This isn't the way it was supposed to be, Harry thinks.
He's spent the past six months getting ready: sequestering himself away for a bit of privacy, stepping back both from Auror training and the public eye, focussing on preparing himself and Grimmauld Place for the baby. To be sure, it'd been rather a shock to find out he was up the duff, particularly when he was only twenty-one himself. And really, Harry hadn't even known wizards could end up pregnant. No one had mentioned it to him, not even Hermione, and it's not like there'd been any proper sex ed at Hogwarts, or any shit sex ed, for that matter, like the mumbled, half-embarrassed lecture from the St. Grogory's PE teacher Harry'd got about his changing body towards the end of year six. Maybe if Harry'd known this could happen he'd have been more careful. Or maybe not, he supposes. When you're twenty and randy and just discovering the thrill of other men's cocks, it's hard not to get caught up in the moment. And there's a part of Harry that thinks he'd been lucky to just find himself preggers and not taken ill with something like spattergroit on his prick. Or worse. Proper protection charms weren't always at the top of Harry's mind when he was lost in the excitement of being split open by a thick prick.
Particularly a certain one, long and ruddy and with a girth that sometimes made Harry gasp with each thrust. One that Harry still misses sometimes, along with the sodding wanker it belonged to.
But Harry's not dwelling on that. Not now. He can't. Harry wasn't the one who'd left for Sydney, after all.
Hermione thinks Harry's mad. He knows this. Even as she's offered all her support, he can still see it in the way she looks at him sometimes, that half frown of worry furrowing her pretty brown face. She hasn't quite forgiven him for splitting with Gin after the war, when everyone else had gone back to Hogwarts to finish up school and Harry'd settled into Grimmauld with Ron for Auror training. And he knows she's still furious that he hadn't told her he was bent, that none of this had come out until after he'd gone to the Healers, expecting to be told he had a touch of the flu. Not that he was three months gone with a baby starting to unsettle his insides.
Still, Harry's always wanted a family of his own, so even when Hermione had asked him the night he'd gone over to her flat, the one Ron spends mostly all of his time at now, his room at Grimmauld left empty for stretches of weeks or longer, if he really wanted to go through with this, as dangerous as it might be for his body and as hard as it might be to go this alone, Harry hadn't hesitated. He'd wanted this, wanted Jamie. It hadn't really been a question for Harry, whether or not he was going to have the baby, however mental all his friends thought it was, and each month, as his belly grew larger, more swollen, Harry'd known he'd made the right decision. And when Harry'd been rushed to the Lindo Wing of St Mungo's a few days ago, his whole body shuddering with the excruciating pain of contractions it had no way of using to expel his baby, Harry'd just bit back his screams until the Healers had sedated him, until he'd felt the odd tug of his belly being opened with a Diffindo, the strange shift of his body as Jamie was pulled from inside of him.
The first moment Harry had held his son, he'd fallen in love with him. With the tufts of black hair across his head, with the small, button nose and the soft, puckered mouth. And when Jamie had curled those tiny fingers of his around Harry's thumb, his eyes fluttering open to reveal a bright blue-grey gaze, Harry's heart had stuttered in his chest. He'd known then he'd do anything for this boy. Whatever it might require of him.
It'd felt magical, lying there in the middle of the operating theatre with Jamie on his chest. His Healer had beamed down at him as she knit his skin back together; Hermione and Ron had been beside him, Ron's hand on Harry's shoulder, Hermione's on his forehead, smoothing Harry's sweaty hair back. The moment had been perfect, just the way Harry'd imagined it'd be all these months.
But the shit of it is, now that they're back here at Grimmauld, without the Healers and mediwitches surrounding them, without Jamie being whisked away to the nursery so that Harry could rest for a bt, Harry doesn't know what the bloody fuck to do with his son.
Harry's sat in the corner of one of the old leather chesterfields in the Grimmauld Place library, holding Jamie, his small body rigid in his Cannons onesie and his soft, white blanket, his tiny face red and wrinkled as his screams echo through the room for the umpteenth time today. The heavy blue curtains at the long, paned windows are drawn against the grey, rainy light that still seeps wetly past their edges, mottling the shadows that spread across the worn rugs and wooden floors. Despite it being June, there's a small fire in the hearth to take the bit of chill out of the air that's settled in the house with the rain; it's been going for days now and Harry just wants to see a bit of sun. Ten minutes would do him, he thinks as Jamie's tiny fist slams against Harry's chest. For such a small thing, he's an awful temper, Harry thinks, and he, perhaps uncharitably and if Harry's honest, perhaps wrongly, is certain it doesn't come from his Potter genes. Jamie's little fingers unclench for a moment as they touch the soft cotton of Harry's faded Harpies t-shirt, one of the relics of his relationship with Ginny. She'd firecalled this morning from Budapest, demanding that he hold Jamie up so she could see him. Gin's always been the only one who'd never told him he was throwing his life away to do this; Harry thinks she's been just as excited as he has for Jamie to arrive.
Except she just gets to coo over him from a continent away now.
"Come on," Harry says under his breath, and he tries once more to get the bottle's nipple past Jamie's lips, but his son just turns his head, his crying somehow managing to get louder. A roil of frustration builds in Harry's stomach, bitter and angry and fueled by utter exhaustion. He hasn't slept in two days, he's certain. Maybe a nap here or there, but it seems like every time he drifts off, Jamie's awake again, squalling and unhappy, and there's nothing Harry can do to calm him.
Harry feels like a bloody failure.
"Try holding him up a bit higher, lad," Arthur Weasley says, his voice kind, and Harry over at him, sat on the chesterfield opposite Harry. Arthur's watching him, but carefully, trying not to intervene too much, and Harry's glad of that, even if there's part of him that's resentful that Molly and Arthur had just shown up in his Floo this morning, Ron and Hermione at their heels, as if Harry's not capable of taking care of his own son.
But Harry's not really doing such a brilliant job of it on his own, is he?
Harry shifts, tries to settle Jamie a little higher in the crook of his arm. It doesn't do any good; Jamie just howls louder, his screams echoing through the house, and it's all Harry can do not to force the sodding bottle down his son's throat. He tries to breathe out, tries to calm himself, but his own throat is tight and raw, and Harry can feel the hot burn of tears scratching against his eyes.
And then Molly's there in a waft of floral perfume, a mug of tea in her hand. Somehow she manages to swap the bottle for the mug, reaching down to lift Jamie from Harry's arm. "Drink, love," she says to Harry. "You need a strong brew, trust me. I did this six times over, once with twins, and if you don't think Fred and George both liked to howl, you'd be terribly mistaken." She gives Harry a small smile as she takes Jamie away from him. "Best to keep your strength up."
Harry wants to object. It feels strange not to have Jamie pressed up against him, and there's something almost primal deep inside of him that raises its head, wants to snarl at Molly and grab his son back. But the warmth of the mug in his hands seems to calm Harry, settle that anxious part of him, and he takes a sip. The tea's good and milky, and he's missed it during his pregnancy.
The Healers had told him to watch his caffeine whilst he was carrying Jamie, particularly since it could be an unpredictable stimulant when it came to unusual pregnancies like Harry's, and Harry'd immediately cut back the entirety of his tea and coffee consumption. It'd been bloody horrible, if he's honest. Harry's always loved a good cuppa, especially in the morning. But now his body craves caffeine, just to stay awake on these sleepless days, and since he's not nursing Jamie, he's back to his daily habit, thank Merlin. Honestly, Harry doesn't know how he'd survive otherwise.
He watches as Molly murmurs to Jamie, bouncing him gently as she walks over to the heart. Jamie's cries taper off, and Harry feels like a shit father, even more so when Jamie takes the bottle from her, a hungry, sucking snuffling coming from his tiny body as he drinks down the formula. He can't even feed his own child, Harry thinks, and his fingers tighten around the mug, a miserable anger starting to form a ball in the pit of his belly where Jamie'd been only a few days ago.
"You'll get the hang of it, Harry," Arthur says with a kind laugh, but Harry thinks he's just patronising him really. It's obvious Harry won't, and Harry sinks back into the corner of the tufted chesterfield. The ancient leather creaks and cracks beneath him as he pulls his bare feet up, tucking them beneath the thickly crocheted blue afghan that Hermione had set beside him before she and Ron had disappeared off to the kitchen. Honestly, Harry doesn't know if he wants the whole lot of them to go and leave him alone in his misery or stay and keep him from spiralling down into grimness. He hasn't had a proper shower since they'd come back from hospital, him and Jamie, nor a full night of sleep. Harry doesn't know how he thought he could do this on his own. It'd seemed so much simpler when he was planning it out, before the reality of Jamie started to sink in.
"He needs help," Molly says, walking over to the chesterfield and sitting down beside Arthur, Jamie still slurping noisily from the bottle. She frowns at Harry, and Harry just looks away, his throat tight, his fingers clenching around the thick white mug. He knows what she's going to say; this isn't the first time she's chided him for doing this on his own. "It's not as if this wee one is just yours, after all, love. I don't know why that Malfoy boy isn't here with you--"
"Don't, Mum." Ron's voice is quiet but firm as he walks into the room, Hermione a step or two behind him. Ron's carrying two plates filled with sandwiches; Hermione has a small bowl of grapes that she hands to Harry as she passes, giving him a small smile. He takes them gratefully. Grapes had been the one thing Harry'd been able to keep down at times during his pregnancy, There'd been a point he'd wondered if Jamie might have a bit of a purplish tint when he came out.
Molly turns her frown on Ron. "It's none of mine, I'm certain," she says, and she pulls the bottle from Jamie's mouth, wiping the formula from the corners of his lips with a bit of his blanket before she presses the rubber nipple back in just as Jamie starts to screw up his face into a wail. "But in my day it wasn't done to have one of the parents just disappear off to wherever--"
"Sydney," Hermione says, and she sits next to Harry, her hand settling on his knee. Ron sets the sandwiches on the old wooden trunk between the chesterfields that Harry's been using as a coffee table; Kreacher complains about it, but it'd been one Harry'd found tucked away in Sirius's room when he first moved in and he likes having something of his godfather's here in the middle of the house with him. The trunk was scratched and filthy at first, but Harry'd spent a weekend stripping it down and refinishing the wood. Now it glows a warm golden brown even in the shadows, and Sirius's initials are engraved in gold just above the latches.
He stares at them now, trying not to think about Malfoy, about the last night they'd spent together, spread across Harry's bed upstairs, Malfoy's narrow, bony hips pressed between Harry's muscular thighs as Malfoy'd fucked him until they were both gasping, sweating, their bodies moving in perfect tandem. Sometimes Harry still dreams about that night, about the way it'd been with Malfoy, those nights of shagging about until the early hours of the morning, before one or the other of them rolled out of bed and pulled his trousers on. Fucking had been easy for both of them, and that's all it'd been really. Malfoy'd made that much clear from the beginning, from that first night together when they'd stumbled into each other at a Muggle club, Harry just twenty, only broken up with Gin for a few months, hesitantly beginning to explore what it meant that he fancied blokes.
And Harry'd been shocked to see Malfoy there, throwing himself with wild abandon into the hedonistic press of half-naked bodies beneath shifting, dazzling lights that pulsed with the beat of German house music. Malfoy had looked beautiful as he danced in the middle of it all, long and lean in a plain white t-shirt and low-slung jeans, his long, pale gold hair twisted into a knot at the nape of his neck, tendrils slipping loose and catching on his damp skin. Harry hadn't been able to take his eyes off him. It'd taken two whiskey sours for Harry to scrape together the nerve to wade into the fray, pushing past several men who'd tried to stop him, tried to catch his arm, grind up against him. Harry'd pulled away from them, only stopping in front of Malfoy, who had his eyes closed, his face raised to the heat of the club lights, his body moving, swaying, undulating with the rhythm of the music.
"Malfoy," Harry had said, and when Malfoy's eyes opened, glittering and bright and oh so beautifully grey, Harry had realised what it must feel like when a snake mesmerises its prey.
If he'd wanted to turn away, he wouldn't have been able to, especially once the tip of Malfoy's tongue darted over his bottom lip, leaving it glistening and pink, and all Harry could think of was what Malfoy would taste like if he leaned in and kissed him there and then.
Malfoy'd just looked at him, and then he'd reached out and taken Harry's hand, drawing Harry up against him, their bodies pressed together as men danced around them. "Took you long enough," Malfoy had said, just loud enough for Harry to hear him over the pounding music, and Harry would have sworn back then that the thump of it matched the beat of his own heart as Malfoy's fingers tangled in Harry's hair, pulling him down into a kiss that tasted of gin and sex.
Malfoy had blown Harry that night, hidden away in a stall in the toilets, on his knees, the filthy floor beneath them. It'd been a revelation, Malfoy's mouth around Harry's prick. Other blokes had sucked Harry off in a club; he'd even fucked one or two, his body learning what he liked and didn't about being with a man. Sex with Ginny had been good enough, and he'd enjoyed rutting up against the nameless men he'd met in clubs like this. But Malfoy...Merlin. Harry still doesn't know how to explain what it was like to be with him. It was as if their bodies knew what each other wanted almost instinctively, both of them needing to lose themselves in sex, to ignore, if only for a few moments, the memories of the war that still haunted them.
They'd never talked all that much, though it was enough that it didn't seem odd to Harry. He knew Malfoy'd been training in magical antiquities with some dealer down Knockturn. Not Borgin and Burkes; someone more reputable, less likely to be fiddling about with Dark artefacts. But Harry hadn't really cared about what Malfoy was doing. He wanted to forget the war, wanted to look the other way, wanted to pretend that Malfoy was just some well fit bloke he was getting off with. Not his school boy nemesis, not the arrogant teenager who'd broken Harry's nose, who'd brought destruction and Death Eaters to Hogwarts, who'd tried to kill the Headmaster and failed.
When they were in bed together, Harry wasn't Harry Potter, and Malfoy wasn't a former Death Eater, the Mark on his arm be damned.
And Harry had liked it, had begun to settle into the rhythm of their fucking, the late nights that Malfoy would show up, rattling Harry's Floo, randy and hard and smelling of spirits, almost as if he needed to be inside of Harry to banish whatever memories were keeping him awake. And the nights Harry couldn't sleep, the nights when the nightmares were a bit too real, a bit too wrenching, he'd find himself walking through London, ending up at Malfoy's door. Malfoy would always open it to Harry, would always draw him into the bedroom without asking, would always have a half-empty bottle of some kind of liquor sat on the nightstand beside his bed.
They'd drink, and they'd fuck, and for an hour or three, the horrors of the war would fade away. It'd been good. It'd been what Harry had needed to pull himself together, to walk into the Ministry the next day and face down the panic Auror training brought up in him, the cold fear that would well up in him with each sparring exercise, the flashes of memory of that night in battle, of the Killing Curse hitting him, of drawing in that last, quick breath before the world faded away into the bright white light of King's Cross Station.
Together'd they'd been young and stupid and twenty-something and randy, thinking of nothing more than what it felt like to be touched, to be sucked, to be fucked until they were breathless.
And then Malfoy had gone and ruined it just before Christmas last, lying upstairs on Harry's bed, both of them sated and gasping, and when he'd turned his head and said, oh so bloody casually, I've taken a job in Australia, as calmly as if he were telling Harry he planned on popping out to Sainsbury's for a quick shop, the one thing keeping Harry together had started to crumble.
Not that Harry'd ever said that to Malfoy. What good would it do?
So Malfoy had left before the New Year turned, and Harry had drunk a bit too much at the Burrow, been ill for days afterwards, then gone to the Healer's, certain it was nothing.
Three months pregnant, they'd told him. Malfoy'd got him up the duff in late September, it seems, almost a year after they'd first started shagging.
Now Harry's sat here in Grimmauld Place, exhausted, the half-healed cut across his belly still itchy and painful. The once taut and tight body he'd had is soft around the middle, a bit saggy. His muscled abdomen has gone to fat, the leftover roll of his pregnancy bulging over the elastic waist of his joggers. Harry feels ugly and disgusting. He'd revelled in the swell of his belly when Jamie was pressing against it, pushing his navel out, stretching his skin tight. That skin's loose now, and even if the Healers say it'll tighten up again, Harry knows there are still going to be marks on it. No more shagging blokes in club loos, he thinks, a bit grimly. There's not a single one of them who'd give him a second glance now, even if he could slip away from his son for a night. He's nearly twenty-two in a few weeks, and his life's changed. He's a dad, with all the responsibilities that come with that.
Harry's scared shitless. He can't even get Jamie to take a bottle half the time. How's he going to manage raising him alone?
"Breathe," Hermione murmurs, and he looks over at her. She's watching him, her wiry curls pulled back with a mustard yellow scarf that sets off her brown skin. She looks tired; Harry knows she's been working extra in the Wizengamot offices, finishing up her magical law training. By next spring she'll be a solicitor herslef, and Kingsley's already starting to talk about bringing her into his cabinet as a junior legal advisor. Harry fully expects her to be the youngest Minister of Magic the wizarding world's ever had someday.
"I'm fine," Harry says, and he lifts his mug, takes a sip of the tea. It's still warm, and he follows it with a grape, nibbling at it slowly. He can feel Hermione's gaze on him still, and he knows she sees more than he'd like. He looks over at Molly and Arthur; Molly's turned her attention back to Jamie, cooing down at him, and Arthur leans forward, picks a cheese and pickle sandwich up from one of the stacks on a plate.
"Have you spoken to young Malfoy yet?" Arthur asks, and he takes a bite of the sandwich, very pointedly not looking at Harry.
Harry's face warms. "No," he says after a moment. He and Malfoy haven't had any contact, not since the last night Malfoy had left Grimmauld, Harry still lying sleepless in his bed, the sheet pulled over his shoulder, listening to Malfoy's steps on the stairs.
Arthur glances up at him, a quick flick of his gaze towards Harry before he turns it back down to the sandwich in his hands. "The boy has a right to know he has a son." His voice is mild, careful, and that makes it worse, Harry thinks.
"It's not like that," Ron says. "Malfoy's the one that left." He scowls. "Fucking twat."
Harry doesn't want to correct Ron; he knows it's been hard enough for Ron to realise that Harry was shagging Malfoy anyway, not to mention accept that half of his godson's genetic code belonged to the pointy-faced prat.
"Language, Ronald." Molly matches Ron's frown, then she turns it towards Harry. "And Arthur's right, you know. It's not fair to him if you haven't let him know Jamie's here."
"I know." But Harry doesn't want to think about it right now. His body hurts, and he's only had his son with him for a few days. This has been hard enough as it is; he doesn't want to make it worse. Harry pinches another grape between his fingers; the juice runs over his thumb, pulp smearing across his skin. He drops it back into the bowl and sighs. "I don't want him to take Jamie," he says finally, giving voice to the worry that's been niggling at the back of his mind for months. "He's mine. I carried him." Harry's voice cracks a little. No matter how difficult it might be right now with Jamie, Harry can't bear the thought of Malfoy swooping in and taking his son away from him, claiming him as the Malfoy heir. Harry knows a bit more how these pureblood traditions work, especially now he's been staying in Grimmauld. "Legally he could."
Hermione snorts. "I'd like to see him try." She leans into Harry's shoulder. "The Wizengamot wouldn't stand for it. Not with everything you've done."
And not with all the things Malfoy has is the unspoken subtext there, Harry knows. He's certain Hermione's right, but that makes him uncomfortable as well. He knows Malfoy's different now. They might not have talked a lot about things, but Harry'd spent over a year riding Malfoy's prick. There are certain things you get to know about someone when you're that intimate, even if you're not using words.
Still, he takes a deep breath and exhales, taking the comfort Hermione's trying to offer. Ron reaches over Hermione's shoulder, ruffles Harry's hair a bit awkwardly. For a moment, Harry wishes it were just the three of them here, wishes he could say the things to them he doesn't think he could bring up in front of Molly and Arthur.
"I'm going to take this one upstairs," Molly says, pulling the bottle from Jamie's mouth. Jamie's asleep in her arms, for the first time all afternoon, and Harry can't help the wave of relief that goes through him at the realisation. Molly glances over at him. "You've the listening charms ready in the nursery?"
Harry nods. "Ron and I set them up before I went to hospital. They're working fine."
"I'll help." Arthur stands up, steadies Molly as she pushes herself to her feet, Jamie tucked in her elbow. One of Jamie's hands flops over the edge of the blanket; his small fingers twitch for a moment then still again.
Ron watches as his parents leave the room, their heads bent over Jamie. "You gave Bill a bit of a reprieve, you know." He looks back over at Harry as he leans in and takes an egg mayo sandwich before putting it back and picking up a ham and cheddar. "Mum's been trying to talk him and Fleur into having another, but Fleur's put her foot down. Says it's too soon after Victoire."
"I should hope," Hermione says, a bit tartly. "She's only just gone two."
They're all silent for a moment, then Harry sighs and settles back into the corner of the chesterfield. He wants to sleep, if he's honest, but he doesn't know how to tell his friends that. It's just that he's already learned that the only time he can rest is when Jamie's sleeping, and Jamie never seems to stay asleep long enough for Harry to relax. Not that Harry thinks he could even Jamie did. He feels as if he's always on high alert now, listening for Jamie's cry, ready to be there at a moment's notice if his son needs him.
Hermione looks over at Harry. "All right?" she asks, and she brushes her fingertips against the back of his hand.
"This was easier with Teddy," Harry admits. "All the feeding and baby things. I thought it'd be more like that."
"Except you can hand Teddy back over to Andromeda when all's said and done," Hermione says, and Harry supposes she has a point.
"I'm just tired," Harry says after a moment. He looks over at Ron. "And your mum and dad aren't helping with all the…" He waves his hand loosely. "You know.
Ron shakes his head. "Look, mate. You don't have to tell Malfoy shit right now if you're not ready. You do what you need to do when you want to, yeah? I mean, for fuck's sake, you just birthed a tiny human. If you're not up to talking to Malfoy, then don't." He shrugs. "He was just a shag."
That's not what Harry would call Malfoy, but he doesn't want to say that. Not in front of Ron. Still, he catches Hermione's sharp look, and he glances away.
"You'll have to tell him at some point." Hermione's voice is soft, almost hesitant. "Arthur's right that he deserves to know."
Harry nods. His throat feels painfully tight. She's been telling him this for months now. He hasn't wanted to listen, but having Jamie here finally makes it all more real. Especially when Harry can look down, can see Malfoy in the shape of Jaime's eyes, the slight point of his chin, lost in the folds of baby fat. He's had all this time with Jamie, feeling him move inside of him, talking to Jamie late at night, pressing his hands against his belly when his son kicked and shifted and rolled against Harry's bladder. Malfoy deserves the chance to meet their boy. If he even wants to.
"I'm terrified," Harry admits. He balances the bowl of grapes on his thigh, holds his tea mug in both hands. It feels odd, off-balance, not to have the distended swell of his belly any longer. It's all soft and deflated now. Puffy even. Harry hates it. He takes another sip of tea, letting the sweet, milky warmth slide over his tongue. He doesn't know what Malfoy's reaction is going to be, whether Malfoy'll be shocked or angry. Harry can't imagine Malfoy would be happy about this. He'd been only too eager to be rid of Harry, after all. There's no way he'll be overjoyed to find himself tethered to Harry through their son.
Their son. That thought brings Harry up short. He's spent so much time thinking of Jamie as his son that he's half-forgotten Jamie's a Malfoy as well. It's strange to consider really. Just as Malfoy's tied to Harry now, Harry's tied to Malfoy and his family. As much as Molly and Arthur will take Jamie in as their own, his only living grandparents are Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, and Harry's not certain he wants Jamie exposed to them--or to Lucius at least. Narcissa's been better, or so Andromeda's told him. They're meeting every so often for lunches now, always in a Muggle restaurant, cautiously, hesitantly rebuilding their relationship. Harry's glad for Andromeda and for Teddy too, but he's still not certain he trusts Narcissa Malfoy. She'd been only too glad to see him die once, and Harry's under no illusions that Malfoy's mother would have saved his life if she hadn't been worried about her own son's safety.
But Harry might have done the same, he supposes. If Jamie needed him, if Jamie were hurt or lost or in trouble, Harry knows already that he'd do anything he had to in order to protect him.
Even if he can't manage to feed a bloody bottle to him at the moment.
"You're going to be terrified," Hermione says. She takes the bowl of grapes and sets them on the trunk before they spill from their precarious position on Harry's thigh. "None of this has been easy for you."
"Just wait until the Prophet finds out," Ron says through a mouthful of Wiltshire ham. Bread crumbs spill down the front of his t-shirt. "To be honest, I'm not sure how you've managed to keep it from them now. Figured someone at St Mungo's would spill."
And, really, Harry doesn't know how that's happened either. There'd been a flurry of press about him taking a hiatus from Auror training, as Robards had put it, and he knows there've been photographers out in the park across from Grimmauld every so often, hoping to catch a photo of him leaving the house. There's usually a Rita Skeeter story about him becoming a recluse published shortly after he sees one lurking across the street, but he'd been careful to leave only by Floo during the later months of his pregnancy. The staff at St Mungo's had signed a non-disclosure agreement that Hermione had drawn up, but Harry'd assumed no one would pay attention to it. Somehow, it seems they have. At least for now.
Harry runs his hands over his face, pushing his glasses up as he presses his fingers against his dry, aching eyes. He tries to hide a yawn and fails; he can't help himself. The quiet of the room's settling his jangled nerves. He can hear Kreacher in the hallway, his feet shuffling on the wooden floor. It's been hard for Kreacher as well, having Jamie up all hours of the night. The past few days Harry's walked into in the kitchen more than once at three in the morning, to find Kreacher there, a kettle already on the hob and a mug out for Harry's tea along with Jamie's bottle. Kreacher's surprisingly good at mixing up formula, Harry's discovered.
"How long did you sleep last night?" Hermione asks.
"Three hours, maybe?" Harry shrugs. He drops his hands; his glasses slide back down the bridge of his nose. "Might have been a little more. I dozed off for a bit in the nursery chair." And had woken up with a stiff back and aching neck for his trouble. The chair's comfortable enough to rock Jamie in, but it's not meant for a whole night's use. Still, Harry'd been glad to have slept, even a little.
Ron looks appalled. "Mate, go to fucking sleep. Mum's put Jamie down. Take a kip yourself, and we'll look after the little tyke. There's four of us to him. Pretty sure that puts the odds in our favour."
"Wouldn't be so sure of that," Harry says, and he yawns again, this time wider, nearly cracking his jaw. "And I can't sleep on company. It'd be rude--"
"It'd be bloody mental for you not to." Ron looks over at Hermione. "Tell him."
"Ron's not wrong." Hermione slides an arm around Harry's shoulders, pulls him up against her. He can hear the soft thud of her heart beneath the cotton of her yellow shirt, feel the faint line of her bra strap beneath his cheek. Her fingers slide through his hair, and Harry wants to wince. He hasn't washed it since the day before he went to hospital; he knows it feels lank and thick with grease. Hermione doesn't seem to care. She strokes his hair gently, steadily, the way she had when they'd been hiding in the Forest of Dean and Harry's anxiety had started to well up, to overwhelm him. "Besides we're not guests. We're family, all of us, and Molly's not wrong that you need help, Harry. You really can't do this entirely by yourself, whatever you idiotically might think." Her voice is gentle, warm. "So let us do what we can."
Harry lets himself relax against her. "You've all lives of your own," he murmurs. "I'm the one who was stupid enough to let this happen." It's not as if he and Malfoy had never used a condom. They had, at first. But somehow, they'd just stopped. Grown lazy, maybe, or just not given a damn. Harry's hand settles on his deflated belly, feeling the shift of skin and fat beneath his fingers as he presses into it. If Harry's honest, he knows he wouldn't have done anything different though. As tired as he is, as lost and beyond his ken, Harry's certain Jamie's worth it all.
"Don't be a twat," Ron says, but he smiles over at Harry. "You'll be fine. Just sleep, yeah? Things'll look a bit better after you do."
"Maybe." Harry pulls his feet up beneath him, settles into Hermione's side. "Maybe for a few minutes." His eyes flutter closed; he leans into the even stroke of Hermione's fingers, letting his body go loose. "I'll be up in a…" But he doesn't finish.
"Hush," Hermione murmurs, and Harry exhales, his body loosening, the tension he didn't even know he was holding, starting to slip away. Sleep's tugging at him, evening out his breath, pulling him into its welcome darkness.
And for the first time in days, curled against his best friend's side, Harry lets himself rest.
Draco shifts, then pulls up the edge of a grey cashmere throw to cover his legs. It's pale against the dark velvet of his sofa. His tea sits on the table, a cup of peppermint he'd made to calm his nerves. He calls this area the drawing room, but really it's not much more than a space for a deep blue cabriole sofa he'd found in a shop here and spent most of his first paypacket on. He's managed to get a mahogany coffee table off his supervisor at the auction house when Fumiko'd deemed the leather inlay too poor to sell. She hadn't been wrong, but Draco's covered the water circles with a spell one of the conservators had taught him and, all in all, he thinks his little sitting nook looks rather snug. It's not the Manor, but it's his, and Draco's pleased with what he's put together here.
Of course, he's sleeping on a futon in the bedroom and he barely has the cookery tools to make an egg, but with a sofa and table taken care of, surely the rest is solvable. Anyway, he usually eats at the auction house, staying late to finish his write-ups on objects and lots that have just been brought in. Draco's been working for the Sydney branch of Hobdays for a only few months, and he's glad for the position. When his apprenticeship had ended, he'd tried to get a job in London or at least in France, but every door closed whenever his surname was mentioned. It'd taken help from one of his mother's friends, Agamede Winterbourne--one of the few who hadn't returned her owls unopened once the war hearings were underway. Agamede had made a firecall to Fumiko on Draco's behalf, and after a quick, tense interview that Draco'd been certain he'd failed, an offer of a junior appraiser spot had arrived by international owl relay. The pay is terrible, but Draco doesn't care. It's a job, and in a field he loves. He'd have been a fool not to take it.
Even if he'd been reluctant to leave a certain arrogant Gryffindor prat to do so. Not that Draco wants to admit that, even to himself. There are things best left unthought, best left unhoped for.
There'd been surprisingly little to pack to leave Wiltshire, to leave the house he'd been born in. Draco's father was still "abroad" on the continent--the thinly veiled fiction his mother maintained cloaking the fact that everyone's fully aware his father'd be arrested if he set foot on British soil. His mother had closed off most of the Manor after the Aurors had swarmed through it, taking bits and pieces of Malfoy history with them, purportedly for evidence purposes, but Draco knows it's nothing more than the spoils of war. Half of the items weren't Dark to begin with, and he suspects those ended up in personal hands, not the sterile evidence rooms of the Ministry. Still, perhaps it wasn't the worst thing, Draco thinks. More pieces of family silver had been pocketed by the Death Eaters when they'd roamed free in the house, and Draco knows the echoes of those footsteps in the Manor hallways still haunt his mother, as much as she pretends otherwise. Now Narcissa prefers to live in her apartments in the East Wing, and Draco himself had found his house far too full of bad memories and invasive Aurors to manage daily life after the war. He prefers to remember the good things from afar.
Here, in Sydney, no one knows his name, and the war in England is a distant shadow, a mere mention in the wizarding newspaper, a few hushed whispers from those who lost cousins twice-removed. And yet Draco's sure the Death Eaters have been active here, and he worries sometimes he'll find out that his comfortable illusion of escape is a lie, that he can't get away from the past no matter how hard he tries. He pushes those thoughts resolutely out of his head. He came here to make a fresh start, and if that means letting go of everything that defines him, well, he'll have to make that sacrifice.
As he had those last months in England, giving up everything he'd once secretly hoped for in favour of a new, unfettered life. Unbidden, thoughts of Harry Potter arching up beneath his touch twist their way once more into his consciousness, as much as he'd like to push them away. For once, Draco doesn't. These memories, he thinks, he can keep. The breathtaking, sharp-edged, delicious recollections of shagging Potter can't hurt him from a distance. Draco lets himself indulge, seeing Potter in his head, sprawled out over that wretched coverlet at Grimmauld, up against a wall outside a pub at Midsummer. Their liaison had been shockingly good, the hours in bed unforgettable, and Draco only wishes it could have lasted. But he and Potter wanted different things, in the end. If it had worked out, he might have stayed in England, he tells himself. But he knows that's a lie.
Nothing like that could ever have worked out between a Marked Death Eater and the Saviour of the Wizarding World.
He doesn't have friends yet here. Pansy and Blaise are oceans away, Pans with her mother's family in San Francisco and Blaise on the continent somewhere--probably Italy, but possibly Croatia. Every so often Draco gets an owl from one or the other of them. He supposes he knew they'd all drift apart somewhat after Hogwarts, but he hates the fact that the war has fractured them even more. One day, he hopes they can mend themselves, stitch their lives and their friendships back together, but he knows it'll never be the same. And to be honest, he's not certain he wants it to be. The boy he was in school--angry, arrogant, antagonistic--that's not the man he wants to be. Draco knows he'll always be prickly, knows he'll always struggle with thinking others less than himself. A certain way of thought drilled into him since childhood is difficult to break. But he's trying, as best he can. Draco has decent colleagues at work--though few near his age--and he's made casual acquaintances at the pub on the corner and with his neighbour next door, a Muggleborn wizard with bright blue hair he thinks his father would deplore. And the club scene is utterly brilliant. He's picked up a few blokes here and there, had a rough shag or two that left him spent and sated, if not entirely happy, and it's been uncomplicated.
Draco needs uncomplicated right now.
Still, it's not the same. Although Draco'd left England before he made a fool of himself; he can't forget the way Potter had felt, how easy it had been when they were in bed and how confusingly difficult when they weren't. Sometimes he wakes up, late at night or early in the morning, and forgets that he can't just ring Potter up, can't just go back to him at will, that there are ten thousand miles between them now. Despite the sinking feeling he gets anytime he counts the distance, Draco knows it's better this way, knows that he'll get used to it somehow. He has to, after all. He's no other choice.
Draco brings his cup to the sink and pours the mostly tepid, undrunk tea down the drain. His nerves are beyond peppermint, it seems. He'll have a good night's rest and things will seem better in the morning. They've got a fresh lot of antiquities from Cambodia to process, and Draco's excited to see the new pieces before they go up for auction. He's still learning, naturally, but his understanding of art, Muggle and wizarding, is growing by leaps and bounds, as is his ability to identify what he's seen. Due to the eclectic nature of the Malfoy collections and the extremely varied sorts of objects and furnishings in the Manor, he has a decent visual vocabulary of the applied arts, but there's still so much to learn.
He tidies his kitchen things, although there's not much beyond a saucer with toast crumbs from this morning and another teacup with a solid orange-tan ring from the Assam he's been drinking to combat the sense of strangeness from the time zone and season shift. It's still a novelty to say his own cleaning spells, to plan his own meals, to manage all of the intricacies of life's daily tasks. He keeps expecting a house elf -- Mimsy or Essie, most likely-- to come all the way to Australia to scold him and take over the task. He's already shredded a shirt with a badly placed mending charm, broken several teacups with overzealous cleaning, and burnt at least a loaf of bread getting his mediocre toasting spells up to snuff. It's been glorious, and charred toast and trips to a homewares shop are worth the newfound freedom.
Draco's just turned off the lights in the small kitchen and is making his way to the bedroom when the Floo flares. He runs to the small, iron fireplace, terrified that he's somehow caused it to malfunction. Then he recognises his mother's delicate, pale face, peering out at him from the green of the fire.
He drops down to a crouch on the hearthrug. "Mother, what are you doing up at this hour?" Something must be wrong. She never deviates from their fixed schedule. He and his mother speak regularly, of course, but their usual time is Saturday evening, Sydney time.
"Draco, you look well," Narcissa Malfoy's wavering green head says. Her voice sounds tart and sharp across the crackling of the Floo, which doesn't go far to relieving Draco's worry. His mother's mouth purses ever so slightly, the wrinkles that she's been fighting for the past year or two deepening at the corners. "Good afternoon to you too."
Belatedly, Draco remember the time difference. It must be one in the afternoon or so in London. "Good afternoon," he says, as politely as he can, his body still tight with tension. "Is everything all right?"
"I'm not sure it is." There's a long pause, and his mother's face is impassive through the flames. She regards him evenly. "Perhaps you can explain to me why there's another branch on the family tree, one that comes from you."
Draco sits back in astonishment, but he misjudges the distance and topples over, catching his side on brick corner of the hearth. Muffling a curse, he rights himself, rubbing the hip he'd landed on that's he's certain will bruise and be ugly for days. "I can't really say that I know what you mean, Mother." He squints into the flames. "Are you certain it's not some sort of magical malfunction?" Those sorts of things happen from time to time. They're rare, but Draco's stumbled across mention of them in his readings on magical antiquities. It's usually a charm that's warped, often from overexposure to another stronger sort of magic--or, more and more frequently these days, a Muggle microwave.
"No, Draco." The calmness of his mother's voice is unnerving. "It's not a malfunction--or if it is, the malfunction's name is James, and he's a direct line from you on the tapestry."
Draco's brain freezes. He tries to say something, but nothing will come out of his mouth. This is the very last, no, beyond the very last thing he expected to hear on a chilly Tuesday at bedtime. He wants to say something, but the words just aren't there.
Narcissa continues, her eyes fixed on him, and no matter how much Draco wants to look away, he can't. His mother has always had this effect on him. "I can't see who the mother is, though, since it's not from a legal bond--and we will have to work on that, by the by. I hadn't thought you were playing for that team recently, but I must say, I'm delighted there's a potential Malfoy heir." Her face softens, if only a little. "Now, would you like to tell me where you're keeping them both? Is this why you moved to Sydney? Did you want to try this without me?" There's a crack in her voice at the last, and she presses her lips together, her gaze shifting away from him. "You know I only want to help."
And at that, Draco waves his hands helplessly in the wake of his mother's barrage of questions interspersed with suppositions, if only to ward off the looming swell of guilt coupled with shock. "Mother, don't be maudlin. It's nothing like that." Draco pauses, looking at her and wishing he could say this in person. "I didn't know." His throat tightens; he flattens his palms against his thighs, the cotton of his pyjama bottoms soft against his skin. It must still be a mistake, he wants to think, but there's a heavy weight in his belly. A new Malfoy baby. Nine months ago there'd only been one person he'd been fucking. Draco wraps his arms around himself, a deep chill sinking into him, despite the warmth of the fire. "There's no way I'd have hidden something of this magnitude from you," he manages to say.
"Oh, Draco." His mother looks back over at him; he catches the quick brush of her thumb across the corner of her eye, and he wants to sigh. He hates it when his mother gets emotional, and it's been happening more and more since his father's been away. It's been good for her to stand on her own two feet, Draco thinks, but he knows it's sometimes exhausting for her. He's felt the same way since Lucius scampered off, desperate to save his own skin during the hearings. Narcissa draws in an unsteady breath, then she says, "That does rather change things, doesn't it? But, I should think you have some idea who it is, whom it might be?" Her voice is hopeful, in a measured fashion.
Draco bites his lip, his brain numb. James. It can't be. There's no way on earth. But James. It has to be. There's no one else, after all. Ironic, all things considered, since the fucking Gryffindor bastard had always assumed Draco was shagging anyone who crossed his path, just because Draco'd sucked him off for the first time in the loo of a club. As if Draco were some sort of common slag.
"Draco, answer me please." His mother is getting upset, and ten thousand miles is no buffer against her wrath. "Do you or do you not know who the mother is and where this child might be?"
With his fingers firmly pinching the bridge of his nose and the bitter taste of bile rising in the back of his throat, Draco says, "Mother, I think the other father--" He breaks off, a twist of shock going through him. It's not unknown for wizards to get pregnant, but it doesn't happen frequently. Not without potions, usually, or a very sodding strong wizard as part of the couple. Draco closes his eyes, swallows. Curses himself for being a fool. "I think he might be Harry Potter."
"Oh," Narcissa says quietly, and her soft huff of breath lingers in the silence between them. Draco can't look at her, can't bear the pity he knows he'll see on her face.
Harry James Potter. Of course. Draco feels quite ill all of a sudden, as if the world has tilted on its axis around him. He struggles to remain calm, to sit still and listen to his mother and not run screaming into the hallway like a madman. He might have a son. With Potter. He exhales, the reality of the situation starting to sink in. He does have a son with Potter. Draco's fingernails dig into his knees; the sharp pain of it keeps him grounded, at least a bit. He tries to breathe, tries not to panic.
"Is that why you left England?" His mother is not at all relenting in the face of an unexpected answer. "Did he ask you to leave? He has no right, none at all, no matter what people will think."
"No, Mother," Draco says dutifully, wishing the whisky in the cabinet were closer. He's got his wand, but he doesn't want his mother to hear him Summon it. He needs a stiff drink and right now. Just gone twenty-two, and he's a father, and he's only just now found out. A shudder of uncertainty goes through Draco.
Unconfirmed, he tries to tell himself. How accurate can the Malfoy tapestry be, after all? It's only kept the bloody family lineage for nearly a thousand years through multiple wars and myriad family crises. It's a distant hope, one remote enough that Draco gives it up after a moment. According to his mother, the baby is named James. Maybe if he focuses on that, he won't lose his composure.
"Well, you'll need to come back, of course." Narcissa pauses. "Is he here, still? Did he leave London?"
"Not that I'm aware," Draco says, his stomach flipping. His mother's right. If this is the case, he'll need to get back immediately. He needs to get word to Fumiko and pack a suitcase. Maybe he can ask Brian next door to mind the flat whilst he's away. They've been to the pub on the corner a couple of times, and Draco'd helped him move a bloody enormous wardrobe into his flat last week. That should count for something.
"I do wish you'd prepared me." His mother's voice turns plaintive. "I thought I'd lost all my gobstones when I went in to the library. I needed to get some papers of your father's for the bank. You know, just until he returns."
If he returns, Draco thinks quietly to himself. Which is about as likely as Voldemort himself coming back, maybe less so, and Draco saw that bloody arsehole die at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts. He shivers and keeps his uncharitable thoughts to himself. It's not the time to upset his mother further.
"I imagine it was a shock," Draco manages to say. "This is truly the first I've heard of it."
"And you're sure it's not a witch?" His mother is eyeing him. "Not at a party or something like that." This is the most they've ever spoken about his sex life, and Draco's horribly uncomfortable with it all. It'd been hard enough to tell her after the war that he wasn't interested in women, that he thought he might be bent. That conversation had been awful. This one, Draco thinks might be worse. His mother bites her lip. "Perhaps you were drunk."
Draco shakes his head slowly, almost wishing he could admit to an anonymous intoxicated shag. "No, Mother. The only person it can be is Potter."
There's a moment of silence, then his mother says, her voice quiet, "I wasn't aware you were so intimate with Mr Potter." The flames crackle around her silvery blonde curls. She doesn't look at Draco, and he knows she's hurt now, but he doesn't know what she wants him to do. It's not as if he'd told anyone about himself and Potter. Not even Pansy and Blaise know. Potter'd wanted to keep them a secret, and Draco'd agreed at first, thrilled by the thought of sneaking around. It hadn't been until the end that he realised he would always be Potter's dirty little secret, good enough to fuck in the shadows but not to step out on his arm.
"Well, I was." Draco can't help but sound defensive in the face of his mother's disapproval.
Narcissa sighs. "How long did this go on between the two of you?"
"A couple of months," Draco says. He can't tell her that it was over a year, that even now he can't really stop thinking about Potter. "It was a casual liaison. I suppose I didn't think it appropriate to worry you."
His mother's thoughtful frown tells him that at least part of his lie is not being believed. "I see." She hesitates, then adds, "Well, we'll have time to talk further about everything when you come. I'll have Essie get your room ready--how quickly do you think you can arrange a Portkey?"
"I'll try to do it as soon as possible," Draco says. "I think Fumiko has a connection with the British consulate who might be able to arrange for a priority spot."
"See that you do." Narcissa's face is surprisingly soft when she looks over at him. "We have to find that child."
Draco stares into the Floo after she rings off, his legs numb and brain empty. He has no idea what he should think, how he should feel.
He has to call Potter, that's one thing he knows. It's going to cost a bloody mint in International Floo fees and he doesn't care. And then there's the fact they hadn't exactly ended things on friendly terms. Potter'd been angry, hadn't understood that Draco was taking the only step he knew to solve their predicament. He hadn't moved to Sydney because he wanted to leave, only because he hadn't known any other way to fix things between them, not when his head pulled him in one direction and his heart (and his prick, if he's honest) constantly pulled him back into Potter's bed. It hadn't been easy to walk away, and Draco still feels as though he's left a part of himself behind.
Now it's seems he misjudged the situation, rather horribly in fact. He's left a rather more tangible part of himself behind than he expected, half a set of chromosomes to be precise.
Is it possibly that Potter knew and kept the information from him? Draco rubs his face, suddenly tired. Obviously he must have done, to carry a baby and all, but did he know he was pregnant when Draco left? Did he let Draco leave without telling him?
Draco can't believe that Potter'd do such a thing. But after tonight, he's not at all sure he knows Potter as well as he thought. After all, there's a baby named after Potter's father who is showing up on Draco's mother's tapestry, and it's all too fucking complicated for words.
With a heavy sigh, Draco pushes himself to his feet and walks over to the cabinet across the room. He needs courage to do this, to confront Potter in a firecall, he thinks, and if it's found at the bottom of a glass of whisky who the hell gives a bloody damn.
His hand only shake a little as he reaches for the bottle.
Harry shifts, presses his face into the crisp white pillowcase. It smells faintly of lavender; Kreacher's been scenting them with the wash to help Harry sleep. It hasn't worked, at least not until now. Harry blinks, then stretches. His body aches, and Harry's hand settles on his stomach, his fingers slipping beneath the waistband of his joggers. For a moment he thinks about having a wank, but the Healers had warned him against any sort of physical exertion or sexual activity, at least until his scar has settled a bit more, the muscles beneath his skin knitting together again. With a regretful sigh, Harry pulls his hand back, lets his fingers drag across the bandage still fixed to his skin. It'll fall off when it's ready, they'd told him, and Harry winces a little at the twist of pain that zips across his skin at the pressure of his fingertips.
The house is quiet. Harry's not certain he likes that; he's suddenly on high alert, listening for Jamie's cry. It doesn't come, and Harry pushes himself up, worry roiling through him. He swings his legs over the edge of the bed, stands, catching himself on the nightstand when he wobbles a bit.
"Pull yourself together, Potter," Harry says, and when he turns his head, he catches sight of himself in the mirror stood in the corner of the room. His face is a pale blur in the silvered glass, his hair a dark mess. He picks his specs up off the nightstand where they'd been folded and set down--by Ron or Hermione, he supposes--and he slides them on. He looks a bloody fright, the dark circles beneath his eyes sliding into focus, but Harry doesn't have time to be concerned about that. He picks up a thin cotton hoodie from the small pile of manky clothes that's starting to gather on the chair across from his bed. Usually Kreacher would have whisked them away by now, but he's just as worn out as Harry is.
And like it or not, Harry knows Kreacher's getting old. He doesn't know what one does with an elderly house elf, if he's honest. Kreacher keeps hinting about Harry hanging his head on the plaques with the other house elves someday, but Harry'll be damned if he's going to let his son grow up in a house with that sort of monstrosity hanging on the walls. Kreacher'd sulked for days when Harry and Ron had wrapped the grisly heads in drop cloths and hidden them away in the depths of the attic. Harry doesn't like the thought that they're still up there, but he's fairly certain Kreacher would have gone into full revolt if Harry'd suggested moving them out of the house itself. Harry sighs and slides the hoodie on, adjusting the cuffs around his wrists. It's not that he's cold, really, but he knows he might be later, and he doesn't want to have to come back up here to get it. Sometimes he's so tired the house feels huge and impossible around him, and he wonders if maybe it's too much for just him and Jaime, if maybe he ought to take Ron's suggestion and close the house up for now, find them both a smaller flat off Diagon.
Except Harry can't. This house reminds him of Sirius, of the Order, of all the people he'd loved and lost. Perhaps it's morbid of him--Ron thinks it is--but Harry doesn't want to lose that connection to any of them.
Harry moves a bit stiffly out of the room and down the hallway, taking the stairs one at a time, warm sunlight streaming through the paned window on the landing, dappling the threadbare blue runner and Harry's hand as he slides it along the banister. He's just made it down to the main hallway when he hears laughter from the library. It's Molly's, he realises, and he relaxes. Jamie's with her, then.
Molly looks up when Harry walks into the library. She has Jamie in her arms; he's awake and waving his hands about, tiny fists clenching around air. "You're awake, love. We didn't disturb you, I hope?"
"No," Harry says, and he yawns, stretching his arms above his head. "Thanks for the kip. I needed it." He looks around the empty library. "Where are the others?"
"Hermione had to pop back over to the Ministry for the afternoon." Molly shifts on the chesterfield, moving over to make space for Harry. He reaches out, takes Jamie from her. His son settles into the crook of his elbow, looking up at him with those deep blue-grey eyes of his. A bubble forms at the corner of his mouth; it pops just as Harry tries to wipe it away with his thumb. "Arthur and Ron walked down to the market to pick up a few bits and bobs for an early supper, didn't they?" Molly leans over, smoothes a finger over Jamie's dark hair. "Or perhaps it's a late lunch. I thought I'd make you up something before we left."
"And Kreacher didn't complain?" Harry straightens the folds of Jamie's onesie before it twists around his diaper. Jamie kicks a foot out from beneath his blanket, scowling up at Harry in displeasure. Harry bounces him a little, but he can already tell from Jamie's huff that he's done something wrong.
Molly rolls her eyes. "Threatened to lock me out of the kitchen, that one." Her mouth twitches up at the corner. "Mind, I completely understand myself. I never do like to share the Burrow hob that much."
Harry gives her a small smile. "You don't have to cook, you know."
"Well, you do have to eat," Molly counters. "And I don't mind. Gives me something to do, and neither Ron nor Arthur were all that keen on going back to work yet." She eyes Harry. "I reckon we've all been a bit worried about you, duckie. Ron wants to sleep over tonight."
For a moment, Harry thinks about objecting. He knows Ron would rather be with Hermione than him. But the thought of being alone again, with yet another sleepless night is overwhelming, so he bites back his pride and nods. "I wouldn't mind."
"Lovely." Molly beams at him. "I was thinking a nice roast chicken? You always have liked that."
And Harry has. It's what he asks for every time Molly makes his birthday dinner. He reaches over and takes her hand, squeezing it lightly. "That's perfect."
Molly's fingers curl around his, warm and soft and plump. She studies Harry for a long moment, then rubs her thumb over the back of his hand. "If anyone can do this by themselves, Harry, it's you. But I hope you know we're here for anything you need. All of us are." Her gaze slips down to Jamie, who's trying to grab the edge of his blanket. Harry slides his hand away from Molly's, pushes the blanket out of Jamie's reach. "This wee one is one of ours too. You know that."
"I know." Harry looks back over at her. "I'm going to be okay."
"Of course you are." Molly touches his arm. "You're going to be a brilliant father."
Harry's not so certain about that, especially when Jamie starts to whimper, his little face crumpling. Harry stands, trying to rock back and forth, to keep Jamie from breaking out into a full wail. Harry doesn't think he could bear it right now.
The Floo clangs. "Molly, could you," Harry starts to say, but Molly's already moving to the hearth, turning the ancient knob to open the connection.
Harry stills at that familiar, sharply posh voice, his heart thudding wildly, his throat tightening. His hands grip Jamie, holding him closer to his chest, and the suddenness of it makes Jamie stiffen, let out a high-pitched wail just as the Floo connection clears and Malfoy's face appears in the gleaming green flames.
No one says anything for a long moment. Molly looks back at Harry, her face drawn, her eyes narrowing, then she steps back away from the hearth. "It's about time the two of you talked," she says, clearly enough that Harry knows Malfoy's heard her. "Let me look after the little one."
Jamie's face is pink; his eyes are squeezed tight as Molly takes him from Harry, who lets his son go reluctantly. Malfoy's watching from the hearth, and Harry wonders how much he can see. How much he knows.
"Well go on then," Molly says, giving Harry a little push. "You ought to be talking, the both of you."
Harry walks over slowly, dread seeping over him. In the light of the flames Malfoy's face is tight. Angry. Harry sinks down to his knees beside the hearth and says, "Hey," his voice thick and raw. He can hear Molly leave the library, Jamie's cries fading into the hallway.
Malfoy's mouth thins almost imperceptibly. "My mother firecalled me an hour ago." He looks at Harry, and the hollowness of Malfoy's cheeks, the paleness of his skin in the green tint of the Floo strikes Harry. Malfoy looks unhappy, as if he's been unhappy for a while, and there's a part of Harry that hopes that's true, that selfishly wants Malfoy to be miserable in Sydney. Malfoy glances away, swallows. "It seems the copy of the Malfoy family tapestry that's hanging in the library at the Manor gained another branch on it this week."
"Oh," Harry says. He shifts, sits, crossing his legs in front of the fireplace. He's silent for a moment, and then he sighs. "I didn't know there was another one like that." He'd been surprised to see Jamie's name appear on the Black tapestry hanging in the second floor hallway. And a bit chuffed, if he's honest, although it'd annoyed him that his own name hadn't appeared along with Jamie's. It'd just been a silver thread trailing down from Malfoy's leaf on the tree to a new one, barely unfurled, that'd read James, faintly shimmering in the tightly woven nap. No surname, no other given name. Hermione'd said it was probably because Jamie hadn't gone through a proper christening or naming ceremony yet; evidently purebloods had rules about those sorts of things, and names could change up until the last moment or some such rot. Harry hadn't entirely paid attention, if he's honest. He'd been so bloody exhausted lately that it'd gone in one ear and out the other.
Malfoy's just looking at him, and Harry doesn't know what to say. Surprise, you're a dad doesn't really seem appropriate, he thinks, so he just sighs and glances away, biting his lip.
"It's true then," Malfoy says, his voice quiet. "You had a baby."
Harry drags his thumbnail across the knee of his joggers. There's a stain on the cotton. He'd rather not know what it is. "Didn't know wizards could…" He shrugs, then looks up at Malfoy. "You know."
"Get themselves up the duff?" Malfoy asks, a bit drily, and Harry's surprised by the slang he'd expect from Ron or Nev spoken in Malfoy's posh tone. It's not quite him, Harry thinks, but then again how well does he actually know Malfoy, after all? Malfoy sighs, presses his lips together, doesn't look at Harry. "Well, they can."
"Did you know?" Harry's throat hurts. His stomach roils a bit, and he tries to fight down the urge to sick up right here on the hearth. "I mean, that it could happen."
Malfoy doesn't answer at first, then he nods. "It's rare, but it happens." He gives Harry a flat look. "And of course if it were going to happen to anyone, it would be you."
Harry wants to defend himself, but he doesn't really know how. He rubs the back of his neck instead, and tries not to seem as if he's desperate to study the angles of Malfoy's face again, to etch into his memory the pointiness of Malfoy's jaw, the soft curl of Malfoy's pale hair around his cheeks. It's been months since he's seen Malfoy, but the prat's haunted Harry's dreams since the night he walked out on Harry, and it's all Harry can do not to reach out, to brush his fingertips along the curve of Malfoy's throat.
Instead, Harry says, "He's yours, you know," and he watches as Malfoy draws in a soft, ragged breath, his head turning away in the fire's depths, its green light reflected in his hair. "His name's James." Harry hesitates, then adds, "Jamie."
There's a moment's silence that stretches out between them, taut and tense, and Harry can see the emotions twisting across Malfoy's face. He's just no clue what any of them are as Malfoy's jaw tightens, as Malfoy's teeth bite into his full bottom lip.
Harry pulls his hoodie tighter around him, twisting his fingers in the grey cotton. The rough edge of the zipper bites into his thumb. He'd known this would be difficult. It's why he'd hoped he wouldn't have to have this talk. That'd been stupid of him, Harry knows, but he hadn't been in his right mind lately.
It'd hurt too goddamned much when Malfoy had left him, after all.
"You absolute shit." Malfoy's whisper is vicious, sharp, and the look he gives Harry makes Harry want to stagger backwards from the warmth of the hearth. "I had every right to know. From you, not from my mother." Malfoy's voice cracks; he presses his lips together, glancing away. "When the fuck were you going to tell me?"
And Harry doesn't have an answer for that. He knows he's fucked this up, knows that he should have rung Malfoy up months ago, should have told him that they were going to be dads. He'd just been too afraid, too unwilling to open himself up to Malfoy again, to let Malfoy walk away not only from Harry this time, but also from their son.
Malfoy swears beneath his breath, and his eyes are hot and bright in the flickering flames when he looks back over at Harry. He lifts something to his lips--a glass, Harry thinks it is, blurred by the fire around him. "I'll be there tomorrow," he says, his voice raw. "As soon as I can arrange for an International Portkey. And if your wards don't let me in, Potter, I'll break down the bloody door to you fucking house. Am I clear?"
Harry nods. "They'll be open," he says. He doesn't add that he hasn't ever changed them, hasn't blocked Malfoy from his house, not since he left. It's stupid and maudlin of him, Harry thinks, but there'd been some part of him deep inside that had wanted to leave them open, wanted to pretend that one day, one night, Malfoy would walk through them, would find Harry in his bed and wrap himself around Harry's swollen body.
And it seems as if some of the anger seeps out of Malfoy. He looks tired and wan, and oddly sad, Harry thinks. "You should have told me," Malfoy says, his voice quiet in the silence of the library.
"I know." The words catch in the back of Harry's throat. He doesn't know how to say he'd thought of it, time and time again. That he'd tried to find Malfoy when he'd first found out, that he'd used his Auror connections to track him to a tiny flat in Sydney's Oxford Street. But Harry hadn't been able to make the firecall. Or send the Owl. He'd been too afraid, too certain Malfoy would push him away again, for no reason that Harry could understand. It'd been a stupid decision, one he'd tried to tell himself he was making for Jamie's sake. But Harry knows it'd been for his own comfort. A way to protect his own heart from breaking.
Harry's not comfortable with that thought.
Malfoy looks over at him, and Harry wants to imagine there's longing in his glance, but that's ridiculous. Malfoy'd made it clear they were nothing but a good shag when he'd left for Sydney. And just when Harry'd wanted to ask Malfoy to go out with him, to make whatever it was between them public, to make it real. He'd wanted to bring Malfoy to the Burrow, to admit to Ron and Hermione they'd been shagging and that Harry wanted to keep shagging him. To date him, even. But Malfoy'd left before he could tell him this, and perhaps that's for the best. Harry doesn't want Malfoy to know how much he cared, how much he'd wanted Malfoy to stay. Harry can't let himself be that vulnerable. Not with Malfoy. Not with anyone.
His fingers fiddle with the hem of his t-shirt. "I'd like you to meet him," Harry says finally. "Jamie." Our son, he wants to add, but he can't get the words out.
All Malfoy does is nod. "Tomorrow," he says, and his face is unreadable in the flames. He lifts the glass to his mouth again, takes a drink. Harry thinks Malfoy's hand trembles a bit as he lowers the glass, but he can't tell if it's the heat from the fire or not. Malfoy breathes out, his gaze sliding away from Harry's. "I'll be there by lunch."
The connection closes; Malfoy's face disappears from the flames. They sink back against the brick of the fireplace, the green seeping away, fading into the warm orange glow of the embers.
Harry leans forward, presses his forehead to the rough surface of the hearth, his body bent and bowed over the floor. His eyes burn; he blinks hard, once, twice, then again for good measure. The wetness lingers on his lashes, but the tears don't spill over. Harry tries to breathe, tries to swallow past the tightness in his throat. He doesn't want to do this, doesn't want to see Malfoy again, except there's something buried deep inside him that flutters hopefully at the thought of Malfoy walking through his Floo once more. Harry hates that part of himself. Hates that he's willing to open himself up like this, hates that he needs to see Malfoy, that he wants Malfoy to hold their son.
And then Kreacher's there beside him, his long, bony fingers on Harry's back. "Master Harry is being tired," Kreacher says, in almost a gentle murmur. "And hungry."
Harry nods. He is, and he draws in a ragged, uneven breath. He sits up, shoves the roil of unhappiness down again as he pushes his glasses up, presses his palms to his aching eyes. He exhales, feels the slow, comforting stroke of house elf fingers along his spine. They've come a long way, he and Kreacher, Harry realises. Part of it's Jamie. Kreacher'd been thrilled when Harry'd discovered his pregnancy; it's almost as if it breathed new life into the old bastard. He's taken care of Harry for months now, and he's brilliant with Jamie. Better than Harry is, at least, and that stings a little if Harry lets it. Instead he gives Kreacher a half-smile. "Thanks."
Kreacher eyes him. "Food now, and then Kreacher is starting on tidying the house for Master Malfoy."
And Harry doesn't bother asking if Kreacher was lurking in the shadows eavesdropping. It's a basic fact of his life now that Kreacher does, and Harry doesn't like to think about the fact that he suspects Kreacher prefers Malfoy to him. Although, Malfoy's a Black through his mother, so Harry supposes that has something to do with it. Harry's just an usurper that Kreacher's come to tolerate. And like a bit, perhaps. Even though Harry suspects Kreacher's just been thrilled that Harry's given birth to a Black grandchild.
That's an odd realisation that curls around Harry's belly. He hadn't really thought about it before, but that means Andromeda is Jamie's great-aunt. Which makes Teddy not only Harry's godson but Jamie's cousin of sorts? Harry can't quite work out the relationship, but he knows it's there. A warmth suffuses him. He's glad of that tie, of the way it grounds him to Teddy and Andy. They're family by choice and by blood now, and Harry's surprised to find that comforting.
He pushes himself to his feet, Kreacher steadying him as he does. "I think I might like a bacon sandwich," he says, his hand pressed to his back, and Kreacher's ears flop a bit as he nods.
"And Kreacher is having Master Harry's favourite grapes." The elf starts to pad away on his bare feet, his ancient tea towel flapping around his narrow arse. He stops, looks back at Harry. "And perhaps some treacle tart."
Harry can't resist that. His stomach grumbles a bit; he's hungrier than he'd expected. "Just a little," Harry says. He glances down at his saggy midsection. He wonders what Malfoy will think of that. Harry'd been so damned proud of his body, honed tight and muscular by Auror training and daily runs through the Islington streets. Those haven't happened for months now, and Harry misses the rush of endorphins, the feel of the pavement solid and uneven beneath his trainers. He sighs. One day soon, he thinks, a bit wistfully. If he can ever manage to sleep through the night.
He follows Kreacher out of the library, glancing back at the darkened hearth as he passes through the doorway. Tomorrow, he thinks, and a faint thrill shivers up his spine. Tomorrow Malfoy'll be back.
To be honest, Harry's not sure he's ready for that.
That particular evening's still seared into his brain, despite the quantity of alcohol he'd consumed over the course of it. It'd been rainy, sometime in early autumn last year, and late at night. He'd come over when Potter had firecalled, and he'd found Potter already started on a bottle of firewhisky. Draco can almost taste the Ogden's Potter had handed him, sharp and warm against his tongue. He can't help looking around the room, bright and airy where it'd been cosy and shadowed last September. Now the casement windows are open to let in the late June air; a soft breeze sweeps in from the garden and ruffles his mother's hair. The windows had been dark that night, rivulets of cold rain pouring down them, the faint reflection of golden light from the lamps shining in their panes. Draco can still remember the texture of the leather under his palms, the dip of the cushions beneath his knees, the squeak of Muggle tyres outside on the wet pavement, the guttering of the candles in their sconces, the spread of Potter's arse in front of him as Draco'd pressed his prick deeper. Merlin but it'd been slow, dirty, and fucking fantastic.
That might've been the night, Draco thinks, and something inside his stomach twists, hot and quivering. He hides it by saying, "I wondered why you weren't at the Manor to greet me."
"Draco." His mother looks up at him with shining eyes, and her voice is soft, hushed. Her arms cradle a small bundle, a tuft of dark hair just barely visible beneath a yellow knit cap. Narcissa's face is practically radiant with delight. "Come and meet your boy."
For a moment, the world stills around Draco. He'll remember this forever as well, he thinks, the scent of the lilacs and roses drifting through the window along with the soft trill of birdsong. The dust shimmering in the sunlight, the creak of the leather sofa as his mother leans forward, showing him a tiny little form wrapped in a handknit cream blanket that looks far too rough and common to be anything but a Weasley gift. And yet it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen because it's swaddling his son.
His son. Draco still can't believe it, but he knows this has to be real. Still, when he draws closer, hardly daring to look for fear he'll be disappointed, the small stocky body stirs in his mother's arms, snuffling, then draws a deep breath, tiny arms stretching out from the blanket. It yawns, mouth wide beneath a small button of a nose. Slowly, wide grey eyes open, still coloured with baby blue, and Draco knows he's staring into a piece of himself. He's utterly breathless, suspended in the moment, dimly registering the tiny fingers that open and close around air, the bow of perfect rosy lips, the swell of baby cheeks and the frown of already-stubborn little wispy eyebrows.
My God, Draco thinks. I helped make this child.
There's a soft clatter of china, and Draco looks up to see Molly Weasley setting a cup of tea onto the side table beside his mother, her lipstick worn off and a careful, knowing smile on her face.
"Somebody's getting peckish," Mrs Weasley says with a nod towards the baby, and Draco looks back down at his son. His mother's still mesmerised, not that Draco blames her. "Jamie usually takes a few ounces about this time. Kreacher should be here any moment with his lunch." She sits on the edge of one of the wide leather chairs. "He's a beauty, isn't he?" There's a tinge of pride in her voice, as if she had anything to do with bringing this tiny, enchanting being into the world, Draco thinks, more uncharitably than he'd like. "I've never seen a prettier baby. Not even Our Victoire, though she's a gem now. Don't tell her mum this, but she came out a bit squished round the edges."
Draco doesn't care about the Weasley brats. He can't take his eyes off his son, not even when the aged house elf Draco remembers rather liking--and Merlin, Kreacher's old enough that Draco can't believe he's still spry--pads through the doorway holding a bottle wrapped in a cotton cloth.
"Why don't you take over?" Narcissa suggests, looking up at Draco, and Draco gives her an uneasy frown.
"I couldn't," he says. The baby looks too fragile for Draco to hold, as much as he wants to. "What if I drop him?"
His mother smiles at him. "You won't." She reaches out, touches Draco's arm. "Although I recall your father being just as terrified to pick you up the first time. Go on, darling. You'll need to get used to feeding him at some point." She looks over at Mrs Weasley. "At least they're not nursing. Honestly, the way Lucius used to make me get up at three in the morning every time Draco cried…" She shakes her head, and Mrs Weasley just laughs. "There were moments I thought about smothering him with a pillow whilst he was sleeping away. Lucius, I mean, not Draco." She eyes he son speculatively. "Although, I had a moment or two when he was a teenager." The smile she gives Draco is warm, however, and he just rolls his eyes.
"Arthur was just the same," Mrs. Weasley says. "At least until the twins came, and I forced him to give a bottle to one. Couldn't bear to have two latched on at one time, particularly since George was a biter. But the first time I expressed milk with Bill, I thought poor Arthur was going to faint."
With an uneven breath, Draco leans down, kissing his mother on the cheek. She smells like the perfume he remembers from his childhood, light and powdery and floral. His father used to bring it back for her from a tiny boutique, hidden away in the wizarding alleys of the Latin Quarter. Draco bows his arms and forms a tight cradle, letting Narcissa pass over the warm, slight weight of the baby--his son!--then he crabwalks over to the other armchair and sits when the leather hits his thighs. The baby is so tiny, almost nothing in Draco's arms, and a fierce surge of wonder grips Draco that so little could mean so much. Kreacher appears at Draco's elbow, solemnly handing him the warm bottle.
"It is being good for Master Draco to be coming home," Kreacher says, and he reaches out with long, crooked fingers to smooth the kit cap back down over the baby's forehead. "Master James is needing both his fathers."
And Draco doesn't know what to say to that. Instead he turns the bottle between his fingers as the elf draws back, and he looks at his mother. "How do I do this?" he asks, and he can hear the faint tinge of panic in his voice.
"First, test it on your wrist," his mother says, and Mrs Weasley makes the motion, mirroring it for Draco. "We don't want to scald the poor boy."
Draco shakes the bottle over his upturned wrist; a drop falls out and strikes his skin. "I don't think it's too warm," he says, and his mother nods.
"See if he'll take the nipple now," Mrs Weasley says. "Sometimes he's a bit cranky about having it at first."
Brilliant, Draco thinks. Watch him be the one to make his son angry. But when he touches the nipple to the baby's lips, he begins to suckle eagerly, and after a few tries, he gets a good latch.
"Watch the angle," his mother says, reaching for the cup of tea Mrs Weasley had set down beside her earlier, and Draco remembers from the goats at the Manor he'd tended as a child not to hold the bottle too high so as to avoid gas and air bubbles coming in too quickly.
His son--James, Draco reminds himself--works impressively at the nipple, showing strong appetite. Small hands settle on either side of the bottle, and tiny feet kick out against the blanket. The knit cap slides back a bit more, Kreacher's efforts to keep it on be damned. James's hair is thick like Potter's, not a Malfoy blonde in the slightest but a deep black already. The wide expanse of his eyes is familiar to Draco from his own baby photos, but he doesn't think James has the Malfoy chin beneath the bit of baby fat.
He probably has his other father's jaw, Draco thinks whilst watching his son take his bottle, and he finds himself looking for other bits of Potter in James's face. Definitely Potter's ears, Draco thinks, and he runs a thumb along the soft, delicate shell of James's earlobe.
When Draco looks up, realising he's not paid attention to anything else in the room for quite some time, his mother's smiling fondly at him. He's not seen that expression on her face since well before the war, maybe not since his father was first put into Azkaban at the end of Draco's fifth year. Even Mrs Weasley looks like she's a step away from cooing over them both, and Draco rather thinks she hates him from his Floo conversation with Potter yesterday. And Draco doesn't want to ask where Potter is. To be honest, he's grateful to the prat for letting him have these moments alone to meet his son.
Their son, he thinks again, and that makes Draco's stomach flip.
"Was the journey too terrible?" his mother asks finally, her hands folded in her lap. "I know you loathe International Floo travel."
"It wasn't awful." Draco's distracted by the curl pattern evident in James' hair. "Fumiko's contact gave me a priority Portkey, and those are always a smoother journey." His gaze flicks up over to his mother. "I did have to say you were ill, though, if Fumiko mentions it in passing." It's a tiny white lie, but Draco had thought it in everyone's best interest for the moment.
His mother nods as Draco had expected her to. "That's reasonable." She hesitates, then adds, a bit too coolly, "When do they want you back?" She takes a sip of tea without looking at Draco.
Mrs Weasley's mouth turns down at this, and she glances away, her hands twisting together in her lap. Honestly, Draco doesn't know what she wants him to do. He has a job, for Merlin's sake. He can't just up-end his life like this.
And then he looks back down at his son, who's starting to squirm in arms. How can he think about leaving this boy, he wonders. Ten minutes with him, and Draco's already lost his heart. Still, he's torn. He doesn't hate his flat in Sydney, or his job. He's started to settle in there. To feel like it could be a home for him, maybe. At least one day.
Draco sighs. "By the end of the weekend, I think." He watches James, carefully checking the level of the bottle. He's little, so he won't need to eat much more. "But I can extend, of course, if the situation warrants it."
"I should rather think it does." The expression on Mrs Weasley's face is mulish, and Draco is a bit afraid of her. She'd taken down his Aunt Bella, after all, not that Draco blames her for that. In the end, his aunt had been a terrible woman, her heart twisted and malformed by the Dark Lord's rhetoric.
"If the situation warrants what?" And there's a cloud of messy black curls in the doorway, and Draco's stomach drops into his knees as his prick stirs a bit with interest. Fuck, but Potter looks both horrid and amazing, and Draco hates that he can do that. Potter's threadbare orange t-shirt has stains of an uncertain nature on it, but his eyes behind those round wire-frame specs are greener than Draco remembers. Despite the looseness of the t-shirt, Draco can tell Potter's a bit thicker about the middle, although it's also hard to tell with the awful joggers he's got on. His feet are bare, his shoulders broad, and, honestly, Draco would suck him off right here if Potter would let him.
Except he's already done that. Numerous times. Never with an audience, though, and never whilst holding their son.
"Hello, Potter," Draco says when the stillness of the room begins to be unsettling.
James takes the opportunity to pull away from the bottle, arching his back and kicking out again.
"You'll need to burp him now, darling," Narcissa says, and she pats her shoulder "Gently, though. Careful with his head, and just rub his back in circles if you can. We can't have him get colicky."
"Christ, no," Potter mumbles, and he sits on one of the ottomans closest to Mrs Weasley. He doesn't look at Draco, but he also doesn't not look, which sounds ridiculous, Draco thinks, but it's the only way he can think of to describe the way Potter's watching him from the corner of his eye.
Kreacher gives Draco a cloth to drape on his shoulder whilst he takes the almost empty bottle away. He records the number carefully in a bright blue book on a side table. "Master James drank sixty-five millilitres, Master Harry," Kreacher says, sounding rather pleased about that fact.
Potter blinks, a slight frown on his face as Draco gently hoists James up to his shoulder, his palm flat against James's tiny back. "That's excellent, Kreacher." Potter looks at Draco then, and there's a slight sullenness to his glance. "Apparently, you're a baby whisperer, Malfoy. He hasn't taken that much for anyone yet."
Potter doesn't look happy, and Draco couldn't care less. He's chuffed that his son will drink for him. He surreptitiously leans his nose against James's cheek, breathing in the babyness of him, almost like a whiff of apricots mixed with soured milk. Suddenly nothing seems strange or out of place. It's as if he's always been here, always wanted to have a son, always had his family and Potter's side-by-side on the sofa at Grimmauld. He'd pinch himself, but he's holding the baby. Draco stands up, walking over to the window to look out on the garden. A curious peace falls over him, a warmth spreading through his body that surprises him with its familiarity.
He would do anything for this little boy. Draco knows that now, without a shadow of a doubt.
Draco turns from the window, his cheek pressed to James's knit cap. "You're growing, aren't you?" Draco speaks directly to his son, as he jogs him gently on his shoulder, one hand smoothing small circles between James's tiny shoulder blades whilst steadying his wobbly head. James finally burps up on the cloth. Potter frowns, scratching his stomach idly, watching them both.
"Why don't I take him for his nap?" Mrs Weasley suggests, standing up. "Then you two can talk." The look on her face is pointed as her gaze swings between Draco and Potter, and Potter's scowling back at her, the sulky prat. Then Draco realises, perhaps belatedly, that Potter's given birth, not a week ago, and something in him clenches at the thought. He doesn't even dare ask how it had gone, or how such a thing would even work for a man. Draco thinks he probably should have been here, but he'd had no idea, after all. He'd never have left if he'd known.
Draco's mother smoothes her hands over her robe and stands up as well. "Excellent idea. I'll come with you, and we can keep talking about the christening."
When Potter's gaze catches his, Draco's relieved that Potter seems almost as alarmed as he is about this maternal coalition. Mrs Weasley gently reaches for the baby. Draco's not ready to give James up, but he supposes he had really better talk to Potter. He presses a kiss to his son's cheek. "Come back soon, little one," he whispers, and then he lets Mrs Weasley draw James away. He misses the warmth of his son immediately; there's a part of him that wants to grab him back, to keep him in his arms as long as he can.
Potter watches Draco's mother and Mrs Weasley leave with the baby. The look on his face suggests he'd like to follow them.
Draco walks back to the sofa and sits down, his knees only inches from Potter, still perched on the ottoman. Silence stretches out between them. Draco clasps his hands together, letting them fall between his thighs. He studies them, uncertain as to what to say. How to start this conversation. His heart thuds in his chest; he wonders if Potter can hear it.
"So, how's Sydney?" Potter ventures finally, and when Draco looks up at him, there's an odd expression on Potter's face. Almost as if he's angry, and that infuriates Draco. Potter has no right to be furious with him. Draco's not the one who hid a bloody pregnancy, after all.
"Cold," Draco answers, not giving a fuck if he sounds harsh. Potter deserves that. And more. He takes a deep breath, decides to be blunt. Potter's a Gryffindor after all. He can handle Draco's anger; there's no need to dance around the issue. "Why did you cut me out of this?" Draco gestures around him, trying to encompass the tiny world of Grimmauld, of the baby, of all that's happened since he went to Australia.
"Cut you out?" Potter's jaw clenches. He looks away. "Malfoy you left. You told me you were going, and then you were gone. I didn't have a choice."
"Thestral shit," Draco says immediately, even though he knows Potter's words have a kernel of truth. He'd left quickly, but only because he was afraid to draw it out. Afraid that he'd do something stupid, like tell Potter how he felt about him. About them. His throat hurts as he chokes out, "You could've called. You could've sent an international owl. For fuck's sake, you could've even let my mother know you were pregnant, not let her figure it out from a bloody tapestry after our baby was bloody born."
"Would it have made any difference?" Potter's face is stormy, and Draco remembers what Potter's like in a strop. It's almost exhilarating in a way, this fury that's growing between them. Draco knows this part of them; he always has. And he's always cared too much what Potter thought or what Potter did. Draco has never been immune to Potter. Not since they were children. And definitely not now.
Potter looks away. "You were gone." His voice catches, and that surprises Draco. "Perhaps I didn't much feel like chasing you after that. After all, it's not like you left a forwarding address."
Well. That is true, Draco has to concede. He hadn't contacted Potter after he'd arrived in Sydney. He'd wanted to make a clean break, for both their sakes, but he probably should have let Potter know how to reach him. Draco just didn't think Potter would care to try. His eyes search Potter's moody face, trying to figure out whether Potter really had known before Draco left, whether he just didn't say because he'd been angry with Draco for going. And Draco doesn't want to think about what that might mean. He'd always assumed Potter just hadn't given a damn what Draco did, but indifferent people don't have this much rage about someone walking away. Draco's learnt that much over the short course of his life.
"You realise I never would have gone if you'd told me about this," Draco says finally, and he hopes it's the truth.
"I didn't know about it either," Potter says, more than a bit sullenly. "If that's what you're wondering." He looks out the open window for a moment. The breeze rustles through the leaves on the ivy that's creeping up the back wall of the house. "I mean, not when you left."
Draco looks down at his hands, clenched tight on his thighs. He tries to relax them. "When did you figure it out?" His voice is low, reedy, and his mind is a bit wild if he's honest. This all seems mad. It's not how he would have anticipated his life going, that's for bloody certain. Draco'd found his peace with the idea that the Malfoy line might die out with him. Now...fuck, he's going to have to break this to his father, and that'll be an utter nightmare.
"Not until after New Year's." Potter's still not looking at him. "I thought I'd come down with a touch of the flu around Boxing Day." He twists his fingers in the stretched-out hem of his t-shirt. "I shocked the hell out of the Healer."
"I can only imagine." Draco takes in Potter's small, private smile, the way Potter's hand brushes against his belly, and he realises how much of this he's missed. His anger fades into sadness. He would have liked to have been here, would have liked to have watched their son grow inside Potter, would have liked to have experienced this pregnancy himself. He draws in an unsteady breath. "Why didn't you call then? Or have someone find me?" Draco doesn't know what would have happened, what it would have been like in those first few weeks in Australia to know he had a child on the way, but he has to imagine he might have reacted differently than Potter thought he would. "You might have asked Mother--"
"Merlin." Potter rubs his temple. He looks tired and unhappy. "I can't do this, Malfoy. I just can't. I'm sorry, but this isn't how I saw my life going, and, to be honest, I didn't think you'd want to be involved."
"Not want to be involved with my son?" Draco says incredulously. He can't believe Potter thinks so little of him. Not after all they'd gone through. "Are you absolutely mad?"
Potter leans forward, his elbows on his thighs. He winces and shifts, and the look he gives Draco is weary. "Perhaps. But I wanted him. I wanted to keep him, and I didn't think you'd want much to do with us." He stops, looks down at his hands. "Or with me, I suppose."
"It would have been nice if you'd given me a chance!" Draco's voice is rising in volume, and he tries to control it, for the baby if nothing else. He breathes out, closes his eyes. Tries not to reach over and throttle the other father of his child. "It might have been nice to have been consulted before you decided what I was and wasn't capable of doing."
Potter folds his arms over his chest. "You'd made your choice. You wanted Sydney over London, and you made that perfectly clear when you left. You said you couldn't have a proper life here, that no one would see you as anything other than Lucius Malfoy's son." Potter's voice cracks again; he looks away, his exhaustion evident in the purplish bags beneath his eyes, the way his mouth draws down at the corners. A bird chirps outside the window; Draco can hear his mother's laugh from down the hallway. Potter sighs. "Who was I to hold you back?"
Draco wishes Potter held him in better esteem. He hates the way Potter's dismissal of his moral fibre, of what he'd choose as important in his life, stings. "You think I would have privileged my own comfort over claiming my own son? You think after everything my father did, all the ways he destroyed my life by doing what he wanted without thought to my welfare, that I'd turn around and do the same thing?" He rubs his hands over his face, feeling so damned tired. He'd chalk it up to Portkey lag, but he knows it's more than that. "Merlin, Potter," he says softly. "It's like you never knew me at all."
"I didn't want to assume--"
"You didn't want me to be involved," Draco snaps, and by Potter's flinch, he knows he's right. Fucking Gryffindors, always so sodding self-righteous, certain they know what's best, never admitting they might be the most fucked-up ones in the damned room. "It wasn't about what I wanted at all. You didn't tell me, because this was all about what Harry bloody Potter wanted to do."
"And you fucking left!" Potter's breathing hard, shaking. He presses his lips together and looks away. "You left," he says again, a little brokenly. "And you're going to leave again. I didn't know what else to do."
They sit in hostile silence, Draco tapping his fingers on his thigh, trying not to lose his temper and shout at Potter. Honestly, Potter looks like a light wind would blow him over. He must have had a rough time of it, and Draco doesn't want to be a complete cad. He sighs. Fuck, but he hates being the better man.
"Well, I'd like to help now." Draco rearranges himself, sitting up stiffly in the chair. "Is there anything you need?"
Potter's laugh is raw, harsh. "A week of sleep and a tonne of fresh nappies, but otherwise, I think we're fine."
"I'll do what I can." Draco thinks for a moment. "Is there any chance you'd like me to call in a trained elf? I know my old nurse is still at the Manor."
"Not a chance." Potter frowns. "I want to raise Jamie myself."
"James," Draco says, almost without thinking. At Potter's sharp look, Draco rolls his eyes. "It's ridiculous to call him Jamie. He's not a bloody Scot."
It's a stupid thing to say, Draco realises, when Potter's face grows thunderous. "I'll call my son whatever I fucking want." His eyes narrow. "And this is what I mean, Malfoy. You waltzing in here, thinking that you can change whatever you want, that you can say things like that-- Potter breaks off, bites his lip, obviously struggling to get himself back under control. "I don't need your elf," he says after a moment, his voice distant and polite. "Thank you."
Draco inhales. "I see. I suppose I can understand, although I'd also like to help." He pauses for a moment, rubs his thumb over the knee of his trousers. He's not certain what to say, doesn't know how to handle this prickly version of Potter. Before, he would have fucked the stroppiness from Potter until Potter was soft and sated, but Draco's fairly certain that particular remedy won't work today. Or ever again, perhaps, and a twist of inexplicable grief goes through him. He inhales, tries to push away the memories of touching Potter, burying himself in the warmth of Potter's perfect body. "My mother is overjoyed, you know."
And at that Potter's face softens, if only a bit. He nods. "She seems very happy." Still, the tone of his voice is flat, and his eyes are searching Draco's face. "I suppose I wouldn't mind her visiting from time to time if she wants to see Jamie."
The Knut drops for Draco.
"Potter," he asks carefully, "you don't think we're going to try to take James, do you?" There's really no other way to interpret the look of distrust on Potter's face, all things considered. He knows he's right when he sees the flicker of fear in Potter's gaze.
"You'd better not," Potter says, and the look on his face is so fierce, so furious, Draco's reminded of a calving Hippogriff. "Although I wouldn't put it past you."
"Oh for fuck's sake." Draco's tired, and he's beyond his ability to process. He can't do this with Potter, not right now. His body thinks it's nearly ten in the evening, he'd barely slept the night before as it is, and his soul aches in ways Draco'd never thought possible. He'd thought Potter understood him, at least a little, but it seems he's wrong about that. Perhaps moving to Sydney wasn't the worst idea in the world. He exhales, looks at Potter. "If you think I'd do anything like that, you're a moronic twat. I just want to see my son grow up." He pushes himself off the sofa. "Feel free to tell my mother I'm going back to her rooms, and I'm going to sleep. When I return tomorrow, let's at least try to talk like civilized adults." He frowns. "For James's sake, if not our own."
He's almost at the Floo when he hears Potter mumble. "Prat."
Draco is itching to start another fight, but he doesn't turn back. Instead he wills himself to pinch a bit of silvery powder from the pottery bowl on the chimneypiece, then throw it into the fire. Honestly, Draco thinks, Potter is such a child.
He steps in to the surge of green. "Malfoy Manor," Draco says, and to his relief and disappointment, Grimmauld Place swirls away.
He's sat in the kitchen of Grimmauld, taking advantage of a moment's peace and quiet. Jamie's sleeping beside Harry, his bassinet bobbing ever so gently as it levitates next to the long trestle table. Outside, twilight's falling; through the high-set windows beside the pantry Harry catches a glimpse of the last faint rosy stretches of sky disappearing into the dusk. He loves this kitchen, with its dark cabinets and wooden floors, the new wizarding hob he'd had installed when he moved in gleaming silver against them. It's cosy, and it reminds Harry of the nights he'd spent down here with the Order, laughing and talking. The grief's faded a little into a sharp twist that he feels sometimes when he thinks about the people he's lost. But he's all right with that now. He'd rather miss them than not think about them, if he's honest. And he'd loved sitting here with Tonks and Remus, with Fred and Sirius. It's almost as if they're still with him in a way.
Ron pulls out the chair next to Harry and sits. He's added a splash of firewhisky to his tea, and Harry's a bit jealous. But he doesn't dare ask for some himself. With the formula, it wouldn't affect Jamie, but Harry doesn't want to be under the influence of anything. Not whilst Jamie needs him. He looks over at his son, who's lying on his back, fist pressed against his mouth as he sleeps. Harry'd never known what it was like to love someone like this. So deeply, so completely. And even though he knows it's risky, that it might wake Jamie, he can't help but brush a fingertip across Jamie's soft brow.
"Well, at least he showed up," Ron says after a moment. He lifts his mug. "It's more than I expected of Malfoy, if I'm honest."
And that seems a bit unfair, Harry thinks. He's surprised by himself; he'd have agreed with Ron's assessment yesterday even. But there was something about watching Malfoy with their son, seeing the look of wonder on his face when he held Jamie...yeah. Harry understands that feeling.
Harry leans back in his chair, resting his mug on the edge of the table, his fingers still cupped around it. "He was good with him, though," he says with a sigh. "Better than I've been."
Ron just watches him for a moment, then he sighs, sets his tea down. "You haven't been terrible with Jamie. I don't know why you keep thinking that, you twit." His voice is fond, if exasperated. "The sprog's not even been here a week, Harry. I know you think you ought to be perfect at everything, but maybe you're not. Maybe being the most powerful wizard of our bloody generation doesn't automatically mean you're going to be able to keep a baby settled. You might have to actually work at it."
And Harry knows Ron's right. It doesn't make it any easier though, to think of how competent Malfoy had been. Almost like he was a natural at being a father. Not like Harry who's struggling just to stay awake half the day. "Jamie spent the past nine months growing inside of me, Ron." He looks up at his best friend, hating the pity he sees in Ron's eyes. "I just thought--I don't know." He pushes his glasses up to his forehead and rubs his gritty, dry eyes. He wants to cry; he fucking hates these stupid hormones. He moves his hands; his glasses slip back down his nose. "Maybe it wouldn't be this hard?"
"Maybe." Ron shrugs. "But I think you're living in some sort of fantasy world, mate. When Bill and Fleur had Victoire, it was awful. Bill was always tense and cranky, and Fleur cried any time one of us walked into the room." He winces a little. "It took about six months or so for them to actually settle down into parenting. Mum was over there all the time, helping out, and there were two of them trying to share the load." He gives Harry an even look. "You're trying to do this all on your bloody own, so maybe you could cut yourself a bit of slack on that score?"
Harry rubs the back of his neck, his fingers tangling in his hair. It needs a good cutting, he thinks, a bit absently, but he hadn't wanted to go out in public when his belly was the size of a small Hungarian Horntail. "I suppose I just wanted to be a good dad," he says finally. "And it stings that Malfoy's better at it."
"Bollocks," Ron says with a roll of his eyes. "That's the hormones talking." Still, his face softens a bit as he studies Harry. "You're a brill dad, Harry. You love Jamie, and you'll do anything for him, yeah?" At Harry's answering nod, Ron holds his hands up. "Then that's all you need. Who cares if Malfoy can get him to take more formula? Probably the wee thing was just hungry." Ron looks over at the bassinette, a faint smile curing his mouth as he eyes his sleeping godson. "Little fucker's growing like a weed already,"
And that's true. Jamie's still small, but Harry thinks he's already up a few ounces. He watches his son kick in his sleep, one tiny, knit-booted foot pressing up into the air. Something warm swells up in Harry. When he looks back over, Ron's watching him again. "What?" Harry asks, feeling a bit on display.
Ron just shakes his head, and Harry sighs. He knows that look; it means Ron wants to say something, but he's afraid Harry'll take it the wrong way.
"Just say it." Harry tries to smile, but doesn't quite work. He cups his hands around his mug of tea again. "I promise I won't lose my temper.
"You say that now." Ron rubs a thumb across a divot in the table top. Harry thinks it'd been left there by Ginny one night when she'd dropped a knife. He sighs. Sometimes he misses her a hell of a lot. It wouldn't have ever worked between them, not in the long run, but Ginny'd always been able to tease him, to get him out of his worst moods by making him laugh.
The silence between Harry and Ron grows, almost becomes almost intolerable, crawling across Harry's skin, an anxious prickling that Harry can't seem to stop. And then, before Harry can push him again, Ron sighs, leans towards Harry, his elbows on the table.
"Look, mate," Ron says quietly. "This whole being a dad thing might be harder for you to get the hang of because you never knew your dad. Or your mum. And your aunt and uncle were absolute rubbish parents, so how would you have learnt what do from them, yeah? So it'll be a little harder for you than it might be for me or even Malfoy. His parents might be wankers, but they obviously gave a shit about him." Ron reaches over, touches the back of Harry's hand, almost hesitantly. "So maybe you just need a little more time. Because you can do this Harry. If anyone can be a great dad, it's you."
Harry's throat aches; he has to turn away before the hot burn in his eyes spills out. He blinks a few times, draws in a ragged breath. "God," he says, "you're such a sentimental wanker." But the look he gives Ron is warm. He reaches out, squeezes Ron's hand before pulling back. "Thanks."
Ron picks up his mug. "Hey, I don't think I could do what you're doing, going at this alone. Every time Hermione and I talk about settling down, maybe having a kid or two, I end up in a cold sweat." He takes a sip of tea, shakes his head. "And anyway, you need to stop working yourself up over this. You'll be great, and if you have a rough patch or two, who cares? My dad's always been fantastic, and we still ended up with Percy." He gives Harry a pointed look. "Sometimes it's not the parenting that's at fault."
"That is so very comforting," Harry says dryly. "Ta ever so." He looks over at Jamie, who snuffles in his sleep. "Don't ever become a wanker like your Uncle Perce, all right?"
"Eh," Ron says, setting his mug down with a soft thump against the table. "Percy's not the worst." He and Harry exchange a glance, and Ron wrinkles his freckled nose. "He's not always a class-A twat now. That's an improvement."
"I think you can thank Audrey for that," Harry says. Percy's only been seeing her for a few months, but everyone can tell he's utterly besotted with her. And his prickliness is starting to ease. "Gin says Percy's firecalling her again."
Ron rocks back on the legs of his chair. They creak a bit dangerously, and he comes down with a thud. "He's trying. He even asked Mum if he could for Sunday dinner--without Audrey." Ron scratches his stubbled jaw. "I think he wants to fit back in."
"People can change," Harry says, and he thinks of Malfoy. How very different he is now from the prat he'd been back in school. He's still sharp around the edges, but he's more careful, more reserved. Harry'd been fascinated by him when they were together, entranced by the bits and pieces Malfoy would reveal to him, even if Malfoy didn't know he was. Harry bites his lip, looks down at the tea still left in his mug, studies the ripples and eddies in its milky surface. He wonders when it was that he'd fallen for Malfoy, why he'd done something so bloody stupid. It hurts. It's easier if Harry thinks of their relationship as purely sexual, the way he's presented it to everyone else. But Harry knows that's not true. He'd wanted to be with Malfoy, however ridiculous that sounds. Harry's not really certain he's given that hope up, foolish though it might be.
They fall silent again, but it's comfortable this time, or more so than before, at least. Harry knows Ron will have to go soon; dusk is deepening and Hermione'll be expecting him. But he's glad Ron's here. It's Ron who makes Harry feel as if he can do this, Ron who settles him, tells Harry the rough truths he needs to hear.
Harry watches his son sleep. Their son, he thinks, his and Malfoy's, and that makes his stomach flip in a fizzy, warm way that Harry doesn't expect. But watching Malfoy with Jamie today, whilst it'd made Harry terribly jealous, had also brought up other feelings. A wish, quick and ridiculous and completely mad, that they could be together, all of them. That they could make a family, as broken and odd as it might be. It's hopeless. Harry knows that. Malfoy has his life in Sydney, and Harry has his life here. They only share Jamie between them, after all. But Harry knows he can't take Jamie away from Malfoy. Not after the way Malfoy had looked at their baby. It'd be too cruel, not just to Malfoy, but also to Jamie. He needs to grow up knowing his other dad, and that thought terrifies Harry. He and Malfoy are tied together now, in their own way, whether they like it or not. Harry's just not certain he can handle parenting with Malfoy whilst watching Malfoy move on, take other lovers. Maybe even settle down with them.
Ron nudges Harry's foot with his. "A Knut for your thoughts."
"Oh," Harry says, and he knows he can't tell Ron his worries about Malfoy. Not that he doesn't think Ron would understand, but Harry feels too raw, too vulnerable to put it all out in words. So instead he just inhales, leans back in his chair. "It's just weird," he says after a moment. "Being twenty-two. Having a kid." He looks over at Ron. "No one else does yet, except Bill, and he ought to by now."
"You're an overachiever," Ron says, with a small smile.
Harry laughs, a soft huff that makes Jamie stretch in his sleep. "No, really. It feels strange. I mean, Teddy's barely four, and he and Jamie are going to grow up together--"
"And Victoire," Ron adds, and Harry nods.
"It's just…" Harry trails off for a moment, runs his finger along the rim of his mug. The tea's cooling now, almost lukewarm. "You know, my mum was twenty when she had me. So was my dad. And by the next year, they were dead--" He presses his lips together, sadness welling up inside of him. He wonders what they would have thought of their grandson, if they would have loved him, would have been proud of Harry. "I suppose I can't help but think about that, right? Because there's a part of me that's always been angry that they left me alone, that they went and got themselves killed, but now that I have Jamie, I think I understand a bit better." He looks up at Ron. "I really would do anything to protect him."
"Of course you would." Ron pushes his tea away, props his chin on his fist, watches Jamie in his bassinet. "He's a part of you. Always will be." He grins at Harry. "Even if he grows up to be a Slytherin arsehole like his other dad."
And at that, Harry flicks two fingers at Ron. "Oi, don't even put that out into the ether, prat. He's going to be brilliant. Seeker for the Gryffindor team, the next Potter to help win the Cup, that sort of thing." Harry can see it now, him in the stands at Hogwarts, cheering Jamie on. "Besides," Harry says, as lightly as he can, "it's not as if Malfoy's going to have that much influence on him, living halfway across the world like he is."
"Right." But the sceptical expression on Ron's face makes Harry's cheeks grow warm. "Whatever you say, mate." Ron reaches for his tea again. "It's not as if you and Malfoy aren't like moths and the proverbial flame. Dancing around each other until one of you gets burned." He watches Harry, a furrow deepening his brow. "Promise me you'll be careful with that one, yeah?"
Harry just looks away.
Still, Draco had been glad of the time alone. He'd taken James from Potter and ordered him back upstairs for a bath and a nap, whilst arranging for Kreacher to have food ready when Potter woke. The next few hours he'd spent feeding his son, then holding James against his chest, marvelling at the sweep of dark lashes against James's pale cheek and the folds of baby fat around his wrists. It'd been the calmest, most peaceful stretch of time Draco'd had since long before the war started, and he'd buried his face in the soft, sweet-smelling skin at James's neck, holding him close, the warmth of James's little body sinking into Draco, burying itself in Draco's heart.
Potter had come down to find Draco half-asleep on the sofa, James's tiny face pressed against Draco's shirt, a bit of drool pooling at the corner of his soft, pink mouth. Draco had looked up, his head still a bit fuzzy and drowsy, and Potter'd been standing over them, an oddly open, almost yearning expression on his face. Potter hadn't said anything; he'd just reached down and taken James from Draco, sending Draco off to the kitchen to eat a sandwich himself, and when Draco had walked back into the library ten minutes later, brushing bits of crumbs from his white cotton shirt, he'd caught Potter sat on the edge of the ottoman, looking off into the distance, lost in thought, his hand stroking small circles on James's back.
But now their son's squalling, and neither of them have managed to calm him down for the past half-hour, if not longer. James won't take a bottle, his nappy is perfectly clean, and any efforts to settle him are met with nothing more than a pitiful wail as Potter rubs his back, shushing him softly. Draco can tell Potter's exasperated, but he's hiding it well enough, really, given the commotion that's happening only an inch or two from his ear.
And then Potter--who, to be honest, Draco's half-certain has forgotten he's even here--starts to hum, softly and perfectly on key. Draco's surprised; he props himself against the arm of the sofa, as Potter moves over to the window, swaying with each step.
"Good night, you moonlight ladies," Potter sings in a beautiful tenor, and Draco hadn't even known Potter could carry a tune. "Rock-a-bye, sweet baby James." He shifts James, cradling him in the crook of his arm as he smiles down at him. James quiets, his cries fading. "Deep greens and blues are the colours I choose--" Potter smoothes a finger across James's thick hair, and James reaches for it, his tiny hand curling around Potter's fingertip. "Won't you let me go down in my dreams--" Potter draws in a soft breath before going on. "And rock-a-bye, sweet baby James."
Slowly, as Potter continues to sing, James starts to relax in his arms, his eyes drifting closed. Draco pushes himself off the sofa, walking over to where Potter's standing, his bare feet almost silent on the wooden floor. He can barely breathe, can barely take his gaze of the look on Potter's face as he sings to their son, rocking him gently, his voice a soft, lulling melody.
Potter looks breathtaking in the late afternoon light that spills through the open window, his hair a tousled mess, his glasses slightly smudged around the edges, his face alight with a love for this tiny human he's holding that Draco understands now, more than he ever had before. Something deep cracks open in Draco, raw and painful, and he knows that he can't take that Portkey home tomorrow, knows he can't leave his son behind.
Or Potter. Not this time.
The last lingering notes of the song hang in the air; Potter exhales, looking down at James. "Little prat," he murmurs, but there's a small smile curving his lips, and all James does is sigh softly in his sleep.
"I'm not going back to Sydney," Draco says before he can stop himself.
Potter stills, as if he'd only just realised Draco's still in the room. He doesn't answer, not at first. Instead, he walks over to the bassinet floating in between the sofa and the wall of glassed-in bookcases, and he lays James down, smoothing one hand over James' small chest before he straightens and looks at Draco, his face impassive.
Draco doesn't wait for him to speak. "I'll leave my position effective immediately. Mother will let me stay at the Manor until I find a place--"
"You hate the Manor." Potter's voice is even, his expression still unreadable to Draco, and Draco's surprised that Potter even remembers that Draco loathes his ancestral home now. He'd admitted it late one night when they were both three sheets to the wind; the memory of it's hazy in Draco's mind.
"I can't go back." Draco's gaze slides over to the bassinet, to his sleeping son. The thought of being away from James, of not spending this time with him, of not seeing him grow, of not being there for his first step, for his first word, for his first anything makes Draco feel ill.
Potter looks away, folds his arms over his chest. Draco wonders if he knows how he looks, how he makes Draco's pulse quicken, how Draco's aware of every movement of Potter's body, the way his muscles shift beneath his t-shirt, the way his joggers cling to his hips. Draco's always been attracted to Potter, God help him. Even before he understood what that meant. That first night, when Draco had seen Potter at the club, watching Draco dance from where he'd stood at the bar, had been like a dream come true for Draco. Everything afterwards had been a fantasy, a dream that Draco had known would end. He'd tried to leave before it did, before Potter tossed him aside the way Draco'd been certain he would. And now they're here, at this moment, with this child between them, tethering them together, and Draco can't lose that tiny bit of hope that somehow, in some way, James will help them find their way back to each other again.
"I already told you," Potter says, keeping his tone low, "that I'm not letting you take him from me."
"And I won't." Draco takes a step towards Potter, then stops. He has an uncontrollable urge to touch the dark stubble on Potter's jaw, and that's just not on. Not right now. "James needs us both, you know that. Besides you can't do all this yourself, no matter what you might think." Potter's mouth tightens, and Draco sighs. "What are you going to do when the Prophet finds out? You can't hide James away until Hogwarts. There are going to be questions, speculation, all sorts of wild rumours--"
Potter turns on Draco then. "You think it would be better if I announced our little indiscretion with fanfare? Should I throw a ball at the Manor, let the world meet the new Malfoy bastard?"
Merlin, that stings. "I wouldn't go that far," Draco says, as calmly as he can. He knows Potter's frightened, overwhelmed. For fuck's sake, Draco is too. He doesn't want to upend his life, to lose a career he loves. But he'd do anything for James, and he knows he has to be here with him. "However, getting in front of the story might be a good idea."
"He's not a story, Malfoy!" Potter's voice rises, and James stirs in the bassinet. Potter runs his hands over his face, and when he speaks again, he's quieter. "He's our son."
"I'm not an idiot." Draco's starting to get annoyed. Honestly, there's only so much of Potter's thickness Draco can attribute to hormones and lack of sleep. "But to Rita Skeeter and her lot, he's a story. And he's our story to tell, not theirs."
Potter's silent for a moment, then he sighs. "I don't know what would be worse for the general public: finding out I'm bent or that I've given birth to the Malfoy heir."
"That you're bent, obviously." Draco narrows his eyes at Potter. "I'm going to pretend that you didn't just insult not only my lineage, but our son's as well."
And at that, Potter shakes his head. "You know it's more complicated than that."
Draco does. It'll be a scandal, he's all too aware. The Saviour of the Wizarding World gives birth to a Death Eater's spawn. Even worse, to Lucius Malfoy's grandson, and that makes Draco wince. Yes, that'll play so well in certain circles, Draco's sure, and he has a moment of wondering if he ought to just go back to Sydney and let James grow up as Harry Potter's child, without the taint of the Malfoy name. Excuses would be made, a plausible story for his existence devised.
But Draco's not that selfless. He needs to know his son, needs to be here in England with him. "It's your own fault for being so sodding powerful," Draco says, and he doesn't care if he sounds sullen. "And more fertile than a bloody Weasley, it seems."
"Hey," Potter says, and his brows draw together. "Careful."
Draco walks over to the window. The back garden's lovely this time of year, a burst of purple and pink and yellow swathed in a myriad shades of green. It's a bit wild and unkempt, but Draco finds he prefers that to the cold, well-tended paths and hedges of the Malfoy formal gardens with their crushed shell walks, pristine flower beds and the boxwood maze Draco'd once found himself lost in for hours as a small child. He'd been cold and terrified, and when he'd heard his mother's voice calling him, he'd burst into tears, his relief at being found overwhelming the sense of decorum that'd been instilled in him since birth. This would be a good garden for a boy to play in, he thinks, taking in the overgrown nooks and crannies, wonderful hiding spaces shrouded by low-hanging branches and thick bushes that are waiting to be explored. He wants his son to grow up in the warmth of Grimmauld, surrounded by a loud and happy family willing to laugh and to listen, not the tense, uncomfortable silences Draco'd sat through at dinners with his mother and father towards the end of his school days.
He looks back at Potter. "Marry me," he finds himself saying, and he's as shocked by it as Potter seems to be, judging by the look on his face. Draco plows on, feeling as if he's about to sick up right here on Potter's faded Aubusson. "It'd give James a family, and proper recognition--"
"You've lost your mind," Potter says, his eyes wide. "I'm not bloody marrying you, Malfoy." He runs a hand through his hair. "Jesus."
And that little flicker of joy that had started to sputter inside of Draco dies out. "Oh," is all he can say. His throat closes up, and he turns away, his shoulders slumping, his hands slipping into his trouser pockets.
Potter's silent behind him.
Draco watches a magpie flutter down onto a branch outside the window, its black and white plumage a stark contrast to the wash of green leaves around it. He feels an awful fool. Of course Potter wouldn't want to marry him. He could barely stand the sight of Draco as it is. It takes him a moment, but he finally manages to say, "If you want me to sign legal documentation granting custody to you, I will." He looks back at Potter, and he tries to keep in check the sudden wave of grief that washes through him. "I would like to see him occasionally, though." His voice catches in the back of his throat; he swallows. "A father does like to know his child at least a bit."
"Malfoy," Potter says, and there's a look on his face Draco doesn't understand. Almost as if he's hopeless himself, but that makes no sense. Potter's the one who's won here, after all.
"It's fine." Draco tries to smile, but he can't. "It was a mad idea, and we'd be at each other's throats in a heartbeat, which is no way to raise a child. Better for James that he has a stable life here with you."
And not me, he doesn't add. There's no need to spell it out after all. Not even Potter's that bloody thick.
Draco draws in a ragged breath. "I'll have a solicitor draw up an arrangement, if you like. I'll keep my name out of it; he can grow up in the public eye as yours alone, but I do want him to know me in whatever way you think is proper."
Potter just looks at him, and it's too much for Draco. He walks over to where he'd left his shoes so many hours ago when he'd first come in. He pushes his feet into them, but not quickly enough. His face is hot, and he knows he's dangerously close to falling apart. The last thing Draco wants is for that to happen here. He could at least do himself the decency of waiting until he made it to the Manor first.
He's almost at the Floo when Potter asks, "Why'd you leave?" When Draco looks back around, Potter raises his chin. "Before."
And Draco thinks about lying. Thinks about all the half-truths he's told everyone, including himself, about why he ran to Sydney. And then his gaze falls on his son in the bassinet, bobbing lightly in mid-air. "Because," Draco says, and he can't hide the rawness in his voice. He licks his lip, summons up all the courage he has. And he tells Potter the truth.
"Because I was afraid I was falling for you, and I knew it was impossible, that you'd never have me. Publicly, I mean." He stops for a moment. "I shouldn't have presumed that might change now."
Draco can't bear to look at Potter, but he hears his sharp inhale. He turns back to the Floo. He has to leave before he crumbles, before he lets Potter see how vulnerable he is.
"Please don't go." The words are barely more than a murmur. Draco stops, one hand in the bowl of Floo powder. There's only the sound of Potter's rough breath from behind him, and then footsteps, and Draco's back prickles with the nearness of Potter. A hand settles over Draco's, wide and golden-brown against Draco's paler skin, his fingers thick as they thread through Draco's.
The silvery Floo powder slips from Draco's hand, glittering as it scatters across the white wood of the chimneypiece.
"It hurt too much when you left last time," Potter says, the words soft and warm against Draco's ear. A shiver goes through Draco; he curls his fingers around Potter's, his heart thudding in his chest. "I don't think Jamie or I could bear it if you did it again."
And Draco's turning, looking into Potter's face. It's open, frightened, and Draco's breath hitches when he sees what's written there. "Potter, what are you saying?"
"Harry." Potter's mouth quirks up on one side. "We have a kid together. We ought to be on first name basis by now, don't you think, Draco?"
And the sound of his name in Harry's voice makes Draco shiver with something that's a bit more complex and layered than pure want, he thinks. "Harry," Draco says, and he rolls the name across his tongue. "Harry." It sounds like a benediction of sorts. One he wants to pray over and over again. He bites his lip, studies Harry's face. "What do you want from me?"
"I don't know," Harry says, and Draco appreciates his honesty. Harry reaches up, brushes a lock of Draco's hair back behind his ear. "I thought you left because you didn't want me."
Draco has to laugh at that. "I thought you only wanted sex," he admits. "I didn't want you to get bored with me and toss me to the kerb."
"As if I could." Harry's close, and Draco can smell the muskiness of him, the faint hint of soap on his skin. Harry hasn't let Draco's hand go yet; Draco's arm is pulled between them at an awkward angle. He doesn't care. He can't stop looking at Harry's face, at the deep green of Harry's eyes. He studies it, almost as if Harry might disappear, as if Draco might never see him again. "I'm sorry," Harry says, his voice thick. "I should have told you when I found out about James."
Draco reaches out, touches Harry's jaw, the way he'd wanted to earlier. Harry's stubble is rough against Draco's fingertips. "I'm sorry for running away," he says. "Does that make us even?"
"Maybe." Harry's smile is warm, and Draco leans into, like a flower searching for the sun. "We're both complete idiots, you know."
"You more than I," Draco says, but he can't help but return Harry's smile. It feels as if something inside of him's slotting together, filling that empty space he hadn't realised was there until now. He takes a deep breath. "I'm not going back to Sydney," he says. "I mean that."
Harry nods. "And I'm not marrying you." His eyes crinkle in the corners when Draco frowns at him. He pulls Draco closer. "But I might think about living together. I want to know you properly first."
And Draco can't protest that. "I'll stay in the background," he says. "When it comes to James--"
"Fuck that." Harry drops Draco's hand and for a moment Draco thinks Harry's angry again, but Harry catches Draco's face between his palms. "You're right. James is our story, yours and mine, and we'll tell it however we like." His thumbs stroke Draco's cheeks. "I want to date you, you prat, and see where it goes from there, but I've no intention of hiding you away or pretending James isn't ours." He snorts. "It'd be impossible anyway. He looks like you."
"You're mad," Draco protests. "He's obviously a Potter--"
But Harry's mouth is on his, and Draco falls silent, giving himself into the slow, easy kiss. Harry's body is pressed against Draco's, and Draco's hands settle on Harry's hips. The softness of them is new; Draco thinks he likes it, likes the ways Harry's body has changed because of their son.
When Harry pulls back, Draco's breathless, his mouth swollen and wet, his heart soaring. "Mother will be thrilled, you know." He drags his tongue along his lip; he can still taste Harry on his skin. "I suspect she and Mrs Weasley arranged all of today." His eyes narrow. "Or whatever they could, at least."
Harry's chuckle is soft and low. His hands slide down Draco's arms, slipping back behind Draco to cup his arse. "I suppose we needed a bit of help."
More than a bit, Draco thinks, but he won't point that out. He wonders how angry Fumiko will be when Draco firecalls her tomorrow to turn in his notice instead of returning to work. The lease on the flat's paid up for another month; he's certain he could get Brian to help him pack his things if he needed to.
And the thought of coming back to London is terrifying. Draco knows there'll be hell to go through when the Prophet gets word of this. And Harry will be his usual bullheaded Gryffindor self about it all instead of treading lightly. Diplomacy isn't his forte, after all. But still, it might work. Harry Potter always has lived a charmed life.
Draco's just leaning in to kiss Harry again when James starts crying, a thin, reedy wail that echoes through the library. He leans his head against Harry's shoulder and swears.
Harry just laughs. "Your turn," he says against Draco's hair, and Draco wants to object, but he can't.
James waves his fists at Draco and howls when Draco leans over his bassinet. "You're outrageously loud, you do realise," Draco says, and he slips his hands beneath his son, lifting him up. Odd to think how cautious he was with him only a few days ago. How nervous he'd been to hold him, to feed him. Now Draco cradles James with ease, reaching for the blanket that's folded over the arm of a chair and wrapping it around his small body. James's cries start to fade; he presses one of his fists to his mouth and starts sucking on it, looking up at Draco with those blue-grey eyes of his.
"We did make a gorgeous baby," Draco says, glancing over at Harry, who's watching both of them with a fondness on his face that even Draco on his worst days can't mistake.
"He's all right." Harry's smile widens. He walks over as Draco sits on the sofa, settles next to him, one hand on Draco's thigh. "Want to make another? Except this time you get the joy of swollen ankles and morning sickness?"
Draco snorts. "Not any time soon, thank you." But he looks down at their son, and he thinks that he wouldn't hate having the chance to be there from the beginning, to feel something this wonderful growing in him. And when Harry's head leans against Draco's shoulder, there's a peace that unfurls deep inside Draco, a sense that he's coming back together, that whatever this is between him and Harry might just work out.
That, together, the three of them might just be finding home.
Harry can still taste Draco, that bittersweet ambrosia that's, in Harry's opinion, utterly perfect. And at that thought, he digs his fingers into Draco's shoulders, his lip caught between his teeth as Draco presses a fingertip against Harry's wet slit, working it into the narrow opening just a little. No one's ever touched him like Draco does, with this certainty and self-assurance, those long, pale fingers bringing Harry closer and closer to the edge.
Draco's lips brush against Harry's jaw. Harry'd shaved properly for today, and Draco'd been sulky at first, having been more than fond of Harry's scruff for the past week or two, but he'd given in. Eventually. "Certain you don't want me to draw this out a little more?"
Harry turns his head, catching Draco's mouth with his. It's a wicked kiss, rough and hard, and Harry's hands slide up Draco's shirt, tangling in the hair at the nape of Draco's neck. "Christ, Draco--please. I need--" Harry breaks off into another groan. His tongue sweeps across Draco's bottom lip. "More," he gasps, and he rolls his hips forward. His trousers are pushed halfway down his thighs, the cotton of his pants in thick folds above them, brushing the underside of his heavy bollocks. His own jacket's rumpled, Harry's certain, and he'll look a fright when they're done, but it's worth it to have Draco pressed against him like this.
Merlin, Harry can never get enough.
"I'd rather like to oblige," Draco says against Harry's lips, "but if I move any more, I'll have a broom up my arse."
"Kinky," Harry manages to choke out, and Draco laughs.
"Not in a church, you twat," Draco says, his fingers sliding back down Harry's prick, and Harry's mind nearly short-circuits. Fuck, but Draco's brilliant at this. "We're already likely to go to hell."
Harry nips at Draco's earlobe. "Technically we're still in the parish hall. Doesn't that make it less of a mortal sin?" He wants more from Draco, wants to bury himself in Draco's body, wants to see Draco come undone beneath him. But they haven't time for that. Not today, at least.
"I'm fairly certain Anglicans don't have mortal sins," Draco says, a bit dryly, but his cheeks are flushed in the shadows of the cupboard. "Unless one counts tippling from the Eucharist port on the sly, in which case the entire parish is probably bound for eternal judgment." He nudges Harry with his shoulder. "Budge up a bit, yes?"
Harry shifts, sending the bucket he was pressing against over onto its side with a clatter. They both freeze, Draco's fingers featherlight on Harry's prick.
"Fuck," Harry whispers. "Do you think anyone heard?" But the beat of Harry's pulse is still loud in his ears, and his cock is slick with anticipation. There's a part of him that doesn't care if someone's heard, doesn't care if they're found out, hiding in a church cupboard like two randy teenagers.
Draco's lips are against his ear now, his warm breath sending spiralling shivers across Harry's throat. "Possibly. You'll have to be quiet and hope that no one's out there." His hand's still wrapped around Harry's prick; his thumb drags up along the underside.
A frisson of danger races down Harry's spine. This is so bloody foolish of them. He knows that. The christening is due to begin any moment now; the guests are probably gathering in the nave. But Harry can't bear stopping; he's too fucking close already from blowing Draco senseless not five minutes ago. He listens for a moment longer, and then grows impatient. "Fuck it." Harry pushes his hips forward again. "Just get on with it."
"Needy, are we?" Draco's voice is fond.
Harry turns his head, glances at Draco. The look on Draco's face is warm, amused. "You've no idea," Harry says. Something about the smell of the floor wax reminds me of Hogwarts." Harry presses his lips against Draco's skin, the salt-bitter taste of him still on his tongue.
"You really are a kinky sod," Draco is toying with Harry's prick now, slowing stroking with nowhere near the pressure Harry needs to get off. "I should bring you to church more often."
"I wouldn't complain." Harry knows Draco's just teasing him now. "Come on." He rocks forward, into Draco's touch. A lock of pale gold hair falls into Draco's face, and Harry reaches up, brushes it back. "Unless you really want us to be late."
"God forbid we be so gauche." Draco presses against Harry's side, his hand tightening around Harry's prick. "I suppose I'll just have to be quick about it, then." His strokes start again. This time they're firmer, faster and Harry can feel the bliss being to pool like lava at the base of his spine. He sends a wordless prayer of thanks to the universe, and then his thoughts are beyond prayer as Draco's hand speeds up again, his teeth in the skin of Harry's neck.
Harry grabs Draco's arms, holds on as Draco presses him back against the wall, their bodies knocking into a tall shelf. It barely moves, thank Christ, and Harry's gasping, desperate, his fingers twisting in the fabric of Draco's shirt. He's so close; he can't bear it.
"Merlin, you look so bloody amazing when you're like this." Draco's whisper is raw, possessive. "Your mouth looks positively debauched."
"It is, you monster," Harry complains breathlessly, his body fully under Draco's thrall. He doesn't really mean it--Draco hadn't been gentle in fucking his face, but it had been bloody fantastic. He turns his head, presses his face into the curve of Draco's throat. Draco smells brilliant, like musk and sex and the sweet neroli and oakgrass of the Penhaligon's cologne Harry'd bought him for his birthday."I'm going to be hoarse for days."
"Then I'll try to make it worth your while," Draco says, his voice low, his hand practically flying across Harry's prick.
"Fuck, don't stop." Harry thinks he hears voices in the distance, including a very familiar one that he's afraid might be Draco's mother. He can't be entirely sure, however, as his attention is divided.
On the next breathtakingly perfect stroke, Harry's body convulses and comes with a soft cry, Draco twisting himself at the last moment so that Harry's spunk spatters over Draco's hand and onto the floor, rather than Draco's best suit. Harry slumps against him. "Oh, God, I fucking love you," Harry mumbles into Draco's shoulder, breathing hard. His body feels as if it's on fire, as if he could fly through the air without casting a charm. "Have I mentioned that recently?"
"You might have done. Once or twice." Draco slides his wand out of his pocket and does a quick cleaning spell, then helps Harry button his trousers. Harry's body is loose and pliant, and nothing really matters for this moment. He lets Draco smooth the wrinkles out of his jacket, both of them sorting themselves back into some semblance of order.
Harry leans forward and kisses Draco, quick and fast, tucking Draco's loose hair back behind his ears. "I do, you know," he murmurs. At Draco's quirked eyebrow, Harry adds, "Love you madly."
"I know." Draco's smile is small but warm. He cups Harry's cheek with one hand; it smells lemony from the cleaning charm. Draco doesn't need to say the words back; Harry knows how Draco feels just from the gentle touch on his skin. They've found each other finally; Harry's no intention of ever letting Draco go. Not without a fight at least. He turns his head, presses his mouth to Draco's palm. Draco's eyes flutter closed for the briefest of moments, and then he smoothes his thumb over Harry's cheek, looking at him with a gaze that tells Harry everything he needs to know.
Draco Malfoy loves him, utterly and completely, and Harry feels as if he could move the heavens and earth with that knowledge.
And then reality intrudes.
"Where did you last see them?" Narcissa Malfoy's voice is indulgent and fond and, to Harry's horror, not too far from where they're hidden away.
Harry eyes Draco, holding his breath. Perhaps she'll just go by, and they can get down the hall undetected. He knows it's a small chance; they've already been caught in more compromising positions than he'd like to admit by Draco's sharp-eyed mother.
"In the broom cupboard playing with the Boom Snaps or something," a confident, small voice rings out.
"Exploding Snap, you mean?" Narcissa asks from behind the door
"Uh huh." There's the sound of two small feet hitting the floor, once, then twice. Jamie's been into jumping lately. Mostly from heights that make Draco rage at Harry about parental negligence and insist on installing cushioning charms everywhere. Harry's tripped over three in the past week, spread throughout Grimmauld. "They thought I was playing with the baby and Aunt Herminy, but I snucked back, Nana. They've been in there so long."
"Then it must be a terribly difficult match, mustn't it?" Narcissa asks, her voice rising, and Harry's heart sinks. Mark this up as yet another place they've been caught out in. "Perhaps we can knock, and see if they're finished?"
"I'll do it!" There's a sharp rap on the door to the broom cupboard. "Papas." When neither of them answer, Jamie only gets louder. "Papas, I'm here. You can play with me!" The pounding grows more fierce; Harry's amazed that a tiny fist can make that much noise.
Draco shakes his head slowly. "My God, he's yours without a doubt," he mutters to Harry.
As the door opens and light streams in, Harry squints towards the hallway. "No, I'd say he's definitely ours."
Narcissa eyes them both, taking in the state of their clothing. "Really?" is all she says, but her amused exasperation is evident.
Jamie's frowning up at Harry, his pointed face sulky in a way that reminds Harry exactly of Draco. His dark hair tumbles over his forehead, messy and unkempt. No matter how much Draco tries to smooth it down with potions and charms, it does whatever it wants to. Jamie reaches for Harry's hand, tugs on it. "Come on," he demands. "You played long enough. Aunt Herminy says it's time for the baby to get wet." He looks like a little old man in his dark red shorts and navy jumper, his navy socks pulled up nearly to his knees.
Harry's sure his face is scarlet as he faces down his formidable mother-in-law. Draco takes it in stride, however, scooping Jamie up into his arms. "It's not polite to tattle, James Sirius, not even to your Nana." Now that Jamie's three and starting nursery school, they're trying to, as Draco puts it, socialise him so he's not a complete Gryffindor hellion when he reaches Hogwarts age. Harry thinks Draco tends to use it for his own ends, however. He eyes his husband; Draco doesn't bother to meet Harry's gaze.
"But I was bored." Jamie looks at Harry from over Draco's back, tapping his patent leather heels against Draco's hip. He lays his head on Draco's shoulder, the way he likes to do when he's tired or trying to get out of trouble. A fist goes up to his mouth. "Rose isn't fun."
"Rose is eleven weeks old," Draco says, stroking Jamie's back. "When you were her age, all you did is sleep and eat."
"And poo," Harry adds, to Jamie's giggle and a disapproving look from Draco. Harry just laughs and tweaks his son's nose.
"Stop, Daddy." Jamie bats his hand away, a frown drawing his small brows together. "It's my nose, not yours."
Draco sighs. "Don't work him up, Harry. He'll be impossible in the service." He starts down the hallway, Harry and Narcissa trailing behind them.
"Exploding Snap," Narcissa says, falling into step with Harry. She tucks her hand beneath his elbow. "I must say, I haven't heard it called that in a while."
"Hush, Mother." Draco glances back at them, the exasperated look on his face mirroring their son's. "As I recall, you and Father played rather a lot of snooker when I was young in rooms that I'm fairly certain didn't have a proper table."
"Well, I just think you should be careful." Narcissa's cheeks flush. "Whilst I adore my grandson, he's quite a handful on his own. You don't want to be surprised with a second one from your little games."
Draco looks at Harry for a moment over their son's dark curls, raising his eyebrows. Harry's still taking his contraceptive potions faithfully every morning, but they've talked about another addition to their family. They agree that neither of them want their son to grow up without a sibling, the way that they both did. Still, Harry likes their little group of three, and he's not sure how another baby might change things. It's been three magical years and their little family has gradually been accepted into the wizarding world, despite Rita Skeeter's shrieking about the inappropriateness of it from time to time in the Prophet. Still, Harry doesn't care. They're surrounded by a warm network of their friends and family, all of which seemed impossible to hope for at the beginning, but now Harry can't imagine it any other way.
"Babies come from Boom Snaps games?" Jamie looks puzzled, his brows knitted in thought. "I came from Daddy's tummy." His lip pokes out. "But not Rose."
Before Harry can answer, Draco gives him a sharp look. "All babies come from someone's tummy. Rose came from Aunt Hermione's. But only you came from Daddy's, yes."
Jamie considers this, then he shakes his head. "No babies from Daddy's tummy but me. I want a puppy, 'cause Rose is boring."
A trill of organ music sounds a warning. "Shi--" Harry starts to say, then at Draco's scowl, he catches himself. "We'd best get in there before Ron has one of those new-father breakdowns." They're meant to be in the church already, and Harry's going to need to stand up as godfather. Hermione's only given in to the christening instead of a Naming Ceremony because Molly'd insisted they do it properly, and Hermione's grandmother had surprisingly agreed. Besides, Hermione'd said with a sigh, she feels like she owes them something since they're not getting a wedding anytime soon. Molly's already been scandalised by that, although Arthur's managed to calm her down. She's still holding out hope that Ron'll change Hermione's mind; no one has the heart to tell her Ron's not that keen on marriage himself. Still, Ron's been nervous about the whole christening idea since it first came up; he's not good with ceremony. He needs Harry standing with him, the way he'd done for Harry when Jamie'd been christened. For once Harry's grateful for the break in Jamie's inquisitiveness as they all hurry back into the nave, Draco holding Jamie tighter than a Snitch, and Narcissa gripping her large blush pink hat with one hand.
They make the front row just in time; the small congregation's still on the first hymn, "O Welcome Light of Magic." Percy frowns as they slide into the bench, Audrey beaming next to him. Their baby is due in less than two months, Harry recalls, and his kidneys twinge in sympathy. Audrey must be having more trouble sleeping now. He's really not sure he's ready to go through that again, but watching Draco settle Jamie into the pew beside himself and Narcissa, he thinks it might just be worth it.
"What did we miss?" Harry asks Percy whilst unrolling the order of service.
"Mostly Ron sweating," Percy murmurs, and his mother eyes them from a few seats down the pew. Ron's on her other side, looking stiff and nervous in his best suit, and Hermione's at the end with Rose in her arms, the same christening gown Jamie'd worn--and Draco before him, ironically enough--draped across her lap. Her dark hair's braided and twisted up beneath a wide-brimmed pale yellow hat trimmed with silk roses; she's bloody gorgeous in her tailored floral dress. Rose, however, looks distinctly unimpressed with the entire proceedings, waving her plump brown arms through the air. In a moment she's going to cry, Harry thinks. He recognises the signs all too well.
Draco reaches over, takes Harry's hand. His wedding ring--barely a year old--shines bright in the sunlight that spills through the round leaded-glass window set high above them. Harry's fingers curl around his; he rubs his thumb over the smooth band of gold that matches the one Harry wears. It'd taken them some time to get to this point, to know that, regardless of how difficult it might be at times, they did want to spend the rest of their lives together, that they wanted to make a family. Marrying Draco was the best decision Harry's ever made, he thinks, one he'd do over and over again until the end of time if he had to.
"I love you," Draco mouths, and Harry squeezes his hand, just as the hymn finishes and Rose lets out the loudest wail Harry's heard since Jamie started talking. Ron and Hermione try to shush her, to no avail. They look mortified, and Harry wants to tell them not to worry about it, that no one minds, that this is what babies do. But they'll have to learn that on their own, he thinks, and when he looks over at Draco, his husband's face is soft, almost glowing.
"She's beautiful," Draco murmurs, and Harry agrees. Rose has settled, but Ron's face is flushed, and he looks down the pew at Harry with a grimace. The vicar steps up to the font, motioning Ron and Hermione both forward.
Harry lifts Draco's hand, kisses his knuckles. He doesn't care that Percy huffs an irritated sigh beside him. Audrey shushes him, and Percy looks away. "We should have another baby," he says, his voice low as the vicar starts to speak, and Draco looks at him, an odd cuve to his mouth. Harry frowns. "What?"
Draco takes a deep breath, then leans closer and whispers into Harry's ear. "I'm pregnant." He pulls back, his cheeks flushed, his eyes shining. His hand settles on his stomach. "Don't tell anyone yet."
Warmth bursts through Harry, a bright and bubbling joy that makes Harry's heart soar. Sing. "Really?" It's louder than he means to be; heads turn their way before shifting back to whatever the vicar's saying to Ron and Hermione. Harry doesn't care. He grips Draco's hand tighter.
Draco just nods. "Five weeks gone," he murmurs, and that makes sense once Harry does the math.
"The minibreak in Mykonos," Harry says softly, and Draco nods. It'd been their way of celebrating their first wedding anniversary, going to the place they'd honeymooned, the small Greek villa that Zabini had loaned them. Harry'd only been able to get a long weekend off from the Auror force, but the time they'd had there had been brilliantly filthy. And evidently, productive.
A new baby, Harry thinks, and he looks past Draco at Jamie, curled up against his grandmother's side. Narcissa smoothes his hair back; his feet swing over the edge of the pew. It's not quite a puppy, and Jamie will be furious about this, but one day he won't mind. Not when he has a new brother or sister to play with. Harry wants to laugh. Fuck it, maybe they'll get a dog too. It's not as if they don't have the space at Grimmauld, after all.
Harry marvels at his life: a husband and two children, their tiny family surrounded and supported by friends and loved ones--Gryffindors and Slytherins alike. Three years ago, Harry never would have expected this, never would have believed it possible for him to feel this much happiness, this much contentment. He strokes a thumb across Draco's knuckles, his eyes drawn back to the gleam of gold on his husband's finger, a mark of the partnership they've entered, the union of the Malfoy-Potters, a symbol of a hard-won love.
And this, Harry realises, as the vicar motions him to his place by the font, his goddaughter scrunching her face up for yet another desolate wail, this is exactly how his life is supposed to be.
Good night, you moonlight ladies
Rock-a-bye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rock-a-bye sweet baby James