"I don't see why I have to go." Pansy flounced into the room, a sullen expression marring her pretty features.
Draco barely looked up from the work that occupied the larger part of his desk. "We've discussed this already," he said, patiently; after years of friendship, he was no longer fazed by Pansy's snits.
Pansy snorted derisively. "Is that what you call it? A discussion?"
Draco dragged his attention away from his work and rubbed tiredly at his face. "You always oversee the bridal fittings; I don't see what the problem is."
"Ginny Weasley," Pansy replied succinctly. "You know perfectly well that she will be the bride from hell, and that's why you're making me do it."
"Pansy, I'm a man. It would be inappropriate for me to see the Weaselette in her underwear, not to mention mentally scarring as well. It makes more sense this way; you're a woman."
"And you're gay. It's not like you'd be getting off on it."
"I can't do it," Draco replied, suppressing a shudder at her last remark. "I have to interview florists this morning, then meet with the caterers, and then there are still all the costings to go over, so that I can give the father of the bride some kind of coronary. Besides, I'm taking Potter and Weasley for their outfits tomorrow."
Pansy snorted again. "And of course it's not inappropriate for you to see Potter in his underwear! You're just hoping you get to be the one who measures his inside leg!"
"Yes, you've caught me out. That's exactly what I have in mind." Draco's tone was laced with irony. "I'm planning to molest Potter whilst the Weasel watches."
"I've asked you not to call him that," Pansy muttered sulkily.
"And I asked you never to refer to that liaison in my presence. It appears we are both doomed to disappointment."
"Mhmm, but you love me anyway. Now, it that's all, I have a mountain of paperwork that's not getting any smaller."
Pansy rose from her chair. She got as far as the door and paused. "You know," she said lightly. "I could just encourage her to buy the most hideous dress I can find. Just like that monstrosity she showed us."
"You could," Draco replied evenly. "But we both know you won't. Why don't you just look at today as a chance to get to know the in-laws better? After all, you're dating a Weasley now. It surely won't be long before they have you married off and knocking out children like the breeding machine that all Weasley women seem to turn into!"
Pansy stomped from the room, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like, "Bastard!"
Draco grinned briefly at his partner's retreating form, and then returned to his work.
Pansy's worst fears were confirmed later that day, when she found herself trapped inside an exclusive bridal wear shop, with two excitable Weasley women, and assorted hangers on.
Brides always came to them with an ideal image of their dream dress, but most were reasonable enough to both seek, and heed the advice of the experts - namely Pansy, and Madame Solange - the couturier whose shop they always used.
Pansy had not expected Ginny Weasley to be such a bride, and she had not been disappointed. The bride-to-be had arrived clutching assorted pictures illustrating her dream dress, each as ostentatious as the last, and it had all gone downhill from there.
Mother Weasley was as bad, if not worse than her daughter was when it came to matters of taste, and Pansy knew that some serious grovelling would be required to keep in Solange's good graces after the numerous implied insults to her exquisite creations.
The bride could not be shaken from her notions of a Cinderella style, taffeta monstrosity, and dress after dress was summarily dismissed with little more than a cursory glance, or an ill-disguised expression of distaste.
With each one of the bride's complaints, Pansy couldn't help but wince, and found herself shooting apologetic looks in Solange's direction. Her salvation came at last in the form of Fleur Weasley, who had accompanied them with her small daughter, who was to be a flower girl.
Fleur herself was not to form part of the bridal party, and Pansy rather suspected that this stemmed from the bride's fear of being outshone by her, clearly more beautiful, sister-in-law, on her wedding day.
Fleur was able to soothe the Frenchwoman's ruffled feathers with exclamations of delight in their native tongue. And from Pansy's working knowledge of the language, she was amused to her the Weasley woman's apologetic, and often disparaging remarks about her in-laws.
After the umpteenth demand for 'something bigger, and in gold,' Pansy gave in and retreated to the small seating area that contained Hermione Nott and Luna Zabini. Both women were to be bridesmaids, and had already been fitted for the plainest possible dresses that the bride could find.
Pansy wasn't overly intimate with either woman, but as they were married to two of her oldest friends, she was slowly making the effort to get to know them better.
"Given up?" Hermione enquired, an amused smile playing around the edges of her mouth.
"We Slytherins are famed for our tactical retreats," Pansy replied. "I would have thought you two knew that by now."
Luna merely smiled and nodded. Hermione, however, let out a wry chuckle.
"Yes. Theo makes one every time Edward's nappy needs changing."
"Well, I can't say I blame him." Pansy's nose screwed up at the thought.
"I'm sure Harry won't do that when his baby is born," Luna commented absent-mindedly.
Hermione fixed her with a glare. "Where did you hear about that?" she asked sharply, with a wary look at the bride, who was currently being coaxed into yet another dress. "It's supposed to be a secret."
Luna turned wide eyes on her companions. "No one told me as such, I just assumed. I mean, why else would Harry have proposed?"
Pansy was forced to choke back a laugh; Luna's blunt honesty was always refreshing, and highly amusing in an inappropriate way.
"Shhh," Hermione hissed. "For the love of Merlin, don't let Ginny hear you saying things like that."
Luna shrugged unconcernedly. "She already knows. Everyone knows that Harry prefers men." She paused here thoughtfully. "Except maybe Harry."
Pansy really did choke this time; the combination of Luna's words, and Hermione's scandalised expression was too much for even her self-control.
Before either of the other women could speak, Pansy was on her feet. She could well imagine Draco's reaction if she were to be caught gossiping about the groom's predilections during the bride's dress fitting.
"I'd better get back over there," she commented. "See how they're getting on."
Hermione nodded, wisely ignoring Luna's remarks. "I'll have to go shortly," she replied. "Theo's at the Ministry, and I don't like leaving the children with the house-elves for too long."
"Probably wise," Pansy agreed. "This could take some time. You could probably get off, too, if you wanted," she added, with a small smile in Luna's direction.
The blond woman shook her head slowly, causing her out-sized earrings to sway. "Oh no, I rather think I'll stay. This is far more entertaining than anything I have waiting for me at home."
Hermione made her way over to the bride, made her apologies, and swiftly escaped, leaving Pansy to plunge, once again, into the tense atmosphere now radiating between designer and bride-to-be.
"Ow about zis one, Ginny?" Fleur suggested, indicating one of the loveliest dresses that Pansy had ever seen; Madam Solange was truly an artist.
"It's not bad," the ungracious redhead admitted reluctantly, fingers trailing over the delicate beadwork.
"You would like to try it on, yes?" Madame asked hopefully.
Pansy crossed her fingers behind her back; she had a date with another Weasley that evening, and she had an important appointment with her leg waxer to make.
Mother Weasley was clearly taken with the dress and to everyone's barely hidden relief, managed to persuade her daughter into the creation.
As the Frenchwoman's fingers settled the folds of silk in the skirt, Ginny took a step up onto the dais set in the middle of the room, and began examining herself from every possible angle in the multitude of mirrors present.
"Oh, Ginny!" Mrs Weasley clasped her hands to her ample bosom as she gasped in delight. "It's perfect. You look just like a princess."
The other women assembled all nodded enthusiastically, and even Pansy was forced to admit that the bride-to-be looked good. The cut of the bodice was such that it created subtle curves where previously there had been none, and the champagne coloured silk perfectly complimented her colouring.
Ginny was clearly still sceptical, though. She fixed her gaze on Luna. "What do you think?" she demanded imperiously.
The Weasley women, and Solange, regarded Ginny as if she were disturbed, for seeking the opinion of a woman who was clearly clueless about style of any kind. But Pansy understood the bride's reasoning.
Luna may know nothing about style, Pansy thought, but her bluntness won't allow her to lie. The Weaselette obviously knows it's the most honest opinion she'll get in here.
Luna simply smiled her dreamy little smile. "All that's missing is Prince Charming."
Pansy could have cheerfully switched teams and kissed the dippy blonde at that moment. Her words couldn't have been more perfect if they had been scripted for her.
The first smile of the day curved Ginny's lips. "I do look rather like Cinderella," she commented, her gaze firmly fixed on her reflection.
"Arry will not be able to resist you in it," Fleur encouraged.
Pansy smirked inwardly. After Luna's earlier comments, she rather thought it would take more than a pretty dress to catch Harry Potter's attention. It now seemed that having a cock was a prerequisite.
Ginny smiled at her sister-in-law. "He won't, will he," she simpered.
"C'est tres jolie," Solange assured, her skilled fingers adjusting the fitted bodice.
Ginny dismissed her with an impatient wave of her hands. It seemed that now the decision was made, her interest in the proceedings was waning. She disappeared behind the screen, only to emerge again, dressed in her own clothing this time.
She thrust the dress at Madam Solange. "I'll take it," she said decisively. "But mind, I want that embroidery on the train in gold thread, not silver.
Relived that the end to her torment was in sight, the designer readily acquiesced to this demand.
"Pas un problème," she demurred, gathering up the delicate fabric. "I will have my seamstresses begin at once."
"And I want real gold," Ginny instructed. "None of that cheap imitation stuff."
"Mais oui, of course." Solange's lips pursed slightly at the implied insult. "Nothing but the best."
As Pansy began discussions with the Frenchwoman regarding costs and timescales, Ginny disappeared off to 'powder her nose'. Mrs Weasley entered into the discussion, and Pansy was surprised to find that, away from her demanding daughter, Molly Weasley was actually a very nice woman.
She apparently knew of Pansy's friendship with Ron, and appeared to be making the effort to get to know her son's girlfriend.
"Mum!" Ginny's shriek shattered the calm atmosphere at a stroke. "Mum! Come here!"
With an apologetic look at the other women, Molly Weasley scurried in the direction of the bathroom, where her daughter was becoming increasingly distraught.
"Ginny." Molly tapped on the locked bathroom door. "Whatever's the matter, love?"
"Something's wrong." The choked sob in her voice gave even Pansy a twinge of sympathy.
"Open the door, Gin. I can't help you from out here."
"Of course you can, don't be silly. Whatever's the matter?"
"I'm bleeding! I think…I think something's wrong with the baby!"
It was with undisguised relieve that Draco locked up the office at the end of, what had turned out to be, a very hectic day.
He had interviewed numerous florists, all desperate for the Potter/Weasley wedding contract. Several of whom had unleashed their Iartistic/I temperament upon rejection. Of course, Draco had given them a glimpse of his inner Malfoy, and that had quickly put a lid on any of their antics; he wasn't his father's son for nothing.
That had then been followed by several mind-numbingly dull hours spent going over the costings of the wedding. The only small highlight of his day had been the look of visible horror on Arthur Weasley's face when presented with the projected costs of his daughter's forthcoming nuptials.
Clearly, Draco thought, money is slightly more of an object than the Weasley women think.
Normally after a day like that, Draco would share a bottle of wine and some acerbic conversation with his partner. But Pansy had other plans, and Draco was more than a little disgruntled to be abandoned in favour of a Weasley.
With his parents holidaying at their villa in Marseille, and the Manor resembling little more than a mausoleum, Draco made the short journey along Diagon Alley, towards the Leaky Cauldron.
If nothing else, it was always amusing to see how nervous Neville Longbottom still got in his presence, even though Hogwarts was years ago, and the ex-Gryffindor was now landlord of said establishment.
Once inside, Draco headed to one of the more discreet corners of the pub and settled down to enjoy a spot of people watching. It wasn't as much fun without Pansy there to appreciate his witty, barbed remarks, but it would have to do.
He leant back in his chair, large gin and tonic in hand, and his keen, grey eyes roved over the assembled clientele, in search of his first target.
Harry headed into the Leaky Cauldron, intent on relaxing with only a cold pint for company. He knew without a doubt that Ginny would be waiting for him back at Grimmauld Place, and, after a day spent hunting down illegal potion dealers, the last thing he wanted was to become embroiled in wedding discussions. Considering Ginny has spent her day dress shopping, Harry knew she was bound to be full of it.
He perched on a vacant stool at the bar and placed his order.
"There you go, mate. First one's on the house; you look like you could use it." Neville slid the drink over to his friend and smiled warmly.
"You're not wrong," Harry agreed. "You'd have thought I'd had enough of chasing bad guys for one life time." He paused here and took a deep drink. "How are Hannah and the baby doing?"
Neville's face came alive at the mention of his wife and firstborn child, and promptly launched into a tale of his newfound domestic bliss.
Harry, very quickly, wished that he hadn't asked. The obvious love in his friend's voice as he spoke of his wife, only served to remind Harry of what he would never have with Ginny.
IThink of the baby,/I he reminded himself, and that did help, a little.
Being a father was a wonderful blessing, but Harry was starting to doubt that it would be enough to compensate for the hollow shell of a relationship that he had with Ginny, or for a lifetime without intimacy and, more importantly, love.
Shaking himself mentally, Harry forced himself to concentrate on Neville's next words.
"So, how're the wedding preparations coming on? Driving you mad yet?"
Harry shuddered slightly. "Don't ask. I'm trying not to think about it right now."
Neville grinned. "Now's probably not a good time to tell you that your wedding planner is over there, then?"
Harry's head spun round automatically, his eyes rapidly scanning the room. Within seconds he had locked onto the gaze of Draco Malfoy.
"Shit!" Harry turned back to face the bar. The last thing he needed was to talk about, listen to, or even think about anything to do with the Godforsaken wedding. What he really wanted to do now was slink away and hide.
But Malfoy had seen him, and though they weren't exactly friends, the old hatred was long gone. He could hear a voice, which sounded suspiciously like Hermione, chiding him for his rudeness.
Reluctantly he turned once again, only to find Malfoy now regarding him with an amused expression on his face. Harry nodded in acknowledgment, and the other man raised his glass, as if in toast.
"I'll have another pint, Nev," he said wearily. "And you'd better give me one of whatever poncey drink Malfoy's having."
Draco couldn't ignore the fluttering sensation that started within him when he realised that Harry Potter was heading his way.
Initially, he put it down as irritation; he wanted to be alone, and now, here was one of his clients coming over, doubtless to discuss that infernal wedding. But, upon further inspection, he was forced to admit that the ferment within him was due, in large part, to the anticipation of Potter's company.
Get a grip, Draco, he scolded himself mentally. It's only Potter, for fuck's sake. Who cares if he comes over or not.
But as Potter drew nearer, it became increasingly apparent to Draco that he did care, quite a lot, in fact. He made a mental note to Hex Pansy rather severely the next morning; this was all her fault for putting ideas into his head about Potter in the first place.
"How could you be wrong about something so important?" Molly Weasley gazed steadily at her daughter, who was currently slumped, head in hands, at the Burrow kitchen table.
"I made a mistake," Ginny snapped. "It's not like I did it on purpose." She raised her head and glared at her mother.
"I'm not saying you did." Molly reached for her daughter's small, pale hand, but it was snatched away. "But why on earth didn't you go to a Healer and get tested?"
"I did a test," Ginny muttered defiantly. "I've already told you. I used one of those Muggle kits."
"But they're not reliable, sweetheart, you know that. Muggle medicine never works as well on our kind. The magic interferes with it."
Ginny just shrugged, an air of defeat hanging over her. "Hermione used them; she told me."
"Yes," Molly agreed patiently, "and then she went to see a Healer to get it confirmed."
"This isn't helping," Ginny snarled through gritted teeth.
"I don't mean to be harsh, dear. But I don't think you've thought about the other people this will affect. You've seen how Harry lights up at the mention of the baby. He's going to be devastated when you tell him."
Ginny's eyes widened in something resembling panic. She grabbed her mother's wrist and held it tightly. "You mustn't say anything to him." Her face was so pale that her freckles stood out starkly against her skin.
"Well, of course not. He should hear it from you."
Ginny began to shake her head. "I don't…I can't…"
It was Molly's turn to look surprised. "You have to tell him. Apart from anything else, he's going to notice in seven months time when a baby doesn't appear."
"But he'll leave me," Ginny whispered.
Molly patted her daughter's hand. "Of course he won't. Don't be silly. Yes, he'll be upset, but this is Harry we're talking about. He's not going to leave you over an honest mistake."
Ginny didn't look at all convinced, so Molly tried again. "You're both young and healthy; there'll be plenty of time for you to have children."
"No, that's just it, there won't. The only reason he's marrying me is because I'm pregnant. If I tell him the truth, it'll all be over."
"Hush now. You're talking nonsense," Molly soothed.
"I'm not! You don't understand."
"Did Harry actually tell you that?" Molly pressed, slightly alarmed by her daughter's obvious distress.
"No, not in so many words. But I know it's true."
Molly stood up from the table. "Let's have a nice cup of tea, then you can go home, have a good chat with Harry, and put your fears to rest."
Ginny spun round in her chair and grabbed desperately at her mother's robes.
"We were having a row," she blurted out. "He was really angry with me. He said it was over, that he didn't love me and never wanted to see me again. I told him about the baby, and two days later, he proposed. Now do you get it?" Hot tears began spilling down her pale cheeks, tugging at her mother's heartstrings.
"Oh, Gin," she murmured, stroking her daughter's long, red hair. "What a mess."
Ginny flung her arms around her mother's waist and buried her face in the voluminous fabric of her robes. Sobs began to rack her slender frame.
"I don't know what to do," she wailed. "I really thought I was pregnant, and now everything's such a mess."
"Shhh," Molly soothed. "It'll be okay, you'll see. We'll work something out."
"You're in denial," Harry snickered.
Draco regarded his companion over the top of his fourth Gin and Tonic. "It's not denial, it's self-preservation. I've told you, Potter, there isn't a therapist in the world who could remove the trauma of witnessing Pansy and the Weasel in flagrante."
Harry snickered again. "In flagrante? Who talks like that anymore? And I've told you, Draco, it's Harry, not Potter."
"Potter, schmotter," Draco slurred slightly. "It's just a name, don't get so testy."
"What's in a name?" Harry quoted softly.
Draco cocked on brow at this. "Shakespeare? I'm impressed, and slightly shocked."
Harry shrugged. "Stakeouts get boring, and Hermione's always on at me to read more and broaden my horizons."
Draco smirked. "I'm no Auror, but aren't stakeouts meant to involve watching people, closely, not reading 16th century prose?"
"There's usually two of us," Harry replied defensively. "We take it in shifts."
Draco merely smirked again. "So, Harry, what are you doing here anyway? Shouldn't you be at home, snuggled up to your lovely bride-to-be?"
Observant as he was, Draco didn't miss the shift in Harry's expression, or in his body language. Coupled with a few of his earlier observations of the couple in his office, Draco surmised correctly, that all was not well.
"I just wanted some peace and quiet," Harry muttered finally.
Draco stiffened slightly. "You joined me, Potter. If that's what you're after, I suggest you sit elsewhere."
Harry's eyes widened at the coolness of Draco's tone. "What? Shit! That came out wrong. I didn't mean you."
Draco quirked one finely, and professionally, shaped brow, but remained silent.
"I meant Ginny," Harry confessed guiltily. "After the day I've had, the last thing I want is to listen to her going on about wedding dresses."
Draco smiled. "Tough day saving the world, Harry?"
"Ha bloody ha, Malfoy."
"Tsk, tsk," Draco chided. "First name terms, remember?"
Harry raked one hand through his tousled hair and smiled slowly. "Sorry, Draco."
Draco had to fight a slight shiver that coursed through his body at the sound of Harry saying his name. The way the other man's tongue wrapped around those few, short syllables felt almost like a caress.
He quickly drained his glass, buying himself precious time to recompose himself. "We should get more drinks," he observed finally.
"It's your round," Harry commented, sliding his empty glass across the table.
Draco promptly slid it back, along with his own. "I'll pay, you fetch."
"Do I look like your house-elf?" Harry asked indignantly.
In the interests of keeping the fragile peace, Draco sat firmly on the numerous comebacks that were on the tip of his tongue, just begging to be unleashed. Harry had better appreciate his self-control, he mused to himself.
"If my house-elves looked as good in denim as you do, I would probably never leave the Manor." The words were out of his mouth before Draco could stop them.
Harry's eyes widened in surprise and he shifted in his seat, but Draco didn't miss the soft flush that stole over his cheeks.
Mentally storing that reaction away to be examined at a time when he was thinking more clearly, Draco got to his feet. He picked up both their glasses.
"Fine, I'll go. But when Longbottom starts gibbering like an idiot, and dropping glasses because I still make him nervous, don't blame me."
Harry simply grinned in return and leant back in his chair. His eyes tracked Draco's progress across the room, lingering ever so slightly on the blond's pert arse.
Ginny waited in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place for Harry to return from work. She had already banished Winky to wherever it was house-elves went when they weren't working.
Dinner sat on the table, a Warming Charm keeping it at just the right temperature. She had wine chilling in the fridge, and the room was lit with the soft glow of candles.
The only thing marring the romantic ambience was the increasingly dark scowl on the redhead's face.
After much discussion with her mother, and floods of tears, Ginny had come up with a plan.
Actually, this was about the fifth plan she had come up with, but it was the only one that Molly Weasley could be persuaded to agree to.
Harry had to be told that there was no baby; Even Ginny had been forced to accept that. But she also knew well enough what his reaction to that would be. The wedding would be cancelled, their relationship ended, and her dreams of the perfect life would be shattered.
After much browbeating, Molly had reluctantly consented to go along with her daughter's story of a miscarriage. Even without the incentive of a baby, Ginny knew that Harry was not the kind of man to dump his distraught fiancée after the loss of a longed-for baby.
And with the commotion that she had caused in the dress shop earlier that day, she already had several witnesses who could unwittingly corroborate her story.
Ginny did feel a slight twinge of guilt at the deception, but her fears of what the truth would bring more than overwhelmed it.
All she had to do was look suitably tearful when she broke the news, and given her current emotional state, Ginny knew that this would be no problem at all.
So she had descended on Grimmauld Place, commandeered the kitchen, and cooked Harry all his favourite foods; if there was one thing her mother had taught her, it was how to cook. All had been going to plan until she noticed that time had begun ticking away, and Harry showed no signs of returning.
When finally her patience had worn out, and her temper was bubbling under the surface, Ginny set out for Diagon Alley, where she was sure she would find her errant fiancé. This drinking after work would have to stop once they were married, she decided.
Stepping into the Floo, Ginny called out the address of George's Diagon Alley flat; she didn't want to Floo directly into the pub. She wanted to catch Harry unawares, to see what, or who, was more important to him than spending time with his fiancée.
As Harry returned from the bar with yet another round of drinks, his gaze lingered on the waiting figure of Draco Malfoy, and he couldn't help but wonder at the turn of events that had led him to this point.
Harry couldn't remember when he had last felt this relaxed and at ease in company, and considering who that company was, it was even more surprising.
It had been years since their childish battles had ended. But even after Draco's dramatic change of sides in the war, the two boys had merely tolerated each other.
Even when their social circles had become intertwined, with first Hermione and Theo's relationship, and then Blaise and Luna's, Harry and Draco had always remained aloof from it.
But, Harry reflected, fate seemed determined to keep bringing them together. First as joint godparents to Sophia, and then again with the wedding. He shook his himself mentally; thoughts of his impending nuptials did nothing for his current good mood.
Harry placed the drinks on the table and slid into his seat. Draco looked up from the mobile phone he was currently holding.
"No problem." Harry leant back in his chair, a smile on his face as he observed his companion.
"What?" Draco demanded.
"Then why are you staring at me? Is something wrong with my hair?" Draco hurriedly smoothed a hand over his blond locks.
"Don't panic, Draco. Your hair is still as perfect at the rest of you."
Draco was not quite sure what to make of this. It may have been a perfectly innocent remark, but it sounded uncommonly like Harry was flirting with him. "So you're just admiring my beauty, then, is that it?"
Harry chuckled throatily. "I'm only human. Actually, I was just surprised to see you have a mobile. Isn't that a little…Muggle for you?"
"On the contrary, Harry," Draco replied loftily. "This is the latest must have for all professional wizards. It has an advanced Charm on it that allows the phone to still function in areas of a high magical density."
"You're quite keen on gadgets, aren't you? I saw you with those headphone thingies at Luna's wedding."
"Muggles aren't all useless," Draco allowed grudgingly. "And these phones are much easier than Fire calling - and cleaner too."
"So who's that?" Harry enquired as the phone began to vibrate again. "Your boyfriend?"
Draco's eyes narrowed at this comment, but a quick look at Harry showed nothing more than good-natured interest on his face. "Not that it's any of your business, but I happen to be single at the moment."
Draco paused here to read the incoming text message, and grinned broadly. "That was Pansy," he announced, snapping the phone shut. "Apparently she is helping the Weasel to plan your stag party."
"Considering some of the ideas that Ron has had so far, that means she is spending her evening debating the finer points of Stringfellows versus Spearmint Rhino. I'm sure she'll love that."
Draco smirked. "You wouldn't say that if you'd seen her on Blaise's stag night."
"But she's a girl," Harry protested.
"Maybe, but she's also a Slytherin, and one of his oldest friends. She would never have forgiven Blaise for leaving her out. Besides, Pansy has more balls than the rest of us put together."
"She wasn't bothered about going to a strip club?"
"She was the first one of us to get a lap dance," Draco replied.
Harry couldn't help it. He burst out laughing at that. It seemed like Ron might have finally met his match.
"I wouldn't have thought you would have enjoyed it much," he commented.
"Hardly." Draco shuddered exaggeratedly. "One look at Pansy's bits back at school was enough to put me off for life." He paused and peered at his companion over the top of his glass. "It's not really your scene either, is it?" he asked slyly.
Harry choked a little on his beer. "What are you talking about?" he demanded, his face flushing rapidly.
"Nothing really," Draco replied lightly. "Just that after the rumours about you and Justin Finch-Fletchley back in seventh year, I wasn't sure that naked women really did it for you."
"I'm getting married, Malfoy," Harry retorted stiffly. "To a woman."
Draco gave a dismissive wave of his hand. "Please, that means nothing. My mother still hasn't given up hope of persuading me to marry one of our distant French cousins. She's even bringing the poor girl over here this summer in the hope of convincing me."
Harry's eyes widened. "Really? But you're as gay as they come."
Draco ignored the implied insult. "That's not the point, as my mother sees it. Lots of gay pureblood men still get married. It's all about having an heir and continuing the family bloodline."
"And you're okay with that?"
Draco shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I'll see how it turns out for you, and then make my mind up." He then sat back and enjoyed the hot flush that spread over Harry's face. Really, he thought, Potter actually looked rather adorable like that.
"It's not like I have a choice," Harry said eventually. "There's the baby to think of."
Draco nodded his understanding, and Harry felt relieved to have finally admitted it aloud, even if it was only to Draco Malfoy; at least he appeared to understand the obligation that Harry felt under to do right by the mother of his child, whatever his preferences may be.
Without thinking, Draco reached a hand across the table and lightly wrapped it around Harry's wrist, squeezing gently. As they stared unblinkingly into each other's eyes, Draco felt tendrils of panic wrap round his chest. Something about the intensity of Harry's gaze was causing him to have thoughts that were best left alone.
"I know it's not ideal," he said. "But look at it this way; you've already got your heir on the way, so you never have to sleep with her again."
The laughter bubbled up in his throat, and before Harry realised it, he was wiping tears from his eyes and panting breathlessly. "Thanks, Draco," he gasped. "I needed that."
Draco sat back in his chair, smiling in return, relieved to have broken whatever connection had been happening between him and Potter.
Ginny Weasley stood in the doorway of the Leaky Cauldron, her wide eyes fixed on the spectacle on the other side of the room.
Something about the easy intimacy between Harry and Malfoy caused her chest to tighten, and her breath to come in shallow pants. When Harry laughed, the sound made her want to cry; he never laughed like that with her, not anymore.
She turned away quickly, unable to watch any longer. Ginny had known, deep down, about Harry's preferences ever since she had seen him and Justin together at school. It was something she tried her hardest not to think about, and, for the most part, she was successful in this. But Malfoy was definitely a cause for concern.
Even at Hogwarts, it had been obvious to Ginny what lay behind Harry's animosity with Malfoy. It was like how little boys pulled the pigtails of the girls they had a crush on. Harry liked Malfoy, that way - Ginny knew that for sure. Hell, most of their friends knew that. It seemed the only person oblivious to his feelings was Harry himself.
Ginny had always dreaded what would happen if he ever woke up to this. That was why she had protested strongly about using Serpentine Events to plan the wedding. Even with Harry's ring on her finger, Ginny still didn't feel secure enough in their relationship to want to risk him spending so much time in Malfoy's company.
And now it looked like she was being proved right.
Tears fell from her eyes as she stumbled blindly from the pub. There was a loud crack as she Apparated directly into the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. Winky took one look at her face as she arrived and promptly scurried off to the safety of the larder.
In a fit of blinding rage and panic, Ginny swept all the dinner dishes off the table, causing them to shatter noisily on the tiled floor. She sank into a chair and buried her head in her hands, sobs racking her body.
After seeing that, there was no way she could tell Harry about the baby. She was convinced that not even the miscarriage story would be enough to keep him now. Nothing short of producing his first-born child would be motivation enough for Harry to remain by her side. Not with Draco Malfoy on the scene, looking at Harry the way he had tonight.
She roughly scrubbed away her tears with one hand, while the other slid down into her robe pocket. Her fingertips brushed against the cool, glass vial of the Fertility Potion she had persuaded the Healer to give her earlier that day.
It was time for Plan B.