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Title: A Dream of Waking
Author: [livejournal.com profile] eidheann_writes 
Prompt: PROMPT # 51
Adapted from: The Painted Veil
Pairing: Harry/Draco, Blaise/Draco
Word Count: ~16,000
Rating: NC-17
Contains:angst, infidelity, mpreg, all as per the prompt. Also, Pansy, who wasn’t prompted, but deserves a warning label nonetheless. Otherwise, there's a bit of dirty-ish sex and some entirely made up potions theory.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Dearest [livejournal.com profile] tsuki_13, you don’t know me, but I think I may love you a little. When I saw this prompt I needed it. Seriously, all during the initial prompting comments, I watched it and went MINE! It so closely matches my likes I couldn’t pass it up, even though I’ve thought multiple times during the writing that I probably should have. ;) This fic ended up being slightly more inspired by than directly adapted, but I hope you don't mind. But thank you, thank you, thank you for prompting.

Huge thanks to the mods for their patience with me, especially once January came around and I started seriously spamming them. (xx [livejournal.com profile] appleling. And cookies to [livejournal.com profile] icicle33 who took pity on my flailings and volunteered to brave my run-on sentences and love of adverbs to beta this beastie. You are amazing and I love you.) To OM, who went WAY above and beyond the call of duty, first with the cheerleading, then the pre-reading and finally a wee bit of britpicking so I could get my insults just right, and even promising to make certain this gets turned in if certain bits of my life conspire against me, even though the warnings for this fic pretty much make a map of her squicks. SORRY! I’ll write you something without any warning labels! Sometime in the future! I swear!

Title taken from Aristotle: Hope is the dream of a waking man.
Summary: "You always were contrary. Had I known you’d jump into an engagement with the first person you spoke to after our little tête-à-tête, I might have been gentler with my persuasion."



.oxo.



Pans,

Ugh, why did you have to move to France and leave me here all by my lonesome? Mother has been horrible; she still hasn’t let up with the talk of Marriage and Redeeming the Family Name. I can’t even get through a simple Sunday brunch without her mentioning it at least twice. Move back to England and marry me? It will be like we planned back in school: just you, me, and a hot cabin boy who doesn’t speak English but has a Monster Cock, living on a private island in the Caribbean.
I miss you, you stupid cow.

Love,
Draco

PS- How’s Monsieur Moneybags?


Draco,

Those plans fell through when you left me for Blaise’s monster cock back in seventh year and refused to share. Slag. You deserve your mother’s delicate attentions and will find no sympathy from me.
But since I love you, I’ll see about arranging a portkey sometime next week and I’ll let you treat me to a nice spa day and you can complain to Mumsy Pansy about your latest mediocre shag and I can show off this nice big diamond I’ve been wearing since I told Henri "I do."

Love,
Your Pansy

PS: The good one. Don’t try to take me to that place across from Harrods again. Last I was there, it gave me hives.

PPS: I would be useless at shutting up your mother, anyway. You know very well why I had to leave England, and I would be no good for repairing your family name.


.oxo.


Draco Malfoy leaned back into the comfortable embrace of a well-upholstered chair and swung one leg lazily over the other. The sounds of quiet music and falling water lulled him into a state of relaxation in spite of his continued impatient glances toward the lacquered wooden door of Pansy’s favorite London spa. She was late, not that this surprised him. Pansy had always been terminally incapable of being anywhere on time "It’s called fashionably late, darling, you should try it sometime." But he’d been waiting over half an hour, which was pushing it even for her.

Of course, it was likely it wasn’t entirely her fault. There had been a lot of changes in the seven years since the war, most notably in the form of the sudden bureaucratic red tape most former-Slytherins faced when attempting to accomplish anything that required a permit or authorization from the Ministry. When he was feeling generous, he didn’t blame Pansy for moving to France as soon as she had her NEWTS in hand; many of the old Pureblood families had done the same, and those who remained found themselves forced into a state of almost-exile, socializing in Muggle London where their money still meant something.

None of which meant he was any happier about being kept waiting.

Another twenty minutes later, wherein he procured a cup of good Darjeeling and enjoyed a harmless flirtation with the receptionist, Pansy swept into building with a blast of early Autumn air. "Darling! I am so sorry I’m late, but you would not believe what a pain it is to travel from Paris these days." She towered over him where he was sitting and beckoned him up, placing two kisses to the air on either side of his cheeks. He smirked, glancing down at her stilettos, a scarlet that matched her lips perfectly, and she grinned before he had a chance to comment. "Yes I know, they are a bit much, aren’t they? But they make my legs look divine!"

"Pans, you’re almost as tall as I am in them!" He laughed, feeling the remaining tension in his shoulders begin to fade from the comfort of her familiar presence.

"Yes, well, at least you didn’t inherit all your daddy’s height, or then where would I be?" The twinkle in her eye mocked them both equally, and he offered an unguarded smile in return. "Now then..." She turned her sharp gaze on the Receptionist, heels clicking as she approached. "I shall require a cup of tea immediately, Earl Grey will do, they don’t know how to brew it properly in France. I want my facial before the massage, not the other way around, Draco never schedules me properly, then at least another 30 minutes with an additional moisturizer during which I will drink lemon water. And absolutely no cucumbers unless they’re on a sandwich. Then feet, then hands, then hair. Any questions?" She smiled sweetly at the look of panic. "No? Good. My tea?"

He laughed again as the girl squeaked and fled. "Oh Pans, how I’ve missed you."

"Of course, darling, I keep your life interesting. Now, I need to make certain she doesn’t fuck up my tea and then we can have a nice chat." He followed Pansy through the archway, wondering how the sharp click of heels could be more comforting than harps and fountains.

.oxo.


"So...." Pansy’s voice was muffled as she attempted to speak without cracking the mud mask. "How is your dear mother these days?"

Draco snorted from his perch beside her chair, taking a sip of his darjeeling before setting it on the small table beside them. "Mother is well. Too well. She sends her regards to you and what’s-his-name."

"Henri, Draco." The stinging hex hit his arm and he cursed.

"Fucker, I keep forgetting you learned to do that wandless. That better not leave a mark."

"Oh please. You’ve no one to impress. Your shirt will be staying on for the next several days at least." Pansy smirked, not cracking the mud at all. "Speaking of, did I tell you? I saw Blaise last week."

Draco swallowed around his suddenly dry throat, feeling his pulse begin to race and his shoulders tense. He reached for his cup and attempted to appear unaffected by the news. "Oh?"

Pansy’s expression sharpened and her smirk slid into something more avid. He mentally cursed them both when the drawl slid her words into sticky honey. "Why yes, darling. He and Nicolette were at a do for the new Ambassador. He’s his assistant, you remember? They’re set to go to... Africa or India or somewhere miserable and full of insects. And I must say he was looking absolutely divine. Muggle fashion is all the rage in Paris, too. Blaise in black trousers. Mmmmm..."

Giving up on maintaining his dignity when Pansy was so obviously determined to go for the throat, he set the cup down again and rubbed his forehead. "How was he?"

He glanced up when he felt her fingers in his hair. "He never deserved you, dearest. Always too much a mummy’s boy. You need someone who’ll spoil you and listen to your mother. She cares more for your happiness and welfare than Carlotta Zabini-whatever ever would."

"Pans--"

"No, I mean it. You’ve been carrying this torch since Hogwarts. He was never going to see you as anything but a shag, Draco. He’s too cowed to stand up to his mother, and she would never allow him to have anything but a fling with another boy." Pansy paused, her expression sad. "He looked very well-- happy even. Nicolette, on the other hand, looked miserable. I’m glad it’s not you."

He sighed, pulling her hand from his hair and kissed the small, cool fingers lightly. "I do love you, you trollop."

"Of course you do. Now, if you can get over this Hufflepuffish pining you’re doing, you might find yourself in a position to look for an actual relationship."

"Oh Merlin, Mother set you up for this, didn’t she?"

"Of course she did. The most important thing in Narcissa Malfoy’s life is the happiness of her little boy. Something we share in common."

"And it hasn’t occurred to either of you that I’m happy with how things currently stand?"

"Going to a club once a month to dance with Muggles and spending the rest of your time rattling around in that mausoleum with your mother? Oh darling, you just keep telling yourself that."

Collapsing back in the chair he covered his face again. "I give up."

.oxo.


"Draco? Is that you?" His mother’s voice came from beyond the open library door, and he sighed, knowing his attempt to sneak in without catching her attention was doomed from the start.

"Yes, Mother. Pansy sends her love." And likely floo’d you to say that I was on my way home as soon as my back was turned, the sneaky cow. He let the thought continue in his head while he schooled his expression to one of polite interest and stuck his head into the warm book-filled room.

"Of course she does. Always such a polite girl." Her lips curled into a small smirk when he let out a snort, before returning to a more neutral expression. "I actually wished to speak with you a moment before you went up."

He suppressed another sigh, following her beckoning to the leather wingback near the fire. Collapsing onto it and crossing his legs, he ignored her sigh at his poor posture and concentrated on the firelight flickering in the grate.

"I received an owl this afternoon. One I don’t feel I should brush off." She paused, waiting for a response, but he kept his attention focused on the flames. "An offer of marriage."

That did catch his attention, and he glanced across to where she was seated in an identical chair, a parchment roll balanced on her lap. "Mother, I’m not--"

"No, Draco. You’ve been putting this off, but it’s time you settle down. I’ve taken into account your... preferences. I want you to be happy. But you are nearly twenty-five. It’s time for you to start living your life, and not just flittering around on the edges trying to avoid it. You need to start thinking about children, Draco. Now, I’ve already owled him back. He’s set to have dinner here Friday evening. I expect you here with me at seven o’clock precisely to greet him."

"What, haven’t signed the betrothal papers already?" He knew his voice was sharp and bitter, but at the moment he didn’t care if she was insulted.

"Draco Abraxas Malfoy, you will mind your tongue. Of course I haven’t signed the papers already; I would not even if they had been offered. The owl was simply a request to open negotiations."

"With whom?" He could feel the words as if they were being forced through his teeth, but his mother’s refusal to identify the suitor filled him with dread.

His mother gave him a grave look before finally answering. "Harry Potter."

His jaw dropped before he closed his eyes. "Well, fuck me then." He ignored his mother’s raised eyebrow as he stood and left the room. The only cure for this was alcohol.

.oxo.


Pans,

I can’t believe it. Mother has finally gone ‘round the twist. Tomorrow I’m supposed to have dinner with Harry Fucking Potter. Here. So he and Mother can discuss Marriage Negotiations. HARRY POTTER, Pans. The Prat who Lived to be a Pain in my Arse.
You need to save me. I will be your slave for all time, just get me out of this place.

Draco


Draco,

Put down the firewhisky. I’m sure he can’t be all that bad. At the very least, he’s a Healer and busy enough that you won’t be tripping over him. You could Do Worse.
Chin up, darling. Your mother finally found you one with a cock.

Your Pansy


.oxo.


Draco knew his mother didn’t trust him at all, not that he blamed her; the temptation to disappear for a few days was strong. She set Dipsy, her favorite elf, to dog his every footstep, waking him with tea, toast, and a hangover potion, chivvying him into the shower, then out again when he was inclined to linger, hoping a wank would take his mind off the upcoming evening. Then she dressed him in a formal day robe and herded him to the conservatory for a luncheon with his mother, who eyed him carefully for a moment before allowing him to sit with a faint nod.

"Good afternoon. I trust you slept well, darling."

He refrained from both the sigh and eye roll he wanted to give in exchange and concentrated on the plate of cold chicken and asparagus in front of him. "Yes, very. Thank you, Mother."

Silence descended for several minutes, broken only by the occasional sound of silverware before his mother spoke again. "I know you are unhappy about this, Draco, but you should at least have an open mind. He is young, wealthy, and well-respected in his field, even beyond the Savior nonsense. His offer is simply to open negotiations, he wishes to court you. I want you to be happy, but you are not seeing anyone regularly and at least you already know him."

He let his fork clatter against his plate as he sighed. "That’s the problem, Mother. I know him. We hated each other all through Hogwarts, and I see no reason to trust his overtures now."

Silence met his outburst and he glanced up to see his mother regarding him, a single eyebrow raised slightly. When she met his gaze, she calmly asked, "If you’re quite done?" He sighed and flopped back, slouching in his chair and ignoring his mother’s quiet snort. "As I said, he fits all your criteria and this is merely the opening of negotiations. I would not expect you to accept his proposal if you thought it was made in bad faith. I only ask you to consider the possibility he’s being sincere."

"Sincere my--"

"Draco!" He shut his mouth with a snap and straightened automatically at that tone in his mother’s voice. "If nothing else, he owes me a life debt. He would be unable to use you as you fear."

"You’d call in a life debt to keep Potter from using me to mock later?"

"No, Draco. I’d call in the life debt to ensure he do everything he can to make you happy." His mother watched him quietly, her face finally moving to a small warm smile, and he was uncertain on how to take the unexpected display of maternal affection when she spoke again. "Within reason, of course. You’re dreadfully spoilt." She reached forward and squeezed his hand before turning back to her lunch and beginning to eat once again; the conversation was, apparently, over.

.oxo.


That evening, Draco stood in the Blue Parlor with his mother, impatiently waiting for the clock to strike so he could declare Potter late and have done with the entire situation. He’d spent the previous five minutes pacing, but stopped when his mother threatened to stick his feet to the floor as she’d done when he was five. Finally, just before the seventh chime, the fire flashed green and Potter stepped out, looking nervous and awkward in his formal robes. "Mrs. Malfoy. Draco." His nod of greeting was brief before he took an obvious breath and seemed to settle himself. "Good evening."

"Narcissa, please." His mother instantly became the perfect hostess, all welcoming smiles that Draco could see were unforced. "Welcome, Harry. We’ve been looking forward to seeing you. I trust that the timing was not an issue."

Potter’s smile still showed traces of the awkward teen Draco was familiar with, but for the most part he seemed to have grown up. It was disconcerting. "No, Narcissa. You gave me the perfect excuse for something I didn’t want to do anyway."

Her laughter made the tension in his shoulders ratchet up even more, and he was almost startled when she turned to him. "Draco, if you would be so good as to escort Mr. Potter to the dining room? I will follow you shortly. I must fetch something in my room."

.oxo.


After dinner, which between his silence and his mother’s chatter seemed to stretch for hours, it was a relief when Potter invited him for drinks after, surprising enough that he found himself agreeing without thought. A quick bit of transfiguration for their robes saw them both escaping the Manor for a quiet pub in Muggle London. As soon as they entered the warm, wood-paneled room, Potter seemed more at ease and Draco found himself relaxing to match.

"More wine? Or something stronger?" Potter’s grin was open and happy. It was all very confusing.

"Stronger, we might still need it." Potter watched him expectantly. "Oh. Whisky, please." He moved further in the room as Potter approached the bar, flagging down the bartender with a smile. Looking around, it was better than he was expecting. Dim, but not dark. Clean, quiet, but not empty. He found a small table near the fireplace and sat down, in time for Potter to return, setting two glasses on the table.

They returned to uncomfortable silence until he finally couldn’t take anymore. "Why are you doing this?"

"Er, because it seemed easier to talk without your mum--"

"No, this... This. We haven’t seen each other in over five years. You hate me. Forgive me for finding it a bit difficult to believe you suddenly want to marry me."

Potter sighed, leaning back in his chair and staring into his glass. "I don’t-- I don’t hate you. I don’t think I’ve actually hated you since fifth year."

"Then... what? You don’t hate me, let’s go get married?" He knew the sarcasm wasn’t appropriate, but it was more comfortable than the confusion twisting in his gut; he found himself relaxing, waiting for Potter’s jaw to tighten, his hands to clench, for them both to revert to schoolboy habits and be back on familiar ground.

Of course, Potter didn’t play along. "You know me, Malfoy." His expression was earnest, as if he hadn’t just stated the obvious. "I mean... I can’t walk down the bloody street in any wizarding community without people falling over themselves to shake my hand or touch me or thank me or... It’s been years. You know me. You remember me when Lockhart hexed out all the bones in my arm, or when I fucked up in Potions. You don’t care that I’m some sort of Savior."

"So, you want to marry me because I’m not part of your fan club?"

"No, but... I’m terrible at this." Potter downed his drink and Draco glanced down at his own forgotten glass. "I want to do my work. I want to help people. But I also want to be able to be myself without... the hero savior bullshit. We both know what we’re getting with each other, flaws and all."

Draco took a sip of his whisky, sighing at the comforting burn in his throat, and leaned back in his seat, hackles lowering in spite of himself. "What do you want then?" He tried to keep his voice cool but suspected it came across fainter than he intended, especially when Potter glanced up at him, eyes narrowing. "From marriage? From me?"

The flush crept up Potter’s neck and across his cheeks again. He hurried to the bar for a new round. Draco fidgeted in his seat, glancing from Harry to the quietly conversing patrons and attempting to gather his own thoughts. He’d become distracted enough; he was surprised when Harry sat down across from him, two new glasses on the table between them, and finally answered. "You inherited Snape’s notes. I’d... like access. They could do a lot of good, and I’m... better at Potions than I was in Hogwarts."

Draco snorted, taking another sip of the whisky. "Not too hard there." He was surprised when that only provoked a quiet chuckle in reply. "But why marriage? Why not just contact me to see the notes?"

"Would you have allowed it?"

He grinned at Potter, granting that. He probably wouldn’t have.

"Also, I prefer men. You’re, well, you’re very fit. I’m... not too bad. And I’d like a family. It just felt like it was time."

"You realize that’s something else that would need to be negotiated in the contract?"

Potter nodded, shrugging the point off before he flashed Draco another of those open grins that confused him. "I want kids. I wouldn’t mind carrying them myself, but my work and contracts mean it’ll probably be at least another twenty years before I’d be able to. Don’t want pregnant witches or wizards traveling and working with infectious diseases."

"So, you get access to Snape’s research and apprentice, children before two decades are out, and a fit partner." At each point, he ticked off another finger. "And I get what exactly out of this? Beyond the obvious honor of providing you all the above and bearing your children, of course."

At least that got a reaction, and he mentally preened at the annoyed stare before Potter answered. "I know things are rough for your family, Draco. I know most of the Slytherins left Britain entirely. I can’t do a lot for them, but I can help you. I’m not the boy I was in Hogwarts; I’ve been working in polite society and know how to use my name to get what I want. I don’t like it, but I’m perfectly happy to do it if it makes things easier for you and Narcissa. I also travel and work a lot. I won’t be underfoot."

It was his turn to collapse backward in his chair after gulping the remainder of his drink; the one thing Potter could offer to make him agree, the one thing he didn’t think the bloody git would even think of was his position in society. The smirk couldn’t be allowed to stand, however, so he gathered himself quickly, standing and placing the glass on the table. "Have your solicitor draw up the initial contract and owl it to Mother. Fertility Potions take a month to brew; we can marry anytime after that, provided all is otherwise in order. I’d prefer by Christmas. We can use the Manor."

.oxo.


The contract arrived by owl the following Wednesday. Draco sighed when he saw the familiar seal of Fardle, Wilby, and Greycotte; they were the premier wizarding solicitors in London, and had handled the Malfoy accounts for generations. Of course, they’d also dropped the account as soon as the battle had ended, deeming the Dark Mark too great a risk for business. It was unsurprising they netted Harry Potter in their list of clients.

Draco was almost surprised they were willing to risk opening a contract with the Malfoys, but the Savior had a lot of weight even still.

"How bad does it look for us?"

"Not at all, actually. I do believe Mr. Potter simply requested a standard pureblood contract."

Draco felt his eyebrows shoot up. "Standard pureblood contract?"

His mother’s lips twitched in obvious amusement. "Yes, it’s all here. Contact, chaperone, schedule of children..."

"Mother, I do not want Dipsy underfoot every time I attempt to have a simple conversation with Potter!"

His mother’s eyebrow rose and she glanced at Draco, barely refraining from laughing. "I rather think if it’s a simple conversation, you wouldn’t mind having it in front of me."

"Mother--"

"Not that my dear, sweet, virginal son has any interest in such things. Why, you cannot even stand Harry."

He covered his ears, blood rushing to his face, and cursed the fact that his mother and Pansy seemed to both have it in for him. He looked up again when his mother’s laughter stopped and saw she was watching him, tapping her chin with the rolled contract.

"As a standard contract, it also specifies you start potions immediately, Draco." Her voice was neutral as she studied his expression. "I will admit I want grandchildren, and my contract with your father specified the same... I don’t regret it for a moment. But I can see if this part can be changed... pushed back."

He blinked, he’d teased Potter about Fertility Potions in the pub, but only as a way to get the last word. He hadn’t really thought about it beyond the theoretical. Mind working quickly, he tried to remember exactly what he’d read when he pulled the book from their library. "Well, they only take a month to brew. They also usually take three to six months to achieve full potency. It’s not like I’ll be pregnant immediately. It should be fine."

"You are certain?"

He waved his hand, watching as his mother nodded and then signed the bottom of the contract, which disappeared in a golden flash as soon as her seal was placed. "This might be a good idea after all...." He smirked at his mother’s curious look. "I’ll bet Potter didn’t actually read the contract he requested. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he realizes he’s signed the next three months away to constant house-elf supervision." The thought was enough to put a spring in his step for the rest of the day.

.oxo.


Pans,

I’m marrying Potter. November. Do say you’ll come.

Draco


Draco,

Have you finally gone ‘round the twist, darling? I could swear your latest owl said you were marrying Potter in November. Need I remind you that is less than three months away and couture robes take at least that long to acquire? And if I need to go to Milan, dearest...
You’ve had your fun. Why don’t you tell Pansy what’s really going on in that adorably addled head of yours? You’ve not been smoking gillyweed again, have you?

Your Pansy


.oxo.


"Draco, darling, dearest. How are you?" If he hadn’t heard the clicking of her heels from the hall, he might have been surprised when the scarlet claws dug into his arms before Pansy spun him around and gave him a quick hug.

"Near dying of shock. You’re actually early." He laughed and dodged to avoid the smack she aimed at his arm. "Whatever happened to fashionably late, darling?"

"I needed to come early to check you for Unforgivables. Imagine my surprise when I received an invitation to your engagement party with Potter. Engagement, dearest?" There was a faint smile on her face, but her eyes were worried as she reached up and brushed his hair from his face. "You always were contrary. Had I known you’d jump into an engagement with the first person you spoke to after our little tête-à-tête, I might have been gentler with my persuasion."

"I’m not under Imperius, Pans. Gryffindor, remember?" He gave a peck to her forehead and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, steering her out of his room and back down the hall toward the stairs. "Besides, inasmuch as these things go, I think I was the one who proposed to him."

"Ugh, but Gryffindors, darling."

He arched an eyebrow. "Are you really so bothered? You’re the one who told me to give Potter a chance."

"A chance to try and get to know him," Pansy hissed, once again grasping his arm, nails tight into his skin. "Get to know him, Draco, not jump immediately into an engagement after one dinner. I want you happy..."

"I may be." He ignored Pansy’s scoff and attempted to pry her fingers from his arm. "I may be. Potter... we’ve managed conversations, even an interminable dinner with Weasley and Granger, who by the way are expected in half an hour." He turned Pansy to face him. "He’s convinced Mother and Andromeda to start a reconciliation. You know how much that means to her, Pans."

She sighed. "Yes, well, he was always so disgustingly noble, wasn’t he?"

He chuckled. "I’d forgive him a multitude of disgustingly noble acts if he makes Mother smile like he’s done. And honestly, he’s... not bad." Nudging Pansy forward once again, he continued, "you’re being remarkably catty already. Something you want me to know?"

"Just getting it out of my system now, darling. I intend to smile and charm these Gryffindorks within an inch of their little lives. They’re so adorable when they’re scared."

.oxo.


The fire flared green just long enough to catch Draco’s attention before Potter stepped through. He seemed distracted and was holding a scroll, most of his attention still focused on it as he did his usual stumble out of the floo. He turned his attention back to his book, expecting Potter to offer the usual kiss to the top of the head, all they were allowed under the watchful eyes of the house-elf, before flopping on the chaise beside him.

When that didn’t happen, he glanced up to see Potter still standing in front of the floo. "Potter? Are you coming in or simply warming your arse at our fire?"

"What? Oh. Sorry. Hello, Draco." He made his way into the room, attention still half on the scroll, but brushed his lips across the top of Draco’s head before sitting nearby.

Another moment passed, and Draco reached a foot out and nudged Potter’s leg in frustration. "What is it?" At Potter’s shocked expression, he rolled his eyes. "You’ve been clutching that parchment like a lifeline and your mind is very obviously somewhere else. It concerns the wedding or you wouldn’t be here. You’d be at Weasley’s. So what is it?"

"Ah, um..." Potter’s neck flushed red as he pocketed the scroll. Glancing around the room, he cleared his throat and replied. "India."

Draco blinked. "India. What about it?"

"There’s signs of a plague. Just emergent. It’s in Sri Lanka, technically. Most of India actually has a lot of interaction between Muggle and Wizarding society, but in Sri Lanka they’re practically the same thing, and something has come up with the Vedda people. Some illness that’s jumping about the Muggle and wizarding populations and changing and... I’m sorry, you don’t want to hear about this."

"Your next assignment is in India?"

"Sri Lanka. But, um, yes."

Draco slowly closed his book and let it rest in his lap. Potter was still staring at everything but him, eyes darting from the fireplace, to the ottoman, to the window. He swallowed the tense, nervous feeling in his chest, and when he was certain he could speak normally, he turned his own gaze to the fire. "When do we leave, then?"

Potter’s gaze snapped to him, his smile open and relieved. "After the wedding. Don’t worry. I was afraid you’d want to call it off. But, er, I’ll need to leave the day after. Two at the latest. I can see about getting us set up in Mumbai. I’ve been there. It’s really brilliant. It’s the wizarding capital. I should be able to stay there a bit longer until you’re settled before I need to go on to Sri Lanka. I’ll need to take a week now to set everything up. I can arrange the Portkeys."

Draco nodded, carefully schooling his expression. He knew Potter traveled, but hadn’t anticipated like this. "India. I can do India."

Potter reached out and grasped his hand, ignoring the agitated squeak from the elf, and leaned in until their gazes met. "India’s brilliant. You’ll see. It’ll be great."

Draco nodded again, ignoring the racing of his heartbeat that felt a lot like fear.

.oxo.


Potter collapsed backward on the duvet with a groan, pushing his glasses up and rubbing his eyes. "Oh Merlin, I thought that would never end...."

Draco leaned against the doorway from the ensuite, fiddling with the small glass vial in his hand, but smirked in spite of himself at Potter’s swoon. "Tired so soon? I thought this part was the reward for making it through six hours of that nonsense." His grin widened as he took note of the red stain rising up Potter’s neck and across his cheeks. Crossing the room to sit beside Potter on the bed, he held up the vial, ignoring how his hand trembled as the implication hit all at once. "First dose, good for the next 33 days. I started preparations for the second this morning, though I won’t need to actually start the brew until the weekend. It’s unlikely that the potion will reach full potency until the second dose is taken, so the chances of conception in the first month are--"

It was a relief when his babbling was cut off by the firm press of Potter’s lips against his, and he felt heat rising in his face when Potter pulled back just enough to murmur against his mouth, "Take the fucking potion already before we miss the first opportunity and I just fuck you without it."

He gave a faint nod, arousal overwhelming the surprise he felt at Potter’s words, and pulled away, feeling the blood from his face race down to his cock. Cracking the wax seal, he glanced once again into heated green eyes before swallowing the sickeningly sweet brew.

Potter was on him before he had the chance to catch his breath, all lean muscle and wiry strength pushing him back into the bed. For a moment, the situation felt odd. He had a type, gravitating toward men who were tall, broad. Large hands and strong arms. Potter was near enough his size it was almost a distraction. Distraction faded, however, when quick hands moved to the clasps of his robe, and quicker teeth gave a sharp nip to his ear.

He was surrounded by the open folds of velvet before he’d quite realized what had happened. Potter straddled his lap, pupils blown behind his glasses, still wearing his robes but not seeming to care. His hands ran over Draco’s chest, pausing first to caress, then sharply tweak a nipple through the fine silk of his shirt. His smile when Draco gasped and arched into the touch could only be described as predatory, and he slowly lowered his head, giving it the same attention with his mouth; first, gently mouthing it, then quickly nipping before soothing it again with his tongue. Pulling back, he blew sharply against the wet silk, causing Draco to writhe once again as he felt goose pimples rise all over his skin.

Draco couldn’t begrudge him the smirk as he dealt with the shirt’s buttons as quickly as he had the robes. He closed his eyes and reached out, wrapping his fingers in the warm velvet of Potter’s robes and gripping tightly when he felt the shirt slowly be pushed back. "Oh fuck, Draco..." The tone was unexpected enough; he opened his eyes and attempted to refocus on Potter, who stared at his chest, fists clenched tightly in his shirt. "Fuck. I didn’t know. It was Snape’s spell. They told me it wouldn’t--"

Draco sighed. "Are you going to have a crisis about the mark on my arm as well?" Potter dragged his gaze back to Draco’s face with obvious reluctance, but when he said nothing, Draco added, "When we were in the pub, you said we knew what we were getting, flaws and all. Or did that only apply when you thought I was a pretty face?"

Potter blinked slowly, but when Draco turned his head and moved to push him away, he crouched forward, pressing Draco’s arms into the soft mattress. "Shhh... I’m sorry. You’re right." Potter’s head dipped, his eyes never leaving Draco’s face and he slowly began running his tongue along the longest of the shiny white lines that crossed his chest. Draco’s eyes closed again and he arched into the soft caress, breath stuttering when Potter again detoured to a nipple.

He was undressed, more slowly than he could ever imagine, and all the while Potter’s hands and mouth were constantly moving, from tickling, barely-there kisses to firm strokes. Every attempt he made to speed up the process, to reach forward and touch Potter back was met with a pinch, a nip, the sudden sharpness standing out in the haze of over-sensitized skin. Each made his cock jump and Potter chuckle, starting the entire overwhelming process again. He felt dazed, skin buzzing and mind foggy, and while so many of the touches seemed harsh, being the sole focus of all that attention nearly had him coming, cock untouched.

Draco noticed Potter had also undressed only when he felt the hand around his nape, twisting in the hair there and pulling him into a sitting position, sliding the sleeves of his shirt from his arms in the process. He blinked to bring his sight back into focus, heaving breaths around the feeling there was not enough air, noting the sheen of sweat on Potter’s skin. He reached out, trembling fingers tracing a shoulder, dipping down an arm, across again to the chest. Potter’s muscles were a bit more defined, his skin darker--a light trail of hair crossed his chest and down, but those differences only made Draco see him as beautiful. Potter must have noted something in his expression, for he leaned in, kissing Draco, all lips and tongue before pushing him down. Down he followed, swallowed Draco’s cock, touching it for the first time and for all Draco knew, he’d been on the edge. He was still surprised that one harsh suck had him gasping, arching, coming.

He didn’t think he’d passed out, but when he caught his breath, shaky and weak, Potter had moved, had spread his legs, sliding underneath them, both hands squeezing his arse, thumbs inching inward. His mouth had left his cock, tongue trailing down further and flickering around his hole. "Oh fuck fuck fuck..." Potter chuckled against him, vibrations shaking him to his very core and he was torn between the almost painful sensation of his still-oversensitized cock again beginning to fill and Potter’s thumbs teasing, tongue beginning to wiggle its way inside. "Fuck... Fuck... Please..." He knew he was begging, but his entire world was focused on Potter’s tongue.

It accomplished nothing. Potter seemed determined to take his time, to stretch Draco out until he shattered under the relentless teasing. When he felt the tip of a thumb join the tongue pushing inside him, his begging turned to babbling. His cock was rock hard again, quivering and leaking, and he could hear his hoarse whisper. "Now please now please now please." But he couldn’t begin to close his mouth, to stop.

An eternity later, the feeling of a flexible tongue was replaced by the more familiar sensation of a well-lubed finger slowly sliding into him. He arched back into the pressure, attempting to finally move forward, push Potter faster. One finger became two, and he opened his eyes to see Potter, red-faced and breathing as hard as Draco watching him avidly. He reached up, his arm clumsy, and grabbed a handful of dark hair, awkwardly pulling Potter closer, leaving messy kisses over his face. Kisses that were soon matched, until Potter’s tongue and fingers echoed the same rhythm, stringing his body tightly between them. Finally pulling him apart, breaking him away to gasp and beg again.

Potter was obviously at his limit as well; when the first plea left Draco’s mouth, the fingers were removed and swiftly replaced by a much blunter pressure. He pushed into it, wanting nothing more than Potter finally inside him, feeling the slight burn and stretch as he opened, as Potter slid, steadily, until they were locked tightly together. There was a moment where it was almost too much, and then he met Potter’s eyes and suddenly it was. Potter was on him, his cock buried deep, and he was pulling reactions from him, feelings from him that he wasn’t prepared for. All the while watching him, touching him, his expression as avid as if he were a Snitch. Then Potter paused, gasping out a breath before pulling Draco’s legs up onto his shoulders, slowly, sliding closer, pulling Draco’s arse off the bed and onto his legs. The angle change caused him to see stars, and his mouth dropped open, trying to breathe, too overwhelmed after all the buildup even to feel properly.

Then Potter moved, a slow pull back, a quicker push inward, his hands sliding down Draco's legs to grip tightly at his hips before thrusting in again faster, sharper. He could feel his toes curl, his back arch, but he was uncertain if he was trying to impale himself harder or simply attempting to keep up with the strokes. When Potter’s hand curled around his cock, thumb flicking the head, his vision went black as he came.

.oxo.


Draco,

I do hope your wedding night went as well as those looks Potter was giving you all afternoon hinted. I may have given him a teensie bit of advice to smooth things over in the marriage bed. I do hope you don’t mind, and that you spent the rest of your honeymoon doing that silly little duck walk you did back in seventh year.
Maybe I’ll write and ask your mother how you looked before the Portkey.
So, tell Mumsy Pansy everything. I want all the dirt. How was he? Is he big? You do know you’ve always been a bit of a size queen. Of course, he’s a Healer. I’m certain he knows all sorts of interesting uses for an Engorgio. And all that Quidditch and Healer training must lead to some lovely stamina...

Your Pansy


Pans,

You’re a cow. I hate you.

Draco

PS: Wouldn’t you like to know?


.oxo.


India was hot. He wasn’t certain what else to think when he arrived. For all that it was turning December, and apparently winter no matter how far south it was, the warm humidity made it seem that the Mumbai Portkey office was located in a sauna. Draco felt himself wilting in his heavy woolen robes. Potter, damn him, simply got that stupid grin as he led the way to the door.

Outside was overwhelming. Muggle fashion seemed to be normal for India as well, and the bright silks and overwhelming smell of cardamom and turmeric caused him to pause and blink as much as the bright sun. People were more tightly packed than Diagon Alley the last weekend in August, and the effect was blinding. Potter waited and watched him, that same delighted expression on his face that made Draco’s nose wrinkle in spite of himself.

"Scared, Malfoy?"

"What are you, twelve?"

Potter laughed. "Come on, the embassy is just across the way." He turned and pointed to a large white marble building surrounded by elaborately carved columns. "We’ve a suite there. It’s very nice even for your tastes."

"Not that you’ll ever be around to use it," Draco knew his muttered comment was louder than he’d intended when Potter reached back again and grasped his arm, gently pulling him forward.

"You could come with me to Sri Lanka, but I don’t have access to anywhere nearly as comfortable as this to stay." His voice was quiet, regretful, and he was looking at Draco with an indecipherable expression he’d seen a few times. "The only reason I don’t have dirt floors, I think, is because of monsoon season."

Draco wrinkled his nose again, causing Potter to laugh and give his arm a firmer tug. "Come on then, let’s get settled. I’ll Portkey back when I’m able, but definitely weekends, and I’ve most of a week of unofficial honeymoon time before I have to leave. I can think of places I’d much rather spend it." The heat in his green gaze stated very clearly what Potter had in mind, so Draco followed with faked reluctance.

.oxo.


The last thing he expected when he entered the Embassy’s formal dining room was a familiar face. They had arrived in Mumbai four days ago, days he spent mainly in their suite of rooms, resisting all Potter’s efforts to get him out to see the sights. He watched the crowds outside the embassy from the balcony, all overwhelming color and unfamiliar sounds, and the cows, so tightly packed that he couldn’t imagine trying to make his way through them. He thought London and Diagon had prepared him for crowds, but in those places touching was still mainly by accident, not the constant shouting and shoving he saw below.

Potter went out, seemingly exhilarated by the teeming mass of humanity, returning bright-eyed and smiling, often with a small gift in hand for Draco.

He hated it. He missed the manor, or at least the solitude and quiet that he could retreat to. When his mother went to the Continent for her week-long shopping expeditions, he could easily go the entire time without seeing or hearing another soul. The heat only made it more alien, leaving him with a feeling reminiscent of winter hols during the war; all signs indicated that Christmas should be approaching, but everything was so very wrong.

Part of him resented Potter; his joy at the new people and place, his attempts at luring Draco away from their charmed cool rooms, but primarily the fact that he was leaving. It wasn’t logical. He’d known before the wedding that they would be spending most of their time apart; he just hadn’t realized how familiar Potter would be, nor how much he would need that.

And Potter knew. He caught him watching several times, a faint frown causing his forehead to wrinkle and concern dripping from every pore. He offered again to bring him to Sri Lanka, but by then Draco was unpacked, and hesitated to give up even the small corner of familiarity he’d carved for himself. In the end, the original plan stood: tomorrow Potter would Portkey out, to return in three days for the weekend, and Draco would stay here.

It was the fact that Potter was leaving in the morning that finally enabled him to persuade Draco to attend the Embassy’s nightly formal dinner. It was crowded but less so than some of the dinner parties his parents had held in the Manor growing up. He felt his shoulders relax and refrained from catching Potter’s eye, knowing the grin there hovered on the border between happy and smug. He bumped him instead, smiling in spite of himself at Potter’s open laugh.

"Draco!" His name was so unexpected, the voice so familiar. He turned to Potter before realizing the voice had come from the other side of the room. Blaise was there, a head taller than most around him, and effortlessly making his way toward them. "It’s so good to see you again! And Potter! Hello!"

His hand was swept up in Zabini’s massive one, and the feeling sent a wave of nostalgia to twist in his gut, almost making him sway with the force of it before Zabini turned his hand and gaze to Potter.

"Zabini, it’s good to see you as well. I had no idea you were here." Potter’s smile was delighted as he returned Zabini’s exuberant handshake.

"Just assigned! Been here a few weeks. We’re with Beauchamps, Ambassador from France. Are you two staying?" His gaze swept between them, and it took more concentration than Draco cared to admit to keep from flushing at the heat of it. He remembered the conversation he’d had with Pansy, Blaise and Nicolette being sent somewhere hot and full of bugs. He was uncertain if he wanted to curse or cry.

Harry shook his head. "Draco is. I’m working in Sri Lanka, I leave in the morning, actually. I’m really very glad you’re here. Draco will have someone he knows."

Blaise’s gaze was heated when he looked back at Draco, and Draco kept his gaze riveted, somewhere near the top button of his odd coat to avoid meeting it. "Yeah, we were close at Hogwarts. Fell out of touch when I moved to France, though. Always regretted that."

"Is Nicolette here, then?" Draco finally raised his eyes, keeping his expression controlled.

Blaise nodded, his expression back to its normal enthusiastic cheer. "She’s with Beauchamps’ wife. Seems to have taken her under her wing. They only had sons, you know."

Harry laughed. "I can imagine. I’m sure that leads to a good spoiling, too."

Blaise laughed, a large laugh that always drew attention to him like a candle flame. "Yeah, and I’ve got to mind myself, too. I miss an anniversary and I’m likely to wind up in the archives for the rest of my life." He gave a broad wink and moved on as another conversation waved him in.

"See? Not so bad, right? Blaise wants to make up for old times."

All Draco could do was offer a weak laugh, memories rushing in of the old times he knew Blaise had in mind.

.oxo.


Pans,

India is hot and miserable. Potter left this morning, his Portkey went off before sunrise. I’m hiding out in our rooms trying to avoid the bugs and cows.
Did I mention there are cows here? They’re apparently worshipped by the muggles or something. You should come visit. You’d fit right in.

Draco

PS: It was India. Blaise was transferred to India. Saw him at dinner last night.


.oxo.


Blaise was always underfoot. Draco sometimes wondered how the man actually managed to do his job, because it seemed whenever Harry’s Portkey activated in the peachy pre-dawn, Blaise arrived within the hour, smiling, filling the rooms with his laugh and his voice, stretching out on the chaise. Black leather, green rugs and a crackling fire would have made the image of the Slytherin Common Room complete, and he found himself relaxing, laughing, sitting beside Blaise with his head against his shoulder as if he’d never left.

When Blaise kissed him late in the first week of his new routine, it felt natural to kiss him back. The large hands in his hair, pulling his head close, the feeling of Blaise’s mouth, his chest, his arms; all familiar in a way that made him ache. The smell of him, suddenly returning to the forefront of his consciousness, making him moan into the kiss. He knew Blaise would push him back against the cushions, knew what his body would feel like above him, knew Blaise would be too rough, too fast grinding his hips into Draco’s as they frotted themselves to messy completion.

It was exactly like the Slytherin Common Room. It seemed inevitable that things progressed from there, just as they always had.

.oxo.


Draco,

Don’t be an arse, darling. You know what heat and humidity do to my hair. I wouldn’t be worshipped. I’d be burned at the stake.
And as for Blaise... Draco, please. Promise me you won’t do anything stupid.

Your Pansy


.oxo.


He sometimes wondered how he’d ended up here again and again. His conscious, which sounded frighteningly like Pansy, frequently reminded him that this affair with Blaise was a terrible idea. It could go nowhere. Draco wasn’t a fool; he knew Blaise had no intention of ever leaving his wife, and Blaise had made no claims to wanting to. And while Potter didn’t make his heart race and cock fill with a look in the same way the thought of being stretched around Blaise could, he knew he had no intention of leaving him either. There was too much at stake, and he knew each time he allowed Blaise into his bed those ten days, that he risked being caught with the attendant scandal and divorce.

He told himself and Blaise that it would be the last time when he heard the knock and opened the door to his suite, staring up into chocolaty eyes and a wicked smile. He said it when he frantically tugged on the buttons on Blaise’s Sherwani, his voice breathless from the heat of Blaise’s mouth on his neck. He thought it when Blaise swallowed his cock, but was man enough to admit his gasp and groan didn’t really convey the thought.

He didn’t have the mental capacity to even think it after, when he was catching his breath and waiting for the stars to fade from his vision, still feeling the ghostly fullness of Blaise’s cock in his arse and the very real feeling of a large hand playing with his hair. Which is of course the moment the bedroom door opened and he saw Potter’s normal wide grin fade in an instant, and heard his voice take on the tenor not heard since the final battle. "Zabini, get the fuck out of my bed."

Blaise could dress himself as quickly as he could undress Draco; he thought that should probably tell him something. Draco only wished he could be surprised when he was left lying in the bed, with nothing but Potter's profile in the doorway.

"You too, Draco. Get... cleaned up. I’m not having this discussion with you in bed still covered in Zabini’s spunk."

When Potter’s footsteps had retreated down the hall, he sat slowly and pushed the sheet back. His legs still trembled from the aftereffects of his orgasm, but he was uncertain what caused his hands to shake. He finally climbed out of bed, ignoring the elf who immediately popped in and began changing the sheets. He wanted a bath--a long bath to soak the feeling of Blaise off him, a bath long enough for the entire situation to just go away. He settled on a quick cleaning charm before wrapping himself in a robe and slowly following Potter into the main section of the suite, trying to ignore the leaden feeling in his stomach.

When he arrived in the sitting room, Potter was standing, looking out the window at the street below them. He grimaced when he saw the open bottle of firewhisky beside him, and winced when Potter downed a shot.

"How long?" Potter still hadn’t turned to face him, but his voice was rough with the burn of the liquor.

Draco pulled his robe tighter around himself, shivering even though the room remained as warm and humid as the rest of this blasted country. When he answered, his voice was weak. "Since Hogwarts."

The wake of the glass flying past his ear caused his breath to catch, and the sound of shattering crystal made him jump. Potter’s expression was so pained that he cringed and looked down at the floor.

"Since Hogwarts? You’ve what? Loved him? Been sleeping with him? For years, Draco, and you married me anyway? What the fuck were you thinking?"

"No... He married Nicolette right after. I hadn’t seen him since..." He let his voice trail off, knowing anything he said at this moment would sound like the weak excuse it was. "I’d asked him up here tonight to end it..."

Potter’s laugh held no humor, but it was abrupt enough to cut off his fading words. "Of course you were. End it just as soon as you’d gotten his prick in you one last time. Pull the other one. What happened to our marriage vows? And did you just forget you’re on a fertility potion?"

Draco winced but replied, "It’s still the first month. It takes time for the body to be able to... accommodate a fetus. I’m not going to--"

"There’s still a chance, Draco!" Potter took an obvious breath, continuing at a lower volume. "Or... I guess you just didn’t care. Didn’t actually care about me. Foolish of me to..." Potter shook his head, taking a pull directly from the bottle. "I knew when I married you that you were selfish and spoiled. I didn’t care. I loved you, and I hoped..." Potter’s gaze was downcast, and he slid down the wall behind him until he was curled up on the floor. "I hoped you could at least learn to... I hoped you would give me a chance. But apparently, I never had one."

The silence was oppressive, as Draco searched frantically for something to say, anything to make the situation go away. The words "loved you" echoed in his head and made him want to cry, to vomit, to find a time-turner. Potter’s next words shocked him back to full alertness. "Do you want a divorce, then? Is that what this is about?"

"What? No--"

"Ah, of course. Can’t divorce the bloody Savior. What will people think?" Potter’s voice was so bitter that Draco could feel it like bile in the back of his throat. He took another pull from the bottle, finally looking at Draco, holding him pinned in his gaze. "Pack your bags."

He knew he blanched; he felt the blood rush from his head, the sound of his heart pounding in his ears, almost overwhelming Potter’s next words. "You’re leaving Mumbai. Right now... I don’t care where you go. You can return to England and your mother or go to Paris and stay with Pansy, and I’ll have my solicitor file the divorce papers."

"No. Potter, Harry--"

"Or you can come with me to Sri Lanka if you’d like to avoid the scandal of it all. You will not stay here with Zabini."

Eventually, he nodded and turned back down the hall. In the end, there really was no choice.

.oxo.


He thought he was prepared for what life was like here by his weeks in Mumbai, but Sri Lanka was entirely different. Mumbai had been busy, full, loud. Sri Lanka was silent, both inside the small house where he stayed with Harry and outside where he was watched by the dark eyes of the locals. When the Portkey deposited them in a dim room, Harry had pointed around the sparse furniture, indicating the bed against one wall, cabinets against the other, and a table somewhere between. He spoke to the air somewhere to the left of Draco’s ear. "This is the main living area. If you want a bath, there’s a copper tub outside. You can bathe there or bring it in. That’s the main door. This door goes to my work area. You can grab any books you’d like, but I’d ask you not to distract me when I’m working. There are no elves, so we’ll fend for ourselves as far as food and cleaning goes. We get food delivery twice a week. If you’d like to make a special request, there’s a message box by the front door, and it should arrive the next morning." Draco nodded faintly, still feeling overwhelmed, and Harry continued, voice still clinical and distant. "And I should tell you this now. Give you an idea what to look out for. The plague begins with flu-like symptoms. First nausea and fatigue, progressing to vomiting shortly after. If you start exhibiting any of these, you’ll need to speak with me right away. We’ve had some luck in treating adult wizards if it’s caught in the first two days. After, it begins to move to the nervous system, causing intermittent blindness, dizziness, and pain. Wizards also experience a magic drain. These symptoms increase until they become permanent."

Draco nodded again, and Harry met his eyes briefly. "I mean it, if you experience anything like that, you’ll need to tell me immediately. Send a Patronus if you have to. There’s no Statute of Secrecy here to worry about."

"Yes." His voice was hoarse, but he didn’t see the point in mentioning he’d never been able to complete the spell and didn’t see that changing. Harry simply nodded, his gaze drifting again.

"Right. I’ll leave you to get settled. I’ve some work to finish. I’ll start breakfast in a few hours. Get some sleep."

When Harry disappeared through the interior door, Draco collapsed on the bed. He felt the tell-tale buzzing of a Muffliato going off in the other room and covered his face, tears beginning to leak from his eyes. He would need to write his mother and Pansy, to let them know he had left Mumbai. He wasn’t looking forward to it, but knew in the situation he was entirely to blame.

.oxo.


It was exactly as he’d expected. Harry kept himself to his work, and Draco only saw him in passing or at mealtime. Draco could only assume he slept in the chair in the library section of the workroom. He was polite but distant: his smiles faint, his words brief and firmly limited to talk of food and weather. Draco’s vaguely worded letters to his mother and Pansy elicited the expected responses: an equally vague acknowledgement from his mother that still left him feeling as if he’d been caught kicking crups, along with a carefully wrapped Christmas present. Pansy sent him a Howler telling him what an idiot he was.

It caused the closest thing to a smile he’d seen from Harry in nearly two weeks. He was almost grateful to Pansy.

There was no word from Blaise, not that he’d expected any, and he was surprised that he didn’t feel more than a sense of relief. Relief he was away. Relief his lack of worth to Blaise was finally and firmly proven. Relief that he could give up the belief that if given the chance, Blaise would choose him. None of it helped the boredom or the aching sense of loneliness. He was left alone to his thoughts, and they were useless, zipping around his head like a snitch and providing no insight as to how to repair the fragile strands of his life, of Harry’s feelings.

Christmas was as subdued as the previous weeks, though Harry had spent most of the day with Draco, or at least in the same room as Draco while he focused all his attention on cooking. Even still, they scarcely exchanged more than a handful of sentences before eating a silent dinner and going their separate ways.

On Boxing Day, he decided he’d had enough. When Harry left in the morning, quietly opening the doors and practically sneaking out, Draco threw the covers off and made his way into the workroom. It was as he remembered it, though he had honored Harry’s wishes and kept himself out of the way, and he found himself poking through the notes littering the bench beside the potions table with interest. Half were familiar, Snape’s angular letters crossing the page as if the very parchment had offended him. The others were not, written in the messy scrawl Harry always seemed to use when he was in a hurry.

Pulling the parchment into a neat stack, he carried it over to the chair, settling into it and leaning back. He could tell this was where Harry had been spending so much of his time. The chair felt like him, felt almost like Harry’s arms around him. He curled up tighter into the cushioned embrace and frowned at the notes, attempting to decipher Harry’s squiggles.

By lunchtime, he’d created his own set of notes, translating Harry’s into something legible. He was attempting to sort them in with Snape’s when the door opened, jerking his attention upward. Harry was standing in the door, an unreadable expression on his face as he stared at Draco. "I was wondering where you were. You weren’t in the main room. No one had seen you. I thought..." Harry’s mouth shut with a snap, and he realized what Harry had thought.

He tried to ignore the heat rising in his face, guilt twisting his gut, and shook his head. "Your notes. I couldn’t read them. I’m sorry." He waved the parchment faintly, placing his quill back in the ink.

Harry nodded, his expression cautious. "Okay. Why?"

He blinked. "Why what?"

Harry tilted his head, a small smile briefly twisting his lips. "Why are you cleaning up my notes?"

"Because I couldn’t--" He trailed off when Harry actually laughed.

"Why are you wanting to read my notes?"

"They’re Potions notes. You had Snape’s notes mixed in with them. I thought I could help."

Harry watched him a moment, before shaking his head, a small smile still on his face. "Take a break, it’s time for lunch."

.oxo.


Things were getting better. He had never taken the second dose of potion; with Harry still sleeping in his workroom, there didn’t seem to be any point, but at least they were beginning to talk in more than pleasantries. They even spent several evenings hunched over the potions table or their newly collated notes. It was more than he’d expected possible when they’d left Mumbai, and he hoped he would be able to prove himself to Harry, perhaps first only with potions, but later with the marriage as well.

Harry had been telling the truth; he was much better at Potions than he’d been in Hogwarts. It may have been a firmer grounding in theory from his Healer training, but Draco felt able to actually discuss all but the more esoteric minutiae of brewing and have hope Harry could at least follow along.

They had been up late the evening before, debating substituting crushed fresh Rowan with diced in an attempt to link its nerve repairing properties to a muscle relaxant. Harry woke him with a gentle shake to the arm before leaving as had become their new habit when it happened. Draco began to sit up, when his stomach suddenly flopped and he was violently ill.

"Fuck! Draco!" Harry’s voice was strangled, and the blood drained from his face, tinting it a sickly grey. Draco attempted to breathe before another sharp wave of nausea hit, sending him clutching forward over his stomach once again, the sweat of his palm causing his hand to slip in Harry’s tight grip. "Breathe, breathe. Merlin just take a breath. It’s okay, just take a breath. Lie back when you can. Let me clean you up." He let Harry position him back on the bed, but curled onto his side when Harry straightened and pulled his wand. His stomach continued to roll, and he could feel sweat beginning to form, sliding into his hair and under his clothes.

He closed his eyes, trying to will the cramping to cease when he felt the light touch of a cleaning spell wash over him, Harry still murmuring nonsense under his breath. After a few moments, and several spells, Harry spoke again, his voice quiet. "No nausea or fatigue before this? Nothing you haven’t mentioned?"

Draco cracked open an eyelid and glanced at Harry. "No. Just when I sat up." He kept his jaw tightly clenched, fighting the feeling that anything more would simply cause the nausea to spike again.

Harry nodded, waving his wand again in a complicated pattern, his attention focused on the runes beginning to hover in the air above the bed. "No plague, which..." His words trailed off, but Draco saw some of the color had returned to his face, and a bit of the tension in his muscles seemed to loosen. Draco reached out, sliding his arm along the bed until he reached Harry’s leg and squeezed it gently. Harry started, causing the runes lighting his face to flicker briefly before offering Draco a small, strained smile.

"Let’s see what’s wrong, then." Harry had gone back to his clipped Healer-voice, but Draco comforted himself with the fact that at least he hadn’t stepped away. Tightening his grip on Harry’s trousers, he closed his eyes and attempted to breathe through another wave of nausea as Harry continued to chant above him.

It seemed an eternity, lying in the bed and attempting to endure the twisting of his stomach, before the pull of Harry’s trousers caused him to crack an eye open again. Harry’s voice was strained when he attempted to step away again. "I’m just going to get you an anti-nausea potion." He loosened his grip and Harry turned abruptly and walked into the workroom, returning several minutes later with a pale violet potion. He cracked the seal and sat on the bed, carefully propping Draco up against him. "Drink this."

He was worried that the strong herbal flavor of the potion would cause him to lose it before it could take effect, but swallowed it quickly, counting his breaths until the churning began to subside. When he relaxed, Harry spoke again. "We’ll need to make more. We don’t have enough if this proves to be a regular occurrence."

"What? Why?" Draco turned his head slightly, unwilling to move much and leave his place propped comfortably against Harry’s chest.

Harry gave a strained laugh, rubbing his face and standing, staring at the front door, leaving Draco shivering at the sudden coldness on his back. "It's morning sickness. You’re pregnant, Draco."

He shook his head. "No."

Harry turned, his expression strained and eyes glassy. "Early December. A chance is still a chance." He turned away again, taking a few steps to the door before he paused, voice carrying even with his back turned. "Can you even know if it’s mine?"

Draco sat in bed, shock overwhelming everything else. For a moment, he could only hear the blood rushing in his ears; his lungs felt tight, and his vision narrowed to a pinprick that was all Harry. He tried to open his mouth, to say something as Harry stood waiting, as he finally began to walk away. When the door opened, his voice finally came, strained and weak but still making Harry pause. "I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It was the first dose... I didn’t...."

Harry’s hand tightened on the door, but he didn’t turn. "I am, too. I’ll... I’ll see you this evening, Draco."

The door didn’t slam behind Harry, but the finality of the sound still caused the tears filling his eyes to begin to fall.

.oxo.


It was almost like a time-turner had left him back in the week before Christmas. Harry avoided him as much as possible, eyes dropping to his belly whenever he thought Draco wasn’t looking. It was almost welcome; even though it always caused Harry’s jaw and fists to tighten, simply because otherwise it felt like he didn’t exist, as carefully as he was sidestepped and looked away from. The only difference were the evenings in the workroom. Harry could speak to the notes, the table, the cauldron, discussing whatever ideas or adaptations Draco made to the current project during the day.

At least that seemed to be going well. Rowan had good results, if only briefly, before causing the potion to fail spectacularly. It was a slow process of ingredient substitutions in an attempt to stabilize the potion, and he threw himself into the research to try and keep his mind off anything else. He also found himself gravitating back to Harry’s chair, no matter how much he cursed himself for finding comfort in its smell and cushions.

Thinking about how much he missed Harry’s smile was only slightly better than thinking about the baby growing inside him. Much better to lose himself in potions research. The slow pace of research was only a bonus; the time that passed meant he had some ability to talk to Harry, and the month-long silence of the house otherwise pressed in on him and left him with nothing to do but think.

.oxo.


Pans,

I’m pregnant. Harry’s not talking to me at all. I don’t know what to do.

Draco


.oxo.


"This isn’t working..."

Draco glanced blearily through the cauldron fumes at Harry, who was rubbing his eyes under his glasses. It was late, well after midnight, and he was exhausted. They both were. It was the only reason his mind didn’t immediately jump to the obvious when he asked, "What?"

He cursed himself for giving Harry the opening to tell him to leave when Harry did the unexpected instead. He looked up at Draco directly for the first time in a month; his face was pale and frustrated. "This. Rowan. We’ve been trying to find the right stabilizer for over a month. The best we’ve gotten is a potion that holds steady for about 5 minutes. We can’t give a potion like that to anyone. What would happen when it destabilizes once it’s actually been ingested? Don’t answer that."

His mouth twisted into a faint smile. "Well you shouldn’t ask, then..."

Harry sighed, dropping his head back into his hands. "We have to look for something else... I was so certain this would work, but if we can’t stabilize it to the lacewing--"

"Wait."

Harry looked up at him again. "Wait what?"

"I’m an idiot." He ignored Harry’s swiftly raised eyebrow as he pushed himself up off the bench and around the table to where Harry was sitting with the notes. "Lacewing. We were thinking about stabilizing the Rowan because it was the addition to the potion..." He pulled the parchment out from Harry’s hand and began marking off the trial additions they’d made. "It’s not the Rowan that’s destabilizing the potion, or not entirely. It’s the lacewing."

"So if we stew the lacewing...?"

Draco nodded, still hunched over the parchment making notes. "We should stew a large batch. We may still need to stabilize the Rowan, so we should be prepared for it to still take several trials to finalize the formula."

He was shocked at the feeling of arms reaching around him, hugging him close, Harry’s head burrowing into his side. "This is going to work, isn’t it?" The words were muffled against his robes, and his heart clenched, causing his eyes to fill with tears. He wanted nothing more than to collapse into Harry’s embrace. He raised a trembling hand instead, running it gently through Harry’s tangles.

"It is going to work. Three weeks for stewing, maybe another to finish everything else." His words were soft, and he stared down at Harry’s head, taking in the exhaustion of his posture. "You should sleep. Take the bed. I’ll get the lacewings started."

Harry pushed himself back upright, his arms still around Draco, and watched him for a moment. He wasn’t certain what Harry was looking for, exactly, but he eventually smiled, then nodded before finally releasing him and pushing himself up from the bench.

"Don’t stay up too late." He gave Draco’s arm a gentle squeeze before he turned and left the room, closing the door softly behind him. Draco collapsed onto the bench, overwhelmed by something that felt like hope.

.oxo.


Draco,

Well, what do you want, darling? You’ve been a bit of a wanker. Do you want Potter? If you do, you’re going to need to work that little arse off to convince him to keep you. Have you tried groveling?

Your Pansy


.oxo.


Draco slept remarkably well curled up in Harry’s chair; well enough that he was surprised by the sunlight cutting a bright shaft across the floor when he woke; a certain sign he’d slept later than usual. Pushing himself up, he checked the lacewing before grabbing a vial of anti-nausea potion, downing it quickly before his stomach could decide to rebel.

He was surprised to see Harry still in bed when he opened the door to the main section of the house. He was even more surprised to note how tangled the sheets were as Harry didn’t usually move much in his sleep. He tried to suppress the feeling of uneasiness when he waved his wand to start the water for the tea, quietly setting bread and honey on the table for breakfast.

When the tea was finished, but Harry still hadn’t woken, the earlier feeling of uneasiness had grown to dread. He approached the bed, the pale clamminess of Harry’s skin growing more and more obvious as he neared. "Harry?" He hesitated before reaching out and touching his head. The cold sweat worried him even more. "Harry, wake up." Pushing the sweat-damp fringe back, he leaned closer. "Harry, please wake up."

Finally his eyes opened and Harry stirred, a frown crossing his face. "Draco? What are you doing?"

"How do you feel?"

Harry looked at him a moment before he sighed and closed his eyes again. "Like I was hit by a bus. You shouldn’t be touching me, Draco."

"How long?" His jaw was tight with frustration, but he kept his hand on Harry’s head. "You said you had some success with treating it when it’s caught early. How long?"

Harry was silent long enough that Draco considered actually grabbing a handful of the hair brushing his fingers, just to get a reaction. "Long enough."

Draco let his hand fall from Harry’s face and reminded himself he shouldn’t punch him. "So you’ve had some success with treating it early, and that applies to everyone but you? You want to go blind? Suffer magic drain?"

There was a drawn-out period of silence before Draco pushed himself up from the bed. "Do you want tea? Toast? Anything that can help slow this down while I finish stewing these fucking lacewing and we can fucking fix you?" He distracted himself with pouring tea and toasting bread, finally turning back to look at Harry when he couldn’t focus elsewhere any longer. "Well?"

"I wasn’t thinking."

"You’re a fucking Healer. Of course, you were thinking. You don’t get to where you are if you catch the fucking plague you’re trying to treat by accident. I can only wonder what you were thinking because it makes no sense!"

"I thought it would finally make you leave!"

Draco dropped onto the stool, staring at Harry. "Make me leave? If you wanted me to leave, you just had to say. You didn’t have to..."

"You refused to move forward on the divorce. I was trying to give you an out, a reason you could divorce me but still save face."

"Did it ever occur to you that I don’t want to divorce you? That I came to this fucking place so I could try and make up for what I did? So we could move on?"

"No! Why would you do that? You fucking love him!"

"I don’t fucking love him, I love you, you--" Draco clapped his hand over his mouth and turned away on the stool. Taking a deep breath, he asked, "Did you want tea or no?"

Harry’s words were quiet when they broke the heavy silence of the room. "Why did you do it, Draco?"

Draco grabbed one of the mugs and took a sip before staring into it. "I... I don’t know. He was just always there. Familiar. I didn’t have to think about how strange it was... I was scared." He let his words trail off and placed the mug on the table, burying his head in his hands. "Yes, we had something back in Hogwarts. He went to Paris immediately after graduation and I didn’t hear anything from him after. Part of me always wondered what if. I had no good reason. I regret it, but I don’t have a time-turner. Does that make this better?"

The silence stretched again before Harry spoke quietly. "If you could help me to sit, I’d like some tea. Please."

He sat for a moment in the renewed silence before nodding. "Of course." When he reached the bed, Harry was watching him with a shuttered expression he knew mirrored his own. Focusing instead on the pillows, he helped support Harry to sit before returning to fetch the tea and toast. He waited, ensuring Harry could manage the mug on his own before speaking again.

"I wouldn’t have followed Blaise to a two-room hut in the middle of nowhere. And I certainly wouldn’t do it just to avoid divorcing some Savior. I’d get the divorce and then move to Paris with Pansy. Now I’m going to leave a message in the box to see if I can get some already-stewed lacewing sent before this gets any worse. Then I’m going to go into the workroom and stay there for a bit while I decide if I’m going to murder you or not. You can yell if you need me for anything or if you know of anything I can do to slow this enough that you’ll still be functioning in a month when we should have a potion ready."

"You should eat..."

His mouth twisted faintly in response. "Then I’d waste all that lovely anti-nausea potion I just took. Will you be needing any?"

Harry sighed. "Probably."

"Good, I’ll brew up some more this afternoon."

.oxo.


Draco marked time in potions. He knew them all by sight: pain, anti-nausea, healing, cleansing, muscle and nerve bolstering, each at a different time, a different dose, a different frequency. Mornings, he woke up in Harry’s chair with his wand vibrating an alarm sometime around sunrise. He took his violet potion, then made his way into the main part of the house where he started tea and toast, before bringing Harry violet, yellow, yellow. Some mornings Harry would put on his glasses after choking down the final yellow potion; some mornings he wouldn’t bother. Draco would bring him tea and toast, then sit at the table and eat a solitary meal.

Some days they spoke, but Harry insisted they stay as far apart as possible, even with the Healer’s modification to the Bubblehead Charm he’d taught Draco.

After breakfast, Draco would return to the potions lab, where he spent the next several hours restocking the potions cupboard. At noon, his wand would buzz, or he’d hear a knock on the door, and he’d give a box of brightly-colored vials to a local man with sad dark eyes. Lunchtime meant violet, orange, yellow, sometimes clear. Harry would eat--a cold sandwich was the extent of Draco’s cooking ability--he frequently cursed the lack of elves here, and Draco would try to persuade him to drink more water before giving up and picking at his own sandwich. His afternoons were the same, his buzzing wand signaling a break from the cauldron and the start of tea and another round of orange and yellow, another attempt to get Harry to eat. Evenings he would take inventory, sending messages for new foodstuffs or ingredients, listlessly flicking half-hearted cleaning charms around the house, attempting to move quietly lest Harry awaken.

Dinner mirrored breakfast: violet, yellow, yellow. Sometimes, one or the other would be ravenous, and would eat a double portion as if to make up for the picking they’d done the rest of the day. Sometimes, they wouldn’t bother trying.

Each day he checked the lacewing. Each evening he marked another day closer to moving forward on the potion. Each night he fell asleep to nightmares that the potion wouldn’t be enough, that Harry would give up before it was ready. Each morning it was a relief when Harry attempted to smile through the potions, or greeted him, or woke up.

.oxo.


A supply of stewed lacewing arrived the day his own batch was ready. He laughed, and his explanation as to why caused Harry to smile in response. The entire house seemed lighter, tinged with relief, and Draco opened the windows to the balmy March breeze before moving to the cauldron to begin the first batch of experiments in stabilizing Harry’s potion.

He’d prepared what he could in advance: chopping and crushing and applying stasis charms, boxing up potions for the locals, making certain to have a ready supply of bezoars. He left the door open between the rooms, trusting the open windows to keep at least most of the fumes away from the bed. He talked Harry through all he was doing, each variation to the amount of Rowan or lacewing, each experiment with stabilizers, making notes of the changes and Harry’s suggestions. He paused only when his wand reminded him to bring Harry his potions, or when Harry complained of hunger or thirst, even though he knew Harry was really just reminding him to eat as well.

The third evening had three likely potions cooling in their cauldrons overnight, as well as the beginnings of a new batch of stewed lacewing and a demand for an indefinite supply in the message box. Harry had spent most of the day unable to see. The muscles in his arms were of almost no use. But Draco still had a spring in his step as hope overwhelmed him. He comforted himself that Harry was also in markedly high spirits.

"You shouldn’t be sitting this close." Even Harry’s voice was weak, so Draco snorted and shoved a bite of bread into his mouth before he could wind up the oft-repeated lecture on proper safety when dealing with the plague.

"Bollocks. Tomorrow we’ll be testing the new potions, and then we’ll have a cure. If I fall ill, I’m not going to hide it and let it fester like some people." He shoved another pinch of bread into Harry’s mouth before the indignant expression on his face could lead to another argument. "You’ll be Longbottom. I’ll be Snape. Luckily, I’ve fully stocked us with bezoars."

His grin was wicked when Harry groaned, and he regretted Harry had taken to keeping his eyes closed over the past weeks to try and counter the disorienting abruptness of vision loss.

.oxo.


The next morning, Draco stood before the cauldrons staring at the three potions awaiting trial. All three were varying shades of a ruddy peach; all three held together through the brew; all seemed stable, but something about the center always struck him as more true than the others throughout the brewing process. Perhaps it was the trueness of the shade, or the faint hint of a sweet, almost vanilla, scent of the final result, but he trusted his training enough to know when to follow his instinct. Taking a deep breath, he decanted it to a vial and swiftly grabbed a bezoar, before opening the door, eyes immediately drawn to Harry’s sleeping face.

"Harry?"

His gentle shake prompted a pained groan as Harry stirred, but he made no move to open his eyes. "Time to try the first batch?"

Eyeing Harry critically, he paused. "Well, if you need anti-nausea, I can get that for you now and we can try this in two hours or so..."

There was a pause where Harry obviously considered that, but he shook his head. "No, let’s try this. If it works I hopefully won’t need the anti-nausea."

Draco nodded to himself, and then carefully reached around to help prop Harry up, raising the vial to his lips. He waited while Harry swallowed, bezoar in hand, waited for two breaths, then three before Harry groaned and tipped forward, clutching his stomach and trembling violently. "Fuck..."

"Bezoar?"

Harry shook his head, sweat already beginning to drip down his neck. "Nerve repair."

Draco grimaced, knowing enough to imagine the burning, tickling pain a nerve repair potion could cause. "Once it’s finished, I’ll get a pain potion for you."

Minutes passed and Harry finally began to relax, collapsing back onto Draco. "Fuck."

"Yes, you said that." Draco didn’t want to move, still holding Harry tightly to his chest, near collapsing into him as well. "I’m not going to ask how you feel but..."

"Trampled by a herd of rampaging hippogriffs." His voice was hoarse, but stronger than it had been in weeks. Harry raised a hand slowly, then made a fist. "Atrophy, weakness, not unexpected given the month of not moving, but not as bad as it could be. My vision is blurry, so I’m still in glasses. It’s closer to full recovery than I expected. Which potion did you use?"

He didn’t bother raising his head from where he’d buried it against Harry’s shoulder. "Rowan with powdered moonstone."

"Huh. I wonder if the moonstone acted as an amplifier as well as a stabilizer." Draco shrugged, relief making him fully aware of the haze of exhaustion he’d been working through while focused on Harry. "Could you give me my glasses? And some pain potion now please?"

Sitting up, he passed Harry the glasses and pocketed the bezoar again before returning to the potions workroom for a pain relief draught. When he returned, Harry had managed the pillows to leave him somewhat in a reclining position, and the sight of green eyes open behind familiar specs released a knot of tension in Draco’s shoulders and caused a relieved smile. "Sorry, if I’d been thinking I’d have brought it with the bezoar." He cracked the seal and lifted the vial to Harry’s mouth.

"You look terrible, Draco."

He blinked and straightened abruptly at the quiet words, a shaft of hurt striking him before the words fully processed. "So sorry I didn’t think about my appearance before bringing you the potion I was hoping would save your fucking life, Potter." He hated the unbalanced feeling of defensiveness and found his hands had moved to cover the slight bulge he’d begun to feel low in his belly.

"That’s not what I..." Harry sighed and rubbed his face, head dropping back onto the pillows.

After a moment, Draco sighed as well, too exhausted to fight anymore. "I understand. I’ll send an owl to Granger and see about arranging a Portkey back to London once someone can come--"

"That’s not what I meant." Harry’s voice cut across his, sharp with frustration. "You look exhausted, and you’re much too thin. You’re giving me flashbacks of sixth year, and..." Harry took a breath and looked at him again. "You’re pregnant. You need to take care of yourself. I’m worried about you."

He watched Harry a moment, but the earnest expression didn’t falter. Finally he gave a faint nod. "Alright. I am tired. I’ll just go and rest another hour or two..."

His words trailed off again when Harry shook his head. "Stay?"

Harry reached a weak hand for him. He climbed into the bed and curled into Harry’s embrace. He smiled widely for all the word implied. Stay. Home. Harry.


.epilogue.


Draco huffed a breath as he transferred the squirming toddler in his arms from one hip to the other, attempting to get her exuberant black curls away from his mouth. It felt like years since he had been to Diagon Alley, though he knew the early summer sunshine meant it had been closer to six months. He looked in the windows of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes once again, noting Harry was still speaking to George at the counter, both smiling and ignoring the clamouring of children and frantic racing of parents surrounding them. Violetta once again threw herself in the direction of the large ice cream cone dancing outside the doors of Amelina Fortescue’s Parlour, throwing him off balance enough to send him stepping briefly back into the flow of pedestrians just as he caught a familiar reflection in the window approaching him.

"Draco!" Blaise’s smile was as wide as his arms, offering an embrace. "It’s good to see you!"

Draco took a breath and turned to greet his former lover, cringing inwardly as Violetta tucked herself under his chin, cautiously eyeing Blaise, dancing ice cream temporarily forgotten. He knew the moment Blaise registered her appearance, shock causing his expression to go blank for an instant before morphing into something closer to avarice. Clutching Vi tighter, he gave a polite nod. "Blaise. It’s been a long time."

Blaise’s gaze remained fixed on the child, flickering to Draco only briefly. "Draco... She... We..."

"No." The sharpness of his voice drew Blaise’s attention back. "We nothing. She is Harry’s daughter."

"But Draco, it’s obvious--"

"No, Blaise. She is Harry’s and he is hers. It takes more than a night to be a father." He quieted when he felt a familiar hand at his shoulder, and Vi launched herself again, this time into Harry’s waiting arms.

"Zabini. Good day." Harry’s voice was quiet but assured, and Draco felt himself leaning back slightly, taking comfort in that strength.

"Potter." Blaise nodded once, gaze again riveted on Violetta.

"I hear you’re transferring back to England. Congratulations."

"I... Yes, I am. Thank you. Are you two back as well?"

Draco felt Harry’s hand slide slowly from his shoulder and down his back, and he could feel the sudden tension at the question before he answered smoothly. "No, we’re here to see Mother and the Weasley’s before returning to Paris with Pansy while waiting on Harry’s next assignment."

"I’d hoped we’d--"

Draco shook his head at the same time Harry answered, "I’m sorry, our time here is rather full."

"Draco can we..."

"No, Blaise. I’m afraid we can’t. And we really must be going now."

As he turned and took Harry’s hand, he smoothed his robes over the slight roundness of his belly. His eyes locked with Blaise’s, his expression conveying a finality that made Blaise step back and nod quietly.

"Goodbye Draco."

"Goodbye." They allowed themselves to become swept up in the Diagon Alley crowds, Violetta once again demanding ice cream with each step, Harry laughing as he bounced her. He glanced back once before they turned into the shop; Blaise remained, a tall dark figure standing still in front of the garishly flashing store, before ducking his head and turning to become lost in the flow the other direction.

Looking back at Harry, who had knelt with Vi near the counter as he pointed out flavors, he felt his heart swell. He walked to the counter and gently fingered two sets of impossible dark hair. Harry’s expression was guarded when he met it, and he smiled in reassurance before leaning down and placing a brief kiss on top of his head.

"I love you."

Harry’s smile was as wide as it had ever been, but he responded quietly. "Thank you. I love you, too."

.fin.



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