Harry was drunk when he Apparated to the gates of Malfoy Manor. Only God knows how he escaped Splinching himself. The wards were down to let in the hundreds of guests, and the air was full of firefly faeries that swarmed and giggled when he stumbled. “Fuck off,” he told them, his voice slurring, which only increased their mirth. On the other side of the Manor, he could hear voices talking and laughing. Aethonans whinnied in the stables, and fancy cars and carriages lined the drive. Valets opened doors and offered bejewelled witches their hands while wizards in bespoke robes clapped each other on the shoulders in greeting. Slytherin schoolboys twirled their wands indolently, sneaking sips from pocket-sized flasks and preening like the fucking peacocks.
The Manor’s imposing front door was open and draped with heavy garlands of pink and white roses. Through it he could see the French doors on the other side of the parlour. Like the front door, they too were open and decorated with flowers. Harry staggered across the parquet floor, stunning the body guard who asked if he had an invitation.
Crouching in the shadows, he cast a Disillusionment charm and watched the sumptuously dressed crowd. Robes and gowns glittered under floating candles that occasionally turned into fountains of silver sparks. A quintet was playing music he didn’t recognise. No surprise there. He doubted he’d know anything they played. A long swath of white satin ran from the French doors, through the rose garden and ended where the lawn began to slope downhill. It was trimmed with lace and sprinkled with pink petals.
He smothered hysterical laughter. Draco’s London townhouse had been all wood and brick and shining metals. The sofas in the front room had been made of cream-soft black leather, and the sheets on his huge bed were black silk – as were the restraints they’d often used. The fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen were steel, and the worktops black Marquina marble. The windows had been bare of curtains. The only colours came from the tapestry of the Malfoy family tree that covered one wall and an extravagant carpet they’d bought on holiday in Turkey.
Harry had thought the look a tad severe. Too aggressively masculine, but then again the Draco he’d come to know was severe and aggressive and masculine. Gone was the lazy physique of a spoiled brat. Gone was the cringe of a guilty coward. He used to take Harry like he was the born master of Harry’s body and wouldn’t let go until Harry was sore and exhausted. Only then would Draco hold him and press kisses against his face and throat and shoulders. “Hush, Harry,” he’d murmur, brushing aside the damp hair from Harry’s face. The words had been easy to translate. Or so Harry had thought.
He doubted very much that Draco would fuck Astoria like that.
Speaking of Astoria.
He sank deeper into the shadows when he heard the swish of satin and breathless female voices at the top of the marble stairs. Outside, the guests slowly quieted and took their seats. The quintet, on the count of three, began playing a wedding march. A moment later, the veiled bride and her army of bride’s maids swept past him. Everyone turned around and gasped and clapped when she stepped daintily through the French doors and took her father’s arm.
It was now or never.
Draco stood by the altar in a fussy robe. He was watching Astoria walk toward him when Harry emerged from the shadows behind her and cast off his concealment charm. His jeans were ripped and muddy from his fall. He hadn’t bathed in days. He was sure he looked like hell. The musicians faltered and fell silent when he stepped onto the satin runner. Everyone gaped. He watched as Draco looked away from his bride to focus on him. Harry was too far away to read his expression, but he didn’t need to. He’d come there for just this single moment and that was all. Nothing more. When he was absolutely certain that Draco had seen him, he turned and walked back to the front door.
He was almost to the gates when Draco caught up to him. His face was flushed with emotion.
Harry’s heart leapt into his throat. Even in his wildest dreams he’d never dared let himself imagine that Draco might choose him. He waited for Draco to draw near, ready for the fierce clasp as Draco Apparated them back to London – back to the life they’d built.
But there was no tight clasp. There was just a shattering punch to the jaw. The next thing Harry knew he was on the ground looking up at his lover’s face. The emotions he saw there were now very clear. Harry had seen them before long ago. Fury and loathing. Harry touched his mouth. When he looked at his fingers, they were covered with blood. He looked back up into Draco’s face. This, also, was something he’d never imagined.
“Get off of my property, Potter,” Draco shouted, his voice shaking with rage. “You are not, nor will you ever be, welcome here!”
Harry could only stare at him stupidly.
“You’re drunk,” Draco said with a look of disgust. “And you stink. How dare you try to ruin my wedding?”
He whistled through his teeth and an Aethonan trotted over. “Take Mr. Potter back to London,” he told it. He stood glaring down for a moment, and Harry thought he might actually spit in his face. But he didn’t. He merely turned and walked away without looking back.
Five Years Later
Harry stared at the adoption application his assistant, Clara, had just handed him.
“Can I get you some tea?” she asked. “You don’t look well this morning.”
He raised his head to look her. Her face was moist and ruddy from the daily exertion of caring for twenty children, and her unflagging smile cheered him up. Even today. Even with the application she’d given him clutched too tightly in his hand.
“No, I’m all right. Had some coffee at home before I left. How many couples do I have this morning?”
“Just one,” she said. “They’re already here. I like the look of them. Both half-bloods. They smiled at me unlike that horrid couple on Friday.” She made a sour face. Clara was proud that way. Everything about her said “Squib,” but she refused to let witches and wizards treat her condescendingly. If they did, their chances of Harry approving their application dropped significantly.
Happy for an excuse not to look at the application in his hand any longer, he asked her to send them in.
“Wait, Clara,” he called after her. “How is Robert this morning?”
She re-entered his office with a sigh. “Still not adjusting well, I’m afraid.”
Harry nodded. Robert was the newest addition to the Colin Creevey Memorial Home for Orphaned and Abandoned Children.
“Maybe it would help to give him a roommate for the time-being. Have him moved into Rupert’s room. He’ll be fine by supper.”
She nodded, clearly approving of his decision.
“Her fever’s gone. I think she’ll be able to leave the infirmary tomorrow.”
“Good,” he replied and then looked at the application for the couple waiting in the lobby. “Tell the Culpeppers I’m ready to meet with them.”
The Culpeppers were like all of the other childless couples he’d interviewed over the years. Nervous. Eager. Obviously trying hard to say just the right thing and make a good impression. They clasped each other’s hand and looked at him imploringly as he wrote notes and ticked off questions. Sometimes one or both of them wept when they talked about how long they’d been trying to conceive.
At the end of the interview, Harry stood and came around his desk to shake their hands.
“You must understand,” he said, as he always did, “this is a very long process. It may take years, especially for an infant.”
The couple nodded.
“We’re prepared to wait,” the witch said. “When will we know if our application has been approved?”
“Assuming there are no complications and the home inspection goes well, I’ll let you know by the end of next month,” Harry replied. “The application process is the only part of an adoption that moves with any speed. Our first priority is the children and placing them in the right home. It’s never happened in my four years here,” he paused to touch his mahogany desk, “but under a previous headmaster’s supervision, two of the children were returned to the orphanage after their adoptions. I can’t imagine how awful that must’ve been for everyone. Both of the children are still with us.”
The Culpeppers nodded vehemently, speaking over each other’s “how dreadful!” and “why, of course,” and “we understand completely.”
“Clara will Owl you as soon as possible about the home visit,” Harry said.
They shook Harry’s hand again. Both of them had sweaty palms. His heart went out to them. If they wanted a newborn, sadly they’d probably never get a child at all. The orphanage only got two or three infants a year, and there were literally dozens of couples in the queue ahead of them. But maybe the Culpeppers would be different than most of the applicants – maybe they’d be happy with an older child. For both their sake and that of his older charges, Harry hoped so.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Potter,” Mr. Culpepper said. “We know you’re very busy between the orphanage and your lobbying work.”
“It’s no trouble,” Harry replied. “Actually the orphanage doesn’t feel like work; it’s the politics. Even after all this time, I can’t figure out why children’s rights are such a foreign concept to the Wizengamot.”
The couple murmured their agreement as Clara came in and offered to walk them to the fireplace. Harry accepted their profuse expressions of gratitude. After they’d gone, he locked his office door and picked up the application Clara had given him earlier.
Mr and Mrs Draco Malfoy
Harry leaned back in his chair as he unrolled the parchment.
Draco Lucius Malfoy, age 32, and his legally wedded wife of five years, Astoria Greengrass Malfoy, age 30, both of Wiltshire, hereby, with this application, dated the11th day of June 2012, petition the Headmaster of the Colin Creevey Memorial Home for Orphaned and Abandoned Children, Mr. Harry James Potter, for an opportunity to meet at Mr Potter’s earliest convenience to discuss the possibility of an adoption.
Harry put the application on his desk and scrubbed his face wearily. He hadn’t seen Draco since the night he’d broken Harry’s jaw.
Harry had, however, heard from him.
He Summoned the key from its hiding place and unlocked the secret drawer in his desk. The letter was on the top of the several items gathered there. It always was. Harry pulled it out and opened it again for the thousandth time.
It’s 11:35 p.m. on the fourth anniversary of my wedding to Astoria, which I’m sure you remember, unless you were too slobbering drunk at the time. Well, I can assure you that I’m not much more sober now than you were then. I drank a bottle of whisky before I sat down to write this letter.
Harry Potter, I know what you did.
Astoria had her fifth miscarriage this morning shortly after I’d brought her breakfast in bed. She’d been five and a half months pregnant. This was the latest she’d gone. My wife screamed and wept for an hour until the sleeping potion took effect.
I hope you’re happy.
I know what you did at our wedding. I know that you cursed us. You knew I wanted a son. You made sure it would never happen.
I speak four languages, but in none of them can I find words adequate to express my hatred for you. If you had even a scrap of human decency you’d cast the counter curse. But I’m not holding my breath.
She’s innocent, you bastard. If you want to punish me, then go ahead. I’ll take it as my due, whatever it is. But leave her alone. Leave our unborn children alone.
Harry wasn’t proud of his response, which he could still remember verbatim.
I suppose between the two of us, we’re keeping the distilleries in business. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t curse you or Astoria. You know me better than that; you’re just hurt and angry. My condolences for your loss.
By the way, have you considered the possibility of inbreeding? Perhaps that’s something you should have thought about ahead of time. Not to mention the fact that you’re gayer than a pink unicorn with a sparkly horn. I’ve heard tossing off every day to photos of men buggering each other can dilute the content of sperm in one’s semen. Put the mags away, Malfoy.
He’d waited for the jugular-slicing Howler, but it never came. That it hadn’t was what’d hurt the most.
He put away the letter, unlocked his door and called to Clara.
“Yes?” she asked, standing in his doorway with Sarah balanced on her ample hip.
“I need you to help me. Remind me if I miss anyone.” He began counting on his fingers. “There’s our Sarah you’ve got there. Remind me how old she is?”
“Two years as of last month,” Clara replied. She gave the girl a sloppy kiss on the cheek.
“And, of course, there’s Sadie, age eight, and Baxter. He’s three, right?”
Clara nodded. “And Bertram, his brother.”
Harry shook his head. “I’m not going to split them up unless I absolutely have to, especially since they’re twins. Aside from Sarah, are they our youngest?”
Clara thought for a moment.
“Yes,” she said at last. “There’s Matilda, but she’s four.”
“Devlin and Rupert?”
“Ten and nine.”
“Poor Devlin. He’s been with us forever, hasn’t he?”
Clara smiled sadly. “He makes a terrible first impression. I’m afraid he may be with us till his seventeenth birthday. At least he’s got Hogwarts to look forward to.”
“I know we have seven more girls. How about boys?” He winced at his own question. It was so nauseatingly pure-blood.
“We have five more.”
“Robert, Patrick, Auden, Duncan and Oliver, am I right? Ages five, seven, seven and a half, eight and nine.”
Clara shook her head disbelievingly. “I don’t know how you remember so many details, given all the time you have to spend at the Ministry these days.”
He groaned. “You just reminded me,” he said, scrubbing his face with his hands. “I’m having lunch with the Minster of Child Welfare. Merlin, I loathe that tosser.”
“And there I was thinking I didn’t want to do the room inspections. I’ll take those any day over politics.”
Harry stood and Summoned his coat. He was just about to step into his fireplace when he paused. Clara had already reached the door.
“Clara,” he called, and she turned around. “Do me a favour, please. That application on my desk – would you mind contacting the applicants and telling them I have time to see them tomorrow afternoon?”
Clara nodded and picked up the parchment just as Harry threw down the Floo powder and said the Ministry’s address.
He’s sweating and can’t brace himself on the slippery sheet without clutching it in fistfuls. It’s night time, but it’s not dark. Two candles flicker in their pewter sconces; their flames bathe Draco’s skin in flickering gold and gleam in the rivulets of sweat on his chest. They’ve been fucking for nearly half an hour. Harry’s watching him over his shoulder. Draco’s close to his release. His gaze is riveted to his cock plunging ruthlessly into Harry’s body. He’s frowning with concentration and chanting a litany of filthy words, punctuated now and then with Harry’s name.
When Harry drops down to his forearms, his own orgasm imminent, Draco’s thrusts speed up. He grips Harry’s hips, pulling his arse back against his pelvis as his hips lurch forward and back, all rhythm abandoned. Harry begins to feel the dull ache in his lower belly that signals that his body’s had nearly all it can take of Draco’s fierce pummelling. He moans Draco’s name and clenches his arse as tight as he can. Draco’s words slip from English into Russian and then Italian and then into something that might be ancient Greek. Harry clenches even harder, and now all Draco can say is Harry’s name. Over and over. Harry’s squeezing so tightly he can feel every pulse of Draco’s cock as Draco empties himself as deep into Harry’s body as he can. As soon as his orgasm ends, he pulls out, rolls Harry onto his back, and swallows Harry’s cock to the root. He pins Harry’s hips against the mattress and wrenches Harry’s orgasm from him while Harry shouts and thrashes. When Harry comes, he comes so hard his calf cramps. Draco spends the next ten minutes massaging it until the muscles relax. He kisses the tips of Harry’s toes and nibbles the arch of his foot while Harry squirms and swears and laughs. When Draco gets up to use the toilet, Harry’s fast asleep before he returns.
Just as his dream self fell asleep, Harry’s real self slammed into consciousness. His alarm had gone off, making the crup howl in the flat beneath his. As he’d known they’d be, his pyjamas bottoms were wet. He lifted his arse off the mattress, slipped them off, and kicked them in the direction of his laundry basket.
He’d been an Auror back then – back when he and Draco had been lovers – and his body had been hard with muscle. Draco had loved it, leaving bite marks on his shoulders and biceps and his taut belly. Harry had felt cherished – worshipped even – which was always a source of bemusement because if anyone’s body deserved worship it was Draco’s. Draco with his long legs and lean muscles and gorgeous cock.
For years, Harry had had similar dreams every other night. Now it was only six or seven times a month. He lay on his back staring up at the ceiling. Did Draco ever dream of him? How could he not? They’d been together for three and a half tumultuous years. You can’t just forget something like that, can you? You can’t just assume the role of husband to a woman when you’ve been fucking a man every day. Or can you? Draco had always been proud of his name – maybe that pride translated into desire. Harry would never know – about that or anything else.
Clara could tell he was uptight the moment she entered his office.
“I’m not even going to ask and give you a chance to say no,” she said. “I’m getting you a cup of tea whether you want it or not. How long have you been here?”
“Since six,” Harry said with a gravelly voice.
“Can I ask why?”
He smiled apologetically. “Not this time. I’m sorry.”
She nodded. “Okay. But you’re still getting that cuppa.” Her voice was fond but stern as though she was talking to one of the children. He gave her another smile.
He spent the morning catching up on paperwork and trying to pretend he wasn’t at the same time tidying his office. It was just a flick of his wand now and then, but by the time noon came around, all his files were put away, his floor was swept, and even his windows were cleaned. When Clara came in, her eyes widened comically.
“You haven’t been yourself this morning,” she said. “But seeing the state of your office, maybe that’s not a bad thing. I’ve been wanting to give it a good scrubbing for years.”
Harry took off his glasses and cleaned the lenses with the hem of his best shirt. He gave her an anxious quirk of a smile.
“Are the Malfoys here?” he asked with the steadiest voice he could muster.
He couldn’t miss the way her upper lip curled with revulsion. He’d seen it before. “They just arrived,” she whispered, “and I have to tell you, Harry, I don’t like them at all. Not one little bit. They’re the worst of the worst. They didn’t even nod at me when I answered the door or say ‘please’ when I offered to get them a pot of tea. The wizard even called me ‘girl’! Pure-bloods by the look and sound of them. Promise me you’ll tear up their application after they leave.”
Harry stared at her, and she stared right back. In the end, he was the one to look away. After all, he could imagine everything she’d told him being true. Draco and Astoria probably were the worst of the worst, and if it was any other couple, he might do as Clara had proposed. Except they weren’t just any other couple.
He took a deep breath and then another.
“Send them in,” he said gruffly.
She blinked in surprise at his tone but left without another word. How was he going to be able to do this? How was he even going to be able to look at them? How was he going to be able to speak without his voice quavering?
But he surprised himself when Draco and Astoria walked in.
“Good morning,” he said pleasantly. “Please sit down. Would you like some more tea?”
Draco was preoccupied examining Harry’s office with an expression that conveyed his scorn for Harry’s décor, such as it was. Astoria gave him a nudge.
Draco turned to look directly at Harry’s face for the first time since he’d walked in. He was even more handsome than Harry remembered. His hair was almost shoulder-length and swept back, and his movements were careless and elegant with the passage of years. The only difference was the seriousness in his eyes. He gazed at Harry impassively.
Harry abandoned any expectation of an answer to his question. He cleared his throat with a small cough.
“You’re here to apply for an adoption,” he said. “As part of the application process, I’ll need to ask questions you might find personally invasive and maybe even offensive; it’s standard practise. You may choose not to answer if you wish.”
Astoria reached for Draco’s hand and clutched it so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Her grotesquely huge engagement ring clung to her figure like a sparkly bloated spider.
“You’ve been married for how long?” Harry asked, his voice quavering for the first time. He saw Draco’s lip twitch.
When it was clear he wasn’t going to answer, Astoria interjected.
“Five years,” she replied nervously. “But we’ve known each other since we were children and were sorted into the same House at Hogwarts. Our mothers are close friends.”
“Have you ever been separated for any reason?”
“No,” Draco replied looking Harry straight in the eyes. “We’re very much in love.”
He might as well have stabbed Harry in the throat.
“How long have been trying to conceive?” he asked after a moment of trying to remember how to breathe.
“Since our wedding night,” Draco said. His eyes were cold.
Harry nodded. It was hard to squelch the image of Draco making love to his virginal bride while Harry was passed out with his face in a puddle of vomit on a bench in the park across from their old townhouse.
“Have you been able to . . . to conceive?”
Astoria’s eyes brimmed with tears.
“Yes,” she said quietly. “I even conceived during the first week of our marriage, but all the pregnancies have ended in miscarriages.”
Harry couldn’t help but glance at Draco’s face. The muscles around his mouth twitched with emotion, and his eyes narrowed as his impassive gaze turned into an accusing glare.
“Mr Potter,” Astoria said pleadingly. “We desperately want a child. More than anything in the world. We’ll do anything. We’ll take over the funding of the orphanage and provide you and the staff and children with everything you might need or want. We’ll use our influence with the Ministry to see that your proposed legislation is made the law of the land . . .”
Her voice broke, and she began to cry. Draco held her hand in both of his and raised it to his lips. Harry couldn’t silence his pained inhalation.
“I know this is very hard . . .” he said when he’d pulled himself together again.
“Do not patronise us,” Draco snapped. “We do not need your pity; we need your help.”
Harry nodded. He could feel sweat starting to bead on his forehead.
“I take it you have sufficient finances . . .”
“Let’s quit this farce,” Draco said furiously. “You know we do, Potter.”
“Draco!” Astoria cried. “Please! Please don’t do this! You promised me!”
Draco was doing everything he could to control his emotions. Harry could see his chest heaving beneath his expensive robe. “Forgive me,” he said hoarsely. “Please continue.”
Harry took a deep breath. “Do you have relatives so that if . . . if you pass away, the child will be cared for?”
Astoria nodded vehemently. “We do. Draco’s mother lives with us at the Manor, and she has a sister who lives nearby with Draco’s second cousin . . .”
Harry wanted to shake his head at the strangeness of the whole affair. Draco’s second cousin was, of course, Harry’s godson. Like Draco, he wished they could dispense with this farce of an interview. But he slogged on, determined to do this by the book.
“Mr. Blaise Zabini and his wife, my sister Daphne, will be his godparents. He’ll be loved and cherished and cared for every moment of his life,” Astoria added, her voice sounding slightly hysterical.
His. Harry had to stop himself from rolling his eyes.
“So,” he said. “You will only adopt a boy.”
Draco’s expression turned downright caustic.
“You already know that,” he hissed. “And before you ask, we will only adopt an infant. He will be raised in our families’ traditions from his first days in this world.”
Harry stood abruptly. “Excuse me,” he said. “There’s something I need to attend to. Please stay seated; I’ll be right back.”
As soon as his office door closed behind them, Harry went to the loo and splashed cold water on his face. He took a drink under the tap and then looked in the mirror as his anger slowly diminished.
He’d forgotten certain things about Draco. Things that they’d rowed about constantly. Clearly, at least in this regard, Draco hadn’t changed at all.
Harry waited until his face dried and his flush disappeared before he returned to his office.
“My apologies,” he said as blithely as he could. “So, where’d we leave off?”
“Where we said we wanted a days-old infant – a male infant.”
It was Harry’s turn to sneer.
“Anything else?” he asked coldly. “What colour eyes must he have? And hair? I suppose ginger is out . . .”
Astoria started to cry again.
Harry immediately felt ashamed. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s been a long day, and, truthfully, petitioning couples don’t usually have such exacting requirements. After all, we’re talking about a child, not a sandwich.”
Draco turned to Astoria.
“Darling,” he said calmly. “Please step outside for a moment. I’d like to speak to Mr Potter in private.”
Astoria literally dropped to her knees and held her hands as if she was in prayer. “You promised, Draco,” she wept. “You swore to me you wouldn’t do this! Please, if you care about me at all, you won’t fight with him!”
Draco stood and helped her to her feet. “Sweetheart, please,” he said. “This display is unseemly. I won’t be long.”
Astoria nodded in evident defeat. “It’s clear you won’t listen to me at all,” she said.
Draco kissed her forehead. “I’ll only be a minute.” He walked her to the door and closed it behind her although Harry could still hear her weeping wretchedly in the hallway.
He checked to see that his wand was easily accessible.
“Your wife is right, you know. Whatever you plan to say or do is almost certainly a very bad idea.”
Harry braced himself. He was ready for anything, but not for Draco breaking down. He leaned forward in his chair and sobbed into his hands. Harry had never seen him cry before – not even when his father was killed in Azkaban.
Harry sat frozen in shock.
“I know that I hurt you,” Draco said without looking up. “I know that, and I’m sorry. If I could go back, I would break the news to you differently. I behaved cruelly – and cowardly.” He looked up into Harry’s eyes pleadingly. “I’m sorry, Harry. Please believe me. I beg for your forgiveness. If you want me to do it on my knees, I will.”
Harry merely shook his head.
“Please,” Draco said, his voice rasping like sandpaper against every word. “Please cast the counter curse . . . but if you won’t, then please give us a child.”
“I didn’t curse you,” Harry said dully.
“We both know you did,” Draco replied, but his gaze never lost its supplication . . . or its grief.
Harry could only shake his head.
“There’s nothing I can say or do to convince you that I didn’t curse you and . . . you and your wife, is there?”
Draco shook his head. “Nothing. There’s nothing you can say that can convince me you didn’t do this to us. There’s no other explanation.” His tone was matter-of-fact. “If you won’t admit it – and maybe you can’t, even to yourself – if you can’t admit it, then at least give us a child.”
“It’ll be years,” Harry said. “There are dozens of couples ahead of you. Listen, Draco, we have two beautiful, sweet three-year-old twin boys. Why can’t I convince you to adopt them?”
Draco bit his lip and had the decency to blush. “I’m sure they’re lovely,” he said. “And I will do everything in my power to help you find them a family. But we want a newborn, Harry. Please stop trying to shame me into a different choice. I know you have nothing but contempt for pure-blood traditions, but please don’t let that exclude us. Please!”
Harry could only nod. “I can’t promise anything,” he said after a moment. “This is out of my control. All I can tell you is that we receive only a couple of newborns a year, and like I said, there are many other deserving couples ahead of you . . .”
“Is it money?” Draco asked recklessly. “Because if it is, I will empty both the Malfoy and Greengrass vaults. I’ll go into debt. I’ll . . .”
Harry sighed. “No, it’s not about money.”
“Is it about revenge? I’ll come to your bed if I have to. I’ll do anything you ask of me – anything that’s required.”
Harry stood abruptly. There was a knot in his throat so large that he thought it might choke him. He went over to the window and leaned on the sill, trying to get a grip on himself.
“That’s certainly not what’s ‘required,’” he said bitterly
“Then what can I do?” Draco cried. “I have nothing else to offer!”
Harry didn’t turn around. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said, his voice nearly a whisper. “Please leave, Draco.”
It was several moments before he heard the scrape of a chair, but instead of the sound of footsteps walking to the door, he felt arms encircle his chest. Draco pressed his damp cheek against Harry’s flaming one.
“You loved me once,” he said softly. “I know you did.”
Harry didn’t respond, but he made no attempt to escape Draco’s embrace.
“What we had was special, but you knew it could never last.”
Which wasn’t true; Harry had never seen the end coming until it – quite literally – punched him in the face, but he decided not to argue.
“I know you loved me,” Draco continued. “Can’t you find some small part of that love again in your heart? Even if it’s nothing but a dying ember?”
Harry felt Draco brush a kiss against his ear.
He wasn’t going to be able to take this much longer.
“I will do everything I can,” he said, his voice wavering. “I promise.”
He’d expected Draco to step away as soon as he’d spoken, but he didn’t. Instead, he reached up and turned Harry’s head slightly so that their lips touched. It wasn’t a kiss, but it was soft and tender all the same. Memories stung Harry’s heart and belly like wasps. He wished he could pull away.
“Thank you,” Draco said against his mouth. “Thank you, Harry.”
When Harry heard the door close, he shut his eyes and rested his forehead against the glass. He could still feel the touch of Draco’s mouth, and the warmth of Draco’s chest pressed against his back. The feeling didn’t leave him for days.
“Shall I go with you?”
Harry regarded Clara wryly. “I thought you hated them.”
She blushed. “I do, but I’m also curious. They’re richer than Midas. I want to see what their house looks like.”
“And poison the ornamental goldfish in their fountains.” He winked at her knowingly. “I’m sorry, Clara, I need to do this alone.”
“I can’t believe they’ve even made it to the home inspection,” she said with an accusing glare. “I thought for sure you’d throw away their application.”
“I can’t bar a couple from adopting solely on the basis of their blood status . . .”
“Then why not bar them because they’re evil? Their fathers were Death Eaters!”
Harry returned her accusing gaze. “Don’t you think I already know that? It was my testimony that put them in Azkaban.”
She blushed. “I know. I’m sorry. It’s just that I love all of our children so much. It’d break my heart to see one of them go home with them. They’re beastly people.”
Harry sighed and put on his coat. It was cold and pouring rain outside.
“I don’t want to argue about this any longer,” he said. “And I haven’t approved their application yet. Maybe their house will be full of Doxies.”
She bit her lip, but she couldn’t quite keep herself from smiling.
“All right then,” she said. “Go have your posh tea, eat finger sandwiches and take careful notes of all the dreadful things they’re sure to say. I’ll be expecting a full report when you return.”
He was greeted by Astoria as soon as he stepped out of the enormous fireplace. She shook his hand with both of hers.
“Mr Potter. It’s lovely to see you again. Thank you for visiting in such foul weather. Would you like some tea or perhaps some mulled wine?”
He only barely stopped himself from immediately asking where Draco was.
“Not right now, thanks, but the wine sounds nice. Maybe later.”
She nodded and seemed at a loss as to what to say or do next. She was dressed tastefully in a simple, but tailored, brocade robe. She clutched a lace handkerchief in both hands and appeared to be wringing it. He could sense how terrified she was.
“You’ve a very large house,” he said. “Why don’t we keep the inspection to the main living quarters? I already know the place somewhat. I trust the child will have no way of straying into the dungeons.”
He was not surprised when Astoria flinched at his words.
“I can assure you,” she said in a tiny voice, “everything . . . unpleasant has been removed from the entire property. There aren’t even dangerous pets . . .”
“Except the peacocks.”
She looked at him with a frantic expression. “We can dispose of them. They’ll be gone before you leave . . .”
He held up his hands and shook his head. “I’m sorry, bad joke. I don’t think they’ll be a problem so long as they don’t poke out his eye or deafen him with their screeching.”
She smiled weakly. He told himself not to make any more flippant remarks.
They walked slowly from room to room. Every table bore vases of exotic flowers, and there wasn’t a mote of dust to be seen. The settees looked about as comfortable as stone benches and were clearly more for show than for actual use, but they were hardly cause to reject the Malfoys’ application. The portraits in the hallways, however, might be a different story; all of them contained frowning men in frumpy hats and fussy robes.
“I hope they’re not all tossers like this fellow,” he said, nodding at a particularly grumpy gentleman who grumbled something about filthy half-bloods when they walked by.
Astoria blinked at him, clearly trying to determine if he’d just made another joke.
“I’ve discovered that some portraits can be very annoying and even insulting,” Harry said. “That might be something you’ll want to consider. You must realise that the chance that you’ll be adopting a half-blood child is infinitely higher than your chance of adopting a pure-blood.” He almost mentioned her mother-in-law’s mother’s portrait as an example of distasteful pure-blood artwork but decided he’d rather not have that particular conversation if he could help it.
He started with surprise when Astoria clapped her hands loudly. Suddenly three house-elves appeared.
“Remove all of these immediately and put them in the attic of the east wing,” she ordered them imperiously.
Harry gaped at her.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to imply you should get rid of them.”
Astoria lifted her head and looked him straight in the eyes.
“Perhaps you don’t understand, Mr Potter,” she said. “We will do anything if it might make it even a little more likely that you’ll give us a child. Nothing is more important to us.”
Taken aback, he merely nodded and suggested they continue.
Besides being pretentiously furnished, the rest of the daily living quarters were unremarkable. Everything was tidy, and there was more than enough space for a child to run and play – both indoors and out.
“Very nice,” he said. “Why don’t we go back downstairs and complete the last of the paperwork . . .”
He jumped when she grabbed his hand.
“You haven’t seen the best part yet,” she said excitedly. “Come with me.”
Without releasing his hand, she led him down a hallway and entered the last room on the left. It was an enormous bedroom. Harry stopped as though he’d hit an invisible wall. Draco’s scent was everywhere.
“I don’t need to see your bedroom,” he said in a strangled voice. He tried to pull his hand free from hers, but she held on.
“This isn’t what I want to show you,” she said. “Come here.”
They crossed in front of the bed and entered a room whose door was seamlessly disguised to match the wall around it.
Harry gasped. He’d never seen anything like it in his life. The floor was covered from wall to wall with the softest carpet he’d ever felt. His feet sank into it like summer grass. There were large windows whose glass was charmed to admit sunlight but eliminate any glare. There were kind-looking plush animals that moved unthreateningly and a beautiful cradle with an elaborate mobile hanging above it composed of intricately detailed Quidditch players wearing green and red. There was even a gold Snitch flittering about followed closely by the teams’ two Seekers.
Astoria noticed him staring at it.
“Draco made that when I got pregnant for the first time. By hand, not with magic. He finished it the day before I lost the baby. I thought he might die from the grief.”
Harry tried to swallow. He hadn’t even known Draco was capable of making such a thing – especially using only Muggle tools. The Draco he’d known would’ve never had such patience.
“You’re probably wondering why he’s not here with us,” she said. “He’s out walking. He didn’t tell me why he wouldn’t meet with you, but I . . . I think it has to do with the history between you. I’m not sure he felt he could bear to be present when you saw this side of him.” She nodded at the cradle. “He made that too,” she said in a choked voice as she dropped to her knees before him. “Mr. Potter, I don’t know everything – or even much at all – about what happened when . . . when he left you, but I know he broke your heart. Don’t take your revenge by breaking his in return. Please. The miscarriages are horrible for me, but they’re even worse for him. He’s starting to drink. I worry about what will become of him – of us. I’m not a fool. I know he’s gay. I . . . I know he cares for me deeply, but I think you were the one he loved in . . . well, in that way. He’s never said so, but I think it was because he wanted a son so much that he ended your relationship. We were friends, and we would have remained so even if we’d not got married. He didn’t marry me because he was in love with me or thought he’d ‘lose’ me if he didn’t. He married me because he wanted a family. He’s given up everything to have one – you chief among them. Please have mercy on him.”
Harry hoped she couldn’t feel him shaking when he offered her his hand. She grasped it in both of hers.
“Don’t tell him I said any of this,” she said anxiously as he helped her stand. “He’d never forgive me.”
He could only nod.
“Shall we go downstairs for port and paperwork?” she asked with feigned light-heartedness.
Harry shook his head. He had to leave.
“I . . . I just remembered I have an appointment. I’ve got to go. Don’t bother to see me to the fireplace. I’m going to Apparate from the drive. I’m sorry . . .”
He walked as quickly as he could, ignoring Astoria’s anguished pleas. He was going to die if he didn’t get fresh air soon. He ran down the marble staircase and didn’t wait for the house-elf to open the door before shouting Alohomora . . .
. . . and running smack into a dripping wet Draco.
They stared at each other. Harry was sure his own eyes were as wild as Draco’s. Harry tried to get past him, but Draco moved to block his way.
“Excuse me . . . appointment . . . in a hurry . . .” Harry stammered.
Draco didn’t reply. Instead he grabbed Harry’s open coat.
“How does it feel, Potter?” he rasped, his breath smelling of whisky. “How does it feel to have my life in your hands?”
Harry’s lip twitched into a sneer. “I don’t know,” he said icily. “How did it feel to have mine in yours?”
Draco’s shook his head violently. “It’s not the same, and you know it!”
Harry wrenched himself free and shoved Draco backwards, feeling a fleeting instant of satisfaction when he stumbled drunkenly.
“It’s not? Why, Draco? Why is my heart worth less than yours?”
“It’s been five years! Merlin, Harry! Let it go – let me go!”
Harry deflated at his words like a sad Muggle balloon that’d lost its helium.
“I’ve been trying to,” he said, weak with humiliation and loneliness.
He pushed past Draco and began walking toward the gates.
“By the way,” he said without looking back. “Your application’s approved.”
If there was one good thing about being Harry Potter, it was the ability to procure anything you wanted. Even if it was illegal and would land both the seller and the buyer in Azkaban.
“It may not work,” the man in a Glamour said. “I can’t make any promises.”
“I’ll take my chances,” Harry replied.
“It’s not cheap.”
“Good thing I’m one of the wealthiest wizards in Britain.”
“No one can know. You’ll have to go into hiding.”
“I’d figured as much.”
“You could die . . . alone and in agony.”
Harry laughed cheerlessly. “You’re quite the salesman, aren’t you?”
“I just speak the truth,” the man replied.
“Can I choose the gender?”
“Yes, but that’s the only thing. Everything else is left to chance, just like any normal pregnancy.”
“How will it . . . I mean, he, be born?”
“I’m a potions brewer, not a midwife, but I’ve heard an incision in the abdomen.”
Harry’s blood curdled, but he nodded anyway.
“When will the pregnancy start to show?”
“Again, I’m not a midwife, but I would imagine you’d need to go into hiding somewhere around the sixth or seventh month so long as you wear robes up until then.”
They were silent for a moment. The only sound was the rain dripping from mossy eaves.
“I’ll take it,” Harry said at last.
The man did not reply – he merely held out an unremarkable brown bottle and his open hand at the same time.
Harry snorted. “You actually think I’d take it and run?”
The man shrugged. “You never know.”
They made their exchange, and Harry turned to leave. But before he reached the end of the narrow alley, the man called after him.
“I hope you’ll be okay,” he said. “I know I’m little more than a criminal, but I still am grateful for everything you did and sacrificed. You saved us all from a fate worse than death. May God bless you and keep you safe, Harry Potter.”
He hadn’t had sex with another man since Draco, and the thought of it was both exciting and repulsive. He hated the idea of bottoming for a stranger, but one didn’t get pregnant by topping.
He turned on all the lights in his bathroom and regarded himself in the mirror’s merciless reflection. He’d shaved and attempted to style his hair. It didn’t look too ridiculous. His tailored black trousers fit perfectly, and the expensive shirt he’d bought was neither too loose nor too tight. He’d cast a Glamour but only a light one. He’d feel too weird being a total stranger to himself. He kept his height and his build and his black hair, but he darkened his eyes to hazel and of course erased the stupid scar. He even decided to keep his glasses but changed his usual frames to wireless. His shoes were new, his socks matched and his silver watch was polished to a shine. He supposed he looked handsome and sophisticated, but who knew?
The Peverell Private Gentlemen’s Club had an entry fee that could bring tears to a grown man’s eyes, but that’s exactly what Harry wanted. He figured an outrageously exorbitant club would cater to a more genteel crowd than the regular bump-and-grind bar scene with its dungeons and glory holes.
He wasn’t disappointed when he walked through the door and was escorted into an elegant lounge with expensive décor. Most encouraging was the complete absence of a dance floor and music you couldn’t hear yourself talk over. The lighting was low, but not shadowy, and the air was fresh – nothing like the gay clubs that stank of sweat, backroom sex and cloyingly sweet martinis. The men sitting on the sofas and armchairs were mostly in their thirties and forties and were mostly handsome. All of them were well dressed and obviously wealthy. Several of them caught Harry’s eyes when he walked in and smiled at him. He smiled back at two of them – both blonds.
Not knowing what to do with himself, Harry made a beeline for the bar. The counter was made of gleaming dark wood, and the bottles behind it were lit so the customer could read their labels. Harry had never seen so many different kinds of alcohol. Deciding to stick to a known quantity, he ordered a whisky on ice and was completely flummoxed when the bartender asked what year and distillery he’d prefer.
“I’d try the Bunnahabhain 25,” said a familiar voice. Harry very nearly fell off his barstool when he turned to see Draco sit down next to him.
Harry snapped his mouth shut when he realised he was gaping. Never in a million years had he imagined . . .
“Another gin and tonic please, Aaron,” Draco said and then returned his attention to Harry. “I haven’t seen you here before. Are you new to London? Please tell me you’re not just passing through,” he added with that low sexy purr Harry remembered all too well.
“Sorry,” Harry squeaked and then cleared his throat. “Just visiting relatives. I live in Hong Kong.”
“What a shame,” Draco said with a regretful sigh. “How’s the whisky?”
Harry took a sip and felt it flow down his throat like molten velvet. “Excellent,” he said. “Thanks for the suggestion.”
He was desperately hoping his voice was steady.
“It’s nothing,” Draco replied. “I only know because I’ve got a small collection at home.”
Small? Yeah, right. If Draco bothered to collect something, the result was never “small.” Harry blushed. He was sure that if he was as sophisticated as the other men present, he’d have something to say in response, but he didn’t.
“So,” he half-squeaked and half-stammered. “Do you come here often?”
He wanted to kick himself as soon as the words left his mouth. How pathetic could he get?
But Draco merely smiled. “As often as I can,” he said. “Although my wife would prefer I keep it to once a week. Friday nights are my playtime – and I take my playtime very seriously.” His gaze dropped from Harry’s eyes to his mouth and then to his lap before returning to his eyes once more.
Ah. So there was that question answered.
“Are you married as well?”
Harry shook his head.
“Do you have a lover at home?”
Again Harry shook his head, hoping it didn’t look rueful.
Draco smiled nostalgically. “Ah, the bachelor’s life. I haven’t had that in over eight years.”
Harry couldn’t keep himself from asking the question despite knowing the answer.
“Is that how long you’ve been married?”
Draco took a long sip of his drink. “No,” he said. “I’ve been married for five years. Before that I had a lover. We didn’t officially live together, but we might as well have. In three and a half years, I don’t think he slept at his own flat for longer than a couple of weeks. He kept it anyway.” Draco snorted. “He was like that. Skittish as a colt when it sees a shadow. Which wasn’t a surprise. He’d had a hard time of it for most of his life, and I’m afraid I didn’t make it any easier. I was the one who left. I hurt him terribly.” He fell silent and took another long sip of his gin and tonic.
For a moment, Harry couldn’t speak. It was strange to hear himself talked about as a third person – and even stranger to hear that Draco actually recognised that he’d left Harry’s life a mess when he went away.
“It sounds like you two were pretty serious.”
Draco stared into his glass and shrugged. “You could say that,” he said, lifting his eyes to Harry’s face. “I hope you’re not offended, but you remind me of him. You could be brothers.”
Harry couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, I can assure you we’re not. I don’t have a brother.”
“Neither did he,” Draco replied. “But let’s not talk about him any longer; let’s talk about you. Are you aristocracy or do you have a profession?”
Harry was about to answer when a dark-haired man walked over to them. Ignoring Harry, he looked at Draco.
“Draco,” he said. “I haven’t seen much of you lately.”
Draco’s eyes flashed with annoyance.
“Miles, this is . . . Heavens, I haven’t asked you your name . . .”
“Uhm.” Stupidly, Harry hadn’t prepared himself for this question. He’d assumed he’d meet a stranger and would introduce himself as Harry Evans. He said the first name that came to his mind.
“Sirius. Sirius Evans.”
“Ah,” Draco said, arching an eyebrow. “Sirius. An old and noble name.”
Harry cringed. He was pretty sure he’d just implied he was a pure-blood. He didn’t think it was his imagination when Draco’s gaze turned from interested to very interested.
“All right then,” he said. “Miles, this is Sirius, and Sirius, this is Miles, who, I believe, was just stopping by for a quick ‘hello.’”
Miles glared at him. “You know I’m not, Draco.”
Draco assumed a long-suffering expression. “Please excuse me for a moment,” he said. “And please don’t go away.” He laid his hand on top of Harry’s where it rested on the bar.
They moved into a faraway corner, but Harry could still hear raised voices.
His head was spinning, and he couldn’t seem to catch his breath. He was still so shocked that he was unable to name the emotions that were flowing through his veins – although terror and elation were certainly among them. Draco. Draco. Harry didn’t know what to think, but he knew one thing for sure: Draco must be the man he ended up with tonight.
When Draco returned, he was flushed and obviously annoyed, but that annoyance soon turned back into seduction.
“What do you say we leave here?” he asked in a voice that was effortlessly sultry.
Harry’s breath was so shallow he was worried he might faint.
“Okay,” he nodded.
“I should tell you right up front, I don’t bottom, and I won’t go down on you, cock or arse.”
Harry wasn’t surprised about Draco’s desire to top, but he was surprised by his refusal to suck cock. Rimming was one thing, but blowjobs were required one-night-stand fare. And with Harry, Draco had done both. Nightly . . . and enthusiastically.
Draco obviously interpreted Harry’s silence as second thoughts. He took Harry’s hand and raised it to his mouth, pressing a lingering kiss against Harry’s knuckles.
“I promise you won’t be disappointed,” he said. “I can fuck all night. Especially with you.” He let go of Harry’s hand and traced Harry’s lips with the mere brush of a fingertip. “You’re utterly gorgeous.”
Harry swallowed. He was growing aroused. Instead of responding to Draco with words, he leaned forward and kissed him. “So are you,” he whispered as he drew away. “You’re the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen.” His remark was not only flattering; it had the benefit of being true.
A fleeting blush settled in Draco’s cheeks. “Let’s go,” he said roughly. “I need to touch you – I need to be inside you.”
“Where can we go?” Harry asked. He was getting an erection. The thought of having sex with Draco again was overwhelmingly exciting.
“Conveniently, there’s a hotel a block away. It’s expensive, but I’ll pay. I know the owner, and he’s very discreet. Aaron, darling? Put both drinks on my tab please – and give yourself a generous tip.”
The bartender nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Malfoy,” he said. “Have a good night.”
Draco reached behind Harry and cupped Harry’s arse, pressing a fingertip firmly against his arsehole. “I plan to,” he said with a wink.
They couldn’t keep their hands off each other in the lift. They kissed messily while Draco pulled Harry’s shirt free from his trousers and pressed his hand against Harry’s belly, sliding his fingers under the waistband and into Harry’s pubic hair. But to Harry’s surprise, Draco didn’t rip off his clothes the second the door of their room closed behind them. Instead he sat on a settee and took off his shoes and socks. He drew his wand, poured a glass of whisky at the bar and floated it over to the table beside him.
“Come here, you gorgeous creature,” he said, smiling slyly and patting his thighs.
Harry didn’t need to be asked twice. He pulled off his shoes and straddled Draco’s lap, settling himself with a wriggle that made Draco groan.
“Eager,” he said. “I like that.”
He reached up and took off Harry’s glasses, setting them on the table beside the glass of whisky. He fished out an ice cube and held it up against Harry’s lips.
“Open your mouth,” he said, and when Harry did, he slipped the ice cube onto his tongue. It tasted of whisky.
“Now kiss me,” he said, and Harry did. He couldn’t suppress a whimper when he felt Draco’s cock twitch and harden. It’d been so long.
They played with the ice cube with their tongues, pushing it into the other’s mouth and then sucking it back again. When it had melted, Draco retrieved another one. He traced Harry’s lips with it.
“Your mouth is beautiful,” he said. “Will I get to feel it suck my cock tonight?”
Harry could only nod. He supposed he should be annoyed that Draco wanted Harry to suck him while he refused to reciprocate, but then he reminded himself that the crucial event of the night had to be fucking – as many times as possible.
“I’ll suck you,” Harry said in the sexiest voice he could conjure. “But what I really want is for you to come inside me.”
He wriggled his arse in Draco’s lap until Draco groaned again and closed his eyes in bliss.
“I won’t be able not to,” he said. His breathing was rapid and shallow. “I’m going to come inside you so many times you won’t be able to hold it all.”
There was only a tiny bit of the ice cube left. Draco placed it on Harry’s tongue and kissed him deeply. Urgently. When the ice melted, Draco drew back and began unbuttoning Harry’s shirt.
“Fuck,” he murmured, running his hands up Harry’s chest. “I’m going to eat you alive.” He leaned forward and gently bit and sucked on Harry’s nipples, humming appreciatively when Harry clutched the back of his head to hold him in place. At the same time, he rested his hands on Harry’s hips and began to move beneath him. Harry responded by settling even deeper onto Draco’s lap.
He was shaking.
“You want it,” Draco growled against Harry’s throat. It wasn’t a question. “I can feel how much you want it. God, what did I do to deserve finding you tonight?”
“You have no idea how much I want it,” Harry said, lifting Draco’s head and kissed him hungrily. He began rocking his own hips in earnest.
“You’re going to make me come in my trousers like a bloody schoolboy,” Draco said hoarsely, sliding his hands up Harry’s sides. “God! You’re amazing! I’m going to fuck you till you can’t walk.”
But of course Draco coming in his trousers was definitely not what Harry wanted. So he stilled himself with great effort and reached for Draco’s tie, untying it with clumsy fingers. Once he’d accomplished that task, he started unbuttoning Draco’s shirt. As soon he was done, he pulled Draco’s bare chest against his using the tie like reins.
Draco kissed him savagely. “Fuck,” he groaned. “Stand up and get undressed. I want to see if your cock is as gorgeous as the rest of you.”
Harry stood while at the same time Draco opened his own trousers and pushed them down to the middle of his thighs. His cock was just as fat and long as Harry remembered it, and his arse flexed at the prospect of being fucked by it again. Draco appraised Harry’s own cock unabashedly and with obvious approval. It was so stiff that it pointed up slightly.
Draco patted his lap again. “Ride me,” he pleaded. He whispered a lubrication charm and slicked up both his cock and Harry’s opening.
“Do you need preparation?” he asked roughly. “Or can I take you tight?”
Draco had always taken him tight when they were together. They both loved it.
Harry didn’t answer with words, instead rising to his knees so that Draco could hold his cock steady. Harry lined up his entrance to the head and, with one motion, impaled himself all of the way. Draco’s head fell against the back of the settee, and his hips snapping up reflexively.
“Fuck,” he said over and over when Harry seized his tie and began riding him.
“You’re going to fucking kill me,” Draco gasped. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to last. Shit, look at you!” He grabbed hold of Harry’s arse and thrust upward at the same time Harry sat down. “I haven’t fucked like this in ages. Not since . . . Ah!”
Harry bit back a laugh. He was tempted to ask how long “ages” was, but then Draco was clutching Harry’s hips and holding them still as he thrust up in tight, abrupt movements. Harry knew from experience that Draco was searching for his orgasm. His chest and face were flushed, and his eyes were squeezed shut.
“I’m going to come, Harry,” he said helplessly, clearly out of his mind. “I’m going to come . . . come with me, love.”
Harry hadn’t realised how close his own orgasm was when Draco’s use of his name made it slam into him like a train. Still holding Draco’s tie like reins, he threw back his head and shouted as he came.
Suddenly, before he was coherent enough to know what was happening, he was on his knees and elbows on the thickly carpeted floor, and Draco was pounding into him. Harry glanced over his shoulder to catch the familiar sight of Draco frowning with concentration as he watched his cock fucking Harry’s arse. He didn’t stop thrusting even as he began to come until he clearly couldn’t take it anymore and slammed into Harry’s body as deep and far as he could go, his balls pressing against Harry’s. He shuddered and shuddered as the waves of his release swept over him.
Harry closed his eyes and pictured Draco’s balls emptying in spurts. He was sure he didn’t just imagine the feeling of conception. The flare of magic in his belly was too intense to be anything else. He pushed back and clenched his arse, causing Draco to shudder and spurt again.
Little would he know it, but Draco was going to adopt his own son.
They fucked two more times that night, and each time, when Draco came inside him, he called out Harry’s name. Harry wondered if it was a common occurrence or if it was because it was him, Harry, after all. He’d never know because Draco was always out of his head when he did it and didn’t seem to remember having done it afterward. He looked perplexed and apologetic when Harry mentioned it.
“Nobody’s ever said anything before. Maybe it’s just that you remind me so much of him,” he said sheepishly. “I’m sorry. If it’s any consolation, it’s a huge compliment. He’s the most amazing man I’ve ever known, which is saying something because I know a lot of amazing men. I was mad for him for years before we finally got together.”
Harry was dizzy with desire and elation. He grasped Draco’s cock and kissed him breathless.
“No offense taken,” he’d said after he had Draco hard and panting again. “But just out of curiosity, if he’s the most amazing man you’ve ever known and he was yours, why’d you leave him? Did he cheat on you or something?”
Draco didn’t answer. Instead he rolled Harry onto his back and positioned himself between Harry’s spread legs, entering him slowly but with focused intent.
“No,” he ground out once he was buried balls-deep. “He’d never do that. He loved me, but life goes on. It has to.” He paused as he began thrusting before saying in a voice so quiet that it was almost inaudible. “I had to accept that. I wish he could too.”
After that he said no more.
At last they collapsed amidst the damp tangled sheets.
“I hope I lived up to my billing,” Draco said, brushing the hair out of Harry’s eyes. “How many times did you come?”
Harry couldn’t help but grin. Draco could be such a smug pompous arse.
“Four,” he said. “The second time we fucked, I came twice.”
Draco grinned back at him. “You were amazing,” he said. “Am I really never going to see you again?”
Harry shook his head with genuine regret. Part of him wanted to say yes so he’d be able to fuck Draco every week, but he knew that disaster that way lay. He wouldn’t be able to conceal his feelings – he’d been barely able to this one time.
Draco ran his hand down Harry’s side from his shoulder to his hip and then up again. “Let’s get some sleep,” he said. “When we wake up, we can resume where we left off and then have a nice leisurely breakfast in bed. My wife doesn’t expect me home before noon.”
Harry kissed him. The thought of going down on Draco while he was still sleepy was already making his cock stir again. It’d been one of his favourite things when they’d been together. Draco would draw up his knees and let his legs flop open, his muscles pliant with sleep. He’d slide his fingers into Harry’s hair, and his whole body would move with Harry’s slow deep swallows. He’d always come with a sated groan and pull Harry up into a kiss, his fingers searching for Harry’s opening and fingering him until Harry came.
It was exactly what he planned to do when he woke up in the morning, but instead of waking to the soft light of dawn, Harry woke while it was still dark to a searing pain in his abdomen. It was so intense, his back arched off the bed and sweat broke out on his forehead.
Fuck. He’d been pregnant for all of five hours and something was already wrong.
He lay on his back praying the pain would go away, but it didn’t. Instead it got worse. At last he couldn’t stay in bed a moment longer – at least not in a bed he was sharing with someone else. He actually wanted to curl up and moan out loud.
He got dressed as quickly and quietly as he could. He wanted nothing more than to go home, but he couldn’t leave Draco without saying anything.
He found a piece of parchment and a quill in the desk drawer.
I’m sorry I had to leave before you woke up. Thank you for last night. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt the way you made me feel. I won’t forget our brief time together. I wish you all the best in life, but most of all, I hope all of your wishes come true.
Being pregnant was hell. There really was no other word to describe it. Not a day passed when he didn’t feel nauseous, and he was exhausted all the time. It was amazing how something that began so pleasurably could grow to be so awful.
Every morning he stood in nothing but his pants looking at himself sideways in the bathroom mirror. For the longest time there was nothing. Weeks passed, and instead of beginning to show a bump, he actually lost weight to the point where Clara became concerned. But then one morning he noticed it – just the slightest swelling. He knew it was too early to feel anything, but he placed his hand on his belly all the same. For a second, he wished he had someone to share the moment with. He’d been alone for more than five years, but it was the first time he’d felt truly lonely. There was no one he could talk to about what he was going through.
When he could sleep deeply enough to dream (which wasn’t often), he dreamt of Draco. If they were together, Draco would’ve worshipped Harry’s changing body. He would’ve kissed Harry’s belly and made love to him carefully. He would’ve spoiled Harry like he used to when Harry was injured or ill. They’d lie on their sides, and Draco would slide down on his silk sheets until he could talk to their unborn son, his lips brushing Harry’s skin. Draco wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself; he’d need to be touching Harry at all times, especially his belly. He’d caress it and then reach between Harry’s legs, reminding Harry that he needed all of him – needed his sex as well as his fertility.
But then Harry would wake and slowly recall that he was alone.
By the time he needed to start wearing loose fitting robes, Clara was deeply suspicious.
“Tea and dry toast again,” she said when Harry answered her question as to what he wanted for lunch. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were pregnant.”
He almost choked on his spit.
“Didn’t they teach you human anatomy at nursing school? Last I knew, men don’t have uteruses.”
“No, they don’t,” she said. “But wizards have ways of doing almost anything they want.”
He made a face and rolled his eyes. “When was the last time you heard of a male pregnancy?”
“Never, but then again, I know it is possible – at least theoretically.”
Harry looked at the file she’d placed on her desk and breathed a sigh of relief.
“This couple says they want an older child,” he said. “Thank God. I wonder if they may even be interested in twins. Send them in.”
But Clara didn’t leave.
“Harry,” she said.
He looked up from the couple’s application with a sigh. “What? You cannot possibly be serious about the pregnancy thing. Look, Clara, I haven’t been feeling well for a couple of months now. I’ve seen my Healer, and she can’t narrow down the causes. It could be any number of things, but she’s confident it’s only temporary. Don’t worry about me.”
She nodded with what looked like defeat. “Please tell me if there’s anything I can do,” she said.
He smiled at her. “I will, now please send in this couple and go make sure Baxter and Bertram are presentable.”
Only once during the whole of his pregnancy did Harry go back to Peverell’s but this time with a heavy Glamour that made him look like a fat balding fifty-something man. Unlike last time, there were no inviting smiles. But the staff was friendly and seated him in what was probably a coveted spot. From his armchair, he could easily see the rest of the room.
He’d been worried that Draco might not show up that night, but at last he walked in with three other men. They were talking and laughing. Just that moment, as if he knew his daddy was nearby, Harry felt the baby kick for the first time. He closed his eyes. He should not have come there.
Draco looked as good as always, especially when he smiled. Harry found himself wondering if their son would have his sly grin or his stormy eyes. The only thing Harry truly hoped he didn’t have was his eyes. Deep green would just be too strange. He also hoped the baby didn’t have his poor eyesight, or – God forbid – the ability to speak Parseltongue.
Draco and his companions chose the sofas by the fireplace. Harry watched others join them as the night went on. Draco looked happy and at ease. He was clearly at home, maybe as much as he was at the Manor. Harry wanted to be asked to join them. He wouldn’t do anything; he just wanted to hear Draco’s voice and see his face up close.
The baby was restless. Harry shut his eyes and imagined what would happen if he called Draco over and told him. He’d get rid of his Glamour and place Draco’s hand under his jumper so that Draco could feel his skin stretched taut. And then Draco would feel it. A kick. He’d look into Harry’s eyes, his own wide and disbelieving. And Harry would lean forward and kiss him.
When Harry opened his eyes again, he saw that Draco had paired off with one of the men. He had his arm around his waist, and they both had their jackets on.
“Later, lads,” Draco said with a wink, and everyone, including the dark haired man on his arm, laughed.
Harry suddenly felt ill and barely made it to the loo in time.
He was miserable for days and vowed he’d never go back.
He was too big by the time he took leave from the orphanage.
Clara had figured it out.
She didn’t say anything, but he knew that she had. They’d been working together long enough for him to be able to read her like an open book, and he was sure it was mutual.
She was uncharacteristically quiet when he called her into his office on his last day.
“As you know,” he said, “I’m taking a leave of absence, and of course you’re going to take my place. You’re the only one who knows the nuts and bolts. Please take care of any adoptions. I trust you completely.”
She smiled wanly.
“It won’t be gone for long. Just a couple of months.”
Clara brushed away tears. “I know, Harry,” she whispered.
He merely raised a finger to his lips and shook his head.
“You know nothing for sure. You only have suspicions. If you find out you’re right, you will become complicit in a crime unless you turn me in.”
“I would never . . .”
“Ssshhhh,” he said. “I know, and that’s why I won’t let you risk your freedom. I’ve looked up the minimum sentence. It’s ten years.”
She began to cry.
“Please, Clara . . .”
“Nobody knows, do they?”
He sat mute and tried to make his expression as unreadable as possible.
“You’re going to be all alone, aren’t you?”
He still did nothing more than look at her.
“You’re going to do this yourself? Christ, Harry! You’re going to do the surgery yourself?”
He clenched his jaw, but he didn’t blink.
“What if something goes wrong? You could bleed to death! Do you even know what to do? Why are you doing this? You have the pick of any child who comes here!”
“Clara,” he said gently, but sternly. “I’ve told you what I need you to do.”
She stood looking pleadingly at him for a long moment.
“Who is he?” she said. “Who do you love so much that you’d do this for him?”
Harry stood up, but he had to lean heavily on the arms of his chair. He was wearing voluminous robes, but his belly still looked huge when he straightened. Clara stared at it. When he came around his desk and gave her a hug, he couldn’t help himself. He took her hand and placed it against the bump and felt the baby kick. She gasped and looked up at his face with eyes like saucers.
“See,” he said. “I’ve gained a lot of weight and have wind all the time. The Healer said it’s nothing but a bad diet. I’m going to a spa in Germany to get fit again.”
He smiled, and after a moment she did as well, although there were still tears in her eyes.
“Well, have fun,” she said brokenly. “Come back soon.”
“As soon as I can,” he replied. “Now, go do the rounds.”
He watched her go. She shut the door behind her with a soft click. She’d be the only one who’d ever know.
The last several weeks crept by in a blur of pain and boredom and searing loneliness. Before he even realised what he was doing, he began talking to the baby. He told him about magic and Hogwarts and Quidditch and Harry’s mum and dad. When he used up those topics, he told his baby about Ron and Hermione and the Weasleys, although he had to repress the knowledge that the baby was likely to grow up looking down his nose at them. He told his son about Teddy and Andromeda and even Narcissa. About the only other significant person in his life – Draco – he said nothing.
He was ill and weak and uncomfortable all the time. It was a good thing he’d been stock-piling easy-to-eat foods while it was still early on in the pregnancy or he’d probably starve to death. He lay on his side for hours trying to focus on nothing but his breathing. The baby kicked all the time. Harry wondered if he, too, was uncomfortable and wanted desperately to get out. Harry had no idea what to look for in terms of when he should began the delivery (such as it was), so he’d decided to do it on the fifteenth day of the ninth month.
But he never even got to the ninth month. The pregnancy had barely entered the eighth month when he began to feel a change. It started as a nagging sourceless worry, but it gradually became something that resembled panic. When he could sleep – which was rarely – he had dreams that he was suffocating to death or being buried alive. He woke drenched in sweat, his heart pounding. The baby’s kicks became painful.
When late one night, Harry heard somewhere in his mind a child screaming in terror, he suddenly realised his son was trying to be born and was slowly dying.
In an instant, he was wide awake and staggering to the kitchen where he’d washed and sterilised the scalpels and laid them out on the worktop for just this very moment. His hands shook as he unbuttoned his robe, all the while pleading with the baby to hang on, that he’d be okay. When at last he was naked, he sat down on the tile floor and propped himself against the refrigerator.
The first cut was the worst. After that the desire to end the ordeal was too great – too urgent. Blood was everywhere. He tried not to think about the fact that it was his. In all of his years as an Auror, he’d never seen so much blood. Even his mouth filled with blood when he bit down on his tongue. His hands shook, making jagged wounds instead of clean slices. He felt like he was cutting forever and not coming any closer to freeing his baby, but then he heard it . . .
. . . an infant’s cries.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he pulled his son free from his open belly.
He must’ve fainted after he’d sealed up his wounds with a flesh melting charm because suddenly he was jolted awake by weak agonised cries. He groped in the gloom of his vision until he found the cold little arm and pulled his baby against his chest, whispering a warming charm.
“It’s okay,” he murmured, only partially aware that he was delirious. “Ssshhh, it’s okay.”
Suddenly Draco was beside him whispering the same words in Harry’s ear. “Hush, love,” he said, just as he did after they used to make love. “Ssshhh, you’re okay, Harry.”
When he woke again, the warming charm had run out, and the baby wasn’t moving. His whimpers were weak and heartbreakingly sad.
He had to get his son to St. Mungo’s.
“Clara,” he rasped into the embers. To his relief she was there in his office at the orphanage. She dropped to her knees on the floor.
All he could do was nod. He didn’t have the strength for more.
“There’s a baby in my flat,” he gasped. “I think he’s dying. I need you to help him.”
Clara was already reaching for the Floo powder when he stopped her.
“I’ll be in the bathtub,” he said weakly. “The door will be locked and warded. You will not be able to come in the bathroom. I found the baby in the park.”
“Just hurry. Please. He can’t die, Clara. Promise me, he won’t die.”
“Harry, you have to let me call someone for you . . . !”
But he ended the call. By the time he heard her arrive and call his name, he was already too faint to answer.
“He’s absolutely beautiful,” Clara said. “I wish you could see him.”
“I’d show him to you, but they’re keeping him at the hospital for awhile.”
“What’s his name?” he asked. He’d instructed her not to give him one, especially his own.
She looked away and sighed.
“Clara,” he said. “What’s his name?”
“Baby boy, March 2013, 5lbs., 2 ounces.”
She brushed tears from her eyes. He heard them sizzle in the embers.
“You went through all of that, and you’re not even going to keep him?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said frostily. “I’ve told you a thousand times: I found him on a park bench.”
“Harry, he’s so beautiful . . .”
He put all of his much-depleted strength into not asking her to describe him.
“I’m sure he is,” he said curtly. “I’m sure we won’t have him long at the orphanage with us.”
She turned away, her whole body quivering with anger.
“Clara,” he said gently. “Babies need two parents who want them more than anything.”
“You don’t want him?” she yelled. “How can you even say that?”
“Would you talk to a frightened young mother who came to us for help the way you’re talking to me? No, you’d be assuring her that her baby will be cherished and looked after his whole life.”
“Harry . . .”
“No, ‘Harry,’” he said. “Just do as I say. As soon as he’s able to leave the hospital, take him straight to the orphanage and call me.”
Even through the embers, Harry could see her swallow.
“Okay,” she said dully. “Whatever you say.”
As soon as the call ended, Harry staggered to his feet and clutched the mantel. He was dizzy and sore, but at least he was able to speak and stand. The wounds still looked terrible, but he was no longer bleeding. Leaning against the wall, he stumbled toward the bedroom and lay down. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine his baby . . .
. . . he had to stop thinking of him as his baby. He was Draco’s and Astoria’s. He was Baby Boy Malfoy, not Baby Boy Potter-Malfoy. Or even Baby Boy Potter.
He was too tired to stop the tears that leaked from his eyes. It wouldn’t matter anyway. He’d just start again. He’d been crying for the three days since Clara had come and taken away his . . . no, the baby.
He was nauseous with grief and loneliness. For the first time, he actually wished he hadn’t done this. He’d thought the worse part would be the birth.
Turned out he’d been wrong.
Clara met him on the pavement and helped him out of the taxi. He leaned on her heavily as they make their way up the stairs to the no-longer-patronised barber shop that disguised the orphanage’s door.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked. “We don’t have to do this today.”
Harry paused to catch his breath. “The baby needs to be placed with a family,” he said.
She was quiet as she helped him walk to his office and sit down behind his desk.
“The first couple on the list are the Washburns,” she said, once he’d managed to settle himself as comfortably as possible. “But they’re not the ones you’re going to contact, are they?”
Harry merely shook his head.
“Who is the couple then?”
“The Malfoys,” he said flatly.
She stared at him in shock for a moment while her brain caught up with his words. Then she started trembling and had to grasp the back of a chair to keep from falling.
“What?” she asked, her voice sounding helpless.
He just looked at her.
“You heard me,” he said calmly. “I don’t need to say it again.”
She started to shake her head and didn’t stop.
“No,” she said. “No, Harry. No, no, no, no!”
He closed his eyes. He was tired and sore and not in the mood for this.
“Why?” she cried.
“I have my reasons.”
“What could they possibly be? What reason could you possibly have for giving your precious baby to those . . . those . . . I don’t even have words to describe them. They’ll raise your little boy to be an entitled snob. They’ll indoctrinate him with their hateful bigotry. They’ll . . .”
Harry held up his hand.
“Stop, Clara, just stop. I said I have my reasons. You need to trust me.”
She gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.
“They blackmailed you, didn’t they? It has to be true because I know you’d never take a bribe.”
Harry was getting angry. He simply didn’t have the strength to argue any longer.
“Clara,” he said. “If you don’t stop, I will ask you to leave, and I don’t think you want that. As much as you may hate the Malfoys and all they represent, I know you want to be present to give them their son.”
She fell silent but her face stayed red and she was still trembling with emotion.
“I love you, Harry. You know I do. But you’re testing that love with this decision.”
Harry took a deep breath and looked at her until she had to look away.
“Don’t you even want to see him? Don’t you want to hold him even for a second?”
Harry ignored her. He had to. He opened his desk drawer and pulled out parchment and ink. He didn’t lift his head when Clara left, slamming the door behind her.
Dear Mr and Mrs Malfoy,
I am writing to inform you that a healthy week-old baby boy has just arrived at the orphanage. I was wondering if you might want to meet him. Please contact me as soon as possible.
His hands shook as he folded the message and gave it to his owl.
The answer came less than ten minutes later with the crack of two Apparations in the lobby.
Harry lifted his head from his hand and actually smiled.
Clara came to the door. “The Malfoys are here,” she said. Her voice was cold and dead.
“Good,” he replied as nonchalantly as he could. “Please show them in. And, Clara? Why don’t you go get their baby?”
He heard her icily tell Draco and Astoria they could go in.
They practically stumbled over each other and their own feet as they burst through the door.
“Where is he?” was all Draco said by way of a greeting.
Astoria, on the other hand, said a polite good morning.
“I’m sorry, I can’t stand to greet you,” Harry said. “I had a . . .”
“Yes, yes, Potter,” said Draco. “Enough with the pleasantries. Our solicitor will be here shortly to take care of all the details. We want to take him home as soon as possible.”
Harry nodded. “Of course. Clara’s gone to get him. She’ll be right back.”
“Mr Potter,” Astoria said, her eyes shining with tears. “We can’t thank you enough for contacting us. We’d had no idea it would be so soon . . .”
“Darling,” Draco said, taking her hand. “Hush. Try to stay calm.”
Soon Clara came in with a bundle in her arms. Astoria stood with her arms held out, but Clara didn’t even look at her as she pushed by and came around Harry’s desk.
Harry shook his head violently, his eyes pleading with her, but she ignored him and handed him the bundle which now had a tiny hand reaching out of it. Before he knew what was happening, he’d held out his arms and let Clara give him his son.
He’d tried not to think about what he might look like, but now there he was. Clearly his and Draco’s child. His hair was thick and black, and his eyes were a clear silvery grey. He had Draco’s delicate colouring and Harry’s mouth.
Tears filled Harry’s eyes. He held the little boy against his chest and breathed in the same wonderful baby scent that he’d smelled on all the little ones he’d been given to care for over the years. But this wasn’t someone else’s baby. He kissed his son’s forehead.
“Good-bye,” he whispered against the tiny ear. “Be good and make your daddy happy.”
“Potter,” Draco said sharply. “Could you spare us the water-works? I know you probably get attached to your charges, but he’s our baby.”
Harry merely stared at him until he flinched and looked away.
“Mrs Malfoy,” he said his voice rough with emotion as he stood unsteadily with his baby in his arms. She rushed forward. “Here is your son.”
He handed him to her.
“There are a lot details to be worked out and things Clara needs to show you . . .”
But Astoria hadn’t heard him. She was staring transfixed into those same silvery eyes Harry had just seen for the first time. “My God,” she murmured. “I have never in my whole life seen a more beautiful child.” She started sobbing. “Draco, look at him. He’s perfect. He could be a little angel dropped from heaven.”
Draco put his arm around her and looked at his son. Harry had never seen that expression on his face before. It was nothing but pure uncomplicated joy.
He turned away and stumbled to the window.
“Clara!” he yelled. “The Malfoys need to talk to you before they take their son home!”
He heard Clara’s footsteps enter the room. “Right this way,” she said with frigid professionalism. He listened as all three of them left and the door closed behind them.
He couldn’t think. He couldn’t cry. He couldn’t even breathe.
He pressed his hot cheek against the cool glass and shivered.
He must have a fever. The wounds weren’t healing cleanly.
He still couldn’t breathe when he heard the knock.
“I’m busy, Clara,” he choked. “Later, please!”
“It’s not Clara, Potter.”
Harry didn’t turn around when he heard Draco come in and close the door.
“What do you want?” he asked. His voice was hoarse and unsteady.
Draco didn’t answer for a long moment.
“I don’t exactly know,” he said. “To thank you, I guess. I know you bumped us to the head of the queue. I can’t begin to express my gratitude. If there’s ever anything I can ever do . . .”
Harry shook his head, but he still didn’t turn around.
“You don’t owe me anything, Draco. Except a promise that you’ll take care of that baby and that you won’t raise him to hate like your father raised you.”
Draco was silent. “Okay,” he said at last. “That’s fair. Potter,” he added. “Look at me.”
Harry had never been able to refuse Draco’s requests. This one was no different. He turned slowly.
Draco inhaled sharply. “God!” he cried. “My God, you look terrible!”
Harry smiled weakly. “Thanks.”
Draco came around the desk and grabbed his arm.
“I’m not joking, you idiot,” he said. “You look like you should be at St Mungo’s!”
Harry gripped the windowsill so hard he saw his knuckles go white.
“I’m fine,” he said shakily. “Go be with your wife and son.”
“I’m not leaving you like this. Who can I call? Do you have anyone? A boyfriend?”
Harry couldn’t help the bitter laugh that escaped him. “No,” he said. “Please leave, Draco.”
Draco stood staring at him, but he was no longer staring at Harry’s face. A look of horror grew in his eyes.
Harry looked down. His shirt was soaked with blood, and blood was staining the front of his jeans.
“That’s it,” said Draco, grabbing Harry’s arm again. “We’re going to St Mungo’s . . .”
Harry shook his head violently. “I can’t,” he whispered. “Please, Draco. Just call Clara.”
“You need a Healer, not some silly Squib nurse!”
Harry opened his mouth to respond, but then he was on his knees, his arms clutching his middle.
“Fuck!” Draco yelled dropping to his knees beside him. “Clara!” he cried frantically. “Hang on, Harry.” He brushed Harry’s damp hair out of his eyes. “Shush, it’s okay, love. It’s going to be okay.”
Harry grabbed Draco’s hand and held on tightly. He heard Clara throw open the door and come running in.
“Oh my God,” she cried. “Harry! What’s wrong?”
“Sutures,” Harry whispered. He felt Clara and Draco lay him on the floor.
“What do you mean sutures?” Draco demanded. “What’s wrong?”
“Surgery,” Clara said. “Now please go join your wife . . .”
“I’m not going anywhere until I know he’s going to be okay!”
Harry heard his shirt rip and then two loud gasps.
“Jesus Christ. You butchered yourself, Harry!” Clara wailed.
“What does she mean you ‘butchered yourself’?”
Harry was barely conscious. “Removed my appendix,” he whispered. “Bloody hurt.”
The last thing he saw before everything went dark was Draco’s disbelieving look as he clutched Harry’s hand in both of his and pressed it against his lips.
“You’re an arsehole, Potter,” he said sincerely, but behind his eyes was no rancour, only worry and fear. And something one might even call a memory of love.
Harry rolled onto his stomach and covered his head with his pillow. Someone with a posh accent – namely, Draco Malfoy – was trying to ruin his Saturday morning lie-in.
“Go away,” he grumbled. He flapped his hand lethargically in the general direction of the annoying accent and the prat who owned it.
“I am most certainly not going away. This is my house. My house, my rules. Now get your lazy arse out of bed.”
Draco grabbed Harry’s pillow and hit him with it.
“You are a sloth.”
“Perhaps, but a sloth with a nice arse – or at least that’s what you said last night.” He turned his head to look up at the annoying twat who’d somehow – without Harry even being consciously aware of it – become the love of his life.
“I don’t know what you’re suggesting. I most certainly do not fuck sloths. They carry syphilis.”
“No. You’re thinking of koalas, but if the fear of syphilis is the only thing holding you back from boning a sloth, you’ve got bigger problems than . . .”
“Merlin! Shut it, Potter, and get your arse out of bed! The match starts in less than an hour.”
Suddenly Harry was wide awake and sitting up. The match! He’d forgotten about the match, although how, he wasn’t sure. Draco had been taunting him with the prospect of defeat and its accompanying humiliation for weeks.
“Shit,” he mumbled as he searched for his glasses only to glance at Draco and see the bastard wearing them low on his nose like Madam Pince used to wear her reading spectacles.
“Give me those, you evil git!”
“Why I should I?” Draco scratched his chin in feigned puzzlement. “Oh! Are you implying that without them you couldn’t find a Snitch in a Snitch shop? How tragic for your team to lose their starting Seeker.” He sighed dramatically. “I guess you’ll just have to play Sniggleweed.”
“Smith-Tweed. He told me if you called him ‘Sniggleweed’ again he’s going to quit the league.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Pussy. Now that you told me that, I’m not only going to keep calling him ‘Sniggleweed,’ I’m going to knock him off his broom.”
Harry took advantage of Draco’s momentary outrage to tackle him onto the bed, knocking his/Harry’s glasses off. They both scrambled for them which resulted in a wrestling match in tangled sheets – a wrestling match that soon turned into something equally athletic but less adversarial.
“Ride me,” Draco gasped, the struggle for Harry’s glasses forgotten. “God, Harry . . . please!”
The match really was going to start in less than an hour, but despite each of them being their opposing team’s Seeker, they didn’t resort to a five-minute shag. Five-minute shags were for loos – pub loos, locker room loos, the loos in friends’ flats. Five-minute shags were for those looks across a room that said I can’t go one second longer without touching you.
So Draco rimmed him, and then he rode Draco’s cock for as long as they could stand it before coming, and they arrived at the pitch fifteen minutes late without having had their breakfasts or drunk their coffee.
It all turned out to be a nefarious plot on the part of Draco and his motley team of Ravenclaws and Slytherins. When Draco caught the Snitch and landed, laughing his arse off, he told Harry about the pastries and espresso he’d consumed at the café across the street while Harry slept, drooling innocently on his pillow.
“Didn’t Madam Hooch tell us we must always eat breakfast before a match?” Draco said, casually examining the still fluttering Snitch between his thumb and index finger.
Harry had had to suck him to the edge of orgasm and then stop twice before Draco finally begged to be forgiven.
He’d lost everything when he fell in love with Draco.
He’d lost Ron who couldn’t forgive him – not after what had happened to his brothers during the War and what was still happening to his family years later. He’d lost Hermione when she moved to New York looking for a life far from the people she’d always love but with whom she could no longer live and be whole again. He’d lost Neville and Seamus and Dean – not right away, but slowly as the drip drip-drip of awkward silences and unreturned Owls eroded the tenuous bonds that had held them together. He’d even lost his chance to become Head Auror. No one had ever said so outright, but there’d been whispered concerns about “security” and “the possibility of divided loyalties.”
But Harry hadn’t given a shit. Every morning when he woke beside Draco, he was reminded that as high as the price had been, it’d all been worth it. They’d built a life like a bird builds its nest, weaving together two very different personalities with care and carefully cultivated respect. They’d found new things to do together. Walking in the Lake District. Camping on the shores of remote Scottish lochs. Going to Muggle rock concerts. Even – because Draco had insisted – ballroom dancing. They’d had fun. They’d been there for each other. They’d rowed and then had make-up sex, which only made them want to row again because the sex afterward was so fucking intense. They’d flown together, duelled together, cooked together, travelled together, and lay together on the sofa watching black-and-white movies till three in the morning. Harry had been reticent at first to show his feelings – after all, it was Draco Malfoy that he’d fallen in love with – but slowly he’d started to feel safe enough. One time, sitting outside their tent watching the sun set over some lake somewhere, he’d even said those three words he’d vowed he’d never say to anyone. It hadn’t mattered that Draco hadn’t said them back. The kiss Draco had given him said more than any word ever could.
Then, not long afterward, everything changed.
Draco hadn’t said a word. He’d simply packed everything that wasn’t Harry’s and moved back to the Manor while Harry was away on an investigation. Harry had returned to an empty house – empty except for his neatly folded clothes and a trunk full of his personal things wrapped carefully and securely in a manner that clearly said Good-bye, have a nice life.
For too long, he’d stayed there, sleeping on the floor with a Weasley jumper as a pillow and eating takeaways out of their cartons with his fingers. When he finally went outside, it was to buy whisky which he drank from the bottle.
He’d learned of the engagement from a greasy Prophet. On his way back to the townhouse one night, he stopped to buy fish and chips. The announcement was on the page used to wrap it. Suddenly it all made sense. Draco’s growing silence and quick temper. His suggestions that maybe Harry should stay at his own place once and awhile. Harry was “getting on his nerves” and “invading his space.” They’d been arguing again over the differences between them that’d always been there but had ceased to matter. Their love-making turned into fucking and then into rutting until it’d stopped all together. Harry had tried not to panic when he stopped being able to make Draco come, and he’d wanked furiously on the toilet trying to get off as many times as possible so the hunger for Draco wouldn’t gnaw too close to the bone and drive him mad.
Then along came the estate agent and then the solicitor who finally kicked him out. And that had been that . . . well, until the punch in the face.
A week before Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy’s first birthday, Harry received an Owl written on mint green parchment with a whimsical drawing of a peacock holding a daisy in its beak. The dark green wax was imprinted with a flowery “D” and an “A” with a little “s” between them. All three letters were connected like a family of three holding hands. Harry cracked the seal more forcibly than he needed to.
Dear Mr Potter,
You and a guest are invited to celebrate with us the first birthday of our beloved son. The festivities will begin at four o’clock. Children are welcome. In lieu of gifts, we ask that you send a donation to the Colin Creevey Memorial Home for Orphaned and Abandoned Children, the organization that brought us and our dear little boy together and to which we will be forever grateful.
Harry read the invitation and then reread it. The script was lovingly drawn – and obviously Astoria’s. Draco’s handwriting was as confrontational as his personality. It always looked as though his quill had done battle with the parchment and won.
“The owl came before you arrived.”
Harry looked up to find Clara standing before his desk. She was clearly agitated. Her cheeks were red, and her face was damp with sweat . . . or tears. Harry stood, bracing himself for the worst. Two of the children had mild cases of Dragon Pox, but they weren’t responding to the standard treatment.
“Why didn’t you call me?” he asked, putting on his coat and preparing to Floo to St Mungo’s. “I thought you told me you’d let me know if their conditions worsened.”
To Harry’s surprise, her only response was to nod at the invitation in his hand.
“Are you going?”
Confused, Harry looked down at the invitation and then up at her face.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “And it doesn’t matter. Tell me how Oliver and Matilda are doing? Is anything wrong?”
Clara was twisting a handkerchief in her hands. “Their fevers broke during the night, and they’ve stopped sneezing. They’re sleeping soundly at the moment.”
Harry frowned. “Okay,” he said, drawing out the two syllables. “But clearly something’s bothering you . . .”
“What’s bothering me is that you gave that innocent little baby to . . . to those horrible vile people!” she shouted, pointing at the invitation.
Harry stepped back, shocked into silence by her vehemence. She’d managed not to say anything for an entire year, but obviously her feelings hadn’t changed one bit.
“Pure-bloods, Harry! The children of Death Eaters! How could you? You almost died giving birth, and then you handed him over to . . . to monsters! Draco Malfoy should be in Azkaban, not throwing a disgustingly lavish party where he and his wife will pass around your baby to be admired like a Quidditch trophy! Being the son of a Mudblood, you probably won’t even be allowed to touch him!”
Harry swallowed, his heart pounding. There was no answer that could make sense to her . . . at least no answer except the truth.
“Who is that little boy’s other father? You didn’t even give him a say before you gave away his child! Does he even know that he’s a dad? Did you bother to tell him? Does he know his baby is being raised by evil bigots?”
Harry sat down heavily. All he could do was stare at her as her outrage dissolved into tears.
“I’m sorry,” she said after a moment. She was still breathless and red-cheeked. “None of this is my business.”
She’d reached the door when Harry called her name.
“His other father does know he has a son,” he said quietly, even calmly.
Clara turned around, surprise etched on her face.
“He knows, but he doesn’t know about me – that I’m his son’s other father. I tricked him. It was a one night-stand. He has no idea he made me pregnant. He has no idea I’m anything to his son but an intermediary to his adoption . . .”
The look on Clara’s face wasn’t the surprise Harry had expected, it was horror.
“Draco Malfoy,” she breathed. “Draco Malfoy is your baby’s other father.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, he is.” He shrugged. What more could he say?
Clara clapped her hand over her mouth and turned to run to the door. Harry had no idea if she was going to scream or cry or vomit – or all three. He called after her, but her footsteps faded into the sunlit quiet of a spring morning. He sat down and covered his face with his hands. This time last year, he was a prisoner in his own flat, waiting to give birth to a son he couldn’t keep – or even bear to look at. Now that same little boy was named Scorpius Malfoy, and it was his first birthday, and Harry wanted to see him – and his daddy – more than he’d ever wanted anything in the world. Even though he knew it was probably the last thing on earth he should do.
He was surprised when Clara asked if she could be his “guest” for the party.
After Harry had told her about Draco, she’d left and Owled that her sister was ill and she’d need to take a few days leave. Harry didn’t say anything except that he hoped her sister would be okay. Both of them knew she was lying – that what she really needed was time to decide whether or not she was going to quit her post. When she returned four days later, Harry was almost giddy with relief. Neither of them spoke of their conversation. The orphanage had received new born twins while Clara had been away, and there were prospective families to firecall. It was impossible to be upset or angry in the presence of people as grateful and ecstatic as the new parents were when they were handed their babies for the first time.
A day before the party, Clara knocked on his office door and entered looking sheepish and contrite. He raised his eyebrows in a questioning look. Sheepish and contrite were not adjectives he’d ever thought he’d use to describe her.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I behaved terribly the other day when you told me who your baby’s father is. It was unforgivable. Obviously you love him if you were willing to go through such an ordeal to give him a child.”
Harry nodded. “Of course, it’s not unforgivable. You were surprised . . .”
“Shocked is more like it,” she said with an apologetic little smile. “But I’ve had time to get over it. And time to learn that you and he had once been . . . together. I didn’t know. But it explains why you obviously still have feelings – strong feelings – for him.”
Harry gave her his own apologetic little smile. “Well, all of this is in the past. The important thing is that Scorpius is doing well and that his parents are happy.”
Clara’s expression darkened for a fleeting second, and he watched her struggle to make it sunny again.
“You are one of his parents,” she whispered. “And you’re not happy.”
Harry shook his head. “We’re not going there again,” he said. “That discussion is over and done with. It’s the future that matters, Clara, not the past.”
“Which is why it would mean so much to me if you’d take me to Scorpius’s party as your guest,” she said in a stumbling rush of words. “Please, Harry. I know I only spent a couple of days with that little boy in my care, but I fell in love with him. I want to see him again.”
Harry regarded her closely, looking for some hint of artifice. But disguising her emotions had never been one of Clara’s skills. She wore her overflowing heart on her sleeve. Her expression was eager and beseeching, and he couldn’t deny her something she so clearly wanted.
“Okay,” he said. “But don’t forget: we’ll be entering the dragon’s lair. The Malfoys will probably spend more money on this party than our entire annual budget. Most everyone there will be wealthy pure-bloods or Ministry officials. They will shun you – will, not might. They’d shun me too if I wasn’t me. None of them wants to snub the man who killed Voldemort and risk looking ungrateful.” He smiled ruefully. “All I’m saying is expect the worst because the worst is what you’re going to encounter.”
She nodded solemnly. “I promise not to fly into a tirade.”
Harry smiled at her. “Well, the first thing we’re going to need to do is go shopping for a gift and appropriate attire. Prepare to wear a robe no baby has ever spit-up on.”
“Yet,” she said and returned his grin.
Harry had been right.
Just as they had at Draco’s wedding, fancy cars and carriages lined the drive, and opulently dressed guests greeted each other with the warm insincerity of the aristocracy. There were flowers everywhere and fountains whose water changed from blue to green to purple. Children in frilly frocks ran around chasing the peacocks. Waiters moved silently through the crowd in the garden offering endless variations of beautifully crafted hors d’oeuvres and flutes of champagne. Harry had to nudge Clara to get her to close her mouth and stop glaring . . .
Especially when they spotted Scorpius.
Just as she’d predicted, he was being handed around like a beautiful possession. People clustered around to coo and fuss over him.
“If there’s anything I know about in this world,” Clara said, “I know about babies, and that little fellow looks about a miserable as can be. Bloody wretched people!”
“Shush!” Harry hissed, but he didn’t look at her. He only had eyes for his baby. He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. He loathed dealing with Draco’s peers, but not even a burning aversion could keep him away from his little boy.
“Excuse me,” he said, pushing his way through the crowd, not caring if he spilled their drinks or stepped on their toes.
“Give him to me,” he snapped at the elderly witch with bluish hair who was trying to get Scorpius to stop crying by poking his nose repeatedly with a gnarled finger wearing an enormous ruby ring. She was so startled she let Harry lift him out of her arms.
Immediately Scorpius stopped crying and smiled up into Harry’s face. The people around him fell into a stunned silence as he turned and quickly walked away without looking back. He only stopped when he entered the hedge maze and found a place to sit down. He stood Scorpius on his lap facing him and grinned happily as the boy reached for his glasses. The rest of the world – including Draco – could disappear, and he wouldn’t care.
“Hi,” he whispered. “Do you remember me at all?”
Scorpius smiled and drooled and tugged on his ear. As far as Harry was concerned it was an unequivocal yes. He leaned forward and kissed Scorpius’s cheeks and then his little nose.
“I’m your daddy,” he said. “Well, one of your daddies. You look so much like him.”
It was true, of course. Scorpius had Draco’s eyes and delicate colouring, but he also had Harry’s mouth and chin and thick black unruly hair. He and Draco had given their child the best features of both of them.
“You’re so beautiful,” Harry murmured. “And so happy and healthy. Daddy’s been taking good care of you, hasn’t he?”
“You’re bloody right he has!”
Instinctively, Harry clutched Scorpius to his chest and cupped his hand against the back of his head protectively. All he’d registered was a raised angry voice and wanted to protect his baby. It was only when he stood up and turned around that he realised the angry voice belonged to Draco.
Draco’s face was even darker and more hate filled than it’d been at his wedding when he’d leaned over Harry and nearly spat in his face. His eyes were wild and dangerous. Harry could see that he was trembling all over and panting for breath.
“Give. Me. My. Son,” he said. “Give him to me now, and I won’t kill you.”
Scorpius must’ve sensed Draco’s fear and rage and Harry’s response because he buried his face against Harry’s shoulder and began to wail. Harry pulled him closer. Like Draco, he was shaking all over.
“Draco . . .”
“Don’t say another word, Potter. Just give me my baby and get the fuck off my property and the fuck out of my life.”
“You invited me,” Harry stammered, at a lost as to what he’d done that was so wrong that Draco had actually threatened to kill him! It couldn’t be just because he’d taken Scorpius away from the crowd for a few minutes . . .
“I don’t care if you had to disembowel yourself,” Draco hissed. There were helpless tears in his eyes. “I don’t care if you almost died – in fact, I wish you had. He’s mine, and I won’t let you take him from me without a fight – which only one of us will walk away from.”
Harry stared at him. He was frozen and mute.
Draco knew. Clara had told him. Draco knew, and he thought Harry was running away with their child.
“I don’t care if you suffered in agony every second of every day for nine months. You will not take him from me!”
Harry swallowed. He knew that not even Tom Riddle had hated him as much as Draco did in that moment.
Meanwhile their baby cried and cried, his little body trembling as much as his fathers’ were.
“I will stalk you down to the ends of the earth and grind your guts into the dirt, Potter.”
Draco’s voice was cracked and hoarse. His clenched fists were bloodless.
Something that was cracked inside Harry finally broke.
It wasn’t his heart. He knew what it felt like to have his heart broken. This was something deeper – something beyond the ability of time or any spell to repair. Shocked and numb and shattered, he tried to loosen Scorpius’s grip on his hair. The more he tried, the more Scorpius wailed. It was as though Harry was trying to hand him to a complete stranger and not the man who’d put everything he had into loving him every moment of his young life. He watched their son’s terror tear Draco’s soul to pieces.
Draco’s eyes filled with tears, and he clutched his heart. “Scorpius,” he said. “It’s me. It’s your daddy.”
It took several moments until Harry was able to peel Scorpius off his chest and place him in Draco’s trembling arms. Instantly, it was as though Harry had vanished. Draco clung to Scorpius as tightly as Scorpius clung to him. He murmured words of soothing and love in a dozen languages in his son’s ear. Harry had ceased to exist – for bad or for good. Without another word, Draco turned and walked away . . . again.
Gone. The last thing that had been keeping Harry alive was gone.
He drew his wand. With a crack like a tree struck by lightning in a storm, he Apparated away.
He left a letter for Clara. It said nothing about Scorpius or Draco or what he knew she’d done. It just said he was naming her headmistress of the orphanage and told her everything she needed to know about finances and contracts and budgets. He didn’t leave an address.
He Vanished everything he owned except the few things from his Hogwarts years that he couldn’t bear to live without, including the invisibility cloak. Those he put in his Gringotts vault. He directed the orphanage’s solicitor to sell his flat and give the money to Clara. He Vanished every article of clothing except those he was wearing, and then he Apparated to the Minister of Magic’s office. Kingsley was reluctant, but Harry managed to convince him. He pulled Harry into a fierce hug and told Harry how he’d receive his assignments.
And then Harry Potter died. The Minister announced his death even though a body hadn’t been found. Some said he’d been vaporized in a duel. Some said he’d drowned. Some even said Voldemort had returned and killed him at last. There was a week of mourning, and then the Wizarding world went back to the way it’d always been and would always be.
Harry was good at being an assassin. He had nothing with which his enemies could blackmail him. His parents were dead. He had neither lovers nor friends. He did have a child, but only Kingsley knew of him. He was sure Draco would never divulge what he’d learned on Scorpius’s first birthday, especially now that Harry was dead. He never spent a night in the same place twice, and his head never touched a pillow. He slept on the ground in his clothes even if he was inside. He had only the names his enemies gave him and countless Glamours. During the long hours of stakeouts, he taught himself to speak Spanish and Italian with flawless accents. He learned to like to bleed and how not to be crippled by a Cruciatus. He learned to kill with a mere flicker of intent. He was nothing but a shadow in the corner of evil men’s eyes, and when he struck, they rarely knew what hit them. Terror of the very rumour of his reputation sent Dark Wizards scampering to law enforcement for the protection of a prison cell.
At last he’d become what he’d obviously been destined to be. A weapon to be wielded. A soldier to be sent unflinching into battle. He had no heart. He’d left what was left of it in the Malfoys’ hedge maze in the hands of a little boy. There’d be a point, he knew, when someone would have to hunt him down and kill him before the destroyer of monsters became a monster himself, but until then, he was free to shred what little remained of his capacity to feel.
He was on a mission in Port-au-Prince, sitting on a dilapidated bed in a hotel room crawling with roaches and stinking of stale cigarette smoke when Kingsley told him.
Astoria Malfoy had died in an accident.
His child had lost his mother.
It dropped Harry to his knees faster than an Avada Kedavra, and for the first time in four years he wept like a baby.
“It’s time,” Kinglsey said. “Come home, Harry. How many years and pints of blood and sweat have you sacrificed for us? Come home.”
Harry could only shake his head. His voice was stoppered with tears.
“Maybe it’s time for your son to get to know his other father. By all accounts, Draco Malfoy is a broken man. Your son needs you, Harry. Draco needs you.”
“Draco has never needed me,” Harry choked, beyond the point of caring what Kingsley might think of his obvious weakness.
“He might now. A man will do anything to help his child when he or she is in pain.”
“Tell him, Kingsley. Tell him about me – tell him what I am . . .”
“What you were.”
Harry nodded. In the space of five minutes, his life as a hit-wizard had come to an end.
“Tell him I’ll be coming to the Manor. Tell him not to be afraid. I’m not going to take Scorpius from him. I wouldn’t do that.”
“When can he expect you?”
Harry didn’t even need to pause to think about it.
“The day after tomorrow,” he said. “By tea time at the latest.”
He didn’t recognise the bloodless man in a black robe who answered his knock.
“I’m here to see Mr Malfoy,” Harry said. “Is he at home?”
The man stared at him and then burst out laughing. The laugh was bitter and dark and entirely devoid of amusement.
“You’re looking at him, Potter,” he said. “What’d you think? That I’m the Malfoys’ new butler?”
Harry stepped back as though he’d been slapped instead of merely mocked.
“Merlin,” he gasped. “Draco!”
Draco’s fake smile was sardonic. “In the flesh. Are you going to stand there all night or are you going to come in?”
He stepped aside to let Harry pass by him.
As soon as he saw the inside of the Manor, Harry breathed a deep sigh of relief. It was as bright and tidy as it’d been when Astoria had shown him around more than five years ago. A crup puppy barked and wagged its tail.
“That’s Barkley,” Draco said.
Harry patted the crup’s head when it jumped up on his leg.
“I bought him for Scorpius when his mother died.”
Harry cleared his throat. He’d never once been scared while he was a hit-wizard, but for some reason he was now.
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know. Somewhere. He’s got a nanny. I haven’t seen him for days. I don’t want him to see me like this.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “He hasn’t seen you? What the fuck, Draco? He lost his mother, and now he’s losing you too? Stop being so bloody selfish!”
The old Draco would have snapped back and maybe even told Harry to piss off, but the new Draco stumbled to the stairs and sat down with his face in his hand.
“I thought you were dead,” he said brokenly. “Now here you are lecturing me in my own house. Fuck you, Harry.”
“I was dead because you killed me.”
Draco shook his head wearily.
“It was shock, Harry. That bloody Squib assistant of yours came marching right up to me, bold as you please, and said she had something to say to me and that if I didn’t take her some place private to say it, she’d just say it anyway in front of everyone. So I led her inside, feeling bloody furious at her insolence, and that’s when she told me that you were Scorpius’s father – and that so was I and that if I had any decency, I’d let you be a part of Scorpius’s life and that if I didn’t you’d take him back. I ran outside, and Scorpius was gone. And then I found him with you. I lost my mind. The only reason I know what I said to you was because I’ve watched the whole fucking scene a thousand times in my Pensieve. And then you died . . .”
Draco started to sob wretchedly.
“You died, and I never had a chance to thank you for giving me my beautiful little boy. I never had the chance to beg your forgiveness. Before I read the obituary, I’d told Astoria everything, and we’d agreed that Scorpius should know who you are and what your relationship to him is. You were his father, and you died. And now he’s lost his mother too.”
Harry tried to swallow back his own tears. He knelt on the floor in front of Draco and took both of Draco’s hands in his.
“He can’t lose you too,” he said. “And I’m not dead, and he still has two parents, and we’re going to love him together.”
Draco clutched Harry’s hands as though he’d been drowning and Harry had thrown him a lifeline. He lifted his head and looked in Harry’s eyes.
“Part of me must’ve known it was you,” he said. “That night you conceived. I’m certain I’d never said your name before. My other lovers would’ve been furious to be called Harry when everyone knew what you’d been to me. That was you, wasn’t it?” He laughed ruefully. “Sirius. What an idiot. I should’ve known right away. Your hair, your body, your responses to my touch. It was all you. I didn’t want to see through the charade and have to send you away. I wanted you too much. You have no idea how much, Harry. After I left, every day without you was torture. I dreamed about you every night. Every nerve in my body ached for you. God, I hated you for it! For not letting me forget you. I blamed you for the miscarriages because I needed so much to hate you because every day was a fight not to leave Astoria, and I thought hating you would change that. It didn’t. Only the prospect of having a child made up for the hell of leaving you.”
Harry swallowed. He was speechless and grieving – both for Draco and for himself and for all the lost years. But then he remembered.
“If you hadn’t left, Scorpius might never have been born.”
Draco blinked. Harry saw his words sink in and waken Draco’s dead eyes.
“I wanted to give him to you,” Harry continued in a rush. “I couldn’t bear to see you hurting so much. I wanted you to be happy. I wanted the end of us to make sense, and it would only make sense if you had a family and were happy. I knew you didn’t leave me for a woman. You left me for a life you thought you couldn’t have with me . . .”
“But I was wrong,” Draco said angrily. “I could’ve had the life I wanted and had you too. I realised that after you took over the orphanage. I realised you wanted children just as much as I did. But it was too late.”
The pain and elation Harry felt hearing Draco’s words made him reckless. He leaned forward and kissed Draco’s mouth, laughing slightly hysterically when Draco grabbed his shoulders and pulled him close. Draco slid his fingers into his hair and held Harry’s head so that Harry couldn’t pull away. Draco kissed him back, his whole body trembling.
“I want to fuck,” he said fiercely against Harry’s mouth. “Right here. Right now. Fuck me, Harry.”
It was mad. They were on the stairs in the Manor’s cavernous front hall, but Harry didn’t care. He reached down and unbuckled his belt with fumbling frantic fingers, opened his fly and pushed both his pants and his jeans down to his knees. Then he reached for the thousands of ridiculously small buttons on the front of Draco’s robe. Draco laughed and swatted his hands away. Harry was going to say something about not being able to fuck him through yards of fabric when Draco pulled his robes up to his waist; he wasn’t wearing anything underneath.
“Fuck me, Potter,” he growled. He seized Harry’s hand and put it between his legs.
Harry gasped when he realised that Draco’s entrance was already slick and ready. He pushed Draco back, climbed on top of him and began thrusting awkwardly. He’d never topped before. Draco laughed again breathlessly and reached between them.
“Stop moving,” he said. “If you come before you’re inside me, I’m going to hex you. I don’t care if you were a hit-wizard.”
He grasped Harry’s cock and lined it up so that the next time Harry thrust reflexively, he thrust deep into Draco’s body.
Harry had never felt anything like it before. He dropped his head and panted heavily, trying futilely to still his hips. Draco’s channel was tight and hot, and Harry hadn’t had sex since the night they’d conceived Scorpius.
“Not going to last,” he gasped. “I’m sorry.”
Draco reached around him and grabbed Harry’s arse so that the next time Harry thrust, he went as deep as he could possibly go, and Draco held him there. It was too much. Harry shuddered violently and came with a agonised groan. He leaned forward and pressed his mouth against Draco’s as he felt himself spurting for what seemed like forever. He couldn’t actually kiss Draco because his whole body was consumed by his orgasm, but he still wanted the connection. Draco wrapped his arms around his neck and cried out. Harry looked down between them, hoping to watch Draco’s cock as he came, but he didn’t. Harry looked at him quizzically.
“You didn’t come,” he said. “I thought I heard you come.”
Draco laughed breathlessly.
“Shut it, Potter, and suck my cock.”
Harry rolled his eyes, but he did as Draco demanded. He’d barely got Draco’s cock in his mouth when Draco’s hips snapped up, and he came thickly down Harry’s throat.
Harry crawled up and rolled on to his back beside Draco. They lay panting until Draco sought his hand and squeezed it.
“What did it feel like?” he asked.
Harry turned his head to look at him.
“What did what feel like?”
“Getting pregnant. Did you know right away?”
Harry nodded. “I knew the instant it happened. It felt like a burst of wild magic in my belly. Why?”
Draco grinned at him.
“I thought it might’ve,” he said. “Because that’s what I just felt.”
Harry sat up and gaped at him.
“You . . . ?”
“I just made you pregnant?”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Why else would I have asked you to top?”
“Oh. My. God.”
Draco’s expression changed from flushed and pleased to sober.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to ask anything of you,” he said.
Harry shook his head vehemently. “No! No, don’t get me wrong. I said ‘oh my God’ because . . . well, oh my God!”
He climbed on top of Draco again and then slid down so that his face was level with Draco’s belly. When he started kissing it, he couldn’t stop. “We just made a baby,” he said with awe.
Draco smiled at him with obvious relief.
“Yeah,” he said. “It was fun.”
Harry laughed so hard tears came to his eyes.
“That’s exactly what I thought. But then I got huge and my feet swelled up and I couldn’t get comfortable for longer than five minutes at a time.”
Draco’s smile faded.
“I’m sorry,” he said, reaching down to cup Harry’s cheek. “You did this all by yourself. I don’t know how you managed it. After learning you’d carried Scorpius, I read up on male pregnancies. Merlin, Harry. You’re amazing. I only hope I’m half as brave.”
“You will be,” Harry said fiercely. “When you feel that first kick, you’ll have no second thoughts.” He turned his head and kissed Draco’s palm. “Plus, I’m going to help you. Even if you try to tell me not to. You can’t let me make you pregnant and then expect me to go away.”
“I don’t want you to go away,” Draco said in a quiet voice. “I need you. Your children need you.”
Harry kissed Draco’s belly again – and then again because once just wasn’t enough. He knew their baby was only just a couple of cells, but he was already in love with it.
Draco was one of those annoying pregnant people who glowed. Unlike Harry, he wasn’t uncomfortable – even when he got big. Instead of being cranky like Harry had been, he was positively jolly even when Scorpius spent every second of the day with his ear glued to Draco’s navel.
“I want a brother,” Scorpius said at least a million times. “If he’s a girl, I won’t play with him.”
Harry rolled his eyes in defeat. He’d tried to correct Scorpius’s gender errors to no avail. Which probably shouldn’t be surprising given the fact that his father was hugely pregnant.
Which didn’t mean they’d stopped having sex.
“You better not get too used to topping,” Draco grunted as Harry pushed into him. “As soon as your spawn comes into the world, it’ll be back to bottoming for you.”
“Hhhmmm,” Harry hummed noncommittally as he began thrusting carefully. The (very discreet and expensive) Healer they’d hired said that Draco was due to give birth any day, and Harry didn’t want to hurt him or their baby, no matter that he’d discovered he loved fucking Draco into a state of sweaty preverbal oblivion.
Draco was on his hands and knees. It was the only position that still worked for them. Harry looked down and watched his cock slide in and out of Draco’s body. He knew now why Draco had always loved watching so much. It was intensely intimate, especially when their fucking was slow and gentle. He could watch Draco’s hole clinging to his cock as he pulled out and then disappearing again when Harry pushed back in. The sight drove him mad.
“Don’t come too deeply,” Draco gasped. “It hurt a little bit last time.”
Harry stopped moving.
“Why didn’t you tell me, you prat?”
“Because from the sounds you were making it was clear you were too out of your head to even hear me.”
“But you still came without me touching you.”
“I said it hurt a little bit. It certainly didn’t hurt enough that I wanted you to stop.”
Harry leaned over and placed a lingering kiss on Draco’s shoulder.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.
“I know,” Draco replied. “And I don’t want to hurt you either. Ever again. You’re my babies’ daddy, and I love you – for that and for everything else that you are.”
Harry tried to speak around the knot of happiness in his throat. If he could’ve spoken, he would’ve said “I love you too,” but he couldn’t. He had a feeling that the same thing had happened to Draco when Harry had said those same words years ago as they’d watched the sun set and waited for their shitty camp food to cook.
He straightened and resumed gently moving his hips, and when he came with a gasp, he pulled out nearly all the way.
Draco hummed in appreciation of his consideration and let Harry carefully manoeuvre him on to his back so that Harry could suck him to orgasm. As soon as Harry swallowed the last of Draco’s come, he kissed his huge belly. He was going to miss that belly when their daughter was born. Draco looked beautiful with it.
“Are you ever going to kiss my lips again, Potter?”
Harry raised his head and regarded the prat he’d married that morning.
“Definitely,” he said. “Anything to shut you up for a moment, Malfoy.”
Draco reached down with his ring-free left hand and tucked a lock of hair behind Harry’s ear. His fingers were too bloated for a ring. They hadn’t thought of that before the ceremony and had had to endure several moments of an embarrassing – and ultimately futile – struggle to put on Draco’s wedding band. But Draco had wanted to be married while he was still pregnant, so that’s what they’d done.
“You’ll be there with me,” Draco said. He took Harry’s hand and pulled him up so that they were lying face to face.
“Of course I will. I’ve told you that a million times.”
“Well, I don’t care. Tell me a million and one times.”
“I’m going to be there with you,” Harry said solemnly. “Every minute, and I’m going to be there when you wake up so I can watch you hold Lily for the first time.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “You’re a sap.”
Harry shrugged. “Yeah, and?”
Draco moved to rest their foreheads against each other.
“It’s unbecoming a former assassin.”
Harry was pretty sure he could’ve come up with a witty reply, but then Draco kissed him and he forgot everything but the feel of Draco’s mouth against his and the breath they shared. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else ever had.