The Black Bunny
Tom's eyes snapped open an hour before dawn, his usual time of waking. He was not pleased to turn over and find Harry missing from bed and Nagini resting in his place. Nagini! Where's my minx? he demanded and slammed a hand next to the slumbering snake's triangular head. Nagini slowly uncoiled and shifted around to her displeased and deranged looking master.
I don't know where your young wizard has gone, Master, she replied, also sounding on the large side of grumpy. But it has not been long since he interrupted my sleep the first time.
Impertinent snake! Do not forget who allows you to sleep warmly in this bed!
Nagini shifted some more. Shifted right off the bed, hissing under her breath as she did so. Never will I get uninterrupted sleep here.
You are exiled from my bed!
It is young master's bed too, Master.
Tom snarled at Nagini's swiftly retreating form as she slithered into the shadows of a corner, disappearing into a hidden entrance to one of the many tunnels created for the sole purpose of the ungrateful reptile's use to travel all around the manor. Once she was gone and no longer within his shouting range, Tom returned to lying on his back and took a moment to gather himself before climbing from bed.
He committed his morning duties in the usual timely fashion- irked because Harry wasn't lounging on the bed half snoozing and half watching him move around with sleepy annoyed eyes. And Tom was annoyed because he'd grown accustomed to that particular routine, it was important to him, and he knew once the babies were born… many things would change.
Harry was in the kitchen, doing as he usually did. Keeping on top of the orders. He didn't like getting backed up. Tom hovered in the doorway to take a moment and absorb the chaos that was now his kitchen. It was mostly quiet chaos but elves raced back and forth between stations made up in different sections of the area. Each station apparently concocting some sweet or other.
Currently Harry was working on a wedding cake. A large one from the looks of it. Three round tiers were set out on paper along the far counter. Two of those had already been based and put in stasis. Harry stood in front of the third- the largest- and it rested on a decorating stand. Tom moved a few steps to his right in order to see more clearly what Harry was doing and corrected himself. A rotating decorating stand. Why did he even have this information?
Harry's back was turned to the entranceway, his entire concentration was on the job at hand, and since Tom didn't want to disturb him, he turned his attention back to the house elves. Usually he kept only two at any given time but a third elf had been brought on for general work after Tally defected to Harry. And once M. R.'s had taken off, he supplied Harry with four more. Every one of the little creatures were blissfully happy working for Harry and they apparently helped loads with the baking. Hermione didn't much care for the kitchen anymore.
Harry finally stepped back from the cake, placing the spatula in a bowl close by and Tom finally approached. Making his way across the kitchen, he briefly thought about the conference he was having with several Heads of Departments and his following meeting with Hermione, who would also be attending the conference. Some unwisely disagreed with him on Miss Granger's promotion, but those closest to him- those whose opinions he genuinely valued- joined in with his assessments on the muggleborn. Severus had even given her high praises once he'd been promised those praises would never reach Granger's ears. Ever.
"Morning," Tom muttered just before pressing against Harry's back and twisting the brat around in his arms. Harry's eyes were bright and smiling but Tom didn't give him the chance to return his greeting as he was already kissing him; tenderly yet thoroughly. Arms locked as tight as he could manage.
"Tom," the minx laughed breathlessly when his lips had been released.
"You are not to leave the bed before me again," he demanded.
Harry laughed some more and threw his arms around his neck. Tom kissed him again. Couldn't seem to help it. Couldn't seem to stop. It was disappointing having to leave Harry, to leave home, but unfortunately the next two days were going to be busy for both of them. He consoled himself with the knowledge Harry was leaving for a few months to Spain at the end of the second day.
"Aren't you supposed to be on the lookout?"
Neville squirmed within his captor's grip and was able to turn his head a fraction to stare at the air beside the stairs. Stairs he and his partner were barely hidden under. "I'm trying. Really, I am," he gasped out and then bucked his hips against his captor's when a hand was pressed firmly over his panting mouth.
"Hush now esteemed leader of ours," Nathan purred, his black eyes solely on Neville's face. "We are keeping in character and those around us expect me to take this little darling tramp right here in the closest half private place I could find. I've paid for him."
"You did what?" Harry hissed.
"It's alright," Neville murmured around Nathan's hand. He swallowed thickly and moaned when Nathan's teeth softly latched onto his Adam's Apple. "W-we are in character. We've heard…uh… we've heard loads of fun facts." Neville gasped again and his head fell back against the wall. "Piss off now. I… sweet, Merlin, I'm actually enjoying this."
Harry smirked as he turned away, listening to Nathan's smug chuckle and Neville's moans of submission. And they were being truthful. They were in character. Nathan as himself- a vampire and a paying customer. And Neville as a glamoured sixteen year old prostitute within one of the permanent black markets. A huge warehouse turned into a bar/inn/gambling house/whorehouse/shopping center. So far he and his Silvers had learned of three more of these places within Great Britain, and two handfuls around the world. He wasn't concerned with the rest of the world at the moment.
As he usually did at the beginning of every shift, Harry was going around under his Invisibility Cloak checking up on all his people before he took up his own post for a couple of hours. He preferred walking around like this, under complete invisibility. He saw and heard more this way. Even while disguised, he and his team had a hard time catching useful information because people around them were just naturally reserved. Half expected since this was a secretive organization they were trying to learn about and take over. Everybody had secrets and everyone wanted to keep those secrets. But luckily for the Silvers they had the twins, and try and keep a secret from them.
Towards the end of his shift, Harry was found sitting up high in the rafters within the corner, watching everything that went on below and taking voice recordings with his wand when he thought it would be prudent.
"How did you get up here?" a hard voice demanded.
Harry turned to look at the vacant air beside him, cocking a brow at the annoyed and demanding tone. "You shouldn't be here."
"I will have an answer."
Harry blew out a breath and turned his attention back to the crowds below and away from the disillusioned husband sitting next to him. "Give me a break, Tom. It's my last night on Silver detail. Let me enjoy it at least. And it's not like I'm in a dangerous spot," he ended, waving at his darkened corner. In fact he was sitting on the cross boards where the rafters met. "If you must know, I used a lightening charm on myself and climbed up the ladder over there," he pointed to the wall behind, closest to his perch. It was at least eight feet from where they were sitting. "And then I sort of… floated across."
"What nonsense is this? The utter careless-"
Harry grinned. Tom caught on. He wished he could see the look on Tom's face. "Guess all that practice paid off. Thank you for teaching me."
"I had no idea you would master the ability so quickly. Nearly as quickly as I did, Harry."
"I had a brilliant teacher."
"I'm incredibly proud of you," Tom whispered in astonishment.
Harry remained silent because he was much too busy being a sappy emotional wreck beneath his cloak. Tom remained with him on his perch for the remainder of his shift and he didn't even say anything when Harry scooted over to snuggle against his side; shoving at Tom until he was forced to wrap an arm around Harry to keep him from making them both fall.
The following afternoon found Harry back on a wedding job and barely able to keep his bloody eyes open. At least he was sitting down. Draco had ordered him to a seat fifteen minutes ago.
"Did you know you look to be as far along as Harry Potter? I bet your due dates are very near."
A small breath of annoyance left Harry. "Firstly, Harry Riddle and his husband aren't the only ones to keep on living their lives, so yes it's entirely possible we were fucked at the same time by our partners. However, Melody, he's having twins. I'm quite certain I am not."
"Did you know David knows Potter?"
Harry's eyes shifted over to where Draco was standing in front of a table covered in plates of wedding cake. The prat was grinning and looking at him from the corner of his eye. "David gets around. And it's Harry Riddle. Riddle. He tends to become cross when people conveniently forget he's taken his husband's name."
"How do you know-"
"Melody, go down and make sure enough pieces have been cut," Draco interrupted, causing Harry to sigh in relief. The only reason why he was sitting was because he needed a short break and Melody's incessant chatter was not instilling a sense of rest in him. Thankfully she followed Draco's directions quickly and without complaint. They were way above her on the staff ladder and could get her sacked.
Harry watched her walk off and then allowed his attention to wander across the pretty garden where dozens of tables were spread about full of wedding guests eating their wedding cake and engaging in half drunken conversations. He smiled a little, looking forward to Draco's wedding. "Catering has become old real fast. I much prefer to stay in the kitchen."
"After tonight you won't ever have to do it again if you don't want to… You look tired."
"Busy, busy, busy."
"How late were you out last night?" Draco watched Harry shrug and then shift and drop his head back until he was looking at the gray sky. He was actually surprised his mate was still awake, knowing full well Harry had been out late last night for Silver business and had been up before dawn finishing orders and making sure everything ordered for the wedding was perfect and ready to go. "How are you still running?"
"I should tell on you."
"But you won't."
Draco huffed and sat next to him. "I should."
"And I appreciate that you want to and yet you won't."
Draco climbed to his feet again, glaring now. "I won't this time, but only if you go home. Everything's winding down here. No need for both of us to remain. I'll have enough help to pack up. Go get some sleep, Harry. I'm not taking no for an answer. Disappear."
Harry held out his arm. Draco took it and helped him stand. And then Harry embraced him, hugging his best mate tightly. "Thank you, Draco," he whispered.
"Moron," Draco replied, though it was clear he was smiling, and he returned Harry's embrace before pulling back.
"Think I'll visit Tom in a bit. Haven't seen him up there yet in his new egocentric office, doing ruler of all Wizarding Britain things. I bet it's massive."
"As long as you don't do anything exhausting."
With promises that he wouldn't, Harry returned home and he really had planned to go and visit Tom at the Ministry, but once he was standing in his room and faced with his bed, Harry decided a nap would be much better. He stood at the side of the massive bed and stripped before eagerly crawling under the covers, scooting himself to the center of the bed and cocooning the blankets and sheets around him. After grabbing Tom's pillow and hugging it against his chest, he was asleep in seconds.
The incessant quivering of his bladder and the hateful afternoon sunlight was the only reason why he woke before he wanted and he didn't do so gracefully. He wasn't quite ready for his nap to end nor was he ready to crawl out of bed but it was kind of an emergency. Disgruntled cursing commenced, Harry threw back the covers and crawled out of bed. He was in such a hurry to get to the loo that he didn't bother collecting his spectacles on the way and since he was still so tired and eyes hardly open yet, he ran into a stone pillar on the way to the lavatory.
"When was this put here?" he started patting the pillar in front of him; hands moving up, down, around. And then when he tried to move around the pillar and it moved to block him again, Harry growled lowly in frustration. He had to go!
"Perhaps if you open your eyes," the pillar suggested in a condescending drawl.
"Too much work," he replied while allowing his hands to travel back up and pat what he was now coming to realize was a chest.
"You are going to trip and break your neck," Tom said flatly as Harry's hands made it up to his neck.
Harry rose up for a blind kiss before answering. "Aren't you supposed to be at the Ministry? I was going to visit you after the wedding but I ended up taking a nap."
Harry made a sound of agreement as he stumbled around Tom to the bathroom, only half surprised when a hand grabbed his elbow and directed him so that he wouldn't trip and hurt himself. Tom then left the bathroom to give Harry a semblance of privacy. Leaning against the wall just outside the door, he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose in irritation. "A nap?" he murmured again.
"Yes, a nap, Tom. Did you wake up deaf this morning?"
Tom shook his head. "Harry, it's the day after the Sinclair wedding. In fact it's nearly tea time."
Neither said anything else while Harry finished his business. It sounded like he'd swallowed the entire Black lake. Harry then let out a groan of relief when his bladder was nearly empty and Tom couldn't help but snort in amusement.
"Are you listening to me?" Harry cried.
"No." The amused quivering of Tom's voice indicated otherwise.
"Pervert," Harry muttered.
Tom moved away from the doorway and since the shower had just turned on, continued on into the sitting room, debating on how to proceed. It would not be an easy conversation. Harry was likely to blow up, but he couldn't let his husband continue the way he was. Clearly he was exhausting himself.
"Not a nap then."
Tom looked up to find Harry lingering just inside the door, looking freshly showered and dressed. "You slept for a very long time."
"Didn't mean to," Harry said; approaching and then perching on Tom's lap. He raised his hands, fingertips brushing against Tom's sharp cheeks; thumbs lightly brushing down the sides of his nose and over his lips. He frowned as he studied the face so close to his own. Tom had little smudges under his eyes. His cheeks were also hollower. They'd both been so busy recently he hadn't noticed if Tom had been eating regularly or not. "You look tired too," he whispered softly. "I haven't been taking care of you properly."
Tom stared into Harry's eyes, losing himself as always when confronted with the strength of his love and the depth of his devotion. "Nonsense."
"You're working too hard, Tom."
"That's not it at all, my love," he replied with a small smirk. "It is simply exhausting trying to keep up with you."
Harry pulled back and matched Tom's flat expression with one of his own. "Thinking you're funny when you're really not is world domination suicide. Don't do it, love. Don't kill your victory."
Tom's severe expression dissolved into a grin. The grin only Harry ever saw. They spoke of little things for the next few moments; Tom asking about the success of the last nuptial catering job and Harry asking after his work, and how he was getting on at the Ministry.
"You need to slow down," Tom finally stated.
Harry took a moment to answer, being too busy nuzzling his husband's cheek with a happy little sigh. Finally he said, "I'll do it on one condition…" Tom answered with silence. "I want you to come home every day at noon and nap with me."
A quick shifting of bodies quickly found Harry's arse on the cushion and Tom falling over him. The dark wizard's expression changed yet again and Harry was faced with the charming visage of Tom Riddle. An effective weapon, to be sure. "Harry-"
"Every day," Harry interrupted, having sort of built up an immunity to Tom's charm… when it really mattered.
Harry knew he was the victor. True, it galled Tom to leave off work in the middle of the day, and yet if he did this not only would Harry cut down his own work load but he would also make sure to rest in the day. Two victories for Tom since all he wanted was Harry to be well rested and healthy and safe. Tucked away preferably. Maybe it was old fashioned or maybe it was Tom's obsessive possessiveness, Harry wasn't sure, but if it got him what he wanted as well, he didn't care either way. Tom would agree to this and make both of them happy.
"I will return home daily to lunch with you," Tom said and then dipped his head, lips brushing over Harry's t-shirt clad chest. Even through the cloth Harry could feel his hot breath. He arched when a nipple was found and caught between teeth, shirt and all. The slightest of pressure applied and Harry's head fell back limply, a moan vibrating in his throat. "Sleeping may not be all that we do."
"Oh, we can start today! Right now."
Harry's eager smile faded when his stomach growled loudly. He started shaking his head when Tom began to pull away. "Tea first."
"Later. It can be later, Tom," insisted Harry as he desperately snatched at Tom's robes to pull him back down.
Tom laughed and pulled away from his pawing hands. Harry looked extremely put out. Finally he huffed. "So I have your oath you'll come home every lunch?"
"You have it."
"I had planned to slow down whether you agreed or not. Just so you know," Harry shot back as he rolled to his feet and caught up with Tom. "It would be really wicked if we installed a slide right here," he said once they reached the stairs, tapping the banister and looking down to the ground floor. "Can we do it? Bet you would look massively evil sliding down it."
"But these stairs are a right pain," Harry responded, laying a palm on his stomach which was large enough now that no clothing could hide the fact he was pregnant.
"No to the slide," Tom replied while wrapping an arm around Harry's back and leading him down. "But I'll think of something for you."
They took lunch out in the garden since winter was coming upon them and soon it would be too cold to enjoy dining outdoors unless they were at the villa. Harry ate everything he was given, plus another plate and a half. And though Tom was pleased about this, he couldn't help but stare at some points at what Harry was eating and how fast. But at least the minx remembered his manners.
"Would it be alright with you if I drop by to see you at the Ministry sometimes?" Harry asked after desert had been eaten and Tom had shifted to recline on his back, drawing Harry over until he had his young wizard settled next to him on his side.
"I would be pleased if you did," Tom answered as he dropped a hand on his husband's swollen stomach.
Harry was nearly five months along now and had stopped looking in the mirror a week ago. He also tried to keep from looking down at his stomach and had started to use a glamour so that he wouldn't be tempted to look, explaining he wanted to see a notable change in the growth of his stomach and he couldn't do that if he looked at his stomach every day, every hour.
As it tended to do, time went by fairly quickly and another month passed in the blink of an eye. During this time Tom had two lifts installed in their home, one for each wing of the castle. He only ever used the lifts when he was with Harry. He'd also rearranged their bedroom a bit, knowing once he and Harry returned from Spain, he would be spending a lot of time in their chambers. Harry would no doubt be put on bed rest by that stage of the pregnancy.
One afternoon found Harry standing in the bedroom. He blew out a breath and finally stepped in front of a full length mirror next to the wardrobe. Once he'd taken a good long look at himself, he turned away with a wide grin and did a little dance in place.
Tom coughed from where he stood just inside the door. Harry froze with a wide eyed look at his husband. "I saw all of that," he announced as he walked further into the room. Harry raced into the bathroom.
"You're not supposed to be home yet!"
"Well here I am."
Tom walked into the bathroom to find Harry had quickly thrown a shirt on, as his task had been completed. He felt a grin form on his lips. "Does this mean you'll stop using me as a mirror?"
"I suppose. But it's not as if you don't like looking at me."
Tom moved closer and soon his hands were eagerly touching the reason Harry was in such a bubbly mood. The swell of his stomach was more defined now and hardening. Harry had wanted to surprise himself to see how big he'd grown and Tom had been able to see the babies steadily growing day to day.
They were both happy with this method of observation. And while Tom was aware of Harry's increasing annoyance with the changing of his body and hormones, he himself was fascinated by it. So much in fact that Harry should never question his attractiveness even while heavily pregnant. Every night he took to exploring Harry's body and studying every minute detail, every change, and he made these nightly studies very enjoyable for the little minx.
"Is the Malfoy-Snape up the duff yet?"
"Both Severus and Lucius would hex you for your choice of words."
"Let me rephrase. Has the stallion mounted the stallion-mare and produced magnificent offspring yet?"
Tom turned away before the amusement could show on his face, though Harry saw it anyway. "They've wanted children together for years. Of course it's happened already. And Severus was never one to loiter once I'd given him a mission. It was probably a relief to not have to remember to keep careful every single time. Over twenty years of conception spells… Knowing Severus, it was probably a huge pain for him. Lucius wouldn't have bothered, probably hoping for an accident. Occasionally he can be irresponsible at the worst of times. Ever since he was a boy."
Harry laughed as he couldn't imagine Lucius doing something like that. He followed after his husband and hopped on the bed. "When are we going to hear about it?"
At the wardrobe, Tom discarded his outer robes. "After Yule, I suspect," he replied and made his way across the room to the right corner beside the balcony doors. This corner was more of a nook; done in dark woods with shelf after shelf of books and two high back chairs tucked inside and a soft dark blue carpet. Harry never sat there to read because the chairs were uncomfortable. Usually he would curl up on the bed while Tom remained in the corner.
Harry laughed at first when Tom built 'the reading corner' three weeks ago and he didn't dare tell Tom it reminded him of something one could probably find in any child care. After the project was finished, Tom reasoned it was for the best since the library and their offices weren't anywhere near the nursery. Harry hadn't said anything to that. But he had stopped laughing and dragged Tom down to the kink room. Tom didn't care he missed a meeting that afternoon.
The lovemaking wasn't as vigorous anymore. They took it easy now due to his size and there was a lot of awkward shifting on his part. Tom didn't mind either. This was a new thing in their intimate relationship. Tom seemed to love it. Harry hadn't heard him laugh so much before; so freely and with so much… feeling. He did it all the time. Always laughing and smiling and just looking incredibly pleased with the world when they were alone together. Harry hoped this wouldn't change.
He pulled back from those pleasant memories and returned to watching his husband. Sometimes he fell into a stupor like this as he took a look at his life. He had a healthy happy relationship with the man he loved. They shared the same spaces, had meals together, spent free time together, slept together. Tom had even begun cutting his hours at work- which is why Harry hadn't moved to the villa yet- and he'd also stopped pulling all-nighters at the ministry. If that weren't the biggest kicker, Tom had plans to paint the nursery just after the New Year. Tom was going to do it… Himself. Harry planned to sell tickets.
While Harry was thinking of such things, lost in his thoughts, Tom had moved back to the wardrobe, deciding on what to put on now that he was home for the remainder of the evening. As he unbuttoned his formal shirt, he leaned back so that he could see out into the room and found his husband still sitting on the bed. Harry was looking off into space; a silly soft smile on his face with his hands rested over his stomach, fingers tapping out randomly.
"Stop with the sentimental thinking, love. Your eyes are starting to water." Tom then rolled his own eyes, effectively keeping the fond smile off his face. "Gryffindor," he muttered as he stepped out the wardrobe buttoning his shirt back up, plans changing.
Harry's eyes focused on him. "Prat."
Tom walked over and grasped Harry's hand, pulling him to his feet and kissing him. He always rejoiced when Harry's arms went around him to pull him closer. As if his near presence were the only thing Harry ever needed and he berated himself for not embracing his husband the moment he walked into the room to find the little minx already there. "Would you like to go out tonight for dinner?"
"Yes," Harry whispered lowly before placing a kiss against Tom's neck. "I would like that."
"Do you have work to be finished?"
"That's an unfortunate yes also." Harry unlocked his arms from around Tom. "I'll want to finish before we go. It shouldn't take more than an hour."
Before long he and Tom were entering a favorite place to go and dine. It wasn't anything in the grand scale that Servile was, but it had its own lavish charm even if the place was frequently frequented by those of the higher status; nobles, highly paid solicitors, politicians, and wealthy businessmen and women. And though he wasn't comfortable interacting with those types of people at all times, Harry couldn't deny that it furthered his education along in certain areas, which was probably why Tom took him places like this occasionally.
Harry stopped short and in turn jerked the Dark Lord to a stop. While Tom turned to give him a flat stare, Harry was more focused on the bar where two very familiar wizards were enjoying each others company. One was leaning up against the polished dark wood bar, body angled to face the side of his sitting companion. The standing wizard shifted and reached out, flicking a strand of hair away from his companion's face, fingers lingering on his cheek for a breath before drawing away.
It was a quick move, but it was still there. It happened in less than a second and yet the move itself screamed a thousand words. So excuse Harry for standing there gaping like a fish because Severus had just done something so out of character in such an open place. And yet the move had been so natural and practiced Harry wouldn't have given it a second thought had they been strangers.
Once over the shock and wonder from Severus' behavior, Harry turned to Tom with a little glare. He didn't know whether to be happy about the meet up or annoyed by it. On the one hand, he always enjoyed taking meals with Lucius and Severus. He may occasionally keep company with three older wizards who were far more experienced in life and skill, but he never felt out of place or below intelligence with them. They never made him feel so. Not even Severus, though he couldn't help throwing out barbs now and then. But with no real disdain.
Even Tom and Lucius teased him on occasion. Tom did it because he loved to get Harry riled up. Lucius did it because he thought it was funny. And Severus did it just to be Severus. It was habit. And now that there was no actual poison in his words, Harry could hear them differently and he had to admit some of the things Severus said were actually really funny. Nevertheless, Harry had assumed this would be a date and he loved dates with Tom. And yeah, it could still be a date with the other two but it wouldn't be an intimate one.
But then he decided they could be as intimate as they wanted at home. Spending time with friends was always nice and since he would be moving to Spain soon, seeing Lucius and Severus almost daily would no longer be possible. And the best thing about having dinner with the two was the entertainment. It was entertaining watching Tom interact with Severus and Lucius. He was at times awkward. Awkward for the Dark Lord anyway and it killed him. Harry thought it was the funniest thing. Cute too. Tom was cute when he was trying to be sociable with those he genuinely liked but Harry would keep that to himself or his husband would stop doing it at once.
Even though he'd decided not to care, Harry still glared suspiciously. "What are they doing here?"
"A coincidence, I assure you. Does it look as if they expect to see me here?" Harry had to agree that were true. "Shall we go say hello?"
And just to be a snot Harry replied, "you want to go say hello to them?"
Harry grabbed onto his hand to pull him into the bar area, a hostess and waiter hot on their heels ready to do Harry and Tom's bidding at the snap of a finger. "Let's go say hi! It would be rude of us not to. Maybe we should get a table together."
Tom firmly squeezed Harry's fingers to get him to walk at an appropriate pace. Sometimes he moved around as if he didn't remember his belly was too swollen now for him to move as he once could. Or maybe Harry was just being stubborn again, refusing to accept the limitations coming along with this pregnancy. He had that stiffness about his shoulders. The stubborn defiance. This time he was defying his own body. Stupid lovely brat.
His lieutenants were surprised to see them as told by the graceful speed in which Lucius rose to his feet and faced them fully. Both bowed heads to him immediately. The action wasn't necessary, not out like this in a relatively informal setting. He didn't demand such actions from them but the two continued to do it wherever they happened to be. The action was as involuntary as blinking. Tom dredged up a small smile for them at the sudden revelation and invited the two to the table which had been immediately readied upon his entering the restaurant.
Harry seemed quite immune to the staring now, for which he was immensely grateful. The last time he'd taken his husband out for dinner Harry had not been agreeable with the attention. In fact he'd lost it halfway through dinner and left the restaurant; quickly walking out without a word. Tom had gone after him and was surprised to find his husband not upset in a crying sort of way, but he'd been upset in a very angry way. But now Harry was all smiles and this was best all around.
"Harry, today is the day," Severus said as he pulled Lucius' chair out for him.
"How did it go?" Lucius questioned.
"You can see! I'm big!" Harry exclaimed, looking down at his stomach. "No one told me how big I was getting."
"You told us not to," Tom reminded.
"Yes, I remember. The results are to my liking. There will be a repeat."
"I don't much care for being your mirror."
"It wasn't all the time. Half the time I went to Draco. Sometimes I don't trust your judgment… at all."
"A lovely confession."
"Does it deserve punishment?"
Severus rolled his eyes at the neediness in that question and Tom remained silent for a few moments, staring off as if observing, but Lucius and Severus knew he was doing no such thing.
"How's school, Severus?"
"Nothing has changed despite the outcome of the war. The amount of stupidity coming through those doors year after year is astounding."
"It's your job to make them unstupid by the time they graduate."
"Unstupid?" Severus stared at him for a long blank moment. "Why do you continuously inflict your ignorance upon me?"
"Because I like watching how your face becomes indignant. And you can't give me detention now so it's twice as satisfying."
Lucius laughed softly. "That was one of my favorite games when we were in school. To see how sour I could make him."
"You are not to join in with him," Severus ordered Lucius before turning to the impertinent brat. "And your endeavors, Potter?"
"Riddle," Harry singsonged and then giggled very quietly when Tom stepped on his foot. He cleared his throat. "It's been busy. Tomorrow Draco and I are catering another wedding and then another ministry event later in the evening. After that things calm down. Won't be doing much of anything after tomorrow night."
"What about the project?"
Dropping an elbow on the table, Harry cupped his chin in hand and ignored Tom and Lucius' mutters of etiquette. "Going well, so far. We've gained more information and even opened a couple of shops." Harry's eyes went bright and he grinned. "George found a guild of hunters who hunt exotic animals and sometimes beings. Some of the creatures they catch are forced in underground creature fights. This is unacceptable and this guild will need to be taken care of. We've got trackers on several people… some of them are nasty individuals."
Severus pretended he didn't see his lord's eye twitch or the way he shifted in his seat. "And how do you propose to take care of them?" he inquired.
"Not sure yet. But something gory. I bet the one bloke's blood would look nice swirling down a drain. You've always said you love the sight—that's a bit psycho, by the way. But whatever makes you happy, love."
Tom turned to the couple seated across from him. "Perhaps you two should go and find your own table."
Severus was unsure as to whether or not their Lord meant that seriously but a quick grin flashed across Lucius' face before he could help it.
Harry shook his head at his husband. "That would be inconvenient, and look! Our food is here now."
The meal began in comfortable silence and Tom became increasingly amused to notice the discreet looks Severus sent Harry. Gouging how much food he was eating. But Severus needn't worry. He made sure Harry ate at least four times daily and took Severus' nutrient and prenatal potions once a day.
"Draco is eager for the move to your summer residence," Lucius announced after a time.
"My vacation is his vacation," Harry replied with a laugh. "And he'll have more time to devote on the wedding since you're letting him take leave from the Malfoy businesses as well."
"You do realize he'll drive you insane within a week," Severus drawled.
Harry shrugged. "He's about to marry Fred and George so I'll let him get away with it this once. And he'll be stuck with me too and nowadays I'm not always great to be around."
Tom kept his mouth shut despite wanting to agree wholeheartedly. And he did see Harry's quick narrowed side glance but he was safe because he was wise and he would not entice Harry's hormonal temper. It was worse than the minx's regular temper. This temper Harry couldn't control really at all and this is why Tom never became angry at him. Annoyed, yes. Angry, no.
When Harry was not in control of his emotions it was obvious. It made him angry and embarrassed and eventually without fail he would blow up and then slink off to be alone and get himself under control. Harry would have gone off to Spain already if he hadn't more previously made engagements to keep him in Britain. Despite his excitement at becoming a father, Harry rather hated the actual pregnancy. Recently for sure and Tom suspected it wouldn't get any better as the twins' due date continued to approach.
"Rumors are circulating, my Lord. Rumors they want you to travel to America. Talk of treaties…"
Tom smirked at the barely hidden eager entreaty from Lucius. If this talk were true, it would be beneficial to him in so many ways. Business wise, certainly. "I'm not surprised you would hear about it first from one of your business associates instead of from me."
"It is true then."
"I don't recall saying that."
Harry turned slowly to him, whole body tense now. "But you are, aren't you? Going away? On another trip."
Tom nearly winced at the softly spoken inquiry. Severus and Lucius shared a look and then became enraptured with the rest of their dinner. "I haven't decided."
"How long would you be gone?"
Turning to Harry at hearing the soft curiousness instead of demanding, Tom answered, "I cannot be certain," Harry wasn't getting angry- thank Salazar- but his eyes did widen at that. "I would of course be home before the wedding."
The young wizard seemed to relax and Tom understood. It was nearing Samhain now, and any time after the wedding was really too close to Harry's due date. Tom had no intention of leaving Harry alone at a time when he'd be needed most. He had every intention of showing Harry how ready he was for their sons and to prove to his husband he would never leave him. He wanted Harry to know he could be counted on.
Harry smiled at him. "Let me know when you're going and I'll pack a tin of fudge for you…" he paused and pointed a strict finger at Tom. "If you are going, you must Floo me every night so I know you're okay and our babies can hear your voice."
Tom blasted Harry with that tightly hidden love sick smile right there in front of everyone who was looking. Harry's eyes widened and his face flushed and he would have melted to the floor if the chair weren't in the way. Tom's smile morphed into a very perverted grin and all was back to normal and Severus continued to sneer at such sweetness at the dinner table.
Not long afterwards Tom noticed when Harry was no longer completely absorbed with his dinner. He was still eating, halfway hunched over his plate, but his bites were very slow as if an afterthought, and the direction of his gaze remained somewhere across the dining room. There had been no change with the expression of his face, but his green eyes were alarmingly hard.
Who is he to be awarded such focused attention from you? he questioned once he'd pinpointed the direction of Harry's attention. He dropped a hand on the minx's shoulder and tugged until Harry had straightened in his chair. The object of this discussion sat across the room at the far corner a couple sat dining. Harry could only be staring at them, at the wizard whose chair faced their direction.
Marcus Donovan. Harry faced Tom, one eyebrow dashing down in displeasure. One of those nasty individuals I told you about. Only I don't want him to disappear too soon. He can be useful still before he's done. He then grinned. Just need a way to control him when needed.
Donovan and his date rose from their table very soon after, finished with dinner as they had been seated and served before the Dark Lord and his party arrived. Harry immediately stood too but hesitated from leaving the table; waiting to see which path through the dining room the wizard would lead his date. When the man began walking along the far wall around the main dining room, Harry quickly left the table himself. The wizard's path would lead him near the doors to the kitchens, and beyond that, the loo stairs to the lavatories. Better still parts of the dining hall jutted out into large alcoves of more tables with paths crisscrossing, giving Harry the perfect opportunity.
Waiting until the right moment, Harry discreetly dashed out from between two tables into the main walkway. Donovan failed to notice as he was busy whispering into his date's ear and walked straight into him. And even though he had braced, Harry hadn't been ready for the force of the impact. The bloody wizard smacked into him hard enough to knock him off balance but luckily he was saved from falling by a server who'd just served a table nearby and had been walking towards them at the time.
"Excuse you!" Donovan snapped when he'd recovered from the jarring stop by Harry. He wasn't even looking at Harry, who was profusely thanking the server for catching him in time, and was instead looking down at his shirt and brushing his hands down his front. His dinner date was more observant and she discreetly nudged him. "Have you any idea who I…" The moment Donovan realized who he'd run into, his mouth snapped shut and he quickly recovered himself, pulling back the sneer and narrowed eyes. "My apologies, Lord Riddle. Are you alright?"
His voice had softened and was without hostility yet he didn't sound friendly either. Refined and restrained. Cautious. "I'm fine no thanks to you. What did you think you were doing anyway, barging into me?" Harry demanded loudly. "I was only minding my own business trying to get to the loo!"
Donovan's date inhaled a sharp breath and Tom was there, appearing beside his husband. Donovan hid the fear well from his face but it was still there in his body language and he looked completely apologetic now. With Harry the apology had only been a status courtesy.
"You were going to blame me for this incident," Harry went on. "I find that truly incomprehensible. My back was to you!"
Donovan's eyes narrowed minutely on him at this and Harry hoped Tom realized what he was trying to do. He didn't want this opportunity wasted especially since it would be months before he could pull something like this off again. He wanted Tom's cooperation and understanding of the way he was acting. It was definitely worse when he had to purposely act like a stuck up whiney prat. It didn't sit well with him. He wasn't that type of person. Not really. But this was necessary as he was sure another chance like this would not pass again.
Dumbledore hadn't called Tom astonishingly brilliant for nothing. The Dark Lord focused completely on Donovan. "A private word, Donovan."
Donovan looked extremely surprised the Dark Lord knew his name, knew who he was. He looked surprised and wary and he had no choice but to follow. Harry gave him points for managing to look like he wasn't walking to his inevitable death . A cackle bubbled forth from his throat before he could help it.
A dainty cough was thrown his way and Harry was left facing the witch alone now, sizing her up and wondering how she could be out with such a monster even if he was paying her. She was an escort. Donovan was renowned for his expensive tastes in escorts.
"How did you get him?" she demanded under her breath. "How did you ever manage to ensnare such a powerful wealthy wizard?"
Harry knew exactly what she was about then and it disgusted him. It wasn't her occupation which disgusted him, no. It was the way she operated and for what purpose. She wasn't just an escort. "For one he doesn't need to pay for the sex," he replied flatly, staring her straight in the eye, making his disgust clear. "Genuine respect and attraction helped loads as well. Perhaps you should try that the next time you're on the hunt for a new full bank account-" he paused suddenly and a dark look shadowed his face. "Who the hell do you think you are to question me like that anyway? I'm Harry Potter! How the fuck do you think I got him?!"
The woman stepped back in surprise and Harry was only able to hold back another shout when hands dropped onto his shoulders. Looking,he found it to be Severus. "Come along, Harry. Remember your healer's standing orders. Stay off your feet whenever possible. Remaining here to talk to this woman is unnecessary."
Harry was very proud of himself for not sticking his tongue out or smirking at her as he wanted. But he knew it would have been even more childish and beneath him and his yelling had already caused a stir… again.
"What did she do?" Lucius inquired the moment he was back in his chair.
"She demanded to know how he captured the Dark Lord," Severus answered when Harry did nothing but scowl.
"Ah." Lucius nodded in understanding.
"As if I had some huge elaborate scheme to make the Dark Lord so enamored he wouldn't be able to think of anything else beyond marrying me!"
"It did go something like that," Severus murmured.
"It was Tom! He seduced me with his furry Dark Lord awesomeness!"
"Now wait a moment," said Lucius, laughing softly. "I recall when our Lord started to do very uncharacteristic things and it all had to do with you. If anyone seduced anyone-"
"I was fourteen! How could I have any control over what the old pervert obsesses about?"
"I wish you would stop calling me old," Tom said as he slipped back into his seat.
Harry's indignant expression turned sheepish and that line of talk was immediately thrown out to be replaced by something that wouldn't annoy Tom anymore. "I'm ready for dessert."
After his wish for dessert had been granted, Lucius prodded once again. "My lord, about this trip…"
"I'm still debating the matter, Lucius. I'll come to a decision in a few days."
"What did you get me?" Harry asked Tom.
The elder wizard smirked. "Tell me when you need him. I'll snap my fingers and a door will instantly open for you. Seems he has found himself in the unfortunate position of owing me a favor."
Harry smiled happily. "Are you going to finish that?" he asked, pointing at Tom's half eaten dessert. He hummed happily like a small child when the sponge pudding was pushed in place of his empty treacle tart dish.
Harry rolled his shoulders and breathed out in relief as he watched Kevin repack the fine china. The wedding gig was finally over and once again all he wanted to do now was grab a quick bite and then a nap before they moved on to the ministry. Once that was over he intended to sleep for a week. Tom would be going off to the states in two days, which put them mid November. He'd arranged for the trip to take place after Harry was settled securely at their winter home.
Fred and George would be overseeing Silver dealings until his return with plans to visit regularly with reports, and of course to spend time with their lovely darling Draco. Speaking of, the glamoured Slytherin had just paused behind him and fingers dug into his tense muscles with expert precision. Harry moaned, his eyes slipped closed, and he vaguely felt it when he was gently ushered to the side and down into a chair.
"Why were we enemies at school?" he demanded breathlessly. Draco was a god at this. "And not that I'm complaining, but why are you pampering me?" he popped an eye open and craned his head back
Draco rolled his eyes but Harry saw a distinct light blush on his friend's cheeks. "Really, Pot Head, just enjoy it. I can see you're really tired, you're on your last breath, and you bloody git, I love you too!"
Harry smiled just as Kevin paused in what he was doing and turned to look at them. He hoisted to his feet and jumped around to embrace Draco tightly, smiling even more when Draco laughed softly in his ear. "You've turned me into such a sentimental fool."
"I think the twins have had something to do with that as well."
"Yes, I suppose you're right." Draco pulled back and pressed the front of Harry's robes down, giving the swollen belly a little fond pat. "Now go home, have that nap, and I'll collect you this evening for our last job."
Harry didn't bother putting up a fight but it probably would have irked the blond to know he didn't immediately go to bed. In fact when he finally arrived home, he found he was too excited about going on leave to sleep. He didn't want to move around either though, definitely not having the energy for it, and so grabbed one of his favorite study books, The Power & Depths of Elemental Magic, and its corresponding journal in which he jotted down notes and thoughts. Once he had everything he needed, he spread out on the bed to finish the chapter currently being studied.
Elemental magic is how Tom, Severus, and a handful of other powerful Dark wizards were able to fly or float around without a broom. Tom's lessons on flying without a broom had been Harry's opener to a deeper understanding of the elements. They hadn't been easy, those lessons. And mastering it hadn't been easy either. Harry had spent at least two hours daily practicing the spells and Tom had been teaching him since just after the Hogwarts and Ministry takeovers.
This magic was wild magic and for this reason alone most shied away from it. Many described it as being Dark because it was dangerous for the untrained and it wasn't a defined subject. However there were unlimited possibilities regarding spell casting when it came to wild magic. It was as old as time and still continuously evolving. Always something new to learn. Yes, it was one of Tom's favorite subjects to study as well.
Harry woke several hours later with his cheek plastered to his open journal. Opening his eyes, he found Tally and Button moving quickly around the bedroom; items and clothing floating in the air and quickly and carefully deposited into travelling trunks. "Tally," he murmured. "What time's it?"
Both elves stopped what they were doing and turned to him; both with wide terrified eyes. "Young master!" Tally cried. "Young Master, we's not supposed to wake you. You's supposed to stay sleeping while we pack. Master said!"
"No, it's alright," Harry said, sitting up. "I have to work tonight."
Both house elves rapidly shook their heads and then Tally whimpered and Button began trembling. Seconds later, Tom strode into the room. His eyes narrowed as soon as Harry was spotted sitting up. "They didn't wake me," he hurried to say. "I woke on my own. Good thing too. I don't want to be late… where's Draco?" he looked at the window and saw it was already completely dark outside. "He should have been here by now."
"Draco is at the Ministry."
"But he was supposed to come get me!"
"I don't know what to tell you, love. I came home from the office an hour ago to find you sleeping. Draco has not been by."
"How do you know Draco's at the Ministry then?" Harry questioned suspiciously.
"I stopped by the function before returning home. I thought to see you before coming here. Draco was present along with three of your employees, but you were not. I was delightfully surprised to come home and find you asleep in our bed."
Tom straightened his back, preparing for it. No way to slip out of this explosion. "Settle down."
"I will not!" Harry snapped, slapping a hand on the bed. "I made a commitment! I can't just skive off because I'm tired! I'm not a complete invalid yet and it was only one more job! How dare you-"
"You were supposed to be in Spain already," Tom interrupted lowly, approaching the bed. "Be grateful it is only now my will is unbreakable when it comes to what you will and will not do."
"Bastard! You utter bastard!"
Harry flopped down onto his back and twisted over onto his side, facing away from his husband and not surprised Tom said nothing else to him, ordered the elves back to work, and left the room. The pregnant wizard pressed his lips together and glared at the window, listening as the packing was finished up.
When Draco and the twins Portkeyed to the villa an hour after he arrived, Harry didn't speak to him either as he was most upset with him as well. Not verbally anyway, but his glare was pretty telling. Draco's flinch and subsequent meek actions did nothing to calm him down. It meant Draco knew exactly why he was angry and knew he'd done something wrong. Harry had every right to be angry. They'd conspired behind his back! And he yelled this at Draco when the blond found him walking alone in the back gardens and forced the Gryffindor to talk to him.
"You're right," Draco replied softly, nodding in a placating manner. "I did. But I didn't think you'd be this upset, Harry. The function wasn't that big of an event anyway. I didn't want you wasting energy for nothing and I knew I could find a fast replacement."
"None of that is the point! None of that is why I'm angry!"
Draco calm face broke down. "Then why?" he whined.
"You went behind my back to Tom! You conspired against me with him to keep me from my work, that's why!"
"But, I didn't! I haven't spoken with the Dark Lord at all today! I swear to you. I wouldn't do that. Yes, I conspired against you but I didn't do it with the Dark Lord. I took it upon myself to go straight to the Ministry. I figured you were sleeping and wouldn't wake up until it was over anyway."
This had Harry drawing in a breath and he went on with his slow walk, Draco close beside him. "But that means… Uh oh."
"Uh oh what?"
"I yelled at Tom for nothing. I'm the wanker!" Then he rounded on Draco. "And I'm still mad at you!"
Said wizard ignored the whined plea and stalked off down another path. One which would lead him straight to the kitchen. He was starving. After a quick bite he went to go apologize to Tom and found him in their personal quarters. The Dark Lord was standing out on their bedroom balcony, hands on rail, and staring across the dark grounds to where the chapel could be barely seen in the dark.
"I'm sorry. Shouldn't have yelled at you. You certainly didn't deserve any of that."
Tom was startled out of his glaring. He didn't turn around but a brow did rise. This was surprising. He expected a day to have passed before Harry apologized, not an hour. But only an hour it had been. He chose to forget the entire incident. He had what he wanted. Harry was finished with his incredibly busy schedule and was safely tucked away with his healer only ever seconds away. He was so persistent about this for a reason. He had very good reasons despite Harry's thoughts on the matter.
Once the babies were born Harry was going to go right back to his regular schedule. He couldn't stay still. But it would be different in that it would be more difficult. More work. He had every intention of continuing on with his studies, the baking business, the Silvers, taking up a mantle in the House of Wizards, and raising their sons personally. All of that along with the duties Harry was expected to carry out as the husband of the ruler of Britain. Harry was determined to do it all and he would.
Harry needed this break. He wouldn't take another for a long while. "It's forgotten, Harry."
The young wizard was suddenly at his side. "This place is wicked. Found another secret passageway in the kitchen."
He asked even though he already knew about it. "Where does it lead?"
"The chapel." Harry leaned against the railing, watching Tom's face. Not surprised when his eyes narrowed and nostrils flared. "It would be a shame to destroy something so old."
"I think otherwise."
Harry gripped his arm and pulled him away back into the bedroom. "I'm ready for bed."
Tom's deranged thoughts about what he'd like to do to that chapel instantly vanished. "I must undress you immediately." He was eager to again catalog the changes to his husband's body.
The little minx grinned. "Hoping you would say that… why did you let me yell at you like that? Why didn't you say you had nothing to do with it? You could have defended yourself."
"Sometimes it's amusing watching you thrash about like a spoiled child."
The bright flush of embarrassment on Harry's face was worth it also.
All too soon Tom was scheduled to leave on his long 'diplomatic' trip, first going to Britain to join with Lucius and a few others high in his cabinet before they all headed to the States. Harry really was alright with this. This was better than Tom leaving right before the babies were due or right after, which would have happened if Tom delayed the trip. He was truly okay with it but when the morning came to bid goodbye for a time to his husband, Harry couldn't seem to let him go. Couldn't unwind his arms from around Tom's neck. Couldn't stop kissing him. He couldn't stop the emotions taking hold of him.
"I don't want you to go," he murmured lowly before kissing Tom again. "Don't go." Another kiss. "Tom, please…" Another kiss and Tom's arms locked around him and his lips prevented Harry from ripping his heart into even tinier shreds. He didn't want to go either. But it was a must and could not be delayed.
Draco and the twins were standing back, giving the two a last alone goodbye despite them all standing in the foyer. Draco had to keep looking away. Harry looked so desperate to keep his husband from moving away. He looked absolutely scared and it made Draco's eyes sting. The Dark Lord really was Harry's entire world. It was relieving Draco somewhat to see the Dark Lord felt this as well and was reacting accordingly. Trying to make this as less painful for his mate as possible. He didn't want to go either. Draco could see that.
"I promise to Floo you every night, love," Tom murmured against Harry's temple. "And to finish this as quickly as I can."
Harry pulled back, looked away, and ran a hand through his hair. "I'm fine. Everything's fine. It's okay. It's not like it's forever…" his following laugh was a little shaky. "I'm being stupid. You'll be fine and you'll come right back so everything's good. No one is panicking here."
It was a fond smile which touched Tom's lips next. Fond and understanding and his eyes were filled with the entirety of his feelings for the young man in front of him and Harry's lips started to quiver. Tom realized the longer he delayed the worse off Harry would be when he finally did Apparate to England.
He lowered his hands to his unborn sons and perhaps they knew of his departure, for as soon his palm settled over Harry's stomach, the minx gasped just as something firm poked against his hand. Harry laughed. He had yet to become annoyed when the babies moved within. On impulse Tom dropped to a knee and pressed his face against the warm flesh. Harry's hand dropped to his head and fingers were slipped into his hair.
Harry gasped again and Tom jerked back. "Blimey that was a hard one."
"This one is going to be a problem," Tom murmured, tapping a finger where the foot had connected with his face. "He dared to kick me."
Harry's watery laugh was well worth the kick. "That was Sirius. His kicks tend to be harder than James' kicking."
Tom climbed to his feet. "Excuse me?" he wasn't suggesting… surely not!
Harry moved closer to brush Tom's hair out of his face. "You're going to be late, Tom."
"Harry, what did you call my sons? You're surely joking."
"What? I think they are brilliant names for our twins."
"It's very inappropriate."
Harry looked at him with faux innocence. "Why?"
"You know perfectly well why!"
"No, I think it would be fitting." Harry then smirked. "A wonderful way of apologizing."
Tom's expression never changed from semi horror and surprise. He still looked that way when Harry shooed him off with tears in his eyes.
"Harry, you aren't really?" asked one of the three who'd moved out of the shadows as soon as Tom had gone.
Harry turned to them. He smiled a little at Fred, who had spoken. "No. But it's fun to mess with him about it. He'll worry for days I'm actually serious."
Tom did worry for days about it. In fact one might even say obsessed and finally he snapped one night a week later during one of his regular nightly Floo sessions with Harry. "I cannot allow you to name our sons after those two!"
"My father and godfather," Harry responded with a perfectly even face.
Tom winced. Yes. Those two. He was responsible for their deaths. He was responsible for his children's grandparent's deaths. How was he supposed to explain that to his sons when one day they would inquire about their given names? "Harry…"
Harry shifted again upon his floor pillow, this time lying on his side and propping his torso up with an elbow, back to grinning with his eyes alight with mischief. "I did mean it, but only as secondary names maybe if you're agreeable to that."
Tom immediately released a very relieved breath. "Yes, certainly."
Harry laughed outright then. "You should have seen your face when I first mentioned it."
A frown appeared on the elder wizard's face but it lasted only for a moment. And then he shook his head. "I'd wondered why you hadn't brought up names before. How long had you been planning that one?"
"Since you told me they were boys," the minx replied smugly, shifting again to a more comfortable position.
Harry flashed another smile and Tom wished he could travel through the Floo. To forget the rest of the trip, despite how well everything was going. He missed Harry absolutely and he told him so. Harry responded with a soft smile and a reflection of his words was clear in those green eyes.
"You're keeping off your feet?"
Harry nodded dutifully. "Yes, Tom."
"And you're keeping up with the potions and eating schedules?"
He barely managed to keep from rolling his eyes. "Yes, Tom. Not as if you don't already know since you have Tally send daily reports."
Tom smirked. "And what of Draco? You two doing well?"
"Yes, actually. Draco's not as bad as I thought he would be. He knows exactly what he wants and he knows exactly where to get it. He had half the wedding arrangements taken care of the week after they were formally engaged! Sometimes he's scary when completely focused on something."
Harry then went on to ask about Tom's trip and they spent some time talking about politics before Tom caught sight of Harry's drooping eyes. "You do that on purpose. End our Floo sessions with politics so I'll bore you to sleep."
"It works," Harry replied softly. "And your voice is heavenly to fall asleep to."
Tom was aware that this dependency for each other was his fault. And he knew it was stronger with Harry. He shouldn't have gone. He should have postponed the trip for at least six months. The only thing he wanted to do, the only thing he could focus on were thoughts of taking care of his husband. He could safely say he was going mad again. "Harry…"
Hearing that tone Harry opened his eyes and sat completely upright. Peering into the fire and Tom's face. "I'm fine, Tom. Really I am. It's only a few more weeks. And I'm relaxing completely. Drake won't let me do anything but take walks in the gardens or on the beach, or eat and sleep." Another smile broke out on his face. "And Iseut and Diandre are coming to visit next week with two of their children! Can't wait to meet them."
Relieving news. People distractions were good for Harry. Tom ended the Floo call a little more relieved than he had the previous night. But he sat in front of the fire a while longer, staring at the flames, or rather glaring at the flickering light. His heart was beating so fast. In fact such a thing had been happening since leaving Spain. Nothing he did could get the fast beating under control. Maddening also.
He wondered how it was Harry seemed the more secure at this point in the separation. He was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the work he had to do here. He didn't want to concentrate. He found himself becoming increasingly annoyed with each passing day. Patience with people fading and his willingness to deal with fools. He looked around and he found he wanted to destroy. No one knew Lucius was the only reason why he hadn't lost it already and demanded every single witch and wizard in America to bow to him instantly and then line up to be tortured for his pleasure.
"You make everything better," he spoke his thoughts aloud, his eyes flickering along with the flames. "The world is stale without you."
Negotiations were concluded a week early, treaties immediately drawn up and signed, and Tom wasted no time in leaving back to his organized world. He was really very close to snapping and he didn't think he'd ever seen Lucius look so old. But the blond had worked diligently; being the calm voice of the Dark Lord and making sure everything went along without a single problem. He would have given Lucius a raise if the blond didn't already have more than enough money and stature to know what to do with.
Tom travelled straight to Spain without stopping in Britain first. He and his company worked days and nights to get the trading alliance and peace treaty drawn up and instated. It had been a rocky road, all things politics being so, but since both sides wanted the same thing, their relentless work in and out of the offices- and yes, he considered political galas work- paid off and now he was able to return home, excited to see Harry again. To touch him and hold him and chase away all his anxiety over the approaching birth of their sons.
Appearing quietly and suddenly in the south garden, Tom quickly followed the main path and as he approached the house, he noticed lights blazing on from more than half the windows; no doubt the fireplaces were lit. Harry loved the warmth. Remnants of Samhain were still lying about as well and he could see why Harry instructed the house elves to leave them. It only added to the ambiance of the gardens and outside dining area.
Once inside the kitchen, Tally was already rushing across the kitchen to the opposite side before he could finish demanding to know where his husband was. She stopped in front of a portion of the wall covered by empty shelves. She leaned against the second bottom shelf and pushed. The shelving and wall swung back to reveal a dark passageway.
Tom glanced at the elf once he'd stopped beside her. She bobbed her head. The wizard scowled and stepped into the passageway, wondering why in the blazes was Harry in the chapel. He strode down the narrow tunnel, using his wand to light the way. The passage went deeper underground and the air became cooler. Three minutes into the walk he came upon another passage which veered left and he already knew this escape path would lead straight down to the beach.
He continued on and took notice of how clean the passage was now. Not one speck of dust anywhere and new torches had been fitted upon the wall even though they weren't being used at the moment. When he first explored the Villa after its purchase, this path had been filthy. Not used in centuries. He wondered if this was the work of the house elves. Knowing Tally, it was. She wouldn't have allowed Harry to travel through a dank dusty tunnel, not especially in his current condition. Tom was relieved. He might not need to purchase a nanny elf after all.
The passage started to rise five minutes into the walk and soon his wand wasn't the only thing to provide light. Soon the passage was filled with a soft orange glow; accompanying that were hushed voices, soft laughter, and music. His brows furrowed as he walked on and then came to the threshold. And then he stood there, staring and vaguely thinking he should have known Harry would do something like this. To be perfectly honest, he wasn't upset. He was actually amused, which had probably been Harry's intention. It was way better than demolishing the place.
In his absence Harry had turned the chapel into a magical clubhouse. Riddle's Magical Clubhouse. Magical Members Only. Not his words. These were the words printed upon the crimson and black banner hanging over the inside of the doors. What Harry had done was turn the chapel into another kink room, minus the kink. He'd redecorated it brilliantly. The chapel was still visible, but Harry made a ridiculous mockery of it.
One section of the chapel was taking up most of his immediate attention, only because it was blocked off. The section of the alter and the largest of the stain glass windows were hidden behind large heavy crimson curtains which stretched from one wall across to the other. He'd just wondered what was being hidden when the crimson curtains were swept aside revealing the alter had been turned into a bed and Hermione, who was dressed and yet clearly had been recently ravished, appeared; sliding off the alter/bed with Charleston sitting behind her buttoning up his shirt, looking completely sated and smug and that was really too much information already.
Unexpected laughter escaped him. Merlin, how was it possible that he'd missed most of these people- Charleston was the exception. But Draco was there, unsurprisingly sitting with his minx on some kind of round lounge and feeding his friend grapes. The blond was sitting across from Harry and he would take aim and toss each grape into Harry's open waiting mouth. The twins were also in attendance, but they were standing away in front of a table facing the wall. A cauldron between them and their heads together. They looked supremely suspicious. The frequent glancing at Draco and Harry and the accompanying snickers only added to that suspicion.
Others he had not expected to see were currently in attendance. Luna for one, though she was always welcome despite her oddness. And Rafael… he shouldn't have been surprised. The blasted vampire was even there though his young lover was not and Tom found displeasure with that and his laughter stopped, but by then his presence had been noticed and reactions were instantaneous. Hermione and Andrew immediately disappeared back behind the curtain which closed with a clear snap. The twins spun around while trying to hide the bubbling over cauldron. Draco dropped the grape he was about to throw and tried to look innocent. Luna sat up straighter, looked somewhere at a spot over his head and waved at him… he was almost sure she was waving at him. Rafael immediately stood and bowed to him. The vampire didn't do anything but continue to lean against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest and his eyes closed.
The one he'd come to see and the only one he wanted to see was trying his hardest to get up from his lounging position by himself and failing miserably. Tom doubted he could get off the lounge altogether without help. By the time he was beside the round lounge, Harry was trying to roll his way off it with a huge scowl of frustration stamped on his face.
As he lowered a hand to Harry's shoulder in order to trap him on his back like a stranded turtle, Tom could sense and see everyone else scatter, aiming for the nearest exits. The twins vanished the potion they'd been working on and ran for the front doors of the chapel, taking Draco, Luna, and Rafael along with them. And from the corner of his eye he caught sight of the secret passageway closing behind Hermione and Charleston.
Impatient hands grabbed at his arms, dragging him down. He managed to twist and land on his side and gathered Harry as close as he could that way.
"Hello," Harry breathed against his lips while his fingers brushed over Tom's face. "You're early."
Tom placed a kiss under Harry's chin. "Told you I would try."
Harry nodded, sighed out a smile and finally gave him his lips. It was not a long kiss as he soon pulled away and laughed. "Nathan didn't leave."
Tom twisted around and spotted the damned vampire just as he dissolved into black smoke with a sharp grin. "And what is he doing here without the gullible Gryffindor?" he demanded.
"Well," Harry settled back down on his back, looking up at Tom, fingers still against his skin. "Neville's staying the week as well, only he's going to be late coming since apparently he's working with Severus on a project and Severus refused to change their appointment days or times. And of course Nathan's always welcome to come with him."
"Initially it was only going to be the weekend, but everyone had the time to extend the visit. I don't mind. I love the company… and I didn't think you'd be back for another week."
Tom returned to his previous position having made sure they were really alone this time, burying his nose against Harry's neck, inhaling deeply. "I approve of the changes here."
"Knew you would. You've developed a proper sense of humor since marrying me."
Tom grinned against his skin but said nothing to that. Quite content to just lay where he was for the rest of the night. After minutes of silence, in which Tom thought Harry had fallen asleep with his face tucked against his chest, the silence ended with a soft and timid question.
"I don't think… I will be unable to attend the House of Wizards first meeting when it convenes." Harry drew in a breath and rushed on before Tom could demand to know why. "I can't really focus anymore. Absentminded all the time and I fall asleep when and where I really shouldn't. I would be no use to anyone-"
Tom caressed away the worried lines on Harry's forehead. "You don't have to go. If you feel you are not up for it."
Harry shook his head that he wasn't. He knew the House of Wizards was an important thing. Important gatherings and meeting influential people he'd never met before. But he knew he didn't have the energy for that at the moment.
"Then it is settled. You will not go. We have plenty of others who will be in attendance. Lucius and Narcissa for one as you gave Narcissa back the Black chair."
Hearing his dry tone, Harry's lips quirked. "What did I need with the Great and Noble House of Black? Sirius left it to me, but by blood, it belongs to Narcissa and Draco and I already have the Potter line. Narcissa is no longer a Malfoy. The Black line belongs to her. Or if you want, I could change it to Bella…"
Harry snickered at the stricken look on his husband's face. He couldn't give it to Bella even if he wanted now since he'd already legally passed over everything Black- aside from Grimmauld Place- to Narcissa. But he wouldn't have time to do anything useful with that line and Narcissa would.
"You've put on more weight," Tom commented, pressing a finger along Harry's neck. "A pleasing amount."
"As long as you're happy about it," Harry muttered back.
The Dark Lord's eyes were filled with amusement as he sat back up. "Come. I'm home and it's time to relax. Care for a bath?"
Harry drew back slightly and he hesitated before slowly nodding his head. He wasn't making eye contact and he'd also become very tense. Mentally rolling his eyes, Tom disengaged his arms from around him and slid off the lounge. Soon he had Harry on his feet and leading him back though the passageway. A bath with Harry is what he craved and a bath with his husband is what he would have, Harry's shyness about his body notwithstanding.
The walk back was silent and the silence was telling. By this time Harry should have been talking his ear off; demanding the finer details of his travels abroad or just talking about nothing in particular. But Harry remained silent and stony faced throughout the walk and when they entered their personal rooms, the minx pulled away and headed to the en suite.
"I'll draw your bath," he said softly before disappearing inside.
"We have elves for that."
"We're not really that lazy are we?"
"At the moment, yes. Yes, I am. And I'm also in a hurry." Tom waved a hand and the bath filled up just as Harry stopped beside it. The steam rose up into his nostrils and he inhaled deeply the smell of sandalwood and warmth.
He walked into the bathing room in time to see a fleeting smile cross Harry's lips. It was very brief and disappeared as soon as Harry realized he was in the bathroom also. "Well. Here we go then. A bath for you."
"For us," Tom clarified after taking Harry's hand and keeping him from leaving as he was clearly about to do. Harry didn't leave, but he did pull away and backed up until he was leaning up against the long counter, wrapping one arm around his stomach. They watched each other—or rather Harry watched his shoulder while he studied the minx's face. His cheeks were suspiciously pink. His clothes were simple enough. A t-shirt, jeans, and socks.
"Why do I still find you attractive in that attire?" he demanded seriously, not really meaning to say it aloud. The stomach was new; it was different, but he was looking at his little minx and still wanting. Harry didn't smile. He didn't so much as blink and Tom decided he'd start the hard way. "Harry, come."
"I'm good thanks."
Harry shook his head and again tried to head for the exit. Tom stopped him with his next words. "If you'd rather not it's your loss, my love." It would need to be the easy way. Less satisfying than a full out seduction, but it would get him the same end result. Harry relaxing in the bath with him.
The younger wizard had paused just inside the door, hands bracing either side of the doorframe. By the time he looked over his shoulder, Tom had already discarded his vest and was working on the buttons of his dress shirt. He was facing the bath so when his shirt came off Harry's attention was focused solely on his back. A small barely audible whine came from very near the doorway and Tom smirked as he continued to divest himself of his clothes.
By the time he was completely submerged in their bath, Harry had come back in a few steps and was facing him directly; his eyes very bright. Tom said nothing and five minutes later Harry was also undressed and in the tub; hands being very bold and eager to touch Tom wherever he could, leaving Tom the clear victor but Harry really didn't care anymore. He had some snuggling and touching to do.
A/N: Apologies for the abrupt ending to this chapter but I needed to get it out. I have been working on it for months and rewritten it a thousand times! But as I said at the last chapter, this was a time jumpy filler chap.
As I keep saying, I will not discontinue this story nor put it on hiatus. But updates will be slow. I can say this with certainty now because I'm just entering into my 2nd trimester with baby #2! And though I'm totally ecstatic, this pregnancy has not been easy on me. Much of this chapter relates to my moods of the last few months, so for those of you rolling your eyes at the fluffyness of it, sorry. Sort of :)
Have a great day!