Fic: Good Breeding (4/4) (Charlie/Draco, NC-17) for lilyseyes Author:joanwilder Recipient:lilyseyes Title: Good Breeding Rating: NC-17 Pairing(s): Charlie/Draco, Surprise/spoiler pairing—highlight to see* Harry/Snape* Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older. Summary: A year after the war, the Ministry takes steps to reverse the dwindling pureblood population by enacting the Pureblood Marriage Law. A year later, they introduce the Male/Male Pregnancy Program. No one is exempt. Warnings: Highlight to see: * forced magical bonding, semi-public sex, rimming, mpreg (not detailed or graphic)* Word Count: 31,000 Author's Notes: I've incorporated four of your six kinks, lilyseyes. Although the mpreg is not graphic or detailed, it's a significant part of the story. I want you to know I thought of you the entire time I was writing. Hope this tickles your fancy. Thanks to my partner-in-crime beta reader; what would I do without you?
Harry kept a fine stock of wizarding and Muggle spirits in his sideboard. Draco didn't usually drink alone, but decided that tonight would be a good time to start.
He sat behind the desk, his head in his hands as his mind raced.
Well, why wouldn't Charlie? Harry's attractive, he's rich and successful, smart, and oh yeah, let's not forget the hero bit.
Charlie wouldn't look down on Harry either; he hadn't needed to be rescued the way Draco had, and since Draco still harbored a niggling fear that he was the one who'd end up on the receiving end of the MMPP, he wondered if that mattered to Charlie, that Draco was about to be made a fool of…in the most unnatural of ways.
Draco could just picture it. We'll have our required child—rather I will—and then the two of them will drop all pretence and let the world see they want to be together.
Draco didn't care what the Law said, how long it was supposed to last for the couples taking part. All he knew for certain was that if Harry Potter wanted something or someone, the Ministry would make it happen.
Part of Draco's mind told him he was wrong, though. You know Charlie wouldn't do that to you, no matter what Harry wants. Look what he's done for you so far.
Yeah, the other part of his brain supplied, look what he's done for himself, on the other hand—he could've done so much worse, and now…it looks like he might be able to do so much better….
Tossing back a final shot glass, Draco slammed it down on the desk, stood a bit woozily, then made his way up the stairs, suddenly frantic to get there before Charlie did. He didn't think he could face him; he didn't think he could look into his eyes and keep the knowledge hidden, and he desperately needed to do that until he came up with a plan. Because…Malfoys always had a plan. Or so he seemed to remember.
Thankfully, Charlie was still…probably…in Harry's room. Draco undressed quickly, then slipped in to his side of the bed, hugging the edge of it. He was dry-eyed and sober as he lay there, almost afraid to let himself feel. He'd scared himself, as he'd stood there in the hallway, listening to them rutting. Because the first emotion he'd felt hadn't been anger or outrage; it'd been something altogether different, something Draco'd never felt before.
He'd felt hurt and betrayed.
He'd let down his guard and let Charlie in; he'd been taken in by the damnable Weasleys and their Sunday family; he'd allowed himself to think that he belonged, that people were starting to care about him; he'd made the mistake of listening to Charlie's words about a future, the tripe about them being equal partners who'd make the best of things; he'd started to let down his defenses, ones it'd taken him years to erect; he'd begun to believe that Charlie cared for him, and worst of all, far worse than any of it, the betrayal included, was that Draco'd allowed himself to care deeply about someone who could turn around and hurt him so.
And reject him.
Now the fury arrived.
No one had ever rejected Draco, although he'd done plenty of it himself. He'd used girls at Hogwarts and then cruelly tossed them aside when they became tiresome and possessive. He'd been accommodating and indulgent when it suited him, but he'd never really cared about anyone but himself. His parents didn't really count; Draco'd long ago figured out that they loved him in the abstract, as parents must love a son, but they'd never really cared about him as an individual—how could they've? They'd never taken the time to learn who he was.
But now, the rejection stung bitterly. As he lay there, he tried to make a stone of his heart again, but it wouldn't cooperate. Even in the dark, all he saw was Charlie, the way he'd catch the man studying him with those warm hazel eyes, the way his hands felt—always gentle, knowing just how to please him. He heard his voice, softly reasoning, breathing low laughter at his ear, the tickle of his breath on Draco's neck.
I was a fool, he thought to himself, his hands clenching his pillow. But that's done now. Done. Now's the time to regroup and get ready to get out of here.
Suddenly he heard the sound of voices coming up the stairs. Draco stilled his breathing, half-lifting his head from the pillow so he could hear their words.
"…thought he was working all this time. Should've checked," he heard Charlie say.
Draco couldn't make out Harry's reply, but there was a moment of silence, then quiet laughter. The creak of the floorboards alerted him that Harry was continuing on down the hallway, and just afterward, he could hear Charlie stealthily enter the room.
Breathing shallowly, Draco tensed himself as he listened to the sound of Charlie getting undressed, then the bed dipped.
Draco had no time to react; he didn't know what he would've done if he had. Charlie moved up behind him in the bed, wrapping his arms around Draco's shoulders and pulling him backward, snug against him.
"God, you're freezing," Charlie murmured at his ear, as he wrapped the two of them tightly in the comforter.
And just like that, Draco succumbed. He melted backwards, allowing Charlie to position them, pressed up against one another. He bent his chin to his chest as Charlie nuzzled the back of his neck, and brought his hands up to cover the larger, rougher ones at his waist. His eyes scrunched shut, Draco drank in the feel of it—and was amazed at how quickly he'd come to take this all for granted, now when he was about to lose it.
But not tonight, he told himself, as he felt the warmth take him to the edge of sleep, and Charlie's breath behind him became regular, his fingers relaxing on Draco's. This would more than likely be the last night, or one of them, in any case. Morning would be time enough to make his decisions, and he knew he'd have to keep his distance to do it.
Breakfast was later on Saturdays—it was never planned that way, and Harry wasn't usually there, but this time he was, Draco noted sourly.
The three of them sat in the kitchen after they finished eating, Harry and Charlie talking almost non-stop about Quidditch and the latest Ministry brouhaha involving a senior official and a Floo attendant.
"Yeah," Harry snickered, "I heard they got caught in flagrante delicto by the Minister himself, going at it in one of the grates being remodeled."
Charlie winced. "Sort of dangerous, that. What if you accidentally activated it? And ended up at the other end with your…your…" He groped for a word.
"With your flag up the flagpole?" Harry asked, making them both guffaw. Charlie Summoned the teapot, poured them both refills, then glanced at Draco.
"Want another?" he asked, frowning slightly at the sober look on Draco's face. "You didn't sleep well, did you?" He grinned at Harry. "Near knocked me out of bed a few times."
"No, I didn't," Draco confirmed as he stood, ignoring Charlie's offer. "I want to get started, if you'll excuse me."
Harry shot him a incredulous look. "It's Saturday," he reminded him, then added, "All work and no play makes Charlie miserable," he finished with a knowing look in Charlie's direction.
Draco shrugged as he pushed in his chair. "I know. But I'm on a roll; don't want to stop."
Charlie tried to grab him as he passed by, but Draco made a tsking noise and smiled falsely as he chided, "You and Harry'll have to find something to keep the two of you busy," he said pointedly as he evaded Charlie's grasp.
He did wonder, as the day passed, what the two of them were up to, but then decided that the die had already been cast; it no longer mattered. He sat at his desk, allowing himself the luxury of brooding over the sorry state of his life for a while longer, then sat up straight.
"No more," he muttered. "Now's the time to plan."
Although it might've been unimaginably satisfying to confront the two of them, then storm out in a fury of righteous indignation, he knew that he'd end up the worse off and pay for it in the end. No, whatever happened, he and Charlie were still bound to fulfill their obligation, and Draco's fear, above all else, was finding himself out on his own, penniless. Who knew what would happen? He imagined all sorts of scenarios: Charlie and Harry together, keeping the child; Draco on his own, trying to provide for himself, or even worse, himself plus one.
Once again, Draco had to think of himself. He had to plan for his future, and the most important consideration at this point seemed to be money. Draco had none. And he had no doubt that at some point, he'd be alone again. This time he successfully pushed down any and all emotion. He was a Malfoy, and he'd forgotten his place for a moment, but now he knew what he had to do to survive. He'd have to wait until Monday to start, though.
"Those two are duplicates, and although the original is not in as good a shape, it's been signed, so Mr. Potter prefers to keep that one," Draco said as he watched Dennis Cooley turn the pages carefully, touching them only at the corners with his gloved hands.
"Of course, I'll take them both. There's a fair market nowadays for books on magical standing stones." He took his time, turning to the end, then repeated the entire process with the second volume. Draco waited patiently, standing to the side to peruse a bargain rack of books without covers.
"For these two, I think five hundred each. For the Benavides anthology, I can't go higher than two thousand, given that the cover page is damaged. So, that's three thousand in all. Cash or bank draft this time, Mr. Malfoy?"
Draco stepped smoothly back to the counter, as he pulled a wrapped package from his cloak pocket. "Cash this time. Oh, and one other, I'd almost forgotten." He laid the book on the counter and slid it forward. "An odd sort of volume, only came across it just this week." He watched as Cooley took the same care to unwrap the small book, Wizarding Traditions of Northern Scotland.
"I'm aware of its value," Draco admitted when the man looked up at him in surprise. "But Mr. Potter has no desire to keep it, especially since it should be specially preserved and insured. And no real interest in the subject matter, either." He watched as Cooley turned the book over, leaning down to inspect its covers closely, then pulled out an eyepiece to examine the cover page.
"Lovely volume, excellent condition, and…" he paused as he began to turn the pages one by one, "…a first edition. Very rare." He glanced up at Draco. "Very much in demand, wizarding tradition books, and one so remarkably preserved…" He set the book in the middle of its wrapping, then removed his gloves. "One moment, if you please." He walked to the end of the counter and pulled out a very old book, which he consulted for a moment, then replaced it to return to Draco.
"Did you know this is one of a set?" When Draco hesitated, then nodded, Cooley went on, "I wanted to check; there's a gentleman in Ireland who's located the other, and would very much like to have this one." He looked over his square-cut spectacles to stare at Draco. "Mr. Potter might want to consider trying to acquire that volume, and have them both. They'd be much more valuable that way."
"He's aware of that already, but as I said, he has no particular interest in either one of them. I tried to convince him, but…" Draco trailed off, his voice slightly impatient.
Cooley shook his head. "My apologies, then. Of course, I'll be happy to take it off his hands." He pulled out a cloth envelope from beneath the counter and began to rewrap the book. "I can offer you four thousand for it."
Draco inclined his head. "Not nearly enough."
"Forty-five hundred," the man countered without hesitation.
"Five," Draco shot back, knowing the man would give in.
"Done," Cooley said in his usually understated tone. "So that's eight thousand for the three of them. Cash Galleons?" he confirmed.
"Yes, I'm not sure why, but those were his instructions," Draco said with a shrug.
The man rolled his eyes. "Probably keeps an emergency stash in the house—you'd be surprised how many wizards do that."
Now that that the deal and deed was done, Draco was anxious to be on his way; shrinking his sizable bag of Galleons, he Apparated to just outside Grimmauld Place. Charlie was at work, of course, and after verifying that he was alone in the house, Draco hid his pilfered treasure behind a section of books that hadn't been disturbed in decades.
Over the course of Monday and Tuesday evening, it was apparent that Charlie was puzzled. Harry was off somewhere, so they ate suppers alone, then as usual spent their evenings in the library, after an uncomfortable turn about the square and an almost wordless hour at the bar of the local pub.
Charlie'd tried to talk to him on both evenings. On Monday, he'd seemed to have decided to handle Draco delicately, which only made Draco more furious.
"You seem out of sorts," Charlie said during dinner that night. "Something wrong?"
Draco twirled his fork on his plate. "What could be wrong?" He gave Charlie a cool smile. "A roof over my head, food in my stomach, my future all mapped out. A partner who caters to my every need," he finished, his tone slightly mocking.
With a frown, Charlie looked down at his plate, then back up again. "Listen, I'm a straightforward sort of bloke, so if I've…I don't know, stepped in it somehow, better just tell me outright, all right?"
For a split second, Draco almost did, then caught himself. "It's nothing. Just me being weird."
On Tuesday, when they were getting ready for bed, Charlie finally took Draco by the shoulders and forced him to sit on the edge of the bed. Kneeling between his legs, he looked up into Draco's face. "I'm not stupid. So tell me."
Draco leant back on the bed, studying his face. "Maybe I'm just practicing mood swings, you know, for when I'm pregnant," he said snidely, then had to fight the urge to hold his position, when Charlie moved forward suddenly, pinning Draco's forearms to the bed as he leant over him.
"That's what this is all about? The pregnancy thing?" He shook his head, then rolled to the side, coming up on a elbow to face Draco. "All right, let's settle it now."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Oh really?"
"Yes, really. I'm sick to death of it hanging over our heads. So, I just want you to know…" Charlie stopped as he swallowed. "That I'll do it. I'm not sure why, but you seem to think it'll make a difference to me if you were to do it." His eyes seemed to plead. "And I hope it won't change the way you see me…or feel about me, if I'm the one to do it. Draco," he paused as he raised a hand to Draco's cheek, "this is something we have no choice about, it has nothing to do with what we are." He dropped his hand when Draco turned his face away.
"You'll do it, then?" Draco said to the wall, still not looking back when he felt the bed shift as Charlie got up. But Charlie's voice still had the power to hurt him, he found.
"Yeah, I'll do it. Maybe that'll convince you I care. God knows I've tried my best and failed," Charlie said softly, the disappointment clear. There were footsteps to the door, and then he stopped. "I just want you to know, because I remember how twisted your head is sometimes, I don't walk out on my commitments."
After the door closed gently, Draco said out loud, "No, you just betray them."
That night, Draco lay in bed and listened to the sound of voices on the lower floor. They talked for a long time, and Draco considered stealing to the edge of the banister and trying to listen in for a while. But he was weary, worn out by the high emotion of the past four days, traumatized by what he'd resorted to at the booksellers, but also grimly satisfied by Charlie's surprising yet calculated, he was certain, capitulation only hours ago. He guessed that the man figured this might make Draco willing to live with his and Harry's 'arrangement'.
He was almost asleep when Charlie finally slipped into bed, and although it was fine with Draco for the moment, he noticed that for the first time, Charlie kept to his side of the four-poster.
Over the next several days, Draco did his best to steer clear of both Charlie and Harry.
Snape had been there on Thursday for lunch, and Draco was tempted to confide in him, when he noticed the man eyeing him coolly. When Draco stared back, Snape positively glared. Draco was hurt, as he looked away and continued to methodically chew his food. Who would've ever thought that Snape would side with Potter over a fellow Slytherin? It was a brave new world indeed.
Harry was there only twice—on Wednesday for breakfast, and then again on Friday for supper. That evening Draco excused himself to the library, and could hear the two of them talking softly in the sitting room. They'd both been cooler than usual toward Draco. He'd caught them looking at each other, then casting furtive looks in his direction, and resigned himself to the fact that they'd somehow figured out that he knew—probably by his almost sullen manner with the two of them. They seemed almost regretful that he was there, which made Draco seethe. Why should they resent him, when he was the one who'd been wronged?
The worst part of the week had been that very morning, when Draco and Charlie had received a tersely worded note from the MMPP director, reminding them that it was Friday, and they'd yet to have intercourse that week, begging their indulgence if they already had plans to comply three times before the deadline of twelve midnight on Saturday.
They'd wordlessly taken the steps to their room after breakfast, then Draco seized the upper hand. He waited while Charlie undressed, then pushed him roughly to the bed on his knees. Moving in behind him, Draco was fully clothed, except for pulling his cock out through his fly.
No foreplay, no kissing, just a dutiful and perfunctory preparation so that Charlie wouldn't be damaged.
Draco was angry, he was fuming over the circumstances that had the two of them in this predicament, when it was clear that Charlie wanted someone else… The sight of Charlie's bare arse in front of him, the arch of his muscled back as he waited, lit a fire in Draco. He was aroused, he was vindictive, he wanted to pour all his hurt and disappointment into the man kneeling obediently in front of him.
Grabbing Charlie at the hips, Draco plunged, pulled back and plunged again, driving forward again and again, each time harder than the one before, ignoring Charlie's gasps and mumbled words, until one last slam forced Charlie forward onto his face; Draco came, riding Charlie as he dug his thumbs painfully into his hips.
Out of strength, out of emotion, for the first time in a week, Draco felt spent and defused. He collapsed to the bed and lay beside Charlie as they gasped, facing each other.
Damn Gryffindor. Damn Weasley eyes.
Charlie was watching him, his eyes warm again, as if this animalistic connection could wipe away all the hurt, all the betrayal that Draco'd suffered.
For a moment, Draco returned the look. He allowed his cold exterior of the past week to melt away, as he searched the eyes of his lover…his partner. Oh god, how he wished…how he yearned for it all to have been a dream. For them to be able to wipe their lives clean of what had occurred in the past week. But then, Charlie reached out a hand, about to touch Draco's cheek, and that was enough….
"No," Draco said as he rolled away and then sat up on the edge of the bed. Tucking himself back in, he said over his shoulder, "Tonight again, then tomorrow night. That'll make three. Short and not so sweet," he said humorlessly. He turned to say before he left, "And I top from now on."
"Draco…sit down, please. I know…"
"Yeah, I imagine you do." Without a backward glance, Draco was out of the door, and onto the steps.
Early Saturday morning, long before Draco and Charlie were in the habit of arising, Draco slowly awakened, gradually aware that Charlie was shaking his shoulder.
Sitting up slowly, he rubbed his eyes. "What?" he asked irritably.
Charlie was already dressed. "Get up and get dressed. We'll be waiting in the kitchen."
Draco dropped back to the bed, bringing his arm up to shield his face. "Too early," he mumbled. The tone of Charlie's voice made his eyes fly open.
"Not a request, Draco. Get up now, get dressed and get down there. Snape's here too." He stood at the end of the bed, his hand on the post and waited until Draco slowly sat up on the edge of the bed, then headed for the door without another word.
As he dressed and checked himself in the mirror, Draco braced himself. Much as he'd got used to the idea, he wasn't looking forward to the confrontation any longer. There were too many things he wanted to keep hidden, especially how the whole thing had made him feel, and why the bloody hell had they pulled Snape into the sorry mess anyway?
When he pushed open the door to the kitchen, he saw that his normal seat beside Charlie had been moved. The only empty chair was at the head of the table, with Charlie and Harry at either side, and Snape at the other end. He nodded curtly to Snape, then slipped into his chair, frowning when he noticed that Kreacher was nowhere in sight and the only hint of breakfast was the steaming teapot. All three of the men had cups in front of them, but stayed silent once Draco'd sat, waiting while he served himself self-consciously. He took a sip of tea, then slid his eyes upward, alarmed when he saw that Harry and Snape were staring at him, almost hostilely, while Charlie stared into his cup.
"So, what's so important that I—"
"Hold your tongue," Snape scowled as he reached into his robes and withdrew a small package. As he laid it atop the table, Draco's eyes widened in recognition. "Imagine my surprise," Snape said in a low intense voice, his eyes pinning Draco in place. "I bought this for Harry last year for his birthday. The bookseller was just as surprised, you see, as it was he who sold it to me."
Draco felt a pounding in his temple as his heart began to race, his chest constricting as the blood drained from his face.
"On reflection, and given my and Harry's patronage over the years, as well as your own circumstances, he discreetly contacted me on Tuesday; he was confused, because he'd gone to such lengths to locate and purchase it for me. There was also the issue of your belief that there was a companion volume. Something he fabricated to test you. As I said, imagine my surprise," he finished, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he drummed his fingertips atop the table.
"How could you?" Harry spat out, obviously unable to hold himself back any longer. "I trusted you." His eyes flashed and his cheeks were flushed. "What I asked you to do here wasn't out of charity, but it seemed outrageous enough when Severus first brought it up. I thought he'd gone round the bend." He glanced at Charlie and shook his head sadly. "You've lived under my roof, sat here and had meals with us. We…had a past I didn't think we'd be able to set aside, but there came a time when I believed I'd been wrong. Turns out my instincts were spot on, weren't they?" he demanded disgustedly.
Draco didn't know if he could speak. The horror of being caught seemed to paralyze his throat muscles for a moment. But then the fear and shame of being caught were joined by the simmering anger over why he'd done it in the first place. He stared at Harry, then Charlie, and suddenly realized: they didn't know that he knew. This was entirely about him stealing the bloody book!
The irony of the entire stand-off was almost too much for him to bear. He was tempted to laugh out loud, tell them all to fuck off, pack his bags and go. But he knew he couldn't. He was stuck, between a Ministry edict, a cheating spouse and a theft gone bad.
He addressed his words to Harry. "I didn't think you'd notice—there's so much there. Books worth hundreds of thousands, on top of two fortunes, and still you work," he said bitterly. "You have so much…and I have nothing." He cast a quick glance to the side at Charlie, who'd finally decided to look at him. "I figured…that someday I might need it. Everything's so uncertain. If I ended up out on my own, what would I have?" He shrugged. "You never know."
Snape was having none of it. "That's one of the most pathetic rationalizations I've heard in my entire life, and believe me, I've heard a few. I vouched for you, Draco. I was certain that given a chance, you'd act honorably, having learnt firsthand how horrible the future could be. Well, I'm not sure what's to be done with you now," he said as he shook his head, addressing these last words to a still disgusted-looking Harry.
Charlie, though, was staring at Draco, scrutinizing him, his head cocked to the side as if he were listening to something afar off. Draco met his eyes for a moment, and felt a spike of chagrin, mourning what had been lost. Even now, he wondered if he could forgive the man….
Angling his chair, Charlie pushed his cup away, then concentrated on Draco. "Hold on a minute. Why would you think you might need it someday?" Draco narrowed his eyes. "And why would you even think you'd end up out on your own? Especially after…" He hesitated, glancing at Harry, then Snape. "…after our little agreement."
Draco looked down at his hands. This was it, then. He was going to have to call their bluff. Funny, but he hadn't thought Charlie had it in him, to dissemble so easily. But as humiliated as he felt, despite the man's infidelity, Draco believed that he owed him the truth for saving his arse in the first place. Charlie spoke again.
"Draco, that wasn't all of it, was it? What made you suddenly afraid of those things? I can't think of anything I might've said or done to—"
Draco interrupted him, anxious to have it out once and for all. "I know about you and Harry! Do you know how that made me feel?" he almost growled. "Right under my fucking nose! I know you didn't want this," he gestured toward his ring finger, "any more than I did, but my God, I think the two of you could've waited!" He stood and braced the heels of his hands against the table.
"So I figured I'd better start to look out for myself," he said sullenly, then the dam within him burst. "And you know what else made me do it? Spite. Pure spite. You never promised me anything, but I had hopes!" he all but shouted.
Charlie seemed frozen to his chair in shock. "Hopes of what?"
"That we'd…make it. That we could have our little life with our little child and live happily ever after in Romania with your little dragons." He hung his head and stared down at his hands atop the table. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The silence was broken by the most unbelievable sound: Snape laughing.
Draco looked up to see Snape with his head thrown back, as he continued to laugh. Harry was staring at him, a confounded look on his face, while Charlie had sat back in his chair, his mouth hanging open as he stared at Draco.
"I heard you," Draco repeated, glaring at Snape, wondering what in the world had come over him. "I heard the two of you that night." He looked from Charlie to Harry, then back again. "And I figured the writing was on the wall. Just a matter of time."
"Wait. Wait one damn minute," Harry said angrily, pushing his chair back. "You think Charlie and I…?"
"I don't just think it," Draco shot back. "Give it up, Harry. Last Friday night, remember? When the two of you thought I was down in the library? When Charlie came home late?" When Harry looked at him with incredulity, Draco lost his patience entirely and exploded again. "I found that book that night, and I was excited, so when I went to find you, you had your door shut and I heard the two of you in there. Come off of it, I wasn't born yesterday. He was fucking you into the bed! God! And I thought I made a lot of noise! You sounded like a Knockturn Alley whore, begging for it." He finished, out of breath, overwhelmed by his rekindled anger and the relief of finally getting the whole sordid affair off his chest.
Harry's eyes were big, his voice incredulous. "You stood outside my room, and listened to us fuck. Let me get this straight," he said hoarsely, glancing at Charlie, then back to Draco.
"Afraid so. Right to the bed-creaking conclusion. Had a drink, then went to bed, and heard the two of you in the hallway."
There was dead silence around the table now, as no one spoke. Draco had his head up, watching the three of them. Charlie was looking at his hands in his lap, while Snape still seemed amused as he and Harry stared at each other.
Pushing his chair back, Snape crooked a finger at Harry. Draco watched, stunned, as Harry stood and walked around the table, sat firmly in Snape's lap, then lip-locked him. A kiss that told of familiarity and practice, of passion and…well, Draco couldn't look away, until Charlie cleared his throat.
He raised an eyebrow at Draco, then said to the couple at the end of the table. "Get a room, will you?"
After another long, drawn-out—what Draco was certain was for show—kiss, they pulled apart, Harry with his arm around Snape's neck, his head on his shoulder. Snape shot Draco a dark look. "If Charlie were to lay a finger on Harry, he knows that nothing could save him." He pulled Harry closer. "Harry is mine."
There was nothing that Draco could say to that except, "I didn't know."
Snape nodded. "Not many do, and the ones who do keep it quiet."
Harry lifted his head. "I just assumed you knew," he nodded toward Charlie, "that Charlie would've told you."
Charlie shook his head, the beginnings of a smile on his face. Something inside Draco thrilled, just at the sight of it. "As often as Severus is here, I guess I just thought you'd figured it out. I had a lot on my mind when we first came here," he grumbled, his eyes shining.
"So…my little…what did you call him, Draco? Knockturn Alley whore? What's for breakfast?"
They called for Kreacher and breakfast then, as the tension in the room was finally broken. The conversation was considerably lighter, Snape and Harry and Charlie bantering amongst themselves, Draco still in a bit of shock as he mostly listened. He was relieved, so unbelievably relieved, only he knew he wasn't entirely off the hook; although the others had done nothing wrong, he'd been on a collision course with disaster from the moment he'd made that assumption….
Stupid, stupid, stupid. I should've trusted that part of me that knew Charlie wouldn't do it. Why oh why do I always believe for the worst in people? Why am I so ready to believe that nothing good can happen to me?
As if Snape had heard his thoughts, he said as they finished up, "There is still the matter of the book to be addressed."
Draco had to look down, as he felt the heat in his face. Charlie's voice made him look up again.
"We'll work something out, all right?" He was talking to Snape. Then he turned to Draco, "Would you mind waiting in the library?"
Hell yes, he wanted to say. He wanted to stay and defend himself if necessary, but then he wondered what his defense could possibly be? He'd jumped to a conclusion, and instead of doing the right thing and confronting the problem, he'd resorted to the habits of a lifetime: cunning and subterfuge, and been caught at it. But Charlie's eyes…they were saying, Trust me for once.
Folding his serviette and laying it to the side, Draco stood, murmuring, "Not at all."
He was aware that they watched him as he left. Once out the door, he headed down the hall and closed himself into the library, collapsing at his desk, putting his head down on his arms. He was relieved, but anxious; he believed he'd made an honest mistake, but felt ashamed; he was hopeful, but despondent. If his usual luck held out, he'd be reduced to servant status in the house, allowed to stay until the miserable MMPP obligation was fulfilled, and then only god knew what; if he were lucky, though, Charlie just might forgive him. As for Harry and….
Snape was the one to come and find him, at nearly the end of an hour. Draco was surprised that it was he who'd been elected to deliver the verdict. But then again, Snape had been the one to find him out, so he supposed there was a certain logic to it.
Draco joined Snape in the grouping of chairs opposite the settee. Snape frowned as he seemed to consider Draco for a moment longer. "Given the circumstances, along with the insecurities and hardships you've had to face since well before the end of the war, your actions, although ill-reasoned and deplorable, are understandable." He paused. "And Slytherin. So, it's been decided that you're to have a second chance. Don't muck it up," he warned.
Not even trying to hide the relief in his face, Draco told him, "I still have the money."
Nodding, Snape replied, "Which you will take to the bookseller and use to repurchase the book. He'll be expecting you, and has been told there was a misunderstanding. You needn't explain any further." He stared at Draco, seeming to be able to see into the depths of his soul, making Draco shiver.
"There…were three other books that I sold at the same time," Draco said slowly.
"Very good. I was hoping you'd tell me," he said with satisfaction, his face lightening slightly. "He'll return those as well." He leant forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees, still scrutinizing Draco. "I've known you since you were born. And I'm more aware than anyone living of all you've been through. I did try to help you at Hogwarts, you stubborn, foolish boy. Still," he paused, his eyes hardening, "you don't deserve Charlie."
Draco flushed, opening his mouth with a retort, then realized the truth. "I know."
Snape seemed philosophical as he shrugged. "But then again, I don't deserve Harry. You and I are…alike in some respects. In Slytherin ways. Ways that sometimes will trip us up because we over-think things…over-think people. And fail to trust."
He sat up and allowed a small smile. "They're both Gryffindors, and hard as it may be to accept, they believe for the best in both of us. So, as much as it taxes your inclination to create your own misfortune, you have a chance to be happy. Take it. Hold on to it with everything you have in you. I can testify that the reward if you do…is well worth it." He stood, then in a rare demonstration of physical affection, he reached out and tousled Draco's hair, before turning to leave.
Draco impulsively put out a hand to stop him. "Wait."
Snape turned back, his eyes falling to the hand on his arm, until Draco removed it. "Yes?"
"I'm just curious, and you can tell me to piss off, if you like. But if you and Harry…had been forced, sir. Would it have made any difference? If you'd had to produce a child…how would you've handled it?"
Snape cocked to his head to the side, then retook his seat. His eyes were far away as he thought, but at last he shifted in his chair and crossed his legs. Reaching out to finger the crease in his trouser leg, he began without looking at Draco. "There are things in life that one doesn't know what one would do unless forced. I must admit, however, that I've given some thought to this matter." His eyes flicked up to Draco's. "Horrible as I find the Law to be."
Draco nodded, but didn't speak.
"As for the marriage, had we been forced, then undoubtedly we would've done it. Neither of us would tolerate another partner, given our…regard for each other."
"Why don't you just do it, then?"
Smiling slightly, Snape made a tsking sound. "That's our affair, isn't it?" He waved away Draco's apology before he had a chance to voice it. "Someday, perhaps we will, once the…celebrity has faded. Or in my case, the notoriety." He studied Draco for a moment longer, then said, "You know, Lucius believed that he had to get to a certain place in life, achieve certain things, in order to be a good father. As a result, he never was. He didn't realize that being a father isn't about a destination; it's the journey that matters."
Draco pondered, thinking to himself how aptly said this was; his father had never been satisfied with anything or anyone, but most of all, Draco realized that Lucius had been unhappy with himself.
"More specifically, I find the Law's pregnancy plan to be an abominable intrusion into the most private areas of a wedded couple's life. Harry and I have discussed this, in the abstract, but I'm speaking for myself just now. I would be loath to carry a child. I suspect it might be different for him." He seemed suddenly ill at ease. "Even if there were a pregnancy, and eventually a child, for me the most important thing would still and ever be…Harry. So I would do everything within my power to protect that…what we have together. It's the most precious thing of my life," he murmured, then looked away for a moment.
Draco stared at him in amazement. Was this Snape? Was this the hard-nosed, unequivocal Potions master who'd made students and Death Eaters tremble? "What's happened to you?" he couldn't help but ask. "What…what's made you so different?" he asked softly in wonder.
Snape smiled at him slightly. "The great equalizer, Draco. Love." He stood then, and with a nod, he made his second attempt to leave.
Stopping at the door, he simply said, "Make it work."
Draco was fighting the urge to run through the house until he found Charlie, when said person appeared in the doorway. He knocked politely on the jamb. "All sorted out?" he asked, then at Draco's wave, he stepped in and closed the door behind him, catching Draco's eye as he started across the room.
"Yeah, all sorted out," Draco said, watching soberly as Charlie came closer.
"He's a good guy," Charlie said, stopping about a foot away.
Draco thought for a second. "Odd to hear him called that, but yeah, he is. Harry's growing on me as well. Might take a while, though." He smiled.
Charlie stepped even closer, slipping an arm around Draco's waist, then pulling so they stood face to face. "I sort of like it, you know," he murmured, brushing his lips against Draco's cheek, just the simple touch of him making Draco's cock twitch.
"Like what?" Draco managed to mumble, feeling Charlie's hands already at the waistband of his trousers.
"That you were so jealous you went off half-cocked." He used his mouth to push insistently, so that Draco let his head fall back with a moan.
"Really," Draco breathed.
"Yeah, I like that. Possessiveness. Of course, I feel the same way," Charlie continued softly, as he kicked Draco's trousers and boxers away, then stooped slightly to pick him up in his arms.
Draco buried his face in Charlie's neck, and wrapped his arms around him. "Charlie, about the baby…."
"Shhh, not now," Charlie growled, as he headed for the door, turning sideways to fit them through it. They were just to the stairway when Harry popped his head out of the sitting room. Seeing Draco's state of undress, he seemed slightly scandalized.
"Hey, you two! Get a room, would you?"
"I seem to remember someone saying he was doing the topping," Charlie said with a slow smile when Draco finally begged for him to fuck him.
Draco sighed heavily. "Yeah, but that was before; I'm the new Draco and I'll do anything you like." He pushed his hips forward. "Anything if you'll just fuck me already!"
"Anything?" Charlie asked slyly as he slipped off the end of the bed, then reached out his hands to help Draco to slide down.
Draco lay limply and allowed Charlie to position his feet on the wooden rail at the bottom of the bed. "Anything," he echoed, his eyes growing wide when Charlie knelt on the stool, then spread Draco's knees wide.
"Good," Charlie breathed out, the heat of his breath on Draco's arse making him shiver. He felt incredibly vulnerable, perched and spread open as he was, but exhilarated by what he knew Charlie was about to do. He'd never, ever allowed anyone to—
"AHHHHH!" Draco cried out, arching upward with that first wet contact of a tongue to his hole. He gasped as Charlie drew it up and down slowly, trying to frantically push his bottom closer, as Charlie linked his arms around Draco's thighs to do the same.
"This is what you meant, isn't it?" Charlie pulled away long enough to ask. "When you said, 'Fuck me'?"
"Yes! I mean no, it's not what I, yes! Yes, don't stop, you…you…you…" Draco babbled as Charlie laughed once, then pushed his face in again to set to work. Draco tried to hold still, he tried not to squirm, but it was such a perversely sensuous, incredibly dirty, delicious feeling, to have someone's tongue up his arse. He writhed where he was, barely managing to keep the arches of his feet on the bedrail.
Thank god Charlie was so strong; he held Draco in place, keeping a constant contact between tongue and orifice. Just the sounds Charlie was making down there—slurping and snorting noisily, wet greedy sounds like someone licking their fingers after a satisfying meal—was almost enough to make Draco come.
Charlie seemed to sense this, and wouldn’t allow it. Standing suddenly, he hitched Draco down even further, so that his arse was in the air as his legs were slung to hang over Charlie's forearms. With one smooth thrust, Draco felt himself penetrated; he bore down and clenched his arse as hard as he could, earning himself another thrust of ownership that this time kept him skewered where he was.
Charlie's face was just above his. "Open your eyes, Draco, I want to see you."
So Draco did, hands coming up to lace behind Charlie's neck, keeping them close together as Draco was finally fucked the way he'd asked to be.
Possessiveness. Yeah, I like it. Like the idea he'd feel that way about me. Hell, I feel it too. Never thought I'd like it…guess it all depends on who the possessor is….
Leaning forward, Draco met Charlie stroke for stroke, pushing his hips up as his own were pushed down; arms locked around Charlie's neck, legs fastened around his waist, it was just the way Draco thought possession should feel.
When Charlie threw his head back, Draco pushed even harder and rode him for all he was worth and then some, only stopping when Charlie fell limply atop him. Draco'd come long ago, at just the touch of Charlie's hand and the single word, "Come."
"Charlie," Draco said softly, then blew a breath in the man's face when he didn't respond. "Charlie," he repeated.
One eye opened. "Draco. What?" The eye drifted shut until Draco blew in his face again.
"I was thinking…you don't have to do it."
Both eyes opened now. "Do what?"
Draco wasn't fooled. "You know what. Be the one to have the baby. I know the one who does it isn't weak or less of a man—that's what you thought I believed, I know."
"So…what're you saying, then? Draco, it's a simple math problem. If it's not me, then it's you. So, if I don't have to, then you do," Charlie said with a sigh, then leant forward to kiss him lightly. "I'm leaving it up to you," Charlie said firmly.
Struggling against the lump in his throat, Draco finally managed to get the words out. "I can't believe you'd do that for me. I mean, I could do it too, how hard can it be? But still, means a lot to have you say that…just can't believe it," he murmured, his voice husky.
Charlie smiled. "Anything to shut you up. Now, can we sleep, please?"
Draco responded with another breath of hot air, making Charlie squeeze his eyes tightly shut. Draco laughed into the skin of his neck, then pulled back. He lay there and watched his redheaded partner, until the ease of his breathing and relaxation in the lines around his eyes and mouth told Draco he was asleep. Draco leant in one last time, and kissed his forehead, whispering, "I'll think about it."
"You have everything, then?" Draco asked, with one last look around the room before he closed the door.
"Everything. Checked twice. It's all in the foyer, if you want to inventory it before we leave," Charlie said dryly, earning him a smack to his behind as he started down the steps. "Easy now, Mum'll be shocked if she sees you manhandling me."
Draco rolled his eyes, although there was no one to see it. "Oh right, I forgot, you're mum's the paragon of prude. That's how she managed seven of you."
At the bottom of the steps, Charlie turned and waited, then the two of them sauntered down the hallway to the kitchen together, where the entire Weasley family had gathered for Harry's birthday.
They were still taking cheap shots at each other, when they stepped into the room, and stopped dead in their tracks at the somber faces gathered round the table.
Charlie's hand reflexively found Draco's. "What's wrong?" he asked, looking straight to Bill. "What's happened?"
Handing over a paper, Bill said quietly, "Special edition. Just came a few minutes ago."
Taking it, Charlie read the headline aloud, with Draco peering over his shoulder. "Wizengamot Repeals Pureblood Marriage Law." He read on soundlessly, moving his lips as he went, adjusting so that his arm was around Draco's shoulder as they read the entire article. "Well," he said, looking up at the still silent group. "That's a bit of a shock. But a good decision, thank god." He turned to Draco and nodded. "So, what do you think?"
Draco looked at the Weasleys, then back to Charlie. "Well, since it was a bad law from the start, you're right; it's a good thing. Shouldn't be forcing people to marry, let alone interfering with their reproductive rights," he finished, nudging Charlie in the ribs. "Look at them—like they've lost the lotto or something." He jerked his head toward the Weasleys.
"Ah," Charlie said as he took his seat, then waited for Draco to sit beside him. "That's because they're not sure how we'll take this."
"Oh, right," Draco said, eyeing his empty wine glass longingly. "Can't say it makes any difference to me. You?" he asked Charlie, his hand squeezing the man's thigh beneath the table.
"Nope, me neither," Charlie said nonchalantly, then huffed in exasperation. "Listen, all of you, you don't know either of us very well if you think this'll change a thing. Law or no law, we're set for life, aren't we, Draco?" He leant over and stopped Draco's hand as he was about to pour his wine, kissing him so forcefully that Draco had to steady himself with a hand at the back of Charlie's neck.
They kept it up, through the "Ooooo's" and "Ahhhhh's" and George and Harry's almost simultaneous, "Get a room!" then finally pulled away to general applause.
There then followed a typical Weasley family meal, with mayhem and bedlam, spilt wine and the obligatory battle for the last pork chop. Draco smiled through it all, buzzed by the euphoria of the wine, but most of all by the sense that he'd been round the world a few times too many, and was terribly lucky to have found a home.
Pressing his thigh against Charlie's, finding his hand, and sharing a piece of Harry's birthday cake, he thought to himself, as he watched Snape murmur in the birthday boy's ear, that he wouldn't change a single thing in his life, from that moment when Charlie picked him out of a crowd of low-lifes.
He watched as Arthur got up and left the table, and was sitting back with Charlie's hand in his when his father-in-law returned. Leaning down, Arthur tapped the side of his wine glass with his fork, calling for the family's attention.
"Well, another birthday for our honorary son—the one who hasn't cost us any money—Harry, may you have many, many more." There were hearty cries of agreement, then they quieted when Arthur looked down at the sleeping baby in his arms. "Charlie, Draco, and Kellan—may you be happy and healthy, may you laugh often, may you cry only tears that are shared, and may you live long with your wand by your pillow." He picked up his glass, then finished, "To your new life in Romania. Remember we love you, and come home when you can. To Charlie, Draco and Kellan!" Those at the table repeated, "To Charlie, Draco and Kellan!" then tipped up their glasses and drank.
There were cheers all around, as Arthur turned to his son and son-in-law. "Which papa wants him?"
Charlie took the tiny bundle and cradled it in the crook of his elbow, then planted a kiss atop the downy red head. Looking at Draco next to him, he leant in close to say at his ear, "Being a father's not so bad, now is it?"
Draco smiled at their sleeping son, then met Charlie's eyes again. "Not so bad at all."