There was a long silence after the headmaster's pronouncement, and then Draco relaxed back into the pillows propping him up on the bed, smirking, and gave a genteel snort. "Pull the other one; it's got bells on," he scoffed.
Harry looked stunned at the news, but he was looking somewhat sceptical as well.
"I assure you, Draco, that I am not 'pulling your leg', as you imply," Dumbledore replied.
"Wizards do not get pregnant," Draco calmly insisted.
"There are fertility potions, Mister Potter, although those usually take care of forming the egg and necessary structures," the headmaster replied, eyes twinkling.
"We're both male; no potion, no egg. How do you get past that?" Draco challenged.
"Magic, Mister Potter. Usually, you would be quite correct. However, the excessive magic released during your bonding took care of that problem."
Draco sat back against the hospital bed headboard, folded his arms across his chest, and with smug disbelief said, "I'm listening - convince me."
Dumbledore sighed, then proceeded to explain. "All it takes is a cell and the proper number of chromosomes; twenty-three from each parent. According to the tests Madam Pomfrey conducted, and she used every test in the book to be certain of the situation before she contacted me, the magic made sure that the chromosomes from one of Mister Potter's spermatozoa joined with the chromosomes found in one of your cells. The resultant fertilized 'egg' made its way outside of your intestine, and attached itself there. A womb, or womb-like structure, formed around the cell, and is growing along with the foetus."
Draco was no longer looking so sure of himself, and Harry had paled just a bit. Then the Gryffindor's face relaxed, with a smile. A baby? They were going to have a baby? He loved the idea.
"It's not... It can't be. I can't be pregnant. I'm only sixteen. I'm not ready to be a parent!" Draco protested.
The smile on Harry's face vanished. He had neglected to take into account the responsibilities of having a baby; a family. The idea of having a baby, in the abstract, was beautiful. But raising a child... He realized he'd been letting life carry him along without giving it much thought. He looked at Draco. He'd done a disservice to him, too. He'd accepted the relationship without taking into account everything that it entailed. Money was no problem, but a place to live...
Well, they'd discussed Grimmauld Place as a summer residence, but now he'd have to make sure it was fit to be their permanent residence. He'd have to send some owls, and get contractors in there to fix it up.
No. Grimmauld Place was invisible and unplottable. Workers would still be needed, but they'd have to be insiders. As far as he knew, however, none of the Order members had the skills needed. Harry sighed. Well, that problem could be solved after they'd decided what actually needed to be done. But eventually remodeling would start, and that meant getting cooperation from Dumbledore and the Order. Even though he owned the property, they were the ones actively using it at present.
And he'd have to start paying more attention to his interactions with his now-husband; he couldn't continue to act as though they were just casual friends and lovers. They were married, and that was a serious relationship. All of the sudden, Harry felt as though a lot more weight were on his shoulders.
"Draco?" Harry wasn't quite sure what to do or say, now. So he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, opened his eyes, gazing into the grey orbs belonging to his husband, and just said what was on his mind. "Draco - we can do this. I... Well, I think I know at least a little of what you feel. I'm not pregnant, but I'm in this with you. It's our child, and we'll raise it together. You're not alone."
Draco had stared at Harry at first, then dropped his eyes to the floor. Now he raised his head, and Harry could see tears shining in his husband's grey eyes. "But - Harry, my... Lucius."
Harry snarled, startling everyone present, including himself. A couple of nearby glass jars burst from the Gryffindor's momentarily uncontrolled magic. "If that bastard ever so much as shows his face, I'll... !"
"Harry!" Dumbledore exclaimed. "I do hope you're not contemplating murder?" The headmaster gazed sternly over his spectacles at the dark-haired young man he was grooming for the upcoming war.
The Gryffindor looked the headmaster squarely in the eye. "I'll do whatever it takes to protect my family," he said quietly, with deadly conviction. "And with that bastard, it wouldn't be murder, it would be justice - probably while defending ourselves," Harry concluded in a happy tone of voice.
"Whether you actually were or not, I suppose," the old man commented dryly.
Harry just smiled, and shrugged. Draco's hand on his arm brought his attention back to the Slytherin.
"Harry," the blond said quietly, calmly, "you'd do me - nor the baby," he added, as an afterthought, "any good sitting in an Azkaban cell."
Harry frowned. Again he'd neglected to think through the consequences of an action; fortunately, this time one only contemplated, not acted upon. Harry smiled at his husband. "Okay, love," he said reassuringly, "I won't go looking for him, and I won't do any more than is necessary to protect us if he comes looking for us. Is that all right?"
Draco smiled and nodded, relaxing a bit. "But you won't be standing alone, Harry," he said with quiet determination.
Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey relaxed as well.
"Oh, gods!" Harry suddenly exclaimed. "The curse! - The Cruciatus Curse!" Harry explained to the blank looks he received. "Did it harm the baby?"
Madam Pomfrey frowned, thinking. "At this stage in the pregnancy, it would be very hard to tell. But it's such a simple structure at this point, it's not likely," she opined. "However, we'll need to keep a close eye on it until we can tell for sure."
"How long?" Draco asked, dreading the answer. Draco was less than thrilled about being pregnant, although slowly accepting it, but family was too important to him to easily contemplate losing this baby.
"About two months," the medi-witch replied.
A slow, cold rage was building in the Slytherin towards Nott. If justice was not done, and his child were damaged, he'd see to it that Nott suffered. No. If Nott didn't wind up in Azkaban for life for using an Unforgivable on him, he'd make sure the bastard suffered anyway, merely for jeopardizing his child. And he knew how to make sure that happened - legally.
"So if Draco's okay, we can go now?" Harry asked.
Madam Pomfrey nodded. "Your tests came out negative as well, Mister Potter," she said, "although with all the hexes I was told were flying around, I'm extremely surprised that only the one hit its mark."
Draco smirked. "What can I say? We're good!" he boasted.
"I daresay you're much better as a team, than as rivals," Dumbledore said slyly, eyes twinkling.
'Now what did he mean by that?' both boys thought to themselves.
"I want to see you again in two weeks, Mister Potter," the medi-witch said as they made their way to the door. "And make sure you eat well!"
"Sure thing!" Harry said, using an Americanism.
"Certainly!" Draco replied, at the same time.
Poppy shook her head slowly. It may have been very mild, but she'd just been the victim of the Potters' first 'confusion attack'.
They found Ron and Hermione waiting outside the entrance to their rooms. They'd been hoping for some quiet time together, to relax, but it didn't look as though it would happen for awhile, yet.
"Are you both all right?" Hermione asked anxiously. "Pomfrey wouldn't let us in to see you at the infirmary, so we decided to wait here."
"We're fine, 'Mione," Harry answered.
Nodding to the redhead, he said, "Ron."
"Hi, Harry," Ron said shyly. "I just... "
"Let's go inside, where we can sit down and get comfortable," Harry interrupted. Stepping up to Sir Roxley, he whispered the password. He didn't want even his friends to have it, lest they say it too loudly whilst others were around.
"Right ye are, me boyo!" Sir Roxley boomed heartily, startling everyone.
"When did you start talking?" Draco demanded.
"Always could, me lad; always could! Just like to get to know folk afore I natter wi' 'em. Now, ye'll be enterin', yes?"
"Um... Yes," Harry said, a little overwhelmed. Even Seamus wasn't as heartily boisterous as this.
"And a little restraint would be appreciated," Draco said sharply. "We don't need everyone knowing when we're coming and going."
"Ye have yersel' quite a wildcat there, me boy," Sir Roxley said to Harry; but his tone was in a more normal speaking range, if no less jovial.
Harry grinned at his husband, but replied to Sir Roxley. "He's not boring, for sure."
Draco blushed. "Can we go inside, now?" he asked pointedly. He heard a sound like someone choking to death. When he turned, he saw Ron desperately trying to muffle his laughter.
"Something funny, Weasley?"
Ron shook his head 'no' violently, but it wasn't very convincing while he was still shaking with laughter, half doubled over, red-faced, and one hand stuffed halfway into his mouth.
"Ron!" Hermione remonstrated. "You're here to apologise, remember?"
"Leave it, love," Harry whispered in Draco's ear, putting an arm around his waist. "It wasn't that funny, but I think he's nervous." Then he gave Draco a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Are you trying to cozen me?" the Slytherin asked suspiciously, then smiled. "'Cause it's working," he said, kissing Harry back. Then he noticed a marked lack of sound. He turned, looking at Ron, to find the redhead was no longer laughing. Indeed, he looked a bit green.
"Come on inside," Harry invited, suiting action to words, and holding the door for them.
"Draco!" called a voice.
Turning, curious, the four entering the apartment looked around to find Blaise Zabini hurrying towards them.
"What are you doing here, Zabini?" Ron snarled.
"Ron!" Harry barked. "Draco and I will decide who's welcome in our rooms," he said sharply.
Draco looked, with some surprise, at his husband; not so much that he'd included him in that declaration, although he was very pleasantly surprised about that as well, but that he'd take that tone with his friend.
Ron's face flushed red, and it was clear he was fighting his temper. "Sorry, Harry," he grated out.
Dropping the matter, Harry turned to Blaise. "After that warning you sent us, it's not that you're not welcome, but how did you find out where we're living?" Harry asked.
"Followed them," Blaise said cheerfully, indicating Harry's friends.
Gazing at his friends, he saw Ron's face was still red, but now with embarrassment, and Hermione had joined him.
"Sorry, Harry," Hermione muttered.
"Are we going to stand around in the corridor all day?" Draco snapped. "At this rate, we'll have half of Hogwarts barging in!"
Harry blushed. "It's been a hard day," he said, by way of apology for Draco's attitude.
"Quite all right," Blaise responded. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay, Draco."
Looking at Harry, he said, "As Draco's husband, I suppose I should care about you, too. Truth is, I don't."
"I hope you're planning on changing that, Blaise, or you can forget I exist as well," Draco said dangerously
Zabini's eyebrows went up. "So it really is serious, is it?"
Turning to Harry, he said, "Okay, I'll make an effort to get along, Potter, if you will."
"We've always got along before now, Blaise," Draco responded dryly.
"Wha... ? Oh! Sorry - I keep forgetting. You're a Potter too, now, aren't you?"
"Don't forget it again, Blaise," the blond responded, with a smile that was more threat than anything else.
Harry stuck out his hand to the dark-skinned Slytherin in the ensuing awkward silence. "I'm Harry Potter," he said. "And may I present my co-husband, Draco Potter?"
Blaise looked blankly at him for all of a second before grinning and taking the Gryffindor's hand, and then Draco's. "I'm quite pleased to meet you both. My name is Blaise Zabini. I hope we become fast friends, in future. But now, I really must run. Snape's dressing down the House in a few, and I can't be absent."
Draco looked concerned. "Should I... ?"
"No," Blaise reassured him. "You two are rather in a no-man's-land where the Houses are concerned. I mean - you belong, but you're outside of them, too. And I really must go. 'Bye!" He literally ran off, leaving both Harry and Draco with slightly troubled looks on their faces.
Hermione and Ron looked uncomfortable, wanting to gainsay the boy who'd just gone, but unable to do so. They still considered Harry theirs, a Gryffindor, but now that he was no longer living in Gryffindor tower, it was like he was becoming more of a favourite cousin rather than being seen as immediate family, as he had been before.
"If you went, I'd have to go too, love, at least as far as the corridor, and I don't think that would go over well," Harry reminded his husband, paying little attention to his friends' fidgetting.
Draco nodded sadly, then visibly tucked those emotions away. "In!" Draco demanded, gesturing at the door.
Everyone sat in front of the fire. Draco sat down on the far side of the sofa from Harry, which prompted Harry to get up and go sit close beside him. Putting an arm around the blond, he pulled him in close. "I'm not going to baby Ron," he whispered in his husband's ear. "If he wants to remain friends, he'll have to get used to it."
"Did the bonding give you the ability to read minds, too?" Draco whispered back, trying to suppress a very pleased giggle, as he snuggled up.
Harry didn't answer; just gave his husband a gentle kiss - on the cheek, since they had company. Even that, however, seemed to discomfit said company - or maybe it was the whispering.
But now that the young couple's attention was on their guests, they seemed to have run out of things to say.
"Well! Um... So what happened after we left Potions?" Harry asked.
Ron's face brightened. "Oy! You should have seen it, mate!" Ron exclaimed happily. "First Snape laid into those four, then he reamed out the rest of the Slytherins for being too cowardly to report them. And he took a hundred-sixty points from his own House! Forty per attacker!"
"A hundred-sixty?" Draco exclaimed, dismayed. "Right at the beginning of the school year? That's negative points! We'll never catch up!"
Harry had other matters on his mind. Raising an eyebrow, and looking directly into Ron's eyes, he said, "Mate?" in a very sardonic tone.
Ron blushed deeply. "Well, yeah. That's what I was wanting to talk to you about," the redhead replied. "I was going to apologise after Potions, and then... Well, you know what happened there."
Harry waited. He wasn't about to let Ron off that easily.
The youngest Weasley male squirmed for a couple of seconds, then said, "So.. Um... I was 'way out of line, and I'm sorry, Harry."
Harry continued to gaze at his erstwhile friend. "And?"
Ron looked confused. "And what?" he asked.
"I'm not the only one you offended, Ron!" Harry said exasperatedly.
Hermione's expression spoke volumes about what she thought of Ron's thick-headedness, but she bit her tongue, and kept quiet. She'd talked the redhead into setting aside his pride and apologising for the sake of their years-long friendship, but now he was on his own.
Ron's colour deepened. "Oh. Um... Sorry, Malfoy," he reluctantly muttered.
"Ron," the raven-haired young man said, strained patience patently clear in his voice. "Would it be too much of a strain to ask you to remember that Draco and I are married? And you were there when he told us he'd changed his name, weren't you?"
"It's okay, Harry," Draco said, interrupting. "It's Weasley, after all," he sneered.
"You're not helping, love," Harry said quietly.
Draco didn't reply, and he didn't move. He just sat there glaring coldly at the red-headed Gryffindor.
Ron got control of his temper before he lost it, and tried again. "Look, I'm trying, all right? It's just bloody difficult!"
"What's difficult, Ron? Seeing me happy?" Harry asked impatiently.
"No! Yes! It's just... Not with him!" Ron finally spouted. "You were supposed to marry Ginny! Or Hermione!"
"I see," Harry said sadly. "It would have been okay if it were a heterosexual relationship. Is that it?"
"No! It's still him," Ron said vehemently, pointing at the blond Slytherin.
"Even though he makes me happy, Ron? Happier than I've ever been in my life?"
Draco sat up from his position on Harry's shoulder, and looked at him with happy surprise. "Do I really?" he asked Harry softly. Harry looked at him with a slight smile and nodded, then turned back to the red-head, waiting for an answer.
Draco cuddled up to his husband again, and tried to ignore that there were two other people in the room.
Ron ignored the warning looks he was getting from both Hermione and Harry, and ploughed on. "He's the same obnoxious git who's been making trouble for us for the last five years, Harry! The same bloody wanker who makes fun of my family, and calls 'Mione a Mudblood, and the same arsehole whose father helped kill your parents!"
Harry didn't answer Ron right away, despite the furious anger boiling in his belly. Instead, he turned to Hermione. "Would you say Draco is the same person, 'Mione?" he asked, sounding quite calm.
Harry could feel Draco's muscles practically thrumming as he tried not to attack the red-headed Gryffindor. He had more than enough provocation. The green-eyed Gryffindor tightened his grip on his husband slightly. It wasn't to restrain him; merely to remind him that he was there, and that he cared. Draco didn't really relax, but Harry could feel a slight lessening of tension, and knew that for now, the danger point was past.
Hermione had been considering her reply, and now gave it. "In a lot of ways, yes; he's the same person," she said.
"Ha!" Ron barked triumphantly.
"But in most of the important ways, no, I don't think he is the same," she continued, ignoring the outburst. "I wouldn't say that we're friends yet, but now I can see that it's possible we could be, in time."
"'Mione!" Ron exclaimed, in hurt surprise.
"He is different, Ron! Stop living in the past!" the young woman remonstrated.
Draco's attitude about the girl softened considerably. He still wasn't sold on Mudbloods, most of them being magically weak and a danger to the continuation of strong wizarding bloodlines, but as individuals... He just hoped they didn't breed. Still, Granger had quite the head on her shoulders...
Now Harry addressed the red-head. "Tell me, Ron: Would the old Draco still be sitting here in my arms after everything you just said about him, or would you have been hexed within an inch of your life?"
"If it weren't for Harry, here, you wouldn't have recognized yourself in a mirror, Weasley," Draco growled.
"As for his father," Harry quickly continued, before Ron could open his mouth, "it's his father - not him. Are you responsible for any of your father's accomplishments? So why should Draco be responsible for his father's crimes?"
Ron didn't look convinced, but he didn't argue, either, and Harry saw that as progress.
The emerald-eyed young man sighed. "This isn't the first time you've done this to me, Ron, but when you're ready to give both me and my husband a chance... "
The red-head looked stricken by Harry's reminder. It was true. He'd done this sort of thing before, and been proven in the wrong. Was he wrong this time, too? But it was Malfoy; change of name, or no. "I have lessons to do," he said as an excuse to leave as he got up and started for the door.
All three of the others knew that Ron avoided doing lessons until the last minute, but none gainsaid him.
"Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Weasley," was the blond's snarky parting shot.