Title: The Long Hard Path
Characters: Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Kreature, Various OC House Elves
Relationships: Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter, Hermione Granger/Blaise Zabini
Warnings/Tags: Enemies to Lovers, Reformed Draco, Non-Canon Compliant: Harry Potter
Beta: Angel N Darkness
Author’s Note: This is my first foray into HP fully. My knowledge is mostly fanfic and the movies. This is definitely canon-divergent in 4th yr during the tournament. I tend to do what I want in any fandom regardless of reality or canon, HP is no different. Yes, the Paddington referenced is Tony DiNozzo, but it’s such a small bit that I’m not listing him as a character. This was written for my Enemies to Lovers square on my Trope Bingo card at Just Write on Discord. (Edited 12-19-2020 for grammar and wording and such)
Summary: During Fourth Year, Draco made a decision that changed his whole life. He had to pick between following the herd or pointing out the obvious. There is no way Potter could trick the goblet. This led him down the road to self discovery and finding forever in his one time arch-nemesis.
The Long Hard Path
Draco was standing in front of a cauldron in his laboratory working on a custom order potion for one of his clients, when he heard Blaise calling out to him. “Down here,” Draco called, then turned all of his attention back to the potion as he was nearing a critical point in the process and could not afford to be distracted.
Letting out a sigh of relief once he was safely past the critical stage, and now able to let the potion set for a few days resting. He prepped the cauldron for storage, and then turned to the House Elf standing attentively next to him wearing the mini apron and goggles. “Woobey, please move Mrs. Hyde’s potion into the storage area once it’s sufficiently cooled down. We can finish up her order once I return from holiday with Harry.”
“Yes, Master Draco. Woobey being keeping a good eye on it.” The house elf nodded and curtsied earning a formal nod in return before the Malfoy Head of House and Black Family heir turned his attention back to Blaise.
“Kreature wanted me to advise you that lunch is ready,” Blaise offered with a sparkle in his eyes that suggested he was greatly amused by something. “He seemed miffed that he was not allowed to come and tell you himself.”
Draco sighed and shook his head before slapping his friend on the arm and leading him through the house to the afternoon dining room that he knew the elderly house elf would have lunch laid out. “He’s miffed that I told him the labs are Woobey’s domain, and what she says in there goes. For being as old as he is, Kreature is pants at knowing how to handle delicate ingredients and even worse how to clean up the labs. I’d do the cleaning myself if it didn’t send Woobey into such a fit.”
“Well to be fair, her running your lab area is the sole reason she was brought into the household,” Blaise points out as they sat. Kreature popping in immediately to serve them their plates.
“Luncheon be served to the masters,” Kreature informed his ears drooped showing his upset and Draco barely held in a sigh.
“It looks smashing, as always Kreature,” Draco praised happy when the senior house elf’s ears perked up almost immediately. “You always know just what I am craving. Excellent job as always.”
Kreature sniffed but gave a bow of recognition. “It being Kreature’s job to anticipate Lord Malfoy and Heir Black’s needs,” he croaked before popping out with a crack, and Draco gave into his urge to eyeroll.
“I keep telling Harry we don’t need children when we have so many House Elves,” Draco drawled, then smirked at the bark of laughter Blaise let loose.
“You know, I was just telling Pans the other day that it still astonishes me at times how vastly different we all are, but you especially, from the prats that we were when we started Hogwarts. Her oldest started this year you know, and sent home a three foot letter about how awesome Professor Paddington is.”
This time it was Draco’s turn to laugh as he smiled fondly thinking of the older Slytherin who had made such a change in his life. During their fourth year, when Harry Potter’s name came out of the cauldron, Draco initially was as stunned as everyone else had been. At first, as he’d gathered in the Slytherin common room with his housemates, he’d been content to listen to their jeers of distain for all of the ways that the Gryffindor had obviously cheated to get into the tournament.
The problem was though that everything they said clashed horribly with everything Draco had accused his nemesis of being until finally he had to speak up. “I am curious as to how any of you think that Potter of all people could pull off any of these.”
While Draco was only a fourth year, having the Malfoy name in the House of Slytherin offered one some measure of respect just because of the power his family’s name held. “At least half of the ideas that you people have thrown around are beyond anything a fourth year, even one at the level of myself or even Granger are capable of, and we’re consistently the top two in our year. Of the remaining half, the majority of the ideas are ones that we know yes because of our families, but one such as Potter would have no way of knowing even existed let alone how to accomplish them. What is left is quite frankly impossible or should be when one considers that he’d also have to confound an artifact as powerful and ancient as the Goblet without anyone noticing something was off.
“So, do pray tell me how Potter managed to do so without any of the adults running this damned tournament realizing that something was not right. If nothing else, Dumbledud should have realized that there was something wrong. Not to mention, why has the adult responsible for Potter’s wellbeing not come forward? If my name had come out, father and mother both would be up in arms.”
“Of course, your father,” one of sixth years sneered, and Draco just arched an eyebrow refusing to be antagonized into acting rashly.
“Are you trying to claim Hastings that you believe your father would not have done the same? And with you being a sixth year at that, and only 4 months short of the age deadline? As for the rest of you, I know for a fact both of Pansy’s parents would be tearing Magical Britain apart to find a place to protect her at. Blaise’s mother would just be offing anyone who could harm him. Not to mention any of the rest of your parents. So, sod off on your sneering at my logic. As much as I hate to come to Potter’s defense, there is simply no way that he accomplished this, and if he didn’t that means he was set up.”
“And if he was set up, then who did it and why didn’t his house immediately leap to his defense?” Deborah Bevan added on. The fifth year earning herself a nod of approval from Draco. “Not only that, but several of the Gryffinduds were already sneering at Harry on their way out. Since when has Slytherin ever followed in their footsteps?”
“What exactly are you all saying?” Came from the back of the room, drawing eyes and some gasps as Professor Snape stepped from the shadows drawing a quiet curse from Draco’s lips for not having seen him standing there. “And why are you not all on your way to bed?”
Draco didn’t have long to make a decision, just a split second really. One thing that his father had always told him that Draco thought held some truth, was that there were moments in your life that held more power than others. Moments that could literally alter the course of your magical path. When those moments came, if you recognized yourself in one, it was vital that you chose the correct path. For of you chose wrong, the chance you could find your way back to the other was less than none.
He’d never really know why he’d chosen to stick to his defense of Potter, especially in the face of a man who had openly despised his yearmate their whole Hogwarts career. The fact was Draco had chosen the path he was on, and thus shaped a very different life for himself than the one he could have ended up in.
“I’ll never forget Snape’s face when he stepped into the common room the night Harry’s name came out of the goblet and heard you defend Potter. I don’t think I’d ever seen an expression on his face prior to that other than borderline disgust.”
Draco smirked as he remembered his Godfather’s disbelief in that moment and remembered that it had been far too long since he’d gone to see him. Hearing someone join them for lunch he was reminded that it was not just the course of his own or even his Godfather’s lives that were altered by his decision to stand up for Potter that evening.
“Sirius! You’re home early. Done at the DMLE already?”
Sirius gaining his freedom, and because of that agreeing to take in Draco to protect him from his father, had been another of those ripples started that evening that the fourth year could never have anticipated. Snape had not had a complete change of mind that evening, but he must have heard enough from his charges that he sought out the opinion of someone not connected to either the light or dark sides. Thus, bringing the House of Paddington and specifically the Paddington Heir Anthony Paddington into Draco’s life.
Anthony was eight years older than Draco and had been in Slytherin house at the same time as his cousin Crispin. The latter had been a devout Death Eater and one of Draco’s father’s minions during the war, whereas Tony had chosen to remain neutral more out of a distaste for Dumbledore than any even tiny alliance to Voldemort.
Tony had been born in America, but when his mother died when he was a child, his Uncle George had gone and fought for custody claiming that his father was not a suitable custodian for a magical child. Eventually, the courts had agreed with him, and Tony had been brought to England and eventually named the Paddington Family Heir after his older cousin Edward died in a quidditch accident.
Why Snape had sought out Tony and not Tony’s Uncle, Draco hadn’t known, but he would be forever grateful that he had. If he had not, Draco might have never been rescued from his father’s abusive clutches and would have most likely ended up on the wrong side during the war.
It was Tony who helped Draco become the man he was. When Snape had introduced him to the House one night, Draco immediately thought the older Slytherin was everything Draco himself longed to be. He was obviously good looking, charming, self-confident, and more importantly not afraid to speak his mind, even in the face of overwhelming objection to what he was saying.
Tony was employed by Gringotts as curse breaker and partnered with Bill Weasley, the eldest of the Weasley clan children. He’d gone to school with Bill’s younger brother Charlie, and despite the two being in traditionally opposing houses the Slytherin and Gryffindor had been quite close friends. At the same time though, Tony had managed to keep quite a few friends within his own house also, something Draco had been curious as to how he managed to pull off.
“You have to be willing to stand alone to get anyone to stand beside you,” Tony told him once during the months that he’d been helping Draco to get from the childish prat his father had been grooming into the person that Draco longed to be.
“If you are not determined enough to do the right thing even if you have to stand alone to do it, then no one will follow you, and if they do they won’t be people that you can trust in the long run. I didn’t get to where I am by following the crowd or the easy path. Crispin might be an arsehole, but he knows how to get people to follow his lead. He’s charming and knows it. He’s also slimy and cowardly and everything my real father would love to have as a son. There’s something big coming, Draco. The dverger have foreseen something evil coming, and believe that Voldemort will return, most likely sooner rather than later.
“When that happens, we’re going to have to take a side. You can choose to follow the path expected of you and end up on the side of true evil along with Voldemort and your father. You can end up on the so-called side of good and Dumbledore, but I think you’re already wise to the idea that, that won’t lead you anywhere good.”
“So, then where do I stand?” Draco had interrupted impatiently, his gut clenched with panic at the thought of openly opposing his father, and yet knowing that to be the man he wanted to be that he had to do so.
“You stand where you know is right. Not for Britain, not for your father or your family line, and not even for your friends who will follow you because they know you are their only safe haven. And let’s be honest here Draco, because I know you are aware enough to know that this move that you’re making isn’t just about your future. There are people following you that if you do not save them, they’ll never find their way. You must make the choice of where you stand for yourself. Pick a spot, pick a path that you feel is the best for you and walk it.”
So, pick a path Draco had. It hadn’t been the side that his father expected him to walk. It certainly hadn’t been the path that Dumblearse wanted to lure him to. Instead it had been a path nearly invisible and so overgrown that it nearly hadn’t been a path at all.
It was the side of the just. It was the path that accepted that neither the light or the dark was wrong and at the same time were both wrong. It was the side that strove to reject the notions of blood purity that he’d had literally beaten into his head, while at the same time saving and even rejuvenating the honorable traditions and celebrations that had been lost over the years while trying to work muggle born or muggle raised into their world.
It certainly had not been easy. The first huge hurdle had been Lucius Malfoy, who to say hadn’t been happy at his heir’s rebellion had been an understatement. However, as Tony pointed out, this wasn’t just about Draco. As he’d sat in the room he’d been in his four year sharing with people like Vince and Greg, he’d been forced to admit that if he didn’t carve a path for at least them, most likely one of them would end up dead by the end of it all.
So, carved a path Draco had, and it started out by convincing the fourth years and below to reject the anti-Potter sentiment being thrown about by the other houses. Instead, he suggested they offer him their support and protection when needed. That in itself hadn’t exactly been easy. While Slytherin House wasn’t exactly innocent in their bullying of other houses, it wasn’t alone in that behavior either. It was a minority making the majority looking bad scenario that had been dreadfully hard to overcome given he’d enthusiastically been a part of that bad minority.
In addition to the first four years standing behind Harry, he’d managed to just about evenly split the fifth and sixth years and even gaining a handful of seventh years to his side. Tony hadn’t been kidding when he said Draco would be saving not only himself. It hadn’t been until he had all these people, children really, looking at him to save them that it occurred to the Malfoy Heir that he had no clue what to do next.
Next had been provided surprisingly by his mother, who might have been the one Draco was most stunned to gain to his alternate third side. One sunny Saturday afternoon, Narcissa had shown up at Hogwarts asking to talk to her son, and then left to go into hiding leaving behind her more information than Draco had any idea what to do with. So, he’d done what had become second nature by that point, and he’d penned a letter to his new mentor Heir Paddington, advising he needed his assistance in person as soon as possible.
“Just decided to take a few days off,” Sirius inserted with a smile drawing Draco back to the present. “What are you two up to today? I thought you’d be working on last minute packing for your holiday, Dray.”
“As if Hooby would ever allow me to leave packing to the last minute,” Draco drawled affectionately as he thought of the House Elf that had been chosen to be his personal assistant. “Although, he is most likely trying to help Dobby with the last-minute packing of Harry’s things. Blaise and I were just talking about fourth year and how much I owe Tony.”
“Tony only gave you some insight, Draco,” Sirius argued, always quick to defend his favorite cousin’s son whom he had been a guardian to for so many years. “You had to be willing to take the help he was offering. I have always believed that you saved yourself and the entirety of the war in the end.”
Before Draco could argue against this as he always had feeling reluctant to take any credit for helping turn the war against both Voldemort and ultimately Dumbledore, Blaise stepped in. “He’s right Draco. I was there by your side during the whole thing. Tony may have suggested that you take your own path, but you were the one who decided to save Harry from that fucker Weasley.”
“Ron Weasley has always been a jealous arsehole who never deserved Harry’s loyalty or friendship,” Draco sneered thinking of his true arch-nemesis in the youngest Weasley son. “While I am happy and very willing to admit that I was wrong about Granger, who ended up being quite a good sort once I got to know her, I will always point out that I was right about The Weasel all along. That oaf turned on Harry one too many times, I was just smart enough to take a chance and offer Harry my hand a second time.”
“I am glad to hear you hold my wife in such high regard,” Blaise joked with a laugh as Sirius gave the boys a smirk of his own. Kreature popped in putting a plate in front of Sirius and pop back out quickly and silently. “I don’t think that I will ever forget that day in the great hall when you publicly stood up for Harry in front of everyone. I thought Snape was gonna piss himself.”
Draco couldn’t help but grin as he turned his thoughts back to that fateful day when he made another life altering decision in turning his relationship with Harry from enemy and toward lover. He’d been sitting in his custom place at the Slytherin table waiting for the food to be served, watching Ron lead some of the other Gryffindors in his year in mocking Harry. The more he’d watched the more incensed that he’d become. This red-headed oaf was the one that Harry had chosen to be his best friend over Draco.
The Slytherin would never forget the day that his outreach of friendship had been horribly and very publicly rejected by the muggle raised Gryffindor who chose The Weasel instead. Now, here they sat in the Great Hall, Harry entered against his will into a tournament that could quite literally, and quite possibly would, kill him. Instead of offering his friendship and support, Ron was practically leading the charge against Harry.
“This shit has to end,” Draco muttered banging his hands on the table as he stood. When Vince and Greg had immediately started to stand too, Draco held up his hands signaling for them to stop.
“Please make a place for Potter,” Draco requested instead of commanding, as he’d been trying to treat his two most loyal followers better in his self-awakening. Then without another word, he strode from his table to the Gryffindor table ignoring how the Great Hall was growing more and more quiet until it was almost completely silent once he stood between Harry and Longbottom, who was seated next to him.
“Potter, I do recognize that you and I have been at odds since we were nothing more than ignorant first years. I also recognize that I have done nothing to make you believe the words I am about to utter to be anything near truthful. However, I have come to see the errors of my upbringing and I am working to find a course for myself and my fellow Slytherins. As such, I want to publicly apologize for any part I have played in our feud. I also wanted to apologize to Granger and Longbottom for the ill deeds I have done to them and any harm I have caused them with my words. I have really no excuse other than to say my father raised me to be a certain type of person, and I have only just recently realized that I do not want to be that person.
“As such, I want to offer you my friendship once more if you would be willing to accept the second offer. I also extend said offer of friendship to the only true friends within Gryffindor that you seem to have in Granger and Longbottom. In addition to that I want you to know the majority of Slytherin House is on your side in the fiasco that is this tournament. We believe you when you say that you did not enter yourself into the tournament. Because most of us come from noble and ancient houses, we do understand how virtually impossible it would have been for you to commit such an act.”
Draco paused to look down the table to where The Weasel sat fuming at him. His face nearly the same color as his hair. “Anyone who has grown up in a magical family and surrounded by magic should know this, but then some of us actually pay attention to the teachings of others. In my case, it was at my mother’s knee that I learned the lessons of magic.”
Turning away from Weasley feeling like he’d made his point, Draco went on to address Harry directly. “So, you have not only the belief of as much of Slytherin House as I could manage but also our protection should you need it and be willing to accept it. Please know that this protection will extend to Granger and Longbottom. I would like to say that all of my house has come to their senses, but unfortunately there are some bad seeds in every basket of apples. There are enough of us though on your side and offering you our protection however, that should you need it, you are always welcome at not only our table, but within our house.”
Draco waved a hand making three pieces of paper appear in front of Potter, Granger, and Longbottom. “The password to get you into our house. It has been magically spelled so that it can only be read by each of you. I hope that you are willing to take us up on it should you ever need it. Granger, I have some thoughts on our Charms assignment that I would like to get your opinions on sometime should you be willing.
“Again, on the behalf of those in Slytherin House standing behind me, I offer our apologies. As you can see, we have made room for you at our table, the seats will always be there for you whenever you need.” With that, Draco held out his hand to Harry, holding his breath as he hoped it didn’t shake with the nerves coursing through his body.
When Granger started to speak, Draco almost swallowed his tongue, when one of the twins reached a hand over to lay on her arm in a gesture suggesting that she should remain silent. It seemed like it took ages, and Draco was about ready to give up, but slowly, Harry lifted his hand and wrapped it around Malfoy’s own as the two shook signaling the end of their feud. When Longbottom leaned over and whispered in his ear, Harry gave his friend a short nod, and Draco’s curiosity did not live long as he waited to find out what that was about.
“On behalf of the House of Potter I offer you personally my friendship and my alliance, Draco. I agree to the end of our feud and would be honored to join you and your housemates for dinner this evening along with that of my companions Neville and Hermione should they agree to come.”
Draco nearly forgot how to breathe as he quickly processed the weight of Potter’s words spoken firmly and confidently for all to hear. While he wasn’t sure that Potter himself understood, a quick glance to Longbottom signaled that the other Heir well understood what Harry had just offered and that the words had been spoken as Neville suggested. Harry had just formally and with an entire school of witnesses aligned his ancestral house with Draco. Not the house of Malfoy, or even his mother’s House of Black, but Draco specifically.
To say there was a sudden and very weighty shift of power in whatever was forming was an understatement. When Neville quietly spoke up though with more conviction in his voice than Draco imagined possible, he immediately knew he’d underestimated the Heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Longbottom horribly, as had his entire house.
“As the Heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Longbottom, I officially accept your offer of friendship and words of apology to any wrongdoings you Draco Lucius Malfoy have done toward me or my House. In addition, I agree to end our feud and offer my allegiance to you Draco Lucius Malfoy on behalf of myself as well as my entire House. I also accept your offer to share this evening’s meal with you. I look forward to any who have aligned themselves with you in this or any other situation that may arise from this point forward.”
Draco almost forgot to react as he was more than a little stunned but in just enough time remembered to hold out his hand, which was immediately taken and shook by the Longbottom Heir. As this was being done, it had not gone unnoticed by Draco how Hermione had been poking and pestering the twin next to her during the entirety of the allegiance offerings. When she stood and folded her hands in front of her, Draco tried not to swallow his tongue.
“On behalf of the House of Granger, I offer my acceptance of your apology and advise that I would like to consider an allegiance between our Houses. I recognize the newness of my house, and that it is really just myself, but I would like to share my knowledge with you and have you share your knowledge with me should we be able to come to an agreement.
“While I don’t understand all of the things that come with being from a Noble and Ancient House, I would like to if you would be willing to accept me. I also would like to accept your offer of sharing this evening’s meal with you and the House of Slytherin.”
Draco blinked trying to keep his emotions from leaking down his face and managed to call upon all of his father’s teachings on how to keep one’s calm under even the most trying of circumstances. Briefly he clenched a hand trying to find the steady he knew they were lacking. Then as smoothly as possible he held one out for her to take. “I accept your request for a consideration of allegiance between the House of Granger and myself. I also would like to make it known that it is my formal opinion, that if the House of Granger only ever has yourself in it, that it is enough for any Ancient and Most Noble House to find acceptable, Ms. Granger.”
When he and Hermione finished shaking hands, Draco couldn’t help but shift his gaze to the Weasley twin sitting next to her watching him speculatively. He initially received only an arched eyebrow, but then after a flick of a glance between whichever twin it was and the other, who Draco hadn’t realized was sitting on the other side of Longbottom, received an almost imperceptible nod.
“Madame Granger, Heirs Potter and Longbottom, if you would follow me, Slytherin awaits our presence.” Draco advised before turning and heading back to his table, relieved to see that his housemates had expanded his order to make room for Harry and adjusted so that there was space for Granger and Longbottom as well. His mind spinning as he sat back down at his usual seat with Harry directly beside him, Draco remembered wondering just what the fuck he’d gotten himself into.
“Merlin, I thought you were gonna shake into bits right there on the bench at Slytherin table, Draco,” Blaise offered drawing him back into the here and now once more. He watched as Blaise looked to Sirius with a smirk.
“He was shaking so badly; I’m still surprised he didn’t piss himself right there at dinner. Then with the twins appearing at Slytherin’s door after the first task to offer their alliance to Draco, I don’t think any of us knew what to expect.”
“The war certainly would have gone very differently had the three of the four most powerful houses in Britain not aligned that night, especially with the fourth already on Draco’s side,” Sirius agreed with a proud smile on his face. “I just wish I had been there to see it. Too bad I was still hiding in that damn cave.”
“You were there enough over the years, Cousin,” Draco disagreed then scowled as he thought of why Sirius had been so absent from all of their lives for so long.
“That damned Dumblearse and his manipulations. I’m just glad that Paddington was able to save you. I don’t know what either Harry or myself would have done without you helping us. I would have been stuck with my father, and Harry would have had to go back to those horrible relatives of his if the dverger not been able to officially read his parents’ wills.”
Draco couldn’t help but huff again as he thought to the first meeting with his cousin. It had been held at Paddington Castle as it was considered neutral ground for all involved. Draco brought his two closest advisors in Blaise and Longbottom with him. Everyone had wanted to come, but they couldn’t all get out of the school, and Tony’s Uncle had only been able to convince Dumbledore that Draco needed his advisors with him.
The three boys had been sitting in the formal sitting room one of the Paddington family House Elves named Jakdey had placed them debating if they’d brought the right people. Neville had been insisting that Pansy Parkinson, Draco’s other best friend, or Hermione or even one of the twins would be a much better selection. As Draco and Blaise had pointed out numerous times though, Granger was needed by Harry at Gringotts for the formal reading of the will. Therefore, she would be there.
As far as Pansy or the twins went, they were all worthy but more than that, Draco relied on Neville’s shared knowledge of Ancient and Most Nobile Family protocol. Pansy and Hermione were still working out their differences, and Draco wasn’t willing to trust his other friend to keep her temper or her lips sealed. As for the twins, he didn’t want to put them in any harder of a position than they were already in.
Their parents, and Molly especially, were displeased to say the least with their actions. Fortunately, with both Bill and Charlie on their side having been talked around by Tony, their father was at least open minded to their actions. Tony advised Draco that the Weasley Head of the Family was keeping a very close eye on the situation his twins had put themselves in but wasn’t as opposed to what they had done as his wife wanted him to be.
When the doors opened, the three boys stood and seeing Tony entering with not just Harry, but Sirius and Hermione also. The three of them then gave a formal bow in greeting. “Heir Paddington, thank you for hosting this meeting. I greatly appreciate the chance to meet my cousin for the first time in a place that holds no expectations for any of us.”
“It is my pleasure, Draco,” Tony offered smoothly and with a wink that said he thought his young apprentice of sorts was doing well. “Let me introduce you formally to your cousin Sirius Black. Sirius, please meet your cousin, Narcissa’s only son, Draco Malfoy, along with his advisors Heir to the Ancient and Most Nobile House of Zabini, Blaise Zabini and Heir to the Ancient and Most Noble house of Longbottom, Neville Longbottom. Let’s sit. I believe Kandy should be bringing in tea any moment now.”
Draco sat back down in his chair, and immediately studied Harry to see how his friend was doing. It was just before the second task, and Harry had enough on his mind, but everyone had agreed that they could not put off the reading of the will any longer now that the Paddington family solicitors had gotten legal approval to have it read. To say Harry looked stunned was an understatement, but when his friend flashed him a shaky smile, Draco let himself relax a little.
Once he finally turned his attention back to Sirius though, he found himself straightening under the weighty scrutiny of his cousin’s gaze. “I find your father to be a vile, repugnant, arse-kissing sycophant to the Dark Lord that I have no wish to align myself with. Your mother on the other hand, was once my very favorite cousin, and it still breaks my heart that she was practically sold to that heartless beast. For quite a long time, I thought that she had been lost to his evilness, but I received a letter from her just before she went into hiding that fills me with hope that all there is not lost.”
Draco accepted the teacup from the House Elf, but let it set in its saucer as he was afraid his hands were too shaky to pick it up without making a fool out of himself. There was no way he could take a drink before Sirius was finished stating his opinion. “Thus, I find myself torn when it comes to you. I will admit that before your turn this year, I had written you off as a lost cause. It’s something I find myself now to be ashamed of. It has been pointed out to me that you are little more than a child, and no child should be just written off, when they hold as much potential as you have proven that you have.
“The fact that you have nearly singlehandedly formed an alternate path for not only yourself but also a much greater amount of others than I think you can fathom, says more to me than any of the words of praise either Harry or Tony have offered in your defense. Let’s not pretend that they haven’t been quite fiery in your defense, because they have. I’ll also not pretend that I’m not swayed by your mother’s pleas that I offer you a safe haven in this dangerous path you’ve chosen for yourself and those you’re saving along the way.”
Draco offered a nod and forced himself to take a drink of his tea, hoping it would help soothe his fears as he listened to Sirius’ words. This meeting had been important, something he’d recognized from the second Tony had played messenger in his request of it, but it hadn’t been until the night before that he understood the weight of what he was doing.
“So, here is my offer to you, Draco. I offer you my protection. I offer to submit a request for formal guardianship of you to the wizengamot. I also offer you the chance to be the Black Family Heir. As we have found in the reading of the Potter wills today, the last thing Harry needs is one more damned ancestral home to run, and frankly I see a lot of myself in the path you’re forging. I wish that I’d been brave enough to do more of what you’re doing than what I did. I can’t help but wonder who I could have saved, had I been as brave as you are.
“In return, all I ask is that you turn your back on the path your father is walking. I won’t ask you to turn your back on your heritage. Tony very loudly and at great length reminded me that the House of Black is the last to point fingers at the ill deeds of someone’s heritage. It was also pointed out to me that there are many within the history of your ancestral house who were not the evil arse kissers that your father is. It is our hope that with your leadership you could bring both the House of Black and the House of Malfoy back to being both respectable, and worthy of what it means to be an Ancient and Most Noble House.”
Draco took another sip of his tea before glancing toward first Blaise and then Neville to get their opinions. Given the speed in which his mind was racing at all the changes he could make with the power of two houses like Black and Malfoy behind him, this was not something he could muck up.
The trick in the whole thing would be in retaining his Heirship to the House of Malfoy. As he went though the possible contenders to his title though, there truly wasn’t one that he was worried about being able to stand up to if needed either inside or outside the wizengamot. As the three of them whispered quietly and quickly about the pros and cons in accepting the offer, Draco couldn’t help but glace to Harry who was watching them with an open and obvious glint of pride and affection in his eyes.
For a moment, the look stole his breath, and it was the first time that Draco allowed himself to think that maybe the romantic dreams he had been having for the Potter Heir could be more than just hopes and dreams. Once the decision was finally made, Draco turned his eyes back to Sirius. “I accept on one condition. I will only agree to become the Black Heir if you sever your allegiance to Dumbledore and his merry little band of misfits. I am not saying that you have to sever your ties to everyone within his little band of vigilantes. I am willing to accept anyone who truly wishes for an alternative to either Dumbledore or the Dark Lord.
“I know for instance Professor Lupin is one of your oldest friends and thus far a staunch follower of Dumblearse. Just as I know that for instance both Greggory and Vincent’s fathers are firm followers of Moldywart’s and will be expected to join his side should the dverger’s predictions come true. I will and am already making plans for ways to take them in just as I will anyone who is willing to sever their allegiance to Dumblearse. I realize it’s hard to believe, but I have no intentions or wish to keep out any who truly want to change no matter their birth origin, creature status, or anything else. All I want are people and good creates on my side willing to fight hard for what is right and not some idiotic notion like light vs dark.”
“Well,” Sirius said after a pause long enough that Draco was afraid, he’d overstated his hand. “I have to admit, I’d been told you have changed your ways, but I had my doubts even though I’d decided to make the offer. Hearing you not only align yourself with the dvergers but calling them by their true name and not goblin fills me with a hope I thought I’d lost.”
“My father raised me to be an intelligent, pure blooded follower of the Dark Lord. I am pure blooded. I can’t help that any more than Granger can help neither of her parents are magical. I am intelligent. I am also not afraid to say I have busted my arse to accomplish it. I am afraid that he has failed in his final and to him most important wish. The first thing that I did when I decided to forge my own path was to go to Gringotts and speak with Chieftain Ragnok. While it was a lengthy negotiation, we eventually came to realize that if either of our peoples wanted to survive what is coming, then we had to tread a path neither of us had walked previously. So, a formal alliance between myself and the dvergers has been made. I hope I don’t have to explain to you however how vitally important it is that no one find out of its existence before we’re ready.”
“You have my agreement and my respect,” Sirius praised, and when he glanced at Harry, he could see something similar in his classmate and friend’s eyes.
“I think that’s my favorite moment of it all,” Blaise said quietly. The pride he had in his best friend clear in his voice.
“I think mine was when he stood up to his father,” Draco heard from behind him just before he felt a kiss on his cheek. Draco smiled at his husband as he took a seat next to him and offered Hermione a nod of greeting seeing she’d taken a seat next to Blaise.
“Oh, I agree,” Hermione said enthusiastically as she quietly requested just some tea and a light snack from Kreature as Harry asked for a full lunch plate. “Although the meeting with Sirius for the first time was a truly beautiful moment.”
“I wasn’t sure if Lucius was gonna piss himself or explode in anger,” Sirius agreed with glee and Draco just shook his head as he finished off his plate and let his thoughts wander to the last time he’d willingly laid eyes on Lucius Malfoy.
“Are you sure this meeting is wise?” Harry asked from Draco’s side, and while he understood his new boyfriend’s concerns he also knew it was vitally important. They’d talked this meeting to death, and Draco didn’t really want to rehash one more time.
“We’ve been over this,” Draco pointed out as he glanced around the garden that they were standing in. Once more Paddington Castle was housing a meeting for Draco and his alliance. Only this time it was at his father’s request.
“While I am willing to give up the Malfoy name, I would like to keep it if necessary. This isn’t me being afraid to not be a Malfoy anymore. It’s about all the people my father represents that deserve someone better. Not to mention the blow that it would give Moldywart to be kicked out of my damned manor and cut off from my family’s funds.”
“Why ever would Lucius willingly do so though?” Harry asked for the thousandth time, and like every other time he’d asked, Draco could only sigh and shrug.
“I still have no clue, Love. I can’t not listen though. It’s too important.”
“I know, I know,” Harry answered as Lupin approached them. The Werewolf had quickly switched sides when approached as had several of Dumblearse’s other followers including both Bill and Charlie Weasley, Draco’s other cousin Nymphadora Tonks, and several other Order members. It wasn’t just the supposed light side that had lost followers though. While little to none of the senior Death Eaters had switched sides, they had officially gained Draco’s Godfather Severus Snape. They also had officially the alliance of all of Draco’s yearmates within Slytherin including all of those whose parents had quickly rejoined the Death Eaters following Moldywart’s rising from the dead.
The Black Family home on Grimmauld Place had quickly rejected all of the existing members of the Order living there once Sirius severed his ties to them. It now held those followers of Draco’s who had no other place to go. The home was beginning to become rather crowded, which was part of the reason why Draco had agreed to the meeting. Malfoy Manor had much more space for those who had already chosen to follow him along with all those he knew needed a save haven in the future.
“They’re here,” Draco said softly as he felt a shift in the air just before Lucius Malfoy came into the garden. He was wearing his usual all black attire with his trademark cane. On either side of him were Vince and Greg’s father’s with Snape shadowing behind them. Draco nodded to his Godfather, releasing him from his task in escorting the trio once they’d appeared at the castle. Snape was still working through not only his own issues but recovering from the mental toll his years of spying had taken on him.
Draco still didn’t agree with a lot of the things Snape had done over the years, but he wasn’t exactly someone who could throw stones, since he lived in a glass house himself and all. “Father, Lords Crabbe and Goyle, I have to say that I am intrigued by the request for a meeting. Nonetheless here we are. How may I and my friends be of assistance?”
“I need to know if you are determined to stay on this foolish path you’ve chosen, Draco,” Lucius began, his upper lip curling with obvious distaste in his only son’s actions.
“I am,” Draco drawled drolly as he frowned at the trio. “You didn’t need a meeting to know that though. I think my letters have made that quite clear. I will not be an arse kissing sycophant like yourself to some repugnant and dickless combination of man and snake. I honestly question your intelligence father in aligning yourself with such a thing. Nonetheless, since you need to hear the words. No, I will not be joining your side with the Dark Lord. No, I do not know and even if I did would not tell you where mother is.
“Lords Crabbe and Goyle, your sons have formally given me their alliance with oaths of blood in front of witnesses. You have no rights to them, and should you sever their rights to their ancestral homes, there are others willing to step up and take them in. Unfortunately for the three of you I was as eager a student of my father’s teachings as I have been at my Hogwarts lessons. So, you all have no one but him to blame if you find yourselves on the other side of things he would normally be dishing out.”
Draco let his eyes roam around the garden trying for unconcerned and knowing he was pulling it off quite well. It helped knowing that he had nothing to fear here as he was as protected at Paddington Castle as he would be at Grimmauld Place.
“You would let your family line die out with no heir at my death?” Lucius growled and Draco arched an eyebrow at him.
“I am doing no such thing, father,” Draco pointed out watching Blaise whispering to Hermione at the edge of the garden. Somewhere Neville, Vincent and Gregory were being protected by the twins, but close enough to give aide should it be needed. “Only you can do that. Should you be foolish enough to try though, do know that my solicitors are more than willing to take it to the Wizengamot. They feel quite confident I have a strong case for getting you striped and getting myself made Lord now instead of waiting.
“You could of course do us all a favor and just step down now,” Draco pointed out slowly bringing his eyes back to his father letting the man see nothing but calmness and confidence.
“Why should I?” Lucius growled and Draco just sniffed at the attempt at intimidation.
“You once told me that there was nothing more important than the survival of the family line. Not wealth, not allegiances, not homes or anything else I could think of to name. The most vital thing I could do as your heir was to ensure the survival of the Malfoy family line. You told me that it’s been in existence for thousands of years and magic itself depended on the strength of it and lines like it in surviving. If it ceases to exist, you have no one but yourself to blame.”
“So, I ask you father,” Draco questioned taking a step forward and felt himself empowered when he saw his father sway backward as if he were about to take a step back before he caught himself.
“Were you lying then or is this indignation the act? Did you really come here to try to sway me to the Dark Lord’s side, or was this just a cover for you three in doing what is right for not just your lines but all of magic itself? I would like to think that the man who helped in my creation has enough self-awareness and goodness in him that he understands his next action can affect not just the Malfoy family line, but all of magic itself. I believe there was something about irreversible moments, Father. I’d say we’re in one. Don’t you agree?”
“I Lucius Abraxas Malfoy formally and with witness step down as Lord Malfoy and give up any right and claim to being Head of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Malfoy. From this instance forward until such time as his death or that he steps down, my son Draco Lucius Malfoy is to be known as and hold all the rights and responsibilities of Lord Malfoy Head of the Ancient and Most Nobile House of Malfoy.”
“Seriously, I’d never seen anything more awe inspiring and powerful,” Hermione offered quietly as Draco pulled his thought away from that day in the Paddington Castle gardens.
“I think that was the moment that I realized maybe there was something to the things the children of the Ancient and Most Noble houses had been telling me. Until then I’d scoffed at the thought that I was missing something by turning my back on celebrations and traditions I didn’t understand. I’ve always been grateful that Blaise convinced me to go that day.”
Draco smiled at his friend and gave her a nod. “Sometimes seeing really is believing. It’s no different than the first time you took me to muggle London and forced me outside of the safe places I’d ventured with mother. We both had things to learn about each other’s worlds.”
Turning his head toward Harry, Draco fell quiet until his husband arched an eyebrow at him. “I think though, my favorite part of all that time period was when Harry and I become more than just friends. I think Harry and I were always meant to be in each other’s orbits. I’m just thankful that I pulled my head out of my arse and changed enough that he was willing to stand with me forever.”
“It was an easy decision to make, Love,” Harry assured before leaning in and stealing a kiss. “After all, you were never the only one in the wrong. We both had changes to make, and once done we were finally worthy of each other there was really no other option.”
As they kissed again, Draco couldn’t help but think about that day they finally admitted they wanted to be together forever. It was a beautiful Spring day, and Draco was sitting out near Black Lake reading as he watched some first years taunt the whomping willow. He’d been trying to decide if he should go save them or watch them learn their lesson the hard way.
“There’s nothing like experience to teach you to listen to advise when given,” Harry said as he sat, and Draco turned his head to smile at his friend. Over the course of the year since they had joined forces against both Dumbledore and Voldemort, the two had grown closer and closer until it had become hard for Draco to be around the Gryffindor without becoming aroused.
“I’ve been wanting to talk to you, but suspiciously you seem to be absent every time I look,” Harry complained, and Draco winced.
“Sorry,” Draco offered as he turned his gaze back to the tree happy to see Pansy and Hermione had rescued the first years from themselves. “It was only partially intentional and not because I’m mad or anything I just…”
Draco fell quiet trying to decide if he really wanted to admit the real reason, and decided that he’d come too far in his quest at becoming a man he could be proud of to fall back on lying now. “I just didn’t want to ruin our friendship by admitting to something that could kill it. It means too much to me.”
“Whatever could kill our friendship, Dray?” Harry asked seriously and obviously confused. Draco once more found himself contemplating his response. This truth thing was much harder than people made it look, and Draco didn’t much enjoy it as often as he probably thought he should.
“Well, my, what I suspect you would consider, unwelcomed feelings for you for one,” Draco finally offered turning his eyes back toward the lake. “The fact that your very presence makes me half hard, much to Snape’s disgust. Do you know how hard it is to focus on our potion when you’re always standing so bloody close, and I just want to bend you over the damned table and shag you?”
“Well, I suspect that won’t get either of us a good grade,” Harry answered wryly, and Draco gaped at him.
“Did you just hear what I said, Harry,” Draco asked convinced that Harry either hadn’t been listening or didn’t believe him. “I can assure you that I wasn’t kidding! You make me bloody hard, and I would like nothing better to shag you until neither of us can get it up again. I think I’m mostly in love with you, you mad Gryffindor idiot!”
When Harry just smiled at him, Draco wondered if he wasn’t under the effects of some potion because there was no way his friend was that happy and still understood what the Slytherin had been trying to say. “I heard you just fine, and I didn’t think you were kidding. I honestly was relieved to find out that it wasn’t just me. It’s been dreadfully hard to believe Neville and Hermione that you might return my feelings.
“They’ve been poking at me to confess to you for ages now. I have to say, I never thought that I’d see the day when Hermione became your champion. If there are any doubters left of your honesty in your will to change, I vote we just shove her and Pansy at them. Between the two of them I really believe there wouldn’t be anything left of the moron once they were done.
“As to shagging, while I think the look on Snape’s face would be priceless, I think I would rather my first time be in a much less public place than potions class. Although Ron would be there too and seeing his reaction just might be worth all the detentions Snape would give us both.”
“Say it again,” Draco demanded fiercely if not quietly and Harry briefly just smiled at him affectionately.
“I am half in love with you too, you Slytherin Prat,” Harry vowed before leaning in to give Draco a quick kiss on his stunned lips. “Although if you ever change enough that you’re not at least a little bit of a prat I will thoroughly object. I will be honest and say that I quite enjoy your sneer and snark now that it’s not always aimed at me. I didn’t appreciate before just how thoroughly arousing it could be to watch you pick apart Ron without him having any clue he was even being insulted. It really does make me hard, Dray.”
“Holy fuck,” Draco murmured before leaning in to steal a real kiss from Harry ignoring the squeal from somewhere off to their right. Once they were forced to come up for air, he grabbed both of Harry’s upper arms.
“Say you’ll be mine,” Draco demanded urgently not willing to let the moment pass him. “I realize we’re about to skip several steps and I am going to be forced to backtrack and do this courtship formally and correctly. However, say you’ll be mine forever. Say you and I will be not just united in this fight against Voldemort and Dumbledore, but against everything forever as long as Magic keeps the both of us alive.”
“Say you’ll be mine, Harry,” Draco demanded earning himself another affectionate smile.
“I will,” Harry promised giving Draco another quick peck. “I will. I do. I am. For now, and forever it will be just you and I united against the whole world if need be. I suspect however that this path of yours is going to keep gaining followers until not just Moldywart but Dumblearse also is forced to bow to your will. You and me. I swear it.”
Draco smiled as he leaned in and gave Harry a kiss ignoring Kreature’s muttered complaints of indecency at the table as he cleared away lunch plates leaving smaller dessert plates with chocolate cake and cups of coffee behind.
“I have to say that I quite enjoyed that moment myself,” Harry agreed happily leaning over for another kiss letting this one linger for a bit.
“Best decision I think I have ever made was to follow your path, Dray.”
“Best decision any of us have made,” Hermione corrected with such certainty that Draco couldn’t help but blush. Even after all the years they’d been friends, it still left him in awe at times that the muggle born could be so forgiving for the things he’d said to and done to her before he’d pulled his head out of his arse. Followed closely by the fact that any of them had followed him.
“I just did what was right,” Draco objected quietly. “None of what happened to Harry in that tournament was right. Besides, Bevan was right. Slytherins have never followed Gryffindors before. I saw no reason to follow along behind them then. Seems as if it worked out quite well for me.”
“Same ol’ Dray,” Blaise crowed as the others followed along in his laughter. “I am glad somethings didn’t change mate. You are one of a kind.”
“I try,” Draco shot back with such an air of his old snobbery that he couldn’t help but join in the laughter. It had been a long hard path he’d forged for himself and his friends. It certainly hadn’t ended fourth year, and some would argue it was still going on.
The thing that he was certain of though both then and now was that it had been as worth it in fourth year as it continued to be. He just prayed to Merlin that he never lost his path.