating all that much and he knew, if Mrs. Weasley was there, she would have been fussing over his lack of apatite this morning.

By the time Draco finished eating, Harry had not even managed a quarter of what was on his plate. “I am going to speak with father,” the blond said, pushing his chair back and standing up. “Harry, try to stay out of trouble today?” Draco smirked at Harry, who huffed in slight annoyance at the comment.

“What could I possibly do around here that could get me into trouble?” Harry asked, as he looked up at Draco. A blond eyebrow rose slightly.

“Do you want a list?” Draco asked teasingly. “I’m sure I could provide you one to go along with the map you also requested.” Draco smirked when Harry just glared at him.

“Try not to worry too much, Draco,” Narcissa said, stopping any possible fight before it could get started. “Go talk with your father, and I will keep Harry out of trouble today,” she promised and Draco nodded, smiling at his mother before leaving the dining room. Harry watched him go, looking back at Narcissa only after Draco was out of sight. He didn’t say anything to the woman; he honestly didn’t know what to say to her. So instead of staring at her awkwardly until something came to mind, he looked down at his barely touched breakfast.

“You are a quiet person aren’t you?” Narcissa questioned. Harry looked up slowly and blinked at her before nodding. No one had ever commented on him being quiet before, then again, most people he knew had seen him angry more than once, and when Harry lost his temper he was anything but quiet.

“It’s not a bad thing being quiet, it is just not what I expected of you,” Narcissa continued, watching Harry as the boy moved some of the food around on his plate before pushing it away. Leaning back in his chair, Harry sighed, looking back at Narcissa.

“Is the food not to your liking?” Narcissa asked, sounding genuinely concerned.

“No, the food is really good,” Harry assured her quickly, he didn’t want to offend his future mother-in-law, not when she had so far been nothing but pleasant to him. “I just don’t have much of an appetite in the mornings,” Harry admitted.

“Or in the evenings,” Narcissa commented, thinking about how little Harry had eaten the night before as well. Harry was now looking at Narcissa in confusion; he never would have thought her to be the type to worry about how much people did or did not eat. He found himself wondering if it was a mother thing; his aunt had always worried about whether or not Dudley was getting enough to eat, despite the fact that the boy was probably four times the size of Harry, and Molly had always worried about her kids getting enough to eat.

“I suppose I’m just a bit stressed,” Harry said as he shrugged a shoulder. Narcissa was still giving him a skeptical look, but let it go for now. She couldn’t really blame Harry for being stressed.

“Then, if you are finished eating, shall we go out to the garden?” She suggested, elegantly removing her napkin from her lap, placing in on the table and getting to her feet. She waited patiently for Harry, who stood a moment later, looking at the dishes that were being left on the dining room table. He knew that there were house elves here to take care of them, but it still felt a little weird for him to just leave the dirty plates there for someone else to clean up. He sighed and turned away from the table, following Narcissa through the house and out to the back garden.

–D–

Draco made his way down the halls, heading towards his father’s study. Draco knew it would be best to talk to his father in the morning, rather than put it off and wait until that evening to try and speak with him. This would make sure that Lucius didn’t have enough time to put too much thought into his own plans on how to deal with the leak of information.

Knocking softly on the door to the study, Draco waited until he heard his father’s voice telling him to enter. Straightening up ,Draco took a deep breath before he opened the door and stepped into the study.

“Good morning, father,” Draco greeted and he had to work to keep the smile off his face when Lucius did not return the greeting, but instead motioned for Draco to have a seat.

“I take it you have also read the Prophet this morning,” Lucius said firmly, his annoyance clear in his voice as he set his copy of the paper down on his desk, staring hard at his son sitting across from him.

“I have,” Draco confirmed, keeping his words and expression impassive. “I thought that you would want to speak to me about it.” Draco watched as Lucius leaned back in his chair.

“I do want to speak with you. Though I haven’t decided what to do about this problem yet. I suppose there isn’t much that can be done right now. We can’t deny what the article says; it would raise to many questions when your engagement is officially announced,” Lucius pointed out, his expression pinched as though restraining himself from letting his true feelings show. “I suppose the only choice we have is to go with the story they have already stated; we shall have it explained that you and Potter were lovers in school. I will speak with Potter and make sure he understands this.” Lucius leaned back in his chair looking thoughtful for a moment, and Draco got the impression that his father was trying to think of what he could do to make Harry listen to what he had to say.

“Do you think he’ll go along with it that easily?” Draco questioned with an eyebrow raised. “He is a Gryffindor after all,” the blond boy pointed out and Lucius glared at his son.

“And I suppose you have your own plan as to how we will handle this?” Lucius asked with barely restrained frustration. Draco shrugged a shoulder at his father; he couldn’t admit that he had a plan, because all he was really doing was playing by ear for right now.

“There is a party at the ministry tonight. There are bound to be questions about the relationship between me and Harry,” Draco pointed out. “I am just saying that if we are seen in public together now, it will just confirm what the article said this morning. So why not just give them part of the truth? Something that Harry would be able to follow along with, and something that is still believable,” Draco suggested.

Lucius looked interested in what Draco was saying. “And what would you plan to tell them exactly?” Lucius asked, his annoyance seeming to fade into curiosity.

“Just that there was a magical contract between the Malfoy and the Potter family. We wouldn’t have to go into detail, and if anyone decided to start asking questions or dig up more information, we wouldn’t have to cover up any lies,” Draco said evenly and waited to see what his father’s response would be. He was taking a big chance telling his father what he had in mind, but it didn’t matter what Draco told him now, because they had a limited time to come up with a plan to fix the mess. Which was exactly what Draco had been hoping for.

“Very well, that should be acceptable for now,” Lucius said after a long moment of silence between the two of them. It was as good a solution as any he could think of at the moment.

“You may leave now, Draco.” Lucius watched his only son nod once before the boy stood and left the study. Lucius had to give Draco credit, his plan was a good one, and would also answer a lot of questions people would be asking about the article. Lucius truly didn’t care how any of this played out, there was nothing anyone could do to stop the plans he had set in motion, but he would not see the Malfoy name tarnished in the process.

“Pippsy,” Lucius called, his house elf appearing a moment later.

“Pippsy be here to serve master,” the elf said as it bowed low to the floor.

Lucius pulled a small vile of potion out of his pocket. “I want you to put this in one of Mr. Potter’s meals today, and make sure he eats it,” the blond man ordered. Pippsy carefully took the potion looking at it curiously, but didn’t dare ask any questions. “I will leave another vile of that here in my desk, every day you are to put it in Mr. Potter’s food. If you are caught by anyone, you will be severally punished.” Lucius glared at the elf, that nodded its understanding.

“Is master needing anything else from Pippsy?” the creature asked.

“No, you may leave,” Lucius said, ignoring the creature as it bowed low once more before vanishing. Lucius smiled to himself; some of his plans may have been ruined, but he had so much more in mind then even his son knew about.

——–x

Harry smiled as he walked around the garden; he had a feeling that this would be his favorite place to be while he was forced to stay at Malfoy Manor.

Narcissa sat back on the patio watching as Harry wandered around the garden; he seemed much more relaxed out here then he had in the house. She couldn’t help but smile at the thought that she would be able to have some company out here now. Draco had always liked the garden, but never to the extent that she did, and Lucius only came out here when he was looking for his wife.

“You are welcome to come out here any time you wish,” Narcissa said to Harry as the boy came back up to the patio. “I was being honest when I said that it would be nice to have someone to share my garden with.” She gave Harry a small smile, and the green eyed boy gave her a small smile in return.

“It’s a really relaxing place. Draco said that it’s only the house elves that take care of it?” Harry questioned.

“Yes,” Narcissa answered. “Why do you ask?”

“No real reason,” Harry told her with a shrug, crossing his arms over his chest a little defensively. “I was just trying to think of something that I could do around here, so I won’t have to be stuck in my room all day just reading books,” Harry admitted. Narcissa nodded her understanding to that; it would take some time for Harry to get used to the Manor.

“To my knowledge, you are not confined to the house; unless Lucius told you something different?” Narcissa asked, not sure why her husband would have insisted on such a thing.

“The only thing he told me was that I wasn’t allowed to wander around the manor on my own.” Harry tried not to look to upset about it, but in truth, no matter how big his current room was, he still didn’t like the idea of being confined to it. It reminded him far too much of being at the Dursley’s; never allowed to ask questions, and if it had been up to them, then he never would have been seen or heard at all.

“It is easy to get lost if you don’t know where you are going,” Narcissa said. “I suppose that was his reasoning for not wanting you to wander around on your own.”

Harry shrugged a shoulder. “So, I’m allowed to leave the manor if I want?” Harry queried in surprise and Narcissa nodded.

“Of course; you are not a prisoner here,” Narcissa told him and Harry had to bite his tongue to stop himself from adding ‘this time’.

“What if I wanted my friends to come over?” Harry asked. He knew it was a long shot, since Harry was sure that the Malfoy’s wouldn’t want to put up with the Weasley’s, but; then again, Ron wouldn’t be able to put up with the Malfoy’s at all, and Harry doubted very much that Hermione would want to come near this place any time soon. “Never mind, forget I asked that.” Harry sighed and sat down in a chair across from Narcissa.

The blonde woman let out her own small sigh. “Mr. Potter…”

“Harry,” he corrected her.

“Harry,” Narcissa continued, “I know that this is not what you wanted, and I am sure this is the last thing that Draco wanted as well. I can only guess what Lucius’ reasoning is behind this contract between the two of you, bringing honor back to the Malfoy name presumably being part of it. But you are not a prisoner, Harry. Draco and Lucius may not like, or even accept, your choice of friends; however, even if I also dislike your choices of friends, I believe that there has been enough fighting recently,” Narcissa said choosing her words carefully.

“The Weasley family and the Malfoy’s will never be friends,” she went on, not wanting to give Harry false hope on that front, “there is too much bad blood between our families; I, however, am willing to tolerate the people you consider family, if they promise to do the same, and have proper manners while visiting our home. They may come and visit you here, provided it is a planned visit, and you inform either myself, or Lucius at least twenty four hours in advance.”

Harry could now only stare at her in shock. He wondered how much it cost Narcissa to agree to something like that; he had seen how the two families had interacted before, but this woman was willing to offer this to Harry and he found himself quite touched by and grateful for the gesture.

His shock slowly melted away and was replaced with such a brilliant smile that Narcissa could now only smile back at him. “Thank you, thank you so much.” Harry said softly before standing slowly. “Um…if it’s okay, I want to go and write a letter and let Ron know…” He trailed off and Narcissa smiled.

“Go along then; if you need me for anything, just call Pippsy and she will lead you to where I am,” Narcissa said watching Harry nod his head quickly before hurrying off. She couldn’t find it in her to tell him not to run in the house; the boy had been through so much and she couldn’t help but wonder if he had ever had much of a chance to act childish; she very much doubted that he had.

—–x

It had only been a single day since Harry had left the Burrow, but each one of the Weasleys felt as if there was now something missing. Harry had wormed his way into their family and hearts so perfectly, it shouldn’t have felt any different from any other summer when the green-eyed boy had had to return to his relatives, But it was very different; perhaps it was because it was the Malfoys whom Harry was with now.

Molly worried about Harry, like she always did; she worried that maybe he wasn’t getting enough food or enough sleep, worried that he wouldn’t be treated right at Malfoy Manor. She considered him one of her sons and it hurt her so deeply that there was nothing that could be done about the situation.

Arthur was missing his talks with Harry; he had learned so much more about muggles from Harry than he ever had from collecting odd muggle things. Harry had even gotten him a few books to read. He was also worried for the boy, being with the Malfoys, but knew that, after everything, Harry would be able to take care of himself. The only thing that Arthur truly worried about was the Malfoys forbidding Harry from seeing or contacting them.

The twins, though worried about Harry as well, didn’t feel his absence as much as Ron did. The red-head with a short fuse was so angry that he had practically destroyed his room after Harry had left. He had put a brave face on for Harry, because he had enough control over his anger that he was able to do that now, but Ron was already making plans; if Harry didn’t contact any of them within a week then he would go straight to Malfoy Manor and demand to see Harry. He and his best friend had gone through to much together and Ron wasn’t about to let the Malfoys separate them now.

And Ginny… she had not been seen since yesterday morning. As far as anyone knew, she was still sulking in her room about Harry having left, but even with her sulking and refusing to talk to anyone, she also knew that there was nothing that could be done.

It was nearing dinner time in the Weasley house, when Harry’s snowy owl, Hedwig, flew in through the window, landing on the counter next to Molly. She blinked at Hedwig in surprise before smiling. “Hello Hedwig,” she greeted, watching the owl hold out its leg, waiting for her to take the letter attached to it. Molly hurriedly removed it and, when the Weasley matriarch had the letter, Hedwig flew over and sat on the window sill so that she would be out of Molly’s way.

Molly sat down and opened the letter; she didn’t know if she should be happy, or more worried that Harry was writing so soon. But, as she read his letter, a sad smile started forming.

“Mum, when’s dinner?” Ron asked as he came into the room. “Mum?” he asked when she didn’t even look up from the letter she was reading. Frowning deeply Ron took a couple more steps towards his mother before he noticed Hedwig sitting in the window sill.

“Harry wrote a letter already?” he asked in surprise. “What’s it say?” he questioned his mother as she folded up the letter.

“He is letting us know that he is settling in,” she said, putting the letter in her pocket before standing up.

“Can I read it?” Ron asked frowning more when the letter vanished into his mother’s pocket.

“You can read it later, Ron, I promise,” Molly said earnestly, “but there is something that I have to speak to your father about first.” She didn’t want to keep the letter from Ron, he was so worried about his best friend. “I promise you that Harry is perfectly fine, but I really must speak with your father before anything is decided.”

Ron huffed in annoyance before storming out of the room, slamming things on his way back up to his room. Molly sighed and let him go; she would explain it to him later. Looking back at Hedwig she gave the bird a small smile.

“We wont have a reply until later tonight or tomorrow,” Molly said. Hedwig hooted softly before turning and flying out the open window.

——–x

Harry stared at the ceiling from where he was laying on the floor, the items that had been in his trunk on the floor around him. He had been trying, once again, to go through his things and decide if it was worth finding a place to put it all that wasn’t his trunk; but every time he started to feel like he might be able to get something done, the house elf, Pippsy, kept appearing to inform him that Lucius wanted to see Harry in the study.

Harry had sent her away to inform Lucius that he was busy every time; the elf, of course, had popped off only to come back wringing her hands together. But no matter how many times she asked him, Harry still refused; he didn’t want to see Lucius, he didn’t want to hear what the man had to say. He had told Pippsy that, and seen her pop off again. Harry sighed in relief when she hadn’t come back.

Harry turned his head when he heard a soft knock on the door. He didn’t think that Draco would be home yet, it was still fairly early in the after noon. Letting out a frustrated sigh Harry pulled himself up from the floor to go open the door.

He really shouldn’t have been surprised to see Lucius standing there. Harry blinked up at the taller man. “Can I help you?” Harry asked, making no move to let this man into his room; if he was going to be made to live in the Manor then he was at least going to keep the space he had been given as truly his.

“I came to speak with you,” Lucius informed him. “I sent Pippsy up so that you would come to my study.”

“Just because you ‘summon’ me to your study, doesn’t mean I’m just going to drop everything I am doing to please your every whim,” Harry snapped and he was satisfied to see the old familiar anger flicker cross the older man’s face before it was promptly masked again.

“You are a guest in this house, I will not tolerate you speaking to me in such a way,” Lucius said, keeping his voice even, but it was still easy to tell that the man was getting angry.

“Guest?” Harry asked incredulously, and he couldn’t help but laugh. “The only reason I am here is because of the contract,” Harry shot back. “I would never willingly be in this house if I actually had a choice,” the boy snapped, noticing how Lucius tightened his hand on the head of his cane. Harry knew from his second year what was actually hidden inside the cane. He looked up at the man standing in front of him silently daring him to draw his wand.

“Something should be done about that attitude of yours. I will set up lessons and we shall see if someone will be up to the challenge of teaching you manners and respect,” Lucius said coolly.

“Just tell me what you want so I can get back to what I was doing,” Harry snarled, glaring at the man.

“I came to discuss the event, to which you will be accompanying Draco and me, at the ministry this evening,” Lucius said firmly; he had mentioned it over dinner the previous evening, but he could not allow the boy to disgrace the Malfoy family. “We will not be late, so I expect you dressed and waiting in the entrance hall at six,” Lucius ordered.

“I don’t do parties,” Harry snapped angrily. He did remember some mention of the Ministry party the evening before, but he hadn’t really been listening closely and hadn’t really registered that they were expecting for him to attend. “Especially ones thrown by the ministry,” Harry added, moving to close the door but Lucius stopped him.

“You will be going, I am not giving you a choice in the matter,” Lucius hissed keeping Harry from closing the door.

Harry actually growled at the man trying to push the door harder. “Does it look like I care what you expect or demand of me? I don’t want to go, so I’m not going.” Harry shoved Lucius back away from the door; he wasn’t very strong, at least not in comparison to the taller man, but he managed to catch the blond man by surprise enough to force him to stumble back. This gave Harry just enough time to slam his door shut pulling out his wand quickly he cast a locking charm, just in case Lucius tried to get in after him.

Harry remained there for a long tense moment, his wand still drawn and pointed at the door, waiting to see if the elder Malfoy would try and break in. However, when nothing happened after several minuets Harry sighed, put his wand away and went back to his pile of things that were still laying about the floor. He looked around at his belongings, but wasn’t in the mood to sort any of it out now. Leaving everything where it was, Harry climbed onto his bed and curled up; he would most likely be hearing about how inappropriate his attitude was for the next few months now, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He truly did hate Lucius Malfoy.

—–x

It was a few hours later when Harry felt someone gently shaking him awake. He batted at their hand and rolled over pulling the pillow over his face. There was a frustrated sigh and the pillow was ripped from Harry’s head, making the black haired boy sit up quickly, grabbing his wand to hex whoever it was trying to wake him up.

Draco raised an eyebrow at Harry and shook his head. “When my father told me that you threw a temper tantrum and were now in your room sulking I didn’t believe him.”

“I’m not sulking, your father is just a bastard,” Harry said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and putting his wand back on his bed side table. Draco shook his head and made no comment on that as he walked over to Harry’s wardrobe, glancing at the mess that Harry had left on the floor before he opened the wardrobe going through the robes in there.

“What are you doing?” Harry asked, swinging his feet over the side of the bed as he watched Draco.

“I’m getting your dress robes out,” Draco informed him and Harry glared at the blond’s back.

“If your father told you that I had a ‘temper tantrum’ then he should have also told you that I don’t want to go to the ministry party,” Harry snapped.

“We have to go, Harry,” Draco said looking over his shoulder at the smaller boy. “There are going to be reporters there, and we are going to have to use this to confirm the article that was in the paper this morning,” Draco explained and returned to looking through the robes before pulling out a dark green set that had thin gold trim around the collar, and gold buttons to match.

“So you go and tell them. I don’t want to go,” Harry huffed and Draco shook his head.

“Well that didn’t last long,” Draco said, smirking as he laid the robes out on the bed despite Harry’s protests.

Harry raised an eyebrow at the blond. “What didn’t last long?” he asked.

“You listening to everything I say.” Draco looked at him then, still smirking. “It’s a little comforting to know that you’re not just going to lay down and let someone else run your life; as much fun as the thought used to be, it was a little unnerving to actually see it happening. That being said however, you’re still going to the party.”

“I’m not going!” Harry growled. “You go, and tell everyone that yes I’m engaged to you. I don’t want to go just to sit and smile at those people,” Harry said angrily, glaring at Draco; the blond boy rubbed at his temples feeling a headache coming on.

“Harry, look,” Draco said, trying to keep his calm, “we don’t have to stay the whole party. But if we’re going to announce the engagement, then you have to be there as well,” he tried to explain but the look Harry was still giving him meant that the black haired boy was still going to put up a fight about it. “What is so bad about going to the party?” Draco finally asked.

“Do you want the full list?” Harry asked. “Or just the top five?”

“Anything, as long as it’s a good reason, because right now you’re acting like a child that isn’t being allowed to get his own way,” Draco hissed back; he was rapidly loosing his patience with Harry, and somewhere in the back of his mind he was wondering if this was what life with Harry would be like.

“I don’t like being the center of attention,” Harry snapped at him. “If we go to that party then every reporter that’s there will want to talk to me, find out what my side of the story is about our engagement. Am I just go and pretend that I want this life?” he asked rhetorically, gesturing around him. “And smile sweetly while they all act like they actually care about me, when I have seen time and time again, they don’t care at all?”

He hadn’t really intended to say all this, but it was like the damn had burst and he couldn’t hold back. ”And then,” he went on, “even if I do tell them the truth about us, they will just print whatever the hell they want anyway to make it sound more interesting because Merlin forbid that their ‘savior’,” Harry sneered, practically spitting the word, “has a boring life. It’s like everyone is just waiting to find out what my next big adventure is, waiting to see if I will go off and hunt down other dark wizards to kill.” Harry made a huffing sound when he was finished, crossing his arms over his chest and looking away from the blond.

“That does sound rather annoying,” Draco admitted, but he didn’t sound too impressed with Harry’s reasoning though. “However, you’re not the only one with a hard life, Potter.” Draco glared at Harry. “So the prophet makes up shit about you that’s not true, makes you out to be some great wizard so that people can continue to worship the ground you walk on. I would switch places with you any day of the week.” Draco was seething. He pointed at the robes he put on the bed. “Put those on, and come down stairs,” he ordered. “You are going to the damn party if I have to body bind you and drag you there myself!” And with that, Draco turned and left the room, slamming the door on his way out.

Harry winced on hearing it, but he remained sitting on his bed. Slowly he turned his attention to the robes that Draco had picked out for him. He felt completely stupid now for complaining about how bad things for him were; yes, he got unwanted attention, but Draco surly must have had it a hell of a lot worse. After all, how much worse could it get than being the son of a Death Eater? Harry felt extremely stupid for not realising it sooner.

Slowly the black haired boy pulled himself off the bed to get changed and go downstairs to meet Draco.

—–x

Draco and Harry had arrived at the party together, Lucius having gone on ahead of them. Harry was thankful for that at least; he didn’t think he would be able to stand a second run in with the elder Malfoy that night; it was bad enough that he had to remain at Draco’s side as they walked through the crowded room.

Draco hadn’t spoken a word to Harry since the black haired boy had come downstairs dressed in his robes. He had only given Harry a critical look over before handing an invitation to Harry and stepping into the floo. Harry had debated for a moment about really not going, but decided that Draco would probably make good on his threat to drag him to the party.

So it was that Harry found himself in a crowded room, with Draco at his side and surrounded by people who kept on wanting to shake his hand, as if they knew him, people who wanted the chance to talk to, and hopefully touch, the-boy-who-lived. All of them were either ignoring Draco completely, or giving the blond the coldest look they could muster.

“Mr. Potter! I had no idea that you were going to be here this evening!” a familiar voice said and Harry winced, turning slowly to look at Rita Skeeter as she hurried over to him.

“What do you want?” Harry asked a bit more rudely then he had actually intended to, but out of all the reporters who wanted to talk to him tonight, this was the one that Harry wanted to avoid the most.

“An interview of course,” she said grinning widely at Harry, hardly giving Draco a glance. “The biggest scandal in the young savior’s life, the forbidden love-”

“Do excuse me for interrupting,” Draco said, cutting Skeeter off, “but we have promised an exclusive interview to Ms. Parkinson.” Draco smiled politely as he watched the woman’s face fall in disappointment, though it didn’t last long as she smiled again looking from Draco back to Harry.

“Yes, of course, I suppose it’s only fair to let someone else have the pleasure of writing about Mr. Potter,” she said, turning her full attention back towards Harry. “But you know, if you wanted to give me a private interview…”

“No,” Harry said firmly and turned to walk away. He couldn’t understand how that woman still had her job; she would have been better suited to writing fantasy stories. Harry glanced over at Draco, who was still at his side, walking with him, but the blond didn’t even look in his direction. Harry sighed, his shoulders slumping slightly; he could only assume that Draco was still mad at him.

“Look, Draco, I’m sorry…” Harry started to say.

“Not now,” Draco interrupted in a quiet tone, under his breath, cutting him off. Harry looked at him, sighing and nodding. There was a sudden flash and Harry jumped, looking around for who had taken the picture.

“A little warning before you do that next time!” Harry huffed, glaring as another picture was taken. He really hated this; he didn’t want to be there and there were far too many people. With one more look at Draco, and a glare towards the man with the camera, Harry started to storm off towards the group of people. Draco moved to follow him but Harry looked back at the blond. “Leave me alone,” Harry hissed softly and continued on his way through the gathered people and towards the bar.

“You look like you could use something to drink,” the person behind the bar said and Harry just nodded a little absent-mindedly.

“There’s far too many people here,” Harry admitted grumpily, as he took a seat at the bar.

“There’s not that many, it’s only a small party. I’ve seen bigger,” The bar tender said pouring Harry a glass of some kind of cocktail.

“I don’t like being around people in general, so this right here is far too many people. And I swear everyone in this damn room has tried to shake my hand at least three times,” Harry complained taking the glass that was handed to him and downing it. The bartender stared at him for a long moment.

“You’re Harry Potter,” the man said, now staring at the scar on Harry’s forehead.

“Yeah, thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot that,” Harry snapped.

“Sorry, I don’t mean to stare. It’s just I never thought I would ever be able to meet you is all. I heard that you avoided parties like this,” the bartender explained.

Harry put the empty glass back on the counter top. “I do avoid parties like this,” he confirmed, still sounding rather annoyed. “But my fiancé was invited, so I kind of had to come.” Harry shrugged taking the second glass that was handed to him, not having even noticed the bartender making it this time. Turning from the bar, and glancing around the room, his attention drifted towards a small group of people where he saw Draco standing.

The bartender also looked in the direction Harry was and frowned. “So it’s true?” he asked, looking surprised. “Are you really engaged to Draco Malfoy?”

“Unfortunately, for once the prophet wasn’t making stuff up,” Harry grumbled, before shrugging and downing half of his second glass, feeling the unpleasant burn in his throat and stomach.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why him?” the bartender queried, his voice a little quieter as he leaned forward over the bar a little.

“He does mind you asking,” someone said, as they came and sat down next to Harry. “Now, I suggest that you do your job and attend to the other people at the bar,” the newcomer said, gesturing to a few waiting guests; the bartender didn’t look very happy at this suggestion but complied none-the-less.

Harry looked at the man suspiciously, his green eyes blinking slowly, as he looked up into the man’s violet ones. Harry vaguely recognised this person from Hogwarts, but he couldn’t recall ever talking to the other boy.

“Blaise Zabini,” the tan boy said, as he held out his hand to Harry, who blinked in surprise before slowly taking the offered hand. Blaise looked at him raising an eyebrow. “Usually it’s polite to answer with your own name,” Blaise said, chuckling as Harry’s cheeks went slightly pink.

“You can’t pretend you don’t know who I am,” Harry shot back.

Blaise chuckled again. “I know exactly who you are. But the fact still remains that this is the first time we’ve ever really been introduced. If you’re going to be marrying Draco it’s best to brush up on some basic manners.”

“Um…okay, I’m Harry,” Harry said pulling his hand back and giving Blaise a curious look before picking up his drink again, sipping at it a little more slowly this time, as much for something to do with his hands as anything else.

“Not much of a party person, are you?” Blaise observed, ordering his own drink from one of the other bartenders and turning in his seat so he could lean back against the bar as he turned his attention to the people in the room.

“Is it that obvious?” Harry asked looking at the tan boy sitting next to him.

Blaise shook his head. “No, not really, but Draco told me.” Blaise nodded over towards where the blond was talking with some more people who looked like they might have actually been reporters.

“Oh,” was all Harry could say as he sipped at his drink, the both of them falling into silence.

“You don’t talk much,” Blaise stated and Harry looked over at him again.

Harry frowned; Blaise was the second person that day to point out how quiet he was. Was it really something that strange? “No, I don’t talk much. I find it pointless to talk to people when most of them don’t listen to what I’m saying anyway,” Harry said, not really having intended to make such a confession; he sipped at his drink again because it was easier than looking at the other boy.

“I’m listening,” Blaise pointed out taking a sip of his own drink. “I am curious though, you don’t have to answer this, but why ARE you marrying Draco?” he asked, dropping his voice a little. “I know it was a magical contract which left you both with little choice in the matter, but what were they holding over your head to make you marry him?”

Harry shook his head. “It’s really complicated. And if I start to think about it now I might actually be tempted to kill the people responsible for putting me through this,” Harry admitted.

“I don’t think you should say that too loudly,” Blaise pointed out. “Not with all these reporters around everywhere.” The tan boy smirked and Harry shot him a glare.

“Does it really matter if they hear what I say or not? They’re just going to make stuff up to print about me anyway. I’ve already been rude to more then one of them tonight, I fully expect my face to be plastered all over the front page tomorrow,” Harry told him, giving a huff of annoyance and finished his drink before leaving the cup on the counter and standing up. “It was nice talking to you,” he said to Blaise before he moved away from the bar quickly, ducking between people, leaving Blaise sitting at the bar alone.

“Was that my fiancé you just chased off?” Draco asked, coming to stand next to Blaise.

“Nah, he saw you coming over and decided to make a run for it,” Blaise teased. “I think he’s a bit stressed.” Blaise looked at his friend who sighed.

“I don’t blame him for being stressed. We kind of had a fight right before we came here.” Draco sighed again. “Not that it’s strange that we fought, it’s what the two of us are good at I suppose.”

“Yes, I suppose the two of you do have rather a bit of experience with fighting each other,” Blaise agreed. “Why not go after him and try to talk?” he suggested. “You’ve been here for a couple hours, and so if your father comes looking for you I’ll just tell him that Potter drank to much so you had to take him home.” Blaise gave Draco a gentle shove in the direction that Harry had gone off to. Blaise couldn’t say he was really happy about the whole thing, Theodore and Pansy weren’t happy either, but he had decided that if he could make things a little easier for Draco, then he would.

Draco gave his friend a grateful smile; not many of his friends would be brave enough to tell Lucius that his son had ducked out of a party early. Especially when they were supposed to be making an announcement about the engagement. “Thank you, Blaise, I owe you one.”

“Yeah, you do. Don’t worry though, I’ve been keeping track of how much you owe me, and when the time comes I’ll be calling in all the favors at once,” Blaise joked, and Draco smirked at him before hurrying off to catch up to Harry.

Harry wasn’t very difficult to find; the black haired boy had found an empty table that was on the far side of the room away from most of the people. Draco approached him, frowning when he saw Harry was sitting with his arms on the table, and his head resting on them; for him there was no mistaking his fiancé’s distinctive hair, but Harry’s face being hidden was probably the reason that the black haired boy was being left alone for the moment.

“Harry?” Draco said hesitantly. Harry showed no sign of having heard Draco at all, and for a moment the blond thought that Harry may have actually fallen asleep at the table. Reaching out, Draco put a hand on Harry’s arm and Harry’s head snapped up quickly to look at him; the blond frown when he realised that he could feel that Harry was shaking slightly.

“What?” Harry snapped, pulling his arm away from Draco as he sat up straight, glaring at his fiancé.

“What’s wrong?” Draco asked, not really liking Harry’s hostile behavior, though he couldn’t really blame him for it.

“Nothing’s wrong,” Harry said looking away. “What do you want?” he asked impatiently.

“I came to find you, to see if you’re okay,” Draco said sitting down in the empty chair across from Harry.

Harry let out a humorless laugh. “Oh, I’m just fine. I love being dragged to parties I don’t want to be at, followed around by people who want to touch me because I’m Harry Potter, while being ignored by the person who made me come here in the first place.” Harry glared at Draco and the blond sighed.

“I’m not ignoring you, Harry,” Draco insisted.

“You are,” Harry stated, looking back at the blond again. “This is the first you’ve talked to me since we got here, and that was two hours ago, Draco,” he snapped and Draco frowned at that. He didn’t think he had been ignoring Harry. “The only time you talked to me was when I tried to apologise for upsetting you, but you didn’t want to hear that either.” Harry rested his head back on the table. “I know you’re upset because of what I said earlier,” he went on, his voice muffled from having his head in his arms again. “I really didn’t have a good reason for not wanting to come here I suppose, but I still don’t want to be here. I hate all this attention, I don’t know how to handle it and it’s stressing me out.”

Draco’s frown deepened as he watched his fiancé. “Harry, I didn’t mean to ignore you; and I’m not mad, annoyed maybe, but not mad. I don’t like these parties much either, though I suppose I have more practice at dealing with them then you do.”

Harry lifted his head slightly to look at Draco. “You sure have a strange way of showing they you’re not mad.”

Draco shrugged his shoulder. “I suppose so,” Draco admitted, looking around the room before standing up. “I think we’ve been here long enough, we should be able to go home now and no one will miss us.” Draco looked back at Harry to find the other boy already standing up too.

“What about announcing our engagement?” Harry asked.

“The fact that we’re here together is enough of an announcement I think,” Draco told him, reaching out and putting a hand on his arm, as a peace gesture. “The official announcement will be in the paper tomorrow, which means we’ll have to start planning the wedding.”

“Whatever, I don’t care. Can we just leave now?” Harry asked; he was done with this stupid party and the people there.

“Alright, we’re leaving now,” Draco said, smiling as he took Harry’s hand and lead him out of the party, keeping an eye out for his father, knowing the man would probably try and stop them, but thankfully there was no sign of him.

Draco let Harry go through the floo first before following right after. As the blond stepped out on the other side he saw Harry picking himself up off the floor and heading straight to the door. “Am I really that bad to be around?” Draco asked.

Harry stopped in the doorway looking over his shoulder at Draco. “I want to get out of these robes and into my own clothes,” Harry explained, giving Draco a curious look as the blond walked over to stand next to him.

“I’ll walk up with you then. I will also ask Pippsy to bring us up some tea and something to eat. There are still some things I would like to talk about.” Draco watched as Harry frowned, not looking all that happy about Draco’s insistence on going with him.

“Can’t we just talk tomorrow? I’m tired, and I’m kinda done with people for tonight,” Harry told him, he really wasn’t in the mood to be around anyone else at the moment.

“Pansy is coming over tomorrow, she’s the one who will be writing the interview for the prophet and we won’t have time to talk before she arrives, unless you wake up really early,” Draco explained. “She will most likely be here right after breakfast and I want to talk about exactly what we want her to write.” Draco went straight past Harry and started on his way upstairs.

Harry clenched his teeth holding back any comments he had for Draco as he followed the blond. He didn’t know why his input on this was so important, seeing as how he had already told Draco that he would go along with what the blond had decided. He would just remind Draco of that, and then hopefully he would be able to have some time to himself to de-stress.

——x

Draco reluctantly agreed to allow Harry an hour to himself before Pippsy showed up with tea, and treacle tart. Harry smiled as he picked up a piece for himself and started eating it, without even waiting for Draco to join him in his room.

The blond stood by the doorway watching as Harry finished his first slice of the tart and started on a second. “I had Pippsy make that to go with the tea,” Draco pointed out, chuckling as Harry’s cheeks turned slightly pink.

“Sorry,” Harry said, looking up and spotting his fiancé, putting his second peace down and waiting for Draco to sit down as well. “So, what do we have to talk about?” Harry asked. “I already said I would go along with whatever you wanted.”

Draco sat down in the seat across from Harry and started fixing himself some tea. He looked up at the other boy and frowned. “You did say that, and then, as soon as something came up that you didn’t want to do, you started having an attitude about it,” Draco pointed out. “Unless going places with me wasn’t part of the original deal.”

Harry sighed, fixing himself some tea as well. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I said that,” he admitted. “The thought of going to Ministry parties with you certainly never crossed my mind.”

“That’s what I thought,” Draco said, sipping at his tea. “So, to avoid any more fights in the future…” he said, and Draco couldn’t keep the smile off his face when Harry chuckled. “Though it is unlikely you and I will ever be able to completely avoid fighting in the future,” he conceded. “But I am suggesting that we at least try, by talking things out before hand.”

Harry stared at Draco; he had known before that Draco had definitely grown up, but it was still a little surprising to hear the blond be the one to suggest they talk things out before resorting to yelling or getting angry with each other. “We can try,” Harry said. “I told you before though, I still have a temper, and I suppose it does get away from me at times.”

“At least you’re not blowing things up,” Draco said, as he smirked, leaning back in his seat and sipping at his tea. Harry’s cheeks darkened again as he picked up his treacle tart and started eating that again, occasionally sipping at his tea.

“Now that we’re both a little more calm,” the blond went on. “I am sorry that I dragged you to the party tonight. I didn’t really understand why it was such a big deal.”

Harry sighed, shaking his head. “You don’t need to apologise,” he said. “I was acting childish I suppose, but I wasn’t really paying attention at dinner yesterday when you and Lucius were talking about the party. So when your father showed up at my door, demanding that I be dressed and ready to leave for the party by six, it felt like I had had no notice.”

Draco nodded his understanding at that. He had been aware that Harry’s focus had been a bit off the day before, but when Harry explained it like he had, the overreaction about the party felt like it made a little bit more sense. He was still not pleased with Harry, but he at least felt he partially understood.

“I said I would go along with whatever you decided to do, but it doesn’t mean that I like being bossed around by your father of all people,” Harry went on to explain. “And, like I said before, I really don’t like parties, particularly Ministry ones.”

“Your attitude makes a bit more sense now,” Draco said with a nod. “My father usually doesn’t come up to my rooms, he tends to send Pippsy to come get me and let me know he wants to speak with me,” the blond told him, setting his tea cup down on the table, looking across at Harry.

“Well…he tried, but I kind of ignored being summoned to his study,” Harry admitted softly, looking a little bashful.

“Next time, it would be best not to ignore it if he calls for you. I don’t think my father would do anything, but he’s not the type of man who likes to be ignored,” Draco said, before he frowned in thought for a moment. “I suppose that is something he and I have in common.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Harry said, chuckling before going back to drinking his tea and finishing his treacle tart. “So, Pansy is going to be doing the interview tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Draco confirmed, “I was thinking that we would explain about the contract and focus more on the bright side of things, instead of the fact that we’re both being blackmailed into this.”

“Why?” Harry asked. “I mean, do we really want people to know about the contract?” Harry was still mad about it and the fact that there was nothing that could really be done to change the contract unless Dumbledore and Lucius agreed on it but he didn’t really want to tell everyone that the Headmaster of Hogwarts had essentially sold Harry off to the right hand man of Voldemort himself.

“Because I, for one, am already enough of a target to most people in the wizarding world,” Draco said, resting his elbows on his knees as he leaned forwards. “It won’t matter to the majority of people if it was my father who set this up to begin with, it isn’t going to make any difference to their opinion of Lucius Malfoy; nor me for that matter. And, if they manage to kill me, then your problem will be solved either way.” Draco watched the color drain from Harry’s face; clearly the green-eyed boy hadn’t thought about any of that.

“Oh…then, wouldn’t it be better if we just went along with the ‘secret lovers’ thing that was in this morning’s prophet?” Harry asked; he barely even liked Draco but he didn’t really like the idea of people going after the blond. Lucius he didn’t care about, but if people did start to target Draco for this then the blond could actually get seriously hurt. That thought alone made Harry feel slightly sick.

“I told you before, I want to rebuild my family name; I don’t want to do it by telling lies,” Draco insisted.

“Yeah but, if I go along with it, then people won’t be able to say anything about it,” Harry argued. Draco watched him for a moment before he stood up and walked around the table so he could stand in front Harry.

“Can you do that?” Draco asked. “Can you really put on that good of an act to pretend that we’ve been secret lovers for years?” Draco leaned down putting his hands on either side of Harry’s head as the smaller boy pressed back into his seat. “Can you pretend to know me well enough to pull that off? Would you be willing to tell me every secret you have so I would be able to play my part just as well?”

Draco was leaning so close to Harry that the black haired boy could feel Draco’s breath, it didn’t escape his notice either that if he leaned up just a little bit he would be able to press his lips against those soft pink ones that were so close to him. Harry felt himself shake his head, trying to clear his thoughts, but Draco seemed to have taken it as his answer and pulled away, the blond standing up straight again.

“I didn’t think so,” Draco said, smirking as he returned to his own seat. Harry was left sitting in his own, feeling very baffled about what had just happened. Even as Draco continued talking, making plans for what they would tell Pansy the next day Harry couldn’t seem to focus much on anything, he just nodded and agreed with Draco until the blond decided it was getting to late and went to bed.

Harry followed Draco to the door and watched as Draco left, going down the hall to where Harry knew the blond’s room was located. Harry waited until Draco was gone from his sight, before shutting himself inside the rooms he had been given; he leaned back against the door and put a hand on his chest where it felt as if his heart was still beating to fast. He had wanted to kiss Draco; the thought was so crazy that Harry could only decide it had to have been the alcohol he had had at the party earlier that evening, ignoring the fact that it had been hours ago and he was perfectly sober, not to mention the drinks he had hadn’t even effected him. Pushing away the thoughts of the crazy evening, Harry got ready for bed, deciding he would need his sleep for tomorrow.

TBC

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