Harry scowls down at his tailored dress robes. He supposes it’s enough that he got Draco (and Narcissa, the more important person) to argue that they don’t have to be white. But he doesn’t think that green is the perfect color on him, either. It makes everyone stare at his eyes, and that means at his face.
And his scar.
“Don’t ruin the lines of the seam,” Draco’s voice says softly behind him. “You look perfect.”
“Like a bloody forest spirit,” Harry mutters, and scowls into the mirror this time. He’s waiting in some spare room of Malfoy Manor that, for all he knows, is set up for just this kind of pre-bonding ritual. “Your mother said that when she saw me.”
“She means that you look handsome,” Draco says calmly. “And magical. There’s no greater compliment, trust me.” He steps up beside Harry and smiles at him in the mirror. “Besides, I’m wearing gold for you. You can wear green for me.”
“Any color would have been fine with me!” Harry protests. Yes, Draco’s golden robes shimmer around him and look nice, but Harry means what he’s saying. Draco doesn’t have to do this if he doesn’t want to.
Draco rolls his eyes a little. “And hence why we didn’t trust you to plan the bonding robes,” he mutters, and places his hand on Harry’s elbow. “Come on, everyone is waiting at the Apparition spot.”
Harry goes out of the room willingly enough. Narcissa’s original idea was to have the wedding in the gardens of the Manor, but they wouldn’t have enough room for all the guests there, apparently. Harry kept his quiet horror to himself. He’s glad he did. They’ve chosen a traditional bonding ceremony site even if they aren’t going to have traditional colors.
And now Draco turns Harry around to face him, smiles into his face, and Apparates them there, his hands lingering appreciatively on Harry’s shoulders.
There could be worse beginnings to a bonding day.
Draco scans the place they’ve Apparated into, and nods when he sees the green and golden ribbons woven through the branches of the trees. Mother gave him the Apparition coordinates, but even so, he hasn’t been here before. Mother insisted that she would handle all the preparations.
And she has done a magnificent job.
They’re in the middle of a forest clearing between yew trees, ancient ones that bend and hunch and twist as if someone’s been weaving them like the ribbons. Granger mentioned something once about oaks being more appropriate, but Mother simply made polite noises and continued her own preparations for the yew glade. Yews are symbols of growth, life, resurrection. Yes, their wood also made the Dark Lord’s wand, but Draco doesn’t intend to hold that against them.
And anyway, the trees don’t look at all sinister with the lush green grass around them, and the sunlight pouring down from above among soft blue-tinted clouds, and Mother coming towards them in the lacy white robes that Harry refused to wear. She clasps Draco’s hands and kisses him once, then kisses the side of Harry’s cheek.
“On time,” she says, and her smile is a wonder to behold. Draco doesn’t think he’s ever seen her smile like that. “Come and take your places. The procession will need to start before we reach the altar, you know.”
Draco strides behind her and draws Harry behind him. Harry is staring at the fluttering ribbons woven into the trees as if he had no idea that they would be using them. Probably another conversation that he tuned out, Draco supposes tolerantly.
But then Harry comes up to him and leans on his shoulder, and Draco realizes that he might have mistaken the source of Harry’s wonder. Harry simply says to him, in a low voice, “It didn’t seem possible this day would ever come.”
Draco tilts his head back so his hair falls down the nape of Harry’s neck, something he likes to do in bed. He waits until he feels Harry shiver, and then smiles. “It’s here now.”
“And no one can ever take it away.” Harry then proves that he’s been paying attention to the lessons about bonding decorations after all, by drawing his wand and conjuring a green-and-gold ribbon. He winds it gently around Draco’s wrist.
Draco clenches two of his fingers in the ribbon’s silky cloth, and rests the other on Harry’s wrist. No, no one can ever take it away.
But neither does he ever intend to let it go.
Harry hugs Ron and Hermione hard in the last moments before they have to go to the front of the grove, where they’ll stand and form part of the audience that the procession is going to lead up to. Draco’s parents will be standing on the other side.
Harry glances behind him. Ginny is there, smiling at him, with a basket of soft, nodding white flowers, and Dean standing beside her. George and Angelina—it still sometimes gives Harry a pang to see anyone but Fred there—Bill and Fleur, Charlie and Alfonso, the Spanish bloke he bonded a while ago after what seems to have been only a week of courting, Percy and Audrey, and Molly and Arthur. Molly is dabbing at her eyes but luckily keeping her sniffles quiet.
Only married or bonded couples can follow a couple soon to be bonded, for some reason that makes no sense to Harry. But Ron and Hermione are going to be his Witnesses, so they’re not here.
Draco and his parents have no married or bonded cousins or other relatives. Harry felt bad about that lack, but Draco told him that having Andromeda and Teddy watching from the grove is enough for him—especially since they’re family to Harry, too.
Harry glances back at the procession one last time, and then starts walking. There’s a shimmer of magic in the air behind Molly and Arthur. He squints at it, and he thinks, for a moment, that he can see shining green eyes amid a cascade of red hair, and a mischievous smile beneath black hair as wild as his own.
He thinks that only for a second, and then it vanishes. Harry manages to swallow. He decides that he won’t say anything about it to Draco. Draco’s already afraid that something might go wrong to make this moment less than perfect.
The problem with that plan, Harry thinks wryly as he twists forwards, is how well Draco knows me. “I think we have more blessings than we know what to do with,” he murmurs, and tilts his head a little at the same patch of air.
He thinks that he’ll see only puzzlement on Draco’s face when he glances in that direction, but then his eyes soften and his fingers tighten for a second on Harry’s sleeve. “Well,” he murmurs. “I’m glad they’re here.” And he brushes a kiss against Harry’s cheek as he turns and faces the front again.
Harry holds his own reaction to rapid blinking as he follows Draco out into the narrow aisle between the trees of the grove, aiming straight at the altar of green moss growing over a downed yew. Behind them come the soft tramping of feet and the tossing of flower petals that both Ginny and George wanted to do. Harry half-suspects that George’s flowers are going to turn into fireworks the moment the bonding ceremony’s over, or monkeys, or something equally wild. Well, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the bonding itself.
It would be nice to feel that Fred is at the ceremony, too, in spirit.
For a second, the air behind the altar remains quiet and still as Harry and Draco walk towards it, despite the presence of Narcissa and Lucius in shining robes on the left side, and Ron and Hermione in quiet but good-looking black ones on the right. Harry lifts his chin. No, he isn’t going to doubt. He isn’t going to fear. His and Draco’s love is strong enough for them to bond in the oldest ways.
But it’s not until he sees the spark swimming in the air behind the altar that he finally relaxes his tense shoulders with a little rush of breath.
Draco squeezes Harry’s hand when he feels him breathe out. Yes, he can understand why Harry was so afraid for a moment.
But Draco never doubted. Neither the strength of his own love nor of Harry’s.
A wizard can conduct the ceremony, the way Harry has told him happened at Bill Weasley’s wedding. Or the magic of the pair to be bonded can reach out to the magic of the earth and the sky, calling forth the perfect embodiment of it to bless their union.
Of course he and Harry managed it.
Draco smiles a little smugly as he watches the wizard that forms in front of them. He’s wearing green and golden robes, the color of the ribbons binding the trees, and his hair is dark and shaggy like Harry’s. But his eyes are soft and grey, the color that Draco finds repeated so often in portraits of his ancestors, and his hands are long and delicate. Draco only has to glance sideways at his father to know where those come from.
There’s a chorus of gasps behind them and a laugh from Teddy. When Draco glances at him, his face is changing so that he looks like the summoned celebrant.
The celebrant, meanwhile, is calmly bowing his head before them. “You have the symbols of eternal commitment?”
Draco draws out the ring. It’s made of silver with a simple stone in the middle. Draco chose jade instead of emerald because he knows that Harry’s sick of everyone comparing his eyes to emeralds, and anyway, jade’s nearer the color of the green ribbons that they chose to use.
Harry’s eyes are bright as he looks at the ring. Then he extends his right hand, while his own left one takes out his own ring. Draco catches his breath softly. He hasn’t seen it until today, which was according to custom, but that was one custom he wanted to burn down and salt the earth around. His is made of gold, with a ruby in the center.
“For how precious you are to me,” Harry says simply.
There’s so much behind that—how rubies are more precious than diamonds, and the idea of shared bloodshed in the war and since the war, and how they’ll move together into a future with more life shared—but Draco doesn’t need to translate it. Harry’s choice is all the words he needs. He clasps Harry’s right hand with his left one, and they hand the rings to the celebrant both at once.
For a moment, the summoned being clasps them and chants over them, making soft passes with a wand that looks as if it’s made out of obsidian. Then the color of the wand changes to silver twined with gold, and the celebrant looks up and smiles. “If you’ll extend your appropriate hands.”
Once again, it’s right for Harry, left for him. Harry smiles at him as they turn to face the celebrant, and his expression looks delirious with joy. Draco trembles with the urge to kiss him, and only barely manages to hold back. He can do it later.
But he wants to do it now.
He forces himself to face forwards just as the warn metal of the ring encircles his finger, and the celebrant turns and calls upon the Witnesses.
Harry watches as Ron walks up. Up until yesterday morning, he was still joking about how he would believe that Harry wanted to bond with Draco when he saw it, and Harry had worried, a little, that he would disrupt the ceremony.
Not now, though. Ron’s face is solemn, and he smiles at Harry as he smiled at Ginny when she and Dean got married.
“I witness that Harry Potter has come to his bonding with Draco Malfoy with a pure heart,” Ron says, his voice slightly lifted as if he can make the magic listening to them believe him by sheer volume. “I witness that he never would have turned to Draco without a pure heart, because they disliked each other at Hogwarts. And Harry didn’t chase him for his last name or fortune. I witness that he isn’t marrying him for Galleons.”
He moves back, and Harry relaxes as he sees the celebrant still in front of them and the rings still warm on his and Draco’s fingers. The Witnesses have to explain why they think the bonding should take place, and what qualities each partner brings to it. If the magic thought Ron was lying or joking, the celebrant would have vanished and the rings would have turned to bitter, biting ice on their fingers.
And from the way Ron is looking at him, he really does believe it, at last. Harry nods and mouths to him, Thank you.
Hermione smiles at them both and steps up so that, like Ron’s did, her knees touch the altar. “I witness that Harry was honest with us right from the beginning about who he was dating.” Her voice carries to Narcissa and Lucius, who rustle as if they didn’t know that. Harry ignores them. Just because they didn’t deign to listen to Draco in the first, earlier days of their relationship doesn’t mean they get to dictate it now. “It would have been so easy for him to hide it. And so tempting. But I also witness that he was brave, and told us, and weathered the storms of temper that caused.” She doesn’t look at Ron, but Harry can see how scarlet his ears turn. “When we reconciled, he told us he was never going to give Draco up. That’s why I witness that he’s sincere in this bonding.”
She goes back to stand by Ron, and a cascade of golden sparks blows past them, the proof that both of Harry’s Witnesses have been accepted. Harry breathes out and turns to Draco, who is looking at his parents with a slight light of challenge in his eyes.
But Harry never doubts that they’ll come through. He doesn’t think Lucius likes him much, but they both love Draco too much to falter.
Mother is the first one to come, of course, and Draco knows she would have touched his hand if the ritual didn’t forbid it. She smiles at him, and says, “I witness that Draco’s desire for Harry Potter is of long standing. He told me when he was ten years old that he wanted to bond with Harry Potter, or have him in friendship if nothing else.”
Draco can feel his cheeks flame, and Harry leaning supportively against him. Of course Mother would decide to make that part of her Witnessing.
Mother laughs a little and continues on. “And I witness that he fought for his heart until he obtained it. He apologized to Harry’s friends and made up for his misdeeds when they asked for that. And I witness that he loves Harry more than his own ego.”
She flows back, and Father limps forwards. He did spend a week in Azkaban waiting for the Wizengamot to decide whether they were going to call him to trial, and the cold got into his leg. It’s never really gone away.
But Draco meets his eyes without fear. Father wants him to be happy.
Father smiles a moment later. “I witness that my son, Draco Malfoy, has chosen a good partner. I witness that he stands up for his own wishes against the wishes of his parents. When I yelled at him, he simply stopped speaking to me. And he didn’t come back until I apologized.”
Father pauses. Draco looks at him and knows what’s coming next, no matter how much it makes him flush.
“And I witness that Draco will be glad to have his own house with Mr. Potter and no longer be dependent on our house for shelter when he wants to have sex, so that he will no longer need to wake his parents up.”
Draco doesn’t bury his head in his hands and groan when Father steps back, but it’s a near thing. And even the shower of silver sparks that means his Witnesses’ statements have been accepted doesn’t let him look away from that side of the altar for an instant.
But Harry is laughing and lifting his ringed hand, and Draco intertwines their fingers so the bands touch. And then the bond springs to life between them.
It’s beautiful. It’s devastating. Draco knows that he’s never felt the like before, emotions sweeping him in a storm, his own eagerness and Harry’s happiness, his desire to strangle his parents and Harry’s desire to be fucked on the altar—
Draco blinks. That’s new.
Before he can say something about it, Harry leans forwards and kisses him. The celebrant flashes into a fountain of light and magic behind the altar. The yew trees wave their branches nearly hard enough to break the ribbons. The Witnesses and the guests cheer, Teddy Lupin louder than them all.
And the flowers George Weasley dropped earlier turn into a chorus of golden lizards with voices like nightingales, singing out graphic descriptions of possible sex acts.
Draco turns around, intent on killing George, but Harry, who’s laughing almost too hard to speak, draws him along, shaking his head. Draco sighs heavily and goes with him.
At least he knows how to embarrass Harry, who’s waving wildly to his friends and doesn’t seem to be embarrassed at all. He bends over and whispers, “When everyone’s gone, we can come back to this grove and use the altar the way you want to.”
He gets a loud gasp, and smiles in utter contentment—contentment that turns to joy as Harry spins around and kisses him again. He returns the kiss wholeheartedly.
And then people come up to tug them apart and shake hands and hug them and congratulate them, but Draco’s eyes remain on Harry. Their bond thrums between them, sharing thoughts, sharing emotions.
The sky is blue overhead, and the day is half over, and their bond—and their life together—is just beginning.