A bazillion apologies for taking so very long to update. Unfortunately, I was put under the imperius curse, and had no control over the matter.
Ok, to be honest, I had various personal obligations to fulfill (deadlines and the like). It was evil of me. Forgive me.
Anyway, thank you all so much for reading this far, and for all of your kind reviews. You've put up with so much – painfully long lapses between updates, horrific implications of Snape/McGonagall sex… Thanks for hanging in there!
This is the last chapter of my story, and I'd like to dedicate it to my mom, who has recently been indoctrinated into the wonderful world of Harry/Draco slash (I know, isn't that awesome and hilarious?). Without further ado…
Of Love and Creatures
Morning arrived all too soon for Draco, who generally required eight hours on 1000-thread Egyptian cotton to function even at the most basic level. Never mind that last night had been, without question, the most thrilling night of his teenage life. At the moment, his mind only had room for two thoughts: 1) Why was it so bloody sunny in the middle of bloody winter, and 2) why in Salazar's name didn't he have a house elf to shut the damn blinds?
Indeed, it was uncommonly sunny for February, though the air remained bitingly cold. The Gryffindor and Slytherin sixth-years trudged down the path they had worn through the snow, lugging their Jarveys down to Hagrid's hut for the last time.
By the time Draco arrived, Harry was already there, surrounded by his ever-present posse of Gryffindors. He immediately caught Draco's eye and smiled, albeit sadly. Draco wondered how shocked everyone would be if he pushed Weasley and Granger aside, and snogged Harry senseless right then and there… The mere thought of it made him blush deeply, and Harry gave him a curious look. Draco was simultaneously relieved and disappointed when Hagrid emerged from his hut, grinning and ruddy-faced.
'Yer all 'ere? Good!" the half-giant crowed. "If yeh'll quiet down, we kin get started."
"I can hardly wait," Blaise deadpanned.
Hagrid rubbed his hands together and smiled. "Firs' on the agenda, let's talk about yer projects. Did any of yeh come up with anythin' interestin'?"
"Not really," seemed to be the general consensus; Hagrid was unperturbed. "Righ'. Well yeh can speak up now or not, but yeh'll be writing two feet eh parchmen' on it either way." The Gryffindors and Slytherins groaned so loudly, and with such perfect unity, that Dumbledore heard it in his office and smiled.
Hagrid soon launched into a tiresome lecture about Jarvey language skills fifty years ago, losing the attention of most of the class within the first minute or so. Draco's thoughts drifted to Harry. Last night had been unimaginably wonderful… he could hardly wait to try it again, with no interruptions this time… and, perhaps, slightly less in the way of clothing. His heartbeat accelerated as he watched Harry pretend to listen to Hagrid, idly scratching Leo beneath the neck. Draco caught his eye and grinned, making Harry's cheeks flush adorably.
"An' now I reckon it's time teh turn in yer Jarveys. Yeh've all done so well, an' I know yer disappointed-," Lavender Brown laughed bitingly, "But it's time teh say goodbye." Harry looked utterly forlorn.
"Righ'. So when I call yer Jarvey's name, if yeh'll jus' step forward and plop em' in this box… any questions, firs'?"
"Do we have to turn them in, or can we keep them if we want to?" a low voice blurted from the back. Everyone turned around, and looked quite surprised to see Millicent Bullstrode staring inquisitively at Hagrid, her Jarvey cradled gently to her barrel-like chest.
Hagrid chuckled. "Yer serious?" She nodded. He smiled and shook his head. "Well, I certainly don' have a problem with it, Millicen', but I 'spect yer dormmates might have somethin' the say…"
"Oh, I have plenty to say about it!" shrieked Pansy. "You're barking mad if you think you're keeping that creature in our room – I haven't had a good night's sleep in a week!" Millicent glared at her, and clutched her Jarvey all the more tightly.
"Righ'," Hagrid said uncomfortably. "Well, I reckon we'd bes' get started. Abelard's firs'."
"Good riddance, you horny bastard," muttered Ron. Goyle nodded firmly, and deposited Abelard in the box.
"Aida." Millicent, glowering at everyone around her, approached the box in silence and placed the Jarvey gently inside.
"Oh, I'm outta here, bitches!" The slender white Jarvey leapt out of Seamus' hands and bolted for the forest. Hagrid caught him effortlessly by the tail, and scooped him into the box with a yawn.
"Heloise." Pansy eagerly handed the Jarvey to Hagrid, who was about to deposit her with the others, when Hermione rushed forward.
"Hagrid, wait! I don't think you should put her in there with Abelard! They'll… erm… well, I'm worried that she'll become…well, you know, pregnant."
Hagrid laughed. "Well, it's too late teh worry, Hermione – she's already pregnan', of course!"
Pansy, Hermione, Ron, and Goyle gasped simultaneously.
Hagrid nodded matter-of-factly, as he pressed gently against Heloise's stomach with two fingers. "Well, sure – an' I reckon there're a good dozen little 'uns in there."
"A dozen?" exclaimed Ron. "Merlin's beard, she's as fertile as my mum!"
The entire class burst out laughing. Ron was redder than Winky the house elf after fifteen butterbeers, and yet… he looked rather pleased with himself.
Hagrid put one arm around Hermione's shoulders and the other arm around Pansy's. "Let's have a roun' of applause fer the proud grandmas!"
The class obligingly hooted and cheered. "Bloody hell," muttered Pansy, as she and Hermione exchanged a horrified glance.
"Yeah, well," Hagrid said, chuckling. "I reckon we'd best move on. Where was I?" He paused for a moment. "Oh, righ'! I'll be needin' Leo."
Harry said nothing, and Draco was sure he was the only one to notice the sharp flicker of sadness in his eyes. His mouth set in a determined line, Harry walked slowly forward, clutching Leo tightly. Draco tried to catch his eye, but he seemed to be pointedly looking away.
Draco sighed inwardly – he couldn't believe he was about to do this. It was magnanimous, almost selfless – practically a betrayal of his Slytherin roots. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"We're keeping him," he muttered.
"Sorry, what?" asked Harry, staring at him incredulously.
Draco's cheeks flushed. "I said we're keeping him."
"No, you're not!" chorused Seamus, Dean, Ron, and even Neville.
"Oh yes we are," Draco snapped. "I'm keeping him, okay? I have my own room, so I fail to see how any of your opinions are relevant."
Harry continued to stare at him, dumbfounded. "You… you don't have to do this…"
"I know," Draco said, smiling slightly.
"Draco…," Harry murmured, taking a step closer. Leo squirmed futilely in his arms. Draco patted the Jarvey's head affectionately, and then clasped Harry's free hand gently in his own. Harry's green eyes twinkled, and Draco felt himself leaning in ever closer towards him… He was wholly, sublimely oblivious to the varying degrees of shock and amazement reflected on his classmates' faces. "No kidding," murmured Seamus, shaking his head. Pansy and Blaise exchanged amused smiles, and Hermione leaned into Ron and sighed happily.
Hagrid cleared his throat, jolting Draco and Harry back to the present. "Right," said Draco. "So, anyway, I'll be keeping this Jarvey, thanks."
"Are yeh sure, Draco?" Hagrid raised an eyebrow. "Yeh'll be needin' teh feed him rats an' voles soon, yeh know."
Draco blanched, but he simply lifted his chin slightly and said "That's fine." Harry snorted.
"Well, that's settled," Hagrid replied cheerfully. "Movin' on, then…"
"Draco Malfoy handling rats and voles?" Harry whispered, "I'll believe that when I see it."
"Oh, you certainly won't see it," Draco whispered back. "Steak is a perfectly adequate source of protein for Leonardo. Hagrid doesn't need to know."
Harry laughed under his breath and squeezed Draco's hand. "Whatever you say."
Once all the Jarveys but Leo had been collected, Hagrid handed out scrolls of data from half a century ago to each set of partners, and instructed them to spend the rest of the hour comparing them to the notes they had compiled on their own Jarveys. The pairs of students spread out around the grounds, using their wands to melt patches of snow off of rocks to sit on. Harry and Draco were about to stake their claim on a ledge off to the side of the hut, when Hagrid clapped his enormous hand on Harry's back. "Harry, a word, if yeh don' mind."
"Okay, sure, Hagrid," Harry nodded, handing Leo off to Draco. With a shrug and a smile at the Slytherin, he followed Hagrid into his hut.
Draco scratched Leo's head as he carried him over to the ledge. "So," he said, "I guess we're roommates now."
Leo flicked his tail rudely. "I'd rather share a room with Harry."
"Yeah, well, so would I," Draco replied irritably. He muttered a quick incantation to clear enough snow off the ledge to sit comfortably, and hoisted himself up onto it backwards. He stared moodily in the direction of Hagrid's hut, wishing Harry would emerge.
Leo sighed. "So we're stuck with each other," he said, crawling into Draco's lap. "I suppose you'll do." Draco looked down, amazed to see Leo snuggling sweetly into the crook of his arm. He patted the Jarvey tentatively, a slight blush staining his cheeks. To be honest, it freaked him out slightly to see Leo being affectionate, but he felt a wave of tenderness for the Jarvey all the same.
"Wow," Harry commented, joining them by the ledge at last. "You two are so cute it hurts."
"Yeah, yeah," said Draco with a wry smile. "We try."
"And Draco certainly has to try harder than most," added Leo.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Harry, what were you and Hagrid talking about back there?"
"Oh, we didn't talk, really," replied Harry, hoisting himself up on the ledge next to Draco. "Just a quick snog."
"You have five seconds to say you're kidding, or I'm never kissing you again."
Harry laughed. "I'm kidding! He just wanted to make sure Leo would be ok staying with you."
"And why wouldn't he be?" Draco asked indignantly.
"Because you hate creatures and they hate you, and you're thoroughly horrible with them, pretty much," Harry said smiling. He took Draco's hand and twined their fingers together. 'But never fear. I told Hagrid how much you adore Leo-"
"I don't adore Leo!"
"Oh, you totally adore me." Leo said matter of factly.
"Nah, I can hardly stand you," Draco insisted, still cradling the Jarvey like a baby in one arm. "I'm only keeping you so Harry wouldn't embarrass me by weeping like a drunk Hufflepuff in the middle of class." He grinned at Harry, who was trying unsuccessfully to maintain an icy glare. "Anyway, I already have the hammock and everything. What else was I going to do with all that stuff?"
"I'm sure it would all come in handy if you were ever turned into a ferret again," Harry helpfully suggested.
"Oh, shut up," Draco replied, smiling despite himself.
"Make me," said Harry.
Gently cupping Harry's hand in his cheek, Draco did exactly that.
Epilogue - Two weeks later:
"Well?" Ron asked anxiously, as Hermione emerged from the hut.
"Twelve!" she announced "Hagrid was right. Oh, Ron, they're so cute – they're all pink and tiny, and their eyes haven't even opened yet."
"Awwwwww!" Harry and Ron exclaimed simultaneously, in a manner that was frighteningly reminiscent of Lavender and Parvati. Hermione and Draco shared a brief smirk.
"And how's Heloise doing?" asked Pansy.
"She's fine," Hermione replied. "Just a bit tired, but she'll be back to her old self after a good night's rest."
"Dunno know if that's a good thing…" muttered Goyle.
Hermione laughed. "I know, right?" she said. "Anyway, Hagrid says we can all go in there now, as long as we don't make too much noise."
"I think she means you, Leonardo," Draco said sternly to the bundle of fur in his arms.
"That's a bit rich coming from you," replied Leo, "What with all the noise you and Harry were making last ni –."
"OKAY, I think it's time to follow Hermione inside," Harry interrupted loudly, blushing all the way to his ears.
Hermione opened the door of the hut, allowing Harry, Ron, Draco, Pansy, Goyle, and herself to step tentatively inside. The room was unusually warm, and there was pile of blankets on the table that seemed to be emitting adorable squeaking sounds. Hagrid beckoned for them to come closer.
"Aww," cooed Pansy, catching her first glimpse of the dozen baby Jarveys sniffing and stumbling around their mother's body. "And here I never thought anything cute would ever come out of Heloise!"
"Look at them! They're so squirmy! Hermione, look at that one!"
"I told you they were adorable," replied Hermione, standing on tiptoe to kiss Ron on the cheek. Ron smiled and put his arm around her shoulders.
"When will they start talking, Hagrid?" asked Harry.
Hagrid chuckled. "In about five minutes er so, I 'spect."
As if on cue, one tiny Jarvey poked its head out from behind Heloise's leg, looked right at Pansy, and squeaked, "Lookie that goat's uggle nester!"
"Erm, was that supposed to be an insult?" asked Pansy.
"I think he called you ugly," Draco said.
"That is so cute!" Pansy exclaimed. "He can't even see me! That was the cutest insult ever!"
"It takes em a while teh get used teh the language, yeh see," Hagrid explained. "They'll be speakin' normally in a week er two."
"You smally liken mopshit," one little Jarvey remarked.
"What does that even mean?" Goyle wondered aloud, sniffing indiscreetly at his armpit.
Harry looked back at Draco and smiled. "They're pretty adorable, aren't they?"
"Don't you dare try to talk me into keeping another one of these ferrets." Draco came up behind him and rested his chin on his shoulder. "You know that in two weeks, he'll outgrow the cute words like 'mopshit', and start bantering with Leo when we're trying to make out."
"As opposed to you bantering with him when we're trying to make out..."
"Well, I can't let him have the last word," explained Draco.
Leo stretched lazily in Draco's arms and smirked up at him. "And yet, somehow, I always manage to get the last word, don't I?"
"I think he's right," Harry murmured, eyes twinkling.
"Of course I'm right," said Leo. "Now for the love of Merlin, let's get back to the castle so you can hook me up with some filet mignon. Lord knows I deserve it."
Draco sighed. "Truly, you don't, but I'm probably going to give you some anyway, aren't I?" He shook his head. "All right. Come on, you."
They took their leave of Hagrid, Heloise, and the babies, and trudged up the path back to the castle. Hagrid watched them through the window, chuckling to himself. The last thing he heard before they slipped out of ear shot was a faint voice demanding a belly rub, in no uncertain terms.
Final Author's Notes:
Predictable? Yeah, I know, but I'm a sucker for happy endings. No way was I going to send Leo back to the forest.
Of course, I don't plan on sending any of the Jarveys back to the forest. I bequeath them to you, my awesome reviewers.
Baby Jarveys go to: Blackened-wings, Lunadeath, Saber ShadowKitten, IssaLee, Megalicious Moony, Rayne-Jelly, abigfan, weasie37, Ridley Jack, Lux et Veritas, Tee Dee, and Wraithwriter (for consistently writing reviews that make me grin and dance around my apartment to Fiddy Cent).
Aida goes to JadeLilyMalfoy.
Sigmund goes to beserkergoddess.
Abelard goes to MyKa HoLLy
Heloise goes to XO'MagickMoon'OX.
Brutus goes to "simply me" and her smiley army of doom.
I cannot emphasize enough how much your reviews have meant to me. I adore you, and appreciate you more than you'll ever know.
To all of you: Again, thank you so much for your support. This has been such a blast, and you all deserve Jarveys (never fear – Abelard and Heloise are very reliable in this area).
I would like to officially dedicate this story to the memory of my cat, upon whom I based the character of Leo. He died just after I posted chapter 3, but I've loved keeping him alive through this story. The fact that you all seem toadore him has meant so much to me.