This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's note: This is the fourth – and final – story in the Birthday Gift arc. Though chronologically it follows Close to the Heart, it should be read after A Light in the Shadows. Like the others, it was inspired by the lovely Betsy and coddled by the wonderful Fae. Thanks, ladies! Warnings for MPREG, slash and angst.
Two weeks and six days after Close to the Heart ends
"It's up to you, but I think you're making the right choice," Hermione said, her hands wrapped around a steaming mug of peppermint tea. Usually she shied away from flavored teas, but lately this was all that could curb her morning sickness.
Harry nodded, pushing his soggy cereal around the bowl with his spoon. He hadn't had much an appetite for the last few days. Not surprising, since he'd been grappling with whether or not to tell Draco about Leo since he came home. A week ago he'd come to the decision that it needed to be done, but he still had no idea how to do it.
"I know I am," he said, looking up to meet her eyes.
"I just can't imagine –" one of her hands fluttered to her still-flat stomach, the implication clear.
"It's different for you two. You're married, for starters, but even if you weren't, you're in a relationship with Ron. Draco and I never expected to see each other again."
Hermione bit her lip, forcing herself to fall silent. She and Harry had grown apart for the first two years of Leo's life, and she knew it was because she hadn't been able to keep her meddling to a minimum. She had no wish to repeat that, not after they'd grown so close again.
Both of them sat up a little straighter when Leo's footsteps thundered down the stairs. Harry always marveled at how someone who weighed so little could make so much noise – it sounded like a herd of hippogriffs were heading into the kitchen instead of a five-year-old boy.
"Daaad," Leo whined as he climbed up onto a stool next to Harry, frowning at the cereal in Harry's bowl.
"Hmm?" Harry responded absently, his hand shooting out to steady his son as he wobbled on the stool when he boosted himself across the counter to grab another bowl.
"That's my cereal," Leo pouted, pointing to the mostly uneaten bowl in front of Harry.
Harry looked down, surprised to find mushy moons and stars in it. He nudged a chocolate marshmallow frog with his spoon, smirking when it croaked plaintively at him.
"So it is," he said, pushing the bowl away and helping Leo pour milk over his own cereal. The marshmallow frogs began a chorus of croaks, and Harry wondered how he'd missed that when he'd poured his own cereal earlier.
Hermione watched him with a frown, taking another sip of the vile peppermint tea. She hated the taste, but she hated an unsettled stomach more. She hopped off her own stool, turning toward the counter to make herself some toast after judging her morning sickness quelled enough to eat.
He made a noncommittal noise, burying his head in the morning edition of the Daily Prophet. Sensing his father's distraction, Leo surreptitiously reached for the sugar bowl on the table, sighing when Harry Accioed it without looking up.
"You should eat something," Hermione chided, popping a few extra slices in the toaster.
She and Ron were living at Grimmauld Place at the moment, since she'd been worried about the lead paint at the ancient Muggle flat they'd been renting. They'd moved in shortly after Harry got back from his conference, promising to be out of his way as soon as they found a new place to rent, but he'd urged them to stay for awhile. The house spent most of the year closed up, and there were no shortage of rooms. He'd even offered to let them live there rent-free once he and Leo went back to Hogwarts, but Ron had been offended by the implication that he couldn't support his wife and child.
Harry mumbled something about eating earlier, but she knew it was for Leo's benefit. The dark-haired man hadn't been eating – or sleeping – well since he returned from Switzerland. She was beginning to think that Harry hadn't told them the full story. He'd been tight-lipped about what happened during the week he was gone, saying only that he'd run into Draco Malfoy unexpectedly and it had convinced him he'd done the wrong thing all those years ago when he'd decided to hide the existence of his son from him.
She slid a plate of dry toast in front of him, figuring he'd either ignore it or slather it in butter and jam like he normally did. To her surprise, he simply picked it up and ate it dry without complaint. She munched on her own dry toast, her gaze warily shifting between father and son. Something was up, she was certain of it.
One week later
"C'est tout?" Draco asked, watching the ink dry on the official-looking parchment on the desk in front of him.
He felt a slight pang at the sound of Abrielle's musical laugh. Sensing his unease, she laid her hand over his, squeezing it gently. The solicitor gave them a puzzled look, obviously confused as to why a couple who was on such good terms would be in his office, finalizing their divorce.
"Oui, Monsieur Malfoy, mais vous n'etes pas obligé de le finir aujourd'hui, si vous avez des réserves."
Draco scowled at the older man, clearly unhappy the solicitor could see his hesitation. This was the right thing to do. He knew it, Abrielle knew it; he just needed to convince his over-active conscience. A fine time for it to have surfaced, he thought sourly. He'd gone more than three decades with only the barest hints of empathy or compassion, and now they seemed to be his primary emotions.
"Il ne fait aucun doute que c'est pour le mieux, Monsieur Benoit," Abrielle answered, her hand still holding his.
"Ce n'est pas une décision á prendre sauvette," the solicitor said kindly, clearly trying to convince them to wait to file the paperwork.
"Merci, mais nous sommes certains," she said, her tone a bit firmer this time. "C'etaîs un plaisir."
Her rebuke seemed to startle the man out of his meddling, and he rose immediately, bowing graciously toward her when she stood as well, her hand still entwined with Draco's.
"Bien sûr, Madam Malfoy," the solicitor said, flushing slightly when he realized his gaff. "Pardon. Mademoiselle Marcelline."
Abrielle flashed him a smile, dropping Draco's hand so she could shake his. Draco followed suit, holding back a smirk at his wife's – no, his ex-wife's – ability to charm both men and women of any age. She could smooth over the most awkward of situations, which was one of the reasons he'd married her in the first place.
They exchanged a few more minutes of pleasantries with the solicitor before making their exit. Draco let out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding when they stepped out onto the pavement. Abrielle gave him a sympathetic look, running her hand up his shoulder and giving it a squeeze.
"Not so hard, eh?" she teased gently, tilting her head as she smiled at him. It was a gesture so endearing and familiar that it made him doubt himself all over again. What was he doing?
"Can you spare enough time to have lunch with me, or do you need to leave right away?" she asked, squeezing his shoulder again.
He blinked, swallowing his doubts. He'd made his decision, and she'd made hers. All that was left to do was to forge ahead, and Draco Malfoy was not a man who shied away from doing whatever was necessary to get what he wanted. Neither was Abrielle Marcelline, for that matter, he noted with a wry smile.
"Of course I can," he said, offering her his arm. She wrapped hers through his and they started off down the sidewalk with the ease of longtime lovers and friends. He stopped a block later, drawing her up short as he fixed her with a stern look. "But I swear to Merlin, if you use this opportunity to make some sort of scene for the papers I'll cut you off without a dime."
Abrielle laughed, a sly smirk working its way across her beautiful face.
"What if it's only a little scene?"
"Abi," he warned, pulling her along as he started to walk again.
"You're no fun," she chided, taking the bite out of her words with another tinkling laugh.
"I've known you too long," he said, impulsively pecking her on the cheek when he stopped again, this time to hold open the door to a tiny, unmarked bistro they favored.
She paused, looking him in the eye and holding his gaze for several beats. He saw nothing but understanding and love in her clear blue eyes, and her frank appraisal made something in him he hadn't realized was tense relax.
"You have," she said easily, slipping into the darkened interior of the restaurant. "And you'll continue to, Draco Malfoy. Or I will cause a scene worthy of the front page."
He grinned, rolling his eyes at her before falling back into French as he chatted with the maître d' as they were seated. He felt light-hearted for the first time since he'd walked into the hotel conference room and seen Harry at the podium. Perhaps it was possible to have everything. He'd married his best friend three years ago because both of them would benefit politically from the match and neither of them had any desire to truly be tied down. That had lasted until he'd come home from the airport three weeks ago; Abrielle had taken one look at him and instantly understood the time for their farce of a marriage was passed. In fact, she'd understood before he had. Something vital had changed during his week with Harry, and though he still couldn't quite explain it, he knew he'd never be happy without Harry by his side. And Abrielle knew it, too.
"You'll always have a special place in my heart, Abi," he said as he leaned across the table, his wicked grin making her lips twitch. "Ma petite chou. Ma belle canard. Ma –"
"Get stuffed," she sniffed with mock offense, and he laughed at the way the slur sounded in her clipped French accent. He truly would miss seeing her daily terribly, but there was no way he'd ever allow himself to lose touch with her completely.
Harry cursed fluently as he tripped over a Lego brick that Leo had left in the middle of the floor. George had gotten him a crate full as a birthday gift last year after realizing that Grandpa Arthur's love for all things Muggle had rubbed off on him. Scowling, Harry drew his wand and muttered a spell to Banish all the tiny pieces into the box they were supposed to be stored in, suppressing the urge to simply bin them all instead. He hated the blasted things, especially when they ended up underfoot in his darkened sitting room at 1 a.m. – which happened almost every night.
He muttered darkly as he picked his way gingerly across the carpet, positive his spell had gotten all of the sharp little buggers but wary anyway. He'd love to find a spell that would scatter them across George's floor in the middle of the night. He'd noticed on his last visit to George and Angelina's that the dratted toys were missing from their children's playroom. He winced when he stubbed his toe on the sofa, biting back another string of invectives. Maybe that was the solution; he'd simply buy a few sets for his darling niece and nephew for Christmas.
Harry heaved himself up the stairs, more exhausted than he could ever remember feeling. Well, that wasn't true. He'd been worse off a few years ago in the early stages of his pregnancy, but that wasn't a time he particularly liked to remember. He knew someday he'd have to tell Leo about his unconventional birth, and it wasn't a prospect he relished. He wouldn't trade the experience for anything, since it ended with his beautiful son, but even he still had a hard time believing it was possible for a wizard to have a child.
Merlin. How was he going to explain all this to Draco if he could hardly believe it himself?
Two days later
"Are you certain this is what you want?" Abrielle asked, surveying the trunks littering the entryway. Even in their shrunken state, they took up most of the room.
"Am I certain I want to go back to London?" Draco asked, cocking his head at her. "No. Or that I want to move back in with my mother after not setting foot in the Manor for years? Definitely not. But am I certain I want a chance with Harry? Yes."
She nodded, a small smile curving her lips. She loved Draco, she did. They were ridiculously compatible, both in and out of bed. She would certainly miss waking up beside him every morning – though she'd miss falling asleep sweaty and sated next to him at night more. But they'd never been more than friends, and she had plenty of lovers who could keep her bed warm. There was no way she'd stand between Draco and the love of his life, and she was certain that was what Harry Potter was. She'd known the minute she'd seen the photos from the Quidditch match that had appeared in the paper; both men had been staring at each other instead of at the trophy in the shot, and it had been clear that what connected them was more than their fabled animosity or a shared schoolboy past.
"Ah, Narcissa. Have you spoken with her?"
Draco glared at her as she smirked at him. His mother and Abrielle, against all odds, got along famously. He knew they'd spoken about his "situation" at length, and he had a feeling Abrielle knew things he didn't. It irked him.
"You know I have," he tossed back, straightening his collar. "I should go. She's expecting me."
Abrielle's impish grin turned serious. She stepped up to him, batting his hands aside as she tucked the stubborn fabric under herself, smoothing the shoulders of his robes as well. Though she and Narcissa spoke often, Draco's relationship with his mother was much more strained. She knew why, though she had both sides, not just Draco's. She was certain the revelation that his mother knew what Draco considered his deepest, most shameful secret would cause waves; she just hoped he stuck around long enough to weather the storm. Draco had a history of running when the going got tough, at least where his family was concerned. It was how he'd ended up in Switzerland, and how they'd ended up married.
She sighed at the wariness in his cool grey eyes, wishing she could ease his conscience a bit. The fact that she suspected Narcissa knew far more than she let on didn't help things; his mother had never been one to meddle, but Abrielle wondered if in this case a little meddling five years ago would have saved a lot of people a lot of heartbreak. Maybe she was wrong, though, and it was just wishful thinking on her part that Narcissa knew more than she'd told her. It would certainly simplify Draco's search if his mother already had the answers, though it might do irreparable damage to their already tense relationship.
"Be kind to her, Draco," she said, lightly kissing the corner of his mouth. "She loves you, as do I."
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak until the knot in his chest loosened.
"À bientôt," she said, patting his cheek and releasing him.
"Je t'aime," he murmured, catching her hand and pressing a kiss to her palm. "Jusqu'à la fin des mes jours, Abi."
She rolled her eyes at him affectionately, drawing a laugh from him before he Apparated away. She looked around the cluttered room, her heart both curiously heavy and light. It would be hard to adjust to life here without Draco, but she was so happy for him she could burst. Plus his living in London would give her more excuses to visit Narcissa, which could only be considered a bonus. She grinned, picking her way through the trunks toward the corridor. She had just enough time left for a bath before her date tonight with Antoine.
The next day
"Are you sure you're alright?" Ron asked, noticing for the first time how pale and ill Harry looked. Hermione had been worried about him for weeks, but Ron had dismissed her nagging as her maternal instinct kicking in early. Now he worried she might be right.
"Fine," Harry said shortly, pulling a tin of tea from the cupboard. His stomach was too unsettled for breakfast, but he desperately needed some caffeine. He'd slept alright last night, or at least he thought he had. That didn't explain why he was so bone-numbingly tired this morning, though. And irritable, he mentally amended when the sound of Ron chewing made his skin crawl.
He added a few heaping measures of tea to the whistling kettle, pulling it off the range and grabbing a mug from the counter. When he spun around to grab the sugar his stomach rebelled at the motion, clenching painfully. Harry lurched toward the sink, the smell of the steeping peppermint tea, which he'd grabbed by accident, finally reaching his nose.
"God," he groaned as the smell of the tea mingled with the scent of Ron's bacon had him heaving into the empty basin.
"That is not fine, mate," Ron said, pushing away from his stool and coming up behind Harry. He reached around him, turning the water on and wetting a kitchen towel. He held the cool cloth against Harry's flushed cheeks and neck. "You're lucky I have experience with 'Mione, or else that might have had me losing my own breakfast. That tea is the only thing that makes her stop. It's funny, really, because I remember when you were pregnant the smell of peppermint –"
He broke off, staring at Harry in horror.
"Oh, shit," Harry groaned, slumping forward and leaning his head against the faucet.
"Shit, shit, shit," Draco muttered to himself, staring at himself in his dressing room mirror. He'd been back at the Manor for less than twenty-four hours and already he felt like he was thirteen again.
At least his father wasn't still alive. He couldn't imagine having the conversation he was about to have with his mother if his father were there. It would be worse than the time he'd been caught playing Healer with the stable manager's Squib daughter at age ten, and that had been horrible. Draco rubbed at his wrist absently, remembering the two days he'd spent chained in the dungeon after that incident. If Lucius had been that angry about Draco dishonoring the Malfoy line by getting – innocently – naked with a Squib, how would he feel about what Draco was about to confess tonight?
"Shit," he muttered again, fidgeting with his Malfoy crest cufflinks and smoothing a flyaway hair. He took a deep breath, laughing at himself. If Abi were here she'd have torn into him a dozen times over for being such a coward. He briefly considered Fire-calling her and begging her to join them, but he knew she'd never agree, and the last thing his already-battered ego needed at the moment was a dressing down from her sharp tongue.
He tucked his hands into his pockets – a habit both his mother and Abrielle hated – and gave himself a stern look in the mirror. If she were here, what would Abi tell him?
"Man up, Malfoy," he growled at himself, using the phrase Abi had picked up from an American lover last year. "And stop talking to yourself."
He laughed despite himself, deciding to take his own advice. It was high past time he stopped talking to himself – and started talking to his mother.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say that your interactions with Malfoy at that conference were a little more involved than you led us to believe," George said dryly, earning himself a swat from Angelina.
"Shit," Harry muttered for the hundredth time, rapping his head roughly against the kitchen table they were all gathered around.
He'd gone to see Madam Pomfrey as soon as he'd felt well enough to Floo yesterday. The diagnosis had been much less surprising – and much quicker – this time around. Ron had gone with him, and the two of them had spent the entire exam avoiding eye contact with each other.
"Harry, really," Hermione said, shaking her head. "There are spells –"
"Which I used," he hissed, raising his head to glare at her. "Do you think I'm an idiot? I've used those spells every time I –" he tapered off, looking from George to Angelina to Ron and back to Hermione. "Well, let's just say I've used those spells every time, and it's never been a problem before."
"So what, Malfoy has some sort of super sperm or something?" George asked, grunting when Angie forwent her normal smack and elbowed him hard in the ribs.
"Something like that," Ron muttered, his cheeks flaming. "Near as we can figure, it's something about the combination of their magic."
"Well, it's good to know that, though it's a bit late," Hermione said, offering Harry a smile as truce. He grudgingly accepted, sitting back heavily in his chair. "But you'll know for the future that you can't have any more, er, casual assignations with Malfoy."
Harry cringed. He wanted a hell of a lot more than casual assignations with Draco. He'd found he missed the man's company fiercely over the last few weeks, and he'd even let himself hope that after he'd told Draco the truth about Leo there might be a chance for them to be together. Like a real family.
He sighed, running a hand over his face. Any hope of that was likely shot now. Draco hadn't wanted one child, and now he was going to have two. Not to mention the fact that he hadn't made any attempt to contact Harry in the intervening weeks; maybe he was happy with the way they left things. The thought made Harry queasy. He thought of the box of unsent letters in his desk drawer in the study. He'd added several since his week with Draco, and for the first time in nearly six years, the topics discussed in them weren't all about Leo.
"Right," he said, forcing himself to close the door on those feelings. This was about more than what he wanted now. It was about his children. Children. He'd always wanted to give Leo a brother or a sister, but he'd never imagined this would be the way he'd do it.
A week later
"Come in," Harry yelled from the kitchen when he heard the knock on the front door. The door creaked open, and he frowned when he didn't hear footsteps. He was up to his elbows in dough, shaping the scones he was arranging on the baking sheet.
"Just leave it on the table if you're in a hurry, George," he called out, his attention still on his dough. He furrowed his brow when some of it stuck as he rolled it out, reaching out to grab the canister of flour to add more to the countertop. He hated baking.
"Bugger," he muttered when he realized he'd left the canister on the island. He heard someone shuffle into the room, too caught up in what he was doing to realize the footsteps were unfamiliar. "Hand me the flour, will you? Blasted dough is sticking. How your mum manages to do this every day is beyond me."
Harry's hand was already reaching into the canister that had appeared at his elbow when his guest spoke, startling him enough that he knocked it to the floor. Flour billowed up, covering both of them.
"My mother's never baked so much as a biscuit in her life," Draco drawled, sneezing when the flour settled on his nose. He grinned, waving his hand through the air to clear the cloud of white.
"D-Draco," Harry stammered, his heart still thundering in his chest from the surprise of having Draco Malfoy walk up behind him in his kitchen.
"I'm sorry if I startled you," Draco said, his grey gaze taking in the messy kitchen and Harry's flour-coated face and clothes. "Scones? It looks like you're doing an admirable job. I'm sure Mrs. Weasley would be proud."
Harry flushed, glad he hadn't elaborated on what George had been dropping off. Molly had insisted on sending a few homemade morning sickness remedies over, despite the fact that neither Harry nor Hermione could stomach the thought of downing the vile potions.
Harry blinked, realizing he'd been staring at Draco in silence for what was probably a socially unacceptable amount of time. Though if there was any protocol for unexpectedly stumbling across the father of your children in your own home while covered in flour, he certainly hadn't heard it; a shame, really, because he could really use a bit of guidance at the moment.
"Draco," he said, flushing darker when he realized he'd already said that. Luckily the embarrassment broke through his stupor and his mind started to function again. "What are you doing here? I mean, here in my kitchen, obviously, but here in the UK, as well? I thought you'd said you wouldn't return until–" Harry's green eyes widened, fear slamming through him. "Your mother? Is she alright?"
Draco frowned in confusion. What did his mother have to do with anything? And why would Harry care if she was alright or not?
"Last time you were here you said you wouldn't return unless your mother –"
"Oh!" Draco said, remembering what he'd told Harry all those years ago. "No, Mother's fine. I had a change of heart. About the UK, that is. I've decided to come back."
Harry blew out a shaky breath. He'd been terrified there for a moment that something had happened to Narcissa. He leaned against the counter for support, his knees weakened by surprise and adrenaline. Several beats passed before he digested what Draco had said.
"You're coming back?"
Draco studied Harry's face, unsure of how to respond. The man looked shocked and slightly ill at the thought. And utterly gorgeous, even with flour dusting his dark eyelashes.
Harry watched emotions flit through grey eyes, yet again surprised by how expressive they could be. Draco's face rarely gave him away – he had the cool, aristocratic look down perfectly – but in the week they'd shared Harry had learned how to read his eyes rather well. He was surprised to see worry in them.
"That's – that's great. I'm sure Nar- I mean, your mother, is pleased," he said, biting his lip hard to stop the incoherent babble. Sure, it was unexpected, but having Draco show up in his kitchen was a good thing. It was just the opportunity he needed to tell him the truth. No pretense, no elaborate scheme to get a face-to-face meeting with him; just the opportunity to tell him point-blank about his son. And the pregnancy. Harry's stomach flipped again, his resolve wavering.
Draco's eyes narrowed at Harry's slip. He couldn't imagine Harry calling his mother by her name if he didn't know her. She was hardly the sort of woman who inspired that kind of familiarity; even Pansy, who'd known her since birth, still called her Mrs. Malfoy.
"So you're back, then," Harry said quickly, sensing the shift in Draco's attention. "That's good. I mean, if you want to be back, that's good. Did your career bring you back or something else?"
Try as he might, he couldn't help but sound a bit strangled as he ended the sentence. Even if there was any hope that Draco had come back for him, which he highly doubted, there was no way that sentiment would last after Harry's confession. He bit back a grimace. Make that confessions.
Draco watched him silently for a moment before responding. He couldn't let himself get sidetracked by Harry's apparent familiarity with his mother. He came here on a mission, and he needed to finish it before he lost his nerve.
"I – yes. A bit of both, actually," Draco said, cursing Harry for being able to reduce him to a stuttering fool. "I finally realized I was running away from my responsibilities by leaving the country. So I decided to man up, as it were, and come back."
"Man up?" Harry asked, his brows furrowing quizzically. The movement caused a tiny avalanche of flour to fall into his eyes, and he rubbed at them absently, blinking away the powdery residue.
Draco clenched his jaw, livid with himself for bringing Abrielle into this, even if Harry didn't know it. She was part of his confession, of course, but it was hardly good form to use his ex-wife's favorite expressions into a conversation about how he was in love with someone else. Even if said ex-wife was actively encouraging him to tell that other person how he felt.
Draco tried to force himself to concentrate on the task at hand. It hard, especially with Harry looking so unintentionally fetching standing there dusted in white, bits of drying, forgotten dough stuck to his forearms. He looked so domestic. Whereas a few years ago the sight would have made Draco uncomfortable, now he found it produced a curious tug in both his heart and his groin. How was it possible he found Harry sexy like this? He could easily imagine that Harry had been making those scones for him, or better yet, for the imaginary dark-headed children Draco could easily envision. Harry would want children, he was certain of that. And for that they'd need a surrogate. It was easier to envision that than to picture the alternate vision, one with a child of his own. Would he have blond hair like his? Grey eyes like the ones he inherited from Lucius or blue like his mother's? Her eyes had been different from the rest of the Black's; the child could just as easily have brown eyes, he supposed. He couldn't add in any of the child's mother's features, since he had no idea who she was.
He shook himself from his maudlin thoughts, meeting Harry's eyes. All or nothing. It wasn't very Slytherin, but if he didn't lay all his cards out on the table right now he'd never do it.
"It's an American expression. It means take the wand by the grip and do it," Draco said, not noticing Harry's continued bafflement. He'd never heard that wizarding euphemism before, but he worked it out after a moment. It meant Draco was there for a reason. Oh Merlin. It meant Draco knew.
"Draco, I –"
"No, Harry, please," Draco said, holding up his hand. "I know we said our time together was just a bit of fun, and it was. But I can't stop thinking about you. Thinking things I have no right to be thinking of, like us having a future together. Can we, Harry? Have a future together?"
The words came out in an undignified rush, and they were worlds apart from what he'd intended to say. He'd come with a plan to calmly tell Harry he wanted to pursue a relationship with him and then tell him about his marriage and the fact that he knew he had an illegitimate child out there somewhere. To tell him that if Harry was willing to work through things with him, he'd pledge to be the best partner he could, to stop shirking his responsibilities to both the Malfoy name and the child he'd known about for five years but chosen to ignore. Definitely not the sentimental drivel that had come out of his mouth when he'd opened it.
Harry's mouth snapped shut with an audible click. His heart was beating so loudly he felt certain that everyone in the house could hear it. His pulse roared so loudly in his ears that it was hard to concentrate on anything else.
"Draco, I have to tell –"
"You should know I was married up until a few days ago," Draco said, deciding to salvage as much of his original plan as possible. "She and I parted amicably. We're very good friends, and we'll remain so. The marriage was for convenience and show, nothing more."
Harry stared at him, dumbstruck. Draco had been married? To a woman? A thousand questions flew through his mind, but he couldn't force his numb tongue to voice any of them. Had he been married six years ago when they'd had sex in the club? Why hadn't Narcissa told him Draco was married? Dear Merlin, did he have children with his wife? Did Leo have half-brothers and sisters?
"There's more," Draco said, his voice growing fainter as Harry's face paled. "I have a son."
"You have a son," Harry echoed, his voice sounding brittle as it the words ricocheted around his brain. Harry felt like his chest was caving in. Draco had a son. Did he love him? Want him? Tell him bedtime stories or hold him when he was sick? All these years he'd kept Leo a secret because he'd thought Draco didn't want children, and it turns out Draco had a son?
"I do. It's part of the reason I finally decided to come back and assume my title as Lord Malfoy. To have something to pass along to my son. My heir," Draco said, feeling the familiar rush of shame blast through him.
He'd thought of his son often over the years, but he'd always reached the same conclusion; that the boy was better off without him. A child deserved more than he could offer, more than his father had been able to offer him. But now he saw how wrong he'd been. He'd made the decision out of fear that he'd be just like Lucius, but ignoring the child made him more like Lucius than anything else he could have done. And now he intended to rectify that, hopefully with Harry by his side.
"You have a son," Harry repeated again, feeling slightly hysterical.
"It's complicated," Draco said, pushing aside his pride and laying everything bare. It went against every instinct he had, but he knew he had to be honest with Harry, no matter how callous and self-centered it made him sound. "I don't know him. I just know of him. But yes, I do have a son."
Harry made a choked noise, a bit of the panic that had overwhelmed him easing. Draco didn't know his son? Was it possible that he was talking about Leo?
Draco held his hand up, letting the light from the window glint against the emerald signet ring on his finger. The stone was overlaid with a delicate replica of the Malfoy family crest wrought in platinum.
"Centuries ago, the ruling Lord Malfoy was assassinated by an illegitimate son he didn't know he had. I don't know all the details – it wasn't considered something proper for me to learn in the family history lessons," Draco said with a humorless laugh. "Back then the family still lived in France. It wasn't uncommon for the Lord to enforce droit du seigneur, so the child could have been from that. It was just as likely he'd raped a serving maid, I suppose."
Draco glanced up at Harry, heartened that a bit of color seemed to have returned to the dark-haired man's cheeks.
"At any rate, the ruling Lord hadn't sired any legitimate sons, only daughters, so the title passed to the illegitimate son who had assassinated him. And being the wise man that he was, the new Lord spelled the Malfoy signet ring to alert him whenever a male child of his line was born. It would have been easier to keep it in his trousers, I'd think, but apparently he disagreed."
Harry's lips quirked a bit at the wry joke, and Draco took that as a sign to forge on.
"About five years ago, my ring started behaving strangely. I say behaving because at times I'd swear it's sentient," Draco said, glancing down at the benign bit of platinum and emerald on his finger as though expecting it to respond.
"First it grew uncomfortably tight. Even though I'd renounced the title before I moved to Switzerland, the ring was still a part of me. I could no more remove it than I could remove my finger. It's part of the ancestral magic," he said, looking up at Harry. "It won't come off until I cede the title to my heir."
Draco blew out a breath. He didn't know whether to be worried or relieved that Harry hadn't interrupted his convoluted story. At least he was still listening; that had to count for something.
"So five years ago it started acting up. And then one night, it woke me out of a dead sleep. The metal burned so hot I thought it would brand my skin. The emerald took on this almost otherworldly glow," Draco said, staring at the ring again. It looked so harmless now, but it had terrified him that night. "It only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough. I had been well-schooled in the Malfoy ancestral magic; I knew it meant I had a son. An heir."
He kept staring at the ring, wishing he could compel it to tell him who his son was. But that wasn't how the magic worked.
"It doesn't work with daughters, I'm told. Only male descendants. Back during feudal times, the Lord would often seek out the illegitimate child and kill him, or take him from his mother and raise him as a legitimate child if there was no other male heir."
He looked up, cold fear washing down his spine at the curiously blank look on Harry's face.
"So that's how I know I have a son. I've been a horrible, selfish coward all these years, trying to hide from it. But he's out there, and he deserves to know who his family is. He deserves his inheritance, his birthright, however dubious it may be," Draco said, grimacing slightly. He'd never envisioned having children because he hadn't wanted to risk becoming his father, nor had he thought a child with the name Malfoy would ever be treated fairly. But the world had come a long way in the years since the war, and the Malfoy name was no longer the disgrace it had once been. He intended to keep working at that, for the sake of both his mother and his son. And Harry, hopefully.
"It was March," Harry said quietly, drawing Draco's gaze again. "It was 3:36 a.m. March 3rd."
Draco's throat went dry at Harry's words. How could he know? Just at that moment, he heard a thunderous noise clattering down the stairwell. Harry's eyes darted toward the kitchen door, and Draco's grey gaze followed, widening when a small boy with tousled, unruly blond hair burst through it, barreling toward Harry with impressive speed.
"Dad!" Leo called out, skidding to a stop just before he slammed into the counter. "Are the scones done yet? Because Aunt Hermione said –" he broke off, noticing Draco standing there for the first time. He pressed himself against Harry's legs, suddenly shy at the discovery of a stranger in his kitchen.
"Leo," Harry said evenly, resting his trembling hands on his son's thin shoulders. "This is Draco Malfoy. Draco, this is my son, Leo."
Draco would have sworn his heart stopped the moment the boy turned his bright green eyes on him, his perfect lips turned up in a small, shy smile.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Malfoy," Leo said, earning himself a squeeze of approval from his father. Even in his agitated state, Harry's parental instincts kicked in, forcing him to be calm.
"Tell Aunt Hermione I told her to take you out for ice cream, Leo," Harry said, his eyes still locked on Draco's.
"Yes!" Leo cried, breaking free of Harry's grasp and vanishing through the kitchen door in just a few long bounds. They heard him tear up the stairs with equal enthusiasm, the sound echoing loudly in the quiet kitchen.
The next evening
Draco sat in the solarium, staring out the bright, cheerful windows without actually seeing the grounds outside. Beside him was a box of letters – nearly three hundred of them. He'd read every single one at least a dozen times.
He had a son. With Harry. Draco rubbed at the stubble on his chin, aware for the first time since he'd come home with the box of letters that he hadn't showered or shaved since the morning he set off to see Harry. Had he even eaten? He looked around, noticing a tray with an untouched sandwich and a pot of tea. He had no recollection of any of the elves bringing that in. He'd been too caught up in the letters. Especially the last dozen or so.
He wasn't sure how it was possible to simultaneously feel that he'd known Leo all his life and also feel that he was a complete stranger, but those were the emotions warring in his chest. He felt unspeakable regret that he'd missed the first five years of Leo's life, but part of him knew Harry had been right not to tell him. He wouldn't have appreciated all this five years ago. He wouldn't have fallen in love with Leo while reading about the months he had colic or his first word or the way Harry had frantically summoned Madam Pomfrey in the middle of the night when his first tooth had sprouted. He would have seen Leo as an annoyance, and Harry, too.
Draco ran a finger down the yellowed parchment, feeling the indentations that the strokes of Harry's quill had left in the paper. He was an amazing man, Harry Potter was. He'd been blindsided by the pregnancy, but he'd stepped up and gotten through it. He was a wonderful father; that much was clear from the anecdotes he'd shared in the letters – hell, by the fact that he'd written the letters at all. Draco caressed the parchment again, marveling at the fact that Harry didn't absolutely hate him for what he'd done. By rights Harry should have been bitter and angry. He should have come to Draco immediately and demanded he take responsibility. But he hadn't. He'd silently weathered it, kept the child a secret for all their sakes, and managed to raise what seemed to be a healthy, well-adjusted child to boot.
Draco sighed as he recalled the harsh words he'd exchanged with his mother when he'd returned to Malfoy Manor yesterday afternoon, clutching the box of letters, still shell-shocked at not only meeting his son but finding out that Harry had been the mother – or would it be father? he wondered – of his child. And that his own mother had known about it for four years and hadn't told him.
He'd been shaken when his confession that he had an unknown heir had been met with a cool nod and a reprimand for not taking an interest sooner. He'd assumed her icy reproof had simply been a cover for her shock, but now he knew better. She was worried about her grandson. A grandson she'd known for more than four years, who she'd watched grow and change and mature. Things Draco would never see, because he'd been too much of a selfish arse to do the right thing five years ago.
He lifted his hand, returning the letter to the stack. Only one of the letters showed signs of numerous readings. The one on top, the most recent one, looked as though it had been crumpled and smoothed and read a hundred times. And it probably had been. Draco picked it up again, using his palm to smooth its edges again. He could have used a spell, but truth be told, he hadn't reached for his wand once since he'd been home. He needed to feel the parchment under his skin, to trace the shapes of the letters with his fingers. Harry's chicken scratch had been hard to decipher at times, but he'd managed.
Grey eyes skimmed the letter without really focusing on it. He'd read it enough to have memorized it, but he still needed to feel it in his hand. It was both terrifying and terrific. It was his chance at redemption.
"… not sure how to tell you this. You'd think it would be easy, given it's not the first time this has happened. Though in a way, it is. It's the first time I've wanted to tell you news like this. With Leo, I was so shocked that it was even possible that I couldn't wrap my brain around how to tell you. And then when I'd finally decided to, it was too late. But this time, this time is different. This time I don't want to tell you out of obligation. I want to tell you because I want you here with me. I want you to experience this as not just this child's father, but as my partner.
So, Draco, here goes. I'm pregnant. Again. With your child. Again. So much for Contraceptive Charms, eh? Madam Pomfrey and the experts at St. Mungo's tell me this defies everything they know about male pregnancy, not that they know a lot. The first time around we didn't know to be careful, but I was vigilant about using the spells every time we were together in Switzerland. They should have worked. But they didn't.
Angelina says it's magic, and I suppose it is. Our magic. It's what's necessary for two wizards to have a child together in the first place, but something about us is so potent, so right, that even the strongest spells can't stop it.
I was so conflicted after I left Switzerland. I knew I had feelings for you, but I wasn't sure yet what that meant. Did I risk Leo and tell you everything? Did I content myself with the time we'd spent together and leave well enough alone?
I'd just convinced myself that we might have a future when I found out I was pregnant again. It scared the hell out of me, Draco. It still does. I have no idea what this means for us. Can we be together? Is this compatible magic we share a blessing or a curse? Does it mean we belong together or that we shouldn't be together?
I wish I had the answers. I wish I had the courage to send you this letter. I wish I'd told you about Leo years ago. I wish so many things.
No matter what, I refuse to be anything but glad this happened. Leo is asleep upstairs as I write this, a perfect little miracle with your mischievous mind and my disposition, a perfect mix of the two of us. Unruly hair like mine with your blond coloring. The green eyes I inherited from my mother with the same depth your grey ones have. I can only hope this child growing inside of me represents the two of us half as well. But of course she will; she was made by the same magic that made Leo. Madam Pomfrey tells me it's a girl, by the way. A little girl to spoil and love; a sister for Leo. Another constant reminder of you.
It's getting ridiculous, this habit of writing to someone who doesn't even exist. Because you don't, not really. The pieces of you that I have, the parts that I know, they aren't nearly the whole. How can they be, when the sum total of our relationship is one drunken night six years ago and a week in a hotel in Switzerland? But I want to know you, Draco. I want you to know me. To know our children. And you would, if only I had the courage to send this. I save each and every letter I write you in the hopes that someday I will find that courage, and that you'll forgive me.
Six months later
Ron burst out of the Floo, nearly knocking Madam Pomfrey down in his rush.
"It's time!" he cried, his eyes wide and frantic.
"Mr. Weasley, do calm down," she chastised, stepping around him when he moved to block her path.
"But it's time! The baby's coming!"
She hid a small smile behind the stack of linens she was carrying. She bundled them and the other things she'd need into a carryall, glancing around the empty infirmary to double-check no students had entered when she'd been in her office. Seeing none, she flicked her wand at the double doors, locking them. She sent a Patronus to Minerva with another flick, ensuring the part-time Mediwitch they'd taken on to help her in the infirmary would be summoned to take her place.
"Well, get on with it, then," she said, shooing Ron back toward the Floo.
Harry was sitting on the bed with his arm wrapped around Hermione when she entered the bedroom at Grimmauld Place. The witch was flushed and sweaty, her long brown hair pulled into a messy knot at the back of her neck to keep it out of the way. It was clear she'd been laboring for awhile before sending her husband to fetch the Mediwitch.
Poppy surveyed the sea of redheads that had crowded into the room, shaking her head with a tsking sound.
"If you didn't have a hand in putting that baby in there, then out with you," she said sternly, ignoring Harry's laugh and Molly's squeak of indignation. Hermione had made it clear to her early on that she wanted no one but her husband – and Harry, who was her labor coach – present at the birth. "Out, I said. I'm sure Mr. Weasley will keep you well informed."
When the door had shut behind the last visitor, Hermione groaned, leaning heavily against Harry.
"Why? Why did I decide to do this here instead of at St. Mungo's?"
"I have no idea," Harry said, pressing a kiss to her sweaty forehead. "I told you I thought you were barmy. But it's too late now. Just focus. Everything will be fine."
Draco nearly took the door off its hinges as he burst through it, his breath coming in pants as he tore into the sitting room. He'd been having lunch with Abrielle in Switzerland when he'd gotten Ron's nearly incomprehensible Fire-call about the baby coming. She rushed in behind him, her usually perfectly coiffed hair mussed from the Portkey ride.
"Where is he? Is he alright?"
George looked up, faintly amused.
"He's fine, mate. Up there," he said, nodding toward the stairs.
Draco ran up the stairs, tripping over the rug. Why was Harry here and not at St. Mungo's? If he was in labor, he needed to see a Healer right away. Fear burned through Draco's chest as he steadied himself against the wall, his sweaty palms sliding against the slick wallpaper. He was just about to call out to Harry when a door down the corridor opened.
"Draco?" Harry asked, grimacing slightly as he stretched. "Why are you back so early?"
Draco gaped at him.
"Why am I back? You're in labor!"
Harry looked down at the mound of his belly, then back at Draco.
"No, I'm not. Hermione just had her baby. A boy. Colin Barnaby Weasley."
Draco sagged against the wall, his muscles turning to mush the moment the adrenaline left him. He'd misunderstood Ron's message, obviously. He'd been so scared that Harry was frightened and in pain, waiting alone – everything Draco had sworn he wouldn't be this time around. Not that he'd been alone last time. Draco knew Ron had been with him, but it wasn't the same.
"Oh, thank Merlin," Draco managed to murmur, sitting heavily on the carpet that had tripped him.
Harry grinned at him, running his hand through his husband's fine blond hair. They'd been married in a small, private ceremony by Kingsley two months ago, but it still didn't seem real.
"I've got to go give everyone the good news," Harry said, winking at him. "Why don't you sit here and catch your breath? They want a few minutes alone, so you have some time to recover before the Red Horde descends."
Draco grinned weakly at Harry's use of the term he – mostly – affectionately applied to Harry's adopted family. He'd gotten used to the Weasleys, but they could still be a bit much for him in large doses. Draco's hand shot out as Harry started to move away, grabbing his and pulling him closer. He rested the hand against his cheek, turning his face slightly so he could kiss it.
"I love you," he said softly, smiling up at Harry.
"I love you, too," Harry said with a goofy grin, pulling his hand back so he could make his way downstairs to share the news.
Two months later
"She's absolutely beautiful," Narcissa cooed, nuzzling against the small bundle in her arms. "Lyra Elizabeth. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl."
Draco watched his mother snuggle with her new granddaughter, smiling at the picture they made. Lyra was dark where Narcissa was light; dark hair, olive skin. Only when she opened her eyes – the same piercing grey as Draco's – was the Malfoy influence obvious.
He shifted Leo's warm weight in his arms, reveling in the chance to hold his son. Leo rarely allowed anyone to cuddle with him anymore; he was too old for that, he protested, so Draco was taking advantage of his exhaustion and cuddling him close as he slept. He'd been so excited about his new baby sister that he'd completely worn himself out.
"They both are," Draco murmured, careful not to wake Leo.
Narcissa looked over at her son, her heart swelling with pride. She could hardly believe the change in him. Gone was the mini-clone of Lucius she'd despaired over during his teenage years; gone was the selfish, self-absorbed man who'd chosen to turn his back on his family instead of trying to salvage it. She barely recognized the beaming, tired man he'd become, and she loved him even more for it.
"You all are," she said softly, cradling Lyra in her arms as she watched Draco settle a sleeping Leo next to Harry on the bed. He'd be a guest of St. Mungo's for a few days, but other than that he'd come through the birth perfectly healthy. Exhausted, but perfectly healthy. Another miracle.
"We all are," Draco echoed, smiling tiredly when she handed Lyra to him.
Two months later
"Come on, Draco, you're killing me," Harry groaned, flopping back onto the pillows with a sigh.
"I don't want to chance hurting you," Draco protested, frowning as Harry pulled a pillow over his own head to muffle his scream of frustration.
They'd just gotten Lyra down for the evening, and neither of them wanted to chance waking her, despite the Silencing Charms they'd blanketed their room with. Even if they hadn't had small children, the Silencing Charms would have been a must, considering they were living at the Manor with Narcissa. Both Harry and Draco had the summer off, but Narcissa would be the one to watch the children when both of them returned to work in the fall, Harry to Hogwarts and Draco to a new job at the Ministry.
"The Healers say I'm completely recovered. In fact, they've been saying that for more than a month now," Harry said, taking the pillow off his face so Draco could hear him.
Draco leaned back, fighting his own temper. It was killing him, too, this enforced abstinence. And he logically he knew sex wouldn't hurt Harry. But what about the very real possibility of another pregnancy? The Healers had warned that each pregnancy carried a higher risk than the one before it, and as of now they had no idea how to prevent Harry from getting pregnant. None of the spells Harry had tried before had worked, and the Healers were puzzled by it.
"Harry," he warned when he felt Harry's hand skate over his half-erect cock. The moment his fingers caressed the cloth-covered flesh Draco went completely hard, making Harry chuckle lowly. The rough sound made Draco shiver.
"You seem willing," Harry said, teasing Draco's cock with slow, firm strokes through his pajamas.
"It's not that I'm not willing," Draco hissed through clenched teeth.
Harry had launched a very effective campaign of seduction two weeks ago after getting the final all-clear from his Healers, but so far Draco had managed to resist. He'd wanked himself raw and given and received more blow jobs than he'd ever imagined possible, but he'd successfully deterred them from going any further.
Harry increased the pressure of his strokes, lowering his head to run the flat of his tongue over Draco's nipple. Draco groaned, wondering if tonight was the night his resolve would fail.
"I want you," Harry murmured, his breath hot against the wet flesh. Draco's gasped, writhing against the hand that was currently wrapped around his rock hard cock. "I need you. Please, Draco."
Draco groaned when Harry moved on top of him, rocking their bodies together. He ran his hand through Harry's hair, cupping his hand around the back of his head and pulling him down for a kiss. He could almost taste Harry's desperation in the kiss, and it drove him over the edge. He wrapped his free arm around Harry's naked torso, rolling them so he was on top of Harry.
"Alright," he panted against Harry's lips, diving in for another scorching kiss.
"Alright?" Harry murmured against his lips, his entire body shuddering at the word.
"Yes," Draco gasped against him, grinding their erections together. Even through the thin fabric of their pajama trousers, he could feel the heat and weight of Harry's cock. "Merlin, yes. I've been going crazy. Want you. Need you."
Harry made a wordless sound of pleasure, wriggling out from underneath Draco so he could pull his trousers off. Draco nearly fell off the bed as he did the same, but both of them were too far gone to see the humor in it.
"Can't wait to feel you in me," Draco murmured as he sucked the salty skin behind Harry's ear, his hands roving over golden skin and hard muscles.
The Healers had speculated that since their magic was the cause of their fertility, either of them could potentially get pregnant. Harry tensed at Draco's words, shocked that the blond wanted him enough to disregard their advice. Draco had been adamant that neither of them should bear another child. The risks were just too great.
"Draco," Harry said, repeating himself several times before catching the blond's attention. "Draco, listen to me. Did you think I'd let you take a risk that you won't let me take?"
It took a moment for the words to register in the thick haze of arousal in Draco's mind, but when they did, he snapped to attention.
"Better me than you," he said simply, moving in to kiss Harry again.
"Don't be an idiot," Harry growled, pushing him away and rolling to his side to fish for something in the bedside table. Draco sat up, watching him curiously when he rolled back over with a foil packet.
"If you'd listened to me when I explained this we could have been having sex weeks ago," Harry said with a scowl as he tore into the packet.
Draco frowned as he watched Harry ease whatever had been in the packet down over his erection. It looked like a thin coating of some sort, almost like a balloon. He tried to remember what Harry had told him when he'd started his campaign for sex, but it was all muzzled at the moment. It had something to do with Muggles, he was sure of that. Though how Muggles could prevent pregnancy better than spells was beyond him.
"It's a condom, Draco," Harry said as Draco stared at him. "A Muggle device that puts a barrier between your semen and your partner. No semen, no pregnancy. Are you following me?"
Draco squinted at Harry's erection dubiously.
"Oh, for God's sake," Harry hissed, pushing Draco back on the bed and grabbing his wand. He was too impatient to do this entirely the Muggle way.
Draco squirmed against Harry as the Lubrication and Stretching Spells took effect, his flagging erection jumping back to life immediately when it made contact with Harry's warm, firm thigh. He ground against him, unable to hold back a groan of disappointment when Harry arched away from him.
"Eager now, aren't you?" Harry teased, positioning himself at Draco's entrance. The blond moaned, pushing himself up to try to force Harry inside.
"I should make you beg for it, since you've been withholding sex," Harry said sternly, laughing when Draco's grey eyes opened, swirling with concern.
"But that punishes me, too," he said as he pushed inside with one fluid motion, not stopping until he was fully seated.
"Fuck," Draco gasped, writhing against him. It had been years since he'd bottomed for anyone, but the foreign sensation was a pleasant one.
"So good," Harry murmured, watching Draco's muscles tense as he grazed his prostate with every other stroke.
"Mmm," Draco groaned, deciding he didn't care if he got pregnant, so long as Harry didn't stop what he was doing.
"So fucking good," Harry repeated, bringing up a hand to wrap around Draco's neglected erection as he thrust into him.
Unable to hold back, Harry snapped his hips forward, driving even deeper into Draco. The blond arched and cried out, spurting his release into Harry's hand. Harry pumped into him, collapsing against him as his own orgasm tore through him, wringing wave after wave of pleasure out of his tired body.
Draco made a sound of protest when Harry immediately started to pull out, but the dark-haired man didn't stop. He sat back, peeling the used condom off and tossing it in the trash bin beside the bed he'd placed there two weeks ago for specifically that purpose.
He stretched contentedly, curling his body around Draco's when he laid back down.
"The only downside of Muggle condoms is you have to pull out right away," Harry said with a yawn, scooting closer to Draco despite their sweat-soaked skin. They hadn't had sex – real sex – in months, since the Healers thought it too risky in the later stages of Harry's pregnancy. It had been the first time Draco had bottomed, and while Harry had enjoyed it, he had to admit he preferred it when Draco topped.
"So you really think these condone things will work?" Draco asked sleepily, his eyes already closed.
"Condoms, and yes, they will definitely work," Harry said, rolling his eyes.
"Mmm," Draco murmured noncommittally, already half-asleep.
Harry watched Draco succumb to sleep, enjoying the way his face relaxed. He looked so much like Leo when he was asleep. Harry snuggled down beside him, shivering slightly in the cool breeze from the open window as the sweat cooled on his skin. He was nearly asleep himself when Lyra started to fuss, her cries amplified by the Monitoring Charm they'd set in her room.
"I've got her," Harry murmured when Draco stirred.
He grabbed his pajama trousers, stepping into them on his way to the nursery. He opened the door, startling the house-elf who had already appeared to feed her. Harry couldn't get used to the thought of having a house-elf nanny, something that frustrated both Draco and Narcissa.
"I can do that," he said softly, thanking the elf when she handed Lyra and the bottle over. Harry settled into a rocking chair near the window so he could look out over the gardens as Lyra sucked contently on the bottle.
He looked down at her when she sighed contentedly, her tiny fists unclenching as she drifted back to sleep. He wouldn't mind having more children, but Draco was right to worry. It was too soon to be thinking about another one, anyway. He burped her gently, stroking her soft cheek before putting her back in her crib.
Unable to help himself, Harry took a detour on the way back to his suite, checking in on Leo. He couldn't help but grin when he saw the way the boy had sprawled over his bed, taking up every available bit of space. It was exactly the way Draco slept. Harry eased into the room, bending to pick up the ratty stuffed dragon with its even rattier green velvet collar. Leo had never questioned the addition, and Draco hadn't said anything about it, either, though Harry knew he'd noticed it when he'd first seen the toy.
Harry ran a finger over the worn velvet, stroking it softly before tucking the dragon back into Leo's arms. He smiled as he thought about Draco wearing it for years. He didn't bother regretting the time they'd wasted getting together; after all, they were together now, and that was all that mattered.