It was three in the morning and Severus was nowhere near sleep. He was frustrated and wound up, worried about the situation he was now in. He looked down at the sleeping red-head in his arms, who had only just fallen asleep herself, being just as wound up and upset as he was. It had taken him forever to calm her down and convince her that everything would work out eventually. She had been so distressed by her mother's behaviour, hurt and angered that she would say such things and hold so steadfastly onto her prejudices.
As soon as they had arrived back in Severus' quarters Ginny had begun to apologise profusely to him, appalled at the situation and worried past herself about Harry and what would now happen between them. Severus had had to grab her and kiss her firmly to finally make her stop, pulling her into the bedroom and continuing to kiss her until he was sure she had relaxed sufficiently enough to be able to be allowed to speak again. After that, she had cuddled up to him, still muttering the odd comment about her mother and how she was never going to speak to the woman ever again, until she finally fell asleep, wrapped tightly in his arms.
He placed a kiss on the top of her head and tightened his hold on her, loving the feeling of having her so close. He was as angry as she was, but he wasn't about to start bad-mouthing her mother to her, even though Ginny herself had said some pretty vehement things. He had known how difficult the whole thing would be and that Ginny's family would have trouble accepting him, but he was hoping that given time, after they had seen the two of them together and that it was real, that they would relent and finally give their blessing. He was under the impression that he got on fairly well with the Weasley matriarch; she had always been pleasant enough in the Order meetings and he had always treated her with a good degree of respect, but apparently her opinion of him was no higher than any other Death Eater, something he was struggling to come to terms with.
He was also highly concerned about Harry and how things would now be with him. When they had returned to his rooms, he had been unsure whether or not he should go and look for Harry, but had eventually decided against it, knowing that Ginny needed him and that he would probably not be welcome with his son at that moment, at least Draco would be with him to offer any support that was needed. He knew he would have to go and talk to him sooner rather than later, he just hoped the boy would understand. He knew that Harry knew there were things in his past that he wasn't proud of, he had just never heard the full extent of it before.
"Severus?" Ginny said groggily, shifting slightly in his arms.
"I'm here," he said, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek. "You should go back to sleep, it's been a long day," he told her, gently tracing patterns on her shoulder.
"I'll sleep when you sleep," she replied, snuggling deeper into his hold. "I'm not hurting you am I?"
"I wouldn't care if you were."
She smiled, an alien feeling of contentment washing over her. "Why can't we just stay here forever? Just forget about everything and everyone and pretend that nothing else exists, I like that plan a lot."
"As do I. Unfortunately we both know that will never happen; we're doomed never to have a peaceful life."
"We might, one day. Sadly that day is nowhere near now. I'm so sorry about the things my mother said, I just couldn't bel – "
He placed a finger over her lips and said, "As much as I love you, if you apologise once more for this afternoon's events I may just have to hand you over to Voldemort and let him do what he wishes with you."
"Ha bloody ha," she murmured, knowing that she should stop thinking about it, but she was just so wound up about her mother and all the things she'd said that she couldn't help but try and make amends for it. She knew he was feeling just as frustrated about the situation as she was, he just refused to show it. "I'm serious though, it'll be a long time before I talk to that woman again, what she did was unforgivable."
Although Severus made no attempt to agree, he certainly didn't argue.
"You didn't sleep much last night," Draco commented, as he and Harry dressed the next morning. He had lain awake for a good portion of the night listening to Harry shift around in the bed, restless and evading sleep.
"I know, I suppose I was just thinking too much about things," Harry replied, pulling his sweater over his head. "I'm sorry if I kept you awake."
"Hey don't worry about it," Draco said softly, moving behind the brunet and wrapping his arms around him, "I know you had a lot on your mind last night, it's part of the job description to lie awake and worry with you," he said with a laugh, resting his chin on Harry's shoulder.
"So now I'm a job am I?" Harry asked teasingly, cutting off whatever smutty remark Draco had in reply, saying, "I was just thinking about Dad and what Molly said to him. I knew he'd done terrible things as a Death Eater; I'd have to be stupid to think otherwise, but…I don't know, to hear it the way she said it just made it all the more real I suppose. I've never seen Ginny look so angry."
"Mm, I think it'll be a long time before that relationship is repaired, it really was a bad move if she thought it would break those two up. I know they're all having a hard time adjusting to it, but that really was a step too far."
Harry nodded, agreeing that of all the actions Molly could have taken, that was probably the worst of them, it would only serve to push the two of them closer together. "Well, whatever I may feel about it, that's all going to have to be pushed aside today – Blaise's mother is coming to talk about getting the Fianna involved and I wouldn't want her to think there was any tension between us. I've really been looking forward to meeting her and I really don't want that spoilt," he said, turning round in Draco's arms to face him.
"One thing at a time love, one thing at a time."
"Very good everyone, I think we're entering the final stages of your tuition," said McGonagall later that morning as she continued her teaching of the Animagus transformation. "The next session will be the full and final transformation, so practise as much as possible. Alright, I'll see you all in a few days," she said, giving them a nod of dismissal.
"Something wrong Drake?" Ginny asked the blond as they left, noticing he was awkwardly rotating his right shoulder, pulling a face as he did so.
"Something residual from the spell I think, just a little ache. Luckily, I have my own personal masseuse to attend to my every ache and pain," he said, grinning over at Harry.
"Dream on darling," Harry returned from behind them, catching the tail end of the conversation as he was talking to Ron.
Draco rolled his eyes in response and shared a chuckle with Ginny as they continued to make their way back to Gryffindor, tired and weary but happy to be in each other's company for once, the current situation so often necessitating that they were assigned to different jobs, getting to see very little of each other. These rare moments of 'togetherness' were ones that everyone enjoyed and valued.
"Draco!" came an excited little voice as they entered the Gryffindor common room, a blur of colour almost knocking Draco over as a little blond-haired boy careered into Draco's stomach.
"Hey Bobby," Draco laughed, picking up the little boy and positioning him on his hip, "getting into trouble as usual?" he asked with a smile.
"Nuh uh," the boy protested with a violent head shake, "I've been playing on the toy broom you gave me and I got it to go higher than it's ever been before!" he recounted excitedly, his little eyes shining with happiness.
"You'll be a top flyer in no time, just like Harry here," Draco told him, indicating the smiling brunet to his left.
"Will you come and watch me?" the little boy asked hopefully.
"Of course I will, just not right now because we all have a lot to do at the moment, but I'll definitely come and see later tonight, promise."
Bobby looked hesitant for a moment then looked up into the sincere pair of eyes staring down at him and grinned. "Ok," he nodded, then shifted down from Draco's hold. "I know you don't break your promises," he said seriously before running off and joining a group of other children on the other side of the room, grinning from ear to ear.
Draco watched him with a smile, one that intensified as a pair of arms snaked round his waist and voice whispered in his ear, saying, "You know, there's nothing more attractive than a man who's good with children, and that was just downright adorable."
"Nice to know I meet with your approval," Draco returned with a smirk.
"You always do."
"Ahem," said Ron pointedly, his face a picture of amusement, "when you two have quite finished this sickening display of sentimentality, I do believe you're going to be late to meet with Blaise's mother."
After realising that they were indeed in serious danger of being late for their meeting, Harry and Draco said hurried goodbyes and rushed off to Dumbledore's office where Blaise's mother was set to arrive. They made their apologies, sitting down and accepting the tea that was offered to them. Blaise shot them a grin, misunderstanding the reason for their tardiness, but finding amusement in it nonetheless. Severus was stood at the far end of the office, tense and on edge, afraid to look his son in the eye for fear of what he might see looking back at him. The two had still to talk after Molly's outburst and both were dreading the moment when it had to happen. Nevertheless, Harry still wished the man would look at him, if only to assure him that things would be ok between them.
"Relax Harry, everything's going to fine," Draco whispered at his side, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. The brunet gave him a slightly watery smile in return and resumed staring at the fireplace. He supposed the woman was being 'fashionably late', but he still wished she would hurry up and arrive; he'd been thinking about the meeting ever since Dumbledore had suggested it and now he just wanted it to happen. He nearly jumped out of his skin when bright green flames ignited in the fireplace, followed immediately by the arrival of a tall dark-haired woman.
"Nyx, how lovely to see you," said Dumbledore, moving to shake her hand and welcome her.
"Thank you headmaster, I apologise for being late, I was caught up with a spot of business that unfortunately required my undivided attention. Blaise, you're looking well," she said warmly, embracing her son as he stood to greet her. Harry watched the interaction, nerves rising within him. The woman looked remarkably similar to the woman in the picture his father had shown him many months ago when he had first discovered the truth about his heritage. "Severus why on earth are you skulking in the corner?" she asked, turning her dark eyes on the Potions Master. "Do I not warrant a hello?"
"As difficult as ever I see Nyx," he said with a raised eyebrow, moving forward and gently embracing his former sister-in-law.
"You wouldn't have me any other way," she returned easily. "And this must be my long-lost nephew," she continued, finally turning to address Harry. "Very pleased to meet you, Nyx Zabini," she said, extending her hand, which Harry took with some uncertainty. "Don't look so worried Harry, I'm on your side, I promise," she teased, followed by a wink which threw Harry completely. Nyx Zabini just didn't strike him as the type of woman who winked. "And Draco, looking as dashing as ever," she said, pulling the blond into a hug, something which looked rather familiar territory for the both of them.
"Nyx, you're looking well," Draco returned, slipping easily into the role of charming Pureblood, trained to perfection in social etiquette, "it's so nice to see you again."
"Stop sucking up to my mother Drake and let her sit down," Blaise said with a smirk, offering his mother his seat, positioning himself beside it, throwing a quick grin across to Harry as they all resumed their seats once more.
"We're so pleased you could join us today Nyx," Dumbledore began, positioning his spectacles on the end of his nose and peering through them at the striking woman before him, "you must of course be aware of the current situation and we were hoping we could prevail upon you to use your links with the Fianna," he said, for once coming straight to the point.
"Well I see no reason not to, given, as you say, our current situation. It may take a little while but I will set the wheels in motion," she replied, folding her hands in her lap. "I would expect them to be receptive, they are after all protectors of our kind."
"That doesn't mean they can't be stubborn when they want to be," Severus muttered.
"True," she conceded, "but this is rather too important an issue to be stubborn about. I'm hopeful that we will have their full support under these circumstances. Either way I will begin talks with them as soon as possible, but I will need all the facts to persuade them that our cause is worthy of their support."
"Sanctimonious hypocrites," Severus spat bitterly. "Who are they to choose who to help and who not to? They're supposed to stand against all evil, not just the kind they pick and choose! I can just see the Elders convening now, sending out more proclamations on the fate of mere mortals!"
"Severus, I would ask you to please not let your own experiences with the Circle cloud your judgement. I know they made things difficult for you…regarding Harry…but they are, to all intents and purposes, one of the most powerful weapons we possess." Severus merely rolled his eyes and retreated back into silence, folding his arms and leaning against the wall, watching the others. "We would be grateful if you could make contact as soon as possible Nyx, unfortunately this is a situation that requires some urgency."
"Sadly I am aware of that fact Albus and I promise I will do all I can. For now however, I would be very grateful if you would allow me to spend some time with my son and nephew, we have some catching up to do."
"Don't worry Sev, they'll just be talking a few things through, it's the first time he's met Nyx after all," Draco said, as he and Severus sat in the latter's quarters, Harry having left them an hour ago to talk with his aunt and cousin.
"I just worry about what she might be saying," Severus replied. "And don't call me 'Sev'," he said through gritted teeth.
"I'm sure you allow Ginny to get away with it," the blond returned with a smirk.
"Yes, well, Ginny can offer far more pleasant compensations than you can."
"Ugh, spare me," Draco said with a grimace, one that was only half meant. "Anyway, you know how fond Nyx is of you, she'll hardly be deforming your character to him. Just relax a little, he only wants to spend some time with his aunt, maybe find out a little about his mother, you can't begrudge him that."
"I don't begrudge him anything," Severus replied emphatically, "I just…I suppose I just can't stop worrying about what he's thinking after Molly Weasley's outburst yesterday. What's he said to you?"
Draco sighed, unwilling to betray the confidence Harry had in him, but also unable to see the man before him so wretched and worried. "He's confused Severus, he doesn't know how he feels. He still loves you, he always knew there were things in your past that would trouble both of you, but he's not sure how to deal with it. You know what he's like though, just give it time and he'll let you know how he's feeling, he'll work it through."
"I just wish he'd come and talk to me, I can't stand waiting," the Potions Master sighed. At that point the door opened and Ginny walked, shedding her outer robe and flinging it on a nearby work surface, smiling when she saw the blond sat in conversation with Severus.
"Hi Drake, Sev," she said, placing a kiss on the latter's cheek, while the blond smirked uncontrollably at his godfather, receiving a reproachful glare which he chose to ignore. "I'm shattered," she declared, slumping down into the sofa next to her partner and moving her neck from side to side, trying to ease the tension from it. "We've been on our feet all day with the kids and then Remus decides this afternoon would be a good time for a Defence session! I give up," she sighed, resting her head on Severus' shoulder, feeling comfortable enough in Draco's presence to do so.
"Poor hard done by little girl," Draco returned with a mock pout, neatly ducking the cushion that Ginny sent his way. "Temper Gin, stress isn't good for you! Anyway, I'm going back to the tower to wait for Harry, don't worry, I'll try and get him to come and talk to you, I'm sure he'll want to anyway. Gin, try and get him to relax a bit," he said with a wink as he strolled out of his godfather's quarters.
Ginny smiled and turned to her partner, asking, "You've been getting yourself worked up again then?"
"No more than usual," Severus replied, pulling her closer to him. "You've had a difficult day?" he asked.
"No more than usual," she said with a laugh, sending his own words back at him. "Better for seeing you though, you have no idea how much of a relief it is to be able to come back here at the end of the day without having to worry about being found out," she said with a smile. "You know," she began with a smirk, inching closer, "earlier I was thinking back to the time we went to the Parkinson's Yule Ball, do you remember?"
"Of course, but why do you bring it up?" he asked.
"Well," she continued, her expression becoming more 'coy' by the second, "while you were away socialising, I went to refill my drink and there were a couple of men talking to each other nearby…they were talking about you," he raised his eyebrow but said nothing, curious to see where this was leading, "they said that you had…something of a reputation when it came to women…that you could make them beg…make them scream…and…I was kind of hoping that you'd be willing to help me prove them right," she finished with a self-satisfied look in her eyes, her right hand already beginning to undo the buttons of her robes.
He smirked, watching her hand as it travelled further, revealing bare skin, never one to wear much under her robes. Merlin but she drove him crazy; he could barely remember what life before her was like. "I wouldn't be adverse to being part of this experiment," he said in low, rich tones.
"I was hoping you'd say that," she replied, slipping her robes off, leaving her in nothing but her underwear. With a faux-demure smile, she grabbed his collar and pulled him down on top of her, arching her body up to meet his in a style that he could only describe as wanton. "You'd better make me scream Professor, your reputation's at stake."
"Harry? Is that you?" came Draco's voice through the darkness as Harry tried to make his way across the bedroom without making too much noise.
"Yeah it's me, sorry if I woke you love," he said apologetically as he slid into the bed next to the blond. "Things with Nyx and Blaise ran over a little longer than I thought they would, I really didn't think I'd be gone this long."
"I take it you three had a lot to talk about then?" Draco asked, winding himself around his lover, relishing in the familiar contact.
"Mm," Harry replied, pulling the blond in closely to him. "She's…an interesting woman, she had lots of stories about my mother. It was definitely one of the more interesting nights of my life. Sorry I was gone so long, I missed you," he said, placing a kiss on the temple underneath his chin.
"You complete cheeseball," Draco snorted, earning a laugh from Harry in response, "you're away from me a couple of hours and you miss me? I wonder if you get all your lines from Mills and Boone!"
"Last time I try to be romantic!" Harry said in mock indignation, pretending to shove Draco away from him, the blond latching on tighter in response, slipping a hand underneath the shirt Harry was wearing. The brunet gasped as a cold hand met his skin, sending sensations all over his body. "Drake…" he breathed, hardly daring to believe what he was about to do. "Will you….will you bond with me?"