To Lay A Dragon

All of the delectable characters belong to JK Rowling.

A/N: As we start up again, I should take a moment to re-orient everyone with the universe here. As you all know, this story is AU – yes alternate universe. For those of you who hadn't figured that out yet, in canon, Draco and Harry were uh…not actually considering sex with one another. Nor were Sirius and Remus for that matter – and of course Sirius didn't actually return to life from the after-world in canon. Additionally, to waylay any future confusion, in this particular story, Snape did not, I repeat, did NOT, relay the prophecy about Harry and the Potters to Voldemort, NOR did he engage in an unrequited, lingering love for Lily – in fact, they were not even friends in their youth – because that is just unnecessary trauma for our Snape. The Snape here is simply as he appears to be – old enemy to the Marauders and hateful of Harry based on that, but devilishly wonderful in character at sticking to those traits for so long because, damn it, that is just how he is! He ambled over to Dumbledore's side of his own accord and as we have seen, continued to amble back and forth between good and evil till he was finally caught and escorted to Azkaban – he was brilliantly wicked in the past, but now once again a free man and his future – well we shall see, shant we? Ron and Hermione were never more than just friends and she decided on Viktor (they are off in Bulgaria). Ginny and Harry got over their old thing just fine, thank you very much and she and Blaise Zabini have had a fling. And the war…well that went slightly differently in our story, based on what's been said before (all written pre-DH of course). So now that we have resettled the universe, we shall continue…

Chapter 15

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was three in the morning and Harry was lying in bed, still wide awake. The events of the last two days had been incredible. Mrs. Pettigrew had tried to poison Ginny; his godfather had made a kind gesture to Snape of all people and if all of that weren't strange enough, there was the realization.

Harry had no idea why he hadn't realized it sooner. For all of his arrogant denial, he'd gone and fallen for Draco. It had hit him the last time he and Draco had been together, right where he lay now, in his bed.

Topping had become a goal for him, something he'd wanted to try – the director of their sexual encounter. However, his goal had fallen by the wayside and he wasn't sure exactly when it had happened. He recalled looking into Draco's slightly anxious grey eyes beneath him as he prepared to take him and a feeling of compassion began flowing through him like nothing he'd ever experienced before.

He had been on the point of entering Draco, but instead he found himself stretching on top of him, kissing those beautiful lips and running his hands over that firm body, caressing and massaging until the anxiety dropped from the eyes staring at him.

It was many minutes later when he actually did enter the warmth of the Slytherin's body, and at that point there was only desire, craving and need shining from Draco's eyes. It was something Harry realized he had longed to see and while he was still unsure if Draco's emotion indicated his desire for sex or for him, it was in that moment that he realized nothing would ever feel as right and as wonderful as being with Draco. It wasn't just sexual, it was everything; their entire relationship he realized was a series of subtle nuances and secret promises that had never been allowed to come to fruition.

He wasn't sure he could call what he felt love, and yet, he toyed with the word because if not love, what was it?

It was in the midst of these thoughts that Harry heard a frantic knocking on the door. He jumped from his bed and rushed from his room in pajamas to the stairs. He nearly crashed with his godfather and Remus who had apparently been just as startled by the sound.

They were all three before the door when Harry pulled it open and the sight that met their eyes caused them to stand frozen, staring.

It was Nicolas; the antithesis of the man that they had left only a few hours ago at the prison. His eyes were red rimed and his face flushed; his chestnut curls were mussed and his entire body seemed to be trembling. He stared woefully and with desperation at Remus and in his hands he held a wooden box.

It was only a matter of seconds before Remus leapt forward and pulled his friend into the house, walking him into the front room and seating him on the sofa. Remus sat next to Nicolas and placed an arm around his shoulders. Sirius, who had been in the same condition too many times in the past not to recognize despair, quickly drew a bottle of whiskey from Harry's cabinet and poured out a glass. He shoved it into Nicolas' hand and then sat down on the sofa and stared at the detective.

Harry remained by the door, unsure what to do and was about to turn and leave when Remus spoke.

'Nicolas, what is it? What has occurred?' Remus asked quietly.

'I went home,' Nicolas began, his voice breaking.

'Is Lucian all right?' asked Sirius, his tone concerned.

Nicolas nodded; he seemed to will himself to a calm state before slowly speaking again. 'After everything at Azkaban, seeing Lucius Malfoy and knowing what he had done, I began fearing for Lucian. Sven of course has promised not to touch him, but there are others who would like for me to join…the Society. Any of them might try to take Lucian you see.'

'Sven belongs to the society,' Sirius said frowning, 'can't he do anything? Speak to the other vampires?'

Nicolas shook his head, 'no…he can ask of course, but he cannot force them to comply with his request.'

Remus placed a consoling hand on his friend's shoulder.

'There is one way to protect him though-' Nicolas' voice broke again.

'One way?' Remus prompted encouragingly.

'I love Lucian,' Nicolas said a little wildly, 'I was going to protect him. This box, it is made of cherry wood and…if you place a person's picture inside of the person you love more than any other, and give it to a vampire, he can take it to the Society. Your loved one won't…won't be taken. The Society would have protected him because he is not yet marked…I was going to give it…to Sven to give to them.'

Remus' eyes grew wide and he stared at his friend.

Nicolas met Remus' eyes, 'I know, I know. It would have broken Sven for me to do such a thing. I went to him, I had the box and he knew…he knew what it contained and he was devastated just looking at it. And I couldn't…give it to him. It would have been…a lie…'

Remus hugged his friend again, 'I know. You've been confusing yourself over this for so long, Nicolas. You care for Lucian dearly, but you don't love him; not like you love Sven.'

Nicolas nodded morosely, 'when I left with the box still in my hands…Sven knew as well. I just can't do this anymore.'

Harry stared, unable to believe the suave detective sat in tears in his living room. He would never have imagined the man could become so unhinged. However, he remembered how he had felt when Draco's life was threatened by the vampires and he understood; although it seemed as if Nicolas did not love Lucian…

'You should go to him,' Sirius said in an urgent voice.

All eyes turned to regard Harry's godfather.

Sirius shrugged, 'it is obvious that you want to be with Sven. Why do you put yourself through all this pain year after year? There are others that can do what you do…not as well, but you have to live for yourself Nicolas. You've done a lot for the world; it is time to think of you.'

'That is unless you've changed your mind?' Remus added.

Nicolas shook his head, 'no; I love him…it was always just a matter of time.

'No time like the present,' Sirius said firmly, 'that is unless you have loose ends to tie up?

'My nephew will inherit; there is really nothing…nothing now.'

'Except Ministries, endless Ministries asking you to work for them for gold you don't need,' Remus said.

Nicolas nodded and then looked up at Sirius and Remus suddenly, 'will you…that is, when I am with Sven, will you accept us?'

Remus made a small sound and hugged his friend again, 'they have re-classified both vampires and werewolves to humans instead of dark creatures. I think we'll always have that in common.'

'Then I will go to him,' Nicolas said simply.

'Have him come to you, Nicolas, have him come here,' Sirius urged.

Nicolas looked at his friend fondly, 'it is Harry's home.'

Sirius frowned and looked around, 'Harry doesn't mind, do you Harry?'

Harry shook his head, 'no, of course not. What is it I don't mind?'

'Sven,' Remus said quietly, 'is Nicolas' mate in life, Harry. They haven't been together because Sven is a vampire.'

Harry nodded

'In order for them to be together,' Remus continued, 'really together again, Nicolas would have to join Sven as a vampire.'

Harry stood frozen; Nicolas was going to willingly join the vampires?

'It is a choice I would make freely, Harry,' Nicolas added.

Harry nodded dumbly, 'and you want him to come…here?'

'No, we can-' began Nicolas.

'Yes,' Sirius cut in, 'here would be the best and safest place.'

Harry blinked, 'well, sure, it is fine with me.' He had no idea what he was actually consenting to. Was Sven going to come and bite Nicolas' neck in his house? It was preposterous, and yet, it seemed as if that is what he had just approved.

'If you are sure, Harry?' Nicolas said in a small voice.

Harry nodded adamantly.

The detective stood, his face set with determination, 'then I shall go speak to Lucian. He – he has a right to know what I am going to do. I've told him…when we first met, but I – I told him it would be many years. I lied.'

Sirius seemed to find that funny for some reason unknown to Harry and his bark like laughter suddenly filled the room. It was warm and infectious and soon all three of the men before Harry were laughing. Harry wasn't laughing though; he was beginning to believe that all three might have completely lost their minds.

When Nicolas had left, promising to be in touch soon, Harry and his relatives returned to their beds. Harry couldn't sleep however. Nicolas' experience had given him even more food for thought. He began thinking of taking the same type of determined attitude with Draco. It really would be what Draco expected, he thought. After all, despite everything, Draco was still the cunning, ambitious and use-any-means-to-get-what-he-wanted type of person that he'd always been. Perhaps, thought Harry, he should begin to exhibit a few of the Slytherin traits himself.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In fact, the ambitious and cunning Slytherin was at that very moment considering the means he might use to justify the ends he had in mind. Better put, the "end" he had in mind – in other words, ending it. That is what had to happen with this thing, this weird unrecognizable animal that was and wasn't a relationship forming between he and Harry.

Oh it had been sweet, a little too sweet. Why he had allowed Harry to top he'd no idea; that had been a grand mistake. Harry had managed to snake his way into his chest and Draco could almost feel that snake's venom filling his heart.

Draco paced in his study, long strides from one end of the room and back again; mussing his hair every few seconds. Further contact between them would end in doom - his. He was far too young to be sucked into a relationship…especially with the old war hero. He had no doubt that was where they were headed, whether Harry realized it or not. But he was simply not ready to purchase a ticket on that particular train.

The door chime sounded interrupting his thoughts and his head flew to the clock above the mantle. Who in god's name would call at this hour? But the answer came in a flash. Harry. Just as he had done before…only this time he would not be so keen on hearing a refusal. Not after the rather steady flow of their recent relations – not after that delectable topping session. Draco scowled at his thoughts.

However, the Slytherin's face filled with determination as he strode toward the front door where he met his house elf. 'I'll handle this,' he said resolutely and watched the Elf move back through the house. Draco took a deep breath and swung the door open.

'Do you realize the hour?' Draco demanded without a moment's hesitation. But then he froze and stared. It was not Harry, not even close. It was one Severus Snape, a visage much less handsome and far less welcome than the one he'd expected to see.

'As a matter of fact, I do,' came the sneering response.

Draco recalled that the man had been released from prison that evening and in a flash of insight, he realized that Snape had likely refused Remus and Sirius' offer to stay at their place and now he'd no where to go. So he'd come to Draco's home. Draco's mind instantly rebelled. It was one thing to visit the professor in prison – another thing altogether to house the man. Draco didn't move into the house in welcome, but merely stared into the black eyes of the professor.

Snape seemed to understand and his brow furrowed in distaste, 'if you think I have come to ask for shelter, let me relieve your mind. I have no plans to stay here any longer than absolutely necessary.'

Draco lifted his brows, intrigued. He moved backward a couple of steps and allowed Snape to enter the vestibule. 'You are going to stay at Spinner's End then?'

'My old home has been confiscated, but I have a place to go.'

'I see,' Draco murmured, figuring Snape had accepted the offer after all. He inspected the ill-dressed Snape from head to toe.

Snape ignored Draco's arrogant eye movement and got right to the point, 'I require provisions, and believe me, if there were any other way to get them, I wouldn't have come.'

Draco gave a curt nod, closing the door and leaning against it, his arms crossed before his chest.

'As I said, I have a place to go, however, when I arrived I realized that it had been unoccupied for some time and there are no provisions there…nothing whatsoever. So unfortunately, I have had to come here,' Snape looked about him with distain, 'of all places.'

Draco tilted his head – slightly. 'Ever the charmer.'

Snape scowled deeply.

Draco understood Snape hated to come; hated to ask, and he was quite used to Snape's attitudes. However, he was a Malfoy and he tended to find improper etiquette distasteful. He ignored the little voice that insisted he was much more indulgent when Harry showed a lack of protocol.

Snape's sneer grew, 'I have plenty of money in my Gringotts account I assure you.'

Apparently the professor had misunderstood his silence. 'I don't doubt that,' Draco mumbled, 'all the dashing between sides you did during the war, had to of paid off well.'

Draco had aimed to hurt, but Snape didn't seem the least affected. The elder Slytherin's lip curled, 'as a matter of fact it did. But it will take some time to obtain clearance to my funds.'

Draco's eyes sparked for a moment; Snape's wartime behavior had shown a graceful cunning and he seemed completely unrepentant for his less than stellar behavior. The younger Slytherin felt a grudging appreciation for Snape's unrelenting dark nature, but the moment passed. 'What is it you need?'

Snape sighed, 'a little bread, cheese, wine, some paper goods, just to hold me over for the next few days.'

Draco's legendary smirk appeared.

Snape's eyes narrowed, 'you know I will not beg; you can do it in repayment for my saving your life.'

'Ah, but didn't you tell me time and time again that you actually hadn't saved my life? That you had killed Dumbledore when I failed because of an unintelligent vow you decided to make with my mum?'

'Indeed, you ungrateful, brat. Just give me what I need and I will leave and never return.'

'Except to repay me for what I lend you, correct?'

Snape sneered, 'if a flask and a few crumbs of food will drain your bloody accounts dry, then I shall figure out a way to repay you sooner.'

Draco chuckled evilly, 'I don't own any cheap swill of the sort you are used to drinking, Professor. It will likely cost much more than you are used to-'

'Malfoy, either do or don't, I am too tired for games,' Snape interrupted, his voice sounding drained.

Draco's demeanor lightened. He too had no desire to stand around battling with words and despite his harsh exterior, there was an abundance of compassion buried in his soul. He called his house elf and told him to give the professor whatever he needed. Then, in repayment for the professor's ingratitude…not just at that moment, but during all of the years of visits Draco had made to the prison, he turned without a word and headed up the stairs.

Draco found his bed quickly and his mind returned to his previous thoughts. His previous thought actually. Harry. Fuck.

He wanted to end things and he knew he had to do so quickly or there would be no turning back. He knew himself well; he was becoming used to seeing Harry, wanting to feel and smell Harry and worse, beginning to hope that Harry's desire for him would not wane.

It wasn't only a matter of his emotions going all South and North; but there was the Malfoy legacy to think about. It was one thing to get seriously entangled with a pureblood in a gay relationship, but with a half-blood? Granted, Harry was from a long line of Potters, a pureblood family that could trace its roots back to the incredible Peverell Brothers, renowned and revered wizards in any circles. And Harry himself was a hero, certainly that counted for something. Still he was quite uncertain what his family would have to say about it all; his mother had not even had the good grace to be a half-blood, she had been a mudblood, pure and simple.

Like Hermione.

Draco groaned. His feelings for Hermione following the war had been a fatal flaw of character showing through. She was brilliant though, no one could say a word against her magical talent. Still, as he had been told since birth – in the end, blood will tell out. Draco imagined that Hermione would likely give birth to a dozen squib children.

It dawned on Draco to wonder what Harry would think about his deepest notions concerning blood superiority. It didn't take long for him to reach the conclusion that Harry would immediately wash his hands of him altogether if he new he still thought in the same way he always had on the matter.

Draco vaguely heard the elf letting Snape out of the house and he wondered just how much the professor was indebted to him. Not that he wanted payment for any of it – at least not in gold.

It was just as Draco began drifting off to sleep, still thinking about his 'Harry troubles' when the sound of his front door chime ringing jerked his mind back to full consciousness.

Harry.

Draco arose from the bed and tried to tell himself he was not racing to throw on his robe and get to the front door. He beat the elf once more and stood calming a couple of seconds before gingerly pulling the door open.

'Do you realize the hour?' Draco demanded without a moment's hesitation. But then he froze and stared. It was not Harry, not even close. But where before there had been an ugly visage, now stood a tremendously handsome one – albeit very distraught looking.

'Blaise…' Draco's voice was but a whisper. He'd never seen his friend looking quite so awful before. He knew something terrible had happened and ushered his friend quickly into the front room, lighting the fireplace and preparing a strong glass of drink before settling down on the couch next to him.

Blaise stared at Draco, not touching his drink.

'What's happened?'

Blaise was silent a few moments and then, 'I am – going to be a – a – father.'

Draco's eyes grew wide, 'a father?'

Blaise nodded stiffly.

'How?' Draco sputtered ignorantly.

Blaise looked at him, his brows drawn.

'I mean who is having your baby?'

'Ginny Weasley.'

'Does she know?'

Blaise scowled, 'what do you mean does she know? How the hell wouldn't she know?'

'I – I mean her parents, I mean everyone. I mean what the fuck are you going to do?' To Draco, the news was far worse than he had anticipated.

Blaise slumped back onto the couch, 'I asked her to marry me.'

'WHAT?'

Blaise nodded.

'Why'd you go and do something stupid like that? You don't love her do you? She was just a shag you said. A good shag, but just a shag nonetheless.'

Blaise ran a hand through his hair, 'well be that as it may, it wasn't just a shag after all, now was it?'

'Like hell it wasn't. You don't have to marry her – there are ways, Blaise. There is a Healer in South London who has no qualms about taking care of unwanted pregnancies, no matter how much the Ministry is against it.'

Blaise's expression darkened, 'I'm not killing any child of mine, Draco.'

'It is hardly a child,' Draco insisted, 'and your life will be ruined! You can't marry a Weasley – they are…' but Draco's voice petered out. He'd gotten so used to looking down upon the family's bloodline, he'd nearly forgotten the reason was that they were pureblood, blood traitors – but purebloods nonetheless.

Blaise was still scowling, 'they are what?'

Draco cleared his throat, 'well blood traitors for one,' he finished a little lamely. Even he wasn't against those who befriended non-purebloods anymore, but he felt a need to defend himself.

Blaise waved his hand dismissively, 'the blood crap is not important to me at all anymore. I'd marry anybody – when I am ready to.'

'Anybody? How can you say that? What about your family line?'

That got Blaise's attention fully and he stared at Draco as if he'd gone mad. 'Do you seriously still believe that any of that matters?'

Draco, 'what do you mean does it matter? Of course it matters!' Draco's voice shook a little; something deep down was looking at him pragmatically and reminding him that all the "blood crap" hadn't really been very important to him at all lately – not until he needed it to form an excuse for begging out of the relationship with Harry. It was his best rationale for dumping Harry. The only one left to him.

Blaise shook his head rapidly, 'you are an idiot. It is a lot of senseless nonsense. Very few people still stand by any of that you know.'

Draco nodded, 'well people give up old values too quickly.'

'Old values believed by a few stuffy old timers who'd be better off dead,' Blaise said arrogantly.

Draco scowled, 'are you saying I would be better off dead?'

'I'm saying you are full of hot air,' Blaise responded tiredly, 'I don't think it matters to you either.'

But Draco cut him off, 'whatever. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't.'

Blaise eyed Draco with a glimmer in his eyes, 'does this sudden interest in bloodlines have something to do with your sudden interest in one Harry James Potter?'

Draco scowled again, 'I thought we were discussing your problem.'

'So we were,' said Blaise, sighing heavily.

'You gonna marry her then?' Draco asked in a small tone.

'She turned me down. Said she didn't want anything more to do with me.'

'What?' Draco was flabbergasted. How could that stupid girl turn down his friend? In his eyes, Blaise was the best sort; he was a man any woman should be proud to call her husband.

'She told me I was a playboy and a wastrel, just the type of father she didn't want for her child. I reminded her it was mine too, but she just kicked me out of the house.'

Draco grunted, 'well fuck her then. If she wants to deal with it alone, let her.'

Blaise's expression grew even darker, 'I'll be damned if I am not going to be allowed to raise my own kid, Draco. I'll fight her tooth and nail about that.'

Draco was a little amazed at that.

Blaise saw Draco's expression and grinned a little, 'didn't count me as the fathering type, did you? Well I am. My mum went through seven husbands and I have no intention of leaving any child of mine to face such a life.'

'I doubt Ginny would marry and murder seven men, Blaise.'

Blaise scowled. Despite the fact that he too believed his mum had poisoned each of her husbands in order to get their gold, he still loved her. The reminder of her transgressions didn't sit well with him. 'Doesn't matter,' Blaise said finally, 'she is going to marry me whether she wants to or not. I don't care if I have to use the Imperius curse; Ginny and I are going to raise that kid together. I didn't want to marry her – not at first, but after I thought about it, I realized she'd make as good a wife and mother as anyone else and – well – even if I don't love her, I lust after her and that is something.'

Draco burst out laughing.

Blaise looked at his friend and his own laughter rang out. Soon it soured however, 'the truth is I don't know what to feel. I do care what happens to her…and the baby. I do want to jump her bones whenever I see her, but I don't think those things mean I am in love with her. Frankly I am not even sure what love is. Maybe I do love her.' Blaise sounded lost and confused.

Draco shrugged, 'I've seen marriages make it on less.'

Blaise elevated his brows, 'yeah, like every marriage my mother had.'

Both young men sobered at the thought. The light was shining through the windows and Draco realized he'd been up the entire night.

'Let's get some sleep, Blaise. Stay here tonight and we'll figure this thing out in the morning.'

'It is morning.'

'You know what I mean.'

Blaise nodded and allowed Draco to lead him upstairs.

Draco escorted his friend toward the bedroom he generally stayed in and flipped on the lights once inside. Blaise fell onto the bed, reaching to pull his boots away and his face looked so downcast, Draco knew his friend would not get a wink of sleep.

Sighing, Draco flopped down on the other end of the bed and resigned himself to what he figured would be a long, drawn out conversation that would get them no where.