Chapter 9—Two Steps Forward

A/N: Sooo sorry about the REALLY long wait. Preparing for this deployment has been insane. We worked literally from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. nearly every night and most weekends in order to get everything accomplished in the short amount of time we had. So, now, here I am, in a foreign desert, adjusting to insane schedules, dreaming of the day I can take my R&R in Europe. LOL. I promise not to let this story go so long again without an update. Thank you all who stuck by me while I've been MIA. Hope you enjoy the fluff! It's calorie free.

Draco couldn't imagine his life being any better at that point. Well, unless having Harry officially free was feasible. Having Harry back to full health wouldn't be bad either, but he would take what he could get for now.

They had arrived at Viktor Krum's manor in Romania and met with the Bulgarian Seeker. Viktor was more than accommodating, setting up rooms and ordering food service for the guests in their company. He showed Draco and Harry, with Aidan, to their own suite of rooms in the west wing with some of the more dire escapees and Severus. Viktor's own personal medic came and attended to McGonagall, Flitwick, and Arthur Weasley who had slipped into unconsciousness after a sudden, unexplained seizure.

Aidan was healthy and happy, and Harry was well on his way to mending. He'd definitely settle for this pseudo life they were making for themselves.

Harry had been through four days of torturous, screaming pain as his hand and ankle were regrown, pushing through the scar tissue that had grown around his broken bones. He had been feverish, incoherent, and heavily drugged, but it had still caused him so much pain. Draco felt like he was dying as he watched helplessly as Harry feebly tried thrashing through the pain. He felt like he was worse than the Dark Lord as he held his love down as he cried and pleaded for them to stop.

For two of those days, Draco sat unmoving beside Harry's bed, fearing the man would fall into unconsciousness and never wake. He didn't sleep, couldn't eat. The only thing that gave him a small comfort was Aidan. Everyone in the manor believed that Draco was wholly responsible for Aidan's care whilst Harry was out of commission, and most of the time, Draco agreed. It was during the times after Harry had fallen back into unconsciousness that Draco felt so out of sorts that he knew he would kill or maim his baby accidentally. He couldn't be a father without Harry.

Those four days had allowed Draco and Aidan to bond. Harry for the most part wasn't able to teach Draco much of anything the first week they were in Romania. He was in and out of unconsciousness, feverish from his body fighting infections, exhausted, and oftentimes suffering through flashbacks of the last two months in prison and his dangerous labor and delivery of Aidan.

Draco remembered the day Harry woke sobbing as his memory unlocked the day he had been beaten so severely a normal man would have died. He shuddered as Harry recounted everything from the beheading of Fossy to the man stomping his ankle so thoroughly that the bones had shattered beyond repair.

His boyfriend had gone through too much pain. Too much suffering. Draco decided to make it his mission in life to make it up to Harry and Aidan for the rest of his life. He was going to make sure they had the perfect life, for the rest of their lives. To hell with Fudge and the Ministry. He would take them down.

He glanced over at Harry, whose bare newly healed foot was pressed against his thigh. The scars from the bones that had pushed through the skin were an angry red color. The man looked exhausted. He was curled up on his side, his head resting on the overstuffed back cushions of the couch as he watched Aidan babble happily in Draco's lap. Harry had a goofy smile on his face as he watched Draco play patty cake with their son, but Draco could see fear and longing battling on his love's face. Harry tried too hard to be brave sometimes.

Harry's thin, shaking arm reached out and his fingers grasped Aidan's waving hand. The baby instantly latched on with an excited gurgle as he pulled at his daddy's fingers trying to get them to his toothless mouth. A soft snort escaped his love, and Draco grinned at the sight. Harry hadn't held Aidan since the escape, and Draco could see the desperation to do so; it was practically pulsing off Harry.

"Sit back," Draco ordered, scooping Aidan into his arms. He gently pushed Harry back against the cushions more comfortably and helped him move his legs off the couch before he set Aidan down into his lap and sat directly beside them. He supported Aidan's back and neck, making sure their son wouldn't fall from his perch. Harry was nearly as weak as a newborn, and it was taking all Draco's patience not to demand Severus fix him immediately, knowing the order was futile. Nothing but rest, good nutrition, easy exercise, and mild strengthening potions could help Harry right now.

"A'dan," Harry murmured, his arms weakly wrapping around his son in a hug. Aidan allowed himself to be pulled into his daddy's chest without fuss. Tears began rolling down Harry's pale cheeks.

"Harry?" Draco hated seeing the raw emotions playing over his lover's face as he began silently sobbing into his baby's soft hair. His eyes were closed so tightly, and his hands trembled as they tangled in Aidan's outfit and blanket. Draco carefully placed his hand on the back of Harry's neck, his other still supporting Aidan. "Harry look at me," he tried coaxing to no avail.

Harry often went through these issues. One moment he'd be happy and sleepy and the next he'd be sobbing, not accepting any comfort from anyone. Draco had learned early on not to get too close when Harry was going through this emotional upheaval. It only made the sobbing worse.

Instead of wrapping his boyfriend in his arms and whispering soothing words into his ear like he wanted to, Draco slipped his hand under his lover's chin, lifting his tear-stained face to his. Slowly, Harry's eyes blinked open. "Talk to me," Draco urged. It was what the doctors kept advising him. Force Harry to talk. It exercised his damaged vocal cords and forced the man into admitting what was wrong.

Like usual, Harry lowered his gaze and shook his head ever so slightly. Draco allowed his fingers to tighten just slightly on Harry's chin drawing his lover's attention once more. He allowed his desperation and helplessness to gleam through his eyes. "Harry, talk to me. Please. Why are you so upset?"

Harry lowered his gaze again, pulling out of Draco's gentle grip. "I don't know," he whispered, barely audible.

"What don't you know?" Draco asked softly, folding his legs beneath him to face Harry. Their thighs were touching. Draco was always touching him in some way, subconsciously afraid that if he didn't, Harry would disappear.

Harry loosened his hold on Aidan, allowing the baby to sit more comfortably in his lap again, but the boy was subdued, sensing his daddies' moods. Harry watched his fingers gripped tightly in his baby's fists in fascination and shook his head negatively.

"Come on, Harry. Please, talk to me. What are you feeling right now?" It was another thing the doctors told him to do: get Harry to talk about what he was feeling.

Harry took a shuddering breath, releasing it slowly. His eyes never left Aidan. "It's so much." He rested his forehead against his baby's soft, black hair as more tears fell from his eyes. "I've dreamed about this for so long," he whispered.

Draco placed his hand on Harry's head, gently running his fingers through his love's soft, thick locks. "I've done nothing but dream about you since you've been gone."

Harry's teary green eyes, brighter than Draco had seen in ages, locked on his, and Harry gave a small smile. With his cheek resting atop Aidan's head, Harry continued. "I couldn't decide if I wanted you to move on with your life and fall in love again or pine away for me like I was you."

Draco was stunned speechless for a moment. He would have never been that selfless had their situations been reversed. Harry was his, and if he had the slightest hope of getting out, he would have probably killed whoever took his Harry from him. As it was, Fudge and his lackeys weren't going to survive. He just needed to figure out how to kill the man and make it look like an accident. That's where Harry and his knowledge of defense and the Auror department came in to play.

"There is no one who could ever compare to you."

Harry smiled sadly, as he often did these days, and closed his eyes.

"I love you, Harry," Draco said, still running his fingers through Harry's hair.

Aidan must have decided that they had been sad for long enough because he reached his tiny hand up and grabbed Harry's nose harshly his little thumb going in his nostril. "Ba!" he screamed playfully as Harry pulled away, moving more quickly than Draco had seen in a long time. Harry laughed and poked Aidan in the belly, the baby screaming with delight. He clapped happily before leaning over to grab Draco.

Draco scooped him up quickly as he was falling sideways and placed him back into Harry's lap. "Stay with Daddy, Aidan, he misses you."

"He's really taken with you," Harry commented, smiling genuinely at Draco. The smile made his stomach flutter with want.

"He better be! That brat demanded all my attention while you were healing. Never let me put him down except when he was trying to get to you. I swear you've spoiled him," Draco replied indignantly, crossing his arms like a petulant child.

Harry gazed fondly at Aidan. "He saved my life."

Sensing the change of mood again, Draco sweetly petted his son's head. Aidan reached up and grabbed his thumb bringing it immediately to his mouth to gum it. "Eww! Aidan! Come on, I don't want baby slobber all over me!" He didn't struggle much until something sharp stabbed the side of his thumb. "Ouch!" He pulled his hand to his chest, cradling it like he did when he had gotten attacked by the hippogriff in third year. "He bit me."

"He doesn't have teeth. It can't have hurt that bad."

"You stick your finger in there, and tell me he doesn't have teeth!"

Harry got a delighted smile on his face as he bent over Aidan and coaxed the baby into opening his mouth. Aidan's gums were mostly pink except for a small spot on top that had a tiny white bump straining against the skin. Harry smiled brightly and looked up at Draco. "He's getting his first tooth!"

Draco couldn't help but revel in the delight Harry was exuding, but rolled his eyes in amusement. "Of course he is. I told you the little bugger bit me." He moved his face so close to Aidan their noses were nearly touching.

"Ba!" Aidan screamed slapping his hand at Draco, who pulled away quickly.

Harry chuckled. "I don't think he liked you calling him a little bugger."

"Ba! Ba!" Draco grabbed Aidan and held him standing on Harry's thigh. His legs didn't support him and he kicked with them as Draco held him in place.

"Listen here, you little brat—"

Harry slapped Draco's hands away and sat Aidan back down on his lap. "Don't be an arse. He's a little angel."

Aidan seemed amused at his parents' silly smiles and teasing, but he seemed even more delighted that Harry was holding him again. The baby had been quite fussy the last few days, constantly reaching for Harry whenever he was in the same room. He had grown since they had been rescued. He was no longer gaunt and pale, and his body no longer looked emaciated. Aidan glowed with healthy color.

After several moments of silence as they teased and tickled their baby, Draco became serious again.

"We travel back to England on Monday. Are you ready for it?"

Harry ran his hand over Aidan's head and sighed. "I guess. It's been nice being here."

"Yeah, it has. I'm eternally grateful for Viktor. He's done so much. His healers, though, they don't think McGonagall or Flitwick are going to make it."

Harry looked away from Draco and Aidan. "I don't want to talk about this," he whispered. Draco could hear the weight of the world in his voice, and he placed his hand on Harry's shoulder.

"Ok, we won't talk about it." Draco took a deep breath and stood up, reaching out for Aidan. "Come on, little bugger, time for a nap." He picked Aidan up from Harry's lap and cradled him as he reached out for his lover's hand to help him from the couch.

Together, hand in hand, Harry and Draco made their way into their bedroom and placed Aidan down in his cot. The baby immediately tried to get picked up again, but Draco just smiled, patted his stomach gently and covered him with a blanket. After a few moments of them watching him, Aidan's eyes grew heavy, and Draco helped Harry into their bed.

"I missed you so much," Draco whispered, pulling Harry to him and wrapping an arm around Harry's thin body. Harry curled against his side, his head pillowed on Draco's shoulder.

"Missed you, too. Missed this," Harry murmured, his eyes closed and breathing deepening with sleep.

Draco continued to watch him before he, too, was lulled to sleep by the sounds of his lover's and his baby's soft breathing.