Beta Reader: pussycatadamah

Disclaimer: The characters belong to J.K. Rowling. I merely use them in my plot for fun.

Chapter 18

The pub was crowded. Most of the patrols were there because of a Quidditch game and Harry had not been terribly interested in knowing which teams played. He liked the atmosphere though, and the noise. He understood why George chose this place and he much preferred it from the redhead's last chosen location. As it was, Harry had to go to Grimmauld first for a change of clothes, something more casual than what he needed for work.

"Over here!" A hand was raised and thankfully George was smart enough not to call out his name in a crowded place like this.

The green-eyed wizard reached him quickly and slid in the booth next to him.

"Hey, this place is crazy tonight. Have you ordered yet?" he asked the redhead.

"Not yet, I was waiting for you."

Harry winced. "Sorry I was late."

George waved him off. "It's nothing. I like this place."

"You've been here before?"

"With Oliver," the Weasley stated and it really was all he needed to say. "During UK Quidditch Cup's last match the year before. That my friend was crazy."

A bubbly, brown-haired witch came to take their order.

"I could eat a hippogriff," Harry muttered.

"Ditto, store was busy today," George agreed. "We'll each have the house special dish and Old Magpie's, dark if you have it."

"Sugar, we have all kinds of beer here," the waitress winked at him and sauntered off.

The two wizards watched her walk away. George shot a look at the green-eyed wizard.

"Aren't you into blokes?" he asked the younger man.

"Oh, I am," Harry enthusiastically declared. "But her sassiness rivals Rosmerta's."

George shot out that girl in the crowd and grinned. "True that." He faced Harry again. "I know I apologised last time..."

"Don't," the Unspeakable told him. "What goes on between Ron and I... It's not your fault. The lunch was pleasant and it was nice to see everyone gathered together. In fact, I got a letter from Bill earlier today. He wants us to get together for drinks after work today. Are you in?"

The redhead grinned. "Of course I am. He's been meeting me as well. It had helped a lot."

Harry nodded.

"You might think I'm being an idiot. I mean it has been two years..." George trailed off and looked down at the empty table between them.

Harry frowned. "I only think you're an idiot because you expect to get over Fred's death in two years."

The older wizard looked up.

"He was your brother, your twin," Harry stressed. "I cannot begin to imagine how you felt. There is no fixed time that you need to follow when in mourning, no fixed behaviour either. That's what doctor Peele's been telling me still."

The redhead blinked. "You are still seeing that guy?"

All across the pub the crowd went wild and the two solemn friends paused. When the craziness died down again, Harry answered.

"Yes, I'm still seeing him. We only have monthly sessions now. Have you thought about seeing him? Even once?"

"I'm considering it," George said.

"You still have his contact information?" the green-eyed wizard asked.


"That's good enough," Harry told him. "You've got no pressure from me."

"That's why you're my favourite Harry."

The younger man rolled his eyes.

"Here you go, luv," the sassy waitress was back and George soon lost his morose mood.

Harry sat back and watched him flirt with her. She stayed with them, much longer than she needed to and when she went back to her job again, George had secured a date with her.

"Impressed, young one?" George asked sounding and looking rather smug.

"You've got a way with women that I just cannot understand," Harry admitted. "Better yet, I don't get girls."

George chortled. "No one really understands them all. And you don't even have to, am I right?"

"Ron and Hermione spilled the beans?"

"Yes, Ginny was heartbroken," he did not sound the least bit sorry about it, despite being her brother. "It will do her good to try to forget you. I'm telling you Harry, her crush just isn't healthy."

"I know. I should have never dated her back in sixth year," the green-eyed wizard sighed.

George sighed as well. "That's the burden us handsome men must carry."


The redhead grinned.

Hermione frowned when she spotted Luna Lovegood and Draco Malfoy of all people in the maternity section of a very Muggle department store in central London. The blond duo was the oddest combination she would have ever thought up if anyone ever asked her. And even then there were a few more unlikely duos that preceded them. She carefully concealed herself as she tried to keep an eye on them.

After careful observation she realized they were just browsing the maternity section. They were more precisely looking into infant clothes and toys. Luna in particular was cooing at some of them and Malfoy had to drag her away from a couple of outfits.

"But it's so cute!"

"It's a lion costume."

"So? It's still cute," Luna replied, making Malfoy huff and bodily drag her away from that rack.

"Yes, and much too early. Let's look for something else," the wizard told her.

Hermione missed the reply Luna gave. The witch kept chattering away for a while so the former Gryffindor guessed that the blonde woman was probably offering suggestions. The whole scene reminded Hermione of a couple going shopping together.

"That's impossible," she muttered to herself.

She followed after them with her eyes but resolved to just ask Luna next time she saw the former Ravenclaw. And she would see the younger witch and she would get the answers on what she had stumbled in. If asking Luna got her no where, then she would ask Harry. He would probably know. The green-eyed wizard had claimed that he and Malfoy kept in touch but she doubted they were as close as Harry had alluded. He had probably just said that to needle her husband.

Hermione really believed that Harry would not let Luna hurt herself by associating with Malfoy. That family had done her a world of wrong. Hermione could not understand how Luna could stand to face one of the people that held her hostage for the better part of a year, the people that played host to Voldemort himself. It was the same reason she and Ron could not understand why their friend had defended the Malfoy's at the trial or why he kept insisting they could be redeemed. Some wounds hade inflicted damage on her that went deeper than the scars they had caused. That whole year they spent on the run still haunted her. She just could not understand how those memories left Harry alone, how he could see past the monsters some people were.

Oh, she had heard Harry say how people showed their worst during wars, or their best, depending on their true nature. Hermione had seen Malfoy Manor's dungeons. She had seen the mockery Voldemort's ministry made of Muggleborns and half-bloods. She had seen Diagon Alley abandoned and Hogwarts with bodies across the school grounds. She had seen all that and would never forget them. Just like she could never forgive the people that sided with the Dark side. Her mind kept reminding her of the comments Harry had given her in one of their last face to face discussions they had, back during the trials.

He had insisted that the more people refused to forgive, refused to change, the more danger their world was in for a new Tom Riddle to rise and for more hostility to exist.

"I've chosen to forgive, Hermione. Not everyone and not everything can be forgiven, I'm not saying that. But I'm done equating all Death Eaters with monsters. After all, I've also done things I regret," he had told her before ending their discussion.

The witch visibly shook her self and tried to let the aftertaste that talk had left her with. It was one of the biggest disagreements she and Harry had and after that talk their relationship did not include deep conversations like that. She chose not to delve on that deeper and focused back on her plan to talk to Luna and see what was happening between her and Draco Malfoy.

With that plan in mind, Hermione continued her shopping for Hugo.

It struck him suddenly and he barely managed to get up from his bed and reached the bathroom. He nearly missed as well. Morning sickness was probably the worst wake up call in the world, Lucius decided. The worst. And that included having the Dark Mark flare up in his arm.

He barely recovered from having last night's dinner leave his body in such an undignified manner, when he noticed the figure at the entrance of his bathroom. It was one of his house-elves. The creature was cowering by the door, but also looking at him in worry.

"What do you want?" Lucius voice came out scratchy and raw.

The house-elf took a step closer and snapped its fingers. The vomit and the smell of it disappeared from the air.

"D-Does Master want some ginger root or spearmint or peppermint tea? It's good for morning sickness sir."

Lucius stared. Then he stared some more before finally giving a short, slow nod.

The elf practically smiled at him, its earlier fear forgotten.

"Helmy is getting it ready Master! Would master also like toasted bread?"

Lucius was about to say no. The mere thought of food was enough to send him hurling again. But then the most outrageous thing happened. The house elf glared at him until he nodded to the suggestion of the food. Then Helmy popped out of the bathroom, leaving Lucius bewildered.

The blond wizard just washed up (properly, cleaning charms just left him feeling sticky) and went back to his bedroom. He usually ate at his suite rooms, by the balcony but he did not have the energy to do so that morning. So instead, Lucius went back to bed. His body warmed up immediately and it helped improve his mood somewhat.

With a soft 'pop' the house elf ('Helmy' Lucius mind supplied) was back, levitating a tray that held more than the tea and toasted bread Lucius had been strong-armed into accepting. There was butter and what smelled like turkey, one hard boiled egg, two kinds of breads roasted at the fire, fresh honey, apple and orange slices and nuts. The pregnant wizard stared at what looked like a meal suggested by Healer Marlan Keash.

Then the tray was placed gently over his lap and the elf left him alone again, with a tray full of breakfast foods. Thankfully, his stomach did not rebel again. If anything, solid food and warm spearmint tea helped sooth his stomach. By the end of his breakfast Lucius resolved to simply try the ginger root tea next morning.

The entire street was boring and mundane. Filled with old houses. It was entirely Muggle. But appearances were deceiving, Draco mused as he stood on the doorstep of number 12, Grimmauld Place. He had rung the doorbell only seconds before and now he was left pondering on the ridiculousness of the Muggle hating Black Family having their town house and home for the twentieth century in the middle of an area infested with the very thing they hated.

"If that's not a sign of insanity I don't know what is," Draco muttered under his breath.

The blond was also just starting to feel fidgety. Thankfully, he was not left to ponder over it for long before the door opened and a woman appeared. She looked eerily like Bellatrix Lestrange only older, saner and actually happy. Her eyes went a bit wide at the sight of him on her doorstep. He saw them tracing his features and then finally resting on the fluffy toy the blond pure blood was carrying.

Draco followed her gaze. The bunny rabbit was supposed to change colours to amuse toddlers and young kids, Luna had insisted. And it was a pretty amusing and cool toy. Also, he had a tip (again from his girlfriend) that Teddy enjoyed colour changing toys a bit more than regular ones.

Andromeda continued studying him and it made the wizard falter a bit.

"Um, I'm Draco..."

"Malfoy, yes. You are a perfect blend of your parents," she told him.

"I've been told," the blond awkwardly replied.

He tried to get his reactions back under control. Andromeda was so obviously a Black and so similar to Bellatrix that it was alarming.

"I apologize for stepping by unannounced but I wanted to meet my cousin. Second cousin but... Yes, cousin."

Something warmed in her gaze at his fumbling response. His whole demeanour became more playful.

The witch smirked. "With this toy, you're going to be his fifth, maybe fourth favourite person."

"Only fourth and with a maybe?" Draco joked a bit; feeling a bit more relaxed around her.

"Well, there is an already established order of favourites," Andromeda replied. "Harry is number one. I'm number two and your girlfriend number three. Then we have your father at fourth place due to that zoo visit," she informed the young wizard. Then she stepped back, letting him enter the house. "Do come in, Teddy loves meeting new people and he enjoys having more family around."

Just like that any lingering doubts within Draco left him and the blond eased even more when Andromeda took it upon herself to introduce the two cousins to each other. Draco took one look at Teddy (the kid was even cuter up close that he was in his pictures) and he smiled. It got a tad bit wider when the boy's hair turned the same hue as him own.

"Hello Teddy," he muttered.

Big eyes stared at him and the Malfoy heir wondered how much more intense the feeling would get when he would be holding his sibling in his arms.

A/N: Short, I know, but I'm simply easing myself back into this story.