Draco was squatting in the mud where some rather difficult weeds had begun to grow up when one of his newer runners, a young lithe boy with thick legs – perfect for the task at hand came to him from the mansion, silently standing beside his master and awaiting for the man to acknowledge him. The amateurism of it, thought Draco to himself. In all his many years, he had always found it most difficult when he had to train new members of his staff. However, this was worth it. If he could train his men properly and in loyalty, they would ensure the protection of all his wealth, and also the one thing in this world that kept him here.
With a sigh of contentment at the thought, Draco spoke.
"Do not wait for my response. Information flows quicker when not acquisitioned through various barriers of formality. Remember this, for it could save us both."
The servant boy looked stunned before nodding and crouching down to Draco, speaking in a hush.
"There's a man here from the city. He says he is from the Calker Estate."
Draco had dreaded this sentence, but he knew that these insolences were necessary for the protection of his love.
"Send for Harry, and tell him what you told me. Front of court."
The servant immediately stood and ran off into the mansion. Now that is better. Quietly, but not without several workers speaking in a hush over the commotion, Draco moved into the home and toweled his face. His clothes were tattered, but it would do. This time, he did not shake in fear of what was to come. Even in the week's anticipation, the man had stood on his principle and been brave for it. He turned to the entryway and saw Harry, carrying a similar posture of headache – enriched boredom. This was the kind of sarcasm the two of them inflicted on one another, but not without unuttered affection. If anything, the snide informality was the greatest and most frequent deed of affection they offered to each other.
"Another weed in the garden. They must not even grow to be noticeable anymore, with your perfect ass on their form." Harry did only smirk, mocking the tension.
"They have everything to fear in me, that I can guarantee."
Harry smiled and walked forward, embracing Draco and letting the man return it before bringing their lips to meet. When they finally parted, Harry at last only held Draco's face and looked calm; collected and unworried.
"Wouldn't it be damned if they finally got you. I'd have to wait for you, again, for what, another two years."
Draco smiled earnestly and touched their foreheads together.
"You're not that old…"
"It'd be two years. No longer, I wouldn't tolerate it."
"I scarcely believe I would either. I'd probably drag you up with me."
"So impatient. I've tried working on you, but nothing. You're a daft failure in allowing time to have its way."
"If it's in the way. And shut up about it, you know I'm sick of your whining."
"You love my whining."
Draco rolled his eyes like a schoolboy. He couldn't be helped but to embarrass himself around Harry, but he would never loathe it. They walked together arm-in arm to the front entrance, only a stone's distance to be sure. The servants had opened the doors to the elements and now staring upon them from the steps below was some nameless English Baron who'd crawled his way into southern France to betray the honor of retired Lord Commander and Regent of the Crown Draco Malfoy.
"Baron von Calker. This visit is an uncommon one, I had expected us to meet next time I came to court."
"For this matter, I could not wait."
"So you dragged your stubby feet across the world for it. How plain of you."
The lowly Baron was a social climber, the worst of the pests that buzzed around the Queen's Court like so many did, feeding off the altitude of those around and of questionable status. If Draco were any more conforming to the rules of the era, he would've let himself be wedded as normal and accept a life of sexual torment, but this simply was not possible – not after he met Harry. Harry was a pest too – an unlikely ego against Draco's own ego. They'd initially clashed, but now such trivialities were laughable. They'd grown into each other like a perfect mix of luscious liquids to form a creamy, smooth texture that never separated as so many mixtures do. Perfect harmony together.
"I will not be challenged in my honor by a petulant deviant such as yourself."
Harry spoke up this time. "You complete ass, why don't you make for the hills before the man who won the Baltic War blows a hole in you."
"He won no war."
Harry smirked. "Aye, so you say. I'd bet you've been training with your pistol for weeks, every day. I know the others did…"
"How dare you, swine! You've corrupted the mind of a good man and now you wish to insult a man of purity? What filth you are."
"Somehow the filth clings to the body still, doesn't it. As you say, I'm a filthy whore who has captured the heart of the man whose statue sits in the center of Barcelona."
"Get over here, Lord Malfoy. It'll be a quick nuisance to me to have you dead."
Draco took some steps down before turning back to Harry.
"What a noisy one. Have you fed the dogs today?"
Draco leaned up and captured Harry's lips passionately, as to make a short display. He tangled his fingers briefly in Harry's mane before letting go of the kiss and giving a wink. Draco continued down and met his servant, who carried two boxes with him.
"Which will you do, Calker?"
"The pistol." His curt response drew joy within Malfoy, that he could in one gross display of affection turn the noisy noble man to silence.
They met on a field over to the side of the house, where trees covered one lined edge of the Malfoy Estate. So with this beautiful assortment of nature as an audience, Draco worked his pistol into a satisfactory order. He noticed his counterpart's pistol for a moment and frowned.
"Lamming?" Malfoy called.
A man of age hobbled from the porch and worked his way swiftly to his master.
"Lamming, my partner has a faulty weapon."
Turning to look, the man hobbled over and silently requested the Baron's weapon. With a confused glance to Malfoy, which received no special reaction, the Baron conceded. Lamming cocked and re-cocked the weapon for measure and then turned to his master.
"Yes, I can feel that this one is sluggish on the draw back. I beg your pardon, sire."
"No need. Give it to me."
When Lamming did so, Draco gave Baron von Calker his own weapon, which greatly confused the man. Draco gave an authoritative glance.
"This one will have a smooth action, ensuring quickness. I don't mind this rutted one."
With that, Draco stepped back and worked his new weapon again. Finally ready, the two began to take position. Harry stood by on the porch in a chair. The new servant who'd addressed Draco earlier stepped forward to the railing and spoke once more in a hush.
"Lord Draco, is he fighting for someone?"
"A dispute of money?"
"No - a simple court insult. Calker feels affronted."
Harry smiled, motioning for his servant to come closer. When the boy was directed to be seated beside Harry, the two shared a perfect view of the duel.
"Draco has never been one for restraint. You see him now and around on his duties, and you'd think otherwise. But if it's a secret between us, the man is an animal without sensitivity to the lightness or silence of life. Too much time in battle I suppose."
"Did he really win the Baltic War. All that conflict, how could it possibly come down to him?"
Harry smiled understandably, seeing what could be an insult but was certainly not.
"A series of pivotal performances by his men under which he scrutinized every aspect of battle. He really is a terrific leader of men. You should've heard his speeches. Yes, he won the war. They've written much about it already, and coming generations will know him even more."
"But – if I may, why must he endanger himself now?"
"Pride. He seems to lack a care for those who offend my presence in his life, although I could care less. It's illegal, you know; this thing we are together. But I'll let you in on another little secret – those who matter in the legality of our lives have turned their heads, as they appreciate just how their esteem would fall, should the man who became a thrice entitled war hero be persecuted by their undeserving hand."
"I see. Are you afraid then?"
"Of these duels?"
The boy only nodded.
"I know that one day a similarly affronted man will come about to challenge Lord Malfoy – the one who'll take him away from me. He and I have spoken on the matter, but there are certain roles we each must play in this. I am helpless to defend him in court, but I make sure that every ounce of his personal life is in order as to pay for the curse – or this thing we hold. I can only watch, beg to God and wait for him to die … But I do not fear it. No man can fear the inevitable. Draco will die, and I will meet him shortly after. I've committed to it, and someday there will come a woman to whom you're willing to give the same. I pray that day comes swiftly for you, my friend."
The servant nodded and smiled, watching Harry for another moment and then looking with him to the field of engagement where the butler was sounding off instructions. Harry scoffed.
"Look at him now, the Baron's posture is unfocused. Trying to look beyond his nerves. Of course, Draco's posture isn't that far ahead."
Looking out now, the servant could see no fault or difference in the postures of the two men. Lord Malfoy stood heroically across from the Baron, who stretched one foot out before him but otherwise showed no difference to his enemy. Harry must have seen many such battles, the servant supposed.
"That bastard had better straighten up before he gets a hole in his shoulder for me to worry over."
The servant couldn't help but smirk. There seemed to be no ounce of worry in Harry's mind that the outcome would be favorable.
The butler finally counted off and the men withdrew, stepping away from each other and eventually coming to a stop. The tension built and the servant couldn't help but break a sweat. He dared only a single glance to Harry in these moments, shocked to find Harry sitting back and drinking in the sight with a tired and wistful expression. When the butler had stepped back a great distance, silence reigned. By this time, most of the Estate's occupants had gathered to every available vantage point. Never had the trees on the property been louder than in these fleeting moments of surprising peace.
Suddenly, both men turned and fired upon each other. Harry let out a gasp, only noticed because the servant couldn't breathe himself. The Baron took no time to clutch at his throat. His servants came to him and carried him off, aided by none of Malfoy's. The man showed no signs of injury, had the bullet veered off? Draco met his butler who had already collected the Baron's weapon off the grass and gave his own away. Walking over to the porch, Draco calmly addressed everybody from the tree stub next to the porch.
"A close shot. The poor man skimmed by best damned working shirt."
A chorus of laughs erupted at the rare humor Draco let forth. All resigning back to work, Draco made his way up the stairs and directly to Harry. He stood taught in front of Harry, looming over him with a certain expression that couldn't be read. In one instant, Harry smiled and Draco crouched down to hoist Harry out of the chair with the ease that came with his robust build, slowly and carefully carrying the man inside. Frederic looked on curiously for a moment before he felt a hand on his shoulder. The frying cook stood over him, smiling warmly.
"You have anything to do inside, my boy?"
"I was tasked to await a message from Draco earlier…"
"Well not now. Go out away from the house somewhere."
The chef smiled with a tinge of embarrassment.
"When things like this happen and the master ends out OK, you don't want to be around the house afterward. Things get a little rambunctious."
After a moment, the boy caught on. The chef simply laughed and clapped the boy's shoulder. "I'll tell you, if there's one thing you will get the boot for, it's disturbing that particular activity there."
The boy blushed and nervously allowed himself to be led from the porch, noticing that the maids and other house tenders had occupied the outdoors as well. The only one touching the house was the butler, who calmly closed all the doors under lock and key.