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Draco looked on, unamused as Potter continued to avoid his questions by cooing at the blond’s dog. Thuban was cradled in Potter’s lap—which was impressive, because he certainly wasn’t a lap dog—tongue lolling out in pleasure as Potter showered him with kisses and tender words.

Draco sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Thuban,” he barked, at the end of his patience.

The Great Dane, recognizing this tone, immediately snapped to attention, ducking and leaping from Potter’s forlorn embrace. He scampered over to Draco with happy eyes.

Draco roughly noogied the dog’s head with an affectionate roll of his eyes before shooing the distracting creature from the room. Then, it was just him and Potter.

“Potter,” Draco strained, “talking this out is the best way to do this.”

Potter nodded, though his expression turned rather mullish. “I know,” he assured.

“Do you?” Draco was skeptical.


“Then, out with it.”


“Don’t ‘what’ me, Potty. Talk. When did your wife become distant?”

Potter sighed as he sunk into the fluffed chair of the Manor’s Blue room. “I dunno. Feels like forever, almost. Everything was fine before James, as bad as that sounds. I love him to bits, of course-”

“Harry,” Draco said, catching the Auror’s attention. “We’re friends. I know you—I’d like to think, anyway,” he added awkwardly, flushing a bit at his own presumption. But, he forged on. “You don’t need to explain every little thing. I get what you mean. I’m just getting this out of the way now, because I don’t want you mincing your words in fear of speaking badly about Ginevra to me. I know you love both her and your son,” Draco drawled, “but that doesn’t mean that things are perfect. Just talk, and I’ll ask for clarification where it’s needed, yeah?”

Potter stared at him for a moment before smiling a bit. “Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

Draco nodded. “Good.” He leaned back in his own chair. “Now, spill the juicy bits.”

Potter snorted. “There isn’t anything scandalous, Malfoy. No egg-laying in secret.”

Draco ignored the jibe. “Ah, but there was some baby-delivering in secret.”

Potter frowned. “Yeah. That’s when she became distant. Didn’t come home, only flooed, and I didn’t have the faintest clue she was pregnant.” His face was blank. “Can I be honest?”

“I’d be offended if you weren’t,” Draco admitted.

“It ticked me off, a bit, after I found out. That she was hiding it. I know that, maybe, in the beginning, it could have been because she wasn’t sure we were ready for kids. Maybe she wanted to think it over on her own before coming to me. I get that, and I understand that. But...” Potter flexed his jaw, eyes dark with anger as he stared at the fireplace.

Draco thought he looked rather fetching.

“But by six months?” Potter whispered. “Seven? Eight? I don’t know the allotted time before it’s illegal to abort a baby, but at some point, she must have known she was going to have James, right? Why hide it, at that point? Why let every-bloody-one else know she was pregnant, be it her teammates, or townspeople. She must have been big, right? People would know , but I sure fucking didn’t. I mean...” Potter rubbed at his eyes tiredly. “I’m ecstatic to have a kid. Even when I found out, the annoyance didn’t even occur to me until a couple weeks had passed.”

Draco blinked. How on earth...?

Potter smiled at him drlyly. “I know, right? It’s just... I kind of forgot. I never really had parents, as you know, nor any siblings. I didn’t really notice that I should have had a part in that, which says something about me , I’ll admit, but I’ve never done this shite before, Malfoy. I mean, she gave me my son. My baby. What else could I ask of her?”

“A little heads up would have been nice,” Draco intoned softly.

Potter sighed again. “Yeah, it would've been, but I’m over that. Or, well, I’m not. I missed the first stage to being a parent, really, but I’ve forgiven her for that. After how many times she apologized, of course I’ve forgiven her for that. But I guess that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her being distant.”

Draco frowned. “When did you two start having trouble in your relationship?”

Potter blinked at him. “We aren’t having trouble,” he said, “she was just distant. I mean, I don’t want to be that guy who thinks he has a say in what any woman does to her body, even if the baby is partially mine, but I’d’ve liked to have been aware, I guess. It’s different to have the option and decide against it, than to not have the option at all.”

Draco nodded thoughtfully. “Of course, and you’re many a woman’s dream by saying that, but that’s not what I mean. She’s still distant, isn’t she?”

Potter regarded him. “I don’t know,” he replied slowly, eyes a little narrow.

Draco huffed. “I’m not trying to be accusatory Potter, I’m just calling things as I see them. Back in Hogwarts, you two were all over each other. I’m sure some of that initial clinginess abated a bit after nine years , and it’s been, what, three years since James was born? You two should be a well-oiled machine by now.”

Potter looked up at the ceiling. “What are you saying.”

Draco worried his lip between his teeth for a moment.

He’d had friends before, obviously, and it’s not as though he never talked about his feelings with them, but his friends were blunt with their opinions. He didn’t want to be so callous with Potter, because unlike himself, he wasn’t sure the Auror could handle it at the moment, as sensitive as he was feeling. He was in a vulnerable place, and by having this chat, Draco was trapping him there and prodding at the wounds. Gently, but still. Potter was placing an immense amount of trust in Draco, in their bond as friends, to even be having this conversation.

Of course, Weasley might not be an option, considering it’s his sister, but surely Granger, the happily married one, might have even been a better candidate. Potter had even seemed excited at first, at the prospect of talking it out with Draco. Like two mates just talking about life over a pint, or even if Potter was imagining a bloody sleepover with hair-braiding, he must not have expected it to get this serious, or perhaps not so rapidly.

Potter was still staring at the ceiling with supposed fascination when Draco stood and walked over to him. Potter’s eyes were wet. He was thinking about things, apparently.

Draco, throwing caution to the wind, squeezed in the chair next to Potter. The other man blinked at him, startled, but obligingly scooted over so they could squeeze together. Draco considered enlarging it, but rather enjoyed the closeness of their bodies, and despite Potter’s rather befuddled expression, he hadn’t shoved the blond aside yet.

“Hey,” he said softly, looking at Potter, no, Harry, square on. “I’m not good with these talks. Not only am I single with no prosperous love life to speak of, even in the preterite sense, but I’ven’t been in good company for a good seven years prior to this. If I’m making you uncomfortable, kindly tell me to piss off, and I will.”

Potter opened his mouth, supposedly to retort, but Draco beat him to it.

“And if not, well, I’m just trying to help, but also, you don’t have to talk about this with me. Granger, for example, would be a better candidate. Molly Weasley, even, and I can tell by your pale face how horrifying that seems to you, but the only thing I’m going on here, P-Harry, is what I’ve seen, and what you’re telling me.

“I’m not telling you to divorce your wife. I’m not saying that she doesn’t love you, or that you don’t love her, or that your marriage is a failure, because it isn’t. There is love here somewhere, and James came out of it, and, if nothing else, I rather like him.”

Potter smiled a bit.

“I’m just saying,” Draco continued slowly, “that you should take some time together. Take her out to dinner. Go to a spa resort. Molly or myself can watch James. As disgusted as I am to suggest this, get some sparks flying, you old coot. Give her a reason to come to you, instead of always going to her.”

Potter’s face twisted up in a mixture of indignance and amusement. “Are you calling me old?”

Draco smirked. “I might’ve done.” And then he was serious again. “I’ve never had a successful relationship,” he reiterated, “but something I value above all else is honestly. I need trust, and honesty is all I can see really leading to that. The fact that Ginevra still isn’t keen on me implies that she doesn’t trust your decision. Molly, James—bloody Hermione Granger has spoken on my behalf, as insane and brilliant as I find that, and Ginevra is yet to acquiesce. I daresay, Potter, that this time, it isn’t you who needs to solve the issue.”

Potter nodded, sighed again.

“It, um,” Draco coughed, “it wasn’t just me who caused this issue, yeah? I don’t want to be a homewrecker-”

Potter abruptly barked out a laugh. “Merlin, no! She’s—We’ve been, I’ll admit, having a miscommunication problem for a while. Rather, a lack thereof, because she’s never around,” he mused. “Besides, homewrecking implies you’re trying to get with Gin or I.”

“Gin or me,” Draco corrected automatically.

Potter blue a raspberry at him, the childish man he was, and Draco curled his lip in response.

The door opened, and only then did Draco realize how close their faces were. Both quickly looked towards the door, where Hermione Granger stood, a little startled. Almost more startled than they were, honestly, which made Draco nervous, because she’d obviously been looking for them, so her surprise could only mean she was thinking similar thoughts to what Draco had just been thinking.

“Um,” she began, “I was looking for Harry, and Ginny said you were over here,” she coughed, “again.”

Potter nodded, and Draco could feel his wild hair brush against his jaw.

“Just talking about feelings and relationship stuff,” Po- Harry said, waving his hand casually. “Manly stuff,” he assured, and Draco could hear the smile in his voice, and his chest swelled with affection.

“Right,” Granger replied, still eyeing them. “Why are you sitting like that?” she finally came out and asked.

Potter sniggered. “He’s comforting me, apparently. A weird Slytherin thing.”

Draco felt humiliated for going out on a limb and apparently being oddly touchy. He just assumed Gryffindors were this soppy! But, he refused to show his embarrassment, and when he felt uncomfortable, it was his duty to make others just as much so.

Smirking, Draco lifted an arm around Potter’s shoulders.

Granger stared.

Draco flung a leg over Potter’s lap.

“What are you doing?” Potter asked, bemused.

Draco careened dramatically before wrapping his arms around Potter’s puzzled head, pulling the git to his chest in an awkward caress.

“Homewrecking,” he replied, making Granger sputter and Potter “Ah,” in understanding.

“I think you’re supposed to be making moves on Gin, though.”

“Are you assuming my sexuality?” Draco asked Granger’s general direction.

“Erm, no,” Potter replied, voice muffled, “but if you go after me, we can’t have a final battle where we spar for my wife’s affections.”

“True,” Draco conceded, “I’d rather take my chances kicking your arse than your wife’s.”

“And I could show off the new spells I’ve learned,” Potter added, “when I kick your arse.”

“In your dreams.”

“Want to take this outside?” Potter offered.

“I can’t change my story now, though,” Draco complained. “Granger would know I was only teasing, otherwise,” he announced obviously.

“Right,” Potter said, “we need to be convincing.”

Granger looked faint. “What?” she asked.

“It’s called a bromance, Granger. Totally legitimate,” Draco assured her.

Potter took Draco’s head in his hands, somehow dislodging Draco’s arms from around his own head, and brought them face to face.

Draco was smirking, and so was Potter, but when the Gryffindor began to lean in, eyes fluttering shut, Draco froze.

A million thoughts flew through his mind and slammed into the forefront like a bludger. What the actual fuck was he doing? He and Potter were barely friends, and now they had a bromance going on? To be fair, they were pretty bloody good friends, considering their earlier conversation, and Potter was casually playing along, so it couldn’t be too weird, but Potter didn’t seem to know Draco was gay, and after he found out, would things be weird? Would he feel used? Would he trust Draco again? What if he somehow found out how Draco felt about it? What then? Would he think Draco was scheming to break up him and his wife? Would he-

Potter tilted his head forward and gave a large, smacking kiss to the very top of Draco’s head, like he would do occasionally to James.

Granger rolled his eyes, but scoffed fondly, “You two.”

Potter winked at her before getting up.

Draco remained on the couch, staring at where Potter had previously been sitting.


Draco looked up.

Potter was regarding him curiously, Granger having already left the doorway, supposedly to find her way back out. She must have assumed Potter was following.

“What?” Draco croaked, strangely askew. His heart was racing.

Potter stared at him.

Draco stared back.

Potter tilted his head. “You’re pink in the face.”

When uncomfortable, make others so.

“S’not my fault!” Draco cried, hands flinging up to hide his flaming cheeks. “I feel honored, because I was just kissed by the savior of the wizarding world, but also disgusted, because I was just kissed by Potter !”

Potter smiled. “Good to know I can still get a rise out of you.”

Draco didn’t know what face to make to respond to that, so he panicked and settled on a disgruntled, pinched expression, which had the unfortunate effect of making Potter guffaw.

When he calmed, Draco’s expression was pensive.

“Harry,” he said.

Potter blinked at him. “What’s up?”

“I am gay,” he disclosed quietly. “I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable, and I apologize for not telling you earlier. It didn’t occur to me until just now that this information might have affected how you reacted, and it’s not fair to keep that from you when you’ve been so honest and upfront with me about everything-”

Potter cut him off with the beaming smile which split his face. “I’m glad.”

Draco squinted. “That I’m gay?”

Potter sniggered again. “No, you ponce, that you told me. You shouldn’t feel like you had to tell me,” he argued, face stern, “because really, it’s none of my business, but I appreciate that you trust me enough to tell me. And no,” he smiled again, “it doesn’t make things weird. I do kind of like that you’re gay, I guess. I’ve never had dramatic friends, and it’s nice to tease ‘Mione like that. Ron would never agree to-” Potter abruptly looked guilty. “Ah, shit, is that a stereotype? I don’t mean to offend you,” he stumbled over his words.

Draco stared. His back twinged. And then he laughed. “In some cases, it might be, but I am rather dramatic, aren’t I?”

Potter grinned. “We should fuck with Hermione more often,” he decided. “Did you see her face?”

Draco smirked darkly. “She seemed convinced that I had a chance at tainting you. My charms must not elude her.”

Potter scoffed. “Sure. If anything, it would be the other way around.”

Draco stared at him, expression blank as he processed that.

Potter raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“Honestly?” Draco asked warily.

“Of course.”

“Well, I’m not sure whether you meant that in a combative, or sexual sense.”

“Oh. Oh!” Potter’s face was bright red. “Um, no. Sorry, but,” he coughed and laughed nervously, “not what I meant. At all. Definitely, erm, combative.”

Draco laughed nervously as well. “I knew that,” he assured.

Their awkward chuckled trailed off and Draco grimaced. This is exactly what he didn’t want.

He looked at Potter, who was looking at his shoes with acute fascination all of a sudden, and decided to be bold once more. With a sigh, Draco stood, faced Potter, and pecked him on the forehead.

Potter blinked at him, surprised.

“Now, we’re even,” Draco declared. Then, he grabbed Potter around the shoulders and forcefully spun him. “Now, out with you! You’ve been long enough. Any longer and Granger will never trust me alone with you again.”

Potter smiled a bit. “True. And hey, Draco?”


“Thanks. For listening. And for telling me.”

Draco smiled genuinely, all fear and trepidation from earlier sliding off his shoulders. “Yeah? Thanks for giving me a chance.”

Potter looked all emotional again, eyes moist.

Draco curled his lip in disgust. “Oh, my goodness, you are such a dad now! Look at you, all teary-eyed over some thankyous-”

“Oh, shut up, you,” Potter scowled, punching Draco in the arm. The blond didn’t miss his sniffle, however, nor his smile. “See you, Draco.”

Draco shivered at the sound of his name on Potter’s tongue.

“Until next time, Harry.”

Draco did not predict ‘next time’ being the next bloody day.

“You’re the one who suggested it,” Harry grumbled defensively, a stark difference to the cheery way he had flooed earlier, wished Draco good morning, and promptly invited him out hiking with ‘the family’. The annoying prat barely let him snag a slice of bread before yanking him through the floo. Draco felt anxious the entire time, as though he was forgetting something, and then realized he hadn’t even managed to toast the damn bread in his mouth before he was in Grimmauld place.

“I wanted you to go on a romantic trip with your wife ,” Draco groaned, coming back to the present, “not hiking with ‘the fam’!” he snapped, exasperated. “How on earth did you ever get her in your bed in the first place, you guileless troll?”

Potter flushed. “Piss off, would you?” he griped. “I tried, and since everyone else is going, she had to come! This is just the start,” he assured. “I’ll take her out later in the week-”


“I’ll take her out tomorrow,” Potter assured, raising his nose defiantly.

Draco smirked. “Good. I’ll try and get you two some alone time today, as well. Try and romance her, Potter.”

Potter nodded resolutely, flashing him a cheesy thumbs-up.

Draco rolled his eyes, but then he saw bushy brown hair from the corner of his eye and flung himself at Potter. Be it his Seeker reflexes, or his occupation as an Auror, Potter seamlessly caught Draco and twirled him theatrically before pulling him close. Potter cupped his face, and Draco, still being held at an angle, looked up into Potter’s eyes.

Granger giggled. “You two don’t have to do this stuff every time I enter a room.”

“What ever are you talking about?” Potter asked, glancing at her with confusion.

“This is who we are,” Draco agreed, raising one of his legs, like some exotic dancer, and arching it around Potter’s waist, cinching them closer at the hips.

Potter looked at him. “Saucy,” he said, face dead serious, and Draco couldn’t help his abrupt burst of laughter. He lost all strength in his limbs, causing him to drop the elegant pretense. Potter released a garbled noise as he scrambled to make up for the change in balance. As Draco wilted, still laughing, practically crying, Potter chastised him and pulled him upright.

Draco sniggered and pushed him away. “That,” he sighed wistfully, “was beautiful. I’m going to pensieve that.”

Potter smiled, but Granger wasn’t anymore. She looked between them and opened her mouth, but ceased when Ginevra entered the kitchen.

Her expression was stubborn, but she was dressed for a chilly hike, James in tow. His little goggles made Draco want to swoon, but refrained for various reasons.

Her expression was icy when regarding Draco, slightly less so when regarding Potter, and simply resigned when she looked to Hermione.

Suddenly, Draco felt guilty. Why was she even going hiking if she was displeased with the lot of them?

Then, Ron Weasley came tumbling through the floo, excited and ready to go hiking with his beloved sister and even lovelier wife, and Draco sighed in comprehension. At least she was trying. Maybe this wouldn’t be too bad.

It was.

The four of them walked in the back, chatting quietly, while Ginevra hiked further up ahead with James. Draco couldn’t tell if she was just competitive, or trying to stay the hell away from them.

Maybe she was trying to beat the rain, he considered as he eyed the darkening sky. She could always cast an Umbrella Charm, of course, but it was the principal of the matter, really.

He looked at Harry, who met his eyes soon after, and gestured towards the power couple up ahead with a jerky nod in their direction.

Potter smiled sheepishly before jogging to catch up with his wife and child, and Draco sighed in a mixture of relief and exasperation. Honestly, Weasley and Potter were Auror partners! How could they spend so much time together, and still wish to talk about Quidditch?

But then he was left with Granger and Weasley, who casually, domestically began discussing grocery shopping. Little things that needed fixing around their house.

Draco wistfully watched the family up ahead as well, James holding hands with both parents, arms swinging between them.

He sighed.

But then he heard voices raising, and when he looked up, Ginevra had snatched her hand away from the two and took off in a brisk pace before breaking into a sprint.

Draco watched her disappear around the corner of the trail, a shocked Granger and Weasley beside him.

He quickly rushed up to Potter, forcing the group to a stop.

“What happened?” he demanded.

Potter shook his head, scowling and looking straight ahead. James just looked sadly at his feet, and Draco felt a flare of anger rise within him.

With a snarl, he spun on his heel and dashed after Ginevra.

“Draco, wait!” Harry had called after him, but the blond ignored him in favor of picking up the pace. Speed, he needed speed, and suddenly he was sprinting like a professional runner, his body adjusting to his wishes, and a familiar sense of anxiety wriggled in his brain.

He ignored it, charging around the corner up ahead. The rest of the group was out of sight, but he saw red hair in the distance and shot off, literally leaping up the mountain towards her. He was a little startled, really, with how quickly he had seen her, reached her, and now he was practically on her. Like a predator, he swept before her, abruptly cutting her off.

“Malfoy-” she snarled before freezing. She slowly drew her wand.

Draco frowned at her. “Wh-”

“What’s wrong with your face?” she asked, eyes narrowed. “I knew I couldn’t trust you, you bloody little rat-”

He realized what he’d been forgetting and anxious about was his pill. He’d forgotten the pill to repress his veela instincts because Potter had been hollering at him like a madman, and suddenly he was feeling urges to get up in Ginevra’s face, to intimidate her.

A raindrop fell on his nose, and then it was pouring.

Neither moved an inch.

Draco forced himself to calm, thinking of his happy place, thinking of Thuban, back home, whining because he would have killed to go hiking with Draco, despite the blond not wanting to risk anything and give Potter another distraction from the main objective of wooing his wife.

Bollocksed that up, didn’t he.

“Look,” he said, “I think we should talk. Please excuse my rather feral expression—I have a condition. It’ll fade,” he assured, a mixture of serene and discomfited.

Ginevra eyed him for a little longer before pocketing her wand. Neither bothered with the rain.

“I don’t have anything to say to you,” she said tersely before brushing past him.

With a sneer, he spun around and grabbed her arm.

She freaked. “Don’t touch me!” she screamed, tearing away from him.

“Then don’t ignore me,” he snarled, knowing that was no excuse but needing an in. “Is this how difficult you are with Potter?” he sneered. “No wonder he thinks you don’t love him anymore!”

It was a bold faced lie, but he was looking to hurt.

Judging by her shocked expression, it had at least caught her attention.

“What?” she asked, voice drowned out by the rain, but he could hear her anyway. Instinct, maybe.

“He’s angry that you didn’t tell him about James,” Draco said. “And he feels guilty about it. He’s trying and trying to understand what’s wrong, what’s changed. He thinks he’s the problem.” Draco stared her down. “I think we both know that’s not true.”

Her face twisted into something ugly, something scared and threatened. “Don’t talk to me like you know me, like you know anything!” she cried. “You and your Death Eater self, coming into my home , into my family , like you belong here,” she snarled. “And with such ease ,” she moaned, like a wounded animal, “like you know !”

“Know what?” Draco asked gently.

“Anything!” she screamed, sobbed. “Everything! You think I wanted to get pregnant? To have a kid? You think I was ready?”

Draco took a step towards her, but she backed up rapidly, looking ready at flee at any sudden movement. Draco didn’t make any more advances towards her, holding out his hands as he dropped his wand to the ground to show he was unarmed. She was standing a little too close to a rather steep drop in the trail. A little cliff. He couldn’t even see the bottom from where he stood.

“Why didn’t you go to P-Harry?” he asked.

“Because you know what he would do,” she yelled, frustrated. “He would leave it up to me! He would tell me, ‘Gin, you know what’s best for us, you know what’s best for you,’ and I don’t need that! I wanted someone to tell me I should do it,” she mumbled, voice shaky, “that I would grow to love that kid.” She looked at her hands, eyes pouring with more than rain water. “I wanted someone to tell me that it would be the worst mistake I ever made.”

Draco watched her, silent. He vaguely wondered where the rest of the group was, but was confident they had apparated out. Hiking in the rain wasn’t safe, especially with james. They likely assumed to two of them had already apparated as well.

“Ginev-Ginny,” he corrected.

Her head snapped up to him.

“What did you think when you first saw James?” he asked, not daring to move and wipe the rivulets away from his eyes. Not daring to break this moment.

She stared at him, voice hollow when she answered. “Guilt,” she said. “For hiding him from Harry. For being angry at him for getting me pregnant, even though I know it was unintentional.” She looked at the sky. “For listening to my teammates, who told me a child was the best thing that could happen to me, and not understanding, but, like a child, agreeing with them.” She looked at Draco. “For looking at him, looking at James, and feeling nothing.”

Draco blinked slowly.

“I thought he was rather ugly,” she said softly. “All red, and wrinkled. I didn’t want to take him home.”

“You’re not the only one,” he said.

She squinted at him through the rain, through her tears.

Her clothing plastered to her body, her face was as red as her hair. Crimson strands curled around her eyes, her ears, stuck to her wet features. They almost completely masked the pearl earring he could just barely make out in her sopping tresses.

Her eyes were puffy and red, juxtaposing the fierce blue of her irises.

She looked beautiful.

“You’re not alone,” he repeated. “I’ve heard of mothers who feel the same way,” he said, and it was true. He’d read about it in a magazine, once, when he was at the barber. It had been in the early stages of his seven-year exile.

Lightning flashed above them, and suddenly Draco could hear thunder in the distance.

She looked at her hands.

“What’s wrong with me?” she asked, flexing her fingers, trembling.

“I’m no expert,” he reminded slowly, wincing at the blank look he received. “But, if memory serves... It could be postpartum depression.”

Ginny looked at him, lost.

“It has something to do with the chemical changes your body went through during pregnancy,” he tried, wracking his brain for any facts. “It’s an imbalance that can contribute to depression after birth.”

She coughed, loudly. “It’s been three years-” she began, voice cracking.

Draco’s vision sharpened, and his hair stood on end.

He looked up.

“Shite!” he screeched, leaping forward just as lightning struck.

He was holding Ginny, and then they were falling.

He had pushed them off the bloody mountain.

She was too shocked to scream, to do anything other than clutch his arms.

Out of the pan and into the fire, Draco thought in a moment of grim insanity.

He had just gotten them fucking killed !

And then Draco saw the ground approaching, swift, and felt the wind tearing through his hair, roaring so loudly he couldn’t make out the prayers Ginny spoke as she buried her face in his chest.

He looked up, at first squinting against the rush in his face, but then with wide, seeing eyes.

He could see the distance. Smell the ozone, like lightning. Feel the air around him. Every individual raindrop as it splashed into him.

He could feel the thunder in his bones, calling him home.

He didn’t even scream when his wings tore from his back, when he released Ginny just in time to slip his hands from his coat as his new limbs tore off his jacket, and he didn't want to break his arms, but Ginny was staring at him, wide-eyed, and Draco could feel the butterflies in his stomach as he lurched for her.

He felt calm.

He took her in his arms, and they swooped, and she screamed, but Draco was living, breathing, one with the atmosphere. He felt as if he was moving in slow motion, as if he could see every droplet as it descended.

It occurred to him that they were diving faster than the rainfall, and Draco released a hysterical laugh, thankfully lost in the roar of the wind.

Draco extended his wings, twisted, spun, flapped, and pictured the mountain in his mind. Pictured the cliff. Pictured Potter, and James, and Weasley and Granger.

And then he was flying, really flying.

He swooped onto the ledge with silence, with grace, and released Ginevra, who tumbled into a mess of trembling limbs as soon as he did so.

She stared at him in shock.

Draco blinked down at her, eyes still open and wide.

“That lightning must have struck something,” he murmured, “because now I can remember better than before.” He blinked at her owlishly. “In women who were receiving medical care during the study I read about, 50% of patients experienced depression for more than 1 year after childbirth.”

He knelt down towards her, and she shook, and he cupped her cheek. His voice was soft when he told her, “The review also found that, in women who were not receiving clinical treatment, 30% of women with postpartum depression were still depressed up to 3 years after giving birth.” He smiled gently. “You’re not lost, Ginny. There are treatments for this, should you so desire.” He took her hand. “You’re going to be all right.”

She screwed her face up and cried.

Draco shushed her quietly, wrapping his arms around her, his wings around her. Her kissed the top of her head, and she bawled louder.

He looked at his wings, speckled with browns, blacks, and creamier colors. The rain must have washed away the blood, he realized belatedly.

They hurt now.

Draco clenched his eyes and wished dearly for them to go away. He opened one eye.

Didn’t work.

He huffed, sighed, and shifted the sniffling woman in his arms.

God, was he exhausted.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Harry loves you,” Draco said softly. “He would understand.”

She looked up at him, eyes open, searching, hoping. “He would,” she agreed softly. She ducked her head in shame. “I didn’t know... I didn’t know it was a condition. I thought... I’ve never heard of any other mother not feeling that—that maternal instinct,” she whispered.

Draco nodded a bit. “It’s not commonly discussed in the open, because most mothers feel shame.”

Ginny sighed, and looked at Draco again, and then took a deep breath.

“Can you apparate with... with those ?”

Draco glanced at his wings, encircling them and blocking the two from the rain overhead.

“We can try it,” he said.

She looked at him incredulously. “Do you want to splinch them off?”

“They’re new, actually,” he mused. “I’ven’t the faintest idea how to get rid of them. If I can get rid of them.”

Ginny stared at him. “You’re a veela.”

“What gave it away.”

“Is that why your face looked like a bird, earlier?”

Draco winced. “That must have been attractive.”

“Does Harry know?”

Draco felt oddly guilty about answering the question, but did so, anyway. “He does,” he admitted, “though I didn’t mean to tell him. He found out on accident,” the blond supplied vaguely, not wanting to really go into details on that particular event.

He regarded her carefully. “Only you, him, and my dear mother know about me.”

She looked back at him honestly. “I won’t tell anyone.”

Draco was grateful. “Thank you.”

“You might not be thanking me long,” she warned, taking a hold of his shoulders. “I might splinch your wings off, after all.”

And then they apparated.