Pairing: Harry/Draco, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione
Summary: Harry's marriage is in a mess and so is his head. Not epilogue compliant.
Warnings (major fic spoiler so highlight at your peril):[Some relatively graphic het, and infant death]
Many thanks to my Beta, amejisuto who helped me find my ending and the whole point of the fic, and to literati for reading it through and reassuring me I hadn't just written a massive pile of dog's dollop.
Ginny twitched in her sleep and rolled from Harry’s pillow to her own. Her hair spilled as she turned; a web of static, fine knots and snarls over freckled shoulders and crisp Egyptian cotton.
Harry chewed his thumb to stop himself touching, untangling. She didn’t like that. Not anymore. But once it had been his job, his thing, their own private morning ritual when he would wake first with a face full of auburn flock.
He’d untangled her hair when James was born, even after she’d crushed his hand and told him never to put his man-bits near her better-bits again.
Harry’s chest tightened and he exhaled a quiet laugh, or maybe a sob.
‘I love you,’ he whispered, and peeled back the sheet. He needed a drink.
Both Malfoys swept past him, cloaks billowing around them as was customary for anyone with money and an ego combined. Their boots clicked on the polished floor and they stared straight ahead, chins and noses up, fingers flexing. It was the same every day, every morning, eight-thirty on the dot. Harry longed to criticize their obsessive punctuality, but his own stood firmly in the way.
So Harry stood and watched and remembered. His wand felt heavy in his sleeve and he remembered the all times he’d pointed it at Draco Malfoy.
Of course really. Hermione’s expression said it all. Her hand dropped to her belly and her fingers spread.
‘I’ve waited so long.’ Then she threw herself into Harry’s arms.
Behind her, Ron Cheshired. ‘Chuffed to bits, I am, mate. Chuffed to bits.’ And he swiped at his eyes with his cuff.
James loved sandwiches and bubblegum, and bubblegum sandwiches were his favourite. Ginny cleaned up the mess and Harry cut the gum out of his son’s hair and brushed the breadcrumbs out of his ears.
Glasses, glue-ear and pigeon toes. Son of the Chosen One. Ginny tucked James in and kissed him sweetly. Harry couldn’t breathe. It was a nice night to dust off the Firebolt.
He stared at Malfoy and his father all week. He got closer to them each time, like an antelope sidling up to a leopard because it liked the game, the risk, the chance of a broken neck. He got close enough to smell their cologne, one woody with musk and the other fresh like a crystal ocean.
When he held Ginny that night, sank into her, he came too quickly.
Dark wizards never learned, and everyone knew about Harry Potter’s Sectumsempra curse. He had it down to a fine art. Could slice a fleeing wizard’s Achilles tendon with little more than a bored flick of his wrist. Or so the rumours went.
Augustus Mirgridge, top of the Ministry’s Most Wanted but Only if You Have Time to Catch Them list, went down like a sack of festering spuds. Ron lost the tip of his finger and Harry got a promotion.
Hermione’s belly grew big. Proper big. She walked like gravity was a problem, and her bladder was a growing concern. Harry was convinced it was twins. Ron was convinced it was a Golden Retriever.
They ate dinner together at their place, but it was a race against the clock to grab what little of the takeaway they could before Hermione gathered the stocks for herself and guarded it with shifty eyes and her fingers wrapped too tightly around her fork.
Harry watched the Malfoys. Click, click, click, heels on the floor, Lucius Malfoy’s ridiculous pimp cane adding a clunk every third step. Draco’s white-blond hair falling over his shoulders, framing a face that was as pale and pointy as it ever was, eyes just as malevolent.
Harry watched, and remembered long-ago arguments and petty squabbles, serious clashes and the hatred he’d felt for them both. Like a burst of oxygen the hatred filled him up and he smiled, just slightly.
She brushed past him, her hips turning and squeezing between Harry and the kitchen sink. He felt it like electricity wired into his veins and he grabbed her, pulled up her skirt and slid his fingers inside, pushed her against the counter and fucked her. She clung to him, wrapped her legs around him, bit him when he got too rough.
Afterwards, they didn’t look at each other.
Hermione had three false alarms that gave Ron high blood pressure, and a grazed arse cheek from falling off his broom. But when it was finally time, they all got to the hospital early and with little stress. When this was pointed out to a frazzled Hermione mid-labour, she swore at Ron with such ferocity it could be heard all the way down in the family room.
They were still laughing about it when Charlie and Bill arrived, closely followed by Percy and a giant teddy bear. They were still laughing when they broke open the champagne early and toasted the Golden Retriever.
Then Ron was in the doorway, standing like he’d always been there, as pale as the walls and his eyes rimmed blood red. ‘The baby’s dead.’
They argued. Ginny threw a plate and Harry thought quickly enough to duck.
‘Why now?!’ she cried. ‘You bastard! They just lost their baby!’
Harry shook his head, slow and calm, ignored the smell of burning shepherds pie. ‘Tell me who he is?’
Click, click, click, but this time Draco noticed, had probably noticed the first time. He turned his head and smirked, and Harry was blasted back ten years. He wanted to run at him, pound him, smash his fucking face in. The surge of hatred was incredible and maybe if Draco would fight him he wouldn’t have to track down Ginny’s fuck-toy.
His beer was warm and no matter how hard he stared at it, it was still just beer. Warming amber sitting in a puddle of condensation that was rapidly evaporating in the summer heat. Wizards had never heard of air-conditioning, as such. Apparently four vexed geese, one flapping in each corner, was sufficient. And it almost was, except the noise was ungodly and the feathers got everywhere.
Harry smelled him before he heard or saw him. The scent of the ocean. The clicks of his heels sounded hollow on the wooden floor, different, but the face that sat opposite him, behind a glass of white wine and a small bag that looked suspiciously like a purse, was just the same.
‘I’ve got a surprise for you. Potter.’
Harry Potter had a childish tantrum. He swept files and papers and quills from his desk and threw a pot of ink across the room. ‘I don’t need this now!’
Kingsley, his expression carefully neutral apart from the raised eyebrow that actually always seemed to be raised so was probably stuck like that anyway, held his hands palms up in a passive gesture. ‘I know things are difficult but, Harry, this isn’t about you.’
‘No, it’s about Draco Bloody Malfoy. What are you thinking?’
‘I’m thinking it’s not your place to question me.’ The answer was cold and hard, truthful.
Harry sank down in his chair, his elbows dropping to rest on his knees and his fingers threading into his hair. ‘Why me?’
‘Because you’re the best. And he could potentially be the worst. He starts Monday. Train him. Don’t fuck it up.’
‘I’m so sorry.’
Hermione stared, waited, delayed her answer until Harry had the balls to look her in the eye. ‘So am I.’
She sat amongst carnage, a fuzzy little girl lost among smashed photographs and cushions with their stuffing ripped out. On top of the table, a tiny little outfit was carefully laid out, pale yellow with rabbits.
‘It was going to be the first,’ she said through a long and tired sigh, and then her face crumpled. ‘But I can’t find one of the booties.’
Harry held her and let her scream and claw his skin until Ron came home.
Harry watched only the one Malfoy click and clunk past. Lucius. He walked somewhat slower without his son. The other Malfoy was waiting in his office.
‘Good morning,’ Draco said from Harry’s chair. From the skewed state of the desk and the open drawer, Harry guessed Draco had already been snooping. ‘Kingsley says you’re to train me.’
‘Just tell me this,’ Harry said, striding to his desk and slamming his palms down on it so hard both the desk and Draco jumped. ‘Are you here just to annoy me?’
‘Of course not. Don’t think so highly of yourself.’
‘Then you behave and you listen to me. Do exactly what I say when I say it or you’ll get us both killed. And if I get any clue you’re up to something, I’ll gut you, Malfoy.’
Draco’s lips hovered between a sneer and a smile. ‘Sectumsempra? You’re not the only one who’s been practicing.’
They decided to give it another go, for James’s sake, even for Ron and Hermione’s.
They rarely looked at each other, but sometimes Harry came home angry, livid with Draco, and Ginny would do her duty as the good wife and make him a brew and let him fuck her hard and fast.
Today, Harry brooded, thought too much, regretted too much, nearly died in the field because of Draco’s incompetence and Harry’s complete inadequacy as a trainer. When James was in bed, he fucked Ginny on the living room floor, gave her carpet burns on her elbows and ripped her dress. She laughed and told him it was the best yet – their relationship was on the mend.
‘Get out,’ he told her.
‘You don’t like yourself much, do you?’ Draco observed from behind a wobbling stack of field reports, research documents and crossword puzzles.
‘Well don’t worry, I don’t like you either. At least that’s two of us.’ Draco gave him an exaggerated smile and went back to doodling what appeared to be the reproductive organs of a gorilla.
‘I like you more than me,’ Harry said, picking up the file he needed from Draco’s desk and walking away.
There was a pause before Draco said, ‘Just one thing.’
Harry stopped, looked over his shoulder.
‘Don’t be stupid. For once, get something you actually want out of it.’
‘Fame, Potter. Public gratitude. Unending love from your adoring fans.’ Draco spat the last word but Harry barely noticed.
A week later Harry got custody of James.
‘Do you think I’m a bastard?’ he asked Hermione.
‘Yes. But I also think Ginny is a bitch so you were quite well suited.’
Harry was getting better at hiding his shock at Hermione’s brutal honestly. It seemed life was too short.
‘You Sectumsemprad my hair, Potter, you idiotic fucker!’
‘Draco, I’m sorry. I really am.’ And he was, but it was hard to show just how sorry he was because Draco did look sort of funny with his wonky hair and red cheeks.
When Draco came into work the next day his hair was just below chin length, layered, the shorter strands curving along his jaw. He got a date by the end of the day. With a guy. Which was sort of hot. Harry tried to hide that thought from himself, but it crawled down into his trousers and nestled for the evening.
‘Can I have a dinosaur for Christmas?’ James asked.
Harry agreed and bought him a dozen dinosaurs, dinosaur pyjamas, dinosaur slippers, and a dinosaur umbrella that James nearly poked Draco’s eye out with several months later when the rainy season kicked in and the babysitter cancelled.
‘If you ever spawn again,’ Draco threatened, ‘I’ll drown it.’
They didn’t speak to each other for a whole week, which hadn’t been hard considering the suspension and Harry’s swollen top lip.
April was a gloomy month. Storm clouds gathered and loomed, looked down on Harry and darkened in disapproval. They burst only at the last minute and by the time he made it back to his house he was sodden and so was Draco who was waiting on his doorstep, his cheek yellow with a lingering bruise.
‘About what I said. It was … insensitive.’ Draco frowned, thinking. ‘Hermione. I didn’t think, didn’t connect. I’m sorry.’
Harry avoided Draco’s wary gaze, put down his shopping and fished his keys out of his pocket. He had his back to Draco, key in the lock, when he asked, ‘Coffee?’
‘I drink tea, you forgetful little shit. Yes please.’
Divorce wasn’t a simple procedure for Muggles. It was no simpler for wizards, either. The court battle gave Harry three grey hairs. He’d counted them. On the day of the fourth grey hair, Molly Weasley visited, her face the picture of sympathy and understanding.
‘Did you ever love my daughter?’
‘No. I’ve tried to tell myself I did, that I do, that maybe I learned. But that’s what tears me apart. It was never right. It was like … a set up. Like another bloody prophecy.’
‘Harry dear, she feels the same way.’ She put her hand on his knee. ‘So I’ll tell you exactly what I told her. Stop behaving like a blithering idiot and get on with it. Divorce, sort out something more suitable for James and for Merlin’s sake stop flapping about like a beached penguin. Quite frankly, you’re depressing the lot of us.’
‘I don’t remind you of a penguin, do I?’
Draco gave him the Idiot Look and turned away. ‘Wear some smart black and white robes for me and I’ll let you know.’
Harry dressed smartly the next day, proper wizard robes, knee-high boots, the works. ‘How the fuck do you walk in these?’
Draco avoided him all day and turned pink when Harry cornered him by the Owl-Out-Box. ‘Decidedly un-penguin-like,’ he conceded.
June was a wicked month, and not in a good way. Everything went wrong. Everything fell apart.
Harry burned his kitchen down, James got sick with Dragon Pox and some twat at the Ministry added Sectumsempra to the Unforgivables.
‘Unbelievable,’ Draco said. ‘That in itself is unforgivable. What are we supposed to maim people with now?’
‘You could use your cutting wit,’ Harry said, not really interested and totally numb from head to toe.
‘Don’t worry, Harry. My grandfather had Dragon Pox.’ Draco paused, studied the ceiling. ‘Of course, it killed him ...’
‘But he was old, ready to go, if you know what I mean. Actually, I don’t think it was the Dragon Pox that finished him. Probably had something to do with all the sex. Disgraceful. Old people shouldn’t be allowed to do it. All that sagging flesh. Speaking of which, your ex-hag is here.’ Draco stood and walked off in the other direction without another word.
It took most of the evening for Harry to realise Draco had sat with him at the hospital all day.
‘He’s getting worse. They’ve told me to prepare for ... for …’
Draco opened the door wider and Harry stumbled over the doormat and his own laces. He’d never seen the inside of Draco’s flat and later he wouldn’t remember a thing about it.
‘Hit me,’ Harry said. ‘Hit me, insult me, hurt me, do whatever it takes.’
‘Whatever it takes to what?’
‘To make me hate you again. To make me feel anything but this.’ He gripped Draco’s shirt and held on, his knuckles turning white. ‘Give me your best, Malfoy, you pureblood prat.’
‘He’s not dead yet, fool. Fuck off back to your spawn.’
Harry shook his head. ‘You don’t mean it. It’s not enough. Piss me off, Malfoy! Do something!’
Which was when Draco slammed him into the wall, pressed against him, slid his knee between Harry’s legs and kissed him. Firm, wet, dirty. When he pulled back, he whispered, his lips calmly brushing Harry’s as he spoke. ‘Go back to your family and be happy you can still feel anything at all.’
When the doctors at St Mungos announced James was out of danger, Harry felt dizzy. Sick. He emptied his stomach in the toilets and sat with James solidly for the next three days. He held hands with Ginny and instead of food they chewed bubblegum. She put her head on his shoulder and they both slept. He didn’t think abut Draco until morning broke the next day.
On the bed, James stirred, his eyes still closed. ‘Daddy swear,’ he said, and slept on.
They didn’t mention the kiss. They carried on as if it never happened and that was fine by Harry. There was nothing worse than questioning your own sexuality when your life was such a mess.
Click, click, click, Harry smiled at the familiar noise. It had been a while since he’d been in the right place at the right time to watch Lucius Malfoy walk through the ground floor. Even longer since he’d watched Draco walking with him. But there they were, a different time of day but still together.
He watched them pass, saw their unresponsive faces. No expression. Nothing.
Harry tried to tell himself that following them around Diagon Alley for an hour was not stalkerish.
‘I didn’t want to say anything sooner,’ Hermione said. Her voice shook and she laughed. ‘We weren’t even trying.’
Harry didn’t know what to say so he said, ‘Congratulations,’ on autopilot and opened his arms.
Behind Hermione, Ron swiped at his eyes with his cuff. ‘Chuffed to bits,’ he said, almost too quietly to hear.
‘Do you get on with your dad?’
‘With father? Of course. You’ve seen us.’
Findus Fingers was a criminal mastermind. At least he would be if it were possible to have a criminal mastermind in the field of stealing Muggle animals and passing them off as deformed magical creatures possessing enough magical power to crack the globe in two. He mainly sold to the younger Slytherins at Hogwarts, but after a Slytherin who’d been raised by Muggles recognised a box of ordinary young chickens, still at their fluffy yellow cheapcheap stage, hexes were thrown and the Aurors called.
It was an angry battle and difficult. Findus was easy enough to subdue, but the Slytherins could only be silenced with some creative, non-harmful hexing. If nothing else, it got Harry’s heart pumping again, and he actually managed to crack a genuine smile. For a moment. The smile dropped straight off and his heart broke a little bit more when he finally took in the crushed expression on Draco’s face and the dead chicks in his hands.
‘I don’t want to see anymore death,’ Harry said, and Ron clasped his shoulder. ‘Even if it is only a bunch of bloody chickens.’
Ron nodded and offered to fetch beer and kebabs. They got a little bit drunk together and Harry pretended not to hear Ron sobbing in the bathroom before he went home.
Harry was inconveniently roused at seven o’clock the next morning. James was already up and wandering around in his clown pyjamas that Hermione had bought him and Harry hated to the point of fear and sickness (but Hermione could dress James for bed in a suit of armour and Harry would let her).
He opened the door and found an exuberant Draco complete with cardboard box on his doorstep. Uh-oh.
‘One survived!’ Draco said, his face alight with pure happiness, and he tilted the box for Harry to see. There, nestled amongst fine silks and a bar of expensive chocolate, was a little yellow chick. ‘It’s the luckiest chick in the world and I’ve decided to call it Hermione, you know, for good luck, except I don’t know what to do with it. It doesn’t seem to eat caviar and I’m worried it’ll fall off my balcony.’ He thrust the box at Harry. ‘You look after it.’
James was thrilled at having a pet, even if it wasn’t a dinosaur. But apparently the chick was good enough just as long as one made grr noises when it was picked up. Draco was happy to oblige.
Ginny had James and Flafflehaffer the chick for the week. Flafflehaffer was getting big now, fluff turning to feathers, but James still adored her and Draco occasionally came over with homemade bird cake. He was quite the cook.
He and Draco went to the local Muggle pub, a dingy place a short walk through a field away; burgundy carpet, Toby jugs, and a raggedy old rug sprawled in front the fire. Harry got the drinks in and the rug got up and walked away.
Their silence had been comfortable for a while, each content to be quiet in the other’s presence without the need to pry, insult or demean. Harry wasn’t sure how that had happened so he asked Draco.
‘We grew up, Potter.’ He smiled. ‘I missed it sometimes. The normality of our arguments and inevitable hexes.’
‘Miss or missed?’
‘Missed.’ The smile faltered and his eyes followed a falling drop of condensation on his glass. ‘Before we were friends. After we were enemies. When we were nothing. It was like the world stopped.’
Harry was in serious trouble. He was sweating, panting, exhausted, the sheets around him damp and crumpled. He’d started by thinking of Ginny. Her soft breasts, her wetness, the way she sometimes straddled him, took over and rode him. Her delicate hand on his cock.
But the hand grew larger, the fingers longer and adorned with sliver rings and diamonds. The mouth that covered his was bigger, rougher, and it was fine blond hair that tickled his face. And when that blond head dipped and swallowed, Harry came with such force his spunk hit the door, the lamp shade, and a cuddly monkey sat at the opposite side of the room.
Limp and weirdly unsatisfied, Harry flipped onto his side, dangled his arm over the edge of the bed, and stared at the fireplace.
As Hermione got bigger, Ron got more frantic. He was constantly red in the face and his hair was sticking up on end like he’d had an electric shock. As Draco attempted to flatten it for him, Harry wondered when exactly Draco had become part of their lives. He’d definitely missed that somehow, like he’d probably missed a lot while he was busy getting caught up in things he couldn’t change and maybe didn’t even want to. His brain jumped several stones across the river and landed on a kiss. That kiss.
Harry’s mouth went dry and he tried not to notice Draco’s beautiful eyes or his soft lips or luscious hair, because only girls noticed stuff like that. Draco caught him staring and smirked, then he bent over. And came back up with Ron’s comb
Some of Draco’s Slytherin friends were visiting for the weekend so he was tied up with them. That bought some delicious images to mind and then a surge of intense jealousy.
I’m cracking up, Harry thought, and then Firecalled Draco. ‘Lunch, tomorrow, you want to? I know somewhere that does a great carvery on the cheap. It’s a bit out of the way but a drive might be nice.’
‘That would be wonderful. I love cars. I’ll Apparate to yours by eleven. Sound alright?’ Behind him, Harry saw several faces he recognised. Goyle, Pansy, Blaise. Draco paid them no mind, showed no embarrassment. There was no sniggering, no piss-taking.
The world had changed, smoothed out, and Harry Potter had nearly missed it.
Draco had a hangover and was drooping into his carvery. Beef for both of them as chicken was off the menu these days. Harry prodded him and made him drink a glass of water.
They talked about work, promotions, shopping, chicken care and politics (if what kind of underwear the new Minister wore could be considered politics).
When the subject of family came up, Draco was reluctant and he steered the conversation back over to Harry’s family. But Harry bribed him with cheesecake if he’d answer just one question.
‘We don’t really talk. We spend time together but nothing ever gets said.’ Draco smiled sadly. ‘Too much has happened. He feels responsible for so much – and rightly so – and he doesn’t know how to make it right. Neither do I. I’ll always love my father, but sometimes I hate him.’
Harry hands twitched and he picked up his glass to prevent himself from reaching, touching.
‘We meet for breakfast every morning, but we might as well be a country apart.’ Draco looked away, watched a Muggle entertain his brood with a joke and a funny face. ‘So far away.’
Hermione was rushed to St Mungos one early evening. Five weeks early. In agony. Harry couldn’t understand Ron over the Firecall and so George butted in and told Harry to get his arse in gear and start the round robin. Harry made his call – to Bill – and then he called Draco.
‘I’ll meet you there. Harry, don’t panic.’
The next time he saw him was ten minutes later when Draco appeared with a cheery face and a chicken in a balloon.
‘For luck,’ he said, and started waffling about salmonella and protective bubbles.
Harry closed his eyes and listened to his voice.
Minutes passed. Hours. The corridors were silent and no-one spoke except Draco who had moved on to traditional agriculture and the medicinal qualities of Hippogriff saliva. No-one bothered to shut him up because it was better than listening to the clock stealing away their hope with every tick-fucking-tock.
When Ron appeared in the doorway, broken and scared, his sob sliced Draco’s voice in two and left a terrible void of silence.
‘Oh, god, no.’ Harry ran to him, held on tightly, buried his face in Ron’s jumper.
Ron’s chest heaved and he struggled to breathe. He pulled Harry from him, cupped Harry’s face in his hands, smiled and whispered, ‘It’s a girl, Harry. What the bloody hell am I supposed to do with a little girl?’
Draco more or less bounced alongside Harry all the way home, crooning about pink ribbons and colourful, polka-dot Wellingtons. Harry looked at him, perhaps for the first time, and said, ‘You are not what I expected. You are …’
‘You can say unique and I’ll take it as a compliment.’
‘I would mean it as one.’
Draco grinned up at the stars and the bright moon. ‘Say it, then, don’t keep me in suspenders.’
Harry thought about laughing, but it was hard when there was so much on his mind, a mass of tangled feelings and one clear route through them all. ‘What if I want to say more than that?’
Their second kiss was clumsy, both reaching for the other, struggling to be the first to touch, to take control and shut Harry’s front door at the same time. They bounced against a table and an ornamental teapot given to him by Molly crashed to the floor. ‘Oh god, thank you, I hate that bloody thing.’
Draco treated him to a devious grin. ‘So do I.’
‘Still a Slytherin, then, eh?’
‘To the core. And you.’ Kiss. ‘My brave Gryffindor.’ Kiss. ‘Will take the blame.’
‘You want me to protect you?’
‘From your ex mother-in-law? Yes, please.’
He pulled Draco down with him, shucked him out of his shirt, whipped away his belt, tore at his trousers. Growing urgency, a need to touch, to feel a true desire beneath his fingertips for the first time in his life.
Then Draco was holding him back, stilling him with surprisingly strong hands. ‘We have plenty of time,’ he said, yet it was Draco that ripped Harry’s underwear almost clean in two, Draco that got aggravated when the sheet tangled around their ankles.
When Harry came, it was wasn’t a painful crash that had him clinging to the sheets and his soul, but a wondrous warmth that curled him around Draco’s body, guiding him into arms he wanted to be in, unravelling the knot in his chest.
An hour later Harry watched him sleep. Draco’s lips were kiss-red, slightly parted and in need of touching. Harry swept his thumb gently along them, and remembered their squabbles, arguments and duels, the conflict and fire that had always bound and twisted them together.
Draco stirred and shifted closer and an arm snaked around Harry’s waist. Draco’s white-blond hair was bright even in the darkness and Harry touched it, gently smoothed it with the palm of his hand; then he smiled and brushed his fingers all the way through.
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