Characters/Pairings: Harry/Draco, Draco/Luna (past), Ginny/Zacharias, Ron/Pansy
Warning(s): disregards epilogue, some heavy-ish angst, het, depictions of a stillbirth, adult language, sexual content, and violence.
Word Count: ~17000
Disclaimer: I make no profit from nor do I claim any ownership of the characters and situations discussed in this story; they belong to JK Rowling and Co. The title is inspired by an Arcade Fire song.
Notes: So this is the next (and most likely final) sequel to On Fingers Broken Long Ago; if you haven't read that, this probably won't make much sense, but you don't necessarily have to read the other sequel (Bound To Linger On) to follow this one. The two were written independent of each other and really only correspond for chronology's sake; they have totally different tones and themes, so keep that in mind.
This one takes place both four years before On Fingers…and about 18 months after. It's not as confusing as it sounds, lol, but I just wanted to be clear. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, and I'd really like to hear more from you; it's always nice to hear from readers, it really keeps me going when posting this stuff.
Mrs. Dietrich is refusing to eat again.
"I'm sorry, lovely," the woman insists from underneath her teetering pile of blue-black honeycomb hair. Draco very briefly fantasizes about sticking a hand in the monstrous nest and twisting until the woman screeches and submits, but then decides he doesn't quite want to subject his precious hand to such an experience and sighs instead. "It's just not right, not right at all—my house-elves know just when to pop the roast out, you've obviously got subpar creatures working here. I won't put that rubbish anywhere near my body, I simply couldn't."
Draco is very tired. He is hungry. He has been working for 16 hours and will have to work for another 12 after some eight hours of food and sleep. He is actually considering grabbing the thick cuts of roast beef and stewed vegetables on the plate in front of the recalcitrant woman and wolfing them down, and he is appalled with himself for considering it. He decides that it's Girl Weasley's fault; obviously, prolonged exposure to her wild and unrefined behavior has warped his proper pureblood sensibilities.
He briefly reminds himself that yes, his house-elves know when to pop the roast out, too, and he can hold out for that well-cooked roast just a little longer, once Mrs. Dietrich has eaten.
"Mrs. Dietrich," Draco says smoothly, plastering on his best old people love me smile and turning it on her full blast. Her eyelashes flutter and he suppresses a shudder. "You must understand how important it is for you to keep up your strength during your treatment. Your body is undergoing a process of extreme transition—it needs to remain virile and hearty."
Mrs. Dietrich giggles airily, the honeycomb wobbling precariously. "Oh, but dear, you couldn't possibly expect me to eat that—"
"But I must insist," Draco insists, gritting his teeth and letting it look like a pearly smile. Mrs. Dietrich giggles again; Draco wonders how flammable the honeycomb is.
"I'm sure you can scrounge up something more suitable for an old friend like me—"
"Look." It bursts out harsher and angrier than he'd intended, but that often happens with him. A few heads in the sparkling new Abraxas Malfoy Ward whip around to stare, but most of the patients are absorbed in their (okay, admittedly dry, but what the fuck ever) roast dinners. The few nurses who are still bitter that he's taken cluck their tongues and shake their heads, and he realizes that there will be trouble in paradise rumors floating around by next shift and can't bring himself to care.
The honeycomb quivers; the witch underneath looks scandalized. Draco ploughs on ahead, because this often happens with him, too: once he starts, it's hard to stop. "If you don't eat, the Forget-Me-Not potions will not absorb properly in your system. Your magic will start to deteriorate again; your mind and body will follow, and soon you'll be upstairs in Spell Damage, as limp and saggy as those vegetables you keep turning your nose up at. So unless miserable Squib is back in this year—and I don't know, you see, I haven't been keeping with the trends, I've been in here, begging you people to eat your sodding dinner—I'd eat the bloody roast and call it a night. Is that suitable enough for you?"
Dietrich stares at him, whiskery (ugh) chin quaking slightly. Draco decides he will actually kill himself if she cries, it will be much easier that way—oh, sure, Luna will miss him, his parents might mourn a bit, and Girl Weasley will probably see it as a personal insult to her, but it's a winning situation for everyone else. Maybe the Malfoy house-elves can serve Dietrich up some nice roast at Draco's wake.
And then, a miracle—chin still wobbly, eyes still wide, a shaky, gnarled hand reaches out and grips a fork daintily. Haughty eyes flash and a mouth coated in uneven lipstick firms up, and Dietrich gives him a cold, determined nod.
"Yes, Healer Malfoy. I quite understand."
Before he can feel guilty, Draco makes a quick exit from the ward, shooting for the cramped office he shares with Michael Corner.
Of course, because it's one of those nights, he doesn't quite make it. Sodding Smith cuts him off halfway past Station One.
"I need a Healer, 201-B's limbs are Vanishing and winding up in very odd places—"
"Can't, I'm off, get Whittaker," Draco bites out, not looking at Zacharias and attempting to brush past him. The Mediwizard simply flashes him a grin and moves directly in his path, blocking the whole way. "For fuck's sake—"
"Draco!" Girl Weasley totters over with a stack of charts, loud and offensive as always in magenta nurses' robes. "Thank God, I thought you'd left already, I really need you to look at this—"
"I'm off, do you not understand what that means? Call Whittaker, he came on at four, and Crowley's probably still around somewhere—"
"Don't talk to me like that, Malfoy, there's absolutely no need to be rude!" The redhead slams the charts down on the counter and faces him with what she must believe to be her fight face. Draco stares her down, unafraid, and tries to inch backwards towards the office. Smith cuts him off again.
"No you don't, 201-B, come on, you have got to see this—"
"I need you in Derwent, Draco, Whittaker's stuck in the Lab and Tabby's—"
"Healer Malfoy!" A Trainee Apparates in breathlessly, and Draco scowls at him even as Weasley and Smith keep babbling; he hates when they Apparate like that. "I need you in 215, your Scrofungulus patient is reacting badly to the antibacterial potion—at least, I think it's bad, she seems to be seizing—"
And very quickly, Weasley and Smith shut up, and they follow Draco without a word into 215 and do absolutely everything he says, and when it's over and the patient is stable, he returns the favor by wordlessly seeing to their tasks.
It's nearly four hours later, only four hours until he has to be back on shift again, when Luna finds him in his office, dozing on top of Ginny's charts (she becomes Ginny when she helps him save lives). Luna is holding a warm, wonderful-smelling roast beef sandwich and smiling affectionately, and Draco's body positively aches with how much he loves in her that moment.
"I'm sorry I missed dinner," he rumbles exhaustedly, and of course, she waves it off, forgiving just as easily as she always has for everything else.
"I understand, Draco," she says, placing the sandwich in front of him. She pulls her wand and very carefully clears off Corner's tiny desk, which sits up against Draco's, and then kicks off her shoes and climbs onto it. He smiles at her wriggling, sparkle-painted toes as she settles Indian-style.
He chews his sandwich slowly, swallowing back the stupid, idiotic guilt he tastes with it when he thinks of Mrs. Dietrich. "Were Mother and Father angry?"
"Cissa is concerned," Luna tells him with a thoughtful frown, and avoids answering about Lucius, which tells Draco enough to make him roll his eyes. She turns the frown upward again, and leans all the way forward to kiss his forehead. "I promised her I'd take good care of you, though."
"You do take good care of me," Draco affirms, closing his eyes and letting his forehead touch her chin. He shivers happily at the feel of her breath against his hair.
"I know." She sounds just the tiny bit smug, and yet totally guileless about it, so that he has to laugh and shake his head.
"I love you."
"I know that, too."
He breaks away to eat more sandwich, contenting himself with locking eyes with her hazy gray gaze. "Today was a shitty day, Luna. Just—thank you."
"You're more than welcome. I'm hoping I can make it even better." She has an odd, unreadable look on her face, something he is more than used to. Draco waves the last bit of sandwich at her and pops it in his mouth, swallowing politely before speaking.
"It'll be hard to top this, you know, but shoot."
"I saw Tabby today."
Draco freezes. Luna studies him closely, but he knows that right now, he is just as unreadable as she is. She reaches out and squeezes his hand, and then a brilliant, blinding smile lights up her face.
"I'm pregnant, Draco."
Luna laughs, the sound tinkling and magical, and very suddenly he has burst out of his seat and thrown himself across his own tiny desk, scattering parchment and knocking over picture frames and grabbing her in his arms.
"You're—you—oh, hell. We're going to have a baby?" He realizes he sounds like a Hufflepuff—he kisses her like a Hufflepuff, quick and wet all over, his whole body trembling with a feeling he can't quite place but might be total fucking joy.
"Yes, I'd imagine so."
"I love you."
"I love you too. Draco, Draco—we're going to have a baby." She is delighted and exhilarated, vibrating in his arms, and he lets out a bark of laughter and lets the feeling wash over him for a moment.
"Dear Merlin. What on Earth are we going to do with a baby?"
"Raise it, I reckon. Feed it, clean it, love it. He or she will have their very own Wrackspurt right away, I think they'll like that."
"Yes. Oh, fuck."
He lets out another laugh, right against her smile-wrinkled cheek, and then buries his nose in her long, bright hair. "A baby," Draco whispers, all at once terrified and ecstatic and anxious and jubilant, and so incredibly grateful that here, in this tiny office, on top of someone else's desk, he is allowed to be all of those things, with no one to witness but the one person he wants to.
"You skipped lunch!" Ginny screeches quite literally out of nowhere, making Draco jump and drop the lab report he's scanning. He scowls at her and longs for the days when that scowl used to piss her off; now she just apes his smirk and raises an eyebrow. Thieving bitch.
"The Lab is backed up, Sparrow is out sick, Tabby's teaching, and the new Mediwizard still doesn't know his arse from his elbow. Of course I skipped lunch." He pointedly picks up the lab report, glaring uselessly.
"I had something to tell you guys. And Harry missed you, he's slammed upstairs and won't get to see you until after shift." She seems to actually be pouting on Harry's behalf, and Draco resists the temptation to bash his head up against the nearest wall.
"I spoke to Harry, he doesn't need you to tell me off for him. What did you need to tell me?" He sounds impatient and rude and not at all curious, trying to rush her off, and she still just sighs and shakes her head and prepares to launch into a long ramble. He decides it's a really good thing he's decided to stick with guys, or one guy, for the rest of his life. He truly doesn't understand women.
"Well I'm not gonna tell you now, I wanted to tell you both at the same time. Never mind, Zach can Floo in and we can all go out and get dinner later." She suddenly smiles dreamily, and Draco rolls his eyes right in her face, hoping to incite some kind of scorn, but nope. "It'll be like a double date, how fun! Ooh, we can invite Ron and Pansy, and Theo and Daphne, and—"
"And it'll be just like every other Friday night, for God's sake, Ginny, get to the point. What did you want to tell me?" He won't admit to being curious; he won't give her the satisfaction. The way she smirks again and eyes him shrewdly tells him he doesn't need to admit it, though, and Draco throws in an impatient huff in a last-ditch effort to appear unaffected.
"It wouldn't be right, though, to tell you now when I told Harry before that he'd have to wait—"
"Ginny. Tell me, or I will go from not caring at all to actively not wanting to know by dinner tonight." Draco crosses his arms over his chest, narrows his eyes, and waits for her to burst. He watches her shift from foot to foot for a moment, lips pursed and deep in thought, and he gives another huff. That does it.
"Oh fine, you wretched—I don't know why anybody ever bothers with you, you know, you are thoroughly despicable—"
"Well come on, then, I won't do this in the corridor."
She grabs him and starts tugging him towards his office, making him stifle a triumphant smile and follow patiently.
Draco had been incredibly disappointed when Harry's final training rotation had taken him away from Bugs and up on Spell Damage, and he'd spent a few weeks crabby and irritated about it, missing the prat immensely and refusing to admit it. Ginny had planted her hands on her hips and told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was to stop being a whiny little bitch and get over it, because he had other friends to work with besides Harry and it wasn't the end of the world. Draco had, as always, been thoroughly humbled by being chastised by a Weasley, of all things, and had quickly done as she said.
And now, as she plops herself comfortably down on his couch and puts her feet up with a heavy, contented sigh, he allows himself to feel just a little grateful to have her around all the time. Just a little.
Draco leans back against his desk, affecting another bored stance, and takes in her wide, happy eyes, the press of her teeth against her bottom lip, and the minute, excited quivers going through her body, and very quickly, even before she opens her mouth, he knows what she's going to say. He's seen this before, after all.
"I'm pregnant, Draco."
And even though he'd been expecting it—even though he'd been ready for it, had heard the words before they'd even gathered on her tongue, it still feels sort of awful. He's hit with a rush of bitterness, jealousy and loss so powerful he's already feeling guilty for it. He feels the lunch he'd skipped turn in his empty stomach, and his heart lurches in his chest, all while desperately trying to screw on a happy, delighted smile.
"That's brilliant! Congratulations!" Draco holds out his arms and she lets out a happy shriek and jumps at him, grabbing and squeezing. "I'm—I'm so happy for you."
"Isn't it amazing? Oh, I'm so excited—Mum is ecstatic, and Zach kissed Poppy full on the mouth when she told us, it was brilliant, and of course we want you for a godfather, Draco, oh, you have to be, it'll be so perfect…" Her ramble breaks off into a sniff, and he feels wetness through the fabric of his robe and sighs, feeling grateful that Luna had never cried until the end. Then he has to fight not to vomit up his nonexistent lunch as that all comes rushing back, and he tightens his arms around Ginny just to have something to hold on to.
"I—I'd love that, Gin. Of course I would. I—" Draco swallows hard and lets the rest of his useless, lying sentence drift off into her ramble.
"I'm about two months along, I'm going to make an appointment downstairs in Birthing, but Poppy says everything's fine and I had Tabby check as well, just to be safe. Zach wants me to stop working—"
"You should," Draco interrupts seriously, pulling back to look at her and pushing down the ridiculous urge to scream don't leave me! She doesn't bother losing her happy countenance and simply waves him off, continuing in the same breath.
"—but I think I can at least wait until the seventh month, right, I don't see that many patients directly anymore anyway, and then I can train someone for when I have to go on leave—"
"Better make it the sixth month. Or maybe the fifth. I always thought—I mean, one of the things was—Luna was still working—" Fuck, he thinks, as the happy glow fades a bit from her face and she suddenly starts looking regretful.
"Oh. Okay, Draco, I—yes, the fifth month will be better. You're right." She looks at him closely, that hint of worrying and effortless mother face, and Draco chastises himself for being a selfish arsehole. He is a horrible friend, it's really true, and 90 percent of the time he's okay with that. But sometimes it really gets to him, how he's surrounded by these wonderful people, with Harry at the very top, and Luna, who would be nothing but ecstatic for her friend in spite of everything, and yet he can't see past his own personal loss to feel it, too.
"You're going to be a fantastic mum, Ginny," Draco tells her honestly, chasing away a bit of the fretful shadows. Ginny smiles grimly and gives his shoulder a soothing, grateful rub.
"Thank you. But, Draco, I—"
"Let's hope the kid takes after Zacharias in the looks department, though," he rushes out, and Ginny's mouth snaps closed, annoyance and concern warring over her lovely face. He tops it off with a quick look up and down her body and gives a smirk dripping with fake disdain. "No offense, love."
And that does it—she tips her head back and laughs, and even as he feels a bit like he's drowning, it's still a wonderful sound, ringing through him like a bell, and the only sound better would be Harry's laugh. He pushes the desperation he feels way deep down and smiles as warmly as he can at her; she slaps him on the chest and calls him a prat and then hugs him again.
"We're having a baby," she whispers disbelievingly, sounding close to tears once more, and Draco swallows hard again.
She calls him a prat a few more times, does a bit of (now restrained) gushing, and then leaves the office, soon enough that he doesn't quite fall apart but late enough that he's about to. Draco takes a deep, steadying breath, looks at the pile of work on his desk, considers losing himself in it, and then decides fuck it. He pats his Wrackspurt until he's hovering over his desk and leaves the office, going for his old standby: when in crisis, head to the fourth floor. Spell Damage.
He takes a minute to think of the weirdness of going right by the Janus Thickey Ward and Luna's office and searching out Harry; it's instinct, now, to find Harry, and it used to be instinct to find Luna. He's not sure he can actually see Luna without losing his mind right now, though, and so he determinedly seeks out the dark, messy head of his boyfriend, ignoring any of the looks he gets.
There—lime green robes unclasped and billowing, glasses askew and cloudy with fingerprints, pouring over a chart with that adorable, perpetual look of concentrating puzzlement, and Draco loves him so much in that moment it almost hurts to breath. His legs move him towards Harry before he quite catches up to them, and he must look like a starving man heading for a feast because people are staring. Harry looks up from his chart, sees Draco, and drops whatever he's doing into the hands of the magenta-robed nurse beside him.
"Sorry, Denise, I just remembered I promised to take care of something for Healer Malfoy. I'll be back around in a bit, okay?"
Another Mediwizard, especially one still technically in training, would never have gotten away with it. Hell, Draco would never have gotten away with it, back before the Forget-Me-Not. And it has nothing to do with being Harry Potter, and everything to do with being Harry—he is kind and considerate with his words and tone, flashing a charming smile and puppy dog green eyes, and only the hardest of hearts refuse to melt at that. He carries himself with a confidence and assurance that only surprises him, and of course, everyone absolutely adores him. The nurse looks at Harry as if he'd hung the moon and Draco completely understands the sentiment.
A year and a half ago, he'd probably resent Harry for having such ease and effortless adoration in his hospital, on his turf. He'd spent years in Hogwarts resenting the same thing. But everything's different now. As Harry meets him halfway and grabs him about the arms, Draco is completely swept away for a minute by how grateful he is that he has this—everybody adores Harry, but Harry more than adores Draco.
"Is everything okay?" Harry mumbles it, low but clear, mindful of the various employees standing around; so much more than the population of Bugs, and yet considerably less nosy. Even so, gossip is gossip, and Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy are always top news on any floor. Draco starts moving towards a less-populated corridor, Harry moving with him with no hesitation.
Draco nods firmly, because yes, in reality, everything is perfectly okay, and it's impossible to explain why everything isn't okay without sounding like a completely selfish prat. He stops them in front of a supply closet and, as painful as it is, mentally pages through previous sexual encounters on this floor and decides he'd never christened this one. He unlocks the door with a wandless spell and pulls Harry in after him, snapping it shut and locking it resolutely. He mutters a lumos and sets his wand on a shelf, avoiding Harry's worried gaze in a brief moment of shyness.
"Draco," Harry says, sounding concerned, and Draco knows he should talk, knows Harry wants him to talk, knows he's done the talking thing before and survived it. But right now he's not sure if he can talk, not sure if he wants to let the inner horribleness inside of him pour out to pool at Harry's feet. Knows he deserves better than that, everyone deserves better than that, and he grips Harry's hands in his forcefully.
"I'm a horrible person," Draco tells him tightly, deciding that sums it up, and then he kisses Harry's open, protesting mouth, licking up the whoosh of air he gets and savoring it desperately.
Harry gives up on talking right away, sensing something in the kiss as it heats up, and there's reason number 956 that Draco loves Harry: he knows what Draco needs, and he gives it to him, always.
In return, Draco presses the kiss deeper, delving his tongue into Harry's mouth and letting the thoughts of still, silent babies and everything he'll never have drift off somewhere in the hot slickness of snogging. He groans at the feel of Harry's hands on his hips, and he cants them forward, knocking into Harry's erection through layers of robes and trousers.
He detaches their mouths to start whispering wandless spells, sighing and rocking forward as belts come undone, pressing Harry back into shelves of potion pumps and spare bedpans. Harry chuckles as a needy, low sound escapes him and Draco nips at his bottom lip for punishment, turning it into a soothing lick as Harry fits his hands into his pants and pulls him out between them. Draco shudders as Harry starts him off with quick, assured strokes, and it feels wonderful in Harry's hands, Draco wishes he could stay wrapped in the sweaty, warm depths of them forever.
He pulls Harry out, too, desperate for him to lose as much control as Draco is, and he presses firm, quick kisses to Harry's jaw as the brunet rocks in his grip. He lets them wank each other leisurely for a few moments, feeling the tension mount in his stomach, the slow build of heat and desire finally filling in that awful, chalky emptiness that had been thrumming in there since he'd first talked to Ginny. As it starts to build into a peak he whispers another spell, and Harry's trousers and pants fall the rest of the way around his ankles. Green eyes light up with flames and now it's Harry's gravelly, lust-choked voice whispering, "Lubricus," and rubbing a now lubricated hand up and down Draco's shaft.
"Go," Harry whispers, and Draco pushes forward and kisses him gratefully, lovingly, and hungrily. He fits his precome sticky hands into the wide opening of Harry's robes and around the firm roundness of his bottom, rubs his hips tenderly, and then presses two fingers to Harry's opening. He stretches him as thoroughly as their position will allow and then fits his hands back up around Harry's hips, lifts just slightly. Harry keeps a hold of him and guides him gently towards his entrance, and then his cock is incased in something warmer, tighter and smoother than Harry's wonderful hands, and it's suddenly difficult to breath.
He watches Harry's face, makes sure his stomach bumps against his bobbing erection and relishing his groans, and he waits for Harry to adjust, muscles coiled in restraint. Harry's eyes light up again, bright behind those ridiculous glasses, and he gives a little nod for Draco to continue.
And then he moves, gentle at first and then working his way up into a faster rhythm when Harry moans into his shoulder and rocks against him. Draco squeezes his eyes shut as pleasure and lust rush into him in waves, bringing him up against Harry and matching his moans. He buries his face in Harry's neck and bites above his collar lightly, kisses hard and sucking, and rocks up, up and everything is brilliant, really, there is no better place for him than inside of Harry. He has never been with anyone who was capable of making everything seem so much brighter and better with sex, and he knows he won't ever find anyone else. He doesn't even want to look.
They rock into orgasm fast and frenzied, as is the way of the St. Mungo's quickie. Harry's clenching muscles and wheezing breaths push Draco over the edge and it's just like always, just like all of the countless orgasms he and Harry have shared by now: everything is better, and more beautiful, and everything is just fine when he's having sex with Harry.
As they pant and lean heavily into the shelves behind them, knocking a stack of bedpans over and chuckling lazily over them, Draco decides it's definitely a Harry thing, and not a sex thing. And he decides that, in addition to being a horrible person, he is a fucking lucky person.
"So what did you do?" Harry mumbles into Draco's shoulder, strangely coherent for post-coital bliss. Draco sighs and comes back down, separating them and stroking Harry's side when he winces.
"Hm?" He starts tucking himself away, helping Harry with his trousers when he doesn't move, and waving his wand for cleaning spells.
"Tell me why you think you're a horrible person," Harry insists, reaching out and grabbing Draco's busy hands. Draco shakes his head, not wanting to come back to it, not wanting to lose the peace he'd found in forgetting for a moment. Harry gives him a small, patient smile and brings up a hand to kiss it. "Tell me, so I can tell you how wrong you are."
Draco snorts. "Sap."
"Most likely. Come on, then." He fits Draco's hand up against his cheek, spreading the fingers with his own, and Draco can't help it—he melts and cradles the warm face gratefully.
"Ginny—she, well, she had news. And it just reminded me of something. That's all." He looks around at the dimly-lit shelves and medical supplies acting as the audience for this. "Look, this isn't really the place to talk about this. I'm really—I'm fine now. Honestly." He lifts his other hand and brings it to the other side of Harry's face, and then leans in to kiss him slowly and sweetly. "I'm fine because of you. Just—thank you. And not just for the sex."
"I know it's not just for the sex," Harry says softly, realization flitting into his eyes. Draco meets his gaze and nods slightly, confirming what Harry has figured out: this whole little hysteria is a result of one of those things that Draco Doesn't Talk About. It's not a very long list—Draco had found Harry increasingly easy to talk to as their relationship grew older, and now he's very nearly as unreserved with him as he used to be with Luna. But there are still some things he just can't bring up, can't throw out there, and the baby is one of them. Harry, bless him, understands that perfectly.
"Good," Draco murmurs, and he pulls Harry closer to him, breathing in the scents of the fourth floor, mixed with the clean, crisp scent of the soap Harry steals from Draco's shower every morning. It's incredibly comforting, even now when he's not so much in need of comfort, and he acknowledges his luck one more time.
"I'll be late tonight," Harry says apologetically, and Draco gives him a reassuring smile and kisses him one last time, just a press of lips that is way more addicting than it has any right to be. He leans back and opens the closet door, picking up his wand and very ready to go back out there and face the hospital—to feel truly happy for Ginny, and to steel himself in the face of her news and wonderful, disproportionate friendship. He has done this before, with Daphne and various other friends who had had the nerve to procreate, and in the grand scheme of things, this tiny moment of weakness really doesn't mean anything at all. These feelings are suppressible, manageable—especially now, with Harry by his side.
"Stop looking like you're marching to your death," Ginny snaps, turning back along the winding pathway to glare at Draco. "If you show up looking miserable, Mum will start fussing over you, and I know you'll hate that."
Luna giggles, the round, small bump preceding her wiggling against Draco's side, and Draco rolls his eyes and pulls her even closer, needing the fortification. He steps over a broken doll and a downed broomstick on the front pathway and ignores Zacharias snickering at his scandalized expression.
"I'm not even sure why I'm here," he grumbles uselessly, staring up at the ramshackle, ridiculous house in dismay. "I'm sure Smith can represent the fine department of Magical Bugs and Diseases without me."
"You're here because you're my friend," Ginny insists loudly and pointedly, and this time she doesn't even bother turning around. "And Mum and Dad want to meet my work friends. And stop arguing, Malfoy, you're not getting out of it. Get rid of that face and remember your manners."
The only things stopping him from loudly and viciously informing her that a Malfoy never forgets his manners are Luna's hand squeezing his and Zacharias looking on gleefully, as if expecting the outburst. Instead he grits his teeth, straightens his posture, squeezes Luna back, and follows his (ugh) friend into her childhood home.
It's just as slovenly and cluttered as the front yard is—littered liberally with toys and clothes and random oddities. It's what poor people call homey, what Draco calls unkempt, and it makes his eye twitch a bit. Luna sees the eye twitch and giggles again, and Draco starts feeling victimized.
"We're here!" Ginny bellows, grabbing Zacharias and tugging him in the direction of (entirely too many) voices. Draco follows reluctantly, clutching at Luna like a shield, and ventures forth into a crowded kitchen loaded with people who hate him.
And Merlin, all the red hair is nearly blinding in its intensity and sheer volume; Weasels of all ages are gathered into the just as cluttered kitchen, loudly talking over each other so that all of the words are unintelligible and indistinguishable. A few of the freckled, older faces turn to glare at him, even as Ginny glares back and Zacharias steps in front of him protectively. Draco had expected that, and had prepared himself for it. What he hadn't prepared himself for was the plump Mother Weasel to drop a pan down on the cooker with a clang and ambush the four of them with something too hysterical to be called a smile. She hugs them each in turn, earning herself appalled looks from all the redheads plus Draco when she includes him, and then cups her hand over Luna's stomach.
"Oh my dear, how exciting! Do you know the sex yet?" She asks this of Draco, who stares a bit dumbly for a moment, looking at Luna, looking at Ginny, and then remembering he's not an uneducated buffoon and can actually form sentences, unlike the majority of the room.
"Um. Yes. We're having a son." He can't help the small, involuntary twitch of a smile when he says the word son, even though the blinding smile the Weasley matriarch shoots him in return is nearly nauseating.
And just like that, it's Baby Lovegood-Malfoy to the rescue; the redheads stop glaring and start blinking, as if amazed that Malfoys can spawn boys and not demons.
"I'm very happy for you," Mrs. Weasley says earnestly. Ginny beams at her mother, and then glares at the rest of the room until they all grudgingly congratulate Draco and Luna in a chorus of grunts and shuffles.
"You little peace-maker," Zacharias whispers to Luna's stomach, and Draco fits his hand over the bump in gratitude he won't admit to.
Dinner is awkward and ridiculous, of course. It's outside, with too many people crowded around not enough tables. Draco can't get any names straight except for the Weasel he hates the most, who winds up sitting across from Draco and glaring every time Ginny's not looking. Draco minds his manners and doesn't glare back; he compliments the food and thanks his hosts and only hexes Weasel King three times, very discreetly, so that only Zach and Luna realize. He catches the crazy solo twin eyeing him speculatively after the third hex and quits then, not wanting to share his technique.
Between stilted conversations with people who still hate him, he looks up at the sky briefly and asks why me? silently and desperately. Luna squeezes his hand under the groaning table and steals all the mushrooms off his plate; Ginny grabs him an extra sweet roll with an apologetic wink; Zacharias shoots peas at the Weasel King when he starts loudly asking whether ferrets are an endangered species yet. Draco looks back up at the sky and nods in resignation: there's his answer.
Dessert is where things perk up; apple pie happens, and Draco can't even pretend to be disgusted by that. He forms a fairly solid bond with Molly Weasley over it, and resolves to remember her name from then on: Molly Weasley, bringer of apple pie. He talks to her tipsy husband about Muggle-grown apples versus wizard-grown apples and admits to liking Muggle apples better, which earns his endorsement. As dessert continues on, Ginny's smile becomes less and less strained; Luna slips her half-eaten piece of pie onto Draco's plate; Zacharias treats the dessert as a dessert rather than a weapon. The apple pie tastes like victory—not that he wants to win these people over, not that he even cares, but still.
Then Weasel King, obviously overwhelmed by all this progress, decides to start talking smack about one of Draco's oldest and dearest friends, loudly complaining about how Pansy Parkinson has been making his life at work a living hell lately, and why can't Draco control her?
Draco's line of defense all stare at Weasel, ranging in expression from murderous to blank. Zacharias picks up his half-eaten piece of pie, but it is Luna who delivers the deadly blow.
"Don't worry, Ron, I'm sure the sexual tension between you and Pansy will amount to something soon."
Draco and Ron both splutter in disgust and outrage, both denying it adamantly and profusely, for a moment united by their complete revulsion. But Ron goes scarlet, and that's even more horrifying, because dear God what if it's true? Draco gets a mental flash of freckled, hateful sex between Weasel and his Pansy and the sublime apple pie nearly comes right back up.
"Ooh," Ginny says in an awful, awful voice. "That sounds interesting."
And somehow, with Draco and Ron both kicking and screaming the whole way down, a simple family dinner at the Weasel Den turns into the St. Mungo's foursome plus Ron meeting Pansy and their crew of Slytherins at The Thundering Thestral. Everyone except for those expecting gets very drunk, and everyone shouts at each other, and Draco hexes Weasel not at all discreetly when he catches his hand on Pansy's thigh, and Weasel punches him, and Greg punches Weasel, and Blaise and Theo laugh and laugh and laugh, and it's not a very fun time at all.
For some reason, though, the next week, it happens again.
Draco has gone to countless dinner parties at the Manor; he's hosted a number of them, too, though he's grateful to no longer be in that role. He can practically recite the routine by heart: horsd'œuvres and cocktails in the parlor, followed by a stately six-course dinner in which everyone spends the night chortling faintly and boring each other to tears with stories nobody cares about. He can chortle in his sleep; he has his mother's fake compliments practically memorized. He is a Malfoy Manor dinner party aficionado. And yet none of that extensive knowledge does anything to make watching Harry bumble his wonderful way through this ridiculous routine any less delightful.
He thinks that if he didn't love Harry so damn much, he'd probably find his behavior perfectly horrifying. For the first few dinners, he sort of did—he had spent the nights kicking Harry under the table or fixing his dress robes or uselessly flattening his hair. He had jumped in the middle of the tense conversations between his father and Harry, ushered the stilted awkwardness out of the conversations between his mother and Harry, and ceased all conversations between the house-elves and Harry (honestly, the less said there, the better).
Now, though? He sort of rolls with it. Because there's one thing that Harry can do at these dinner parties better than anyone else can: he minds the children.
The presence of small children were a recent addition to the Malfoy dinner parties, one that came about because of Lucius' inability to say no to any of Daphne and Theo's young daughters and a sudden influx of Quibbler shareholders having babies. A lot of it, Draco is sure, comes from he and Luna's pregnancy; the elder Malfoys had been delighted at the prospect of grandchildren getting underfoot, even though they had barely admitted to it, and so Malfoy Manor had become fairly child-friendly. But just because children are welcome at Malfoy Manor doesn't mean that all of the chortling adults are any good at handling them there.
Enter Harry Potter: Savior of the Wizarding World, loved by children of all sizes.
Draco isn't exactly a Severus Snape, and he and Ginny and Zacharias have more than enough experience from St. Mungo's and the Dilys Derwent Ward to basically corral the kids into behaving themselves. But none of them can enchant the children quite as well as Harry does. And that's a good thing, really, Draco decides, as he watches three generations of witches and wizards gather in the barely non-hostile environment of the parlor for this particular dinner party. Because with Ginny basically ready for maternity robes, Ron and Pansy discussing genetics and whether it's possible to eradicate the red hair gene before it can do any damage, and Blaise whining about his (shockingly) first ever paternity suit, Malfoy Manor had better brace itself for a baby boom.
It's ridiculously depressing for Draco, who still won't admit to empty cradle nightmares, and yet it's very hard to feel depressed while watching Harry march a line of small children around the parlor like the Pied Piper, slipping them sweets and making them giggle at random intervals.
"He's wonderful with children, isn't he?" Luna acknowledges softly, coming to stand beside him at the bar, and Draco swallows hard and nods, grateful that it's her. He can act like a lovesick fool only when she's watching.
He reaches for his drink and clutches it hard, keeping his eyes stubbornly trained on Harry's sparkling eyes and wide, laughing mouth as one of Daphne's daughters hugs him around the knees for whatever reason. Draco's sure she doesn't need a reason—sometimes, he randomly has the urge to hug Harry around the knees, too. It's appalling.
"Have the nightmares come back?" Luna asks him quietly, and Draco slams his drink back down the bar and looks at her in wide-eyed wonder and not a little indignation.
"You are such a freak. How on Earth could you know that?"
"I know you, Draco. You've been off since Ginny told you about the pregnancy." She gazes up at him searchingly and yet totally without intent, as if she knows she doesn't need to search for anything, really. That's her way with everyone—Luna's like a Wrackspurt, knowing the human condition better than humans know themselves. "You should talk to him."
"I have." He had. It hadn't been a very long conversation, and there was a lot of 'don't worry, I'll be fine' and 'but you know it's okay if you're not fine, right Draco?' going back and forth. But still, that's talking, isn't it?
"Did you really?" She doesn't have the grace to look skeptical; she knows his bullshit better than anyone. He starts to scowl at her and then remembers that he doesn't scowl at Luna; it's utterly useless, almost as useless as scowling at Ginny.
Sometimes, with how effortlessly perceptive Luna is, it's hard to find a flaw, a chink, a place to head her off. But Draco had dated her for three years. More than that, he had broken up with her. He knows her nearly as well as she knows him, and he knows perfectly well how to run her off. He'd done it before, after all.
"It's funny, Luna, how it's suddenly so important for me talk about this now, when back then it was the last thing you wanted me to do."
There—a flash of hurt, and of course she doesn't hide it. Luna never hides anything. It doesn't feel nearly as satisfying as it should, but then again, nothing but Harry really feels that satisfying anymore.
She recovers quickly, though, putting aside her own hurt to pick on Draco's, as fucking always. "You know that's not true at all, Draco."
And yes, of course he knows—but it's so complicated. He's not nearly drunk enough yet to puzzle it all out.
"I know that this isn't the crisis you're making it out to be. So what if I'm a little down—I think I'm entitled to it. I'm not as—" And he breaks off, because it's not necessary to bring up how wrecked he'd been right after they lost the baby. She knows. Reminding her will only hurt her again.
She doesn't back down, though. Never mind that this is a Malfoy Manor dinner party, that his parents are probably staring them down by now, that the first course will be served within the hour. She keeps his gaze until he has to look away; he can't look at her eyes anymore without seeing a tiny, still blue face and hearing that awful, awful silence.
"Look at him, Draco," Luna insists, and Draco shuts his eyes and shakes his head. "Can't you see it? I can."
And of fucking course he can—he can see Harry with a tiny toddler broomstick, guiding a small boy around the townhouse living room. He can see trips to the park, buckets and spades in the sandbox, he can see himself screeching out anti-bacterial charms, berating them Potter, you don't know what's living in there! He can see pancakes with bacon smiles and he can see little legs that swing high above the kitchen floor. He can see a family with Harry Potter, and it's absolutely heartbreaking.
Harry is wonderful with children, but Draco's already a proven failure.
He opens his eyes and knows Luna can see all that in just a glance. Knows as she opens her mouth that she'll fight him on that, repeat those classic Mind Healer words: not your fault, not your fault, not your fault, the words he's never been able to fully believe.
"I don't see anything," he lies blatantly, and he abandons his drink and his past failure at the bar and heads for the future he can't let himself have.
He contents himself with Harry at the dinner party, Harry making boring chit-chat and stiff chortles fun and bright. And then he takes Harry home, lets Harry into his bed and his body, lets him into almost all of his heart.
"I love you," Draco whispers honestly, the statement rare enough that it sets Harry's brilliant eyes on fire, and true enough that it keeps the flames high.
"Love you too," Harry mumbles with no hesitation, and he kisses Draco with enough strength that he's almost able to tell himself that it will always be enough.
The baby kicks his chin, a soft thump, thump that will have him beaming for the next four hours at least. Draco presses a firm kiss against the cloth covered bump and gently replaces his cheek there.
"Cepheus," he mumbles, and Luna sighs contentedly, reclining against the headboard.
"The king. It sounds beautiful."
The baby kicks again twice, harder, and Draco laughs a little. "I don't think he likes it. Caelum."
"The chisel. Perhaps he will be a sculptor, our own little Michelangelo."
"Shh, I'm not asking you, I'm asking him. One kick for yes, two kicks for no, Bumpit." The baby is quiet, mockingly still, and Draco rolls his eyes and scowls in fake indignation. "Honestly. Not the brightest little Bumpit, are you?"
"We should call him Bumpit. I like it; it's charming." Luna's voice is as soft as her eyes, and she gazes down at Draco and the bump with more fondness than Draco had ever thought could possibly come from one person. He swallows against the sheer warmth of it for a minute and looks back to the bump.
"You're not helpful at all. Perseus." The baby kicks and Draco beams again, looking up at Luna. "He likes it!"
"Excellent. Perseus, the hero."
And Draco sighs and shakes his head mournfully. "Well that's out, then. I'm not raising a Gryffindor, sorry."
"Aries, if he gets his father's stubbornness."
"Leo, Aquarius. We'll run through the whole zodiac like this." The baby kicks once, in obvious agreement.
Luna shifts a bit, reaching a hand lightly down to squeeze Draco's shoulder. "I like Leo."
"Oh you would, you Gryffindor-lover. Leo is much too common a name for a Malfoy, anyway." She squeezes his shoulder again and then nods, smiling serenely.
"I will love any name we decide, Draco." She gives him that look again, eyes shining with a love that nearly has him reeling. He sighs and looks down at the bump, wondering how it's possible to love two beings so damn much he might burst from it. He can feel it in his gut like a wonderful ache, throbbing and forceful.
"Okay. Leo." He rubs the bump, and the baby kicks once. Draco laughs again, this time shakily, feeling everything rush through him. "Leo," he whispers reverently, and Luna threads a hand in his hair and he closes his eyes.
"Leo Bumpit Malfoy," Luna says decisively, and Draco knows he is the luckiest man in the world.
He rests his head on firm, warm thighs and keeps his eyes closed, dozing to the soft sounds of a quill scribbling and a Mediwizard muttering.
"Shortness of breath, and she's bleeding purple—never seen that before, and neither has Healer Greene—"
"Mm," Draco answers, even though Harry hadn't asked him. "Hit with confundo?"
"Yes, over and over, had a real bastard of a boyfriend—she kept catching him cheating, and apparently he's shit at obliviate—"
"Suggestibility Solution, too much of it. Tell Greene to get a Potions and Plants consult, that's probably the purple."
There's a shuffling of parchment, but Harry moves his lower body very minutely so as not to disturb Draco's head. Draco warms slightly from the consideration. "You're right, her serotonin's up—Draco, you are a fucking genius." Draco gets even warmer—Harry-compliments always sound slightly awed, and not in that arse-kissing way that pre-Ginny Zacharias had, but in a respectful, sort of legitimate way. It feels amazing.
"Yes, I know."
Harry lets out a short laugh, and Draco doesn't have to open his eyes to see the happy lines in his face or the relaxed set of his shoulders now that he's finished his work. As if to prove the point, he hears the parchment flutter through the air and land on the end table, and he feels Harry's rough and wonderful fingers fit into his hair, running through the short, mussed strands of it. Calluses rub gently against his scalp and Draco may or may not be purring.
"You broke the rule, by the way," he mumbles, to distract from the ridiculous purring (for Merlin's sake, he's not a bloody cat).
"What rule?" Harry murmurs, voice already free of the sharp, pointed edge it always gets during work.
"Your rule. No work in the sitting room." He smirks, knows it probably looks ridiculous with his eyes still shut, but doesn't care. Draco likes Harry-compliments; Harry likes Draco-smirks.
"Oh, yes," Harry says sleepily, distractedly. "M'sorry about that."
"As you should be."
"Mm. Cuts into cuddling time, I know."
Draco's eyes snap open, and he feels Harry's silent laughter vibrating through his body.
Harry grins down at him, face hazy and slack. "Yes, what did you think we were doing?" He pets Draco's forehead, pointedly raising an eyebrow.
"You make it sound like it's depraved."
"Oh no, I can handle depraved. But—no. You just used a Hufflepuff word. Broke another one of the rules right there." Harry laughs out loud then, big and delighted, and it makes Draco's lips do that twitchy, involuntary smile thing. Damn.
"But come on. This couch is soft and comfy. You are lying in my lap. These are just prime cuddling conditions." Suddenly, he starts shifting all around, heedless of Draco's squawks, and very quickly Draco is lying on top of a wriggling Harry, wrapped in strong, warm arms with his head fitted under Harry's chin. "There. See? We can call it snuggling if it suits you better."
"Go to hell."
"Yes, Snuggle Muffin. Oof." Draco grins, satisfied, as he feels Harry curl up around the elbow he's just driven into his gut.
"Not snuggling. Not cuddling. I don't know where you get these ideas, Potter."
"Okay, so you're simply lying on top of me, in my arms, fitted pretty snugly—excuse me, tightly, snugly is too Hufflepuff for you, right?—up against me, not making any moves to break free."
Draco closes his eyes again, lulled back into relaxation by Harry's—okay, sarcastic, whatever—acceptance. "Yes. Precisely. Glad you could see things my way."
"You are very silly."
A part of him wants to fight against that Hufflepuff word—him, a Malfoy, accused of being silly, honestly—and yet the rest of him is too comfortable and sleepy. He yawns widely, and feels Harry's warm smile in the brush of his hands around Draco's wrists, the gentle movements of his chest beneath his face. He gets a kiss to the top of his head and decides that yes, this is good, no matter what it's called, and if he's really honest Draco can't think of a Slytherin-appropriate word for it.
He thinks he could do this for the rest of his life, and knows then that he won't do anything to risk it. It's ridiculous to even think about, to bring up the past and the remaining darkness surrounding Draco's stupid heart and even risk unsettling this perfect, perfect fit: Harry and Draco, just Harry and Draco, and there's no room for loss in that equation.
There are not many places in St. Mungo's that Draco Malfoy isn't allowed in. He'd been pretty unwelcome up in Spell Damage right after he had marched out of there with a line of magically atrophied old folks ready for the Forget-Me-Not treatment, but he hadn't cared one whit about it and had sauntered up to see Luna as often as possible anyway. He hadn't been allowed up on the rooftop for a short period of time when they were doing some renovations, but nobody was, and it was only mildly inconvenient. And he gets periodically banned from the Lab for making people cry or destroying equipment, but the bans never really stick.
As far as Draco is concerned, there shouldn't be any places in St. Mungo's that he isn't allowed to be in. St. Mungo's has enough Malfoy family money pumped into it yearly that he can confidently say he basically owns the place.
Which is why it's quite infuriating when he's not allowed into the Birthing Center when Luna goes into labor. In fact, it's downright preposterous, and Draco says as much to the very brave nurse who keeps kicking him out of Luna's room.
"It's too soon for you to be in there, Healer Malfoy," the nurse snaps. Draco remembers that it is very bad to hit a woman, but hexing a woman isn't as awful, and he fingers his wand and tries not to quake in frustration and rage. "You'll interfere with the magic—your aura is not right at all for a peaceful delivery."
Draco is about to deliver a very non-peaceful hex when Blaise and Greg manage to grab him from behind and drag him into the small waiting room where everyone else has congregated. He scowls at the sight of Weasley, Granger and Longbottom but doesn't say anything about it.
"The nurse said it'll be a few hours, but Luna isn't in any pain," Blaise announces to the gathered little crowd. "If anyone wants to leave and come back for the main show, it's fine. I'm staying here, and Lucius, Narcissa and Xenophilius are on the way in."
Draco waits for the three Gryffindors not employed by St. Mungo's to take the hint and leave, but nobody stands up; they all just chat with each other casually while Draco gapes at them. Pansy catches the look on his face and jumps to her feet, swooping in with Daphne at her heels, and very soon he's planted in a chair with Pansy loudly complaining about nothing of consequence in one ear and Daphne holding his hand comfortingly, the way Luna always does. He shivers a bit in his seat and tells himself to calm down—if he calms down, they will let him see her.
He calms down. He takes a few breaths. He greets his parents coolly and tries not to flinch away from his mother's hug, his father's handshake. He feels unsettled and uncomfortable in his own skin—there's too much going on inside of him, a giant twister of elation and terror and nausea. He needs Luna, who would be able to tell him everything's fine with just a careful, level gaze and a squeeze of the hand.
He has Pansy and Daphne instead, and Ginny and Zach and Blaise and Theo and Greg, and Xenophilius Lovegood and Mother and Father and even those fucking Gryffindors. He doesn't want any of them.
Draco goes back to the room, this time with Theo and Pansy backing him, because if anyone can talk their way into that room, it's Theo and Pansy. But the nurse seems to have undergone some kind of Slytherin-training, even against rabid Slytherins who are so tensed up and crazy right now they're about to shoot through the ceiling, because she is steadfast and stalwart in her refusal.
"I'm sorry Healer Malfoy, it isn't time yet."
In a rational world where Draco is still Healer Malfoy and knows the basics of magical births, he knows that this is true. Magical births are delicate, and reactive, and wild magic—the kind Draco can feel rumbling under his bones right now, the kind everyone must feel in the air—can set off the labor and speed it up until it turns dangerous. Healer Malfoy knows this. Healer Malfoy has seen wild magic get in the way of a magical birth, has seen the early, jarring, panicked, sped-up contractions it sets off, and Healer Malfoy would be able to calmly accept this notion and patiently wait until it's time for him to be with Luna.
But Healer Malfoy isn't here right now. There is only Draco, or even just Malfoy, absolutely terrified and fit to burst.
Malfoy swings a detour on the way back to the waiting room and heads down to the Lab for no discernible, rational reason until he gets there and decides it might help his case to pick up a chair and throw it at a station of cauldrons. The splash of potions and the sound of pathologists screaming and running are almost satisfying, and so he keeps going, not even registering that his father is there, too, also hurling chairs for some reason, or that they're soon joined by that entire waiting room crew.
The first thing that does register is that Weasley is laughing, not at him, but at all the pathologists hiding under counters. And for no discernible, rational reason, that makes him feel a little better.
He's banned from the Lab again, but he doesn't care—he'll take a lifetime ban from the Lab if it means he can just be with Luna for five minutes.
After the Lab there's more waiting in that sodding waiting room, and everyone talking about stupid, stupid things, Blaise complimenting Father on his aim, Zach smirking about those sodding Lab rats finally getting what's coming to them, Weasley loudly asking if there's any place he can get a bite to eat around here.
"Have you picked a name, Draco?" Longbottom asks him quietly, sounding neither soothing nor placating or any other kind of rubbish. He appreciates that.
"Leo," he says smoothly, the first non-expletive he's said in hours.
Longbottom smiles, and Draco is startled for a moment by the fact that somewhere along the line, he had done a lot of growing up, more than he'd ever expected.
"That's a lovely name," he says, sounding perfectly honest, and Draco feels just a tiny bit like himself again when he says, "I know."
He is struck by sudden rush of pure want—he just wants the little boy now, he wants him wriggling in his arms and the kick of his feet against his hand and he wants the high squalling coming from the depths of his tiny baby chest. He tightens his fists against the feeling and forces himself to have a conversation with Longbottom instead of thinking about it.
They finally let him in after another hour. He steps in stiff and bone-white, holding his spine straight so he won't tremble. For a moment, he locks eyes with Luna and everything is bright and wonderful and perfect—he is going to be a father, Leo is on his way, he has Luna and he will have Leo and everything will be perfect. It's time.
He will look back on that moment and wish he could live in it forever.
Because next come the looks—the hushed voices, the worried clucking. And he knows—Healer Malfoy may not be here right now but he still knows what Healers sound like when something is wrong. He numbly sits down by Luna's bedside, takes her hand, and she doesn't squeeze it. She is not smiling, she does not look peaceful or dreamy—she looks dull, and blank. She doesn't look at Draco.
"Healer Malfoy," the nurse says, and he understands how bad it is just by the softness in her voice, the gentleness in her tone. He braces himself. "We can't—we can't hear the baby's heartbeat. I'm afraid—I'm so sorry, Draco."
He doesn't quite understand what she means, at first. It is only when he squeezes desperately and pleadingly at Luna's hand that she makes it clear to him. And she reveals the first lie she has ever told him.
"I haven't felt the baby move since yesterday morning. I couldn't tell you."
Draco grows cold, and a Healer comes in and asks if they're ready for delivery, and Draco wants to ask what they're going to deliver, but he knows and he doesn't really want to know.
He thinks of ridiculous things during the delivery—telling the waiting room, telling his parents, will the Gryffindors be smug or sympathetic, and which will be worse? He thinks of the nursery at the Manor, thinks of delivering a still, cold body that has no place in the yellow-blue décor that his mother and Luna had bonded so beautifully over. He thinks of the twinkling stars painted on the walls, thinks he'll never, ever be able to look up at the constellation Leo again.
Luna is sweating and pale, and she looks stiff and lost in a way he's never seen before. She holds his hand loosely and distractedly. She still won't look at him. The Healer waves her wand and hums and the room is thick with grief. Luna whimpers in pain, the first truthful sound she's made since Draco came into the room, and he hates her then for knowing, Luna had known, Luna hadn't felt the baby move since yesterday morning, Luna couldn't tell him.
He hates the Healer for telling her to push—push what, what's the point, you're hurting her and it's all for nothing, stop hurting her, just STOP—and the nurse is reading out progress in a choked, somber voice, a Mediwizard is sweeping in to join the fucking party.
"Okay," breathes the Healer, and there is a minute of terrible, terrible silence before Luna bursts into tears.
"I'm sorry!" she wails, and it's so unlike her Draco quickly goes into shock. "I'm so sorry, Draco, I'm sorry!" She squeezes his hand and he is horrified, freezing cold, and he wants to squeeze her hand back but doesn't quite know how.
The Mediwizard has the—he is cradling Draco's silent son in his arms, swaddling him in spells, his wand a blur over the form Draco can't quite bring himself to look at. Luna continues to cry, quieting down now but still weeping bitterly, and Draco knows he should be comforting her, knows he should be doing something, and yet he can't move.
The Mediwizard slumps, and the awful resignation that had filled Draco at the first I'm so sorry shatters and breaks. He makes a sound that's a bit like a wounded dog and then stands, slowly, dropping Luna's hand and not feeling enough regret for it.
"No," he says quietly. "No."
The nurse must sense something in his voice; she intercepts him before he can even think about moving towards the Mediwizard. "Healer Malfoy, please. We've done all we can."
"No, let me—"
"I'm afraid we can't, there's nothing anyone can do—"
"But I'm a Healer, I can—I can fix this—" He raises his wand, and the Healer gets the good sense to disarm him quickly. "NO, please, you can't—"
"Draco," says the Healer.
"Draco," Luna chokes out.
The baby says nothing, and Draco knows he'd give anything in the world to hear him make any sound at all.
"Please," he says, uselessly, and he doesn't know what he's asking for until the Mediwizard sighs and presses a tiny, still body in his arms.
He used to have nightmares about Fiendfyre; he used to dream about the whole world in the Room of Hidden Things, lost in flames with no Harry Potter to swoop in and save them.
He used to be a fool, he concludes, as a fault line rips open right there in his heart and everything feels like it's quaking around him. There are no flames, certainly no heroes, just what feels like the end of the world right there in his arms.
Ginny goes into labor in the beginning of her eighth month, early enough for everyone to properly freak out and panic. Draco thinks that it is perfectly typical of a Weasley, especially one sired by Zacharias Smith, to burst into the world early and obnoxiously. He is not surprised.
Harry, finally back in Bugs after completing his Traineeship, drops the chart he's holding, grabs hold of Draco's arm, and rushes them towards the lifts as soon as they hear the page down to Birthing.
The Birthing staff only allows Zacharias in at first, eyeing Draco shrewdly as if to say yes, we know all about you. Harry is bouncing on his heels, going, "Early, early, early," over and over like a nutter, so of course they won't let him in either. Zacharias, for once in his life, is deemed the sanest person in their trio, and so he makes it past the nurse's checkpoint.
Draco sits, very calmly, in the waiting room as directed, and he manages not to freak out at all for quite a while, actually. Not even when Luna appears, breathless and drawn, and looking at her right then feels a bit like getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly; still, he does not freak out. The waiting room fills with Weasleys, with Bugs staff, with Slytherins, and Draco sits cool and collected, not thinking about five years ago, not thinking about anything at all, really.
Then Zacharias comes barreling into the waiting room, red-faced and breathing hard, no longer sane, and he bellows, "DRACO, we need Draco! He has to be there!" and he grabs Draco by the arm and manhandles him down the hall and to Ginny's room. Still, Draco does not panic.
"Draco!" Ginny screeches, sweaty and pale and constipated-looking, legs up in the air awkwardly. "Get your skinny ferret arse over here, take my hand, there, you're not getting out of this, look, there's a baby, Draco, the baby is coming!"
"The baby!" Zacharias shouts, and he dives to look between Ginny's legs, making the Healer already there chuckle airily when he immediately goes green. Draco takes Ginny's hand and lets her squeeze his fingers, keeping his mind carefully, carefully blank. He does not look around the room and wonder if it's the same one. He does not see Luna in the bed, he sees Ginny, his best friend Ginny, who is about to have a baby, and isn't that nice?
"And we're crowning!" the Healer crows delightedly, and a Mediwitch reminds Ginny to push. Ginny pushes, Ginny carefully rearranges the bones in Draco's hand, and Ginny sobs with the effort.
"BLOND! That looks blond, doesn't it?" Zacharias throws his arms up in the air in triumph.
"Maybe," the Healer says. "There doesn't seem to be much yet…it could be red. Ginny, sweetie, give me a big push, there's a girl."
Ginny grinds her teeth, grinds Draco's phalanges together, and pushes. There's a rush of magic, a flutter of motion from the various people between Ginny's legs, and then the sound of a baby crying rips through Draco like a sectumsempra, just ten times more painful.
Finally, Draco panics.
He staggers to the side, and Zach and the Healer are looking down at something slimy and wriggling and crying, oh God, and the Mediwitch is waving her wand and reassuring a still-sobbing Ginny, and it's a boy, and Zacharias fits his arms around the baby and stares down at him, eyes big and shining, and Ginny is whining about getting to see, it's her baby too, but Draco can only hear the crying, can only see the squirming movements of the boy in Zacharias' arms.
He wheezes slightly for a moment, as Zach joins Ginny on her other side and they stare at the baby and the Healer and the Mediwitch stare at Draco as if they've figured out he's quickly coming apart. Ginny drops his hand to touch the boy, sobbing something unintelligible and ecstatic, and Draco bolts.
He passes staff members that look concerned, knocks into other expectant fathers and mothers and hates them all for a little bit. Healer Malfoy is here, saying you are hyperventilating, you are having a panic attack, stop running and sit down and put your head between your bloody knees but he ignores Healer Malfoy and races down the hall, going nowhere, going anywhere that isn't there, anywhere he can't hear that baby crying. He stumbles towards the empty stairwell down to the Lab and then lands on his arse on one of the top steps, realizes that the awful, wet choking sound echoing through the stairwell is coming from his heaving chest, and tries shakily to get back up again.
Before he makes it, if he was ever going to make it, something solid and warm and panicking crashes into his side, wrapping arms around him and grabbing tightly. Harry sounds very far away, and very frightened, and he is saying, "Draco, breathe, you've got to breathe!" over and over like a nutter, and Draco thinks that yes, breathing would be a good idea, except it's not happening, there is no sound but that baby crying, no air but the air that Leo never breathed, and Draco tries to shove his head between his knees but blacks out halfway there.
Draco wakes up with his head on Harry's thighs, red-rimmed green eyes blinking down at him. A quick glance at the gray wall behind Harry tells him they're in his office.
"This is my fault," Harry croaks ridiculously. A thousand different ways to call Harry stupid rush through his head, and in the end all he can manage is a feeble, incredulous shake of his head. No.
"Yes," Harry answers. "Yes, I let it get this bad—I never talked to you, I never made you talk, I thought you just wanted to be left alone, I thought it would be okay if we just left it alone, but no, fucking hell Draco, that was so stupid, I am so stupid—"
"No," Draco insists adamantly. He sits up so fast his head spins, and Harry lets out a strangled sound of protest, but Draco grabs him about the shoulders anyway. "No, this wasn't—not your fault. Please. Don't. I'm fine."
Harry laughs, high and choked and angry. "You are so far from fine it isn't even funny, Malfoy."
Draco shakes him by the shoulders, knocking his head back and forth a little. "No, I'm fine. I'm sorry." He swallows tightly, the memory of his ridiculous hysteria washing through him and bathing him in shame. He is an idiot, he is the stupid one, and his skin stings with hot embarrassment.
"For fuck's sake—"
"Please," he says lowly, locking eyes with Harry. The truth is that he is fine, because he is here, he has Harry, he is safe now. He is desperate to make Harry realize that. "Just, please. I promise you that I'm fine. Really." He pulls a smile out of who-bloody-knows where and squeezes Harry's shoulders.
"We need to talk about this."
"I have to go meet my godson."
"Not now," he snaps, and Harry folds, jaw set and stubborn but his inability to refuse Draco anything finally overcoming his worry.
"Yes," Draco lies.
After the fifth straight night of empty cradle nightmares, the 500th time Luna has lied to him and told him that everything will be alright, Draco starts sleeping in the on-call room.
It's another five nights before anybody notices that he never actually leaves the hospital anymore, and Draco is pretty proud of that, actually. In spite of his stealth, though, his Healer-in-Charge calls him in for a conference and brings it up hesitantly.
"I think you should take some time, Draco."
"Don't be ridiculous," Draco snaps, huffing impatiently. "I don't need any time. I need to be at work. The Abraxas Ward needs me—we're about to bring in a whole new round of patients, and I have two Trainees specifically interested in geriatric care. Tell me, what can I do at home?"
Healer Quaker, a silver-haired man with perpetually sad eyes, somehow manages to look even sadder. "How is Luna doing?" It's manipulative—you should be at home, helping her cope. Draco bites down on a snarl.
"Luna is fine," he spits. "She keeps saying—she says it just wasn't meant to be." He refuses to let his voice break at that, or to let Quaker realize how much it hurts to say. "In fact, she thinks it's a good idea that I'm still working. She'll probably be back at work soon, too."
Healer Quaker frowns, and looks about to protest. Draco rolls his eyes inwardly and decides to hit him where it hurts: guilt. He screws up the most pitiful expression he can muster without throwing up in his mouth and addresses his knees. "Please, sir. I just really need to be around my friends right now. I can't just—"
He can't look at her. He can't see her wide, dreamy eyes, can't see how she's truly just fine, not in the lying Draco way but in the way where she really believes that this is the way things were meant to be. He can't fucking handle that. This is not the way things were meant to be—he was meant to be the father of a kicking, burping, shitting baby boy right now, not the father of a corpse.
"Of course," Quaker hurries. "I understand, Draco. And please, remember, you can always talk to me, I'm your friend too, you know."
And just like that, Draco has free reign to sleep in the on-call room, which he takes advantage of readily. It becomes the best-kept secret of the second floor, that Healer Malfoy has moved into the on-call room, and everyone tiptoes around the fact. He can see Ginny's protests churning around in her head, but Zach stamps on her foot or elbows her in the side and she bites them down, asks how Draco's doing and then goes on her way.
In a way, it's disappointing—before the baby, Ginny would've ripped his ear off tugging him back to Luna. Before the baby, his parents would have marched into Bugs and dragged him kicking and screaming back to the Manor, where he belongs. But his parents pretend that it's not odd to only see him at one meal a day, and sometimes not even then. His parents seem to realize that they are not the ones keeping him away from the Manor.
Because Luna is one of the most brilliant witches Draco has ever known, it doesn't take her long to figure out what, or rather who, is keeping him away from the Manor. But she is easily accepting of that, too, the way she always is about everything. "You do what you have to do, Draco," she says soothingly, and Draco sees red and ends the Floo call and then shouts the fear of God into a Trainee.
He lives off a burning combination of rage, sorrow and work ethic. For a while, everything is about the baby—the way everyone treats him, how hard he works, how little he sleeps, everything goes back to the baby. For the nine months Luna had been pregnant, he had lived and died by the thought of that baby in his arms. Now, he lives and dies by the loss of that baby, and he wears his grief like a cloak. There is no point in hiding it—everyone knows it's there.
Days slide by, melting together into a gleaming puddle of awfulness and unimportance. There is no single point they are moving towards, no break in time where things will suddenly change. He storms through his life with no thought of where he's going, only thoughts of where he can't.
The actual breakup happens slowly, as the most painful ones do. Draco and Luna converge a few times, their different paths of grief rarely intersecting. When they do intersect, Draco treats her the way he treats everyone else, the way he hasn't treated her since Hogwarts—he shouts and rages, cutting and whipping at her with harsh words, and her passiveness infuriates him even more.
"Did you ever even want this?" he asks her at one point, helpless and impotent tears stinging his eyes as she blinks back at him, already forgiving.
"Of course I did. And I know you did too, Draco. But it just wasn't meant to be."
"Stop fucking saying that!"
Oh, how he hates that, that fatalist shit. He had a plan, that wasn't fate, and plans go wrong, but never this wrong, he has never had a plan go this wrong.
Another time, he asks her if she hates him.
"Of course I don't. I could never hate you, Draco."
"Why not?" Draco demands, that damned fault line opening up again. He'd been banned from the Lab again for hexing a pathologist, and he'd invaded the Manor spoiling for a fight, a beating. "Why can't you just fucking hate me so I know you care?"
"I love you. I could never hate you." But she says it all in the same exact tone, the same way she'd talk about the weather or Nargles, and he can't deal with that.
Rationally, he knows that this is the way Luna is—people grieve in different ways, and this is the way she works. She has always worked like this, with the exception of those few minutes right after the baby was born dead. He fell in love with this, this easy accepting nature of hers, the softness of her perpetual forgiveness. Three years ago, there was no one willing to forgive Draco, no one really willing to accept him, except for Luna. But now he doesn't need forgiveness, or acceptance. He needs her to rage at him the way he rages at her, to hurt the way he's hurting.
Another night, Luna invades his territory, gliding into the on-call room silently and looking at him with that same blank, vague surrender. Draco wants desperately to draw her back into battle, but she had never seen the point of battle to begin with.
"Please come back to the Manor, Draco. I've moved back in with Daddy." He doesn't look at her, stares up at the bunk above him.
"So that's it, then."
"Yes, I suppose so." Dull, and resigned. There is no fight in her now, and there is nothing but fight in Draco.
He doesn't move back to the Manor, even though she does, indeed, move out. He stays in the on-call room, living the life of a workaholic ghost, dreaming of empty cradles. Sometimes, that sod Potter winds up starring in the dreams, and they punch and kick and bite each other. Potter fucks him furiously, viciously, and these are the most satisfying dreams he has had in a long time.
Potter is in Canada. In between uselessly picking fights with Ginny and Zach and making a reputation for being the scariest fucking Healer in the hospital, Draco realizes that he's going to have to go after the next best thing.
The Friday after Luna had appealed to him about the Manor, Draco joins the stupid band of Hogwarts alums at The Thundering Thestral and simply waits for it. The usual suspects all coddle him and congratulate him on coming out with them, but Ron Weasley only needs a few beers in him to get started.
"So. I hear you've been a real shit to Luna."
Granger smacks him on the back of the head; Longbottom yelps out a scandalized, "Ron, no!" But Draco smiles grimly.
"And what if I have, Weasel?" It's all in the tone; he talks to Weasley as though he would a particularly slow child, and the freckled face in front of him burns red. Pansy catches on very quickly and her eyes narrow.
"Well fuck you, then. You think you're the only one who lost a baby? I mean, shit, grow up, Malfoy. She's hurting too." He looks proud of himself after that, nodding firmly and chugging back some beer. In the next second, he leaps to his feet, spluttering in outrage, because Draco has hexed the bottle to explode in his face. "FUCK. What the fuck is your problem, Ferret?"
"My problem is with dirty weasels who don't know how to keep their nose out of my business!" Draco sneers. Pansy and Ginny are standing up, too, holding their arms out, though Pansy knows exactly what's going on, and she knows exactly what's going to happen. "I realize you haven't got two brain cells to rub together, and Merlin knows you can't afford to buy any, but that doesn't mean you get to—"
Weasley slams his fist into the side of Draco's jaw with an utterly satisfying crack, and fire sizzles through his veins and into his eyes and he punches back. Everyone is shouting around them, and Greg moves to jump in but Granger stops him, and Draco feels a rush of sick gratitude towards her—she truly is clever. He gets a few good, perfect hits in but this fight is all about Weasley, about the thunk of Draco's head against the table when Ron throws him over it, about finally someone reacting the way he's always wanted them to. He's tired of this friends bullshit, of this placating oh Draco, are you all right, you'll get through this. He doesn't want to get through this.
He blackens Weasley's eye and feels his knuckles crush against each other, lets Weasley drive an angry fist into his gut and revels in the burn it sends through his body. He throws himself forward to hurl Weasley to the floor and they roll for a bit. Then Weasley gets Draco onto his stomach, pushes a knee into his back and bends his arms behind him, and he is suddenly overwhelmed by the ridiculous and useless desire for Harry Potter to be the one up above him, Potter the one finally giving him what he deserves.
My god, he thinks disgustedly, feeling lower than low. I'm actually pining for Harry Potter.
He blinks against the unexpected, humiliating burn of tears and is utterly grateful for when Weasley stands up slowly, realizing he can hear the hitch in his breath.
"I'm sorry, Malfoy," he mumbles dejectedly, and he sticks out a hand to help Draco up. Draco ignores it, stays face down on the dirty floor of the pub for a few minutes, before Weasley sighs and kisses Pansy apologetically and then leaves with Longbottom.
"You are such a bastard," Ginny says from up above him, and then she's kneeling on the floor next to him, hauling him up with her skinny little arms, wrapping them around his shaking shoulders. She presses her face to his neck and he has to fight back a sob when he feels the wetness there. Pansy drops down, too, grimacing at the grime on the floor but doing it anyway, and then the others follow, all surrounding him, touching him or just looking at him, not with sympathy but with some sort of grim understanding.
"I'm sorry," Draco tells them all, and Daphne slaps him and tells him to shut up, and he smiles a real smile for the first time in weeks.
Draco honestly believes that Harry will leave it alone for a while—he'll sense his need for space, he won't push, he'll allow Draco to pull on his armor of normal and snark and go about his life as if there isn't a black hole of fear and grief still festering inside of him. He thinks he can avoid Harry the way he could avoid Luna, keep Harry on a different path of understanding, and only allow them to intersect when it's a necessity.
Draco is an idiot, and he is sorely mistaken.
It starts off with the questions, and they are unsubtle and upsetting: What were you going to name the baby? How much did he weigh when he was born? Did you get to hold him? Did he look like you?
He responds to these questions about as well as one would expect: he spits and rages, hurls insults and sneers as if it's the Hogwarts days. He throws the questions back in Harry's face, asks him about the war, about Sirius Black, about Dumbledore and Snape. He waits for Harry to snap, to say too far, Malfoy and either realize the questions aren't worth it or that Draco isn't, but it never happens. They stomp off in stalemates, or clash together in harsh, rough couplings as if they're in NEWT year again.
One night, Draco is too tired and worn down and desperate for normal to go home and fight with Harry. He briefly considers crashing in the on-call room, decides it would be entirely too pathetic, and curls up on the couch in his office. He has just fallen into a fitful, twitching sleep when his Floo flares green and lights up the room to show Harry, snarling and hurt.
"Are you fucking kidding me?"
"I'm tired, Potter," Draco moans, throwing an arm over his eyes.
"Would you just explain to me, then, why you can't talk about this? It's tearing you apart, you know, and it's only going to get worse." Draco remains silent, adopting the Luna-stance towards fighting and staying out of it. That just riles Harry up more, as he should've known it would. "This isn't like you. When something's bothering you, you let everyone know. This suffering in silence shit is ridiculous."
"I'm not suffering."
"The fuck you're not."
"There's no point," Draco sighs, finally looking up at Harry, who's still vibrating by the Floo.
"There's a point when it's making you like this. When it's making us like this." Harry shuffles around a bit, looking down at the floor, but when he glances up his eyes are still hard and determined, his concern and worry always a force to be reckoned with.
Looking into those eyes, Draco sees how it could go. He sees nights in the on-call room, a slow breakup, and then fumbling back towards friendship—and realizes that none of that's really possible. Harry would never in a million years let that happen. That's not the way they are going to end, if they're going to end at all. Harry Potter will never go down without a fight.
And fuck, does he love that. He used to fear that Luna had ruined him for anyone else, but what he knows now is that Harry had ruined him for anyone else, way back before he'd even properly met Luna. He had always needed Harry in some primal, fundamental way, and it had really been stupid to fight that.
"I can tell you about Leo," Draco decides, knowing it makes no real difference. Leo is actually not the issue—Leo is the etiology. The possibility, or the lack thereof, of Leo having a little brother or sister is the problem, the disease for which Draco can't risk finding a cure for.
Harry hasn't realized this, though. His whole body sags in relief at Draco's apparent surrender, and he listens raptly to everything Draco tells him, from the best roast beef sandwich he's ever had to the humiliating fight with Ron Weasley. Draco doesn't skimp out on the details, and it really is as easy as he'd ever imagined it would be. This is Harry—he can tell Harry anything. Almost anything.
"I don't understand," Harry says when he finishes, and Draco doesn't know how to make him without ruining everything. "It's—you're okay. What was so hard about that?"
"It's not that," Draco admits, letting his forehead drop into his hands. "That wasn't hard. That was just a story." He thinks about it for a minute, considering how to do this best, if he should even do this, and then locks eyes with Harry. "Did you know I was nearly 27 before I could Conjure a Patronus?"
Harry blinks. "No. I didn't know that."
"A childhood of privilege and wealth, a devoted family, surviving a war, and I had never allowed myself to feel happy enough to produce a powerful enough memory. We used to use them, before the Wrackspurts, before we had the paging system up, to send messages through the wards, but I never could." He pauses, clearing his throat to keep his voice from cracking. "Until I felt the baby kick for the first time; I had never let myself feel such pure, unadulterated joy until then. Memory's the most powerful magic of all, and finally I could tap into it, all because of a tiny bean of a person."
His lover crumples a bit, eyes shining with such sadness Draco can feel it ringing deep inside of him. "I'm so sorry, Draco."
"I know. I am too." He sighs slowly, wistfully. "Luna said it wasn't meant to be." Then he jumps when Harry leaps out of his seat, suddenly vibrating again.
"That's bullshit, that's—oh God, you know that's not true, right?" Now it is Harry's voice breaking, and Draco stares at him in alarm. "That's not true. There was no—it doesn't work like that. The baby died, and that sucked, but that doesn't mean anything other than the fact that the baby died. There was no prophecy here, no chosen fate; I don't let myself believe in that anymore. Our lives are what we make it. It doesn't mean that you're not meant to be a father, that doesn't mean you're not…you're not meant to be a…oh. Fuck. You want another baby, don't you? That's what this is about." Harry has climbed onto the same page; the slow dawning of realization has lit up his face, and he looks utterly beautiful in his enlightenment and hard determination.
Draco has to sit on his hands to keep from reaching for him desperately. He shakes his head. "No, I know—I don't buy into that fatalist stuff. That's why we—I couldn't hear her say that, even though I don't think she meant it like that."
"Then what, Draco? What's stopping us? There are ways, you know—adoption, and you're a Healer, you know about magical insemination, you know about surrogates." He trails off when Draco doesn't respond, and the light in his eyes dims. Draco has to hold back a sound of distress when Harry's shoulders slump and he suddenly looks like an uncertain, insecure little boy. "Is it…is it me? Do you not want to have a baby with—"
"No!" With a slightly strangled cry, Draco launches himself at Harry, pulling him back down, scrabbling a little frantically at his chest, reaching up to cup his face in his hands. "God, no. How could you think—do you know what I remember now, when I try and Conjure a Patronus?" Harry swallows and shakes his head, eyes shining behind his glasses. "I remember our first Christmas, when we went to Daphne and Theo's, and you fell asleep on the floor in the living room with the girls crawling all over you. They—Laurel kept saying 'Can we keep him, Mummy? He's very comfy,' and Daphne said she'd consider adding you to her living room set. And you—all I wanted was to curl up on the floor next to you, and then I thought fuck it and I did and it was—that's what I think about. About feeling you on the floor next to me, with Laurel sitting on your stomach and—I dunno. That was perfect. That was like feeling the baby kick all over again."
Harry's crying a little bit now, and he takes one of Draco's hands away from his face and grips it tightly. "So—so then why? Why can't we…"
Draco pulls his other hand away and looks down at it in his lap, feeling the answer throb and hum inside of him but unable to voice it out loud. Harry lets out a soft gasp of realization, and Draco yanks his hand to clasp with his other in his lap. He stares at his twisting fingers, Healer's fingers, utterly useless when it really comes down to it, and feels Harry's breath against his ear.
"Draco. It wasn't your fault."
"Yeah," he croaks, throat burning. Harry clucks and leans even closer, his face barely an inch away from Draco's.
"No. Listen to me. This wasn't—I've told you this before. Losing the baby wasn't you, okay? That wasn't your failure."
"I always fail," Draco mutters, and Harry lets out an angry sound and shakes him a bit.
"Fuck off, you ridiculous bastard. Tell that to the Abraxas Ward; tell that to the dozens of other patients whose lives you've saved. Tell that to Ron, who would be a bloodstain on the Emergency floor if it weren't for you. And the Hogwarts kids, remember them? Who figured out the antidote?"
"Tabitha Crowley and Michael Corner, technically," Draco huffs, and Harry makes another angry sound.
"Oh come on—"
"No, see, this is what I'm talking about. I can save all those people—I can look at a blood sample or a magic sample and I can always find the problem, I can find the cause and the cure and if I can't right away, I work until I figure it out. I wave my wand and I march into rooms and I fix it. That's what I do. I could fix the fucking Vanishing Cabinet, and Merlin knows I wish I never had. And I—I couldn't fix the baby, Harry. I didn't even try. I just held him and—and I couldn't do anything. There was nothing I could do, he had been dead for too long. Do you have any idea what that feels like?"
Harry's face is shuttered and dark, and he looks furious with someone, maybe himself. "Yes, I absolutely do. But none of that makes it your fault that he died, Draco. And none of that makes it any less possible for you to have another baby." The darkness shifts away, and he's staring Draco right in the eye again. "You'll be a wonderful father."
"I can't lose another—"
"I can't lose you!" The declaration rings through his office, sound waves bouncing against the walls and hitting Harry with a jolt. Draco feels his chest heave slightly with his distress and he fits his palms up against his eyes, blinking rapidly against the sting there. "Because that's what happens—something goes wrong, babies die, and I lose—"
"I'm not Luna."
"Fuck, I know that—"
"I won't—what happened between you and Luna, it won't happen between us. It couldn't. That's not me, that's not even you. If—on the off-chance that we did try this kid thing, and it did fail, then there's no way I'm going anywhere." Harry smiles grimly, fitting a hand gently at the nape of Draco's neck, rubbing carefully. "Do you really think I could stand to lose you any more than you could stand to lose me?"
Draco doesn't answer, just leans back gratefully into Harry's touch, letting the statement float between them for a while. Harry sighs and then shifts Draco more fully into his arms, leaning them back against the couch. Draco calms his heaving breaths, stills his racing heart, and lets the reassurances pool in the fault line inside of him, cementing it over to stop the rumbling that's been there for months, years. Harry places a hand over his chest, the weight of his fingers solid and comforting, and just like in every other possible position with Harry, he wants to stay there forever.
"Cuddling again?" he croaks, when the silence becomes heavy, and Harry chuckles quietly and kisses his cheek.
"Snuggling, if you'd rather."
"Better not be." The fake gruffness in Harry's voice is enough to almost make Draco smile, remembering his lover's persistent and by now ludicrous resentment of Zacharias, and how far away that drama seems now. Draco sighs and lets himself be held for a little while longer. His head is spinning but not with the same sort of chaos it had been before—all he sees now are the visions he'd never let himself see before, the future he's wanted so badly he could taste it.
As if he knows, and hell, he probably does, Harry kisses his cheek again and then whispers, "We're doing this."
"Yes." Harry's voice leaves no room for argument, and it almost sounds like a challenge. Draco finally lets himself smile, real and true, and he answers the challenge by kissing Harry firmly and lovingly.
"I've—I've always thought—" And it's still hard to hope and talk about it, but with Harry smiling against his face, it seems like it might get a little easier.
"Well…Daphne seems to have a good track record." Harry's smile widens.
"And she's nice. A—a baby would have a fun time in her uterus, I think."
"We should talk to her."
"Okay," he sighs, looking Harry deep in the eyes, terrified and ecstatic and utterly grateful to be showing it.
Harry kisses him again, slow and deep, and Draco realizes that even if he doesn't stay here forever, going anywhere else can't be that bad, not if Harry always goes with him.
"Someday, Draco," Luna tells him at the first awkward lunch they've forced themselves into, carefully reconstructing the illusion of friendship even if he still can't quite meet her eyes. "You're going to find someone who is exactly what you need, and I'm sorry that I couldn't be that person." She looks regretful then, and Draco bitterly thinks that it's a few months too late. "I think you were always meant for someone else."
"You're going to find him," Luna continues, as if not hearing him. He snaps his gaze towards her at the pronoun, and narrows his eyes at her suspiciously, not able to fathom who she has in mind. She sees him looking, finally making eye contact, and she smiles brilliantly. It's like the sun coming out, and he is dazzled by it for a second, until she keeps going. "You'll find him; soulmates always find each other. I promise."
Almost four years ago, Luna Lovegood told him Wrackspurts were real and he believed her because he was falling in love. Now, he draws the line at soulmates—after everything, love seems much more impossible than Wrackspurts, and he's not going to let himself ever believe in foolish promises again.
Draco scoffs and looks away.
"Potter's here!" Draco snaps rather frantically, storming into Luna's office so harshly her Wrackspurt squeaks and bounces against a wall in fright. Luna looks up at him calmly, blinking curiously, and he rants on. "He's here, he's volunteering on my floor, he's on my continent, I can't deal with this!" He collapses into one of her squishy armchairs and waits for her kind words of sympathy.
Luna reaches out a hand to pet her frazzled Wrackspurt; before long, it is purring in her palm, and Draco envies it bitterly.
"Well," she says finally. "I hate to say I told you so. But I did promise."
It takes a minute for him to realize what she's talking about. When he does, he gets up and leaves her office and terrifies the hell out of every single Trainee he sees, just to keep from going down and destroying the Lab.
"Don't say it," he tells Luna, who smiles brightly but complies. Draco nods gratefully, squeezes her hand one last time, and then leaves her to join Harry at the door. He calls out farewells to their group of gathered friends, congregating at The Thundering Thestral to congratulate Draco, Harry and Daphne on their successful magical insemination.
He tells Harry Luna's theory as they walk home, huddled together against the crisp December air. Harry snorts at the soulmates bit but is otherwise oddly accepting, and Draco narrows his eyes at him.
"Thought you didn't buy into that fate shit?" Harry shrugs and huddles closer, blinking up at London light-polluted stars.
"I don't. But, I dunno. It's kinda nice to think we'd find each other no matter what. I'd like to think that, you know, even if things had turned out differently—" if Leo had lived, Draco translates. "—we'd still have wound up here, together." He rubs at Draco's arm, and Draco can't help but rub back. "So, listen. Hermione gave me this book, astronomy, you know? And I was thinking." He stops and points upward, squinting, and Draco follows his gaze. "What do you think of Perseus, for a boy? I figure it's snooty and weird enough for your pureblood sensibilities, but I can probably get a neat enough nickname out of it."
Draco thinks of another son written in the stars. "The hero," he says softly, and Harry gives him a tiny smile.
"I thought it would be appropriate, you know, Healer Malfoy," Harry tells him. Draco rolls his eyes and laughs a little, because he's certainly no hero, but it feels sort of wonderful to know that Harry sees him that way.
He thinks of Luna's theory, thinks of fate, and doesn't know what's meant to be. And he thinks he doesn't care—no matter how he got here, he's happy that he has.
"Perseus might be acceptable," Draco decides, and Harry beams, brighter than light pollution and starlight combined.