"You're sure you won't come?" Harry asked, buttoning his shirt and looking over at Severus, who had his nose buried in a dusty old potions tome.
"I have a lot to do, please convey my apologies to them," Severus replied, not looking up.
Harry sighed, wishing he could push the feeling of rejection from his mind. "Look, I was thinking – it might be nice to get away for the weekend, I quite fancy spending a bit of time down by the coast, maybe Cornwall. We could find a nice B&B or a cottage to rent…what do you think?"
Severus looked up with a frown. "You want us to go away together?" he asked, as though baffled by the concept.
"Well, I thought it might be nice. We are married," Harry said, trying not to sound too petulant.
"Harry," Severus said, closing the book but keeping his thumb on the page he'd been reading, "I'm really very busy at the moment. I don't really have time to go swanning off to Cornwall."
"Ok," Harry said dejectedly. "Never mind, it was just a thought. I'll see you later if you're still up."
Severus had already turned his attention back to the book and Harry apparated away, knowing that Severus wouldn't even notice he'd gone. He arrived around the corner from Ron's place and walked with his hands in pockets until he arrived at their front door.
"Harry, come in," Draco said with a smile as he let him in. "Severus not with you?"
"No, no he said to send his apologies, he's very busy."
He was grateful that Draco didn't smile sympathetically at him, simply nodded as though he had expected as much. He followed the man into the kitchen, where Ron was peering into a pot of something on the stove.
"I've already told you to keep your hands off that," Draco said, moving over to him and swatting him out of the way.
"I'm helping," Ron protested. "And it is my mum's recipe after all!"
"Yes, your mum's recipe that she gave to me because you couldn't be trusted with it," Draco replied, and Harry watched as Ron wrapped his arms around Draco's waist while the man continued to stir, whispering something in his ear that had him laughing and telling Ron he was an idiot.
"Can I get you a drink mate?" Ron asked, finally releasing Draco and gesturing for Harry to take a seat.
"Don't get too comfy," Draco instructed, "we're having a proper sit-down meal in the dining room. I've bought new crockery."
"There was nothing wrong with the stuff I had before," Ron protested.
Draco rolled his eyes. "You're so uncouth. I don't know why I put up with you."
"Oh yes you do," said Ron, wiggling his eyebrows at him. Draco blushed but smiled nevertheless, turning his attention back to the food.
Ron handed Harry a beer and sat down opposite him, his eyes flickering back up to Draco before he asked Harry, "How's work going?"
Harry sighed and said, "I think I hate it with every fibre of my being. I'm considering…handing in my notice. I can't get up every morning thinking of ways I can avoid going to my job."
"What would you do instead?"
"McGonagall keeps offering me the DADA job. I think I might take it, teaching really appeals to me."
"Wow, that's a big step mate. What does Severus think about it?" Ron asked.
"I haven't spoken to him about it. I doubt he'd be very interested," Harry said, taking a swig of his beer to avoid the look he knew Ron was sending his way. "How are things with you two anyway?" he asked, wanting to get off the topic of his miserable life.
"Fine," said Ron with a smile. "We're going to go away for a week after my final exams. I can't bloody wait."
"Oh," said Harry, painfully reminded of the conversation he had only just had with Severus. "That's nice, where are you going?"
"Somewhere with a beach and where I can be pampered to within an inch of my life," Draco said, standing behind Ron and running his hands along his shoulders.
"Spoilt brat," Ron murmured, tilting his head up as Draco leant down to brush his lips softly.
Harry looked away, peeling the label on his beer bottle. He had never imagined that Ron and Draco would be so happy together, but the fact that they were so obviously in love with one another only served to make him feel thoroughly dissatisfied with his own situation. It wasn't that he wasn't happy for his friend, and this whole stupid marriage thing was his idea after all, but what he had with Severus was so far removed from Ron and Draco's relationship that it rather stuck in his throat.
They migrated into the dining room and the conversation turned to Ron's training as a Healer. He was on track to graduate with honours and his supervisor had offered him a position in the further training programme. While he was slightly hesitant about continuing in the world of studying, he was keen to specialise in rehabilitation and could learn around his job.
"At least you won't have to deal with that prick Josh anymore," said Draco as he topped their wine up.
"Ugh so true, he gets on my bloody wick," Ron growled. "Did I tell you that – "
"Yes, you told me all about the dispensary nightmare. In fact, you spent all of last Friday telling me about it," said Draco with an indulgent smile as he ran his hand through Ron's hair. "I was hanging on your every word."
"Prat," Ron said, taking Draco's hand and pressing a kiss to his knuckles.
They were so in tune with one another, Harry thought as he sipped his wine. Draco knew everything about the people on Ron's course, the friends he had made, the people who pissed him off. He knew the problems Ron had faced with his studies, the topic of every essay he'd written and the patients he had made connections with.
Ron knew all about Draco's work with Severus and could practically recite all of Draco's gripes and complaints by heart. They embellished and finished each other's stories and the looks that passed between them across the dinner table were impossible to miss. Ron had a particular smile that settled on his lips when Draco was saying something funny, and Draco had an expression of exasperated fondness when Ron teased him.
If anyone watched them with one another they would never know that they had married for convenience, that it had all been arranged like a business deal with no love involved whatsoever. Anyone would think that they were a real married couple, which, as Harry considered it, he realised was exactly what they were. He wondered if they realised they were in love with one another, surely no one could be that dense?
They were good together really, Harry supposed. Draco was a very different person these days; he was self-sufficient and hard-working, his previous arrogance seemingly eradicated. He and Ron were so affectionate with one another, they touched each other so naturally and those touches were often simple shows of warmth rather than anything sexual.
He didn't have anything like that with Severus. The only touches they had always revolved around sex. There had been so many times that he wanted to stay with Severus after a particularly vigorous session, but Severus always made it clear that when they were done he wanted to sleep alone. Harry had always thought that their sex life was heated and passionate, but lately he'd begun to think of it as nothing more than something clinical.
He wanted a connection with Severus. He wanted to talk to him about work, he wanted to discuss things with him and have private jokes that only made sense to the two of them. He wanted more than a quick fuck every now and again and passing each other in the corridors when they happened to be home at the same time. He wanted what Ron and Draco had, he wanted a marriage.
It wasn't going to happen though, was it? Severus didn't want that. He wanted casual sex whenever he felt like, and what was worse, he wanted it with other people too. Harry hated the thought of sharing him with anyone else and he hated the fact that he didn't seem to be enough for the man.
He left Ron and Draco's feeling more down about the situation than he had done in a while. He did his best to hide it, but when Ron hugged him goodbye, he could tell that his friend wanted to say something. Thankfully he refrained from doing so and Harry was allowed to leave without enduring looks of concern, or even worse – pity.
Severus was in the kitchen when he arrived home, pouring himself a glass of whisky. He had divested himself of his outer robe and was in trousers and a plain shirt, the sleeves rolled up.
"Drink?" Severus offered as Harry hovered in the doorway.
"No, I'm fine thanks," Harry said quietly.
"Well then, how do you fancy a different kind of nightcap?" Severus asked, moving towards Harry with a familiar glint in his eye. He snaked an arm around Harry's waist and pulled him closer, dropping his head to kiss along Harry's jaw.
"I'm kind of tired actually," Harry said, releasing himself from Severus' hold. Severus frowned but moved back to the table to his drink, saying,
"Off you go to bed then."
"I was actually…could we talk?" Harry asked, rubbing the back of his neck agitatedly.
"If we must, I suppose. Is something the matter?" Severus asked, swilling his whisky around in the glass.
Harry took a deep breath and tried to steady his nerves. He didn't want to say what he was about to, but he couldn't see another way to remedy the situation. "I think…I think perhaps it's time that we called time on our marriage. It's served its purpose, I don't see much point in continuing."
"What's brought this on?" Severus asked, his expression guarded.
"I just…don't think I can do it anymore. The whole thing…it's making me really unhappy."
"I don't understand," Severus said, and Harry rather suspected that that was the problem.
"I want more than what we have," Harry said, hating how vulnerable his admission made him. "I want more than empty sex up against the wall, more than an empty house night after night with no one to talk to. I want someone to share my life with, someone who doesn't kick me out of bed the second he's come. I know that none of this is your fault, this whole marriage thing was my idea and it was never meant to be anything more than a show for the public, but now…it's not enough."
"I see," Severus said, lowering his glass and fixing Harry with a hard stare. "I'm not enough for you."
"What we have isn't enough for me," Harry corrected. "I'm the one who isn't enough for you. You're the one who goes out and fucks other people because I can't give you everything you need, and, let's be honest, you can't give me what I need."
"And what exactly would that be?" Severus asked smoothly.
"I've just told you!" Harry said, beginning to feel frustrated. How the hell could Severus feel he had the right to act like the injured party? "I want a real marriage. I want to be able to talk to you, I want to know about your work, and for you to know about mine. I want to go out to dinner with you or visit friends together. I want to be able to laugh with you and for you to touch me just because you want to, not because it'll lead to you shagging me. I want…" he trailed off, horrified when he felt tears start to prickle his eyes, "I want you to make love to me…not just fuck me."
Severus said nothing, merely stayed seated, his arms folded as he looked at Harry as though he was an ingredient for inspection. There was no point, Harry realised, his heart thudding uncomfortably. He was chasing after something that didn't exist, something that had no hope of existing and he couldn't stay in that room humiliating himself any longer.
"I…I'm going to bed," he said, cursing the wobble in his voice, fighting to stop his tears from falling.
"This was what you wanted," Severus said, his voice hard, stopping Harry as he was about to turn and leave the room. "You said it – no strings attached, you weren't looking for happily ever after."
"I said it because I thought that's what you wanted to hear!" Harry said, struggling to remember a time when he had felt so wretched. "I didn't really see you as the kind of guy that was big on commitment and I'd hardly been the poster boy for relationships when we got married. I thought it would just be easier if I didn't put any pressure on you, if it was just casual. Don't tell me you wanted anything more than that because I know you didn't."
"You know the inner workings of my mind so intimately, do you?" Severus asked, his voice soft and low.
"No," Harry said, looking up to meet his eyes. "I don't think I have a clue about your mind."
"Then please be so good as to refrain from making assumptions," Severus said fiercely, getting up from his chair and moving to stand in front of Harry. "You foolish man," he whispered before leaning down and sweeping Harry up in the most intense kiss he had ever experienced.
He felt himself transported somewhere by magic, and it was only when he felt himself being lowered to his own bed that he realised where he was. Severus' hands were at his clothes, peeling them away slowly, layer by layer, and Harry could focus on little else but each second as it unfolded.
Severus was being so gentle and yet Harry felt overwhelmed by it, swept along the sensation of Severus' hands and lips teasing him, tasting him slowly and tenderly. "You're so beautiful, you know," Severus whispered against his skin. "I don't think anyone's ever told you that, but you should know that it's the truth. I've never felt luckier than when you were beneath me," he murmured against Harry's throat, and Harry couldn't quite process what he was hearing.
Gentle hands roved over his body and Severus' naked body was being pressed against his own, feeling closer somehow than they had been before. Harry arched up against him, wondering how it was possible for Severus to be this tender. The pace was slow but Severus was still managing to chase away all thoughts but what he was doing.
Harry felt himself being prepared, long fingers breaching him slowly, carefully as Severus plundered his mouth with the most sensual kiss of his life. He felt as though Severus was trying to rob him of all rational thought, and Harry could hardly bother fighting against it. He moaned as those dexterous fingers brushed against his prostate, and Severus moved his lips to Harry's throat, murmuring,
"So responsive, you're absolutely delicious."
"Oh God Severus, please," Harry moaned, feeling his arousal perched on the edge of a knife. Before he could fully register it, Severus was pushing inside him slowly, capturing his lips again in a soft, delicate kiss.
Harry groaned, overwhelmed by the intrusion, never having been taken this way before. Severus rocked gently with small, shallow thrusts, teasing Harry by not giving him exactly what he wanted. He thrust a little deeper, rocking his hips with a measured rhythm, making Harry feel every inch of him as he took him in as deep as he could go.
It was the most beautiful sensation and Harry couldn't believe he had gone his whole adult life without anyone ever making love to him. It was glorious, it was amazing, he had never felt this before and he had never imagined that Severus could be the one to show him such an all-consuming experience.
His pleasure was building slowly but powerfully, the situation contributing to it as much as the physical act itself. Things weren't as hopeless as he had imagined them to be, Severus didn't want to just use him and forget about him, he was taking his time to make Harry's body feel things it had never felt before. He gripped Severus' shoulders, moaning softly as he felt his orgasm creep up, the feeling intensifying the harder Severus pushed.
"Oh yes…yes!" Harry breathed, wrapping his legs around Severus' waist and holding him as tightly as he could. "Oh God…Severus yes," he cried as he came hard, feeling tears prick his eyes as the whole thing washed through him with force.
"So beautiful," Severus whispered as he continued to thrust under his body shuddered, releasing itself deep inside Harry.
Harry felt somehow distraught that it had ended, that at some point Severus would have to withdraw from his body and they might never have another night like it again.
"Ssh," Severus soothed, and Harry realised he was crying, his breath coming in harsh, ragged sobs.
"Severus…I – "
"It's ok," Severus whispered. He slipped slowly from Harry's body and muttered a cleaning charm as he gathered him up into his arms. "Sleep."
"You're not…not leaving?" Harry murmured into the man's chest.
He felt fingers tease through his hair and his eyes fluttered closed. He felt safe, protected and as he began to drift off he realised that he had never fallen asleep in someone else's arms before.
"Stop that," Draco said with a laugh as Ron continued to run his hands over his backside. "We're supposed to be sharing a shower to save time, we're already in danger of being late."
"Just a quickie," Ron murmured into his ear.
"We spent the morning have a succession of 'quickies', hence why we're running behind schedule," Draco said, turning around in Ron's arms and running his hands through the soap across the man's chest.
"You were so fucking hot," Ron said as he worried the soft skin of Draco's throat with his teeth. "I love it when you talk dirty."
Draco blushed and dipped his head with a smile. "I can't help myself, you just…bring it out of me."
"I love hearing you say all those delicious things. They sound so fucking filthy coming from your mouth, I love hearing you beg me to fuck you."
"Oh Ron," Draco groaned. "Stop it now, I am not risking your mother's ire by being late to lunch."
"Oh we won't be missed," Ron said, trying his best to persuade his husband.
"It's in your bloody honour you great pillock," Draco said with a laugh. "Now that you're a fully qualified Healer, your family want to celebrate!"
"No, my mother wants an excuse to spend the whole day mooning over her new granddaughter," Ron argued, letting his hands rove back down to Draco's firm backside.
"I'm not getting on your mother's bad side for anyone, Mr Weasley. I'm her favourite son-in-law," Draco said imperiously.
"You're her only son-in-law," Ron said with a laugh.
"Well then I win by default. Now come on, rinse your hair and get out," Draco said, washing the last of the soap from his body and stepping out of the shower before Ron could grab him and pull him back in.
"Meanie," Ron groused as he did as instructed and finished washing, yanking off the water and stepping out. "Thanks," he said as Draco handed him a towel. He dried himself off and tied the towel around his waist, watching as Draco stood in front of the mirror and combed his wet hair.
The morning had indeed been rather athletic and Ron couldn't stop himself from smiling as he thought of all the things they had got up to. Draco seemed to have migrated into his bedroom on an almost permanent basis. He couldn't remember the last time they had slept apart, and while they were often too tired for anything to happen, Ron loved falling asleep with the man in his arms.
He moved behind his husband and wrapped his arms around his waist, nuzzling his nose through the damp strands of hair. "You're so beautiful," he whispered into his ear, loving the blush that followed.
"Sweet talk will get you nowhere, I'm not giving in to you," Draco said, running his hands over Ron's arms.
"It's true," Ron insisted, holding him a little tighter. "I can't take my eyes off you."
"Or your hands," Draco laughed, looking embarrassed but pleased by Ron's words.
Ron kissed Draco's shoulder and murmured, "Can I ask you a question? It's quite personal."
Draco turned around to lean against the sink, looking up at Ron as he said, "What do you want to ask me?"
"Feel free to tell me to piss off, it's none of my business after all, I was just wondering…why you'd never slept with anyone before me."
"Ah," said Draco, as though he had been expecting the question for some time.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have asked, you don't have to tell me," Ron said, shaking his head.
"No, no it's ok. It's not like we have any secrets anyway," Draco said with a smile. He took a deep breath and said, "A few months after the war I met this guy and we went on a couple of dates. It was looking promising and I decided that I wanted to sleep with him. Anyway, we were in this bar one night and I went to go and get some drinks, when I came back to the table I heard him talking to his friends about the bet they all had going about how long it would him to get me in the sack."
"Oh love, I'm sorry," Ron said, feeling a fierce surge of indignation on Draco's behalf.
Draco sighed and said, "After that I was pretty hesitant about things but I thought that maybe I'd be better off looking for someone in the muggle world, somewhere where no one knew me. I met someone one night in the pub I was working at and we ended up going back to his place. He got…kind of aggressive."
"Did he hurt you?" Ron asked, his stomach clenching.
"No," Draco said, shaking his head. "I stunned him, obliviated him and got the hell out of there. I decided that clearly sex wasn't for me and I just forgot about it…until you," he said with a smile.
"I'm glad I could be the one to – "
"So am I," Draco said in a soft whisper, pulling himself up to press a gentle kiss to Ron's lips. Ron held him close, feeling overwhelmed by the things he felt for the man.
They were the last ones to arrive at the Burrow, and Draco wasted no time in letting Molly know that it was all Ron's fault. Thankfully he didn't apprise her of the reason, but Ron whispered to him that he would most certainly be paying for dropping him in it.
The big family lunch was indeed being held to celebrate Ron becoming a full-qualified Healer and he couldn't help but feel a surge of pride as his family toasted him. He had worked his arse off for the last three years and to finally be able to call himself a Healer was extraordinary. There was still a lot more hard work for him on the horizon as he entered the post-graduate programme to specialise in rehabilitation, but he knew it would all be worth it.
He was surprised to see that Severus had accompanied Harry to the family lunch, and his friend looked happier than he had seen him in a long time. He and Severus sat next to one another at the dinner table, and every so often Severus' hand would come to rest on Harry's knee or Harry would lean over and whisper something to the man that had him nodding and smiling. It seemed like a drastic shift had taken place in their relationship, and Ron fully intended to get the full story from his friend when they got a moment alone together.
The day passed happily and there was much cooing and fussing over Bill and Fleur's new daughter, who, even Ron had to admit was rather adorable. Draco was dragged out to the garage to take a look at another problem with Arthur's car, and Ron had murmured something about overalls and grease as Draco went, causing his husband to blush prettily.
As the afternoon wore on, Ron found himself stretched out on a recliner while Draco was commandeered by Victoire to play hide and seek with her. The sounds of laughter and chatter filled the air and Ron smiled as a feeling of contentment washed over him.
"Wipe that stupid grin off your face," Harry said as he sat down next to him.
"Make me," Ron said affably.
"Congratulations on qualifying, mate. We're all so proud of you."
"Thanks. It's been a bit of a long road at times, but I'm so glad I've finally made it."
They clinked their glasses together and grinned at one another, then sat in a companionable silence for a while until Ron decided to broach the topic he wanted to talk about. "So, you and Severus. Things seem…different between you."
To his surprise, Harry blushed. "Yeah…yeah they are. We've um…we've decided to give things a go, properly I mean. I suppose…I suppose we're going to try dating and see what happens. I'm going to take the job at Hogwarts and he's going to live at Grimmauld for the time being. We're going to see each other at weekends and…try to be something that resembles a normal couple."
"That's great Harry, I'm really pleased for you," Ron said with a smile.
"Well…it might all end in tears, but I really want to try…so does he." He cast a glance back towards the house and said, "I'd better go and see if Hermione's cornered him. He told me in no uncertain terms that if she talked at him for more than ten minutes at a time he'd do unspeakably painful things to me."
"I thought you liked that kind of thing," Ron said with a smirk.
"He assures me I won't," Harry said, pushing himself off the rickety old chair. Ron watched him go with a smile, pleased that Harry seemed to be happier than he had been for months.
He stayed in the sunshine for a little while longer, then decided to follow Harry's suit and see if his husband needed rescuing. He found him in the sitting room talking to Fleur, the new baby nestled into the crook of his arm.
"She's so beautiful," Ron heard him say as he hovered in the doorway watching them.
Draco smiled down at the little girl, rocking her gently as he continued to talk to Fleur. Ron watched, captivated by how beautiful Draco looked, and he found himself wondering what Draco would look like holding their own child.
He could just imagine his husband holding a baby with strawberry blond hair and pale skin, large blue eyes looking up at him as he soothed their son or daughter to sleep. He suddenly felt himself doused with a cold shock of reality as he realised that his imaginings were ridiculous. Their marriage was temporary, they both knew that, and sooner or later it would have to come to an end.
Things were good between them, that was true, but Draco was probably just making the best of the situation, as they had always agreed to. Eventually they would have to go their separate ways, and Ron's thoughts of the children they might have were ludicrous.
The thought of Draco no longer being in his life was thoroughly hideous, and he felt a wave of nausea creep over him as he considered what his bed would feel like without the blond in it. He'd be left to rattle around his empty house all on his own with no happy conversations to while away the evenings with, no more shared showers or shared laughter over the breakfast table.
He managed to plaster a smile onto his face just as Draco looked up, but he doubted it was very convincing. He felt like he'd taken a punch to the gut and he was sure it showed on his face. He declined a cuddle with the baby and excused himself to go and help his mother with the washing up, his mind going over all the things he was trying to forget about.
"Ah, what a day, I'm shattered!" said Draco as they arrived back home later that evening. "Fancy a coffee?"
"Yeah sure," he mumbled as he took a seat on the sofa.
"Good, then we can look through those holiday brochures. You promised me we could book something this week and I'm holding you to it."
"Ok, fine," he said, not really paying attention to what Draco was saying.
"Something wrong?" Draco asked, taking a seat next to him.
"Hm? No, no I'm just a bit worn out I suppose. Busy day. You…said something about…about the holiday?" he said, trying to snap himself out of it.
Draco looked at him for a moment, then a slow, small smile made its way onto his lips. "Do you think I didn't notice the way you looked at me when I was holding the baby today? Do you really think I don't know what you were thinking when you were standing there?" he asked softly.
"I – " Ron began, feeling a humiliated blush creep up his neck.
"Don't you think I thought about it too?" Draco asked, his eyes shining. "Don't you think I imagined what it would be like standing with you while I held our baby?"
"Drake…this is…I mean our marriage isn't – "
"Isn't what? Isn't real?" Draco asked, then moved to sit astride Ron's lap, straddling him as he looked down at him. "What doesn't feel real to you, Ron? The way we know every little detail about each other's lives? The way we make our decisions with each other in mind? The way we make love?" he asked gently.
"This was never meant to be anything more than – "
"A publicity stunt?" Draco asked with a smile. "Who cares how it started? Look at where we are now. Do you really think I have any intention of leaving you? You think I'm stupid enough to give up a man who makes me laugh, who comforts me, who makes my whole body sing with pleasure? Why the hell would I want to leave a man who is gorgeous and gentle, who took his time to show me how amazing sex could be, who just has to walk into a room and I can feel my body responding to him?"
Draco ran his hand through Ron's hair, then traced one long finger down the man's nose and over his cheek. "You'd have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming. I'm not going anywhere, not when I have a husband that I'm so completely in love with."
"Drake," Ron whispered, feeling his chest constrict tightly. Draco pressed a finger to his lips then leant down and kissed him soundly. In a very short space of time, Ron's world consisted of nothing but his husband and the wonderful things he was making him feel.
"Am I getting paid for this?" Ron growled as he swung a sledgehammer at a portion of wall that was refusing to come down.
"Oh shut up. You owe me for all the work I helped you do on your place," Harry said, shaking the brick dust from his hair. "I reckon another month and we'll have this place habitable."
"That's incredibly optimistic," Ron said wryly, taking a look at the empty shell of a cottage they were standing in. "I still can't believe you've convinced Severus to move out to the sticks."
"It was his idea!" Harry protested. "He's fed up with living in the city. Besides, he can still commute to the lab every day, and I can floo to Hogwarts. It's perfect."
"Look at that grin on your face," Ron teased, leaning on the sledgehammer. "You and Severus living in wedded bliss, it's unbelievable."
"We've worked bloody hard enough at it," Harry said with a sigh. "There were times when I didn't think we'd get there, when it just would have been easier to call it a day. The simple fact is that we love one another, we make more sense together than apart."
"Come on then, love's young dream. Let's call it a day and go back to mine. This bloody place of yours will still be here to knock to pieces tomorrow."
Harry cast an eye about the place, noting the progress they had made and said, "Yeah fair enough. I don't want to get it in the neck from your bloody husband for being late for dinner."
Ron nodded sagely. "He's learning from my mother, I swear. He's so obviously her favourite in-law. Actually, I think she prefers him over most of her actual children."
"Who could blame her?" Harry asked with a grin, then apparated from the spot to avoid the thump that was inevitably coming his way.
Ron rolled his eyes and dusted himself down, knowing that his husband would kill him if he dragged dust in through their house. Everyone was in the living room when he arrived, Severus standing next to Harry with a three-year-old balanced on his hip.
"Have you got a cuddle for Daddy?" Ron asked as he took his son from Severus, covering him in kisses.
"Daddy! No, that tickles!" the little boy laughed as Draco came over to greet Ron with a kiss.
"You're filthy. Unhand my son before you cover him in brick dust!" Draco said, taking the little boy and positioning him on his hip. "Isn't Daddy a mess? We shouldn't let him in the house, should we?"
"This is the product of a day's hard labour I'll have you know. Look, Severus doesn't seem to mind it," he said, gesturing to the man, who had his arms wrapped around Harry's waist, his chin resting on the man's shoulder.
"He would if his pride and joy was in danger of getting a lungful of mould!" Draco said, smoothing his son's strawberry blond hair. "Tell Daddy what you did today, Ethan."
The little boy beamed over at Ron and said proudly, "I helped Pa and Uncle Severus with their potion."
"Is that a fact?" Ron asked, wrapping his husband and his son up in a big hug, partly because he wanted to, and party to annoy Draco by covering him in dirt.
"Go and clean yourself up!" Draco instructed, extricating himself and Ethan from Ron's clutches and glaring across at Harry. "You too! Or neither of you will be allowed anything to eat. Severus, come and watch over Ethan while I finish up dinner. We expect the two of you in the dining room in ten minutes," he told Ron and Harry as he and Severus left the room, Ethan grabbing hold of Severus' hand as they went.
Dinner was a lively affair, with Ethan commanding much of their attention as they ate. Severus and Harry went over the plans for the cottage, Ron groaning that he was the one expected to do most of the hard work as Harry was next to useless.
Ron was helping out at the weekends, Harry very grateful for any time the man could spare as he was busy with his work as a Healer, especially as he was working towards promotion. He had been working in the field of rehabilitation for nearly five years now and loved every second of it. He was working to be made head of the department, and no one was prouder of him than his husband.
Draco was still working with Severus, although the arrangement was a lot more balanced than it had been previously. Molly often looked after Ethan during the day and sometimes Draco was able to work from home and could keep Ethan with him.
Harry and Severus had decided against children, at least for the time being, but they were proud and attentive godparents to Ethan, and the little boy adored them both. He was particularly fascinated by Severus, and he followed the man wherever he went.
Harry and Severus' marriage had hit a couple of rocky patches over the years. Neither of them were particularly good at communicating, and feelings had often been hurt because of misunderstandings or a failure to say what they really needed. They were both committed to making it work though, and they had come through it stronger as a couple because of it.
Harry was far happier in his work as a teacher than he had ever been as an auror. He had been offered the position of Head of Gryffindor, but had turned it down as it meant he would have to live in the castle full-time. Whatever choices either he or Severus made, these days it was always with their marriage as their priority.
"I think he's finally settled," Ron said as he crawled into bed next to Draco later that night. "I had to read that bloody Brambly Hedge book three times but he drifted off eventually."
"If you're looking for sympathy from me then you're barking up the wrong tree. It took me two hours to get him settled last night, you got off light," Draco said as Ron wrapped him up in his arms.
They lay cuddled together, Ron running his fingers through Draco's hair, enjoying the peace of the moment. "Do you like the name Naomi?" Draco asked eventually, his voice breaking through the silence.
"That's a pretty bizarre question, love. I can't say I've ever given it much thought," Ron said, wondering if his husband was losing it.
"Well, how about Caitlin?"
"What are you going on about?"
"Well," said Draco, taking one of Ron's hands and guiding it down to his stomach, "I think we need to have something to call her when she's born."
Ron blinked down at his husband, then his eyes flickered to the hand resting on the pale, smooth abdomen. "Drake…are you…"
Draco nodded with a beautiful smile. "Ten weeks along," he whispered, and Ron felt his heart swell with elation.
"Oh my God, honey are you ok? Is everything ok with the baby? How do you know it will be a girl, isn't it too soon to tell?" Ron asked, his questions coming out in a jumble.
Draco laughed and wound his arms around the man's neck, saying, "I'm fine, clean bill of health from the doctor. Yes it's too early but I just have a feeling. I was right with Ethan, wasn't I?"
"You're always right sweetheart," Ron said, rubbing his hand over Draco's stomach. "You've already given me one beautiful child and now you're going to give me another. You're incredible," he murmured.
"Well, this time I'd quite like it if you didn't barge into the delivery room and push the midwife out of the way, declaring that you're going to deliver the baby yourself because everyone else is an incompetent moron."
Ron laughed and said, "I can't make any promises, not when it comes to you. I love you," he said softly, leaning down to meet Draco's lips in a gentle kiss. "You know, I really must thank Harry for that daft idea he suggested all those years ago."
"Excuse me, marrying me was a daft idea?"
"The daftest and best thing I have ever done."
AN: I genuinely surprised myself with that ending, I've always hated m-preg...I don't know what got into me!
Anyway folks, I hope you enjoyed the story. Please leave a review and let me know.