Author's note: Locked in the house.
Long story short, I lost my keys and only two days later noticed they were missing. I'm got stuck at home until my husband came back from work that night with a brand new copy for me.
I can still hear him laughing over the phone when I had to explain to him why 'we' needed a new copy of keys to the front door… he said he is calling me 'Dory' from now on (the little blue she-fish with no memory from Disney's 'Nemo').
Also, my mother board decided that she had worked for too long and quit on me and book 07 came along… oh! All the nice little excuses I can use not to tell you how lazy I am. Sorry about the delay.
Thank you for all the reviews, especially for all the questions that made me think about aspects of the fic I hadn't.
By the way, this chapter is not yet beta-ed. So be nice about it. I will post the beta-ed one as soon as I have it, but I wanted to hurry up and give you this one as soon as possible.
Excerpt from chapter 19 –
Sometime later, the sound of the dinner bell found the three of them deeply in discussion of what to do next. Officially the Malfoys would only be family in the morning, when the new couple would be public acknowledged and even afterwards, whatever offence was done, it had happened before the bond.
"Whatever we decide to do, it will be done after dinner." Hortencia decided getting up from the couch.
"But…" Theodore started to protest but was cut off before he could actually say anything.
"No, dear," said Hortencia, "we are expected at dinner and it would raise too many questions if we missed. This is a family matter and it will be kept in the family."
"Yes, of course." The younger man agreed. The offence had not been done today, it had happen over a long period of time, it could wait another day or so for retribution.
"First thing after dinner," added Michael holding the door for his wife, "we'll call our lawyers. I believe some measure of legality is in order." And they proceeded to the dining room talking about amenities and greeting the other guests present at the school.
The three of them reached the dinning room after a short walk through the stony halls and sat themselves at the same table the Malfoys were already occupying.
Theodore noticed that nobody said a word about the young couple and no marriage plans were discussed. Noticing his confusion, Hortencia explained that, as tradition dictated, they could not acknowledge the couple yet, only after they leaved the bonding ground they would be recognized as a couple, until then the new family link between them was still unofficial. Any plans would only start the next day, after breakfast and in private, when they would go over the details of the wedding.
After dinner, they all made their excuses. It was clear that the Malfoys would be contacting their lawyers as well. It was one thing to deal with a boy with no Veela family, to join three very powerful families together it was a completely different matter.
Theodore went back to the Baudelle's room where a few floo calls where placed to their lawyers it was decided that they would arrive in the first hours of the morning, before breakfast. If they waited until afterwards the Malfoys would be officially linked to their families and they would have to expose the delicate matter of Petunia's actions, not a good way to start a new alliance.
Sometime during the night, Harry stirred in the large bed feeling something was missing. He felt cold under the covers but couldn't understand why. A muffled noise made him open his eyes. Draco was moving around in the tent, completely ignoring the fact that he was naked as the day he was born.
"Hey," he called softly.
"Hey," Draco answered, "sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up."
"What are you doing? I'm cold, come back to bed." Harry complained dozily.
"Our food has just arrived. I was preparing something for you." Draco told him approaching the bed with a couple of plates in his hands.
The mention of food got Harry fully awake. His last meal had been a light sandwich before coming to the tent that morning and with all the activity during the day he was famished. They ate in silence for a while, too hungry to think about anything else for the moment.
"How come we never received any of this the first time?" Harry asked only half curious after finishing his sandwich and plopping a couple of grapes in his mouth before stealing half of the sandwich Draco had prepared for himself. Draco could only smile amused by his sandwich stealing mate.
"The first time we ended up outside the designated area. I don't think they had made any plans for something like that happening." The blond answered pouring the two of them some wine, "it's your turn to make a sandwich," he informed.
"Hey, what happen to the tradition of providing to ones submissive?" Harry teased.
"You forfeited that one when you stole my sandwich, prat." Draco took another bite before getting a thoughtful look on his face, "I didn't think you would invoke that tradition, being all Gryffindorish and all."
"I had no idea something like that actually existed," Harry shrugged, "I was only trying to see if I could make you get the food again."
"Why, you … you…" Draco hurling a pillow at his mate, "Go get me my food, prat".
Harry laughed and searched for his robes around the bed. Draco could prance around naked all he wanted, but Harry was not so comfort about it. He downed the diaphanous robe and decided to ignore that it wasn't actually concealing that much to begin with in favor to explore all the different types of bread and cold cuts available. Draco took a moment to look at his mate's body and felt a wave of pride rush over him at the sight of the recently reinforced claiming mark on his mate's neck.
"Do we have to do anything in particular?" he asked climbing back on the bed and setting the dish between him and Draco.
"Is there anything in particular you would like to do?" Draco wiggled his eyebrows making very clear to his mate what kind of things they could be doing.
"Not that," Harry hurried to explain blushing, "I mean, that is nice and… and… Draco! You know that is not what I meant!"
"Sorry, Harry," but the blond didn't sound all that sorry, "what did you mean?"
"Inform somebody, call somebody… I don't know, let them know… something."
"Articulated as always," Draco joked, "no, they already know all they need. They know we are here, together and will come for us in the morning. There is nothing to worry about."
"Don't say that" Harry hissed.
"What?" said the blond really confused by his mates reaction.
"There is nothing to worry about," Harry explained, "every time somebody says that something happens to prove that we did have something we should have been worrying about."
"Harry," Draco was almost falling on the floor laughing, "are you trying to tell me that you are superstitious?"
"NO… Not superstitious. Just… careful."
"Careful? A text book example of a Gryffindor?" Draco decided that he wouldn't even try to rein into his need to tease his mate about this, "Oh, come on. You can't be serious about this one. Besides that phrase is not really a bad omen, you know. Now, if I had said…"
"Don't say it," Harry pounced on his mate trying to cover the blonde's mouth with his hands, "don't you dare say it."
"Oh, come on, what could possibly go wrong?" This time Draco didn't move fast enough to escape from his mate and they ended up on the floor when the Gryffindor pounced again. Draco managed to twist them around so that Harry was laying beneath him being tickled merciless.
Harry got his legs around the dominant and twisted his body until Draco was the on the bottom and he was sitting on top of his mate. They were both out of breath and still laughing when Harry decided that they had talked enough and bent down to kiss his mate. They never made back to bed this time and all omens, bad or otherwise, were forgotten.
Theodore woke up with a soft popping sound. The sunlight was already filtering through the windows but he could tell it was still very early. He tried to understand what exactly had awaken him when he heard a faint noise from somewhere in the bedroom, he turned his head and came face to face with the strangest house elf he had ever seen in his life. The creature had mismatched socks, an orange Twisted Sister t-shirt and more hats than Theodore though was possible to be owned by a single creature, let alone worn at the same time.
"Good morning, Master uncle" said the creature, "I is Dobby. Master Dumbeedoor says Master uncle's lawyers are waiting for him in headmaster's office. Master uncle can have his meeting there."
"Master uncle?" asked Theodore blinking and trying to understand what the hyper creature was saying.
"You is Master Harry Potter sir's uncle. Dobby is happy to serve Master uncle too. Master Harry Potter sir is the bestest wizard ever, he is. He freed Dobby from bad Master and now Dobby is free elf." Dobby gave the astounded wizard a blinding smile before popping away.
"I'm still sleeping, that must be it, not fully awake yet. Yes, that makes sense." Theodore mumbled while getting up and going to the bathroom to get ready for a meeting with his lawyer at Dumbledore's office… if he understood the message right.
Twenty minutes later he knocked on the headmaster's door and gained entrance to the room to find it was already full of people. The Baudelles were already there with a stranger that Theodore could only guess was their lawyer. Paul and Rhys, two of his cousins that took care of the legal matters for the family were there as well.
Dumbledore was sitting in a large and colorful armchair next to the couch where the Baudelles were sitting rather than in the imposing chair behind his desk.
"Ah, good morning, Mr. Phillips," the headmaster greeted him as he entered the room, "Michael and Hortencia were just telling me about some facts that you uncovered in your research on Mr. Potter's life."
"Yes, Mr. Dumbledore," Theodore was glad for the up front manner the problem was been discussed, but he had no idea why the headmaster, who was not a family member, was being included in this conversation, "I did stumble in a few unsettling details, but, if you pardon my rudeness, I was under the impression that this was a family matter and no outsiders were to be included," he asked looking directly at the Baudelle couple.
"That would be my doing," answered the strange sitting close to Michael Baudelle, "after my client flooed me last night I did some checking. The person responsible for placing Mr. Potter with her aunt and for any contacts between Mr. Potter and the Wizarding World was one Mr. Albus Dumbledore. We were merely inquiring him about how this came to pass since he is not with the Children's Affairs Committee at the Ministry."
"You are just in time, Mr. Phillips, to hear my explanation," offered Dumbledore indicating a vacant armchair.
Theodore sat down and nodded to the headmaster, indicating that he was ready to listen. A house elf, not the same one that had woken him earlier that morning, served him a cup of tea.
"We still have some time before the boys are due for breakfast so I'll try to hurry along. We should try and solve whatever problems we have with Mr. Potter's past before breakfast and before the Malfoys became part of Mr. Potter's family, as much as I admire them, they do have a rather unforgiving way of settling any offense they perceive to their family. I believe Mr. Potter would prefer to avoid unnecessary blood shed," said Dumbledore.
Theodore noticed a looked exchanged between Michael Baudelle and his lawyer and all of the sudden he wasn't sure if there blood shed was not in the 'to do' list already. Worse yet, he noticed that he didn't exactly care if something… unfortunate would happen to his wayward cousin Petunia and her husband. Not a nice realization for a man who prided himself as a family man.
"During the first rise of Voldemort, I put together a group of very brave people. Our goal was to fight him any way we could. James and Lily Potter were amongst that group. They dedicated their lives to the protection of the innocents and fought fiercely… and ultimately, they were murdered for it," Dumbledore notice the look of astonishment on the faces everybody and continued, "Oh, there is more to the history, but for that we will need Mr. Potter with us, some details concern him specifically and I'm not in the liberty to tell."
"But that doesn't explain…" Rhys started feeling that there was more than 'some details' being left unsaid.
"They were family," interrupted Dumbledore, "We all were. Our little group saw ourselves as family… and I felt responsible. When any of our numbers were killed I would do all I could for the remaining family and that included taking care of what would happen to Harry. Unfortunately, his relatives turned out to be a less than desirable choice."
"You must understand, Headmaster" said Paul Phillips, "it seems very strange that nobody checked on the boy and his living conditions. His own school files show that the school nurse was aware of malnourishment and badly mended bones from before he was 11…"
"Mr. Phillips," Dumbledore interrupted looking sad, "please understand the special circumstances surrounding this case. When James and Lily were killed we didn't know about any other relatives and we didn't have the luxury of waiting around to see if any would show up."
The headmaster held his hand up indicating the other people in the room that he was not done talking.
"I have no doubt that half of the Wizarding world, at the very least, would show up at my door step begging for the chance to raise Harry, but did you consider exactly who would be showing up? A lot of good hearted people, grateful for the dismissal of the Dark Lord, who would do the best they could but not effectively protect him against a Death Eater wanting revenge, some would be ill intended people seeking the fame of being the ones raising him, and they would raise him to be a media puppet, they would all probably spoil Harry and not raise him properly simply because he was 'the-boy-who-lived', and once again, not able to protect him. In either case, he would never be simply Harry, something that he desires with all his heart. And let's not forget the possibility that some of those people would be Death Eaters themselves or un-marked supporters of the Dark Lord presenting a nice enough front to pass the Ministry scrutiny but only waiting for the chance to get revenge on Harry for what he had done… and who would chose who had the right to raise the boy? I'm certain that the ministry would demand to be the one to do it, as it is the law… Harry would be turned into a tool, a symbol to be waved around in front of a dazzled audience and used for whatever purpose they saw fit."
Dumbledore sighed, the events of that night coming back to his memory.
"And on the other hand, there were the Dursleys. Muggles? Yes. Perhaps not the best choice? Definitely. But one nobody would be able to say a thing against them taking Harry in. So, Harry went to live with his blood relatives… in my ingenuity, I honestly believed they would take care good of him, and I really had no other choice. Anybody else would raise questions by… well, everybody and Harry would be taken away from whatever home we had placed him and relocated by the Ministry."
The other could see the logic of his arguments, it would have happened exactly as he was saying.
"I did place a woman, Mrs. Figgs, in the same neighborhood. She was to watch out for any signs of Death Eaters or any other problems in the area. She was perfect because not only she is a squib, who knew about our world but also able to live in the muggle world , but she is also an old lady who could sit in her house the whole day and not draw attention. Unfortunately, that also means that she is not inclined to go walking around the neighborhood or go 'snooping' around the Dursleys house. She missed the not so visible signs of Harry's situation and by the time we found out what was really going on, there was very little that we could do. How could we legally remove him from his relatives' house? Any attempt to try and find him a new home would put him in the same position as before, the Ministry would interfere and the highest bidder would get to take him home, we simply couldn't expose him to that much risk. For the same reason, we couldn't send people to check on him. Many of us were still under surveillance by the Ministry or by dark wizards, all waiting for the chance to get to Harry."
Dumbledore took a sip of his tea and signed again, he seemed almost relieved to say everything.
"By the time Harry finally got to Hogwarts I knew that his situation was not ideal, but at least he was alive, he was capable of standing on his own two feet and didn't expect to be treated any differently from anybody else, so I counted my blessings. My hands were tied, leaving Harry with at his aunt's made the situation permanent unless we were willing to risk not knowing where Harry would end up, with the muggles we at least had some measure of control."
"Control?" Theodore could understand part of Dumbledore's arguments. He could remember the euphoria over the defeat of the Dark Lord. He could think of at least five families that would have come to blows over the possibility of raisin the savior of the Wizarding World, but that didn't mean ha had to simply accept what the old man had done, "What kind of control could you possibly have over them?"
"I made sure they took Harry in when I left him there," answered Dumbledore, "I made sure they knew we were watching. They may have neglected Harry, underfed him, overtaxed him with chores and dressed him poorly, but he was never hit. It never got physical. He had a roof over his head and the blood wards implemented by his mother's sacrifice. It was not ideal, I give you that, it was far from it as a matter of fact, but think of the alternatives. Consider what would have happened if we took half a chance. I'm horrified with the life he had, but he is alive! He may come to hate me for the rest of his life, but I took the only safe rout there was to make sure he would be alive to do so."
Hortencia watched as distress poured out of her old friend. He really cared about the boy and he was sorry… maybe even ashamed of his choice, but he was right, back then the boy had no one else. Petunia Dursley and her husband were the only ones.
"It's alright, Albus," Hortencia offered patting his hand, "we understand. Thank you for doing your best for Harry. Now it's our turn."
"Thank you," Dumbledore felt as if a thousand bricks had been removed from his shoulders, he still felt sorry for the life Harry had led so far but at least now he had said it out loud and shared the reasons behind his actions that fateful night no long ago, "Did you give any thoughts about what you intend to do to the Dursleys? I must warn you, Harry won't be too accepting of revenge. He is too forgiving for that."
"It's the submissive nature," Michael pondered, "He will protect his family from outsiders even when the family has hurt him. Don't worry, we will make sure to act within the limits of what he would feel comfortable with if he ever comes to find out about it."
"No, no, no," Dumbledore hurried to explain, "don't make the same mistake I made. I tried to keep things from Harry. I tried to gain some time and let him mature enough before exposing some facts to him and it backfired on me somewhat horribly. He doesn't deal well with that. Be up front about it and don't sugar coat it. Harry has a good head on his shoulders and it's not a child, something I failed to realize until it was too late. Tell him what you intend to do and why, make sure he understands. Listen to an old man who has committed this very same mistake, do not keep Harry in the dark about something that has anything to do with his life."
The room became suddenly silent as every one of them considered the headmaster's words. Rhys looked at his pocket watch and decided to hurry things along. Theodore could have kissed him for that, Rhys was always the practical one.
"Well, I suggest thinking about that one detail later; right now we have to decide what to do about the Dursleys. In 10 minutes time the bell will ring for breakfast and not long after that the Malfoys will be part of Mr. Potter's family."
"Yes, I'm afraid that is correct," Dumbledore agreed, "time is running short."
"Well, since we all agree on that. Here is what I propose," said Rhys taking charge of the meeting, "We have a signed contract with Petunia for the house and the family loan. Since we have proof that she indeed breeched the contract, we will go ahead and demand the house and the money back."
"Both?" asked Theodore. He wanted some form of revenge against his cousin but she was still family and he felt uncomfortable thinking about a family member without shelter or means to support themselves.
"From what I heard, Mr. Potter will object any measures we take against his aunt. He is a Phillips after all and we all know how we feel about family." Rhys started to explain, "if we demand both, we can compromise with Mr. Potter later and 'allow' Petunia to retain the house. We get what we want and Mr. Potter won't have to feel bad about it."
"That is an excellent idea," Mr. Baudelle agreed exchanging a look with his lawyer, "perhaps we could come up with something like this ourselves. I'm sure we can find something to compromise about with our great-grandson."
"Yes," agreed Dumbledore with his eyes twinkling at full force, "that would be most acceptable."
Harry slowly woke up hearing soft muffled voices. Not that it made any difference in his mood; he was still annoyed that something had awakened him. He was comfortable, warm and safe. Why did he have to wake up at all?
"Can you see them?" he heard a muffled voice ask.
"No. Maybe they are in the woods outside?" another voice answered with a note of worry on it but equally muffled.
"You don't think…" one of them started sounding unsure, "I mean what if the dominant hurt him?"
"Should we contact the Council?"
"Not yet," the first one decided, "we should try and find them first. If it takes us more than 15 minutes we call for help."
By them Harry was awake enough to notice three things. First there were two young men with fancy robes looking around the tend, but they didn't feel like dominants or Death Eaters to him, two, he was still on the floor and being very efficiently covered by a still sleeping Draco, tons of pillows and a large comforter, in that order, and their whole 'nest' was propped up against the side of the bed, what made them virtually invisible to the two, now very worried, young men. And finally three, and that was his favorite so far, if he remained very still, they wouldn't see him and probably go look for him outside, what meant he could go back to sleep for a while longer.
A strong arm encircled him pulling him backwards into his mate's chest. So much for a still sleeping Draco.
"Morning, love," Draco whispered in his ear, quietly enough to not attract the attention of the two strangers looking for them, and sending shivers down Harry's spine.
"Morning," Harry wriggled about a bit getting more comfortable in the pile of pillows and blankets, "they are looking for us."
"Let them look," Harry could feel the smirk on his mate's lips, "we can sleep a few more minutes."
Harry liked that plan very much, but unfortunately he never found out if it would have worked or not, because at that precise moment two more voices joined the conversation.
"Good morning, gentlemen," said an unknown male voice. A dominant, judging by the tone he used.
"Good morning, gentlemen," Mme. Pomphrey said in her usual non-nonsense tone, "are the two young men ready for me?"
"We couldn't find them, Madame Healer." One of the young men said.
"Their scent is all over the place," the other one added, "we have no idea where they could be..."
"Enough now, honestly, are you both so busy being Veela that you forgot to be a wizard, gentlemen?" Pomphrey interrupted the men taking her wand out of the front pocket of her immaculate apron, "point me Harry Potter."
Harry sighed; his chance to sleep a few more minutes was as good as gone now and judging by Draco's annoyed groan he felt the same way. The blanket above their heads moved and an amused Poppy Pomphrey peeked at them.
"Good morning, gentlemen," she greeted, "if you would please get up, I have to perform a few tests now and it would be very hard to do so with both of you half way under the bed."
Harry tried to get up only to be pulled back by Draco, who was now openly growling at the third man in the tent. The one who had arrived with Mme. Pomphrey. Harry blinked surprised with his mate's attitude, but the man seemed to accept it as if it was exactly what he had expected to happen.
"I'll be waiting out side, madam. Take as long as you need." He said politely before stepping out of the tent.
"We are terribly sorry, Mister Malfoy," apologized one of the young men, "we should have told him to wait out side the minute he walked inside, but we were afraid the two of you had decide to stay in the woods and thought we would need his help locating you."
"It's understandable," Draco said getting up and offering a hand to Harry, "but make sure no one else enters here until my mate is properly covered."
"Of course, sir, if you excuse us," both young men gave a slight bow and laid the robes they had been carrying all this time on the bed before joining the other man out side. Harry noticed that the robes on the bed were similar to the ones he and Draco had worn after their first time together. Funnily enough, this time he was not nervous with the up coming very public breakfast they would have to endure.
Mme. Pomphrey made fast work of Draco's bruises and cuts, proclaiming him fit enough to get dressed, before getting started on Harry. Everything went on pretty much like the first time around, except for the very last scan, which brought a large smile to the medi-witch's face.
"Oh, my," she performed the test again just to make sure, "congratulations, gentlemen, it seems your bonding was a tad more productive this time around."
Harry blinked slowly, not fully understanding the meaning of the medi-witch's words, but Draco had no problem what so ever. In two long steps he had crossed the tent and was kneeling near Harry with an awed expression on his face.
"Are you sure, Mme?
"Of course, Mister Malfoy," she answered with a smile, "I've tested twice to confirm it. You are going to be parents in a few months time. May I call your escort now?"
"Yes, Mme. Please," Draco replied without really paying any attention to the woman. He helped a very shocked Harry to his feet and hugged him, "We are going to have a baby, Harry."
"Baby?" Harry was positive they were speaking in a foreign language that made very little sense to him until bit by bit his brain decided to start working again, "a baby? Me? Here?" he asked pointing at his own body.
"Yes, love, there is a baby in here. Our baby, our family," Draco was almost laughing at his mate's expression and thanked Merlin it was only surprise it was showing, the last thing he wanted was to have to calm someone as powerful as his mate down.
"We are a family…" Harry said softly running his hand over his flat stomach, there was no sighs of a baby yet, but he felt suddenly so different now that he knew about it.
They barely registered the fact that Mme. Pomphrey had stepped out of the tent and sent the two young men from earlier inside. Only when the strangers cleared their throats did they notice their presence.
Harry and Draco were washed, dressed and had their hairs combed before they were allowed to leave the tent. The two young men following two steps behind the whole time. The four of them entered the school together and were greeted by, apparently, every single member of the High Veela Council at the entrance hall. Harry could feel Draco tensing up and wondered what that was all about.
"Mister Malfoy," the Council member at the center of their circle took a step forward, "greetings on this joyful occasion."
"May our happiness be shared with the clan," Draco bowed his head slightly. It all sounded very formal and reversed and Harry decided it was another Veela ceremony he knew nothing about, but when Draco moved to pass the council, the elder Veela held his hand stopping him.
"May we inquire something of your mate?" he asked in a polite tone, but his face was serious.
Draco gently pushed Harry in front of him, but never removed his hand from his mate's back.
"Mister Potter, we are happy to have found a lost child of the Veela and welcome you in our families," he addressed Harry in person for the first time.
"Thank you, sir," Harry could only hope that was the proper answer and cringed thinking about all the things he would have to learn.
"May we inquire; was your choice done freely? Is that your chosen mate?" seeing the confused look on Harry's face the older man explained himself, "your first bonding took us all by surprise and it was most unconventional. That was the reason for our demanding of a second bonding once the opportunity presented itself and that is why we ask of you now, knowing that you may be free from this bond and protected by the council until you find a dominant that you believe can make you happy, do you wish to remain bonded to Mr. Malfoy?"
'Oh' thought Harry, 'the protection of the submissives! They are worried about me being forced by the Malfoys.'
"I'm very happy with my bonding, sir." Harry felt Draco's hand relax on his back but that was the only sign the blond gave of how nervous he had been, "I chose Draco yesterday and I wanted him to find me before anybody else."
"In that case, child," said the man giving Harry a large smile, "I believe your families are waiting for you to join them for breakfast."
The two groups bowed their heads to each other and continue their way together to join their families. Draco's hand found Harry's and squeezed it softly indicating that everything would be alright.
As the double door to the breakfast room opened, Harry took a deep breath and straightened his back. He could do this, he had done before and he could do it again. That was really nothing to it, just breakfast with the Malfoys and Mrs. Weasley. Nothing to worry about.
The doors were finally open and the whole room turned to look at them, but for the first time in his life, Harry was not paying any attention to anybody else. In the center of the room, at the largest table available, the Malfoys and Mrs. Weasley were sitting and waiting for them… with three other people Harry had never seen in his life.
'I believe your families are waiting for you to join them for breakfast,' the Council's words sounded on Harry's mind right before another voice took over, 'Oh, come on, what could possibly go wrong? There is nothing to worry about.'
Harry look over to Draco's confused face at the strangers sitting on their table.
Yes, it was a surprise for him too. It could only mean one thing, his mate had jinxed them the night before and he was so going to get a piece of Harry's mind for it.