[personal profile] valentine_veela
Title: Breaking The Dragon’s Curse
Author: [personal profile] vix_spes
Pairing: Bill/Draco
Prompt #: 127
Rating: PG13
Word Count:
Summary: After his marriage ended in divorce and having returned to Egypt Bill Weasley never expected to fall in love with another Veela in the form of Draco Malfoy.
Warning(s): (highlight to read)* Canon up to the end of DH but EWE (as well as a few other changes)*
Beta: Massive thanks to daiseechain for giving this the initial once-over. Numerous parts have been added since then and I took full responsibility for any mistakes in those sections.
Disclaimer: This piece of art or fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offence is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.



~*~

London, July 2001...

Bill smiled as he signed his name to the papers that would finalise his divorce from Fleur Delacour. When he had married the French witch three years previously he had never imagined that he would be divorced so quickly. He had always envisioned that he would have a marriage like his parents whether he had married a man or a woman; a long-lasting relationship with or without children, where both parties loved and respected the other. Sadly it wasn’t to be. The first year of their marriage had been during the last year of the war and their attention had been entirely consumed with that. There had been a pregnancy in the third year, a girl that Fleur had wanted to name Victoire but she had miscarried at five months. By this point the marriage had been floundering for a long time and although Bill was upset about the baby he wasn’t destroyed. In fact, he had got the impression that the pregnancy by Fleur to keep their marriage together. Six months after the miscarriage he had started the divorce proceedings.

It had taken him a while to admit it (his mother still staunchly denied it) but Fenrir’s attack had changed him. His face bore the scars from the attack although three years later they had faded to give him a rakish look. He had discovered a penchant for raw meat as well as a more ... voracious sexual appetite that Fleur was distinctly unimpressed with. It wasn’t the voraciousness that she objected to it was the fact that every month for the duration of the full moon his urges became more animalistic. The elegant French witch treated him with disdain during this period and often retreated to Paris to spend time with her mother and sister. It was for these reasons along with the fact that Bill was no longer sure if he liked Fleur let alone loved her that had caused him to file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences.

Molly and Arthur Weasley had been horrified. Both of them had been ecstatic that their eldest son was settling down at last and neither of them agreed with the concept of divorce no matter the reason. His Great Aunt Muriel on the other hand, along with Ginny, was highly delighted that they would be seeing the back of Fleur and were very vocal about it. He had also received quiet support from Harry, Hermione and Charlie. He wasn’t surprised that Charlie was supporting him; they were the closest in age and best friends as well as brothers. Even when Charlie was in Romania and Bill in Egypt (and later London) they floo-called each other every week. If divorce was Bill’s decision and he was happy with that then Charlie would support him no questions asked.

What had surprised him was the support of Harry and Hermione. He had assumed that the two best friends would have sided with Ron given their close relationship but apparently not. Harry hadn’t come out of the war unscathed, it was impossible for him to have done so. What had changed was his confidence. Bill remembered the short, skinny kid from the Triwizard Tournament, suffering because of Ron. Now, even though the trio had become much closer they weren’t as dependent on each other. Thus, they both felt confident enough in the strength of their friendship (and relationship in Hermione’s case) that they could disagree with Ron and side with Bill.

Primarily it was thanks to Harry and the end of the war that Bill no longer felt guilty about leaving his family behind and returning to Egypt.

~*~

London, August...

Bill smiled as he stepped into his tiny little office inside the main branch of Gringotts Bank. As much as he had loved his time in London he was eagerly awaiting his return to Egypt in four days time. He was also looking forward to returning as a single man. All he was hoping was that the goblins had picked a good team for him while he had been in Romania. Muggles had discovered a new tomb not far from the Valley of the Kings but finding it devoid of riches, they had dismissed it out of hand. A visiting witch had recognised several priceless potions ingredients and combined with various inscriptions on the wall had realised that the tomb had been designed to house a wizard’s body prompting her to contact Gringotts. Intrigued by the discovery, Gringotts had assigned Bill to the dig as his first job back in the field. Prior to him accepting the desk position and his subsequent marriage, Bill had been the youngest and best curse-breaker that Gringotts employed. With the ink on his divorce papers barely dry, Bill had immediately requested that he be transferred back out to Egypt.

Shrugging off his robes to reveal his casual jeans, t-shirt and worn dragon-hide boots he saw two piles of parchment on his desk; one was comprised of the rejected applicants and the other was the possibles. Flicking through the rejected pile absent-mindedly before looking at the finalists, his attention was caught by the name of one applicant; Draco Malfoy. The only surviving Malfoy (Lucius and Narcissa having been killed in the war) had barely been seen in the Wizarding World in the years since Voldemort’s demise although Bill had heard through Ron and Harry that the Ministry had punished him heavily. Malfoy Manor in Wiltshire had been seized in reparation for war crimes as had the majority of the family vaults leaving Draco with very little. For someone who hadn’t been given the Dark Mark he was treated as harshly as those who had been Death Eaters their whole lives.

As he read the application form he became more and more incredulous that the teenager had been rejected. From the looks of it, he had been rejected simply because of his name. Unlike Ron, Hermione and Harry, Draco hadn’t returned to Hogwarts to complete his NEWTS he had instead completed them privately in Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, Defence Against The Dark Arts, History of Magic and Potions. The results were impressive to say the least; he had scored higher than Hermione in Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and Potions while all his other grades were high ‘Outstandings’. He had every qualification that Bill would normally look out for in someone starting their career as a trainee curse-breaker. Bill knew that what he was contemplating would cause problems, particularly with his ex-wife not to mention his mother and the rest of his family but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Regardless of what Draco had done, Bill felt that he deserved a second chance. In all probability, Draco had been forced into his actions by his parents and with that Bill had made his decision, the feelings of his mother and ex-wife be damned. Draco Malfoy would be the best person to have on this team as a trainee and so Bill would have him. Now he just needed to find him.

Reaching for a blank piece of parchment he cast a charm similar to that used to write the Hogwarts letters which wrote down the precise address of Draco’s current location. Reading the piece of paper, Bill frowned as he recognised that address; it was for a club called ‘Revelations’ in Muggle Soho. What on earth was Draco doing in Muggle London? What on earth was he doing in Revelations? Bill was familiar with that particular club and he hadn’t expected to find Draco working there. He’d have to go and do some investigating once he had finished for the day. The club didn’t open to later on in that evening anyway.

~*~

Draco winced as he pulled on the clothes set aside for his routine. He hated that he had been reduced to this; stripping in a muggle club. Stripping! He was the heir to the Malfoy family, well he supposed that he was Lord Malfoy now. Not that it really mattered. The Malfoy assets and even Malfoy Manor were in the hands of the Ministry even if they couldn’t touch them. He had applied for all manner of jobs in the wizarding world but despite his stellar grades at both OWL and NEWT level but rather than opening doors the Malfoy name closed them. His rejection from Gringotts had been the last straw; he had been forced to seek employment in the muggle world. Things were even worse there. As he had no records or experience he couldn’t even get the most menial of jobs and had to resort to this humiliation. His rent was due next week and he only had the money for the most meagre of food shopping each week. He had finally ruthlessly quashed his pride and reluctantly accepted the job at Revelations. Every night he was required to do two dances on the stage, each dance in a different costume and in between he was required to serve the “customers” and indulge their every whim.

Whilst he was still able to control his Veela allure to an extent it was nowhere near the iron-clad control that he had maintained during his sixth year at Hogwarts and it frequently slipped which had led him to lead the life of a recluse. Male Veela were rare, extremely rare, but through a fluke of nature, Draco had somehow inherited the Veela genes. Male and female Veela shared many of the same characteristics and Draco had been struggling to keep his allure down to a minimum so that he wasn’t hassled and assaulted in the streets. Fortunately, with the clientele of Revelations being muggle they were completely unaware of the concept of Veelas and the desire that they subconsciously felt towards him. Plus, the majority of the time their minds were hazy with alcohol and/or drugs that they attributed any excess desire to.

What he hated the most about doing this job other than the utter humiliation of it all was the whole concept of being viewed as a sexual object. He hated the clammy, sweaty hands that crawled all over him, groping him lewdly and the staring eyes that seemed to follow him wherever he went. The issue was that Draco was a virgin. The Prince of Slytherin, former bad boy of Hogwarts, secretly fancied by the majority of females and rumoured lothario was untouched. All of the rumours about Draco being a red-hot lover, someone who had a different student in his bed every night, whose single kiss could reduce anybody to a babbling wreck were precisely that. Rumours. Draco had never even been kissed himself.

Finishing pulling up the zips on his knee-high boots, Draco checked his appearance in the mirror and frowned at what he saw. His platinum blond hair was reaching the levels his father had preferred and his silver-blue eyes were highlighted with a smoky grey eyeliner. His body was encased in tiny black leather shorts and a black shirt that showed his protruding ribs and hips. ‘His’ music started and he took a deep breath before walking out onto the stage. The bright lights obscured the audience and concentrating on suppressing his allure helped him to focus on something other than the fact that he was stripping in front of a group of perverted and perpetually horny men. He closed his mind off for the duration of the song, only coming back to himself at the end when he was stood there in his boots and a thong. It was then that he caught a flash of red that only belong to a Weasley. What was Bill Weasley doing here? Draco promptly panicked and fled.

~*~

At about seven pm that evening Bill left his flat and apparated to an alley in Soho and just around the corner from Revelations. Prior to his marriage to Fleur he had been a regular visitor to the clubs and bars around here whenever he was back in England. He hadn’t bothered to change from his work clothes, not seeing the point. He had every intention of getting Draco and leaving. As he walked into the club he wrinkled his nose in disgust; Revelations was even sleazier than he remembered. It was dimly lit and full of middle-aged men leering over the younger men who were serving. All of the servers were dressed in skimpy outfits and had to put up with wandering hands. He walked up to the bar and gestured to get the bar mans attention.

“I’m looking for someone who works here called Draco. Can you tell me where I can find him?”

“Nobody here’s called that. You been drinking already mate?”

“No. Please, I’m positive that he works here. He’s shorter than me, about 6’0, platinum blond hair, grey eyes?”

The man’s face lit up in recognition. “Aye, we’ve got someone here who looks like that but he’s not called Draco. You’re talking about Princess.”

Bill’s jaw dropped. “Princess?” Things were worse for Draco than he had imagined.

“Yes, Princess. He’s due on the stage any minute now. You’ll enjoy the show when he starts getting his kit off. Can I get you a drink?”

Bill nodded dumbly and ordered a whisky before taking a seat with a good view of the stage. He couldn’t believe that a wizard had been reduced to this.

All of a sudden, the music started and a figure appeared on the stage and it was only recognisable as Draco from the trademark long platinum blond hair. Bill was having a difficult time reconciling the Draco on the stage with the one he remembered from the Battle of Hogwarts. Back then, Draco had been immaculately dressed in obviously expensive robes, clothes and shoes, his hair perfectly combed. He had been tall but he was obviously healthy with a lean but muscled body. Essentially, he was the complete opposite to today. His hair was long and still beautifully combed but it had none of its former lustre. The same applied to his eyes; rather than showing his emotions they were just dead. Skin that had formerly been pale as marble was now translucent and his once quidditch-honed body was edging towards emaciated.

He watched as Draco danced, stripping off his tight black shirt and black leather shorts until he was just in heeled boots and a little black g-string, noticing that Draco had locked himself away, dancing mindlessly. Surreptitiously, fairly confident that Draco wouldn’t realise, he cast a revealing charm on Draco’s forearm. Nothing appeared. Draco hadn’t been given the Dark Mark; he had never been a marked Death Eater but then Bill had been pretty confident of that fact. That would make things easier in some respects. He looked back up and his eyes locked with a pair of wide silver eyes that looked almost frightened. Draco had finished dancing and had clocked Bill, fleeing the stage. Quick as lightning, Bill was after him, managing to grab onto his wrist.

“Draco, wait!”

~*~

Draco was literally trembling as the strong hand clamped down onto his wrist. Why was the oldest Weasley here? Had he finally come to personally demand retribution for his attack at the hands of Greyback? The red-head was incredibly close to him, taller than Draco with broad shoulders and well-muscled. Heat radiated from his body and Draco felt his stomach flutter, a completely new sensation for him.

“What are you doing here Weasley? How did you find me?”

Bill looked around, taking in the corridor that was obviously a well-travelled thoroughfare. “Is there anywhere we can talk that’s a bit more private?”

Draco nodded reluctantly. “I’ve got a private room. It’s just down here. With any luck they’ll think you’re a client and won’t fire me. I need the job to pay the rent next week.”

Bill followed, watching the lithe figure and that perfect (if not a bit skinny) arse in appreciation before he caught himself. He wasn’t happy that he was having to pretend that he was a client but with any luck Draco wouldn’t be working here beyond tonight.

Walking into the room he was struck by how much sleazier the private rooms were; made up of a large bed draped with velvet and silk furnishings. Draco gestured to him to sit on a chaise longue as he pulled on a silken robe, covering up his virtual nakedness. With that done, he curled up on a chair at a distance from Bill.

“Would you mind telling me what you’re doing here? Never mind that you’re a Weasley in Muggle London but what would your wife say to you being in a strip club for gay men? I’m sure that even the former Miss Delacour would have something to say about that.”

Bill bristled slightly. “I’m sure that the current Miss Delacour would have something to say about it but I don’t particularly care. My divorce was finalised three weeks ago and I’ve been in Romania ever since. Despite being a Weasley I’m perfectly confident and capable in muggle London. Perhaps I should be asking what a Malfoy is doing here?”

“I’m working obviously. You still haven’t told me what you’re doing here.”

“I came to speak to you. I’ve come to offer you a job with Gringotts.”

“What?”

Draco lost his Malfoy cool and sat there mouth open and eyes wide. Bill found himself horribly distracted by the thought that Draco was actually rather adorable without his Malfoy cool. He was also rather distracted by Draco posture; sat with his knees tucked up against his chest, his too short robe revealing his very minimal clothing underneath.

“I’m here to offer you a job. Look, this isn’t the best place to discuss this. Why don’t we go back to your apartment so you can change, I’ll buy you dinner and we can discuss things over food.”

Draco shook his head. “I can’t leave in the middle of my shift. If I leave they won’t pay me and I need it if I’m going to my rent and eat next week.”

“Draco, you’re not coming back. Now come here and you can apparate us to your flat.”

~*~

Draco blushed in mortification as he opened the door to his little flat and gestured for Bill to follow him inside. He lived in a particularly rough area of south-east London in a one bedroom flat that was dingy, mouldy and absolutely freezing but was the best that Draco could afford. There were no furnishings except for a battered chair in the living room/kitchen and a bed that was little more than a mattress. He had only managed to save three trunks from Malfoy Manor and every single item had had to be approved by the Ministry. One trunk contained family mementos and papers; his birth certificate, photos of his parents and his childhood, his safety blanket and stuffed toy. All items that had no monetary value but their sentimental value was priceless. The other two trunks contained his school books, a few supplies and potions ingredients and equipment as well as a scant supply of clothes. The costumes he wore at Revelations were all thrown in a corner and Draco hated the very sight of them. He turned to the taller man and excused himself in order to change into something less ... revealing.

Bill looked around in horror at where the younger man was living. Despite the fact that the blond was the reason that Bill had been attacked by Fenrir, Bill couldn’t help but feel sorry for Draco. He hadn’t voluntarily done what he did; he simply did what he did to please his father. It had been apparent earlier that Draco hadn’t been marked by Voldemort and Bill was willing to give him another chance. He had gone through the rest of the applicants and out of those that the goblins had pre-selected, not one of them had the qualifications that Draco did. He had gone to talk to his superiors and after much persuasion they had agreed that Bill could take on Draco as a trainee curse-breaker. The one thing he was certain about was that Draco wasn’t staying in this dump for another night. Knowing that he had several minutes before Draco returned he had a peek around the rooms that he could. The living room was empty except for the battered chair, a couple of dog-eared paperbacks and when he opened the fridge it was empty except for some bread, milk and a couple of apples. The bathroom was hideous and when Bill turned on the taps he realised that there wasn’t any hot water. There was no way that he would allow anyone to sleep here even if it was Malfoy.

He didn’t bother to waste any time and simply walked into Draco’s room where the blond was halfway through dressing. The trousers Draco was wearing and the t-shirt he was about to pull on had obviously seen numerous mending charms (Bill was very familiar with those) and the clothes hung off his frame.

“Draco, pack up all your things and shrink your trunks. You’re not staying here any longer. You’re coming with me.”

Bill saw the precise moment that Draco dug up his buried pride. His back straightened, his chin lifted and his eyes flashed like liquid silver. He had also apparently been in a daze when Bill had told him earlier that he had a job.

“Would you like to inform me why I should come with you? Just because I’m stripping doesn’t mean that I need pity from a Weasley. I’m still a Malfoy.”

Bill stifled a laugh. This one was a firecracker. At least it wasn’t going to be boring in Egypt. “It’s not pity. I’ve been in Romania for the last couple of weeks celebrating my divorce and returned to find your application on my desk. I’m here to offer you a position on my team as a trainee curse-breaker. The goblins made a mistake; you were the best qualified applicant. If you accept the job then we leave in four days time. What do you think?”

A glimmer of hope had entered the mercury orbs. “You’re serious. You’re offering me the position.” Bill nodded. “Then I’ll accept it.” He looked curious.

“Are you sure you want to give it to me, after ... you know.” Draco waved his hand at Bill’s face rather than completing the question, looking decidedly shamefaced.

Bill shook his head. “Let’s talk about this in detail somewhere else but essentially I don’t care. If you’re going to accept the job then that’s all I need to know. Grab your things and let’s go.”

Draco didn’t hesitate again. He threw his things in his trunk and finished dressing before he turned back to Bill. “You’re definitely offering me a job? I don’t have to go back and work at Revelations?”

“You definitely don’t have to go back and work at Revelations again.”

Draco was clearly taken aback at first by the vehemence in the redhead’s voice but a look of glee crossed his face as he kicked all of his stripping clothes into a pile in the corner and, pointing his wand at them, shouted “Incendio!” There was a very self-satisfied smile on his face as he turned round to face Bill. His trunk went into his pocket and he slipped his wand into a holster on his left forearm.

“I’m ready.”

Bill nodded and stepped forward, holding out an arm. “Grab on and hold tight. I’m going to apparate to my flat. Well, my building; we can’t apparate straight in because of the wards.”

“Where do you live?” Draco’s face was curious as he rested a hand on Bill’s forearm.

“I’m staying in the new Avalon Development for the week before I go back to Egypt.”

Bill knew the moment that Draco clocked the address as the hand on his sleeve clenched. “Are you ok with that?”

He saw the Malfoy mask go up. “Of course I’m ok with it. Will you get a move on, I thought we were leaving?”

Bill grinned, yes this one was definitely a firecracker. He wasn’t going to waste any more time and rile Draco up further so he concentrated on the front door of his apartment building before he felt the familiar feeling of apparition.

Once they’d reached Avalon Development it was the work of minutes to get Draco upstairs and into the flat. It belonged to Gringotts and was rather nicely decorated, being reserved for favoured customers and the occasional non-goblin employee. There were two large bedrooms, one with an en-suite, bathroom, kitchen and living room. Bill told Draco to put his things in the bedroom before showing him to the bathroom.

“Feel free to have a bath – I noticed that there wasn’t any hot water at the flat. Indulge yourself and have a soak for a while. I’ll order some take-out and I’ve probably got some of mum’s cooking somewhere. I can find you some of my old clothes and shrink them, probably better than what you’re wearing. We’ll have to go shopping tomorrow; you’ll need protective clothing and we’ll need to brew some potions. You’re even more likely to get burnt than I am. I’m sorry, I’m rambling. Have your bath and I’ll order the food. How do you feel about pizza?”

Draco shut the bathroom door behind Bill with a relieved sigh. His head slumped back to lean against the door as he tried to get rid of the disturbing fluttering feeling that had made a return to his stomach.

Draco languished in Bill’s bathtub for nearly an hour, casting warming charms when the temperature dipped, relishing the fact that he was having a bath in hot water. He hadn’t had a bath for several months and it had been several weeks since he’d had hot water full stop. Having washed his hair several times he was just getting out of the bath when there was a knock on the door and it opened just a crack.

“Draco? I’ve found some clothes for you; it’s just a pair of pyjama pants and a t-shirt but it’s probably better than what you were wearing. If you pass them to me then I can put them in the bin. I ordered pizza, I hope that’s okay. It should be here any minute.”

“Yes. That’s fine.” Draco had to swallow around the lump in his throat. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

After he’d towelled himself dry and pulled on the pants and t-shirt he had to pause and wipe the tears off his cheeks. He couldn’t remember the last time that anybody had been so nice to him. On second thoughts, he could. It was shortly after the war had finished and it had been Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

The two of them, the two people that he had probably tormented the most during their Hogwarts years had extended the hand of friendship despite everything that he had done to them during the duration of the school career. They were also the only two people to know that he was a Veela and that was due to one of them being the smartest witch of her generation and the other doing a lot of research up to and after receiving his inheritance. Harry was working towards a career in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement as a law-wizard and Hermione was working in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

When Harry had gained his inheritance, the Black family inheritance, he had spent an awful lot of time going through all of the old documents, diaries and journals that he found in their Gringotts accounts. Whilst they had closed up Grimmauld Place, they had taken the library and re-located it at the newly rebuilt Potter home in Godric’s Hollow. With the Black family vaults released to Harry he had immediately redistributed much of it to Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin but he had also given a significant portion to Draco as a scion of the Black family through his mother. Draco had been living off this money but with it dwindling until it was all gone, despite his much improved relationship with Harry he was still too proud to go begging for more money. He grimaced at the thought of the two best friends, he had avoided all contact with the two of them after his life had quickly disintegrated around him and he hoped that one day he would be able to apologise and that they would grant him forgiveness.

Shaking his head, he pushed the maudlin thoughts to the back of his mind and straightened his shoulders, cast a drying charm on his hair and then walked out of the room in search of Bill and some food, his stomach rumbling in agreement at his decision.

It was only after they had eaten that Draco managed to find his courage to speak up and ask Bill what he had been dying to since they had left Draco’s scummy apartment. He was feeling warm, comfortable and well-fed, now he was determined to get some answers. He was now feeling much more capable of keeping his allure under control. He was now going to have to keep his allure under control with him going to be back in the company of more wizards.

“Bill, can I ask you a question?”

Bill looked up curiously, even though he knew what was coming. “Of course you can. We are going to be working together for the foreseeable future so we’re going to have to be comfortable with each other. Feel free to ask whatever you want.”

Draco nodded, hating that he felt nervous. This whole bloody thing had him on edge and feeling nothing like the confident Draco Malfoy of old. He knew that he was going to have to clear the air just so that he could feel comfortable himself.

“Why did you offer me the job? You said that the goblins made a mistake and that I should have been offered it from the beginning but why would you offer it to me? It’s my fault that you look like that. I mean, your family hate me. Your youngest brother has hated me since we started at Hogwarts and I’m pretty sure that your mother blames me for the death of your other brother. Not to mention the fact that I’m a Malfoy and you’re a Weasley, not to mention who my father is. You’re courting controversy by employing me – are you sure that you want to risk your family’s displeasure?”

Bill smiled, as realisation dawned on him. “You’re really not the cocky little git that Ron always said you were are you? Or at least you’re not now. Maybe Harry and Hermione were right about you.”

Draco’s head snapped up. “What have they said about me? You’ve seen them?”

Bill chuckled. “Of course I’ve seen them. Hermione’s engaged to Ron and we’re waiting for Harry to propose to Ginny any day now. They’ve both been family for years. A few years ago, they were going through all the stuff from Grimmauld Place and various papers through the Ministry. They mentioned several times that you hadn’t wanted to do what you did. I think Harry mentioned something about pensieve memories from Snape or something? Anyway, they insisted that maybe without your father around you deserved a second chance, that maybe you weren’t the nasty little ferret that people thought you were. They also mentioned that you disappeared off the face of the earth and that you wouldn’t respond to their attempts to talk to you. Why is that? Harry was adamant that the two of you could be friends, apparently he’d always wondered that even after he turned down your offer of friendship or something in first year.”

Draco’s eyes widened at the last statement before he blushed, inwardly cursing his traitorous capillaries. “I’ve got a feeling that you already know why I disappeared off the face of the earth don’t you? Beyond that, you’ll just have to find out if they were right or wrong. You never answered my question by the way, why did you hire me?”

“Tenacious little thing aren’t you, like a dog with a bone. I hired you because it was the right thing to do. You deserve the opportunity to have a career in the world in which you belong. I don’t blame you for anything because nothing that has happened to my family is your fault. Yes, you may have let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts but you didn’t engage me in a battle, Fenrir Greyback did and you didn’t kill Fred, another Death Eater did. How can I blame you for something that you didn’t do? I have no desire to rehash this over and over again."

Four days later he found himself stood at London’s International Portkey Station waiting to leave for Egypt. He couldn’t believe how much things had changed for him in the last three days. For a start, he had had several good night’s sleep on one of the comfiest beds he’d ever slept in and fantastic meals; it would appear that Bill was able to cook very well indeed. More importantly, he hadn’t had to go to Revelations at all and would never have to go back. Bill had given him an advance on his wages so that he was able to buy the clothes that he would need for the more temperate climate that he would be working in as well as the potions he would need to purchase in order to protect his fair skin from the harsh sun. Without the expensive potions, he would burn like a crisp. Gringotts would provide the tools that he would need but Draco had bought several books on curse-breaking to supplement those he had bought whilst still a student at Hogwarts. He was nervous about his new job but was hopeful that he would be able to prove himself and build a career out of this.

“The next portkey to Cairo will be leaving from gate 14 in 5 minutes. Please step forward and take hold of the portkey.”

Draco looked at Bill, hoping to hide his nervousness but knowing that he’d failed miserably when Bill smiled reassuringly at him.

“Come on then Draco. A new career awaits ... I didn’t think Slytherin’s got scared.”

He smirked as Draco squared his shoulders and stepped forward, taking hold of the object being used as a portkey. “Of course we don’t get scared. Come on then Weasley, I have no intention of you remaining here. They might kill me otherwise.”

“No-one is going to kill you Draco. Stop being so melodramatic.”

Draco’s witty and sarcastic retort was lost as the portkey activated, whisking the two of them off to Cairo.

~*~

It was barely gone seven pm in the evening when Draco stumbled into the little flat that he had been given by Gringotts. It was the end of his first week working as an apprentice curse-breaker and he was already exhausted. It was incredibly hard work but he was enjoying every single minute of it. He was even pleasantly surprised by his new colleagues. There were four of them; three men and a woman. The only female of the group was Elena, a witch of Slavic origins who Draco had already learnt you did not cross as she was incredibly quick with her wand, being the Durmstrang duelling champion for her year. Alongside her were the twins, Andy and Will. Both of them were English (but not educated at Hogwarts) with strong, thick Yorkshire accents, as broad as they were tall. They reminded Draco of Crabbe and Goyle and that had upset him at first but they were completely different from the two Slytherins. For a start, they were actually intelligent. The person that Draco had found himself gravitating towards the most in an attempt to keep his distance from Bill, was an incredibly tall, fair Swedish wizard called Stellan but who was commonly known as Viking. His looks were very similar to Draco’s and already he was treating the younger wizard as a little brother. Viking had been educated at Durmstrang as well but was several years younger than Elena.

Most of the work that he had done this week had been grunt work; shifting sand and transporting things as well as quietly learning useful spells and curses. It had been difficult to take a back seat; Draco had always been a leader, always been at the forefront of everything but he had to admit that he didn’t object when he got to watch Bill work. The man was an absolute genius and he was incredible to watch. Draco found himself entranced by how gentle and careful those big hands were when working with the delicate artefacts and objects in the tomb. He also found himself entranced with certain other physical attributes and he had the horrible sinking feeling that he had been caught staring by the other members of the team.

He wasn’t too enamoured with the whole sand thing though; it got absolutely everywhere. He hated it. He wanted a hot shower to get rid of all of the sand before he cooked some dinner for himself. Beyond that, his plans for the weekend involved several very large and heavy textbooks that he had been recommended by Viking and Elena. They had promised that if he read up on several curses, they might let him assist in some practical work next week. Before he even started his research though he wanted a shower to remove the sand from his body and hair.

He had literally stepped out of the shower, his damp hair hanging around his shoulders, skin flushed from the hot water and a rather small towel wrapped precariously around his hips, when there was a knock on the door. He had intended to just ignore it but then there was another knock and a voice called out.

“Draco? It’s Bill, open the door!”

Draco cursed inwardly, knowing that he would have issues controlling himself and keeping his attraction from showing in his current get up. Instead, he took a deep breath and stepped over to the front door, opening it to reveal an obviously freshly showered (and absolutely gorgeous) Bill.

“Get dressed Draco; I brought dinner. I thought you’d be too tired to cook. I remember what my first week was like. Well go on then. As good as you look in just your towel, I’m sure you’d feel more comfortable fully dressed.”

Draco fought to stop himself from blushing at Bill’s compliment as he nodded in agreement and excused himself to get dressed. He was going to struggle to keep himself from jumping his mentor.

~*~

The Burrow, November 2000...

Fleur sat at the scrubbed wood table in the kitchen of The Burrow along with Ginny, Hermione and Audrey, Percy’s wife, watching as Molly bustled around. Saturday afternoon tea for the women of the Weasley family was a ritual that Molly had instigated and none of them missed it if they could. Finally, with the table literally groaning underneath the weight of the food that had been placed on it, Molly sat down and poured the tea.

“Well go on then, help yourselves girls. Honestly, all of you look as if you haven’t been eating properly. You’re all working too hard, that’s the problem.”

Fleur smiled to herself, glad that she was still welcome at these weekly meetings even though she was no longer a Weasley. She still couldn’t believe that she had had to suffer the utter humiliation of being divorced. Her. Fleur Delacour. After all the work she had done to convince Molly that she was right for Bill it had all been for nothing. In the final year of her marriage their relationship had just disintegrated. Fleur disliked the quiet life at Shell Cottage and as much as she disliked London she would have preferred to live there. She wasn’t hugely enamoured with her work at Gringotts and knew that Bill wanted to be back in Egypt but the scorching sun would have been disastrous for her complexion.

Her ears perked up as she heard Hermione and Ginny discussing something of great interest to her ... her ex-husband.

“Hermione, Ginny? Are you discussing Bill? Perhaps it’s something we’d all like to hear?” She smiled secretly, knowing that Molly would pick up the subject.

"What’s this girls, have you heard from Bill? How is he? I’ve barely heard anything from him since he went back to Egypt.”

“He’s doing really well. He loves being back in Egypt and the dig is going fantastically. They’ve made some new discoveries and the goblins are very impressed, particularly at how Bill’s handling being the dig leader.”

Molly literally glowed with a mother’s pride. “That’s wonderful. You know, I’m rather surprised that Gringotts haven’t asked him to take on an apprentice yet. I mean, he’s the right age and he’s got the experience to do it.”

Hermione and Ginny shared a conspiratorial grin but they weren’t quite quick enough to hide it from Molly’s sharp eyes.

“They have asked him? Bill’s taken on an apprentice? Oh that’s wonderful news! Why didn’t he tell me though? You have to tell me all the details. Why didn’t Bill tell me anything?”

The two girls reluctance to voice any further details made Molly suspicious and her easily riled temper started to fray. Fleur sat back to watch the show with a smug smile.

“Girls. I insist that you tell me right now. Who is Bill’s apprentice? You are not leaving this room until I get an answer.”

“Draco Malfoy.”

Both girls winced at the resulting screech from both Molly and Fleur. “WHAT? MALFOY? Bill has taken that little Death-Eater as an apprentice? That boy of mine has a lot of explaining to do.”

As Molly stamped away, presumably to make a Howler to send to Bill, Hermione and Ginny shared a guilty look; they were going to have to warn Bill and Draco.”

~*~

Egypt, March 2001...

Draco winced as yet another Howler flew through his window in the talons of a postal owl. He allowed the creature to let go before he disposed of it with a well-timed “Incendio.” He knew well enough after six months of it that any howler was going to come from either Molly or Ron Weasley or even Fleur Delacour. Molly and Ron limited theirs to simply yelling at him but Fleur was a bit more adventurous. He had lost count of the number of times that she had sent an envelope filled with some sort of poison. Judging by some of her choices, Draco knew that the French witch had to have been one of the top Potions students in her year; they were very creative and would only be known to someone who was interested in the subject outside of the curriculum. Another of her favourites was undiluted Bubotuber pus that when he had opened the envelope had caused his hands to erupt in incredibly painful boils and sores. Since then he had had to cast revealing spells on all of his post just in case anything else slipped past him.

He checked the rest of the post and seeing only a couple of letters from Harry and Hermione he put them aside and went to get ready for work. They had somebody seconded to them from the Paris branch of Gringotts for the last two weeks and the man, Jean-Luc, had made a discovery a couple of days previously on a separate site and Bill had assigned Draco to go and check it out. It was believed to be a dark artifact and so Draco was deemed to be the most suitable person. He was rather nervous as it was his first major project by himself and he wanted to prove that they goblins hadn’t made a mistake by giving him this job.

An hour later he was flying across the desert with Jean-Luc on their way to the site where the Frenchman had found the artefact. He had been to check in with Bill and been told that he was being given a scant three hours to make an initial scan of the artefact before he was expected back at the dig. As he left, he failed to notice the slight tingle as Bill cast a tracking spell on him. Something just felt off about the Frenchman.

When they arrived at the second site, Draco was slightly suspicious to discover that it was completely deserted there was nobody else there. Deciding that maybe he was being a bit too paranoid, he turned his attention to the artefact that he had been sent to look at. There was something just ‘off’ about it but before he could figure out what it was, he felt a tingle of magic and managed to dive behind a stack of boxes. He peeked out from behind them to see Jean-Luc’s face dissolve as the glamour disappeared to reveal Fleur Delacour. He yelped as a well-directed “Reducto” vanquished the boxes.

He hurriedly cast a “Protego” charm as he avoided several “Petrificus Totalis” and “Locomotor Mortis” spells before his eyes widened as the former Beauxbatons student segued into a series of spells that were borderline Dark curses and hexes. Hurriedly, he cast several spells of his own, grateful for his godfather’s diary as he recalled the “Levicorpus” spell that the former spy had invented. He followed it up with Ginny Weasley’s speciality Bat-Bogey Hex, smothering a grin at the French witch. What he wasn’t prepared for was Fleur’s talent as a duellist. Draco had been one of the best in his year, the best behind Harry, but Fleur was giving him a run for his money.

He panicked as he dodged a bone-breaking curse which was quickly followed by bone-liquefying hex. As he moved to the left he sent the Adflictatio curse at the witch, grinning as it hit her and she screamed. The torture curse was technically legal as it could be easily defended. What he wasn’t prepared for, was for her to recover so quickly. With his guard down for a minute, she managed to get past his shield charm and cast “Incarcerous.” Whilst he was lying on the floor, unable to move, Fleur stood over him, fingering her wand with a malicious smile.

“I’m going to enjoy this. One final thing which should ensure that you’re out of my way for good. LACERO!”

Draco was unable to think properly past the searing pain as the witch proceeded to cast the same curse a further twice and the last thought he had before he passed out was that Fleur had succeeded in her attempts to get rid of him.

When Draco failed to return after four and a half hours, Bill followed the tracking spell to find something that made his heart leap into his throat. Draco lay on the sand surrounded by slightly tacky, bloody sand. Blood still trickled sluggishly from several wounds on his torso. His face was red and burnt from the constant exposure to the harsh Egyptian sun. There was no sign of Jean-Luc. He immediately sent his Patronus to Cairo’s wizarding hospital informing them that they had an emergency, high-priority patient on their way.

As he slid his hands under Draco to cradle him in close to his body, Draco’s eyes opened a crack and he managed to whisper a few words.

“Wasn’t a Frenchman. Jean-Luc was Fleur. She attacked me.”

“Okay Draco. Don’t say anything else. I’m taking you to hospital now. Everything’s going to be fine.”

~*~

Bill frowned as he saw the still and incredibly pale form of Draco lying in the hospital bed in Cairo’s wizarding hospital. He still couldn’t get over the fact that Fleur had hexed Draco, particularly with the hexes and curses that she had used, many of them being borderline dark curses. The French witch had displayed a wide array of spells and her ferocity in casting them had shown precisely why she had been selected as a competitor in the Tri-Wizard Tournament all those years ago. Until yesterday when she had attacked Draco, Bill hadn’t understood why she had been so vindictive towards the other blond but now he knew the reasoning.

He had thought that Fleur had accepted the divorce and the reasoning behind it but apparently not. The last nearly nine months had proven that. The French witch was still in love with Bill and was determined to win him back, convinced that the eldest Weasley son was her mate. What Bill had come to realise in the agonising hours while he waited to be told that Draco was going to be ok, was that he had more than platonic feelings for Draco. He felt for the younger blond what he had felt for Fleur in the earlier days of their relationship only stronger. He had had flings with other men before, mainly while he was a student at Hogwarts and during his early days in Egypt but he had never felt anything this strong before. It was almost as though there was a compulsion drawing him towards Draco.

It had taken less than a month for Bill to notice Draco in a way that he’d never expected to. Well, he’d known from the start when he saw Draco stood on a stage in nothing but a g-string and boots that he was attractive – too skinny for words but undeniably attractive all the same, but he hadn’t been prepared to fall for him like he had. It had been similar to the way he had felt towards Fleur in the beginning only much stronger. At the same time, he noticed that there were other members of the team who acted in the same way. It was like they were drawn to Draco like moths to a flame.

He had heard stories from his younger siblings that Draco had had students, male and female, flocking around him at Hogwarts, particularly in his sixth year, and the two things combined led to several possibilities. The compulsion and certain things about Draco got Bill thinking and he started wondering if maybe his newest employee had some creature blood. It would be surprising, given the Malfoy family’s emphasis on pure-blood but then there were several creatures which were regarded as being just as powerful and venerated among certain circles as pure-bloods. Of these, Veelas were top of the list.

He sent out a few enquiries, gathering his information carefully, before he finally wrote to Harry and Hermione. The two of them had gotten to know Draco and through the cases they were taking on as part of their studies, they had access to the documentation of various blood-lines, inheritances and family-trees that were necessary in order to prove his theories.

Whilst waiting for their replies he came to a further conclusion; that he was falling for someone for the first time since his divorce. This was completely different to what he had felt for Fleur and it had hit him much quicker. He had known Draco less than two months. He had had years of his younger siblings complaining about the Malfoy heir; how he was a git, sarcastic, evil, nasty, a bully. The Draco that he was getting to know was completely different. He was sweet, eager to please, a hard-worker, intelligent, friendly, well-mannered and of course, possessing the deadly Malfoy charm. He was also rather shy with a serious weakness for Honeyduke’s chocolate. Bill had found himself thoroughly enjoying getting to know his apprentice.

For the first few weeks he had found it easy to distance himself from Draco and convince himself that their relationship was just that of a master and apprentice. At the end of the day, Draco went home to the tiny flat that Gringotts had given him and Bill went back to the small but comfortable cottage not far from the one he had lived in before moving to London. He would avoid socialising with Draco on his own, only going along when the entire excavation team went out as well. He had thought that he was keeping on top of things but the couple of times that he attempted to go out on dates it was a complete disaster. He just kept thinking about Draco and what it would be like to have a relationship with him. The final straw was when Bill woke up one morning to sticky sheets and the embarrassing realisation that he had had a wet dream. A rather pleasurable dream about a particular blond dancing for him if he remembered correctly.

He had made his decision. He wasn’t going to avoid Draco as he had been. Instead, he had decided that he was going to cultivate a friendship with Draco and see where things went. He wasn’t completely sure that Draco was gay or even bisexual. All he could do was have patience and see where things went. If he had any luck then he might get what he wanted out of this.


He had first realised months ago that he found the younger man attractive but there were reasons that had prevented him from doing or saying anything. The first of those reasons being that Draco had never shown any indication that he was interested in men and besides, with four younger brothers and a sister at Hogwarts at the same time as Draco, Bill had heard all of the rumours which indicated that he was definitely straight. He’d never shown any interest in the women on the dig – two of whom were undeniably beautiful. The second reason was that Draco was under trial with Gringotts. With Bill having to persuade the goblins to let him take Draco on as an apprentice he didn’t want to give them any fuel to terminate the apprenticeship. That didn’t mean that any interaction with Draco would necessarily cause problems; Draco got on well with the other members of the dig and he had more than proved his talent at curse-breaking. The trial period would be up at the end of July/beginning of August and Bill was pretty confident that Draco would be offered a permanent position. He wanted to make a move but he just didn’t know if it would be welcomed by the blond or not.

However, the whole incident with Fleur had just pushed things forward. He was going to have to keep a closer eye on his interactions with Draco if he didn’t want to rile Fleur anymore. He couldn’t believe that his possible future relationship was being dictated by his ex-wife. She shouldn’t have anything more to do with his life.

One thing was for certain though. He absolutely refused to let the woman have any form of control over his life anymore. She had meddled enough already. If he decided to make a play for Draco then both Fleur and his family would have to learn to live with it.

~*~

One month later ... 9th June, Draco’s 21st birthday

Fleur smiled smugly to herself as she checked that the Polyjuice Potion was complete and just required the final ingredient. She had spent almost three months ensuring that the potion was perfect but then she hadn’t been the top student at Beauxbatons in every single subject for nothing. She knew that the potion was perfect but then it had to be. This was her last chance to get her ex-husband back from that Death-Eater. She wasn’t stupid. She knew that Malfoy was a Veela; more pure-blooded than she was. She could accept that if she hadn’t seen the way that that little bitch looked at her ex-husband and the pheromones that came off him whenever he was in Bill’s presence.

Checking the clock she saw that she needed to get a move on otherwise her plan wouldn’t work. She pulled a vial out of her robes and filled a goblet with the Polyjuice potion. With the help of an invisibility spell she had been able to sneak into Draco’s flat while the team were away at the dig site and had selected some of his clothes as well as carefully collecting some hairs that were on his pillow. A simple dose of Veritaserum and liberal amounts of Firewhiskey followed by an Obliviate had ensured that she knew Bill’s plans for tonight courtesy of a close colleague and meant that she was in the perfect situation to sabotage his plans with Draco. She raised an eyebrow in surprise at the scent and the colour of the potion once she had added the hairs – it didn’t turn the normal rank colour and smell that they had noticed when they used it during the war to impersonate various Death Eaters. Dismissing it out of hand as unnecessary she downed the potion and moved over to the mirror. She smirked to herself as she saw the features of Draco Malfoy staring back at her. Now to get things moving.

It only took her a few minutes to walk to the bar where Bill and Draco had agreed to meet and then all she had to do was wait for her ex-husband to arrive. She couldn’t believe that she’d had to resort to this in an attempt to get Bill back. She couldn’t believe that he was falling for that little blond Death Eater; it had to be the Veela allure. Bill couldn’t actually be interested in Malfoy. Molly had supported her in her quest to win Bill back but she had got the feeling that even the Weasley matriarch had been surprised by the, well it had been described as ‘viciousness’ but Fleur preferred the word ferocity, of her attacks on Draco. That wasn’t to say that the other witch wasn’t still supportive of Fleur’s campaign but she much preferred the deviousness of this current plan rather than full-out attack on Draco. She looked up as someone walked into the bar and smiled to herself as she saw the tall attractive red-head. It was time to put this plan in action.

Bill walked up to her and placed a present on the table to the left of them. He leaned in and gave Draco a hug, or who he thought was Draco. As he pulled back slightly Fleur looked up and was slightly disconcerted to discover that Draco was almost the same height as she was, if not a scant inch shorter. She smiled and pressed closer to the muscled body.

“So, don’t I get a birthday kiss?”

The curse-breaker wasn’t given the opportunity to respond as the person he thought was Draco reached up and kissed him full on the lips. Well, he certainly wasn’t going to complain about this recent turn of events.

~*~

Draco hummed happily as he made his way back to his little flat to get changed for the evening. He couldn’t remember the last time he had enjoyed his birthday so much, even though the day had been spent working. The morning’s owl post had brought presents from Harry, Ginny and Hermione, both of which had shown the thought that had gone into them. Hermione had sent him the latest releases on Ancient Runes and Arithmancy while Ginny had sent a package of his favourite Honeydukes Finest chocolate and assorted sweets. However, it had been the present from Harry that had delighted Draco to no end (as well as causing him to spend a good half an hour crying). Harry, to everybody’s surprise, hadn’t joined the auror department (he had left that to his best friend) but was training to become a law-wizard. Rather than forming his own practise when he qualified, something which would have been extremely lucrative considering his name, he was going to work at the Ministry. He had already made it his business to get official pardons and recognition for people who had died during the war and that he felt deserved it.

The first person he had succeeded with had been Remus Lupin who had gained a posthumous Order of Merlin First Class for his undercover work amongst werewolves despite the Ministry’s dislike of Lupin’s own lycanthropy. His second success had been the official pardoning of his godfather Sirius Black as well as a posthumous Order of Merlin Second Class, thus releasing the Black family inheritance and Grimmauld Place to Harry officially. Nevertheless, it was his most recent success and hardest fought battle that meant the most to Draco. Harry had managed to get, via the use of pensieve memories and Albus Dumbledore’s will, Severus Snape cleared of all Death Eater activities as well as his work as spymaster for the Order of the Phoenix recognised. This recognition had earned Snape a posthumous Order of Merlin First Class. Harry’s parcel had included the paperwork as well as a letter telling Draco that Snape’s portrait had gone up in the Headmaster’s Office at Hogwarts. Harry’s letter also informed Draco that as Snape’s godson and the closest the man had to living relatives all of the former spy’s surprisingly full vaults and all personal effects had been left to him. The funds were immediately available but Harry had sent along Snape’s private diaries and personal potions journals. It was these that had excited Draco the most. He had always idolised his godfather (only slightly less than he had idolised his father) and despite his Death Eater connections, Severus Snape had been regarded as one of the foremost Potions Masters in Europe. Even flicking through the journals, Draco could see that some of Severus’ discoveries would be useful seeing as they were still excavating the potion master’s tomb.

He had loved the presents but he was even more excited about his evening. He was going to spend the whole evening with Bill, with his mate. His superior had offered to take Draco out for dinner and drinks to celebrate Draco’s 21st birthday. They were going into the nearest town to a bar/restaurant that was a favourite of Bill’s. The fact that Bill had insisted that it was just the two of them rather than the whole team had given Draco hope that the redhead was starting to feel something for him that was not platonic. The rest of the team hadn’t been impressed but they had thrown him a party at lunchtime instead with small gifts and all of Draco’s favourite foods.

He pulled off his sandy clothes and stepped into the shower to wash away the sand and grime from a day on the dig site. He had every intention of looking his best tonight and no-one could resist a Malfoy at their best. His father might have been a stuck-up arse at the best of times but there was no denying that he looked good whilst he was persecuting the Muggles. As he got out of the shower he looked in the mirror, smiling at what he saw. He no longer looked emaciated like he had ten months earlier when Bill had offered him the job. Regular meals combined with the exercise of being on the dig sites meant that his body was toned and muscled, even more so than it had been when he was playing quidditch regularly. Long days out in the Egyptian sun meant that he no longer had the pale, pasty skin that had been associated with him at school but instead had a healthy glow that made his hair and his eyes stand out even more. He reached for the clothes that he had picked out the previous evening (after much dithering) and pulled them on before pulling a comb through his hair. He looked in the mirror and satisfied, slid his wand into his holster, grabbed some money and headed for the apparition point.

After he had apparated it didn’t take him long to walk to the bar and he pushed past the beaded curtain to the private dining room Bill had told him to meet in only to stop still as he stared in horror at the sight in front of him. Bill was there as he had promised but he wasn’t alone. Plastered along his front, attached to Bill at the mouth and with her hands wrapped in long blood-red locks was a tall blonde woman looking very glamorous in what he recognised as his one pair of best Parisian-made robes that he hadn’t been able to find when he was trying to decide what to wear. It was now apparent why he couldn’t find them. That bitch had stolen them from his flat.

Draco just stood there, his mouth hanging wide open as the blood drained from his face. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Bill was kissing a blonde witch who looked remarkably like his ex-wife. He was kissing Fleur. For a supposedly divorced couple they looked remarkably in love. Draco couldn’t believe it. He was completely and utterly devastated. He had thought that over the last couple of months things had undergone a subtle shift in his relationship with Bill. He had thought that the older man might have started to feel something for Draco other than the normal feelings for a friend or an employee. Apparently he had been wrong. Bill obviously still had feelings for his ex-wife. He couldn’t help the audible sob that escaped from his throat. This was it, all of his hopes and dreams from the time that he had realised his inheritance were now shattered. He knew that Bill was his mate and if Bill had truly chosen Fleur then Draco was now sentenced to a life alone. His Veela genes wouldn’t allow him to have a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone else. His knees buckled and he knew that he had to get out of there. All hopes of a romantic dinner for two fled as he realised that his perfect birthday had dissolved into disaster. As more sobs started to escape him, tears flowed down his cheeks as the couple kissing broke apart and Bill caught sight of Draco stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame for support. The redhead looked down at the blonde in his arms in confusion only for the confusion to morph into fury as he realised what had gone on. Before he had a chance to say anything though, Draco had fled the restaurant back towards the apparition point.

“Draco!”

~*~

Bill had no idea what had gotten into Draco but he certainly wasn’t complaining. The blond felt as good in his arms as he had always imagined. He had been a little surprised by the way that Draco was acting but then he was too wrapped up in the sensations that he wasn’t too fussed about contemplating why Draco was acting out of character. He was more than a bit frustrated when he was disturbed by what sounded like a sob.

Bill pulled back from the kiss and over the head of the blond in his arms he had a perfect view of the doorway. What he saw confused him thoroughly. There, looking completely devastated was Draco. Bill was now thoroughly confused. He looked down to the blond in his arms, the blond that he thought was Draco, to see that it was Fleur. He immediately pushed her away and called out to the man he had developed feelings for.

“Draco!”

He was too late, the doorway was empty and he heard the main door of the restaurant slam shut. He was going to go after him but first he had to sort Fleur out once and for all. She had messed with their lives too many times in the last few months and she had hurt Draco which to Bill was unbearable.

“What the hell were you thinking Fleur? How could you possibly have thought this was a good idea? You’re just hurting people with your actions. More importantly, you’re hurting Draco but I don’t think that you even care. Why did you do it?”

The witch’s face contorted, looking ugly in her fury. “Why did I do it? Why do you think I do it? I did it because I love you, I still love you. I never stopped loving you!”

“No Fleur. I don’t think that you do love me, I think that you’re still convinced you are. We didn’t work together; it just didn’t work. You know that but I don’t think that you can accept it.”

“Your mother ...”

Bill exploded. “Yes well, my mother hasn’t had any control over my life since I left for Egypt 10 years ago. You can scheme and plot all that you want but it’s not going to change anything. I was going to leave you before and then you got pregnant and I felt that I couldn’t leave. It didn’t change anything though and the miscarriage was the final straw. I don’t love you Fleur. I haven’t loved you for a long time and that isn’t going to change. I love Draco. I have done for several months now and that isn’t going to change either.”

“Pah! You love that Death Eater? Have you forgotten that that Malfoy is the reason that you look like you do? That you have those awful ... urges?”

Bill shook his head. “Draco may have let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts but it was my choice to engage Fenrir in battle and the results are the consequences of my actions and not his. Fleur, I want you to leave now. Either you leave quietly now and swear never to return or mess in my life again. If you don’t then I will ask the owner to call for security and have them escort you to the floo point. What will it be?”

Fleur screeched with rage. “Did you know that your precious Draco is a veela? It is not love but lust that you feel for him. Love. Pah! It is probably his allure that attracted you.”

“I believe that must have been what happened with you. I don’t know how I thought I was in love with you.”

His words gained him a furious slap across the cheek. Before she could slap him again, Bill caught her wrist and dragged her out into the main restaurant.

“Tamwar? Would you please call for security and ask them to escort Miss Delacour to the floo point and ensure she gets in. I have somewhere to be.”

~*~

Draco sobbed as he ran back to his rooms from the apparition point, the images of what he had just seen firmly imprinted on his mind. He had thought that something had been developing between Bill and himself but apparently he had been wrong. Bill had just felt sorry for him. The problem was that he knew that William Weasley was his mate. He had known within a fortnight of arriving in Egypt. With him being a veela there was nobody else for him. There never had been and there never would be.

As soon as he entered his room he immediately dived for the stash of Honeydukes chocolate that Ginny had smuggled him the last time that she had visited. He flicked his wand at his clothes and muttered the charm that would pack his clothes. With clothes flying around the room, he changed into his pyjamas and buried himself under his sheets with his chocolate. He would sulk and mope for a while, indulging himself, before he returned to England. Hopefully Harry and Ginny would let him stay with them for a while until he had decided what to do. He was under no illusion as to his importance here; Bill would do perfectly well without him. All he knew was that he couldn’t stay in Egypt or in England; it would just be too painful to see Bill and Fleur happy. The mere thought of it made him sob even louder to the extent that he was struggling for breath.

He was so wrapped up in his misery that he failed to hear the hammering on the door and he didn’t notice when Bill kicked the door open. He did notice when strong arms wrapped around him and a voice said his name.

“Draco.”

He looked up into tanned features and bright blue eyes. His own eyes widened before filling with tears again as he hit the broad chest in front of him; his sobs becoming even more hysterical.

“No! Get off me! Go away!” He was pushing ineffectually at the other man. “What are you doing here? Go back to your precious wife!”

“Draco no. No, no, no. Please Draco, listen to me baby.”

“SHUT UP!” Draco screamed, his voice already hoarse. “I’m not your baby, I’m not. Leave me alone.”

As Draco lashed out, Bill managed to capture both of Draco’s wrists in one hand, his other arm clamping like a vice around Draco’s waist. Draco stopped sobbing but tears continued to run down his flushed cheeks as he hiccupped softly. Bill smiled softly before he began his explanation.

“I’m not going to leave you alone. You’re going to sit quietly and listen to me explain. Let me explain baby.” His voice rose slightly as Draco had started to shake his head. “I didn’t realise that it was Fleur. I thought it was you.” He gave a self-deprecating grin at Draco’s look of sheer disbelief. “She was using Polyjuice potion and she’d flared her allure so I thought it was you. She was where we’d agreed to meet and she was acting like you. Until you arrived I had no reason to not believe that it was you. I know that Severus was your godfather and taught you legilimency. Use it. I want you to use legilimens on me; it’s the only way that you will know that I’m telling the truth.” When Draco looked unsure, he nodded reassuringly. “It’s fine. I trust you baby.”

Draco bit his lip but then whispered “Legilimens” as Bill brought the recent events to the front of his memory. It was the work of mere minutes and Draco was collapsing against his chest awash with fresh tears chanting “I’m sorry” over and over again.

Bill smiled before he pressed a kiss to the silky soft blond locks. “It’s not your fault but let me make one thing clear so that there’s no more confusion. We’re mates; we both know that. More than that, I’m in love with you and have been for months. I think I’m right in saying that you love me too. Am I right? Do you love me?”

Draco nodded, tugging his hands from Bill’s grasp in order to wipe the tears from his face. “Yes, I love you.”

“Good, then that’s sorted. We’re going to do this properly and take our time with it but I’m telling you now that I have every intention of marrying you. Any objections? No? Good. Come on.”

“What? We have to talk about this.” Draco was digging his heels in.

“No we don’t have anything to discuss, not at this precise moment. All you need to know is that I love you and I loved you before I knew that we were mates. All the details can wait until tomorrow. For now, we’re going to have a bath together and then go to bed.”

“Bath? Bed? Together?” Draco was mortified when his voice squeaked.

Bill’s brow furrowed in confusion before realisation dawned. “Draco, are you a virgin?”

He got his answer in the form of a red flush that raced across the defined cheekbones. His grin widened as he pulled Draco into his lap and practically purred his next question.

“Draco, have you been kissed before?”

Again, his response was non-vocal; a minute shake of the head. He was elated that not only was Draco his mate but Draco was untouched, completely untouched to the point that he’d never been kissed. It was up to Bill to introduce Draco to all of the sexual delights and he was going to thoroughly enjoy it. And he was going to start now. As a birthday present he was going to gift Draco with his first kiss.

“Draco, I’m going to kiss you now.”

Draco sat stock still as Bill leaned in to kiss him. He was still transfixed as soft lips descended on his and it was several long seconds before he whimpered. He wasn’t quite sure what to do and so didn’t respond although he was enjoying the sensations. He mewled in disappointment as Bill pulled away, feeling like a girl as he blushed yet again when Bill stroked his knuckles down a soft cheek.

“Don’t worry Draco. Just close your eyes and copy what I do.”

Two large hands cupped his face and drew his head up towards Bill and his eyes fluttered shut of his own accord. He felt Bill’s hot breath on his mouth before his lips were captured again. Bill kept the kiss undemanding but he was finding Draco hard to resist. He pulled away long enough to catch his breath and mutter “So beautiful” before he swooped back down to claim the tempting lips.

He ran his tongue along the seam of Draco’s lips, teasing them apart so that he could delve his tongue into Draco’s mouth, finding the taste of the veela intoxicating. He was aware that Draco was mewling and whimpering, the noises and sensations going straight to his groin. It had never felt like this with Fleur. He pulled away, knowing that he had to stop before he got too carried away, his cock twitching at the sight of kiss-swollen lips and the pleasure blown pupils.

“Bath I think before I get too carried away. You, my love, could tempt a saint and I am no saint. There’s time for all of this later.”

~*~

The next morning, Draco woke up to the feeling of a large hand stroking his bare stomach underneath his t-shirt and the distinct feeling that he was being watched. He turned his head and promptly blushed as he saw Bill staring at him with a small smile on his face.

“I think it’s time that we had that talk hmm? Go and have a shower while I make breakfast and then we’ll talk.”

Draco nervously showered and then dressed casually. He was more than slightly dreading this. What if last night had just been a dream or what if Bill hadn’t meant what he said. But then, if he hadn’t meant it why had he been in Draco’s bed this morning? What about Fleur?

He could only pick at the breakfast that Bill cooked, his nervousness at the talk to come affecting his appetite. Finally he pushed the plate away; if he tied to eat anymore he would just throw it back up. He looked across the table at Bill, who had completely cleared his plate. Obviously he wasn’t bothered about the upcoming talk.

“Bill, can we just get this over with?”

Bill was slightly amazed. “Draco, are you that nervous about this? We’re just going to have a chat; you’ve got nothing to worry to about.”

“If I’ve got nothing to worry about that what was last night about? I had been under the impression that ...”

“You had been under the impression that what? That I was interested in you as more than a colleague? Because I am.”

“Then what was last night all about then? I’m not blind Bill, I saw you and Fleur together.” Draco couldn’t hid the bitterness in his voice.

Bill was patient as he went back over the events of the previous evening. “I explained this to you last night Draco and you saw what happened with legilimency.”

Draco nodded. “I know. I guess I’m just having difficulty wrapping my head around it. I mean it’s you and this is what I’ve wanted for ...”

“What you’ve wanted for months?” Bill knew that this conversation wasn’t easy on Draco. For a start, he had his pride then add the fact that he was a Malfoy and a Slytherin and everything was ten times worse. He was going to have to the lead in this otherwise they were going to be dancing around each other for months and Bill did not want that. It was going to be difficult enough keeping a professional relationship for the next month until Draco was officially off probation.

“I know that you’re a Veela Draco. I’ve known for months. There were certain things about you that didn’t quite add up so I did some private research. Harry and Hermione helped. I assume that they are the only people who know other than you and I?”

Draco nodded, playing with the tablecloth just to give his fingers something to do. “Yes, they both know. Nobody else knows. It wasn’t exactly something that I wanted to publicise, particularly with everything else I had to deal with in my sixth year.”

Bill grimaced. He knew exactly what Draco had had to deal with during his sixth year due to their talks over the year. “How did you manage to hide it while you were working at Revelations? Although I suppose it was easier to hide from the Muggles. They wouldn’t have known what they were looking for I guess.”

“No. It was easy for me to hide my allure from them. I had had plenty of practise at it during that year at Hogwarts and if my control slipped then I could pass it off as them having had too much to drink or taken illegal substances. It was all too easy.”

Bill was impressed. “Your control is pretty iron-clad. I’m impressed. However, it has slid on several occasions since you arrived in Egypt. Is that due to me?” Draco looked like a frightened rabbit caught in a car’s headlights. “I know you’re my mate. I realised it a while ago. Your control slips the most when you’re around me. I’ve been attracted to you for months but I’ve been in a slightly awkward position being your mentor. I can’t be seen to be in a relationship with you whilst you’re still my apprentice.

However, next month your probation period will be over and then goblins will either offer you a permanent position or they won’t. I’ve advised that they take you on as a permanent member of staff. However, things have changed. With the whole Fleur problem I’m no longer that bothered.”

“What are you saying?” Draco’s question was little more than a breathy whisper.

“I’m saying that you’re my mate and I want you to clarify that for me. Now, Draco. Am I your mate?”

“Yes. You’re my mate. What has that got to do with things though? Your family hates me! Your ex-wife hates me. You may not remember but just over a month ago your psychotic ex-wife left me in the desert to die. She would have succeeded had you not put that tracking spell on me. She’s spent the entire year sending me howlers, poison filled letters, using polyjuice to impersonate me. She disguised herself as a workman on the dig and took the opportunity to hex and curse me, landing me in hospital. How do you plan on getting past that?”

“Fleur was escorted back to the international floo station last night by Cairo security. She has sworn never to bother us again. Besides, the clue with Fleur is in the title. She’s my ex-wife. That means that she no longer has any say in my life. As for my family, half of them love you and the other half can just deal with it.”

Draco blushed and smiled as Bill’s words finally started to sink in. The man that he loved loved him back and was saying that he wanted a relationship with him. He was almost giddy with happiness.

“There are several other things that you need to be aware of before we make a decision.”

“Bill, I’m a Veela. If I’m not with you then I’m destined to a life by myself. I can never be truly happy unless I am with my mate and in order to do that I am willing to deal with anything you can throw at me. If it would make you feel better though then you can tell me.”

Bill grinned. Maybe divulging this knowledge wasn’t going to be as disastrous as he had feared. “Fenrir’s attack left me with certain ... proclivities. Around the time of the full moon I have a more ... I suppose voracious sexual appetite is a more pleasant way of putting it.”

Draco was crimson by now. “Bill, I think I told you this last night but I’m a virgin. Until last night I’d never so much as been kissed. I can’t really say that I have any feelings either way on the situation.”

Bill breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. In that case, how do you feel about a date? We could make another attempt at last night’s dinner?” He took Draco’s hand and pulled him round the table into his lap. He couldn’t resist capturing the slightly pouty lips in a soft kiss, smiling as Draco purred slightly. He had heard once that Veela did that when they were happy but Fleur had never done it.

He had better draft a letter to Gringotts informing them of the change of situation in their relationship.

~*~

December...

Draco sighed in relief as he walked through the door of the little white-washed cottage that he now lived in with Bill. He had been at the various libraries in Alexandria (the ancient Muggle library might have been lost to fire but the wizarding library was still standing with hundreds of years of books, parchments and scrolls) for a couple of days doing some research and he was thoroughly relieved to be back home. This little cottage on the outskirts of Cairo and not far from Giza, where the majority of the pyramids were, was more of a home to him than Malfoy Manor and even Hogwarts ever had been. Now all he wanted was a nice bath to remove the grime of travelling, some food and the warm, comfortable bed he shared with his lover.

“Bill? I’m home!”

He grinned as Bill walked out of the kitchen, pulling off an old tattered blue apron, a wide grin spreading across his face as he caught sight of Draco.

“You’re just in time; dinner’s ready. I thought you might want something when you got back. How did the research go?”

“It was good. I think I found some information that could be useful. The goblins should be pleased at least. It might help with those new artefacts that Nico found the other day.”

Bill smiled absently at Draco’s words, his mind preoccupied with what he was going to do once they had eaten. “That’s great. Eat up otherwise it’s going to get cold.”

It didn’t take long for them to eat. Draco was starving having been locked in the archives for most of the last few days before he made the trip back. He had just pushed his chair back to go and run a bath when Bill put a hand out and stopped him.

“Wait a minute. There’s something I want to ask you. I’ve been thinking about this for about three months and trying to find the right moment for the last month.”

Draco’s eyes were wide and glittering with a mix of curiosity and anticipation. “Bill what are you talking about?” His eyes were practically out on stalks as Bill produced a small velvet box and opened it before he placed it on the table between the two of them. “That’s an engagement ring.”

Bill grinned, enjoying this rather clueless Draco that he was seeing. “Yes, it’s an engagement ring. I‘m asking you to marry me. I love you and I know that you love me. I’ve already tried marriage once and it didn’t work out but I’m pretty confident that the second time is the trick. I want the kind of marriage that my parents have. I want to be friends as well as lovers. I want to know that my spouse loves and respects me. I’m pretty confident that I can have that with you. I want the ‘happy ending’ with you and I want this relationship to last. I’m in this for keeps. I love you and I want to marry you. So, what do you say? Marry me?”

Draco’s jaw dropped. “You’re serious? You want to marry me?”

At Bill’s nod he held his hand out, a million-dollar smile on his face. “Yes, I’ll marry you. Yes, yes, definitely yes.”

Bill laughed as he slid the simple gold band set with a stunning diamond on Draco’s ring finger. He knew that both of them were grinning like idiots but he didn’t care. He was just completely over the moon as he brought the hand adorned with the ring to his lips, kissing it.

“There’s a bath waiting for you.” Bill continued playing with Draco’s hand and the be-ringed finger. “There’s a heating charm on it keeping it at the right temperature.”

Draco looked up coyly through his eyelashes at his lover, no, his fiancé. “Are you going to come with me? I’ve missed you.”

“How can I say no to that?”

As Draco was led by the hand to the tiny bathroom that was dwarfed by the large free-standing bathtub that was full of steaming water all he could think was that he had finally got everything he had wished for.

~*~

The Burrow...

Draco gulped as he finally stood outside The Burrow and shivered, not used to the cold temperatures of England after the temperate climes of Egypt. He couldn’t believe that he was spending Christmas with his boyfriend, no fiancé’s, family and he was actually dreading it. The majority of the Weasley family disapproved of him still and not only would all of the Weasley siblings be there but all of their partners and children as well as Great Aunt Muriel, the head of the family. As if realising his nerves, Bill wrapped an arm around his shoulders and smiled reassuringly.

“Don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine. Just ignore mum, Percy, Fred and Ron. Harry, Hermione and Ginny will be there for you to talk to and so will Charlie. You know all of them a little bit at least.”

Draco nodded, feeling very out of his depth. This was completely different to Egypt and Gringotts. The goblins didn’t particularly care about who was working for them as long as their employees brought in the gold and Draco had more than proved his credentials and his abilities to the other members of their team. He had been offered a permanent position on the team and had accepted it gladly. Now, with Bill having proposed, everything in his life seemed to be going well. All he had to do was survive this holiday. He just knew that his father (and probably all his ancestors) were going to be turning in their graves at the thought of a Malfoy willingly spending time with a Weasley let alone being the fiancé of one. He was just relieved that Harry, Hermione, Ginny and Charlie would be there. At least from them he would be guaranteed a friendly reception.

Bill let his arm slip off Draco’s shoulder as he started walking towards the front door, grabbing Draco’s hand as he went and pulling him towards the house. Despite his confident words to Draco mere minutes before, Bill wasn’t completely convinced as to how this was going to work out. Part of him wished that they had stayed in Egypt but he loved Christmas at The Burrow with his family and now that Draco had accepted his proposal they were going to have to get used to the idea that Draco was here to stay. He knew that Draco was nervous. Actually, terrified was probably a better word. He had been paranoid about the gifts that he had bought and how people were going to respond to seeing him there. The two of them had bought joint gifts for Molly and Arthur, Percy and his family, Ron and George but Draco had bought his own gifts for the rest of the guests. He felt confident enough that he knew the others (Charlie, Harry, Hermione and Ginny) well enough that he could buy presents for them himself.

Bill didn’t bother to knock on the door; he simply flung it open and walked in, Draco stumbling slightly behind him. Draco looked around curiously. This was the complete opposite of the Manor where he had grown up but he found himself more than slightly envious of the warmth and love the house and contents exuded. Judging by the noise coming from the room that Bill was leading them towards he was going to be thrown in at the deep end. He was right. As they entered the room he could see that he was right; every single Weasley was in the room. He heard a loud squeal of “Bill!” and then Bill was being hugged by a woman that he recognised as Molly Weasley. Then there was the moment that Molly spotted him. Bill obviously wanted to give his family a heart attack as he pulled Draco forward, wrapping an arm around his waist and pressing a kiss to his temple.

“Mum, Dad, Weasley’s and everybody else, I’d like you to meet Draco; my fiancé.”

There was complete and utter silence for a minute where the tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Then all hell broke loose.

By the end of the evening, Draco found himself both incredibly relieved that they hadn’t arrived until Christmas Eve and wishing that he was still in Egypt. It was a complete nightmare. Molly refused to talk to him point blank and Arthur looked torn between making an effort to get to know the man who would become his latest son-in-law and keeping his wife happy. He was also being ignored by Ron and George as well as Percy and his family. It had left him wondering if he was actually doing the right thing in agreeing to marry Bill. In an attempt to make him feel better Hermione and Ginny had told him (rather gleefully in Ginny’s case) that most of the family had hated Fleur at first but she had managed to win them over. Draco had wryly responded that Fleur hadn’t practically been a Death Eater which had worked in her favour. He had been immensely grateful for Harry and Charlie (as well as the girls); they were willing to talk to him and made the evening bearable.

He had been incredibly relieved when everybody had gone to bed for the night. He and Bill were sharing Bill’s old room with Charlie and he knew that Bill and Molly had had a huge row about him sharing a room with Bill. However, with both Bill and Charlie arguing the case it didn’t take long for Molly to cave and agree simply to keep the peace at Christmas. That row had paled in comparison compared to the one when they announced their engagement. There had been an deafening silence before the mother of all arguments had broken out, accompanied by the crashing of pots and pans in the kitchen.

Bill waited until the soft snoring announced that Charlie was asleep, pressing a soft kiss to the back of Draco’s neck before he spoke.

“You need to stop feeling guilty. None of this was your fault. You can’t help your inheritance and you definitely can’t help who you fall in love with. You can’t change the fact that you’re a Malfoy and who your parents are. The most important thing, the thing that you’ve got to remember is none of that matters to me. I love you. We only have to stick it out for a few more days and then we’re going back home. Now just try to relax and get some sleep; tomorrow’s not going to be an easy day.”

Draco nodded and pushed back into the warmth of the broad chest behind him, relishing the strong arm that was banded tightly around his waist. He turned his head and pressed a kiss to the portion of Bill’s upper chest that he could reach before settling down.

“Night Bill. I love you.”

He felt an answering kiss pressed to his temple. “I love you too my dragon.”

~*~

Egypt, April 2002...

Draco grinned happily as he hugged Hermione tightly before hugging Harry quickly. Since he had moved to Egypt to take up the position with Gringotts he had re-established his tentative friendship with Harry and Hermione and it had gone from strength to strength. It was more of an equal friendship that he had ever had with any of the Slytherins in his year. They would often floo-call him when they weren’t too busy with their work but other than that they would write to each other every couple of weeks. It was because of this that Draco was so surprised to see them here.

“What are you doing here? I thought in your last letter you said that you would be too busy to come out for several months? I thought you had too many deadlines at university?”

Both of them were grinning like idiots and it had Draco panicking slightly.

“We are really busy but we’ve got some news for you that is way too big to tell you in a letter or via a floo-call.”

Draco looked confused but led them through to the kitchen and got them both drinks before the three of them sat down at the kitchen table. When they weren’t forthcoming with the information he raised an eyebrow at them, confident that the instruction in the art he had received from his godfather would have them spilling their guts in no time.

He was right.

Interestingly, it was Harry who caved first. “We didn’t want to tell you that we were doing this in case it didn’t work out; we didn’t want to get your hopes up and then upset you because the Ministry screwed up.”

“Harry, stop talking in circles and speak English. Even better, get Hermione to explain for you.”

Hermione snickered as Harry’s jaw snapped shut audibly and he pouted. “Harry. Stop pouting. Ok Draco, you know Harry did all that work to get Professor Snape pardoned and given the Order of Merlin. Well, he decided that he needed a new pet project and erm, well, to be blunt, he picked you.”

Harry’s head thudded onto the wooden table. “That’s not exactly the best way to describe it ‘Mione.”

“What do you mean; he picked me to be his next pet project?” Draco’s tone was arctic.

“Maybe I would be better at explaining this ‘Mione. Even better, just read these Draco and if you’ve got any questions you can ask us at the end.”

Harry pushed a rather large folder of paperwork across the table to Draco and the blond was surprised to see his name and the official Ministry seal stamped in the centre of the unassuming brown folder. He slowly started to read the documents inside from end to end before going back and reading them through again. Finally, he looked up at the pair with narrowed eyes.

“Explain.”

Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair and adjusted his glasses before he started to speak. “Ok, well, Hermione and I never agreed with the way that the Ministry treated you after the war. We felt that you were treated as harshly as men and women who had been Death Eaters for their whole lives despite the fact that you were never marked. As such, we felt that the reparations the Ministry demanded from you were completely out of order. We’ve been working with the Ministry trying to get ... well, I suppose the best way to describe it is as justice for you. The paperwork goes into full detail but essentially, Malfoy Manor, the Malfoy vaults and three-quarters of the Malfoy family fortune are being returned to you. The Manor and the vaults have been searched by the Ministry and anything, within reason, that was classified as ‘dark’ has been removed. Other than that, everything else belongs to you.”

They watched and waited as Draco simply sat there, not saying anything, just processing what he had just been told.

“Draco? Are you going to say anything?”

“It’s all returned? I have almost everything back?”

Hermione nodded, knowing that something of this magnitude was going to take a while to sink in. “Yes.”

Neither of them was prepared for Draco to stammer a thank-you and promptly burst into tears, fleeing the kitchen. The two of them watched in disbelief before Hermione jumped up and followed him, flinging instructions at Harry over her shoulder.

“Harry! Get hold of Bill and tell him to get back here now. Draco needs him.”

Harry grumbled as he made his way over to the fireplace and the pot of floo powder. “Bloody veelas. Too damn emotional the lot of them.”

~*~

May...

Percy blinked as the Mediterranean heat hit him like a wall as they stepped out of the International Floo Station. He hadn’t been back to Egypt since that trip eight years ago but he was intrigued at seeing the new dig that Bill was working on. He had been hoping that Bill would meet them at the Floo Station but they’d received a message before they left London saying that Bill was going to be delayed but that with any luck Draco would be there to meet them.

Percy wasn’t really sure what to think of this whole Bill and Draco getting married thing. He had avoided the blond like the plague over Christmas when Bill brought him home, hoping that the ‘engagement’ would blow over and Bill would come to his senses. It was May now and from the way Hermione had been speaking the previous weekend, the wedding was set to go ahead in June. Now, Percy would be the first to admit that he had messed things up with his family but he had found his way back into the fold and was by their side during the Battle of Hogwarts. He had been at Fred’s side when he died and that incident had completely and utterly devastated him. He also remembered Draco from school and what a little git he had been to everybody.

A tug on his hand brought his attention back to his pregnant wife and young daughter. Molly was tugging at his hand and pointing towards somebody in the crowd. Percy looked up to see a familiar blond head hurrying towards them through the crowded street. He steeled himself, not at all sure as to how this was going to go.

Draco was panting slightly as he reached the small family. He had ended up having to stay longer at the dig site than he had expected and then he had been late leaving to meet Bill’s family seeing as his fiancé was still stuck at the dig site. He was rather nervous about this but reassured himself that he was a Malfoy and after everything else he’d been through this was nothing.

“Percy? I’m sorry I’m late. We found something new at the dig site and we’ve been arguing with both the goblins and with Harry’s employers and professors asking if it’s possible for him to come out here. We think what we’ve found is connected to parsletongue and Harry’s still the only person who can speak it let alone read it.”

He turned to smile at Audrey and little Molly, the action completely transforming his features. “I’m so sorry, I’m forgetting my manners. I don’t think we were properly introduced at Christmas. I’m Draco Malfoy and you must be Audrey Weasley. This little princess must be Little Miss Molly.”

Molly giggled as Draco bowed and kissed her hand before repeating the action with her mother. Molly liked this man. He was pretty and he treated her like the princesses in her storybook. She willingly took his hand as he started to lead them through the crowd.

“I know he sent you a message but Bill still wanted me to apologise. He’ll meet us at the house as soon as he can. We thought that we’d eat in tonight in case you were all tired after the trip. The heat takes a bit of getting used to. Bill had to teach me various spells and give me potions so that I didn’t burn to a crisp.” Draco turned to smile at Bill and Audrey. “I hope you don’t mind that you’re staying with us at the house; Bill thought it would be nicer for you to stay with us than to stay in a hotel.”

Audrey responded for the both of them when it became apparent that Percy was incapable of speech. For his part, Percy was amazed by the difference between the Draco he thought he knew and the Draco that was in front of him at this precise moment. Gone was the sullen teenager who channelled his father and aimed to follow in his footsteps. Instead, here was a tanned, friendly, charming young man who had already captivated his daughter. He got the feeling that he was in for an interesting week.

A week later, Percy found himself watching fondly as his daughter bid a slightly teary farewell to her ‘Uncle’ Bill and ‘Uncle’ Draco. It had taken less than a couple of days for Molly to grant Draco the title of Uncle and she was quite besotted with the man who was going to be joining her immediate family in the next month. This was possibly due to the fact that Draco had indulged her every whim and treated her like a princess. In many ways, he was better with her than her blood uncles were. Percy had found himself liking Draco without really thinking about it. As he got to know the younger man he realised that he had simply grown up, something that he hadn’t really been able to do while his parents were alive. With this realisation, he found that he could no longer object to the wedding. In the short period of time that he had been staying with them he had seen that Bill was much happier with Draco than he had been with Fleur and that it was a more equal partnership; they had the same interests for one thing. He knew that despite his mother’s objections, he would be at Bill’s wedding, whenever it was, and he would be happy for both of the grooms.

He turned at a touch on his shoulder to see a grinning Bill and he couldn’t help grinning back.

“Thank you for this week Bill, both of you. It’s been wonderful and both Audrey and I have enjoyed ourselves. I think it’s obvious that Molly has enjoyed herself. She’s quite besotted with your fiancé.”

Bill’s face took on a more serious cast. “You will be at my wedding? You approve of my marrying Draco?”

Percy nodded. “Yes I will be there, all three of us will be. After this week I find that I have no objections to your upcoming nuptials. You’re still facing an uphill battle with other members of the family though. We must be going now, the portkey is about to depart. Molly, come here!”

The little redhead skipped over her hand entwined with Draco’s before attaching herself to Percy’s trouser leg. As she did so, Percy found himself doing something he had never contemplated. He reached out and shook Draco’s hand.

“It was a pleasure to meet you properly Draco and we’ll see you at the wedding.”

As the three of them reached out and touched the portkey Percy dimly heard Draco complaining ‘Why does everybody seem to know things about my own wedding when I don’t know anything?’

~*~

Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire, 9th June ... Draco’s 22nd birthday

Draco smiled rather tearfully as his fingers traced the familiar antique table in his father’s dressing room. Four years he had thought his life was over. He never imagined that he would be getting married on his twenty-second birthday, particularly to the man who was his mate. He thought briefly about Bill who was currently at The Burrow talking to his mother in an attempt to persuade her to attend the wedding. Molly was still opposed to the wedding as were George and Ron. Everybody else in the family had grown to like Draco and were genuinely happy for the couple. He was still incredulous that he was getting married at his family home and he knew that he had rather embarrassed himself when he found out.

Draco had returned home to the little house that he now shared with Bill, intent on cooking dinner for his lover when he returned home seeing as Bill had been summoned to give some information to the goblins. He had been completely unprepared for Hermione to be waiting for him, a bulging folder on the table in front of her.

“Hermione! What are you doing here?”

The witch smiled and patted the folder. “I’ve brought all the details for your wedding. I know that you and Bill didn’t want to have all the hassle so I offered my services to Bill and he accepted.”

“Are you trying to tell me that you’ve arranged my wedding for me? I don’t have to do anything?”

Hermione smiled at his obvious delight. “No, everything is arranged, I just want you to approve all the details. With that done, all you have to do is go to Twilfit and Tatting’s for a fitting of your robes the day before your wedding?”

“And when precisely is my wedding?” Draco’s eyebrow arched in a manner that reminded Hermione unnervingly of her former potions professor.

“9th June, just over a month from now.” She watched in amazement as Draco got distinctly misty-eyed, something she would never have expected before she got to know him. “Bill said that it would have some significance for you.”

Draco nodded, waiting until he had pulled himself together before he spoke. “9th June will be my 22nd birthday. It’s also the one year anniversary since we admitted that we loved each other.”

Hermione smiled at what she saw as the romance of it all before she got down to business. “Flowers are kept to a minimum – just white rose, lilies and gardenias. All of the food is being catered by someone Andromeda recommended; here are the menus. The robes are the traditional white and suitably well-tailored to satisfy even you. Bill has sorted the priest and he’s been deemed suitable. I believe he’s conducted ceremonies for Veelas before. Here are the drawings of how everything will be decorated; very simplistic. Not like the last time, just a lovely bonding in the grounds.”

“This is all well and good Hermione but where am I actually getting married?!” Draco loved her, he really did but Hermione did drive him mad sometimes.

“Erm ... please don’t kill me for this but you’regettingmarriedatMalfoyManor.”

Draco’s jaw dropped. He hadn’t been expecting that. Hermione ploughed on. “I hope I haven’t offended you but I know that your parents got married there and I’ve seen some photos so it’s very similar to theirs.”

Draco had been pathetically grateful (and rather emotional); Hermione had been able to look past what his parents had done and remembered that they were simply his parents.


He came out of his memories as there was a knock on the door and Harry’s voice floated through. “Draco? It’s time to get ready.”

~*~

The Burrow, the same day...

As Draco was lost in his memories at his childhood home, Bill, already dressed in his wedding robes, had made a visit to his own childhood home in a last ditch attempt to persuade his mother to come to his wedding. Molly was still being stubborn and refusing to meet Draco, as she still couldn’t get past his family name despite the fact that the rest of the family were attending. Even Great Aunt Muriel had pronounced her satisfaction at Bill’s choice of partner this time. Ron and George had been the most reluctant of them all but had made an effort for Bill’s sake (plus some additional persuasion from Hermione in Ron’s case) and while they didn’t necessarily like Draco they were happy that he was happy. Now, all he had to do was to try and persuade his mother.

He knocked on the door, Charlie just behind him, before he walked in and found his mum knitting in the living room.

“Mum?”

Molly’s head snapped up. “What are you doing here? I thought that you were marrying that little Death Eater today?”

Bill’s face was thunderous and Charlie winced. This was not going to be pretty.

“That is enough Mum. I’ve had enough of this; you’re acting like a child. Let me tell you a few things about Draco. For a start, he has a name and it’s not ‘that little Death Eater’, its Draco. His father might have been Voldemort’s right-hand man but Draco was never a Death Eater, he was never marked. Yes, he let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts but he didn’t do it because he wanted to. He did it to try and please his father. One stupid mistake cost him everything Mum. He passed his NEWTS with higher marks than Hermione but because he was a Malfoy nobody would hire him. He went into the Muggle world but the only job he could get was as a stripper. He was stripping in a bar when I found him Mum.”

Molly’s face was blanched, her lips pressed tightly together and Bill wondered if she was softening slightly.

“He’s a Veela Mum and I’m his mate. He’s more pure-blooded than Fleur and both of us knew that we were mates. I know that you grew to like Fleur and that she’s been welcome here but do you have any idea of what she’s done to Draco? She was sending him Howlers and envelopes full of poison. She posed as a member of the dig and attacked him. She left him in the desert to die Mum and landed him in hospital for a fortnight. She’s not rational. She took Polyjuice to look like Draco and tried to seduce me. She came very close to ruining any possible chance of a relationship with Draco that I might have had.”

He saw the realisation dawn on his mother and her jaw drop slightly as she slowly started to wrap her head around the things that Fleur had done, claiming that she loved Bill. He pressed on, knowing that if he was going to convince his mum, now was his best shot.

“Mum, I know you’re not happy about this but will you please consider it ... for my sake? I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been and much of that can be attributed to Draco. We’re getting married today and I’d really love it if you were there. Even if you aren’t completely happy with the fact that we’re getting married please would you come just for me? Dad will be there and the rest of the family; all of them with the exception of Ron and George approve of Draco and accept that I’m marrying him.” Bill stepped forward and took hold of Molly’s hand, pressing it slightly. “Draco has barely got any family left Mum. Death Eaters or not, both his parents were killed as well as his godfather and the majority of his friends. The only family that he has left is Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin. The only other people there will be a few of our colleagues from Egypt and our family. Mum?”

Bill shared a hopeful look with Charlie and his best man shrugged his shoulders with a wry grin. There was no knowing what their mum was thinking; redheads were always so volatile, there was never any predicting what they would do. Both of their heads snapped up as they heard the clack of knitting needles being put down.

“Mum?” Bill was hoping against hope that he’d been able to appeal to his mum’s motherly nature.

“Well I don’t know what I’m going to wear. It’s not as if I can wear the robes that I wore when you married Fleur and I don’t think any of my other robes are good enough. Maybe those one’s I wore when Ron graduated from the Auror Academy.” Molly was already starting to flap around, now that her decision had been made.

Charlie grinned as he stepped forward un-shrinking a small package that Hermione had shoved into his hands as they were leaving Malfoy Manor. “I think you’ll find that Hermione has catered for every eventuality. She shoved these at me as we were leaving the Manor. I’ve got a feeling that she bought you some new robes hoping that you would come. Go on, go and get changed, the wedding starts in a couple of hours.”

The two of them grinned as their mother ran out of the room, muttering about doing her hair and not having a wedding gift. Perhaps now things would run smoothly for the first time in the course of Bill and Draco’s relationship.

~*~

Bill waited anxiously in one of the formal gardens of Malfoy Manor for Draco to arrive in order for their wedding ceremony to go ahead. He had to admit that Hermione had done a beautiful job. Dusk was falling and it just highlighted the beauty of the simple decorations; the simplistic colour scheme and gardens decked out in flowers, ribbons and tiny little candles. He had been a little concerned earlier about whether Draco’s side of the wedding guests would be completely decimated but to his relief the majority of their colleagues from Gringotts had turned up and were joined by Draco’s only remaining relatives; Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin. They were also joined by the person that Draco had asked to be his best man; Harry. Charlie was once again serving as Bill’s best man. Bill looked back at his own family and various friends who had filled his side of the seats and smiled at his mother sat in the front row. He was about to say something when soft music filled the air and Draco appeared, looking absolutely stunning in his white robes.

Both of them were hyper-aware of every word spoken by the priest as they went through the ceremony, speaking their vows and signing the register until he said the words that they had both been eagerly anticipating.

“You are now legally married and you may kiss the groom.”

Draco reached up on tip-toe to kiss Bill and was thus completely unprepared to be wrapped in Bill’s arms, dipped slightly and kissed senseless. Never mind the kisses that they’d shared through the last twelve months, this one was heart-stoppingly gentle. He could dimly hear the loud sniffling of a woman and realised that it was Molly Weasley. She may not have completely approved of the couple getting married but she hadn’t been unaffected by the romance of the event.

As they made their way to the reception, accepting the well-wishes of their guests and sharing more sweet kisses, they never noticed the figure stood in the shadows, finally realising that the two men’s absolute happiness came at the loss of her own. Fleur’s departure went unnoticed as, in the fading light, the newly-weds took to the flower-decked, candle-lit dance floor for their first dance as a married couple.

The End


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valentine_veela

March 2010

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