Thank you for all the reviews! This is, at least for right now, the end of the story, but I may end more onto it someday.
"You cannot go ahead with your wedding because you will be in the middle of a trial for murder."
Harry regards Gawain Robards calmly. "Is that so? Murder of whom?"
"Fenrir Greyback." The Head Auror is smiling as though he's scored a point.
Marcus only stares at him. "There's no law against killing a werewolf. Especially not a werewolf who's broken into a private home, and obviously intended to hurt us." He taps his wand against his teeth and flexes his muscles. This time, Harry knows, he means to intimidate people, even though they're in the supposedly "civilized" setting of the largest sitting room in Flint Manor.
But that doesn't mean Harry can't enjoy the show anyway.
"Mr. Potter." Robards pivots in the large red chair he's taken near the fireplace to stare at him. The other Aurors standing behind his chair shift uneasily. "I thought you had at least one werewolf you considered a dear friend. And your godson has werewolf heritage."
"And you can listen to your betrothed sit there and say that werewolves don't matter?"
"I can listen to him speak the truth. Besides, I've lobbied for years now to try and get the Wizengamot to at least vote on changing the law, and they refuse to listen to me." Harry lets his bitterness color his voice. There's been more of that lately, as Marcus points out that he doesn't need to tiptoe around all day and apologize to people for upsetting them.
Robards stares at him. "Then you can consider this the first installment of the legal protection that werewolves undoubtedly deserve." He can't conceal the twist of his lips on those words, though, and he doesn't seem to be trying. "Come with us, and submit to a trial."
Harry shrugs. "You have the right to arrest me. You don't have the right to stop me from getting married."
"If you're in prison, you can't get married."
"Yeah, he can," Marcus interjects. Harry thinks he's probably the only one in the room who knows how on edge Marcus is, and ready to fire a curse if he needs to. Harry shifts back a little, which leans his hand against Marcus's, out of sight. Marcus relaxes with a long sigh and shakes his head. "My father looked it up once, when he thought he might be arrested. Prisoners are allowed weddings. And," he raises a lascivious eyebrow at Harry, "conjugal visits."
"Pretty hard to enjoy yourself on the cold floor in Azkaban, though," Harry says, pretending to consider it.
Marcus snickers. "You said hard."
"Enough of this!" Robards flings himself to his feet. "Mr. Potter, I insist that you come along with me and submit to arrest. And there will be no more talk of a wedding."
"So are you going to pay our deposit fees, then?" Marcus asks. "Because we've already put down a lot of Galleons on the food and the park we're getting married in, and the rest."
"This is ridiculous."
"I agree," Harry says, and lets his voice sharpen and chill when Robards glares at him. "You've seen the body. You've come to arrest me despite the fact that what we did isn't illegal. You've made it clear that your main purpose is to interfere in my marriage, not arrest me for murder. You're a piece of shit, Robards. Get out of our house."
Robards is gaping at him. Harry has never been that blunt before. When Marcus first started courting him, Harry went out of his way to conciliate people and get along with them. Even when other Aurors invaded his privacy or made loud comments about him being a Dark-Lord-in-training in the corridors, Harry kept smiling and reminded himself that he would have to work with these people someday, and it was better not to cause a fuss.
Now, those days are over. He isn't going to be an Auror, and he doesn't have to like it when they start treating him like he's an idiot or an obstacle because he's living the life he wants to live.
"You shouldn't have picked him," Robards says, almost under his breath. "When there were so many other suitors for your hand."
Harry rolls his eyes. "When most of them either wanted to take as much of my money as they could or have me rescue them. Yeah, sure, they were better. Like drowning is better than learning how to swim."
"Oh, it's like that, is it?" Marcus is sitting up, and his eyes shine in a way that Harry usually only sees when he gets to insult someone in public. "Well, I didn't know. You could have said. It is me or Harry that you want to duel?"
"What?" Harry knows he's missed something, especially from the enraged flush creeping down Robards's face, but he doesn't know what. He pokes Marcus in the arm when Marcus just gives a huge belly laugh.
"Gawain here wants to date you," Marcus says, curving his arm around Harry's shoulders, "and he's angry that I got there first."
Robards flushes so hard that Harry wonders if he's going to faint from lack of blood to his muscles. "Fuck you, Flint."
"Shan't. I'm taken."
Robards turns to Harry with an air that only resembles patience if you don't look into his eyes. "Mr. Potter, listen to me. You were meant for greater things than marrying a Death Eater. If you could—just listen, just talk to me or some of the others—"
"Do you have a club or something?" Harry asks, because he can't help himself. "Where you sit around and talk about me and lament the fact that I'm getting married to someone I love? Where you claim that you'd be happy as long as I chose one of you, and none of you would be jealous because at least one of you got chosen?"
Robards takes a step away from him. "Are you a Legilimens?" he blurts. "It's illegal to use Legilimency on a Ministry employee without prior permission!"
Harry stares at him. "You mean it's true?" He glances at Marcus for help, because this is bizarre even beyond his expectations.
Marcus is no help. He's laughing quietly into his fist, and shakes his head when Harry mutely appeals to him. "You probably didn't notice it because the Head Auror doesn't spend every second with Auror trainees," he says. "But yeah, he wants your arse, Potter."
"I would never have dated a trainee under my care!" Robards exclaims. The other Aurors who were standing behind his chair are now spreading out and looking at the ceiling as if they want to pretend that they're anywhere but here. "I knew I could only look and long when Potter was still going to be an Auror, but now—"
"No, now you just want to break my betrothal to a man I love." Harry huffs a breath. "Get out. Tell the Ministry that if they want to investigate Greyback's death as murder, then they're going to have to assign someone to the case who isn't a walking conflict of interest."
"Harry, please." Robards stops retreating, and then, to Harry's embarrassed horror, drops to his knees. "Please. If you don't want to choose me, that's fine, you can have someone else. But you could have so many people. Don't think that you're forced to keep your word to this monster just because you said you would."
Marcus is shaking the couch with his laughter. Harry buries his face in his hands.
"Um, sir," one of the other Aurors says, and Harry peeks between his fingers to see that the woman has come up to Robards's side and is tugging gingerly on his arm. "Um. Perhaps we should leave."
"Not until Mr. Potter listens to me." Robards arranges his face in an angelic expression of patience. "Not until he knows that he has options."
"Yeah, I have options," Harry says. "I probably had more choices than anyone else in the wizarding world. And I chose Marcus. Shut up and fuck off."
Robards stares at him as if he can't believe what he's hearing, but one of the other Aurors finally urges him to his feet, and they walk away. Robards keeps looking back as though he thinks that he can somehow change Harry's mind if he just stares at him hard enough.
When they're out of the house, Marcus stretches out on the couch so he can laugh better, confining Harry to one end of it. Harry stares at him. "Why does that happen all the fucking time?" he asks himself.
Marcus hears him, and stirs from his daze of laughter to grin at Harry. "Well, look at it this way," he says, reaching out and moving Harry's fringe away from his forehead so he can trace the lightning bolt scar. "At least you're going to be married soon, and you know that the Ministry isn't going to be able to prevent it no matter how desperately they want to."
"But what is it about me that makes them do it?"
"Wow, I don't know," Marcus says, widening his eyes. "The magic, the beauty, the fame, the wealth—"
"Berk," Harry says, shoving at him half-heartedly.
"Your berk," Marcus says, and slings himself around on the couch so that he's leaning comfortably against Harry.
Harry relaxes and sighs. "Yeah."
"So you don't think they should charge Flint with Greyback's murder?"
Harry looks up with a sigh. He's in the middle of the hedge maze that occupies the grounds of Amaranth, the premiere wizarding florist. They all but begged Harry to come and choose flowers, and he agreed because the owners embarrassed him into it. At least the sample flowers are beautiful and grow widely-spaced, so that he can wander from plot to plot and relax in the meantime.
Or he could relax, if Hermione wasn't trailing after him, frowning disapprovingly.
"How do you know that I didn't kill him?"
"Because that's not in your nature. But Flint was a Death Eater—"
"He was not, Hermione." Harry rounds on her, which surprises her enough to have her stare at him with her jaw hanging open. "He doesn't have the Mark. For fuck's sake, I've told you that often enough, and you've seen him with his shirt off now."
Marcus likes to walk around with his shirt off in front of Harry's friends. Harry thinks it's forty percent taunting them with the fact that he feels comfortable enough to do that, ten percent reminding them that he never took the Dark Mark, and fifty percent giving Harry something more to ogle.
"There's such a thing as a Death Eater in spirit, Harry. You know that."
Harry rolls his eyes and chooses a large purple flower that sheds delicate scent into the air. It promptly unspirals from the vine it's attached to at a tap from his wand, floats into the air, and settles with a droop of its petals over the basket floating next to him. Harry knows the shop assistants at Amaranth will know how to charm it so it'll stay alive and with that same beguiling scent until after the wedding day.
"You didn't feel this way about him even two days ago, Hermione. What changed?"
"He killed someone!"
"By accident." Harry turns around and stares at her. "Do you think he did it deliberately? Is that it? I was there, and I promise, he didn't. He knocked him across the room with a Bone-Breaking Curse, and his ribs got pushed into his lungs. That's all."
"He was still—" Hermione swallows and brushes a couple of tears away from her eyes, and Harry is astounded to see how deeply she's been affected. "He was still a living human being, Harry. And it shows that Flint is violent. I'm just worried about you, that's all."
"He was a living human being who wanted me dead," Harry says quietly. "I'm sorry that this has hurt you, Hermione. But I would have done the same thing to Greyback if he attacked Marcus. Maybe worse."
"You're not violent, Harry."
Harry sighs. "Remember the part where I used Cruciatus during the war? When I was trying to use it on Bellatrix right after she killed Sirius? When I was swearing to kill Sirius when I thought that he'd betrayed my parents?"
"Right." Hermione wipes away some more tears. "But you also prevented him from killing Pettigrew when you found out he was the real traitor."
"That was at least partially because I thought they couldn't prove Sirius's innocence without the git being alive," Harry admits. "And I thought he was helpless at that point. Greyback was charging Marcus, Hermione. I don't believe for one moment that Marcus would ever lift his wand, or his hand, to me. Besides, if he tried, I'd kick his arse."
"How? You're so much shorter than him—"
"With my magic," Harry says dryly. "I'm a lot stronger than he is, Hermione. And Marcus is proud of that. He wouldn't be with me if he was worried about the fact that I'd win in a contest of magical strength. I wouldn't be with him if I thought he would lash out at me."
"It's just—a death." Hermione looks away from him.
"I know." And Harry knows, too, that Hermione has been working, more ferociously than he has in the last few months what with the wedding preparations, on getting laws passed so that killing a werewolf will be murder, and giving them all the other legal protections they should already have. Of course even Greyback's life matters to her.
But Harry is capable of separating werewolves in general from ones like Greyback, and he meant what he told Hermione. He would have done worse than a Bone-Breaking Curse if he hadn't had perfect conviction that Marcus could take care of himself in such a confrontation.
"If you think you'll still be happy with him," Hermione says, while one of her hands closes into a small fist, "then I can be happy for you." And she gives Harry a tremulous smile that makes him smile back.
"Yes," Harry says. "Thank you. Now, can you help me find some more flowers that aren't lilies? Marcus is allergic."
"I wanted to ask you about something."
"Go ahead." Harry is lying draped across Marcus's stomach, lazy after a bout of lovemaking that's made him feel as if all his bones have turned to broth and drained out of him. Marcus smooths a hand down the side of his neck, and Harry sighs and nuzzles into it.
"What's this mean?"
Harry has to open his eyes and turn his head to understand what Marcus is talking about, which is just unfair. But he opens them quickly enough, all the way, when he realizes that Marcus has hold of his right hand and his fingers are tracing the words the Blood Quill left scarred above Harry's knuckles.
Marcus's hands are lazy, but his eyes aren't, at all. Harry bites his lip. He doesn't want to lie, but he also doesn't know why Marcus has only asked about it now, instead of earlier, even though the scar has been on display for him along with all the others that litter Harry's body.
"Um," Harry says intelligently.
"I know you wouldn't lie to me. And I'm not bright, but I get it eventually. Now, Harry. What does it mean?"
Harry sighs. Marcus's trust in him is inconvenient, sometimes. He has to answer. "It's from the lines that Umbridge made me write when she was Defense professor at Hogwarts. She used a Blood Quill," Harry adds, because Marcus's brow is furrowing as if he's trying to understand what's so bad about lines. "She was upset that I was telling the truth about Voldemort's return, she thought it was lies, so…that." He nods to the scar.
Marcus's breathing is abruptly hoarse and deep, although he's cradling Harry's hand as gently as ever. The sheet is suffering from the way his other fist tightens, though.
"You mean the same Umbridge who's still working in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and as secretary to the Wizengamot?" Marcus demands. "That one? The one who didn't even get punished for participating in registering Muggleborns during the war?"
"That one. Yeah. She claimed to be under the Imperius, and they accepted it because they would have had to investigate too many people for collaboration otherwise." Harry sighs and takes his hand back with equal gentleness. That frees Marcus to clench the bed with both fists and scowl off into the distance. "Hey." He touches Marcus's cheek. "It's over. I survived."
"You didn't agree what I could get you as a wedding gift yet."
"You know the wedding itself is more than—Marcus. No. Not a dead Umbridge."
"What about a maimed one?" Harry shakes his head, determinedly not laughing, because Marcus will take that as a sign that Harry can be talked around. "A wounded one? Then you could put her in the dungeons here and decide what you wanted to do with her at your leisure."
Harry hesitates longer than he probably should at that one. Marcus rolls him on his back and strokes the insides of Harry's wrists with a tickling touch. "The dungeons here are very secure," he whispers. "The only people who will ever know she's here are you and me. No one else can get through the wards once I change them when we're married. I can be discreet when I snatch her."
Harry has to snort, remembering the way that Marcus subdued the Lestranges for his first courting gift. "You, discreet?"
"I can be. I just didn't see the need to be with your courting gifts. I wanted everyone to know that I wanted you."
Harry kisses him for that, but shakes his head. "I don't want to think about her ever again. And I don't want our wedding connected to her in any way. Besides, if she disappears, then probably some people would suspect me, just because she's fairly well-known as someone who fought against me."
"They know that, and yet they didn't do something about this?" For a second, Marcus's finger presses heavily on the scar.
"I don't know if they knew specifically about that," Harry qualifies. "Except Ron and Hermione. But I'm asking you to listen to me, Marcus. Leave her alone. Unless she ever makes a move against us," he adds, because it's up to him to think of that and shut off that course of action before Marcus can decide that not talking about it means permission.
"What happens if she does?"
Harry blinks down at Marcus. His eyes are shining. This is probably the part where someone like Hermione would think he was eager to commit violence.
But Harry knows Marcus better than that. He's practically swooning at the thought of being able to do something for Harry, to protect him and guard him and get revenge for him that no one else has ever thought to get.
"If she ever does something," Harry says slowly, "and I mean something open, not just make nasty remarks about me or seem like she might, then we can revisit the dungeon idea."
Marcus gives him a celebratory blowjob after that, and it turns out that not everything in Harry's body has changed to soup and flowed away after all.
"Are you ready?"
Harry lifts his head. He's been fussing about the wedding robes, which don't seem that rich a blue out under the sun in the park he and Marcus have chosen, and the flowers, which twice did make Marcus sneeze, and the food, which is due to be delivered after the ceremony but some of which arrived early due to a mix-up in the times.
But Marcus is smiling at him as he stands in front of Harry in his own deep grey robes, and Harry can feel calmness settling into his bones as he looks at him.
"Yeah," Harry says. "I'm ready to be married to you and to share the rest of our lives together."
Marcus beams at him and holds out his arm. Harry takes it, and doesn't care if it's not the "proper pureblood" way to hold onto it. Marcus doesn't give a shit about that, and Harry doesn't have to, either.
They originally discussed holding the wedding on the grounds of the Flint house, but Marcus doesn't want other people having a chance to map the grounds or look at the wards, and Harry has to admit he would also prefer to keep that house as a private place for just the two of them. And Hogwarts, which would have been Harry's second choice, doesn't host weddings. So this is a park that used to be the manor grounds of some pureblood family who died out, and which now serves to host weddings, parties, funerals, Ministry functions, and other gatherings that need a large space.
It's beautiful, Harry has to admit. The flowerbeds are full of shining, magically-enhanced roses that grow bigger than normal, and in all kinds of bizarre colors; a large part of the price he and Marcus paid was to have them charmed dark radiant blue, the color of the sapphire in Harry's ring, for the ceremony. The grass has been color-charmed, too, to a soft and shining gold. It's spring, but it looks more like autumn on the ground as they walk towards the pool at the far end of the gardens.
It's a huge pool, softly shifting and rippling up towards a marble fountain portraying a leaping stag, for Harry's dad, and a lily, for his mum, in the center. (At least stone flowers aren't about to make Marcus sneeze). The marble can be charmed into different shapes depending on the customer's preference.
Harry asked Marcus if he didn't want some representation of the Flint family at the wedding, and Marcus only scowled.
"My dad wasn't much," he says. "Not any of my other ancestors for a while. I'll have what most matters at the wedding."
It's not the polished, practiced courtesies that some other purebloods could probably offer Harry, and all the better for that.
The audience is bunched around the pool, sitting on the wooden benches or sprawling on the grass or standing according to preference. The flowers that Harry chose grow around the benches, transplanted easily into the earth, and if they cause a color clash with Harry and Marcus's robes or the blue roses elsewhere on the grounds, well, Harry doesn't give a fuck.
Mrs. Weasley is dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief, and comes over to hug Harry a second later. Harry knew she would; she can't help herself. She pats his hair and straightens his robes even though they don't need it and looks at him with huge, tearful eyes.
Harry knows that probably part of her wishes he was marrying Ginny, or even one of her sons, but she doesn't say it, and she gives a stiff nod to Marcus, who returns it.
"You look so wonderful," Mrs. Weasley finally breathes, bending down to kiss his forehead. "Your parents would be so proud."
Harry likes to think they would, not because he chose a pureblood or because he's marrying a man, but simply because Marcus loves him and Harry loves him in return. He smiles at Mrs. Weasley and proceeds towards the pool again.
Hermione has to come up and hug him, too. Ron pounds him on the back. Arthur smiles and wrings his hand. Bill and Fleur are both smiling at him from their benches, while Victoire squirms between them and protests in French, probably about sitting still. George is standing next to Angelina, looking less brave and more relaxed than he has since Fred died. Even Charlie decided to attend, and gives Harry a cheery little wave from the front. Percy nods to him and then glances around as if posing for a photograph.
Then Harry catches Ginny's eye.
She has a sad, wistful smile on her face, but she knows as well as he did that they didn't work. She nods to him, tilts her head a little, and looks away.
The Ministry guests matter much less to Harry, especially since Kingsley declined to attend at the last moment, but there are still some Heads of Departments and Auror trainees there. And there's Neville, beaming him, and Luna, beaming at something that is probably him.
Marcus only invited two people. One of them, Theodore Nott, Harry vaguely remembers from Hogwarts. He never had any personal problem with Nott, and the nod he gives Marcus makes Harry resolve to invite Nott around as soon as possible after the wedding.
As soon as we can make it out of bed on a regular basis, Harry resolves, and then tells himself not to think about that too much, in case he has the kind of reaction that will make the rest of the walk torture.
The other is Terence Higgs, who was on the Slytherin Quidditch team. He gives Harry the kind of fierce, bright smile that Hermione would probably give Marcus if that was more her style than lectures about why Marcus should treat Harry well.
Believe me, I know what I have, Harry thinks, loud enough that he hopes Higgs can hear him, and returns the smile with one of his own.
He and Marcus turn around and face each other in front of the pool. They could have had an officiant of the kind who married Bill and Fleur, but they chose not to. Like Marcus says, he doesn't give a shit about most of the "proper pureblood" ideas about getting married, and Harry was never raised to find them important.
On the other hand, Marcus has zero connection with Muggle traditions, and the Dursleys never taught Harry to value them. They're on their own.
Which meant they could pick something that mattered.
Harry extends his hands to Marcus, who clasps them. Harry half-closes his eyes and summons his magic.
He hears more than one gasp from the crowd as the air around him begins to waver and burn, the magic manifesting as flickering yellow flames. Well, that's fine, as long as they remember what kind of sign of strength it shows, and think twice about coming after him and Marcus.
Marcus extends his ring in anticipation. Harry holds his hand out, draws the flame back enough that Marcus can slide the ring onto his finger, and begins to recite the oaths that they chose together to make.
"I choose you, Marcus Flint. I promise to hold and cherish you until the end of my days. I promise to fight for you, to stand as your defense, to shelter you behind my wand, to heal you of wounds and scars. I promise to speak honestly to you, to trust you, to argue with you as much as I need to to make my point clear."
Someone lets out a startled laugh from the audience. Harry thinks he recognizes Hermione's voice. He smiles and focuses on Marcus.
"I promise to walk with you through laughter, joy, sorrow, and anger. I promise to stay faithful to you, in body, mind, heart, magic, and soul. I swear my whole being to the cherishing and guarding of you."
Marcus's eyes are alight. Someone might miss it if they're looking from a distance, but Harry knows all of Marcus's little telltales by now, and he knows. He nods to Marcus and waits patiently for him to recover his mental balance.
Marcus clears his throat after a moment, and holds out his own hand. Harry carefully places the sapphire ring he chose on the appropriate finger. Marcus told him to pick out something he liked, but Harry picked something he thought was appropriate, a star sapphire on a platinum band, and had it charmed with the same spells for good fortune and protection that Marcus wove around the ring he gave him.
Marcus stares at the ring for a second, apparently lost in reverie. Harry clears his throat softly, and Marcus snaps his head up.
He doesn't look embarrassed, though. For him, the watching audience might not exist. His eyes are locked on Harry, and only Harry.
"I choose you, Harry Potter." His voice rumbles like rocks rolling downhill. "I promise to guard you, defend you from anyone who thinks they can touch you. I'll kick their arses."
This time, more than one person gasps or laughs in the audience. It's easy for Harry to ignore them, though. His gaze remains calmy fixed on Marcus.
"I promise to be with you until the end of my days. I promise to tell you the truth, and be utterly faithful to you in mind, body, magic, heart, and soul. Why would I want anyone else?" Marcus grins, showing his slightly crooked teeth. "I promise to argue with you when we need to, and rest when we need to, and heal you when we need that. My wand is yours, my body is yours, my heart is yours. I promise to walk with you through laughter, sorrow, joy, and anger. And that really annoying rain we get a lot of the time."
Harry laughs himself, but it's because his heart is full. He extends his magic around his body, and then weaves the fire carefully into a matching, intertwining pair of loops.
Some people use rings, some people use bracelets, some people use ribbons to symbolize this part of their union. Harry doesn't see why they can't use rings and bracelets and ribbons that he makes out of his own power.
He loops it around and over and under, and soon he and Marcus are linked with what looks like a continually rippling, dancing ribbon of fire. Marcus's hands tighten on his, and the crowd gasps and murmurs.
Harry leans forwards, and they kiss, and Marcus's kiss is as warm and rough and welcoming as their first one was, but deeper with the passion of experience.
Then the audience starts uttering more appreciative noises—clapping and cheering—and Harry settles the fire into both their arms, leaving slight, matching burn scars. The very last remnants of the flames, he tucks into the sapphires on their rings.
May they shine like us. Forever.
"Don't know if we can have a proper wedding night, when we've been sleeping together for the whole betrothal thing."
Harry laughs and says, "I'm sure that you'll find some way to make it special." And he sheds his cloak, which Marcus wrapped around him when they left the park even though they were Apparating home, with a little shrug of his elbows.
Marcus's desire takes root deep in his eyes, the way his joy does. He reaches for Harry, and Harry lets himself be reeled in, and his mouth crushed in a kiss.
It's hotter than the one they shared in the park, and with a lot more curled tongue. Harry wraps his hands around Marcus's shoulders and tugs him hard towards the bed.
Marcus is more than happy to go, and to let Harry take off most of his clothes. Of course, he doesn't pass up the opportunity to flex his muscles and roll his hips, and Harry doesn't pass up the one to reach around Marcus's hips and grope his cock.
He wouldn't have wanted to do that in the park. But they've pretty much managed to wear all shame and prudishness out of each other in the bedroom.
Marcus groans and leans back, his face coming close enough for Harry to steal a kiss. Then Harry urges him to lie down on the bed, and Marcus goes, spreading his legs wide and thrusting up once.
Harry unbuttons his robes, grateful that the wedding ones are thick and luxurious and meant to go over nothing but a pair of pants. The way Marcus's shining gaze fastens on him, though, makes him feel like he's wearing cloth-of-gold.
By this point, Harry's competent as hell with the lubrication charms, whether he's casting them on himself or Marcus. He chooses himself this time, and clambers onto the bed and sinks down onto Marcus with a sigh of bliss.
Marcus thrusts up, and it's wild and rough and everything that Harry needs after all the tension of wondering if someone was going to mess up the wedding. They spill over the edge and onto each other in a glorious mess, and Harry curls up under Marcus's chin and yawns.
"Meant to last longer," Marcus whispers, stroking his hair.
"So make it up to me in the morning," Harry mutters as he drifts off.
Later, he thinks he probably should have qualified those words.
"Breakfast in bed?" Harry eyes the tray with eggs and bacon that Marcus deposits in his lap, a little suspicious. Marcus usually does the cooking to spare his ancient house-elf, Reginald, but Reginald often insists on bringing the food to the table, or wherever they are, anyway.
"And with the paper, too." Marcus grins toothily and hands it over.
Harry's glad that he hasn't taken a bite yet when he sees the story on the front page. He slams it down and glares at Marcus. "I told you that I wanted you to leave her alone—"
"Unless she made a move against you. I listen, you know." Marcus slouches against the wall, his arms folded and his brows drawn down. But his eyes still glitter. "And she was going to. I found out that she was planning to send Aurors to arrest me on trumped-up charges in the middle of the wedding."
Harry pauses and looks at the story on the front page again. "Oh."
The lead photograph shows Dolores Umbridge cowering and trying to hide. And the headline screams about her being involved in a sex scandal with two centaurs and a hippogriff.
"How did you plant the evidence?"
Marcus blinks at him. "Plant?"
Harry stares at the paper with his mouth a little open. "She really—ew."
Marcus shrugs. "She went around talking about half-breeds all the time. The only people who put them down that much are usually fucking them. A lot of them."
That makes Harry wonder things about Malfoy and other purebloods that he doesn't want to, so he puts the paper quickly aside. "Well, it's nice to know that she won't bother us again."
"And this probably torments her more than the dungeons." Marcus pauses. "Probably."
"No, Marcus, we are not kidnapping Dolores Umbridge and stuffing her in a dungeon. Where would we put the hippogriff?"
"Got a huge garden."
Harry gives in and laughs, and Marcus comes around the side of the bed, so as not to upset the breakfast tray, and kisses him.
Harry does remember reading about one tradition—magical or Muggle, he doesn't know—but it says that what the morning after the wedding is like is what the rest of your married life will be like.
If this is the rest of my life, it's going to be fucking brilliant.