The Golden Threads
"Hope is the golden thread that should be woven into every experience of life."anonymous
Hermione looked at Harry in disbelief. "That is, without a doubt, the most insane thing you've ever come up with."
"It isn't," Harry replied, smiling widely. "It's pure genius." His tone changed to nearly a whisper. "Hermione, I have to do this. Maybe, just maybe, if I finally get him to shag me I can move on. Start a real relationship that doesn't involve comparing every bloke to him."
"But that's just it." Hermione shook her head in frustration. "You won't be getting shagged by him."
"Well," Harry grinned, "my arse won't know that, will it? If it looks like a Malfoy and acts like a Malfoy...then I must be getting shagged by a Malfoy. And with the improvements that the Ministry has made with the Polyjuice Potion, technically it really will be Malfoy, right down to the DNA. "
"Harry James Potter!" Hermione nearly shrieked. "You know that potion is very restricted in its use! Did you steal Polyjuice from the Ministry?"
Harry looked affronted. "Of course not!"
"Well I didn't think...."
"But I may have some leftover from a recent case," Harry interjected, putting an arm around her shoulder. "I know you mean well, but I really have to do this. After all, who can it hurt? No one but you and I will know."
Hermione pulled away. "Harry," she said firmly. "I will not be a part of this. And I'm actually glad Ron is in Australia helping Charlie with the new dragon compound...I know he'd never understand this." She raised a hand to stop him from speaking. "Putting aside the ethics here, did you ever stop to think that it's more than just a tad creepy?"
"No, I didn't," Harry said firmly. "Hermione, you know as well as I do that I haven't had a decent relationship in years and that one was only because Derrick had blond hair and light eyes." Harry grimaced. "Unfortunately, the second he opened his mouth the Cockney accent ruined the illusion and removed any possibility of intimacy."
"Harry!" Hermione scolded, but he saw the laughter she was trying to hide.
"Not to mention that he was as dumb as a post."
"Come on, Hermione," he cajoled, slipping his arm around her shoulders again. "Seriously, who can it hurt?"
She sighed. "No one," she said. "Except, maybe you."
"Me?" he said bluffly. "Hell, I'll finally be well and truly shagged by the one man I've fantasized about for years, and then I can let it go and move on with my life. I'll be fine."
She refrained from comment, but he could see it was only with effort. For his part, he decided to let the subject drop; he'd made up his mind. He didn't want to argue about it anymore. He just wanted his night with 'Malfoy', and then a clean slate.
Bradley had left after a quick breakfast the following morning. As he walked out the door, Harry had felt only a small twinge of guilt when he Oblivated the memories of their evening together.
The euphoria had worn off rather quickly and now just over a month later, Harry wondered if Bradley had given him some sort of STD. He often felt queasy and was so tired he could barely get out of bed in the morning. His lunch hour usually consisted of a quick kip at his desk. And forget doing anything in the evening. He'd Floo home, eat a light supper of toast to ease the nausea and then collapse into bed...only to start the routine all over again the following morning.
It was the because of a peculiar conversation with Luna that he now sat at his desk deeply unsettled and wondering what the hell he was going to do.
Harry looked up, startled. "Flowers? For me?" He shook his head as if to clear it. "It's not my birthday or anything, Luna, what exactly are these for?"
Luna looked at Harry and patted him on the arm. "It's all right," she said dreamily. "I understand your not wanting everyone to know yet. It probably would be best if you talked to a Healer and then to you-know-who.
"Erm....Luna? I'm not quite sure what you're talking about." Harry pinched the bridge of his nose before rubbing his fingers across his forehead. He'd realized after the war that Luna had remarkable powers of perception, bordering on being a Seer. He had long since given up on trying to sort her odd pronouncements out, and now simply took them at face value. He was certain that whatever it was she thought she knew, he'd sort it out in time.
Luna drifted towards the door of his office. "Oh you will soon. I expect you'll be even more confused before all is said and done, but it will work out, Harry. You'll see."
With that she was gone. Harry shook his head in amusement and opened the envelope that was tucked in the arrangement. Inside the envelope that normally housed a card from the sender was a business card for a Healer – with an appointment time and date on it. Harry turned it over in his fingers and wondered if his Obliviation charm wasn't quite as good as he thought and that Bradley had talked to Luna. If so, had Bradley told Luna that he had some disease and that he'd passed it along to Harry? He looked at the card again and realized that the appointment was in thirty minutes. Deciding that at the very least he needed to find out what crap that bastard had inflicted him with, Harry quickly determined that it couldn't hurt to go see this Healer. He stood and left his office.
He set his quill on the desk and rubbed his eyes. He looked at the tapestry again and shook his head.
"Marvellous," he said to himself, his gaze moving to the vase of daises on the table by the door. "First I have that Lovegood bint sending flowers from her shop and now I'm imagining things moving in an empty room." He picked up his quill and dipped it in the ink well. "Next thing I'll be hearing voices in my sleep. I'm already talking to myself. I need to get out of this mausoleum. Perhaps I'll go visit Mother in Saint-Tropez after all, before they start referring to me as "That hermit, Draco Malfoy. Mad as a box of frogs, he is."
Draco laughed and went back to his ledgers, completely oblivious to the golden thread weaving itself into the family tapestry, beneath his name.
Harry looked around his old office. He picked up the last photograph from the credenza, placing it into the overflowing box of his personal belongings that sat on his desk. He was about to leave, when Hermione came bursting through the office door.
"Is it true?" she asked before even greeting him. "Did you really quit?" She looked at the box on his desk and stopped. "Oh...so it is true." She looked at him, evidently confused. "What's going on?"
Harry shrugged in an attempt to look nonchalant. "I'm just tired of risking my neck, Hermione. You're the one always telling me that I should find something to do that isn't so dangerous, aren't you?"
"Well, yes," she answered slowly. "But, why now? Has something happened?"
"No," he answered emphatically, avoiding her gaze to open a desk drawer on the pretence of checking it for any remaining personal items. Mostly, he just didn't want to look into her all too perceptive gaze. "I just think it's time, that's all."
She was silent for long enough that he really had no choice but to look up into her eyes. She was watching him, her lower lip between her teeth. "And you'd tell me if you were ill or anything, right? Do I need to get Ron home?"
Harry could nod at her honestly. "I'm not ill, Hermione. I promise. And no. Ron needs to help Charlie right now; I'm fine."
She brightened. "Well, all right then. You'll just have to forgive me if I find this sudden bout of common sense uncharacteristic."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Is that your polite way of telling me I'm usually a berk?"
She grinned. "Maybe. Come on; let's go get a drink to celebrate your transfer."
He felt a grin pull at the corner of his mouth. "Fine. But after insulting my intelligence, you're buying."
He placed a quick lightening spell on the box and lifted it into his arms, and she linked her hand over his elbow as they walked out of the door.
"Fine," she said, closing the door behind them. Harry looked back at his name stencilled on the glass, and refused to allow the small sinking in his chest to show on his face.
Three Months Later
He'd been absolutely knackered for the first few weeks along with waves of nausea that would pass over him at the most inopportune times. Although, he considered himself lucky that nausea was all he really had to deal with; he knew from Fleur Weasley that pregnant women often had vomiting to go along with the nausea.
Harry was in his second trimester and was starting to feel a bit more like himself. Except for the whole pregnant part. After spending several weeks training with Quentin Watson he'd just been given his first assignment and now Harry was on his way to Malfoy Manor. When the call had come in, Harry had been secretly both pleased and saddened by the fact that he was still too new to be sent out on a request.
Then Quentin spoke up. "Hey, Harry, didn't you attend Hogwarts at the same time as Malfoy?" he continued without skipping a beat. "Time for you to get some real experience and this seems right up your alley." He laughed. "I think you're just the one to set that git, Malfoy, straight on calling us with his imagined problems."
And just like that, before he knew it, he was traipsing off to Wiltshire on some fool's errand for Draco Malfoy, the man he'd secretly pined for for years. It was the last thing he'd expected, and it was making him question his recent career change.
Floo travel was always a dicey affair insofar as Harry was concerned, and Apparating was impossible in his condition. It was with that knowledge that Harry found himself on the train he'd caught at Paddington Station that rainy afternoon, just moments from his stop in Wiltshire and ultimately Malfoy Manor.
He hoped Draco wouldn't be his usual haughty and arrogant self and further hoped he wouldn't notice that he'd added nearly a stone to his frame.
The trip from the station went without incident, though the cab driver's expression at being asked to leave him off, seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain, was certainly memorable. When the cab was out of sight the gates to the Manor appeared slowly out of thin air, solemn and majestic in their symmetry and even statelier as they opened to reveal the Manor itself. Harry trod the path up to the ornate double doors, still awed a bit by the sheer size of them, when quite suddenly they swung open to reveal an ancient liveried house-elf. He was about to speak when the elf intoned, "Master be in his study. Please be following me, sir." Harry could do little else; there was no turning back now.
Harry followed his tiny escort through the dazzling marbled halls and lushly carpeted corridors until they reached a set of immense polished mahogany doors. It was only then that Harry came out of his reverie and realized powerful magic was at work. The baby inside of him seemed to radiate magic, and he felt that magic pulse through his entire body. He paused and instinctively clutched his stomach as a door opened. Harry heard a glass breaking and saw Malfoy himself standing on an Axminster rug staring at an enormous gilt tapestry which hung from massive baronial walls. Harry dropped his hands as the magic inside him seemed to settle. Draco's reaction at seeing Harry was one of both surprise and irritation and then it seemed, of humour.
"Getting a bit chunky in your dotage, are you, Potter?" he commented, exactly as Harry imagined he would. He looked genuinely pleased that such a fate had befallen his rival and was about to go on when Harry hurriedly raised his hand to silence the man.
"What's happening here, Malfoy?" Harry asked, nodding at the broken glass beside Malfoy and refusing to rise to the bait.
"Right to it then, eh?" quipped Malfoy, obviously somewhat taken aback by Harry's tone and no nonsense attitude, completely ignoring the glass. "The thing is," he continued, "I contacted the Department of Mysteries because there's been a bit of a development here, and no one has been able to get to the bottom of it."
Harry nodded out of courtesy, still not knowing why he was there.
"Oh for Merlin's sake, Potter," Draco sighed, eyes rolling. "Must I spell it out for you?" He paused and when he spoke again it was very slowly, as if Harry was unable to understand him otherwise. "We...have... a mystery... unfolding... here."
Harry groaned and held up his hand. "Despite what may you think, Malfoy, I'm not entirely dim-witted. You can speak normally."
Draco's mouth curled up in a bit of a smile, but he continued without pausing between his words.
"It began a few months ago on an evening much like tonight. I was sitting there at my desk," he gestured towards the large desk on the opposite side of the room, "I thought I saw a glimmer of light appear at the bottom edge of this tapestry."
Harry bent to look at the tapestry as Draco continued.
"As the threads and embroidery are made of the purest wizard's gold I thought it was a trick of the light from the fireplace, an errant draft and thought nothing more of it. But it was only a few weeks after that that Jasper, the house-elf who brought you here, noticed stars were being magically embroidered into the tapestry. As every pure-blooded wizard knows, that could only mean one thing; an heir is on the way."
Harry stood and gave a weak smile. "Erm....Congratulations then, Malfoy!"
If Harry had been expecting a thank you he was sorely disappointed because the next thing he knew Malfoy was in his face, the smell of aged Scotch on his breath, and a look of utter horror upon his face.
"Congratulations? Are you mad? I haven't produced an heir! For Merlin's sake! I've never even slept with a woman! How can this be happening at all?!" Harry stood, as confused and curious as ever he had been about Malfoy. He took Malfoy by the shoulders in an effort to calm him. As soon as he touched Draco, he felt another magical surge from the fœtus, this one so strong it stunned him. He jerked back as if he'd been hit. Draco rolled his eyes. "Oh for....I don't have a disease – "
"N-no, it's not that," stammered Harry, "I-I just realized I didn't bring my investigation kit. My first case, you see..." He gingerly made his way to the door, struggling to keep from running his hands over his abdomen, a frightening realization sinking in.
Draco glared. "Oh for the love of... An entire department of qualified investigators and I have foisted upon me some pleb without the sense to bring the equipment he needs." Harry hurried to the door, calling out as he left, "I'll be back tomorrow, yeah...or I'll send someone back. Yeah..." He hurried down the long hallway and out the front door, leaving a very confused and angry Draco behind.
"Oh Merlin," Harry muttered, running his hand through his hair, "what am I going to do?" He paced back and forth, looking longingly at the decanter of brandy on the sideboard. "No!" he scolded himself. "Baby...remember?" He groaned as he sat on the couch, his head in his hands.
"How did this happen?" he moaned, as the fireplace roared green and Luna stepped through with a large bouquet of flowers.
"Hello, Harry," she said, stepping into the room. "Has something else happened?" She set the flowers on the small table at the end of the couch.
Harry looked up, startled. "Luna?" he questioned as if unsure he was seeing her or imagining her in the room. "Wh..what are you doing here?"
She gave him a soft smile. "I thought you might need a friend," she stated. She tilted her head slightly, her brow furrowing. "I imagine it's come as quite a shock. But I know things will be fine."
"Pardon?" Harry looked confused. "I'm...not sure I understand."
"Of course you do," Luna continued. "I'd suggest a brandy but that wouldn't do right now, would it?" She moved the flowers to sit on the coffee table in front of Harry and knelt down between him and the table. "Did you know that every flower means something?"
He shook his head, utterly bemused.
"This one, for example," she said touching the pale lavender petal, "is for understanding. And this one," she stroked the tiny white flower, "stands for hope."
She moved to sit next to Harry on the couch, taking his hand in hers and squeezing it tenderly. "You have to talk to him, Harry. You know this. He has a right to know – to make his own decision about things."
She shushed him with a finger over his lips and then stood. "It doesn't matter. What matters is doing the right thing." She bent and kissed the top of his head. "Just do the right thing, Harry, and everything else will fall into place."
And with a whoosh of green flames – she was gone nearly as quickly as she had arrived, leaving Harry even more confused.
"I'm sorry," she said, catching her breath, "I was in a meeting with..." She trailed off when she saw him curled on the couch and rushed to his side.
"Harry!" she cried, "Are you all right?" She pressed a hand to his forehead and he batted it away.
"Don't mother me, Hermione," he snapped, then immediately felt like a giant prat when hurt filled her brown eyes.
"I'm sorry," she said a bit defensively. "You just look ill..."
"I am ill," he muttered. "But that still doesn't give me the right to be an arse. Forgive me?"
She immediately softened and sat next to him on the sofa. "Of course." She frowned. "But what do you mean, you are ill? Do you have the flu? Or a cold?"
He grimaced. "If only it were that simple."
Her frown deepened. "You're starting to worry me, Harry, and if you don't want another round of stifling 'mothering', you'll tell me what's going on."
He pursed his lips, then frowned. "Will you promise me, up front, that you won't call me an idiot, or tell me what a spectacularly bad idea you thought everything was to begin with."
Her brows quirked. "No," she answered after a moment. In spite of everything, he smiled weakly.
"Of course not." He ran a hand roughly through his hair. "Okay, do you remember -- of course you remember; that's stupid. Okay, let me try again. When I Polyjuiced that guy into Malfoy, and slept with him --"
Her lips twisted. "Yes."
"And we talked about how this new Polyjuice actually turns a person into the person they've been Polyjuiced into, that in effect, I'd be sleeping with Malfoy..."
"Yes," she said again, patience apparently beginning to wear a bit thin.
"So --" He swallowed deeply, dreading the next thirty seconds. "If, hypothetically, a person found themself expecting after an encounter with a person who's been Polyjuiced into another person, then that person would technically be pregnant by the actual person, right?"
She frowned at him, trying to sort out his convoluted explanation. "Well, yes," she said finally. "They'd be pregnant by the actual person, even if they'd received the sperm from the Polyjuiced..." Her voice trailed off and she stared at him, horror growing on her face. "Harry," she finally managed, "what have you done??"
He shrugged sheepishly. "Got myself up the duff with a Malfoy, apparently."
She stared at him, her mouth hanging open, the scandalized expression not wavering. "But... but... normally wizards have to take fertility potions, and plan for a pregnancy..."
He gave her a weary look. "Hermione, since when have I ever done anything in a normal way?"
She continued to stare, agog, her eyes drifting to his expanding middle. She stared so long that he began to fidget.
"Hermione, not for anything, but you're starting to weird me out a bit, here. Could you say something? Please?"
She blinked, then reached out tentatively and touched his belly, smoothing her hand over the slight curve.
"A baby," she said in wonder, then her eyes widened. "A baby. Good God, Harry; Malfoy's baby!!"
He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Draco Malfoy's baby.
She began to frown again. "But... Oh, my God, Harry; he doesn't know!!"
"Well, he doesn't know it's me," he began, and she looked stunned.
"He knows there's a Malfoy heir on the way, or, well, he thinks that a tapestry at the Manor is somehow malfunctioning, and he thinks it's someone messing with him."
Her expression hardened. "Explain."
He did, as concisely as he could.
"But he has no idea that there's a real baby?"
"Which means he has no idea you're carrying it!"
"Well," Harry said drily, "I didn't think that was a real good ice breaker. By the way, Malfoy; this extra weight you just jabbed me about? That would be your baby. You haven't slept with me? Well, it's like this..."
Hermione gave him a look that told him precisely how she felt about his attempt at humour. "This isn't a joke, Harry. The man is going to be a father; he has a right to know!"
Harry shot up and began to pace restlessly. "Why?" he said. "Why, Hermione? As far as he ever needs to know, the tapestry was fucked. It's not like we travel in the same circles, or even see each other, and..."
Hermione stood and grabbed his arm. "Harry," she said, looking intently into his face. "He's going to be a FATHER. He has the right to know, irrespective of the circumstances."
Harry inhaled deeply, his shoulders slumping. "I know," he said finally, looking up at her. "I know. I just have absolutely no idea how in the hell to tell him."
She put her arm around him, her expression softening. "Harry," she murmured, rubbing her hand up and down his back. "You just have to tell him the truth."
His laugh sounded suffocated. "Just like that, huh?"
She hugged him. "Well, maybe not JUST like that. Here, let's sit down, and we'll figure out how to go about this."
Harry stepped in to have a closer look at the embroidery Malfoy had showed him previously.
"Finally come back to finish your job, Potter?" Draco asked, walking into the room.
"It just looks like a bunch of tiny stars," Harry said slowly. "Are you sure this means a child is coming? Maybe it's some other kind of magic at work. Perhaps it's just..." Harry paused mid-sentence when, just like his last visit, the baby's magic surged through him. As he straightened, another star appeared on the tapestry. Harry froze and looked at Draco.
"What the hell..."
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "We need to talk. Is there somewhere we can go?"
Draco glared and moved quickly across the room, sitting behind his large oak desk. With a gesture that reminded Harry far too much of Lucius, Draco motioned Harry to a seat opposite his desk which looked about as comfortable as a Judas chair.
"I thought maybe somewhere more comfortable..."
"I'm quite comfortable," Draco said coldly. "Now explain just what the hell is going on here."
Swallowing the fear that was threatening to steal his voice, Harry forced himself to launch into the story.
When he finished, he sat back and looked at Draco for some sort of reaction. Finding none, he began to speak again.
Draco held up his hand. "Stop. Do not say another word."
Harry leaned back in his chair and waited.
Draco's face was pinched, his eyes cold and dark. "Get out of my house," he spat.
"Get. Out. Of. My. House before I do something that lands me in Azkaban."
Harry stood and walked towards the door. He paused right before the door when Draco called out after him.
"I certainly hope you enjoyed your time with someone Polyjuiced into me, because I'd rather die than fuck you."
Harry knew he didn't have any right, but the comment cut straight through him and he reflexively laid his hand on his belly when the child within him seemed to squirm in protest.
Draco's lip curled. "And don't think for a moment that I'm going to suddenly begin to feel paternal over... whatever that is you're carrying. That isn't a Malfoy, Potter, no matter what you try to tell yourself. That's just the spawn of whomever you coerced into your bed. It's pathetic that you probably had to pay someone to indulge your sick fantasies."
Harry turned and fled, then, unable to bear listening to another word. He heard something smash against the door behind him, but he didn't even slow as he rushed through the Manor's doors and out into the night...
In the morning he choked down some toast and jam, mostly because he knew he had to rather than because he was hungry. He knew he should let his boss know he wasn't feeling well, but he found he no longer cared enough to bother. Lying back down on the couch, Harry forced himself to clear his mind, and allowed himself to doze. He woke to pounding on his front door, which he refused to acknowledge. When it stopped, he sat up long enough to strengthen the wards before lying back down again.
He drifted, he didn't know for how long, not acknowledging the passage of time. He only roused to empty his bladder, which was becoming more and more pressing if he didn't answer the call promptly, and to pull the comforter off of his bed, curling up inside of it and pulling it over his head when he got back to the couch. He'd begun to think he could just go on that way, cocooned on his couch, eating the occasional piece of toast and making the occasional trek to the bathroom, when he felt a sudden shift in the wards, and his front door flew open, slamming loudly into the wall behind it.
He jolted up so hard he nearly fell off of the sofa, and caught himself on the arm before he went tumbling. When he looked up, Hermione was marching into his living room, closing the door emphatically behind her.
"What the fuck, Hermione?" he growled, fighting his way free of the quilt. "You scared me half to death."
"I wouldn't have had to if you'd answered the owls I sent, or unwarded your Floo." She slipped her wand into her sleeve and came to him. "And what in the hell are you thinking, disappearing like that? Your supervisor sent me a frantic owl this morning when you didn't check in, certain something had happened to you!"
"Well, you can see that nothing did," Harry grumbled, pulling the quilt back over his shoulder and lying down. "So go away."
She knelt down beside him and ran a hand over his arm. "What happened? Did you talk to Mal – Draco?"
Harry barked out a sound that was somewhere between a sob and a laugh. "Sure did. And wasn't that a conversation."
"Did he listen?" she said, sitting back on her heels.
"Oh he listened, all right."
"And?" Hermione prodded.
"I believe the quote right before he tossed me out was I hope you enjoyed your time with someone Polyjuiced into me, because I'd rather die than fuck you. I may have missed a word or two – but I understood his meaning quite well."
"Oh, Harry." Hermione slid forward and wrapped her arm over Harry's shoulder. "Maybe..."
"Don't, Hermione," he said, sitting up and pulling her to sit next to him. "Just don't. I can't bear you telling me you're sorry when we both know you warned me this was a monumentally stupid idea. But did I listen?" He gave a sharp laugh. "Of course not. Once again I dove in without any thought to the consequences. And now I have a consequence that, while I'm not nearly as upset as I probably should be...will change my life." He sighed and laid his head on her shoulder.
Hermione wrapped Harry in her arms and they sat there for some time before either of them spoke. Finally Hermione said tentatively, "Have you decided what you're going to do?"
"Well," she paused, "with the pregnancy."
Harry's brow furrowed until he finally understood her question. "This doesn't change things for me, Hermione. I'm still going to be a father – albeit one without a partner." He smiled wanly. "I'm not the first single parent and I doubt I'll be the last."
"No," she said softly, "I don't suppose you will be." She ran her hand up and down his arm. "We might not be what you want in a partner, but I think Ron and I will make quite decent aunties and uncles for you both."
He smiled for the first time in days and replied, "Of that I have no doubt."
How dare Potter use him like that? It was appalling! Not that Draco had never entertained thoughts of a writhing, naked Harry Potter beneath him...that was beside the point. The point was that once again Harry....no – Potter – had jumped into the fire without any thought of the consequences or repercussions. Not only that, but in essence, he'd stolen from Draco; stolen his DNA, for Merlin's sakes! Who did shit like that? He poured himself another drink and tossed it back as carelessly as the first, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
Bloody Harry fucking Potter. He snarled. The son of a bitch. The selfish, thoughtless, black-haired, green-eyed, reckless bastard. Hadn't he known that this was a possibility? It wasn't as easy for a wizard to become pregnant as it was for a witch, but it wasn't unheard of, either. Did it ever occur to him to at the very least take precautions?
But oh, no. Old 'I'll do what I want when I want' Potter had got himself up the duff with a Malfoy, with a fucking Polyjuiced surrogate, no less!! The more Draco thought about it, the angrier he became and deliberately ignored the inconvenient little voice in his head that kept saying that he probably would have enjoyed the process of getting the prat that way.
Potter. Sodding Potter, having his baby. Merlin, what a fuck up. He knew he should have immediately contacted his solicitors and had some sort of legal agreement drawn up. One that very clearly stated that he was in no way responsible for Potter's condition or for the spawn he carried. And he wondered for just a moment why he'd not yet made that call.
A flicker of something from the tapestry caught his eye, and instantly Draco's attention was engaged. Leaving his glass on the bar, he crossed to it, standing in front then leaning forward when something seemed to be happening to the small stars in the corner. As he watched in fascination, a gold thread appeared and began to neatly stitch itself into another star.
A Malfoy being born, he thought. His anger began to mingle with a startling flicker of anticipation, and against his better judgement he wondered about the future.
He walked into the formal parlour; curious as to who 'she' might be only to find Granger there waiting for him, her back ram-rod stiff and her shoulders tight. He sighed inwardly. Potter's reinforcements; of course.
"Well, well, Granger," he said, his voice dripping sarcasm. "To what do I owe this distinct displeasure?" She opened her mouth, brown eyes snapping, but he held up a negligent hand. "Let me guess; Potter went crying to you."
Her face flushed angrily. "Harry didn't come crying to me, and it's Granger-Weasley you sanctimonious son of a bitch."
Draco's brows arched. "I'd forgotten that you were the one with the vocabulary and the red-haired horror for a spouse," he drawled. "But I'll thank you to leave my mother out of this."
Her eyes narrowed. "I'm quite convinced that your mother," she hissed, "wherever she's gone, would be ashamed that you've turned into such a supercilious, self-righteous arsehole."
"Two big words in one sentence," he shot back. "Please, Granger..." he paused and added..."Weasley. Don't hurt yourself on my account."
Her hands turned into fists as she advanced on him. "Oh, I won't hurt myself, Malfoy," she said, her lips tight. "But I may very well hurt you!"
And as he recalled, she had a mean right hook. He took a step back, for safety's sake.
"You have no right to come here and accost me in my own home," he said. "And for someone who has always had a near nauseatingly Hufflepuff-ian approach to what's right and what's wrong, your defence of Potter and his actions are incomprehensible."
She flushed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm not defending his using Polyjuice to sleep with someone turned into you for a night," she said tightly.
"Ah ha!" he shot back triumphantly.
"That does not, however," she went on, piercing him with her eyes, "give you the right to be intentionally cruel."
He spread his hand on his chest. "Me? I'm the victim here and I was outraged!"
"You were a mean spirited fuck," she shot back. "I'd rather die than actually sleep with you?" she mimicked in a creditable impersonation of his posh accent. He shrugged.
"Simple truth," he said flippantly.
"Bollocks," she scoffed, her eyes filled with disdain.
"It is not!" He took a deep breath to calm himself. "I have no designs on sleeping with your best mate, Granger. Not in this lifetime, or any other. And don't give me that look, you'll always be Granger to me."
The corner of her lips curled. "You keep telling yourself that, Malfoy. But do try to remember that I went through school with both of you, and I'm very observant." He scowled and her smirk, eerily like his own, deepened. "You were checking out his arse long before he noticed you even had one, so save the self-righteous rot for someone you can convince."
Draco knew his eyes had widened, but he stiffened his spine. "You Gryffindor's; you're all delusional."
Her sudden laughter was mocking. "As if Tom Riddle didn't have the market cornered on that, not to mention your father and that batshit aunt of yours."
Draco glared. "That's scarcely the point, Granger. The point is your little boy wonder suddenly has himself knocked up with a Malfoy, and he thinks his explanation for it is sufficient to prevent me from throttling him. What the hell was he thinking?"
"He was thinking," she ground out between clenched teeth, "that he was attracted to you, that he had been ever since he admitted to himself that he was gay, although Merlin only knows why. Clearly, we need to work on Harry's self-esteem issues if he's attracted to men who are verbally abusive."
"Hey," Draco protested, but she went on as if he hadn't spoken.
"But you might want to run this through your tight-arsed little pure-blood brain, Malfoy; somehow, through fate or whatever you want to call it, the most powerful wizard of the modern age is carrying your child, unless you've done something to upset him so much that he miscarries. Think about that the next time you're tempted to run your mouth." She advanced on him again, and Draco took a step back, swallowing. "And bear this in mind, you skinny, pointy, loathsome pile of hippogriff shite; if you hurt him again, in any way, what I do to you will make what your Death Eater friends did look like an afternoon in the park." She started to turn away, then looked back, her face filled with scorn. "You aren't worthy of him, Malfoy, and you never will be."
With that she Apparated away, leaving him staring at the spot, stunned. No one was supposed to be able to Apparate from within the Manor's wards, but she'd done it as if it were nothing. She was scary; but then, she always had been.
As he stood there, staring into the space where she'd been, her words came back to him.
"The most powerful wizard of the modern age is carrying your child".
Draco felt a chill run down his spine.
Harry stirred fitfully in bed, tossing back the covers in irritation. His lower back ached, and he couldn't seem to get comfortable. The Healer had told him that it wasn't uncommon, that things were being moved around inside of him to make room for the baby, and that he should expect some cramping and aching. He'd tossed and turned all night, by turns too hot and then too cold, the baby squirming and pushing against his bladder and his mind in turmoil.
He knew he should just let it go…it wasn't as if he expected Malfoy to jump for joy at his news, right? He knew that Malfoy would be angry; hell, he didn't even blame him. If someone had done this to him, he'd have been livid. He just supposed he hadn't expected it to hurt so damned much. But when Malfoy had told him that he'd rather die than actually fuck him? Corny as it was, Harry felt as if he'd taken a Bludger to the heart.
He hadn't wanted to fall in love with Malfoy. It had been hard enough just accepting the fact that he was gay for the longest time, but Malfoy? He ran his hands over his face and exhaled heavily. Of all the wizards he knew who were both attractive and half way decent people, he had to fall in love with the most self-centered, obnoxious, arrogant arsehole he'd ever met. Who also just happened to be gorgeous. Harry closed his eyes in despair.
When he'd told Hermione that by spending the night with Malfoy he could then move on, he'd hoped it was the truth, but had doubted it. He'd carried the torch for Malfoy since watching him grow thinner and more distracted during sixth year. While he should have seen it as merely evidence that the git was up to something, because that was certainly the way he'd explained his fascination with Malfoy to Ron and Hermione, the truth was that Harry had worried about him. Obsessively. He'd wanted to make whatever had put the strain on his handsome face go away, wanted to take him in his arms and tell him that everything was going to be all right. Even then, he'd wanted him. And even as Malfoy was berating Harry and throwing him out of his house, the hell of it was he still wanted him.
With a deep sigh, he finally disentangled his legs from the bedding and pushed himself up into a sitting position. No point in lying there if he wasn't going to sleep and the light coming in through his windows told him that dawn was quickly approaching, anyway. Leaning back on one arm, he rubbed his tight, uncomfortable belly with his other hand.
"Already running out of room in there?" he mused aloud, looking down at the rounded shape where before there had only been a flat, tight stomach. "Afraid it's only going to get worse before it gets better. Sorry, baby."
There was a subtle movement under his hand as if in response, and in spite of his unhappiness he managed a faint smile. He already felt more for the unborn person currently torturing his full bladder than he'd ever thought possible. Half Malfoy's; yes, whether the git wanted it or not. But all his. And the idea of having someone who would love him unconditionally made a small bubble of joy expand just under his heart.
"Okay, time to get moving." He put his hands down next to his hips and pushed himself into a standing position, surprised by how much the pregnancy forced him to change the way he moved just to get up-right. Wincing when his back twinged painfully, he rubbed at it as he shuffled barefoot, wearing just his boxers, out into the hall, heading toward the kitchen. He needed a cup of tea.
He was passing the door to the sitting room when pain shot from hipbone to hipbone just beneath the round shape of his child, and he doubled over, one hand reaching out to curl convulsively around the door frame, the other clutching his stomach. It felt like something was ripping inside of him, and tongues of pain curled around from his sides to his back.
"Oh, no," he gasped, fingers whitening where he clutched the door. He held very still, waiting, and after a few seconds that felt much longer, the pain began to ease. Cautiously, he took a deep breath and straightened.
The next pain drove him to the floor and he cried out, fingers curled into fists against the hardwood. Something was wrong, and fear made him break out in a cold sweat. He needed help; something was very, very wrong.
Pain making his progress slow, he crawled on his hands and knees to the fireplace. Reaching up to get Floo powder from the small bowl on the mantle hurt so much that he nearly blacked out, and he knocked it to the floor, where it smashed into a hundred pieces. Sobbing in both pain and fear, he scooped up a handful of the gritty stuff and threw it over the soft blue flames that were thankfully burning in his hearth. Instantly, they flared green.
"Hermione and Ron's," he gasped out. Moments later, Hermione's face appeared in the flames, hair tied up in a messy bun and face devoid of makeup.
"Harry, I was just making breakfast. Whatever are you doing calling so early?" She suddenly seemed to register that he was kneeling there in his boxers with his head down, gasping and sobbing, and her brow creased in concern. "Harry, what's the matter? Harry? Harry!!"
"Hurts, Hermione," he finally managed. "It hurts..."
The flames seemed to telescope down quickly, the edges of his vision going dark as Hermione told Harry to move back so she could come through.
The last thing he was aware of was the sound of Hermione close by, telling him everything was going to be okay, just before the world went black.
He'd remembered it with a smirk, thinking perhaps his entitlement issues could be traced to that moment.
His preoccupation with the tiny cluster of gleaming golden stars and his attempt to discern which constellation he was staring at was probably the reason that he noticed almost immediately that the slender golden stitching was beginning to fade. He even walked right up to it and stood with his nose almost on the ancient tapestry, but there was no mistaking it; the threads were rapidly turning a pale yellow, all of the gleam gone from them.
He was startled by how his heart almost seemed to jump into his throat as Granger's words came back to him.
Draco broke out into a cold sweat. There was only one reason he could think of that the stars might be starting to fade, and he rushed to his desk, yanking quill, parchment and ink from a drawer.
"... unless you've done something to upset him so much that he miscarries."
"What the bloody hell have you done?!" he scrawled, then whistled for his eagle owl, Antares.
"Harry Potter," he instructed the animal briskly as he fixed the message to its leg. The bright eyes blinked and the regal head nodded before the bird flew out through the window.
He waited impatiently. When Antares returned nearly an hour later, the missive still attached to the bird's leg, he cursed colourfully. That could mean only one thing; wherever Potter was, he wasn't receiving owls.
"Son of a bitch." Draco huffed, one hand going through his hair. "Where the devil is the bloody git?" He paced for a few moments, then huffing in exasperation, went back to the desk.
"Where is he, Granger?" he wrote furiously, exchanged the messages, and sent Antares on his way. He didn't have to wait nearly as long this time for an answer.
As if I'd tell you. Signed; Hermione Granger WEASLEY.
Draco scowled, mumbling invectives under his breath. "Fine, you bloody bint." Hermione Granger-WEASLEY he scrawled. "Where the hell is he?"
Again, her answer was prompt. None of your goddamned business.
That prompted him to throw a glass across the room. Antares merely blinked, unruffled. He grabbed another piece of parchment and scrawled, his brow furled, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a snarl.
"Fine," he wrote, and underlined it. "I just thought that YOUR FRIEND might be reasonable about this. But if he doesn't mind if I go to the Daily Prophet with the story of how he used Polyjuice on some unsuspecting wizard so that he could know what it felt like to have former Death Eater cock up his arse, why should I?"
He didn't have to wait nearly as long for his response this time, and he uncurled it with a self-satisfied smirk on his lips. Until he read what she'd written.
St. Mungo's. Obstetrics Intensive Care.
Feeling the blood rush from his face, he grabbed his cloak off of a nearby coat rack and Apparated away.
Three months of bed rest.
Three fucking months of bed rest. In hospital, no less. He thought he might die of boredom.
"Better than dying at home on your bathroom floor," he muttered, reminding himself, yet again, how frightened he'd been when he'd regained consciousness, his hands going instinctively to his stomach.
"The baby?" he'd gasped when Hermione had taken his hand, and he'd looked up to find her standing at his bedside.
"The baby is fine, Mr Potter."
The efficient voice had come from the foot of the bed, and he'd looked up to see a tall, rail thin woman with gun-metal gray hair wearing Healer's robes, scribbling something on a chart. "I'm Healer Fitzwilliam," she said, then hung the chart on the foot of his bed and looked up at him.
"And both of you had a very close call."
He'd blinked. "I..." he swallowed, looking up at Hermione. He noticed for the first time how worn she looked. "How long have I been here?"
"Since yesterday morning," she answered, squeezing his hand. He looked back at the Healer.
"Male pregnancy," the Healer said briskly, "as I'm sure you know, is hardly a natural state, even for a wizard. There can sometimes be complications."
"Complications?" he swallowed again, his mouth dry. Hermione seemed to read his thoughts, and held a small cup with a straw in front of his mouth so that he could take a drink.
"Not too much," she murmured, and he stopped.
"A witch," the Healer went on, "comes equipped with the necessary internal plumbing to accommodate a growing fœtus. A wizard, through magic, has to acquire certain internal organs. Sometimes, the magic is not without flaw. In your case, the 'uterus', for lack of a better term, adhered itself to the abdominal wall. What you felt was it tearing away. There was a resulting internal haemorrhage. We were able to stop it, and have given you blood replenishing potions, but there is always the risk that it could happen again as the baby gets larger. There is also the risk that the uterus will tear, and if we're unable to stop the bleeding and repair the tear, the pregnancy would not survive. There's no guarantee that you would, either. As a result, I'm admitting you to the hospital and putting you on bed rest until your child is delivered so that we can constantly monitor your condition."
Harry stared at her, stunned. "That's... almost three months away..." he said weakly.
She smiled. "So it is. I anticipate that you and I are going to become very good friends." She'd nodded brightly then, and left the room.
He'd looked up at Hermione, and she'd shrugged. "Harry, if it's the only way to be sure that you're both okay..."
He'd known then that he hadn't any choice, but as he looked through the books Hermione had brought him and recalled the broth and applesauce he'd had for dinner, he wasn't sure how he was going to survive it. Hermione had already notified his department that he was going to be taking a leave of absence, so he didn't have to worry about his job, which was something of a relief. She'd also contacted Ron, who was on his way back from Australia. Harry had argued with Hermione over that, but in the end he knew Ron would never forgive him if he couldn't see for himself that Harry was going to be okay.
Sighing, he put the book on the stand next to the bed and rolled gingerly to his left side, pulling the blankets up around his chin. It would be several hours before Ron arrived and Harry decided that at the very least he could catch up on his sleep.
He'd barely had time to think it when he was drifting off.
He'd been in the fucking hospital for nearly an hour before he'd finally exited the lift on the Obstetrics floor.
The Welcome Witch downstairs hadn't been particularly welcoming. She'd given him a cold look and sent him to a security guard who'd wanted to check his wand and find out what business he had. Draco was accustomed to the distrust of the wizarding world, but it still rankled. And by the time he'd finally been allowed to go upstairs, he was a good deal more than merely 'rankled'.
He looked at the signs outside the lift doors, and following the arrows turned left and then left again. He'd just come around the corner when he spotted Granger and Weasley halfway down the hall, talking to a witch in pale blue nurses robes. He almost turned around and went back around the corner, ready to wait until they left, but he hesitated a moment too long and Weasley saw him. His freckled face hardened and he touched Granger on the arm, gesturing towards Draco with his head. She turned, and her already pinched face tightened even further.
Seeing no way around the inevitable confrontation, Draco squared his shoulders and approached them.
"I want to see Potter," he said, his voice flat.
"Well, too fucking bad," Weasley shot back.
"Harry doesn't want to see you," Granger added. "Ever."
Draco fought to keep his expression as neutral as he could. "Well, that's unfortunate, Granger, as I WILL be going in to see him."
"You have absolutely no right..." she blustered, propping her hands on her hips.
"Oh, really?" Draco shot back. He lowered his voice. "I'm the baby's father; I'd say that gives me the right."
"Oh, dear," the little witch said, blue eyes going very, very round. "Oh, oh dear."
"He can't go in there, can he?" Weasley asked, pushing forward. "He can't really force you to let him go in there?"
"I... I don't know," the woman said, wringing her hands and looking back and forth between them. "We don't have this situation very often..."
Draco laughed harshly. "I'll just bet." He turned back to Granger, mirroring her posture, his hands on his hips. "So, what's it going to be, Granger? You can let me go in, or --" he looked up and down the fairly crowded hallway, "-- I can start shouting about being denied my paternal rights as the father of Harry Potter's unborn child. You know, the one he's carrying right now?"
"Oh, will you be quiet!" Hermione said desperately, looking around.
"What's going on here?"
Draco looked up and saw an extremely competent appearing woman with grey hair and a stern demeanour approach. She reminded him instantly of old McGonagall, who he'd always respected even though he hadn't liked her much, and he dropped his arms.
"Healer Fitzwilliam," Granger said breathlessly. "It's nothing; really."
"It certainly didn't sound like nothing." She looked at Draco. "Young man, would you care to explain yourself?"
Again, Draco was reminded of his old Transfiguration teacher, and he swallowed. "I'm Draco Malfoy, Healer," he said respectfully.
"And what is your business here?"
He glanced at Granger, who was glaring at him, and straightened his shoulders. "I'm the father of the baby that Potter is carrying."
One grey eyebrow shot upwards, but that was the only change in her expression.
"Well, as such," she said, her voice level, "you certainly have a right to see your partner."
Draco blinked, startled.
"He..." he began.
"He isn't his partner," Weasley spat for him. The Healer turned her head slowly and fixed him with an unblinking stare.
"Well, Mr Weasley, unless you've some other miraculous explanation for Mr Potter being pregnant with his child, then you have to acknowledge he must be something to him."
Unable to hide his smirk, Draco arched one brow and crossed his arms, looking at Mr and Mrs Weasley, enjoying watching them squirm. Finally Granger looked back at the Healer.
"Of course, he's something to him," she said sweetly, sparing Draco a venomous look. "But their relationship is... complicated."
"Well, complicated or not, if he's the father of that baby, he has a right to go in."
Draco's smirk deepened. "Thank you, Healer."
She turned her gaze back to Draco, her eyes cool. He blinked. "And if you upset my patient in any way," she said smoothly. "I will have you ejected from this hospital and make it quite clear that you are not allowed to return. Do we understand one another, young man?"
Feeling all of eleven years old, Draco nodded sheepishly. She turned to go, but he called out.
She turned back. "Yes?"
"Is... are they both... all right?"
She studied his face for a long moment. "For the present, Mr Malfoy, yes, they are." Draco felt a rekindling of alarm.
"What does that mean, for the present?"
"It means that if Mr Potter remains quiet and calm, and follows Healers orders by remaining in this hospital in bed until the child is delivered, then they should both be perfectly fine."
He allowed himself to take and exhale a deep breath. "Thank you," he said, finding he meant it.
She spared him a slight smile. "You're welcome." She walked away.
Draco turned toward the door of the room Granger and Weasley had been standing outside of, and took a step toward it, only to find his arm caught in an unforgiving grip.
"Upset him," Weasley said, his voice a low growl, "and I'll hex you into so many pieces even being in a hospital won't save you."
The nurse squeaked and scurried away.
Draco shook his arm free. "Do. Not. Touch. Me." he retorted in a voice of equal ferocity. He and Weasley stared at each other for a breathless impasse, then Weasley's hand dropped away. Straightening his robes, Draco put his hand on the knob, and opened the door, entering the room and closing it emphatically behind him in Granger's face.
When he turned back, he was completely prepared to encounter Potter's rage, and return it in kind. He still had things to say to the git, even though the Healer had warned him against upsetting him.
What he hadn't been prepared for was to find him asleep.
Robbed of his chance to tell the git off, Draco huffed out a sigh. Fine then, he'd wait. There was a chair by the bed; he'd just sit there.
But as he approached, he found his eyes drawn to Potter, who made a soft, snuffling sound in his sleep.
"Snores, then," he thought with a smirk. But Potter wasn't snoring; when the sound came again, Draco realized that he was whimpering, and he frowned. Was he all right? He took another step closer.
Still asleep, Potter curled his hand protectively over the round belly shrouded in blankets, took a deep breath, and his pinched features relaxed. Slowly, Draco lowered himself into the hard wooden chair, and for the first time ever, he studied Potter's face as he slept.
Up until recently, it had been a long time since he'd seen Potter. And even though he'd teased him about 'putting on weight', it suddenly occurred to Draco that the only place he was larger was around the middle. His arms looked thinner, and his face looked drawn, his cheekbones sharp. And there were dark circles under his eyes, and tight lines around his mouth. He didn't know if the insults he'd flung at Potter had precipitated his hospitalization, but he felt as guilty as if he knew that they had. And he hated that it might have been his fault.
Still studying the sleeping face, he began to notice other things, as well. Like, how fine Potter's bone structure was, how arched and perfect his brows, and long and silky and black the lashes lying against his pale cheeks. His hair looked like midnight against the white pillow case, his full lips parted as he breathed softly in his sleep. He was beautiful, Draco realized with a jolt of something unfamiliar, and he found himself envying whoever it was who had moved above him, and inside of him, who had seen his face flushed and his green eyes fixed to his in passion. What would it be like, he wondered, to make love to Harry Potter?
Frowning at the direction his thoughts had taken; Draco pulled his eyes away from Potter's sleeping face and looked at the books on his bedside table.
"Magical Creatures and the Politics of Change," read one spine. "Adjusting Ancient Magic for a Modern World," read another.
"Christ on a raft, Granger," he thought dryly. "Are you trying to bore the man to death?"
There was also a tray on the small table, and Draco lifted the cover off of the dish, spying what looked like cold beef broth and bowl of apple sauce. Merlin, if Granger didn't cause him to expire in desperation, the food certainly would. He replaced the lid with a shudder.
And just like that, a thought occurred to him. He and Potter might not be friends; they might never be, but...
He stood and with one last, lingering look at Potter's pale face, turned and left the room as quietly as he'd come.
She stopped by one afternoon, about ten days after the gifts had begun appearing. She picked up the copy of The Quibbler from his bedside tray and laughed. "I see Luna's been here to visit," she said flipping the pages.
"I've not seen Luna in ages, and besides I'm not even certain she knows I'm here," Harry replied, brow furrowed. "I'd assumed the gifts were from you."
"Yeah. Little things. Magazines, candy, newpapers. They turn up at the oddest times," Harry said, scratching his head. Hermione stared at him for a long moment, her eyes wide.
"Impossible...." Hermione said softly.
"I'll be right back," she called, hurrying out the door.
Harry waited, fingers tapping on the small table that sat over his bed, leaning left and right as he stretched to see where Hermione had gone. "What the hell's going on, Hermione?" he asked when she returned.
She was shaking her head back and forth, in apparent disbelief. She looked at Harry. "They're not from me. The gifts; they aren't from me."
"Then who? No one but you and Ron know I'm here. Unless..."
Hermione looked at the floor, a flush creeping up her face, as she shifted from foot to foot.
"Hermione?" he said tautly. "Tell me."
"You had a visitor the first night."
Harry sat up in the bed and frowned. "Do not make me hex it out of you."
"Fine," she said grudgingly. "I wasn't going to say anything because we really didn't think he'd come back."
"Malfoy was here."
She sighed resolutely and moved to the chair at the side of his bed. "He owled me shortly after you arrived here; I've no idea how he knew something was wrong. I tried to avoid telling him what was happening, but he...well he threatened to go to The Prophet and tell them what you'd done."
Harry felt himself pale.
"So I told him you were here and the next thing we knew he was outside, insisting on seeing you. Ron tried to keep him away, but Draco told the nurse he was the father and your Healer said he had every right to see you."
Harry's voice was barely audible. "He came to see me?"
"Harry," Hermione warned. "He didn't do it to be nice."
"You don't know that, do you?"
She paused, tilted her head and then shook it slowly. "Before I went to talk to the nurses, I would have emphatically said yes."
"The gifts." She shook her head again. "They're from Malfoy. Well, I assume it's him." Harry's eyes grew wide. "The nurse described the man who's been here and she told me that he comes by when you're asleep and leaves the gifts on your tray. If you're awake, he asks the staff to put it on your food tray and bring it in."
Harry leaned back against the headboard. "I don't understand," he said quietly. He sat for a moment and then clutched his stomach and gasped.
Hermione stood quickly. "Do you need the nurse?"
Harry looked up at her, eyes wide once again. "You don't think he's going to try to take the baby do you?"
She exhaled and sat on the edge of the bed, her arm moving protectively around his shoulder. "If he does, he's going to have quite the battle on his hands now, isn't he?"
The soft, blue light above their heads glowed brighter and the beep of the monitor sped up. Hermione shifted and placed her hands over his on his stomach. "Harry," she said quietly, but firmly. "You have to relax. Malfoy is not going to take the baby away from you." She felt some of the tension leave Harry's body.
At the same time the monitor's beeping slowed the door to the room opened and a nurse in a crisp blue robe strode quickly to the free side of the bed. She gave Hermione a short glare before turning her attention to the monitor and to Harry. "Is everything all right, Mr Potter?"
"Fine," he replied, a bit too quickly.
"Mr Potter," she admonished, "I've been nursing for longer than you've been alive. Do not lie to me."
Hermione spoke up. "We were having a discussion and I'm afraid I hit on a rather sensitive topic. I'm sorry, Nurse Prentice, it won't happen again."
Nurse Prentice sniffed and looked at Hermione. "See that you don't upset him again. I believe that Mr Potter needs some rest. It would be best if you..."
Harry interrupted her short tirade. "With all due respect, ma'am. Hermione is closer to me than any sister. She does not have to leave for me to rest."
"Fine." Nurse Prentice replied tersely as she left the room.
Hermione looked at Harry and they burst into a fit of giggles. She slowly regained her composure and stood, tucking the blanket around Harry's arms. "You do need to rest." She saw the shadow in Harry's eyes. "Don't think about it right now. We'll figure it out."
She patted Harry's arm. "I'm going to run to my office for a short time and clear a few things off my desk. When I come back I'll bring you some fish and chips from that awful cart you love by the Ministry, okay?"
Harry smiled and closed his eyes until he heard the door close. When he was sure Hermione was gone, he opened his eyes and pulled the copy of Quidditch Monthly from under the covers and read until he dozed off.
"I think it's a good choice," Luna commented. She looked at Draco and then to the blanket in the window of Brandywine's Baby Boutique.
"Are you speaking to me?" he inquired.
Luna looked around. "I don't see anyone else nearby...so yes," she replied still speaking quietly. "It's wonderful, although I think the blue one in the store with the moving Snitches is more appropriate. I'm sure he'd appreciate it."
"I do not know what you're talking about," Draco said, slightly incensed. "That dancing unicorn toy caught my eye and I stopped for a moment, nothing more. I assure you."
"Oh I see," she retorted, "I must be mistaken that you've visited every day since he was admitted." She tilted her head and looked up, brow furrowed. "Although it does confuse me why you would continue to deny it."
"Miss Lovegood," Draco said through clenched teeth, "I am not denying..."
She cut him off with a glare. "Draco, I know you think I'm just Looney Lovegood and that I don't know anything. But, whether you choose to admit it or not, you have feelings for him. He cares deeply about you, you know. Has done for some time now. He probably loves you, he just needs to admit it to himself. I think you could love him back, if you'd just let yourself."
Draco stared at Luna, his mouth gapping like a fish out of water. She patted his arm and began to walk away. She went about ten steps, turned and smiled. "The blue one, inside. It has Snitches that fly on it. It really is the better choice." And continued down the street.
Several minutes later, Draco found himself seated at a small cafe with a steaming mug of tea in front of him and a bag with a small wrapped box containing a blue blanket with flying Snitches across it at his feet.
He ran a hand through his hair and frowned. 'How does she even know these things? Why would Potter have told her what he'd done?' He groaned in frustration and sipped his tea. He didn't give a tinker's damn if Potter did care about him. What he'd done was incomprehensible! He paused and looked into his teacup. A child. This could be –no, most likely would be his only chance to have a child. He shook his head, stood and tossed a few coins on the table. Thoughts this serious required something much stronger than a cup of tea. Picking up his bag, he turned on the spot and Apparated home.
Later that evening Draco found himself standing in front the large tapestry with a snifter of brandy in his hand. He bent over and traced the letters of his name with a long, slender finger, sighing deeply. In a graceful movement he sat on the floor directly in front of the tapestry. He swirled the brandy in his glass and took a sip, enjoying the slight burn as it slid down his throat. A child. He thought. "I never thought it would happen," he said softly to the empty room. "But there it is." He extended a shaky finger to the tapestry and traced the stars. There were now seven golden stars woven into the large wall-hanging. The three new stars lined up from the single star and if he squinted it resembled a short, stubby, crooked letter "T". He closed his eyes, leaning forward until his head met the wall, Lovegood's words playing over and over. 'He probably loves you; he just needs to admit it to himself. I think you could love him back, if you'd just let yourself.' Sitting up, he finished his brandy and sighed expansively. He pushed himself up from the floor and moved to his desk, removing the box from the brightly coloured bag of the baby boutique and turning it over and over in his hands.
Sitting in the large forest green leather chair behind the desk, he closed his eyes. The warmth of the fire tickled his eyelids and the alcohol in his nearly empty stomach warmed him and lulled him to sleep.
Draco moved down the corridor of the hospital, the box from the boutique under his arm. He walked into Harry's room and set the box on the tray table beside the bed. Harry looked up and took Draco's hand, pulling him to sit on the edge of his bed. While Harry held Draco's gaze, he moved Draco's hand to rest on top of the bump of the baby. Draco made to pull away, but Harry silently shook his head and pressed Draco's palm flat against his stomach. Several seconds passed before Draco felt a press against his palm. He blinked quickly and drew his hand back in surprise. When he looked up, Harry was smiling widely and urging him to lay his hand there again. Draco did and was rewarded with another push against his palm.
"The baby?" he asked in amazement.
Draco woke with a start and immediately rubbed his palm. He scrubbed his face with his hands and shook his head. "Merlin's hairy balls....I'm going to be a father....with Potter."
Harry smiled and nodded in reply.
Harry was just waking one afternoon when he felt someone staring at him. From his current position, Harry was able to barely open one eye without being detected. It took all his restraint not to gasp. Draco Malfoy was in the doorway to his room, a small wrapped box in his hand, and from all appearances he'd been leaning against the frame for a while, watching him sleep.
Without moving, Harry spoke. "You might as well come in, Malfoy, the nurses spilled on you days ago." He shifted gingerly until he was sitting with his back against the pillows on his headboard.
Draco started at the sound of Harry's voice and began to back out of the room.
"Don't leave," Harry said quickly. "Please."
"You don't have to go. And...I'd like it if you didn't," Harry continued. He watched, seeing the doubt and some lingering anger in Draco's eyes. He released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding as Draco entered the room and sat on the edge of the chair next to Harry's bed, setting the box on the floor.
Finally Draco spoke; his voice was seemingly calm and controlled. "I just want to..." He paused, frowning at the floor. "No, I need to understand why, Potter."
Harry's brow furrowed. "Why?"
"Oh for the love of Merlin!" Draco said, rolling his eyes before pinning Harry with them. "Must I spell it out for you? Why? Why did you find it necessary to Polyjuice someone into me? For sex..."
Harry felt the blush rise up his neck and to his cheeks, in spite of his efforts to remain emotionless. "It's difficult to explain."
"Well, now that I'm in here, I'm not going anywhere," Draco replied, sitting back in the chair and crossing his legs. "And frankly, neither are you. So talk to me and explain why I shouldn't have you hauled in front of the Wizengamot for illegal use of Polyjuice Potion."
Harry looked down at his stomach and over at Draco, then down again. He picked nervously at the edge of his sheet before he finally spoke. "I've had feelings for you for years, but it never seemed the right time to approach you."
Draco eyed him dispassionately. 'No help from there, then,' Harry thought. He licked his suddenly dry lips.
"Right after the war everyone was so concerned with prosecuting Voldemort's followers," Harry continued, softly. "I did what I could for you and your mother. But somehow right after they acquitted you both didn't seem the time to say, 'Hey Malfoy, fancy a shag?'
"I suspect not," Draco deadpanned.
"As time went by, you became more of an obsession than you were at Hogwarts. The unattainable goal." He shrugged. "I truly thought if I could sleep with you," he looked Draco in the eyes, "well then I'd be able to get over you and move on."
"Only someone who's never slept with me could possible believe that load of rubbish." Draco's mouth curled into a slight smile. "Trust me, Potter; once with me is never enough."
Harry started to reply, but the baby chose just that moment to give him quite a kick in the side. "Oufff...." was all that came out before he clutched his stomach and rubbed.
Draco watched as Harry grasped his stomach and winced. "Do I need to get the nurse? Are you in pain?" Draco stood and reached for the button to contact the nurse's station.
"No, don't," Harry replied breathlessly. "I'm fine."
Draco looked at him in apparent disbelief.
"Really I am," Harry assured him. "That was quite a powerful one and it took me by surprise."
"What was powerful?"
"Lean over here," Harry said, holding out his hand. "Give me your hand."
Draco hesitated, frowning. Finally he stretched out his hand, tentatively, and Harry grasped his wrist and placed his palm on his distended stomach. Draco stiffened, his eyes widened. "Wha..."
"Shh...," Harry whispered. "Just hold still for a minute."
After a short time, Harry watched as Draco pulled his hand back, his fingers curled where they hovered over his stomach.
"Was that...?" he asked, wide-eyed.
Harry nodded. "The baby. It does that a lot, but the kicks are getting stronger."
Draco stared fixedly at Harry's stomach. "Can I feel it again," he asked tentatively.
"Sure," Harry replied with a smile as Draco put his hand back in the same spot. Harry took Draco's hand by the wrist again and moved it to the other side. "Feel how hard that is? I think that's the bum."
Draco laughed and Harry thought it was the best sound he'd ever heard. They sat there for several minutes, Harry moving Draco's hand to where he thought Draco could feel the baby shifting inside him.
But he also noticed, not for the first time but with a different level of interest, that Potter truly did have the greenest eyes he'd ever seen. And that his lashes were thick and long. It passed fleetingly through his mind that there was every possibility that their child might be born with Potter's eyes, and he was startled to find that rather than disgust or irritate him, he found the idea surprisingly pleasant.
A Malfoy blond with bright green eyes; there were worse things to contemplate. Just as quickly as the thought came he found himself quite unnerved that he was worrying about Potter's health and contemplating the colour of the child's eyes. He suddenly recalled his dream from the other night and cringed.
Draco rose hastily. "I...need to go," he said in a rush. As he stood he stumbled over the box he'd set on the floor. He looked down at it as if someone had placed it there to intentionally trip him, before reaching down and raising it to the bedside table.
"This is for....I brought this..." his voice trailed off as he turned and rushed out the door. He heard Potter calling after him, but kept walking until he reached the door to the lift.
Sleep eluded Draco that night and for the next two nights. He walked through the Manor in a daze and continually found himself drawn to the tapestry. It seemed each day there were more stars, brighter and undeniably forming a pattern. One morning with the small constellation seemed especially bright, Draco hurried to the library and scanned the shelves for Étoile Brillante, his favourite astronomy book. He pulled the worn book from the shelf and hustled back to his office, flipping the pages as he went. He turned page after page, pausing slightly as he saw the constellations of his ancestors. He caught two pages at once and there it was... SKORPIOS or Scorpius - a giant scorpion sent forth by the earth-goddess Gaia to slay the giant Orion when he threatened to slay all the beasts of the earth. Orion and the Scorpion were afterwards placed amongst the stars as a pair of Constellations. The two opponents are never seen in the sky at the same time, for one constellation sets as the other rises. He knew from the days he studied this book back to front, that Scorpius was often translated as 'rival of Mars'. And he pondered for a moment that Potter had been his rival for years. Was this the universe's way of telling him that it was time to set the past behind?
He stared at the tapestry as a full feeling of warmth filled his chest. Scorpius. A boy, then. And it occurred to Draco that Potter, of all people, was going to give him the one thing he thought he could never have; a son.
"You came back," Harry said in apparent disbelief.
"I needed time to think," Draco replied. "To make some decisions."
Harry's face fell. "So this is it, this is where you tell me what a waste of humanity I am." Harry's voice was soft, his tone despondent. "Well save your breath, Malfoy, I'm well aware of my shortcomings. Just leave me...us, we'll be fine without you."
Draco stood in the middle of the room, slowly crossing his arms over his chest. "Are you quite finished?"
Harry looked down, but not before Draco saw the glint of tears in his eyes. Draco moved closer before he spoke. "I'm still not sure how I feel about what you did," he said, frowning, "but... that's a Malfoy you're carrying. My heir."
"Heir?" Harry questioned. "What if it's a girl?" He wrapped his arms protectively around his stomach. "Do Malfoy's even consider female children an heir?"
"Women can inherit in our family," Draco responded, "but it's a boy." His lips curved in a slight smile. "The tapestry never lies. The constellation was completely woven last night and I matched it to its counterpart in an old astronomy book. Scorpius...rival of Mars."
Harry looked thoughtful. "Scorpius?"
"Scorpius," Draco repeated. "A strong name for what will undoubtedly be a strong wizard." He uncrossed his arms, unsure for the first time. But it needed to be said. "I want to be part of his life, Potter – not just in name."
Harry inhaled sharply, his hand curving once again over his belly. Draco saw a soft flush fill his cheeks. "I want that, too. Have done from the moment I found about the baby. I was just afraid..."
Draco sat carefully on the edge of Harry's bed, his hip near the rounded bump that held his child. Carefully, slowly, he laid his hand over the top of Harry's. He could feel the hand beneath his trembling faintly.
"I can't honestly say I know what's going to happen, Potter," he murmured, his eyes searching Harry's. "And I can't promise this will work, but I'd like to try to... be a family."
This time, Harry exhaled. His lips fell slightly open, pink and soft looking, and Draco found his eyes drawn to them. "Will you please... kiss me?" he asked tentatively.
Draco looked startled, his eyes jerking back up to find Harry studying him.
"I'd like to know what it's like to kiss the real you, just once, before this baby is born." His soft smile was slightly tremulous, and his eyes were filled with both fear and undeniable longing. Draco found himself moved by the sight.
"You're a sentimental fool, Potter," he said shaking his head. "But..." he shrugged. "Oh, why not." He angled his head slightly and leaned in to capture Harry's lips.
What Draco intended to be a brief peck on the lips quickly deepened and became something else altogether. Harry's lips were as soft as they looked tasted faintly sweet, and unbidden, one of Draco's hands curled slowly around his side. Seemingly emboldened by Draco's touch, Harry slid his hand up Draco's arm and opened his mouth in an unconscious invitation, which Draco took, sliding his tongue in a sleek glide against Harry's. When their lips parted, they were both breathless. When Harry leaned his head on Draco's shoulder, his hand on Draco's arm and his fingers curled into the soft fabric of his jumper, Draco found he had no desire to push him away.
He looked down at the unruly black hair, felt the weight of Harry's head on his shoulder and the solid curve of rounded belly against his hip. Perhaps sometimes, he decided, accidents can be providential.
"Scorpius," Harry called out. "Leave that cake alone!"
Draco stepped up behind Harry, wrapping his arms around his husband's trim waist. "He gets that sweet tooth from you, you know," Draco said with a laugh.
"Better that than my hair."
"Truer words, Potter."
Harry leaned back and watched as their son ran across the lawns of the Manor with Rose Weasley, chasing the peacocks and laughing.
"They won't be laughing if that peacock turns on them," Hermione said as she joined them on the balcony. She shook her head and laughed as she turned to them. "I can remember a time when the only way you two would touch each other was with a fist...now you can't go for ten minutes without touching."
"Don't blame me because your husband would rather wrap his hands around a sandwich than you, Granger," Draco drawled with amusement.
"Granger-Weasley," Hermione corrected.
"Stop!" Harry said shaking his head. "Hermione, he's well aware you're a Weasley. He only does it to get a rise out of you...which he does every single time."
Hermione laughed. "Harry, you're taking away all our fun."
Draco released Harry and offered Hermione his arm. "Mrs Weasley, would you care to join me in pursuing our children before they find themselves on the wrong end of an angry peacock? I can tell you from experience that those bastards hurt when they nip."
Harry watched as his best friend and his husband walked away arm in arm. Four years ago he'd been desperate to get Draco Malfoy out of his head. Now he found that he rather liked him there...not to mention in his bed.
And he had to agree with Draco...sometimes accidents can be providential.