Title: The Anointed Prince

Author: Decadence

Genre: Romance/Drama/Angst

Rating: R (for later contents)

Setting: Set in a time barely ten years before the birth of magic within humanity.

Summary: Faced with his upcoming crowning, a war, and a royal ball, Prince Draco Romulus Gabriel Malfoy is forced into finding a spouse, someone of the proper breeding and etiquette.

Disclaimer: All character belong to J.K. Rowling, unless stated other wise (i.e. Clarisse).

Warning: SLASH (DM/HP); Draco will be dominate in the relationship. Also, I forgot to mention this in the first chapter, I forgot until one of my reviewers mentioned it, thank you kind reviewer but this fanfic will contain MPreg in later chapters.

Beta Reader: Editor101

Chapter Thirteen: Proposed Isolation

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

Love is miraculous in every form it chooses to take. It is a torrent of passion; animal violence mixed with a need for the tender touches of a soft caress. It is both breathtaking and horrifying all at once. It wells up within its bearer and slowly pools until he or she feels as if they are drowning in an emotion more powerful than any force ever before witnessed. It demands absolute surrender and absolute trust. Both of which Draco Romulus Gabriel Malfoy was willing to relinquish if it meant he could spend even one more second in this weary, loving embrace that his husband offered so freely.

If there had ever been a moment more dear to him than this, the first dying sensations of their intimate embrace, they were lost to him. There could no longer be a time when Harry Danovan Potter (now Malfoy) had not been his. It was inconceivable that there might possibly be a day when Harry was gone from his side, when Harry might not be there at all.

Once, long ago, his father had warned him that love was a dangerous emotion to bear. Though he had not understood at the time, Draco thought he did now. He could not loose Harry. To loose his husband would be to put an end to himself. He felt that if such a time were to come, he would gladly follow his emerald-eyed love into the abyss and join him on the other side.

Pushing such thoughts aside, for he would not allow fear or worry to cloud his mind now, Draco pressed a thousand tender kisses against Harry's flushed face. Weary eyes opened to gaze at him in love and adoration, to which all the kisses in the world could not compare.

Perhaps others have whispered fervent vows of eternal love in such moments, but as he gazed down at his husband, Draco found that no words would come. No coherent thought filled his mind, and he uttered no sound. Still, Harry smiled at him. It was a slow smile, a smile so beautiful Draco felt that the gods wept to see it, and he knew that no words were needed. For them no words would ever be needed. They knew, they understood. They both felt the flames, now gently stirring, which lay between them, and they both felt that within them lay two hearts that beat as one.

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

The smell of burnt flesh had long since forced the occupants of the ballroom to abandon their celebration and retire to more commodious locations. Such locations included the royal gardens where small groups of court members speculated about the odd display that had wounded one of their own. Some were careful to cover their discomfort for the display, whilst others spoke quite blatantly about their concerns.

"It was witchcraft quite obviously," Theodore Nott said. He was among the few court members that were at the pinnacle of the social elite. Intelligent beyond his years, he was a confidant one moment and an informant the next. Secrets were safe with him, unless it suited him to have them released. He was fearless in his convictions and cruel in his condescending manner. The ladies of the court could hope for no better match.

"Perhaps, but then that leads us to question why the prince would consent to marry a witch," Cho Chang whispered as she glanced over a couple of Noir warriors who were patrolling the garden under orders from the king.

"It should be fairly simple to understand," Susan Bones said lightly as she laid her slender hand upon Theodore's arm. "There is a war approaching, and what better spouse to have than one who can call forth the flames of hell with a single thought."

"While that would surely ring true had we been discussing one of the court members marrying a witch, we are discussing the prince," Theodore said with a raised eyebrow. "Noir has seen many wars in the last few decades, some worse than the one we will be participating in now, and never has a member of the royal family married a witch."

"Indeed," Cho said as Theodore merely gazed at them upon the conclusion of his statement. "The politics behind such a move are faulty at best. I hear that the king of Aeternus has proposed a marriage contract between his daughter and our prince. Surely Draco would have benefited more from that arrangement than from this one."

"Well, suppose then that this Harry Potter has offered Draco something that another royal could not," Susan said slowly.

"The question then is what could he have to offer," Theodore said. "He comes from a low class lordship, he lives on a farm where he delights in working in the fields alongside his servants-"

"I hear that the Potters do not own servants. The villagers that work in the fields are considered their friends," Cho whispered with a disdainful smile.

"Despicable behavior to be sure," Susan said cruelly. Had she not been a lady she would have spat at the thought of such lowering of status.

"As I was saying, when one considers the Potter lineage and background, there is nothing that would constitute such a marriage between their family and the Malfoy family. The two simply cannot be compared, one is far superior to the other," Theodore said with a shake of his head. He disliked riddles, especially when they came to no logical conclusion.

"Perhaps Draco hopes to gain the allegiance of the other witches-" Cho began.

"He already has the allegiance of Albus Dumbledore, the most powerful magic wielder of our time. Besides, Dumbledore commands the allegiance of the others excluding the Dark Lord of course," Theodore said in exasperation. He was growing weary of this subject.

"Thus, making for this wedding to be poorly conceived indeed," Susan said with a smirk.

"Precisely," Cho said, though she appeared confused. "However, if it is so ill conceived, then why pray tell did Draco do it? If anything, our prince is not lacking in mental capabilities."

"Perhaps he loved Harry," Susan said with a soft laugh. Cho smiled at the comment. In this day and age very few people married for love, and royalty never did. "Now tell me Cho, where did you hear about Aeternus' proposal? I have heard nothing of it until just now."

"Oh, I happened to over hear a conversation between the king and his advisors concerning Aeternus' princess Regina. As it happens, when Draco heard the proposal he refused without even considering the offer. Highly unbecoming of any prince," Cho said. She delighted in being the first to tell tale. Susan smiled and nodded, gesturing for her to continue. Susan was sure to listened carefully, certain that this information would come in handy later.

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

"How is he?"

Lily glanced up into the worried face of her husband. She shook her head, emerald eyes slightly watery as she remembered her sons' sobs. James sighed and pulled her into his arms. He could not comfort his son, but he could comfort his wife. Harry had vanished behind the doors of the prince's chambers, beyond his reach, and had yet to return.

"I want to take him home, James," Lily whispered as she gazed out the window into the royal gardens. She watched the various court members gossip and knew that they spoke of her son. "He should not be here. This is not his place. These people are not his people."

"Lily, it is not for us to decide where his home is," James said softly. "I wish that we could. I wish I could take you and him and return to our village. I wish he had never come here. However, he is no longer our son, he is the prince's husband and the kingdom will need him. We knew he was meant for far greater things than a farmer-"

"He loves the farm! He loves it, and us, and his people…he would not leave us," Lily whispered loudly. She seemed to be trying to convince herself more than him. "He could have been happy as a farmer."

"Of course he loves the farm and us, and he could have been happy there. His people love him and he knows this," James said softly. "However, he will be a wonderful and just ruler, and he will be loved by his husband and by the entire kingdom now. He will love us, he will not forget, he will simply be extending his love to others beyond our village."

"I simply did not want him to discover the depravity of the court," Lily said as she entwined her fingers with her husband's. "He does not understand it."

"He will come to understand it, Draco will help him adjust. Perhaps he will find a way to purge it from the court," James said as he watched two guards march past a small group of youths.

"Is it right that we should expect so much from him?" Lily asked.

"It may not be right, but he is royalty now. People have always expected phenomenal deeds from their rulers," James said simply. "Besides, you knew the moment he was born that people would name him the doer of great things. For now, my main concern is for the children that will no doubt be expected to make their appearance within the next year."

"Oh yes," Lily said softly. "I had forgotten that the Malfoy line could impregnate both genders. It must be wonderful to not be limited, not that I could find anyone to replace you."

"You forgot about our grandchildren," James laughed. He pulled Lily even closer and kissed the top of her head to show he was merely kidding her. "I would think the grandchildren would have been your first concern, and no, you could not find someone half as handsome and dashing as I."

"Humph…" Lily huffed. "Shows how much you know. No, I did forget our future grandchildren. My only excuse is that with the recent events I have merely found that I can focus on only one thing at a time. Forgive me?"

"You have no need to ask for my forgiveness," James smiled. "Whether you were aware of it or not, you still thought of our grandchildren. You wished for you son to find happiness and love in his spouse, and he has. You knew that children would come next, you simply did not need to focus on them at the moment. In being so concerned with the present you have considered the future safety of our grandchildren. Though you may wish to apologize to Narcissa for your slip."

"You must find yourself very amusing, for no one else does," Lily said. She smiled lovingly at her husband. "You always know exactly what to say."

"I should," James smiled. "I have been married to you for many, many years."

"We are not so old, still, I hope for many more to come."

"As if I would leave you," James muttered. "No, my dear, death could not tear me from your side. I would simply come back and haunt you for the rest of your life."

"No, for I would follow you, if only to shut you up," Lily said lightly. She then turned serious. "When you go, I will go."

James pressed a tender kiss to Lily's lips instead of responding. It spoke volumes. No more words were needed. They had said everything that needed saying.

"Come, let us find Narcissa and Lucius," James said after a moment. "Perhaps we can think of a way for Harry to interact with the court without fearing for his life."

"Or theirs," Lily laughed.

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

Silently, or as silently as a formal gown would allow, she walked the empty hallways. She knew what was expected of her, what was required of her, and she willingly gave herself over to His needs. She never questioned and indeed, after all the years of servitude to Him, she had ceased to think for herself on matters that He deemed important.

"Go," He had bid her, "To the prince's ball. Pretend that nothing has happened that would be considered suspicious to the royal family. Draw no attention to yourself except for the attention of the Finnigan lord. His eye is the one you must attract while avoiding all others. For, the heir to the Finnigan lordship offers a form of protection to the Potter heir through their continued engagement, a protection that must be removed at all costs. Understand that no other follower has ever been trusted with a mission of this magnitude. Betrayal or failure to perform the required actions shall result in a fate far worse than death."

His words, as if a poison, had seeped into her veins and embedded their orders within her mind. Her every waking moment was spent in thought of how best to attend to His wishes. In the cover of the night she pondered new courses of action that would mark the separation of Potter and Finnigan. She knew no moment of relaxation once she entered the halls of the palace; she knew only her frustration as her advances were ignored.

Simpering she came before Seamus in an attempt to draw him away from his lover only to be forced back by his simple smile before he returned his attention back to his intended. Smiling with subtle seductive glances and flattering words she sought the weakness in his romance. Laughter and smiles masked her growls of rage as her actions seemed only to draw the pair closer together. There was no moment where she could catch Seamus unaware. The brief moments when he and Harry were apart found him surrounded by his friends.

Just days before the conclusion of the ball, she had feared her efforts were for naught, and then, a miracle. Passing by the room of Dean Thomas, she over heard Seamus' cries of rejection and anger. Containing her triumphant laughter she had rushed to her room to pen a letter to her master so that He might delight in His affections careless action. Just as her success had been assured, she felt her death fast approaching with the king's announcement of the marriage between the prince and Harry Potter, now Harry Malfoy.

There was no engagement period during which she could devise a plan that would show the prince that his choice of consort was ill chosen. There were no wedding preparations she could foil and postpone. There had been nothing. One moment there was a prince and a lord, and the next there had been a prince and his anointed. She had fallen into despair.

Now she must write to her master and inform Him of her failure. She had waited as long as she dared, but now she feared another would report this sudden development and her master would know she had withheld information. That would assure her a far more painful death. Instead she would write to Him with her pitiful words of forgiveness and begging. She would spill forth all the information that she had gathered, promise never to fail again, and then she would pray that He would still find her useful to His operation.

Quietly she entered the old guard tower. Years ago it had been in use, but as the late kings had added to the palace, the guard tower had been abandoned in favor of others closer to the outside walls. She paused as she gazed up the tight stone staircase that rose in what appeared an endless spiral above her head. She knew what awaited her at the top of that staircase. A bird as black as the moonless night, the very image of death. Her masters' raven awaited her. He appeared as a void in the space around him. He could enter any location the Dark Lord might send him unnoticed. Around him was woven a blanket of spells and incantation that assured his invisibility to the eyes of the enemies. This creature knew no master beyond the Dark Lord; he was the ultimate servant, though he knew no intelligent thought.

The oak doorway that stood at the end of the stairwell appeared far too soon for her liking, but she did not hesitate as she pushed it open and entered the round room. The bird turned burning red eyes upon her and she shuddered. It was as if her master was watching her through those horrid eyes.

He probably is, she thought as she approached the beast. Slowly she reached into her pocket, invisible to others unless they knew it was there, and pulled out a small piece of parchment. Written upon it was her message to the Dark Lord. It held everything she had learned during the last few days as well as the speculation that was circulating throughout the court at the sudden announcement of the prince's marriage. Lastly it contained her account of the odd magic that Potter seemed to wield.

"You know who to take this to," She whispered as she held the message out to the crimson-eyed fiend that watched her every move the way a crowd watched a hanging. "Be as swift as you can, for this message carries important information. However, be warned, this message if for no one's eyes but our masters'."

The birds' sudden movement, an almost stabbing motion with his curved beak, caused her to jump as the message was ripped from her hand. One quick hop and the bird was gone, disappearing over the edge of the window before she could breathe another word. Silently she watched the dark black form move further and further away. She could only hope that that she had not waited too long before sending her report, if she had, then the bad news would be meaningless to her. She would already be dead.

As she turned away from the window and quickly made her descent back down the spiraled stairwell, she did not see the birds' now small form suddenly vanish from the air.

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

Though only a few days had passed, he could feel the restlessness stirring within him. A warlord was not meant to sit by idly as his opponent planned his next move and prepared for the counter attack. With his army slowly advancing upon the misguided kingdom and his spies spread throughout the realm relaying all information to him, he knew who supported the Noir king and who secretly wished the family's demise. He knew how many warriors the king had sent to the southern tip of the Noir lands and knew the arrogant flaunting of the prince as he threw his ball in the hopes of gaining a worthy spouse before the actual war began.

"Yes, hurry little prince, find yourself a lovely wife and get her with child," Voldemort laughed as he watched his line of warriors weave between the trees of one of the vast forests that stretched across the land. "Enjoy family life, and then, just as you begin to grow comfortable with the idea of becoming a father...watch me take your child and your wife and watch me draw the crimson liquid from their bodies. Watch with me as her eyes glaze over as they view death at the same time as they watch you watching them.

All is fair in love and war, little prince, and I intend to show you the greatest heights of love by forcing you closer to your new family. Then I shall drive you into the very depths of hate and despair as I tear your family apart before you have even known them," Voldemort smiled. Some thought him twisted and sick, but he viewed himself a poet and an artist.

Voldemort had never been known to be a caring man, but as his men heard his passionate words they could only describe the odd look upon their masters' face as caring. It was as if he truly wanted to cause as much suffering and agony as he could for the prince of Noir. He cared how this war went, for he wanted to see the royal family broken into pieces and crumbled at his feet before he could call off his army. Never before, for any kingdom, had Voldemort pulled together such a vast army of warriors to wage a war like this. There was a sweetness to his plans, a tender care that went into each detail.

However, all further thoughts were forgotten as a soft pop sounded to the left of the Dark Lord. Around him his men continued their angry march toward the southern most tip of Noir, they were use to their masters' beast. Always it came with that soft sound, the announcing of its arrival, and always Voldemort greeted it with a chilling expression of approval as he held forth his arm for his bird to rest. No one touched the Dark Lord, no one beyond this bird, this raptor of death.

"Ah, my pet," Voldemort whispered as the wicked claws sank into the fabric of his tunic. His arm barely dropped as the giant bird sank its weight upon him. Twin pairs of red eyes gazed into each other as the pair studied the other. "What news have you brought me from my snake in the royal court?"

A moment of silence passed as the bird lifted its talon, and there clasped tightly was a scroll. A swelling of malicious glee arose within him, though he knew better than to expect something. Often times he found himself in possession of something else instead of what he had desired. Still, sometimes the new thing tuned out to be what he had wanted all along.

"Leave," Came the quiet command. For while Voldemort treated his pet well, he did not wish to have its continued presence on his arm now that it had done his bidding. With a shrill cry the bird spread its wings and beat furiously at the still air around it. Voldemort showed no sign of feeling his pet leave his arm, his whole being was focused on the words written upon the scroll.

It is with the deepest of regrets that I must inform you of my failure to accomplish the task you have set before me. As ordered, I have gone through great lengths to ensure that the Finnigan lord is often distracted from Potter. I have attempted to gain the Finnigan's favor while passing unnoticed by the other members of the court.

For a time I believed my mission to be successful. Barely four mornings ago I happened upon the Lord Thomas' room and overheard a conversation that assured me of my missions successfulness. Thomas was attempting to calm a very irate Finnigan. It seems that your Harry separated them for you. Harry Potter released Seamus Finnigan from their engagement.

The warriors stirred in fear as their ruthless leader suddenly released what could only be described as a laugh. Cold and severe the sound was foreign and chilling to those that heard it. Nothing good ever came from laughter when one served the Dark Lord.

"So Harry Potter believes himself to be above the Finnigan Lord. I wonder just how far he is willing to allow his arrogance free reign, for if I must bind him to me, then it shall be done...whether he thinks I am beneath him or not," Voldemort laughed.

I believed my mission at an end through the rash actions of your Potter. However, I soon found the truth behind the matter. Rumors had circulated that Potter had committed adultery behind Finnigan's back with other lords and ladies. However, those proved to be just that, rumors. While Harry Potter was indeed involved with another lord, it was not an act of adultery. In an announcement made just today, the king and queen declared that the lord formerly known as Harry Potter is now officially Harry Danovan Malfoy, Prince Consort.

What ever else the scroll might have contained was forgotten as Voldemort felt a loathing unlike any he had ever felt before. In an instant his thoughts had been scattered to the Four Corners of the earth. All logic was erased as his blood boiled within his veins and raged at the thought of the Potter heir slipping through his fingers once more.

"I shall ensure that every waking moment of your life is made miserable by the fear and despair I shall shower upon you," Voldemort hissed. He was no longer aware of his surroundings, of the warriors who glanced at him in fear as he shook with his rage. "Not one breathe of air will you draw into your lungs that does not suffocate you as you struggle to find some level of safety from the pain I shall lay upon you. I shall see your agonizing demise before this war is out, Harry Danovan Malfoy, the prince's anointed."

In his anger he ignited the scroll, the portion containing Harry's calling forth of the flames disintegrated into ash. Unknowingly, Voldemort had allowed Harry an element of surprise, at least for the moment.

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

As Voldemort swore to see his death, Harry jerked awake. Something was wrong. The warmth, which had settled peacefully within him a few hours ago, was slowly dying. Tiny rivulets of flame scorched him from the inside out, however these flames seemed as ice. Shifting uncomfortably, Harry's eyes opened when he felt the empty bed beside him. Turning over he frowned to see Draco gone. Reaching out he lightly laid his hand upon the space where Draco had been not long ago. It was cool, the warmth having fled after its owner had left. Harry closed his eyes, he did not understand why Draco had left him but the dying heat told him that his husband had gone with great reluctance.

Before he could question, or even consider getting up, a knock sounded at the door. Rising slowly Harry found a silk robe lain out on a nearby chair. Sighing, he slipped into the cloth and hurried to the door. Upon opening it he found Albus Dumbledore standing there, blue eyes twinkling happily at him.

"Ah, Harry," Dumbledore said. "I am glad to see you are acquainting yourself with you new home."

Harry felt his face heat up at the words. Somehow he knew that Dumbledore knew exactly what had gone on inside the bedchamber a short while ago.

Of course he knows, Harry thought as he struggled to overcome his embarrassment, you are married to the prince. Plus you are expected to carry his heir, how can you do that if you do not...acquaint yourself with him?

"Yes, sir," Harry muttered. Dumbledore smiled down at him. Not for the first time, Harry cursed his short stature.

"Please, call me Albus. I serve you now as well," He waiting until Harry had nodded before continuing. "Now, I need you to come with me so we can begin."

"Excuse me, Albus, but I fear I do not understand what you mean. Begin what?"

"Your training of course. It is fair to assume that soon you will be with child, and you must be well into your training by then. Thus, we shall begin your training now. Dress yourself, and we shall be on our way."

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

"Just think, Lily," Narcissa said with a dazed smile on her face. "Our grandchildren. Beautiful children running about the palace again. I have missed the sound of little feet and happy laughter."

"I as well. Still, we will have to ensure their safety during the war," Lily reminded. "What do you plan on doing to ensure Harry's safety during his pregnancy?"

Narcissa was silent for a long moment. She knew that this would come up eventually. She knew that Lily wanted to ensure her son's safety, especially now that he was such a large target. She did not know how to explain that when royalty fell pregnant, the person in question was placed in a form of isolation, literally. While family could visit, no one else could, in fact, no one else would know of the pregnancy.

"Lily, please listen to what I am about to say without interruption," Narcissa waited until her companion had nodded before continuing. "I am sure that at some point you have heard rumors of how the royal family handles pregnancies. I know that you once visited the court regularly."

"I have...heard rumors of the processes," Lily said slowly. She frowned as she watched the queen. "I heard rumors during the negotiations for yours and Lucius' wedding. Of course, I had hoped that with the amount of time that has passed that there would be alternative ways to ensure my son's safety."

"I am sorry, Lily, truly I am. However, there is no other way for us to be absolutely certain that no harm comes to Harry or his child," Narcissa said sadly. "I wish there was some other way, I do. I under went the isolation during my pregnancy with Draco. I am sorry to say that I did not handle it well. Isolation mixed with the turbulent hormones is...unpleasant at times. Still, if I have to chose between locking Harry up away from public and enemy eyes, or risking my grandson, I would chose the isolation."

"I understand your decision, however I am concerned. Harry has never been in a place where he could not go outside if he so desired. I fear he shall not take these upcoming months very well at all," Lily said softly.

"Better that he should handle this time poorly than have an assassin get lucky and force us to bury your son and our unborn grandson."

The two ladies stood in silence. Hundreds of thoughts raced through their minds. Lily praying to any god who would listen that they might find it in their mercy to protect her son. Narcissa praying to the gods that someone would buy them more time before Voldemort breached the borders of the kingdom. Of the prayers they silently said, only one was answered, and not in the way it was intended.

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

Draco sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. He was a prince, and that title demanded that he never lose his composure in the face of a problem. However, as he paced back and forth in the smaller meeting room he could not help but feel as if he was rapidly loosing control of the situation.

"My prince, it is simply impossible to expect the entire court to suddenly come to its senses and understand your decision," Seamus Finnigan said as he watched Draco make yet another pass across the room. "There are years and years of tradition that have been burned to the ground through this unexpected engagement."

"It is true, Draco," Blaise Zabini said as he glanced down at the parchment in front of him. "Due to your supreme standing in the kingdom, you were expected to marry someone of equal ranking, or at least someone who came close. However, I fear that you have only caused Harry's integration to become more complicated when you flatly refused the proposal of our neighboring kingdom."

"Are you saying I should have considered the proposal?" Draco asked incredulously. "That I should have considered such a thing even though I knew I would be deceiving our allies with my pretense? I love Harry, more now that he is mine than before. I know what the court says, and I know that other kingdoms will no doubt find flaws with my marriage as well. However, I love Harry, and I will remain beside him until my last breath, and, the gods willing, when he passes on he shall join me once more in the afterlife."

"Draco, we do not question your love for Harry, or his love for you," Blaise said. "We are merely trying to point out that the other kingdoms may not approve and contest your marriage more so than the court."

"The court can be won over," Seamus said. "Slowly but surely they will love Harry the way everyone who knows him does. Until then he will have the best protection that Noir can offer. Though, he does have some friends inside the court. The Weasley family will remain loyal to him, more so if their youngest son ever gets well enough to travel. Cedric Diggory is well respected by the entire court; he is a friend of Harry's. Hopefully with his influence, some of the others will begin to look beyond Harry's poor social standing and see him for the man you love."

"The gods willing," Draco whispered. For a moment his mind conjured twin pools of emerald clouded over as passion rose to a fevered pitch. With a faint shudder he pulled his mind from his memories and to the matter at hand.

"Draco, what of Harry's pregnancy?" Blaise asked. He knew what the tradition was, however he felt that Harry would be the one to break it if possible.

"You know what is to occur," Draco said softly. He felt concern for his husband the more he thought of the coming months. No doubt, Harry would begin to feel sick each morning within the next few weeks.

If it even takes that long, he thought.

"What?" Seamus asked. Gazing at his two companions and seeing the dread plainly written on both their faces, he felt his own fear rise. "What tradition? What will happen to Harry once he is with child?"

"You must understand, Seamus," Blaise began quietly. Though they had fallen out for a brief period, he knew that Seamus still cared for Harry very deeply. He did not wish to upset the man too much. "That this tradition has existed since the beginning of Noir, possibly longer."

"What tradition?" Seamus asked equally as quiet.

"When a person of royal status falls pregnant, they are placed in a form of isolation," Blaise explained. "It is as much for their safety as for their unborn child. Very few ever know about the pregnancy, at most ten people who hold the utmost trust from the royal family."

"You wish to put Harry, a man who has never know physical limitations, into isolation," Seamus said slowly. "For his own good? You know nothing of what Harry needs if you believe this tradition to be the proper course to follow!"

"You do not understand," Draco said softly. He had remained silent until now. "Harry could die at any moment, whether from assassination or from a spill on the stairs. If a tested tradition holds even the slightest chance of his safety, then it is for his own good. He shall have some freedoms, and I shall be there. I could not allow him to suffer this fate alone."

"He will go mad," Seamus said.

"No, I will hold him together," Draco said. "The thought of our unborn child will hold him together. He will come out of this, and no harm shall have fallen upon him. If it does not work, and he cannot stand it, then I shall set him free and I shall protect him myself. We will survive this, and our child shall survive. I promise you this, we will survive."

-(O)o(O)o(O)-

AN One: Okay, I understand that there are several angry and disgruntled readers out there who have sat patiently and waited for this update. I understand the frustrations of finding a good fanfic and then not receiving an update for an extended period of time. I am sorry to have caused such a wait. I know I have brought your combined wrath upon me several hundred times over. I apologize a thousand times over, though I have no excuse. I was not ill, I was not attending to personal problems. I simply could not write this chapter to my satisfaction. I rewrote it twice, and yesterday I rewrote it again before deciding that it could be posted. I will not say that I had writer's block, for I knew what I wanted to say and where I wanted it to go, I simply could not write it out. It was frustrating, because several of you e-mailed or reviewed asking me for an update, and I simply could not produce it. I am sorry for my inadequacy. I pray it does not happen again, though I know it probably will. I only ask that you continue to have patience with me as I continue to write.

AN Two: For those of you wondering about Shades of Gray, please see my bio for details as to when to expect it to be posted.

AN Three: I cannot give you a teaser for the next chapter, as I know only a little of what is to take place. I expect to be surprised by what my muse commands me to write in the upcoming chapters. I have a tentative plot that is constantly developing and changing. I can tell you, though, that things are about to occur which shall combine to become the ruin or the continuation of our beloved Noir. Again, I ask for your patience, though this next chapter shall be out on time.

AN Four: Thank you to each and every single one of you who review with a kind comment or suggestion. It is appreciated, though I suspect you already know that. It becomes obvious to me, with each passing sentence that I write that the writer is nothing. It is the reader that makes the story what it is. It is the reader that can inspire us to continue with our dreams. We may write a fictional tale, weaving plots and details to captivate your attention, but it is you that encourage our story to take root and grow. For that, and for every review you have left, I thank you.