The rest of the week went by with only minor incident. It was clear that most of Gryffindor and Slytherin were unhappy with Harry and Draco being paired up, but they didn't know what to do about it. If the couple had just been dating, they would have been fair game for any number of slurs, pranks, or dirty tricks, but their being married put them into a different category; one that they had been taught demanded respect. So confusion reigned in the minds of many as they tried to reconcile conflicting emotions with tradition.
This made Hermione's self-appointed task of getting the rest of her House to accept the boys into their company easier. As a married couple, there was no clear-cut and reasonable reason for creating mayhem for them. Breaking up a dating couple was a possibility; breaking up a married couple was unthinkable. She was sitting with them at dinner on Friday, telling them about her progress in that regard, when a school owl dropped a note on Draco's plate.
Draco looked at it as though it might be poisonous, then slowly picked it up and opened it. "Be careful in Potions. B.," he read aloud, after reading it for himself, first.
"A warning, or a threat?" Harry asked, after he read it for himself.
"A warning," Draco said slowly. "If it were a threat, it wouldn't say to be careful, or name where we had to be careful."
"'B'..." Harry mused. "Blaise?" At Draco's bemused nod, he said, "A friend, after all. Potions? Let's go," he said, standing up. When the blond just sat there and looked blankly at him, he explained. "Don't you think Snape would like to know that his classroom is set to be a battlefield?" Draco smirked, and rose.
Upon knocking on Professor Snape's office door, they were reluctantly admitted. They showed the professor the note, and related what they'd been observing regarding Nott and his little group, as well as other possibilities, but the potions master derided them for their efforts.
"I suggest that you pay more attention in class, and less to alarmist notes," Snape sneered, after being presented with what evidence the boys had. Privately, he thought they probably had reason to be apprehensive, but until there was solid proof, he'd stand behind his House, and keep an eye on those individuals most likely to cause trouble for the young couple.
Yes, Draco had been his Golden Boy, but his prejudicial behaviour against Harry Potter was an ingrained habit, despite his recent revelation. He knew it was illogical, and he was fighting both it and the original prejudice, but Draco had automatically inherited the taint when he'd married Potter, making him at least somewhat 'other'. He'd assisted Draco so the blond could bond with the blasted boy, but it wasn't supposed to have been a love match. To him, the emotional factor made all the difference.
So Snape watched the members of his House, and was more alert in those of his classes in which the Potters were present. But when the trouble started, the scope took him completely by surprise.
With Professor Snape's dismissal of their concerns (although both Draco and Harry would have called it a warning, or accusations), the Potters' nerves were stretched taut. They weren't afraid, but they were wary and on edge, keeping their wands handy, ready to reach for them on the slightest pretext. However the day went fairly smoothly, other than the looks many Slytherins were giving them. Oddly enough they weren't looks of animosity or gleeful anticipation, but almost of sympathy. That alone was strange, and added to the tension.
The time for Double Potions rolled around. The young couple chose a position against the wall, near the door, but as the minutes ticked by and nothing happened, they started to relax, and concentrated on making the potion for this lesson - a variation on healing elixir. It was one that Madam Pomfrey had to use quite often as pupils hexed each other, or had magical accidents. Half an hour. Forty-five minutes. Then Theodore Nott stood up and shouted "Now!" At that, several Slytherin boys started firing hexes at Harry and Draco, who immediately dropped to the floor, grabbed their wands, and began casting hex-deflection spells. When it appeared that none of their efforts were working, Nott, face red and twisted with hate, shouted "Suffer, traitor! Crucio!"
Draco fell to the floor, writhing in agony, but he refused to make a sound. Although one never got used to the pain, Lucius' use of the curse as a too-common punishment had taught the blond how to handle it. Just as Harry was about to retaliate, Professor Snape's shout of "Expelliarmus!" was heard, and Nott's wand went flying. Professor Snape then conjured ropes, which shot out of his wand and bound the boy tightly. "Halt!" he yelled stentoriously at the other spell casters. As Nott swore, threatened, and cursed, the professor cast "Silencio" on him, as well.
Seeing Nott nullified, and the other spell casters cowed, Harry put his need for revenge aside, at least temporarily, and anxiously turned to his husband. Draco was still quivering, but recovering.
"Harry, can we help?" Hermione whispered anxiously. Ron, beside her, was nodding, but looking more than a bit uncertain of his reception. Harry didn't have a chance to answer.
"Potter! Take Draco to Madam Pomfrey!" Snape ordered. He needn't have bothered. Harry had already determined to do exactly that. "And get checked over yourself!" the potions master added, to Harry's surprise. The professor turned to the rest of the class as Harry escorted Draco out of the room.
"Four of you." The professor's voice was calm, but it was the calm of a poisonous snake - deadly. "I expected perhaps one of you to be crass enough to attack the Potters. That a group effort was planned and executed was bad enough, but that the rest of Slytherin House were too cowardly to report it to me...! I will be speaking to the whole House after supper." Turning to the spell-casters, who had become quite pale, he said, in a furious hiss, "You three will have a month of detentions with Filch and me, and be restricted from Hogsmeade visits for three, plus forty points apiece, including Nott, from Slytherin for your cowardly attack." It was a measure of his anger, not the least of which was caused by being proven wrong in front of Potter, that he took points from his own house at all, let alone that many.
"Nott, of course, has cast an Unforgivable. The best he can hope for is expulsion. Get your supplies packed up, and pack Nott's; I'm sure the Headmaster will want to have a word with all of you," he directed coldly. He looked up to address the rest of the class. "The rest of you put aside any thoughts of revenge, and get to work! That potion will likely be needed before the weekend is out, and perhaps by yourselves, so make no mistakes! I will be back shortly to judge your efforts," he said curtly. Then, casting 'mobilicorpus' on Nott, he stalked out, the boy floating along behind, fighting his bonds, and the other three offenders trailing along behind him.
"Is he going to be all right?" Harry anxiously asked Poppy Pomfrey.
"Give me some time to do some tests, Mister Potter," she replied calmly. "You've only just arrived!"
Harry subsided, but kept hold of his husband's trembling hand.
"Really, Harry, I'll be fine!" Draco protested. "Lucius held me under the Cruciatus Curse far longer, just for failing to beat you to the snitch!"
The Gryffindor turned white with rage. "The next time I see that man, he won't be walking away," Harry vowed.
"Harry - you're hurting me," Draco complained quietly.
Coming to himself, the green-eyed young man found that he was squeezing Draco's hand far too tightly. "Sorry," he mumbled, embarrassed. He had a sudden impulse to sweep the blond into his arms, to hold him and keep him safe that way, but he subdued it.
Looking up at the medi-witch, he found Madam Pomfrey still muttering spells and making notes of the results. Turning back to his spouse, he lifted the hurt hand and kissed it. Except for Pomfrey's muttered spells, silence descended. Eventually, he heard an astonished "What?"
"What?" Harry asked, worried.
The medi-witch waved him to silence as she concentrated, performing several different spells, to the results of which she shook her head in denial, only to try another - apparently with similar results, as she kept this up for some time; even, once, looking suspiciously at her wand as though it had become infected with wood-worms. Finally, she sighed in exasperation. Looking sidewise at the young couple, she said, "If you'll wait here, please, I must confer with the headmaster."
"Is something wrong?" Harry asked for both of them.
"No, Draco appears to be in perfect health; just some jangled nerves. Oh!" As if that reminded her, she went to a nearby cupboard, then came back, handing Draco a fist-sized chunk of chocolate. "Eat this. All of it! Excuse me, please." And then she was retreating quickly towards her office.
Draco could tell she wasn't lying, but she had that shifty look... "She's hiding something," he informed Harry.
"You think she's lying?" the Gryffindor asked.
"No, but there's something... "
"Well, we're not going to find out until she comes back, so eat your chocolate," Harry directed. It had surprised him, when he first came to the wizarding world, that chocolate was used as a medicant, but he'd found that the dark stuff actually did have a remarkably soothing effect on nerve endings that had been overly sensitized by magic; especially from hexes and curses.
Draco absently began nibbling on the sweet confection.
When Madam Pomfrey returned about five minutes later, she looked no less unsettled. "The headmaster should be here in a few minutes. Now, I believe I was to check you over as well, Mister Potter?" she said, looking at Harry.
"This is going to get ridiculous, isn't it?" Draco muttered quietly.
When Harry looked at him, confused, Draco explained. "Two 'Mister Potter's', Harry. When we're together, it could get rather confusing."
"And due to the bond, we're always going to be fairly close together," Harry said, nodding. "I see what you mean. And yet to allow the familiarity of our first names to everyone... "
"Not acceptable," Draco agreed. "I won't use Lucius' last name, Harry," he added quietly.
The Gryffindor grinned. "You don't have to. We'll just have to have fun confusing people when they address us!"
"I like the way you think, Mister Potter," Draco said, grinning back.
"Of course, Mister Potter," Harry answered with a smirk.
Madam Pomfrey paused long enough with her tests to shake her head in disbelief at these two, but didn't say a word. Still, Draco caught it, and gave an amused smirk, as well.
"Ah, there you are, gentlemen!" Dumbledore exclaimed, as an announcement of his arrival.
'And where else did he expect us to be?' Draco thought.
"I'll get right to the point."
'I wish you would,' was the blond's mental comment.
"It seems your bonding ritual had quite an unexpected bonus," the headmaster said carefully. "In most cases, congratulations would be in order. However, I'm not quite sure that's the case, here."
'Would you get on with it, already!' Draco screamed in his mind. A quick glance at his husband told him that Harry was feeling the same way. But Harry had experienced communication with Dumbledore before, and knew there was no hurrying him, so he was forcing himself to be patient.
Taking a deep breath, the old man took the plunge, looking directly at Draco as he said, "It would seem, Mister Potter, that you are pregnant."
Draco's mental voice was stunned to silence.