Chapter 2

The Lesser Man

"D'you wanna maybe play a game of wizard chess when we get there?" Ron asked, as he walked and banged down an armour suit's visor.

Before Harry could answer they heard Seamus' voice from behind them after the doors of the Great Hall ejected him, the noise of chatter and clinking cutlery briefly spilling into the corridor outside.

"Come on, Harry, Ron! I was just pulling you legs! Jeanie Mac, you could swear you two still got babies growing under those robes!"

"It wasn't you, Seamus," Ron tossed over his shoulder. "Now piss off!"

"Oi, who said I wanted to talk to you?" Seamus countered, but his voice still cheery. "Harry, I haven't given you your daily rub today!" He finally caught up with them and walked backwards in front of Harry. "Why you two gone off early in the middle of dinner? I didn't think I'd see the day, Ronimums."

"Seamus, one of these days I'm gonna get sick of your little jokes," Ron hissed, "and when I do you better be standing farther away from me than you are now."

Seamus schooled his features quickly before he could expose a frown. Ron had grown used to Seamus' jokes about the tales of their pregnancies and had laughed at a few of them himself. But the light jokes and soft jibes had evidently today joined their powers and had come too frequently for Ron to bear. Raising and lowering his eyebrows wonderingly but dismissively, Seamus turned to a less volatile Harry, looking as though he was suspecting that Ron was taking the insult of the pregnancy to his manhood harder than Harry was. He ducked excitedly into Harry's shadow.

"How's our Harrimums doing today, eh?" he crooned.

"She's doing fine," Harry sighed, in mock exhaustion.

"May I?" Seamus asked kindly, as he neared his freckled hand to Harry's stomach.

"You may!" Harry giggled, as he took the Irish boy's hand and placed on his flat belly.

Seamus sighed in ecstasy but then with a jolt yelped airily, "Harry, it kicked!"

"Really? Maybe it doesn't like Irishmen!"

Seamus' expression of pure awe changed swiftly at the same time Ron's face turned into one of vicious satisfaction. "Harry, I don't think you should be calling your soon-to-be-born baby an 'it' of all things," he chided, adopting the fluttering inflections of a motherly voice.

Ron's face fell, appalled.

"Oh forgive me, I seem to forget the name I gave it," Harry rued, speaking into his and Seamus' empty hands. "I mean, him—her—No, him. No her."

"Well what is it, Harry?" Seamus pushed, in a wounded voice, as if hurt on the baby's behalf.

"Um…" Harry screwed up his face. Ron watched, with a crease of contempt on his nose, as Seamus stared open-mouthed into Harry's face.

"Maybe… Drarry? You see that would take me and Malfoy's name together so it's fifty-fifty," Harry reasoned.

"Drarry? That sounds like a dreary name, Harry, forgive me," Seamus breathed, looking back down at their hands.

"It's only fair to the father," Harry returned, shrugging.

"Do the both of you know how sick you sound?" Ron exploded finally.

Harry threw him a wink and a grin.

"S'matter with you?" Seamus asked.

"Don't you have to go back to the Great Hall, Seamus?" Ron said, rushing over his words furiously.

"What for?"

"I don't know, your dinner?"

"Finished it."

"Harry and I need to talk!"

"Oh…"

Ron's face went straight to red for the second time that night.

"To talk…" Seamus said slowly, looking between him and Harry, who winked at him as well.

"You sure you aren't the father of Harry's child, Ron?"

Seamus' shoes squeaked on the floor as he took off and sped away from Ron's raging advance back to the Great Hall in a flash of dark robes.

Harry enjoyed a little laugh.

"Just pretend it doesn't bother you, Ron," Harry advised quietly. "That's all. It'll blow over in a few weeks."

"I don't understand how you stand him, Harry," Ron continued to fume, shaking his head. He had crossed his arms across his chest and was glaring at the floor disappearing beneath him. "How you just let him make you less than a man like that..."

"He doesn't make me less than a man, Ron!" Harry replied, with a note of distaste and indignation in his voice. "He's obviously kidding about all of this! Just play along with him."

"I don't want to fuckin' play along with him!" Ron bellowed, his cheeks turning blotchy with colour. "It's not a joke what we went through, Harry! It was sick! The idea of a sick fuck, that's what it was! How can you just stand there and hold hands with him and invent names made up of yours and Malfoy's names? You're acting like every bit the bitch you were in that cage!"

"Ron," Harry warned, as he pushed his friend's shoulder.

"I need to turn over. I feel so tired all the time, Sirius-"

"Ron!" Harry's hand twitched to his wand.

"And he is too!" Ron ploughed on, his face wild with revulsion beyond reason. "Did you see his tent, Harry?"

"What's gotten—what tent?"

"Seamus' pants! He was getting a fuckin' turn-on rubbing on you!"

Harry looked away his friend his annoyance and restrained himself, willing himself to keep walking on.

"You've known Seamus to be kidding like this! Why does it both you only now? We're not pregnant anymore!"

"Don't change the subject!" Ron screeched, spit flying out his mouth and landing on Harry, who wiped his face.

"Of course Seamus wasn't… doing that – he's not—you know… And you know it, Ron!"

"Know it Ron, my arse! He was just waiting to bugger you on the floor right then!"

"You know what, I can't talk to you like this," Harry said calmly, raising his hands in a defeated gesture, having decided Ron's words certifiably insane.

"I know what I saw!" Ron said. "And don't try to do that little dignity thing women like to do when they keep quiet!"

Harry shook his head and kept quiet, keeping his thoughts to himself that Ron was obviously attacking Seamus' masculinity because he felt his own was attacked by every pregnant joke from Seamus.

"The fuckin' prick!" Ron continued. He paused only to swallow the saliva that had gathered in his mouth and was spilling over with his words.

Harry knew he had to distract Ron as he would be so adrift in his temper that he would sustain his diatribe until the very moment he heaved his bed covers over his head. Although, considering Seamus slept in the same dormitory, even that might not be the end of it.

"First he has a nerve to find us. Then he start his little preggy jokes all over again and then flirts with you!"

"Ron, for fuck's sake, he's not into me!" Harry screamed.

"I never said he was into you," Ron buffeted, suddenly lowering his voice to a reasonable volume.

"Don't try to fuckin' turn me against my own words, Ron!" Harry shot back. "You know what I meant!"

"You're the one who said he was not into you, not me! Maybe you're the one into him!"

"Ron, do you want me to blast you into that classroom over there?"

"I don't fuckin' care! See me in the dormitory!"

"Brilliant!" Harry yelled back. He stopped dead in his tracks and then floundered on the spot as his whirring mind tried to figure out where he wanted to go in its cloud of fury. He finally decided to head towards the library, as he drew satisfaction from the fact that Ron had only dismissed him like that because he knew that his superior wand hand had ever ability to blast him into that classroom.

But he was still so angry even after emerging from the library some fifteen minutes later at Ron's barbed words strongly suggesting his homosexuality after he had been in a magically speeded-up pregnancy for nearly a month that he couldn't see what was in front of him and bumped into several armoured suits along the way, and also forgot to jump the second step on the tricky stairway leading to the Fat Lady's portrait and went flailing to the dusty steps. All this did nothing to improve his temper.