Title: Doors and Windows
Author: radcliffe bass
Betas: clover71, nenne and lady_of_clunn
Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: slash, MPREG, slight angst, brief side pair of Neville/Draco, minor character death
Epilogue compliant? EWE
Word Count: 8,281
Author's Notes: Written for white_apple_ink's prompt for the 1st harrydracompreg fest at LiveJournal. Much love and thank you to clover71, nenne and lady_of_clunn at LiveJournal for their patience and making my story more coherent and readable. Thanks to the mods at harrydracompreg at LiveJournal for hosting a wonderful fest. *hugs* Happy reading!
Summary: When death closes a door, life opens a window.
If there were two things that Draco Malfoy never thought he would have after the war, it was the chance to find a partner who would love him and to have a family of his own. Being gay and having the unfortunate luck of siding with the losing and wrong side of the war would have ensured that. However, it seemed like someone out there was looking after his family's welfare as they were given reprieve when Harry Potter himself testified on Draco and his mother's behalf. Although his father was not so lucky, (Lucius was sentenced to finish his five year sentence in Azkaban for the Department of Mysteries incident in their fifth year) Draco was relieved when he and his mother were given fairly light sentences of two year community service and a reasonable fine for war reparations.
Now, seven years have passed – seven long and arduous years of rebuilding his disgraced family name, enduring ridicule and prejudice while earning his Potions Mastery and mending bridges with people he never thought he would befriend. Draco considered himself very fortunate with the life he currently have.
There were hardships along the way but looking into the smiling face of his husband, Neville Longbottom, while the Healer made sweeping motions with his wand above Draco's swollen belly to show them the gender of their unborn child, Draco knew that it was worth all the pain.
Patience had never been one of Harry Potter's virtues. He had always considered himself a man of action, being a typical Gryffindor who barged into situations first before thinking. Proof of which were his actions during the war and during those times when Harry had been experimenting with his sexuality. These things had changed once he entered the Auror program and was partnered with Neville.
A few brushes with near death situations made both of them a little more careful, but what really made Harry cautious was Neville's marriage to Draco Malfoy. Being threatened by your once nemesis, now turned into one of the best Potions Masters after Severus Snape, was no joke. This was something Hermione and Ron were quite grateful to Draco for.
However, right at this moment, Harry was slowly losing his patience at his Auror partner's fidgeting. Potions Master be damned! Neville's nervous pacing was starting to get on Harry's nerves.
"Stop it, Neville, you're making me dizzy." Harry said when it seemed like Neville was going to start pacing again.
Neville looked at him sheepishly and sat down beside Harry. Neville scratched the back of his head as he muttered an apology. Harry couldn't help but smile.
"Relax, Nev, Draco's going to love this baby shower," Harry assured Neville. "Narcissa helped you, remember?"
Neville nodded and slouched in his seat. "Thank you, Harry."
"You're welcome," Harry replied.
Neville shook his head and looked Harry in the eye. "No, you don't understand. I meant, thank you for everything."
Harry's brows furrowed in confusion.
"We all know Draco wouldn't have chosen me had you not decided to step down when you found out I wanted to court him," Neville explained. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not being jealous or anything. But I'm not as clueless as everyone thought I was. I saw the way you looked at Draco when we were starting to see each other, and believe me, I saw him giving you the same longing look. It does not take a genius to deduce that between you and I, you're the better catch."
Harry stared at Neville in disbelief. Out of all the topics that his friend would choose, it had to be this. It was true that Harry once thought of pursuing Draco. And at the same time Neville did.
It was weird at that time. Four years had passed after the war and Draco had just finished his Potions Mastery. The childhood animosity between the former students of both houses was dwindling down and things were starting to look better for everyone since Blaise and Ginny got married a year before that.
Draco had just started his job at the Ministry of Magic as a potions expert for the Auror Department. Since Ginny's marriage to Blaise, the two sets of friends often got together during the weekends and although they could not be called friends yet at that time, Harry had already started noticing how attractive Draco was. Because of Ginny and Blaise's matchmaking attempts, he knew about Draco's preferences and Harry was just about ready to make his move when he found out that Neville, his Auror partner, was harbouring a secret crush on Draco.
Although the Wizarding world was more tolerant of same sex relationships, unlike Harry, Neville had just started to realise that he was attracted to the same sex. Harry had decided to step down and help Neville, and with Blaise and Ginny's help – the matchmaking was a success.
Harry could not understand why, after two years of wedded bliss and a child on the way, Neville would chose to discuss this during the baby shower. He looked back at Neville's warm brown eyes and was shocked to see something he never thought he would see again. And quite surprisingly, Harry understood.
Harry placed his hands on Neville's shoulders which forced the other man to look him in the eye. "Neville, listen to me. It's all in the past. There's a reason I did what I did and it does not matter whether Draco liked me before or not. All that matters is that he chose you, despite the threat of his father disinheriting him, because he loves you. You've been married for two years and are going to start a family in a few months. Put those insecurities behind okay? I may be Harry Potter, but you are Neville Longbottom, the one who destroyed the last Horcrux and got the girl, er, in this case the guy. If that isn't fortunate, I don't know what is."
Neville laughed, causing other guests to look at their direction. Harry and Neville bowed their heads in embarrassment at the uncalled for attention.
Neville cleared his throat and Harry tilted his head to let his friend know that he got his attention. "Thank you Harry. You're right, not everyone can destroy a Horcrux and live to tell the tale. I am very lucky and uh, I guess I just needed to hear the words – and I really want you to know –I am grateful that you stepped back to give me this chance. So, uhm, now that's out of the way, I, er, Draco and I were wondering if you would like to be our son's godfather?"
"Really Longbottom, all that drama for such a simple question? I thought I trained you better than that?"
Harry almost jumped at the sound of Draco's voice. Neville turned beet red in embarrassment as he stood up and greeted his husband. Harry casually observed the way Neville pulled Draco into his arms. Draco placed a light kiss on Neville's lips while Neville's hand caressed Draco's swollen belly. Harry felt a twinge of envy at the obvious show of affection. Neville was really lucky and Harry would be lying if he said that he was not envious.
"So, Potter," Draco's voice broke Harry from his reveries and Harry turned his attention to the man who had once been his crush. "Do you accept Neville's crazy idea of making you our son's godfather? Please say you won't."
Harry snorted. "And miss out on the chance to influence the Malfoy heir on being sorted into Gryffindor? Are you crazy? I am deeply honoured and I accept."
It had been a long day for Draco and Neville. Even though the baby shower ended three hours earlier, they had just retired for the night because Draco's mother insisted on supervising the cleaning up. It took the combined efforts of Neville and Lucius for Narcissa to finally leave the couple alone.
And now Draco was really tired, but unable to sleep. He was trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in but the baby was making it difficult for him.
Draco felt Neville move and reach out for him. Draco willingly moved and let Neville carefully manoeuvre their positions until Draco was half lying on his husband's chest. Draco sighed contentedly as Neville threaded his fingers through Draco's hair.
"Better?" Neville asked, kissing the top of Draco's head.
"Much," Draco replied. "And don't you dare move – I've had a hard time sleeping since your son started using my organs for practicing his beater skills."
Neville chuckled. "How come when the baby's restless he's just my son?"
Draco looked up from his position to give his husband his 'do-you-even-need-to-ask' look, earning a laugh from Neville and making Draco lose his comfortable spot. He glared at Neville before turning away.
"Sorry," Neville apologised as he spooned behind Draco. "And thank you for letting me choose Harry as the godfather. I know he'll take good care of you two, in case something happens to me."
"Don't talk like that."
Neville sighed and pulled Draco closer to him. "I'm just being realistic. I'll be at peace knowing that Harry will never abandon you and our baby."
Draco did not reply. He hated it when Neville talked about things he feared the most. Instead, he opted to remain quiet and leaned further into the warmth of his husband's embrace while Neville lovingly stroked his belly. Draco almost laughed out loud when Neville stopped his ministrations when the baby moved.
"Did you feel that?" Neville asked.
"No," Draco replied sarcastically. "Of course I did, the baby's inside me." Draco took Neville's hand and placed it on the side of his belly where the baby's movement could be felt strongly.
"That's our baby," Neville whispered in a voice full of awe.
"Yes. Our baby." Draco sighed as Neville held him tighter. He savoured the moment, the silence of the room and the security his husband's presence provided. He knew how lucky he was and he was thankful to Neville for giving him this chance to experience what he thought he would never have.
"Potter's right," Draco said, breaking the silence.
Neville lifted his head in order to look at Draco's face.
Draco smiled at his husband. "It does not matter who I liked before. What matters now is that I love you and I chose you. Malfoys always choose the best – and don't you forget that."
The smile that Neville gave made Draco's heart flutter. "I love you too."
Draco woke up with a silent scream. It was still dark and his eyes were still adjusting. His clothes were completely drenched with sweat. He could feel his heart beating wildly. He had just woken up from a very bad nightmare about Neville. His hand instinctively reached out for the warm body that was supposed to be beside him, but all his hand touched were cold sheets. Draco sat up and was about to leave the bed when a note on Neville's pillow caught his attention.
Sorry to leave so early, got a lead on the case. Be meeting Harry at the Ministry. Take care of yourself and our baby for me. I love you.
Draco took a deep breath and tried to get back to sleep. He uttered a silent prayer for his husband's safety and reminded himself that Potter would take care of Neville. He always had, and he wouldn't let Draco down. As sleep finally claimed him, Draco couldn't help but feel that things wouldn't be as smooth as they had been.
"Let's play twenty questions."
Harry tore his gaze away from the warehouse they'd been observing since morning and turned his attention to his Auror partner. "You're that bored, huh?"
Neville nodded at him. "We've been looking at that structure for one whole day. Do you even need to ask?"
Neville spoke the truth. They'd been on this stake-out since three in the morning, and this was proving to be the longest and most dreary stake-out they ever had. "But really Nev, twenty questions?"
Neville shrugged. "That's the only one I can think of that would not require us to move from this hiding place…" Neville grinned at Harry, his eyes twinkling in mischief. "Unless you want to make out with me?"
"Interesting as the offer may be, I love my life, contrary to popular belief," Harry replied as he shifted closer to Neville so that they could hear each other better. The change in position also gave both a better angle to observe the warehouse. "So I'll endure the questions that risk having my drink poisoned when I go to dinner with you and Draco."
"Ever heard of the saying 'what you don't know won't hurt you'?"
"Okay, okay." Neville lifted his hands in defeat. "So who goes first?"
Neville rubbed his hands together in glee and Harry suddenly had the urge to take back his words. However, his pride won out in the end and he just waited for the dreaded first question to arrive.
"So, do you still find my husband attractive?"
Harry's mouth literally fell open. He stared at Neville, looking for signs on his partner's face to find out if the question was a joke or not. The serious expression on Neville's face told him otherwise. He knew it would be so easy to lie, but Ron and Hermione always said that he was the worst liar they ever knew so he just took a deep breath and answered, "Have you seen your husband? He's bloody gorgeous! How can you even ask that question?"
"I know," Neville replied, grinning. "So do you think if something ever happens to me, you'll be alright with taking care of him and Franc?"
"Franc? Who's Franc? Oh the baby! Nice name, but why would you ask such a silly question? Of course I would, and hey, it was my turn."
"Nope, you asked two questions after I asked you. So you already had your turn, and you asked me three questions just a moment ago. You still owe me three questions."
Harry stared at Neville in disbelief. "Draco's rubbing off on you. That's scary."
"I know, and he's quite good at it."
"Neville!" Harry exclaimed. "Stop putting images in my head!"
"Harry, you pervert, stop fantasising about my husband."
"You started it."
Neville laughed. "Nah, you're just perverted. Have some control man, he's pregnant."
Harry groaned as Neville continued to snicker. Neville could be quite annoying at times. It was during these moments that Harry wished he had the old cowardly Neville back. "Had your fun yet?" He asked as Neville's laughter subsided.
"Nope," Neville responded. "But you have to admit that was fun."
"Yeah, at my expense."
"Oh hush you." Neville patted Harry's head. They remained silent for some time until Harry felt Neville's hand clasped his. "But seriously though Harry. If something happens to me, promise me you'll take care of my family. Not just your godson, but Draco as well."
Harry didn't want to answer. The conversation made him uncomfortable, but the desperate way Neville held his hand and the seriousness on those warm brown eyes made Harry nod. "Yes, I promise, I will take care of Draco and the baby if something happens to you."
Harry was about to say something when a movement from the side of the building caught his attention. Neville stood up at the same time Harry did.
Harry turned to Neville and was relieved to see that his partner had already sent out the message for back up. Neville looked at him, "Ready?"
Harry didn't know why he was running. It was fucking dark and he couldn't see where he was going. All he knew was that he should keep on running and not stop. He needed to go somewhere, to someone.
He tripped and felt the ground beneath him give way, sucking him in. He tried to call for help but no sound came out of his lips. He couldn't breathe; the Earth slowly swallowed him further into the darkness. Then suddenly, someone caught his arm and pulled him out.
Harry took a deep breath to even his breathing. He looked up to know who his saviour was and saw Neville. Neville helped him to stand up and said, "Go Harry, I'll keep them at bay. Just follow the light and you'll be safe."
"What about you? I won't leave you behind."
"It's too late for me, Harry. My time's up, but yours is not. Go and let me deal with this. Remember your promise."
"Remember your promise, Harry. Tell Draco I'm sorry and I love them both. Go, Harry."
"He's waking up." A voice that sounded so much like Hermione greeted him.
Harry tried to open his eyes but the bright light made him wince. He opened his eyes once more and as his eyes adjusted to the light, someone handed him his glasses. When his sight became clear he saw Hermione beside him and the door opening to reveal Ron and a Healer.
"Glad that you decided to join us again, Mr. Potter," the Healer greeted as he ran some diagnostic spells on Harry. "Do you feel any pain?"
Harry shook his head which seemed to be the right answer as the Healer stopped his wand movements. "I'll recommend him staying one more night for observation. After that he can go home…"
'One more night? How long had he been out cold?' Harry tuned out the conversation between Hermione and the Healer and looked around the room. He must be in St. Mungo's, but why? His gaze landed on Ron whose left arm was in a sling. Then Harry remembered. When Ron's eyes met his, the only word that came out was, "Neville?"
It seemed to be enough as Ron shook his head and said, "I'm sorry."
Harry felt his strength leave him and as his world started to turn black again, the whisper of Neville's words echoed in his mind once more. 'Remember your promise, Harry.'
Harry was tired. He had been apparating for an hour trying to figure out where his wayward charge went. His eight month pregnant, obnoxious and mourning ward. He had been to Malfoy Manor, Blaise's home and Pansy's flat. He even went to the Janus Thickey Ward at St. Mungo's as Draco had taken to visiting his in-laws after the tragedy. The cemetery where Neville was buried was his last hope.
Harry took a deep breath to regain his balance and to calm himself. He made sure that he would land a few meters away from the Longbottom's plot. He was a little angry and anxious - it would not do Draco and him any good if he was pissed off when he found the other man. Once he was certain that he could keep his temper in check, Harry walked towards his destination. He sighed in relief when he found Draco's hunched form in front of Neville's grave.
Harry felt his heart twinge in pain and guilt. He could not help but blame himself for Neville's death even if everyone kept on telling him that it was not his fault. But the truth was, every time he looked at Draco's blank expression – or whenever he caressed Draco's belly, without the other man's knowledge because Draco was having a hard time sleeping - Harry could feel the guilt. It slowly killed Harry inside to know that this man wished that it was him buried in that grave instead of Neville.
He wanted to turn around and leave Draco to his grieving, but it was starting to get dark and the cold weather would be bad for the baby. No matter how stubborn Draco could be Harry was determined to bring Draco back to the house.
With cautious strides, Harry ambled over to where Draco stood, stopping right behind the other man. "I've been looking everywhere for you."
Draco's reaction, or lack thereof, caused Harry's irritation to rise but Harry managed to brush it off. The fact that he'd been living with Draco for the past two months, practically installing himself in the guest bedroom of Draco and Neville's house, had got him used to the way Draco acted like Harry did not exist. That didn't mean that Draco could just continue ignoring him. Especially if it was almost time for dinner and the baby's health was at stake. Harry placed his hand on Draco's shoulder to catch his attention.
"Don't touch me."
The coldness in Draco's voice would have made a weaker man falter, but Harry stood his ground. He tightened his grip on Draco's shoulder instead. "It's almost dark. We need to go back home. This weather is bad for the baby."
"It's none of your fucking business." Draco shrugged Harry's hand off of his shoulder, stood up and turned to face Harry with a murderous look that made Harry take a step back. "It's none of your fucking business if I freeze to death."
"It's my damn business; I owe it to Neville -"
"You owe it to Neville? That's rich coming from the person who let him die."
Harry gasped. He knew that Draco blamed him but hearing it out loud was painful. As painful as the realisation that there might have been a grain of truth in Draco's accusation. "I would not and did not purposely leave him behind. If I could turn back time, I would change places with him in an instant."
"But you can't reverse time Potter. And you can't very well bring my husband back to life. So fuck off and leave me alone!" Draco turned around and started to walk away, but Harry reached out and held on to Draco's arm.
"Let me go, Potter," Draco ordered, his shoulders turning stiff.
"No." Harry replied through clenched teeth. "I know you blame me -"
Draco's body twirled around so fast, surprising Harry and making him lose his hold on Draco's arm. Draco's face was twisted in anger, his breathing ragged. "I do! I blame you for not dying instead of Neville."
Draco stepped forward, his grey eyes reflecting so much hatred, making Harry step back. "I blame you for not taking care of him like you promised. I blame you for not saving him and depriving our son his other father! And I blame you for making Neville think he had to die -"
Harry did not hear the rest of the words because Draco screamed in pain as he clutched his belly. Harry burst into action. He gathered Draco in his arms and quickly activated his emergency Portkey to St. Mungo's.
The first thing that Draco noticed as he regained consciousness was that the ceiling was slightly different from the one he had in his room. The second thing was his mother sleeping on the chair beside the bed. The third thing was that he was wearing a hospital gown. Then he heard the beeping sounds, which reminded him of the Muggle equipments that the Healers adapted for use at St. Mungo's. He added all his observations up then concluded that he was, in fact, at St. Mungo's. He unconsciously placed his hand on top of his belly and screamed at the lack of roundedness.
"Draco, sweetheart, calm down." He heard his mother's voice break through his screaming. He turned around and faced her, his eyes wide in fear.
"My baby?" He whispered, afraid of the answer that his mother might give.
His mother took his shaking hands into hers. "Your son is alright. He's a little weak because he is a month early. He's in neonatal intensive care –"
"What happened? Oh Merlin please, not my baby!"
"Hush Draco, the Healer's on his way, he can explain it better."
Draco wanted to ask more questions but the door opened to reveal Lucius and his Healer, Hermione Weasley.
"Draco," Hermione greeted as she approached him. She took out her wand and performed diagnostic spells on him. He and Neville chose her to be Draco's Healer during his pregnancy because they knew she would not be prejudiced against him. Draco wanted so much to ask her what happened but he opted to remain quiet. He knew Hermione would not answer him until she was finished with her scans.
"Where's my baby?" Draco blurted out when Hermione was finally finished.
"Calm down Draco," Hermione replied. "I will tell you where he is but I need to talk to you alone."
Lucius and Narcissa promptly left the room. When they were finally alone, Draco looked at Hermione expectantly.
Hermione smiled at him. "Before I begin, I want you to promise that you will not interrupt me. Can you do that?"
When Draco nodded, Hermione continued. "When Harry brought you in, you were barely conscious. Harry said you were screaming in pain. We were afraid you were going into labour. Your magic was so low and we were afraid the baby would drain it. In order to ensure both of you would live, we had to do a c-section to get the baby out."
"Don't worry, he's in good hands. Harry has been feeding him his magic since yesterday. He's getting stronger. I think –"
"Potter? What does Potter have to do with my child?"
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Your child needs magic to keep him stronger because his magic was not fully developed. Usually, it's the child's parents or relatives who could provide. But you're still too weak to do that. The baby rejected Narcissa's and Lucius' magic. We even tried Andromeda. The only magic that your child is compatible with is Harry's, well Teddy's as well, but he's too young for that."
Potter's magic was the reason why his child was still alive? What kind of cruel joke was that? Draco was now more indebted to Potter – the person who was the reason why his son would grow up with only one parent.
Hermione stood up and clasped Draco's hand, which made him look at her. "Would you like to see him?"
Harry smiled as the baby encased in the magic bubble yawned. He aimed his wand at the bubble and murmured the spell Hermione taught him. The spell enabled him to feed some of his magic to the baby. The spell was not complicated but it needed to be cast every two hours to ensure that the baby's magic was sustained. It was very tiring because quite a lot of the magic was drained from him and because of it he had to drink a special potion that would help him replenish his magic faster than it normally would, as soon as he left the room.
'This is your son Neville,' Harry thought when he saw the baby's mouth twitch. 'He's beautiful, you're very lucky to have him.' Harry frowned when he realised how stupid his thoughts were. 'Is it bad for me to feel so happy looking your at son when you couldn't be here? Are you watching him from heaven? I hope you are. He's got your hair's blond colouring. I bet he's got Draco's eyes.'
The door from the Mediwitch's office opened and the Mediwitch in charge of feeding the baby entered the NICU. She was holding a bottle of milk. She smiled at Harry apologetically, but Harry waved her off. He knew he should not stay inside the room that long so he turned to leave. However, he did not leave the area completely since he opted to remain behind the viewing window while downing the potion that the Mediwitch left for him.
He smiled when he saw the baby's mouth eagerly latch on to the feeding bottle. 'Greedy little bugger, I bet he got that from Draco.' Harry had not yet visited Draco. Not that Draco would be thrilled to see him, but he was quite worried about the git. Draco after all was still his godson's birth father.
Harry drank the rest of the potion and dumped the vial in the bin. He turned around to walk towards Draco's room, but stopped in his tracks when he saw Hermione and Draco,who was sitting on a levitating wheelchair, moving in his direction.
Hermione smiled at him but Draco, like usual, pretended like he did not exist. Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes and smiled at them both instead. "Hi, glad to know you're feeling better."
Draco remained silent, Hermione rolled her eyes and Harry laughed – only to stop when Draco glared at him. 'Not the reaction I wanted but at least he acknowledged me.'
"Done with the spell Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, although the potion was really bad. Are you sure you cannot make it taste better? I swear my taste buds are becoming numb," Harry complained.
"You know we can't, that's a special potion and the properties of –"
Hermione and Harry both turned their attention to Draco.
Draco cleared his throat. "Honey, take a spoonful of honey after drinking the potion. I helped Snape create the potion; it's one of the sweeteners that would not react with any of the ingredients that the potion had."
Harry was flabbergasted that it took him some time to react. "Thank you."
Draco shrugged in response before tapping the wheelchair to move forward. Harry's body seemed to have a mind of his own. He turned around and followed Draco and Hermione back to the nursery. They stopped when they reached the viewing window. Hermione told Draco that he couldn't go inside the nursery. His son would automatically seek out his magic and drain it from him. Harry was quite surprised that Draco did not complain, but he guessed Draco must have realised how grave the situation was. They spent a few minutes gazing at the baby now sleeping peacefully.
"Hello Rigel. Rigel, you're so beautiful." Draco said, his voice trembling. "I'm your Father, and these two beside me are your godparents."
Harry and Hermione looked at each other. Harry knew that Neville wanted him to be the godfather, but he wasn't sure after what happened that Draco would continue with the plan. And by the surprised look on Hermione's face, she totally did not expect it either.
"They helped save your life. I know they would take good care of you," Draco continued, pressing his hand against the window.
Harry did not seem to be in command of his body because he instinctively reached out and covered Draco's hand with his own. He felt Draco stiffen and Harry was afraid that Draco would shrug him off, but Draco did not withdraw his hand and Harry sighed in relief.
Maybe, just maybe, things would be all right for them.
Draco bolted from the bed as soon as he heard the monitoring spell go off. He immediately put on his dressing gown and ran to the nursery. He was surprised to find Potter already sitting on the rocking chair with Rigel cradled in his arms. Potter looked up and smiled as soon as he saw him.
"I was on my way to my room when I heard him cry. I figured I'll take a look to spare you from waking up. Guess I was too late," Potter answered Draco's silent question.
Draco just stared at him. Two months have passed since Rigel was born, and Potter still lived with them because Hermione recommended that Potter stay near the baby until Rigel's magical and physical condition became stable. Draco protested and argued that since his magic was already stable he could now provide his magic to his own child. They tried for one week but it seemed as if Rigel was only absorbing half of the magic Draco fed him. Rigel's health weakened so they tried letting Potter do the magic feed once more. Draco was relieved when Rigel's condition improved. However he could not help but feel hurt that Rigel seemed to prefer Potter over him. Hermione said that it was quite normal since the baby had gotten used to Potter's magic, but that didn't mean that Draco could not do the same. In fact, there were times when Rigel seemed to prefer his magic to Potter's.
Most of the time, Rigel slept and fed much better when Potter was around. Draco could not help but feel jealous. It was as if Potter was slowly taking over his role.
Draco must have been staring at Potter for so long because Potter walked towards Draco and handed Rigel over to him. The baby whimpered for a moment before settling peacefully in Draco's arms. Draco smiled when one of Rigel's hands reached out and grabbed his dressing gown, the tiny hand curling into a fist.
"I'm not trying to take him away from you," Potter said which Draco ignored.
When it became obvious that Draco had no intention of answering him, Potter left the room. As Draco heard the door of the nursery close, he whispered. "I know, but that's how it feels like."
The problem with Potter was that he knew a lot about child rearing. Maybe it was because he had practice with Teddy. Therefore it was quiet understandable that Potter's babysitting skills was better than his.
That, according to Draco's judgement, was a very bad thing. Because Draco was getting used to Potter's presence, and being at ease with Potter was a dangerous thing. However, Draco could not help but feel hopeless and dependent on Potter when Rigel was in obvious pain and discomfort.
Loathe as he was to ask Potter for help, Draco swallowed his pride and knocked on the door of Potter's room. Draco shifted the crying baby in his arms and made shushing sounds to comfort his son. Draco was relieved when Potter finally opened the door.
"Rigel –" Draco began to explain.
"I know," Potter cut him off and took the crying Rigel from Draco's arms. Potter opened the door wider to let Draco in. Draco stepped inside and was surprised to find the room was clean and well organized. Potter placed Rigel on the bed and Draco sat down beside his son. He watched as Potter walked towards the en suite and emerged carrying a yellow round jelly like thing. Potter sat on the other side of Rigel and offered the yellow thing to the baby.
Rigel, who was easily distracted by colourful things grabbed the object and started gnawing on it. Draco sighed in relief when Rigel seemed to be contented and comfortable with his toy.
"Looks like he's teething already," Potter said. Draco wanted to ask how Potter knew but all that came out of his lips was a yawn. Draco glared at Potter when he snickered and Potter bit on his lower lip to stop.
"Why don't you go to sleep? Take a rest. The bed's big enough for the three of us. I'll look after Rigel first. If he is like Teddy when Teddy was teething, we will need all the rest we can get for the next few weeks." Potter suggested.
Draco wanted to reject the offer. However, he knew that he would not be able to sleep if he stayed in his room, because he would only be worried about Rigel. Potter seemed to know what he was doing and his room was a little far from this side of the house. Draco didn't say a word but climbed on top of the bed and curled himself on the right side of Rigel. His eyes closed as soon as his body hit the bed because he was dead tired and not at all because Draco found the scent of Potter's bed relaxing.
"Is Uncle Harry Rigel's other daddy?" Teddy asked Draco,
Draco stopped mixing the cake batter. "No he's not. Rigel's other daddy is your Uncle Neville. He already left us."
"Where did he go?"
"Uncle Neville went to where your Mum, Dad and Grandpa are. Why are you asking?"
"Because Victoire said that if two grown ups live together in the house with a baby, that's called a family, like her and Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur," Teddy explained. "I live with Grandma, so we're not a family, but Rigel's lucky because he has one."
Draco smiled. So that was the reason why. Teddy's was starting to feel envious. It was no surprise really since Teddy was just six years old. He probably thought that Potter was his father until Rigel came along. "That's not true Teddy. Family is not limited to two grown ups and a baby. Your Grandma, Grandma Cissy, Grandpa Lucius and I are your family. Even your Uncle Harry can be considered your family. Family are the people who love you a lot and take care of you."
Teddy's face brightened. "Oh! I like your family better Uncle Draco!"
"My versions are always better." Draco said in mock-arrogance before he turned his interest back to mixing the batter while Teddy returned to colouring his book. The sound of the door banging that led to the backyard startled the two occupants of the room.
Teddy and Draco both turned their attention to the door and saw Potter, with ten-month-old Rigel in his arms, rushed over then carefully placed the baby on his high chair. Draco's eyebrow raised in question when Potter took deep breaths to calm his obvious excitement.
"Watch," Potter replied secretively, which, as much as Draco hated to admit, intrigued him.
Potter looked back at Rigel. "Rigel, who is he?" Potter asked, his finger pointed at Draco.
Rigel's gaze followed the direction of Potter's finger and squealed when he saw Draco. He raised his chubby arms towards his father as if begging to be lifted. Draco smiled when grey eyes that looked so much like his twinkled in delight upon seeing him. Draco dropped the ladle he held and started to move towards Rigel when Potter asked the question again and Rigel answered with a loud, "Da!"
Draco froze in his tracks as Rigel continued his shouting of "da", to which Teddy answered with an excited "dy", and turned the peaceful kitchen into a playful shouting match while Potter laughed at the exchange.
Harry waited patiently in line for his turn to use the Floo system. He just got out of work and he looked forward to going back home. Harry's lips twitched in amusement. Rigel was fast becoming a handful at eleven months. He could crawl really fast, had started to stand up on his own a few weeks ago and could now walk a few steps with someone supporting him. Harry was really proud of Rigel's achievements. He could not wait until Rigel could walk and play tag with him and Teddy.
Harry's smile faltered. Although these milestones in Rigel's development brought him happiness, these things were also a constant reminder he would need to leave Draco's house soon.
Harry considered himself practical and realistic. He knew that the day would come when Draco or Rigel would not longer need him. And Harry's anxiety rose every time he remembered it. He had grown to love both Draco and Rigel and the thought of leaving them anytime soon made him depressed. Harry inhaled deeply before he took a pinch of Floo powder and stated his destination.
Harry brushed off the soot from his clothes and hair after he stepped out of the fireplace.
"Look who just arrived Rigel!" Harry heard Draco exclaim.
Harry looked up and saw Draco, who was carrying Rigel, walking towards him. Harry was puzzled when Draco stopped a few feet away from him. He curiously watched when Draco placed Rigel down to the floor. "Go on Rigel, show Harry what you just did earlier."
Rigel squealed in delight when he saw Harry. The baby stood up clinging on to Draco's trousers for support. Rigel tried to steady himself and gave Harry a toothy grin. Harry instinctively knelt and stretched out his arms toward his godson. Rigel unclutched his hand from Draco's trousers and started to walk – one wobbly step at a time, arms sticking out of his sides to keep his balance. Rigel's mouth hung open as he tried to walk a little further than five steps, but his unstable legs failed him.
Harry was quick to catch Rigel before the baby's knees could hit the floor. Rigel squealed in delight as Harry showered the little boy's face with kisses. "That's my boy! You're so strong, yes you are, walking on your own."
"Isn't it great?" Draco could not contain his excitement. "He walked Harry, he walked! I need to tell Hermione, and my parents and Molly…"
Harry did not hear the rest because Draco was already hunched over the fireplace. Harry couldn't keep the smile off his face. There was no way in hell that he would give this family up.
As Rigel turned one, Harry's anxiety grew. He'd been living with Draco for more than a year now – and it was starting to feel like hell. Not because Draco still ignored him – in fact, the other man had started talking to him after the time when Rigel uttered his first coherent syllable. Harry could almost consider their relationship friendly.
And that was where the problem lay. During the few months that he lived with Draco and Rigel, Harry gradually fell in love with the small family. And that was the reason why Harry found himself huddled in a corner of Draco's backyard, drinking himself into a stupor with Blaise and Ron.
Draco had decided to throw a small party to celebrate Rigel's first birthday. It was late. Most of their friends had gone home. Although some decided to stay a little longer for a night cap. Rigel, Teddy and the other children were inside the house with their doting Grandmothers and Grandfathers, which gave Harry and Draco some free time to socialise with their remaining friends. In fact, Draco was busy talking to Pansy, Ginny, Fleur and Hermione, probably swapping stories about their children.
"You know mate, if you like Draco that much, why don't you court him?" Blaise asked as he took a swig of his beer. "Hey, this Muggle beer is not bad."
"It is, right?" Ron agreed before turning to Harry. "So, are you making a move on Malfoy anytime soon?"
Harry stared at his fellow Aurors in disbelief. "What are you talking about?"
Ron and Blaise shared a look before Ron spoke up. "Like you don't know? You fancy Malfoy."
Harry spit out the mouthful of beer he sipped. "Ron! What the –"
"Oh please Harry. You've been ogling him all night," Ron cut him off.
"I am not –"
"Really Harry, I know I'm a little slow when it comes to some things. But when my best friend can't seem to stop ogling a certain blonds' arse, I guess that's a sure sign that he fancies him." Ron rolled his eyes. "It does not take a genius to see that."
"You're drunk" was all Harry could say.
"Two bottles of beer do not make a person drunk. All I'm saying is that if you fancy the git, Merlin help us why him of all people, go for it. You're practically living together anyway, right Blaise?" Ron asked his Auror partner, who had remained quiet.
Harry looked at Blaise helplessly. Blaise just shrugged and downed the contents of his beer. "I have to agree with Ron. You should give it a try. Draco won't remain single forever. Why not take advantage of the situation while you're a step ahead in the game? You never know when the competition would strike."
As much as Harry wanted to deny his friends observations, he could not. Most of them were true. The problem was he did not think that Draco was ready for what Harry planned to offer. Loud giggles coming from the direction of the women huddled around Draco caught his attention.
Harry felt a pang of envy at the sight before him. Theodore Nott was openly flirting with Draco – and Draco did not seem to mind – in fact Draco looked like he enjoyed it based on the lovely blush Draco was sporting.
"Constant vigilance my friend," Ron whispered beside him.
Harry nodded. It was time to strike while the iron was still hot.
Draco made his way to the kitchen. He had a very tiring day earlier with Rigel's one year celebration. Their guests did not leave until ten at night and Draco still had to supervise the clean up. It was a good thing Harry - yes, Draco had been referring to Potter as Harry in his mind after Rigel's "da" incident - volunteered to supervise the house elves as he was completely knackered.
Draco smiled. Harry had been a great help. He could not imagine how he would have survived the past months without Harry. He almost felt guilty at the way he treated Harry before. Almost. Draco still blamed his hormones and grief for his actions toward the man. He could honestly say that he would miss Harry once he decided to leave the house.
Draco cringed as he remembered his conversation with Pansy earlier. That girl could weasel a secret out from a rock. How Pansy was able to make Draco confess that he was starting to see Harry in a more-than-friendly way, was a puzzle Draco would never solve.
Draco sighed as he opened the door to the kitchen. He was torn between wanting to see where this easy camaraderie with Harry would lead and the guilt he felt at the thought that he was being unfaithful to Neville's memory. Draco was so lost in his thoughts that he failed to notice the figure seated on one of the dining room chairs until the figure spoke.
"Want some tea?"
Draco gave a startled yelp. "Blimey Potter! Give some warning will you! You nearly gave me a heart attack."
Harry the wanker, just grinned at him, flicked his wrist and the kitchen was filled with light. A cup levitated towards the dining table and settled at the place beside Harry while the pot started to pour the tea into the cup. Draco rolled his eyes at the display of wandless magic.
"Show off," Draco said as he took the chair beside Harry. Harry merely laughed at him before taking a sip of his tea.
Draco mimicked his gesture and they spent the next few minutes in silence, each lost in his own thoughts. Draco discreetly observed Harry from the corner of his eyes. Harry was fit, gorgeous actually. Why Harry was still single remained a mystery.
Harry must have caught Draco observing him because Harry now openly stared at him. Draco felt himself blush at the blatant staring. "What are you staring at, Potter?"
Harry continued to stare at him, like he was about to make a life-changing decision. Draco saw Harry nod, the kind of nod a person did when he was about to say something important.
"You," Harry replied and smiled charmingly at him, making Draco blush. Harry reached out and covered Draco's hand with his. "I know it's too early and I'm sorry for taking advantage of the situation. But Merlin! I was jealous when Theo was flirting with you earlier. Why is it alright for him to act like that with you when all I can do is watch? I just… I just wanted you to know, that I - I have liked you for a long time. Even before you and Neville started seeing each other. And I, I um… I think, living with you for the past months… I think I've fallen in love with you…"
Draco was shocked at Harry's declaration. "Potter are you -"
Draco never had the chance to finish his sentence as Harry covered Draco's lips with his own. Draco gasped which Harry took advantage of. Harry's tongue gently coaxed Draco's to join his. The kiss turned passionate when Draco kissed back. Harry ended the kiss when breathing became a problem.
"Potter," Draco whispered as he tried to regain his breathing.
"Harry. Call me Harry."
Draco closed his eyes. He wanted to call Harry by his given name. Merlin knew how much he wanted to. But the guilt of being unfaithful to his deceased husband was such a big weight on his shoulders. Draco opened his eyes and saw Harry studying his face intently. "You are gorgeous. Can I keep you forever?"
"Please…" Draco begged.
Harry must have understood what Draco meant for he backed up a little and granted Draco some space. But Harry still held his hand. Draco tried to take back his hand but Harry did not relinquish his hold.
Harry turned around to face him and caressed his cheek. Draco closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. "I understand. I will wait for you until you're ready. But until that time comes, please allow me to show you how much you mean to me."
Draco nodded his acquiescence and Harry pulled Draco into the circle of his arms. Draco didn't know how long they stayed like that. He could not even remember how he was able to get back into his room. All he remembered was that he never slept as peacefully as he did last night since Neville died – and waking up to the sight of a single white rose on the unoccupied side of his bed – Draco knew was Harry's silent promise that things would finally be alright in the days to come.