The next morning when they sat at the small table, they received not a few puzzled frowns. Seamus shouted "Hey, mate; over here!"
"I'll just be a minute, love," Harry said, then walked over to the Gryffindor table and sat on the bench in a skewed fashion so that he could talk to everyone, yet make it clear that he wasn't staying. He'd lain awake for a couple of hours after Draco had drifted off last night, going over in his mind what had happened that night at supper, and trying to see it from his husband's perspective. He was forced to come to the conclusion that the blond was right. Most of the Gryffindor boys, other than Neville and Ron (who was trying to get back in Harry's good graces), and a few of the girls, had been rude, crude, and uncivilised. He'd always taken the teasing in stride before, but now it occurred to him that this teasing had been slighting - insulting - treating their relationship as though it were worthless.
"Hey, Harry, the wife convince you we weren't worth sitting with?" the Irishman said, grinning.
"No, the behaviour at this table last night did that," Harry rebutted calmly. "I love Draco. He's my co-husband - not my wife - and you treated our relationship like dirt."
"Here, now! How did we do that, Harry?" an offended Seamus inquired.
Harry raised an eyebrow at him. "You honestly can't guess?" he asked skeptically.
Seamus and a few others had the grace to blush, but the Irish boy defended himself, saying, "You were laughing as well, Harry."
"Until I figured out, after supper, what bothered me about it, yes," Harry said. He wasn't about to implicate Draco in this. It would not only weaken his position, but create hard feelings for his husband. He needed to keep the blame where it belonged. He didn't give them time to try to defend themselves. As far as he was concerned, it would have been wasted effort on their part - there was no defence for their behaviour.
"Hermione, you're always welcome at our table. Those of you who were polite to us: if you want to, although there's only room for two at a time... Ron. Well, Ron, you know what it's going to take; and there aren't any guarantees." Ron's face reddened, embarrassed to have been singled out and his mistakes pointed up, if only by vague association. "The rest of you..." Harry continued. "Well, when you're ready to accept my marriage to Draco with dignity, we might try again." He unhurriedly got up and returned to their table, a few mumbled apologies being offered to his back.
As he rejoined his husband at their table he greeted the blond with a kiss; not only because he wanted to, but to make a point with his House-mates, whom he was sure were watching. This time there were no comments or rude sounds. Seconds after seating himself, he heard Hermione start to harangue the others, and hid a grin.
A few of the Gryffindors who'd gleefully joined in the teasing last night stopped by their table on their way out of the Great Hall later, and tendered their apologies. Seamus was among the first. Although brash and often unthinking in his play, the Irishman was a good sort, and wouldn't knowingly offend a friend - while being in the forefront to insult and berate an enemy, of course.
When it appeared that the flow of visitors to the little table had stopped, they had one more.
"What was that all about?" Blaise asked by way of greeting.
"Sit down, Zabini," Harry invited with a smile, just beating his husband to it.
"We were invited to the Gryffindor table last night," Draco said, sourly.
"I saw that. Wankers, eh?" Zabini ventured, guessing from the blond's expression.
"Their teasing was a bit rude," Harry corrected.
"And this morning?"
"Harry told them off," Draco said, proudly.
"It took you this long, Potter?" the brunet Slytherin teased.
"When living amongst swine, one must pretend to be a pig," Harry replied off-handedly, to the great amusement of the other two. He was still upset about his marriage being denigrated as it had been, even in 'fun'.
When the laughter died, Blaise asked "So are you regretting being a Gryffindor then, Potter?"
The Gryffindor sighed. "Not really," he said, and then a thoughtful look crossed his face. "Well, perhaps on occasion. For the most part, they're great people, though."
"May I tell him, Harry?" Draco requested, leaning over to whisper in his husband's ear.
Harry looked doubtful for a moment, then shrugged and nodded. "As long he doesn't spread it about," he replied.
Draco caught Blaise' eye. "I need you to swear by Salazar Slytherin, your honour, and your gods, that what is about to be revealed to you goes no further than between the three of us," he said.
Blaise looked intrigued. "Okay," he said.
"I'm a Slytherin too, Blaise," Draco reminded the boy, with a slight smile.
Caught, the brunet grinned. "I solemnly swear by Salazar Slytherin, my honour, my gods, and all I hold sacred and dear, that I will repeat to no-one what is about to be revealed to me."
"Much better," the blond said, returning the grin.
Harry looked confused for a moment, then his face cleared as he, too, grinned. The first time, Blaise had only acknowledged that Draco wanted him to swear - he hadn't actually sworn to anything.
"The Sorting Hat wanted to put Harry in Slytherin!" Draco quietly revealed, with glee.
Shocked, Blaise gazed at the Gryffindor, who nodded in affirmation. "Then why-"
"He talked the bloody thing out of it!" the blond interrupted, the slightest trace of awe in his voice.
The brunet suddenly sat back in his chair, limp and staring. Harry had to be the ultimate Slytherin, to be able to talk the Sorting Hat into changing his placement. His respect for the raven-haired boy grew by leaps and bounds. Sure, there was the insult to his House, to have been rejected, but that paled in comparison. "Potter, you ruddy... You may have rejected us, but to be able to do that... ! You have my respect, and I'd be proud to call you friend - if you'll have me?"
A doubtful look crossed Harry's face. "I don't know... You are a Slytherin... But then, I'm married to one, so why not?!" He grinned, to show he'd been teasing, and stuck out his hand.
Blaise smiled, then very solemnly took that hand, and shook it. "Slytherins don't offer friendship lightly, Potter," he said, gently rebuking the Gryffindor. "You've learned some bad habits from that crowd you've been hanging around with." But he said it with a wry smile, to take the sting out of it.
The Gryffindor shot a rather shame-faced, apologetic look in his husband's direction, but recovered quickly.
Blaise noticed, but knew their history from Draco, so he politely ignored it. "However, curiosity isn't all that drove me to your company," he revealed. "I've been investigating Creevey, and some other likely suspects who might have been responsible for that gossip column in the 'Prophet', and managed to whittle down the possible culprits to three; Creevey, Bulstrode and, believe it or not, Filch."
"Filch?" was Harry's disbelieving reply.
The Slytherin nodded. "He's always been a nasty piece of work, but it seems he likes to pick up an extra galleon or two by selling to the gossipmongers."
"So you think it's him, then?" the Gryffindor asked in a tone of voice that boded ill for the man.
Blaise shook his head. "I don't know. He's just one of the possible culprits, so far."
Harry subsided, grumbling. "Let me know when you know something for sure, will you? I'll pay your expenses, and a reasonable fee, if you like," Harry offered.
"I was doing it as a favour for Draco, and I'm rather having a blast, tracking this down, but I'll take you up on that," Blaise replied with a grin.
At the look Draco sent him, he relented. "I'm a Slytherin, Draco! What did you expect? But okay - gratis."
"Expenses, at least? Itemized," Harry added, when Draco tried the same look on him. The blond sighed, and nodded.
The brunet grinned. "Done!" he said. And then, as he was about to rise from the table, added, "Oh! You have another friend in Slytherin."
Cocking his head, the Gryffindor asked "Who?"
"Pansy," Blaise revealed, then grinned at their expressions of surprise. "Seems she's decided to adopt you two, and is campaigning to get the House to accept you. Still, I'd be chary of any offers of friendship. Too many of them have parents who are Death Eaters, or are sympathetic to their cause."
"Aren't your parents as well?" Harry asked, as the brunet rose to his feet.
Blaise shrugged. "You accepted my friendship, Potter. You have nothing to fear from me."
"If we're friends, Zabini, you should call me 'Harry'," was the reply.
The brunet Slytherin grinned. "Blaise," he instructed.
"Can I trust him?" Harry asked his husband, after the brunet had taken his leave.
"I've known Blaise most of my life," Draco replied thoughtfully. "For the most part I'd say 'yes' - but not with your life. He's still a Slytherin, and if circumstances forced him to it - a choice between his life, his family's, or yours, for instance... But he'll do everything else he can to avoid betraying you, anyway."
Harry nodded his understanding. "Under those circumstances, almost anyone would be a risk," he acknowledged.
Harry had been waiting with deadly patience for this day. The boys who had participated in the attack on Draco were finally free of detention. Of course he'd have to be patient in taking his revenge, as well. If something happened to all of them at once, the blame would immediately fall at his and/or Draco's door; and this time, he meant to avoid blame, if at all possible. He meant to let loose his Slytherin side, and if he stretched the three out over a few weeks, the 'accidents' should blend in with the usual run of accidents and hexes that occured at the school.
Usually he was a very forgiving person, but they hadn't only attacked him, they'd attacked his family as well; his husband and unborn child. Fortunately for Nott, he'd been given a life sentence in Azkaban for his use of the Cruciatus Curse on a pregnant person. It was only his family's influence and his youth that had kept the young man from receiving the Dementor's Kiss. It was his family's influence as well that kept the whole incident out of the newspapers, which had the side benefit of keeping the Potters involvement, and Draco's pregnancy, from the public as well.
Harry had been trying to plan out how to punish the three miscreants that had participated in the attack on him and his husband. But as with most plans that deal with people who don't know about them, little went as planned.
The first didn't go according to plan, at all. In fact, it happened almost without the Gryffindor doing anything at all. Harry and Draco were headed down the stairs to the dungeons for double potions, when Harry noticed that one of the other pupils on the stairs with them was one of the boys that had participated in the attack on his husband. His immediate response was red-hot rage, and an urge to push the boy down the stairs. He didn't, but his magic did, much to his surprise. It wasn't at all what he'd planned for this particular boy, but after the news from the hospital wing reported that he had a broken arm, a twisted knee, and a severe concussion, Harry deemed it almost enough. That evening he went flying with his invisibility cloak, Draco riding behind him.
Madam Pomfrey felt quite sorry for the boy that evening when he got a case of severe diarrhoea, with terrible cramps, on top of everything else that had happened to him.
Harry hadn't wanted to involve his husband in his revenge, but unfortunately the distance boundaries the bond placed on them forced him to take the blond into his confidence. He had only hoped to get the Slytherin to agree to go along with him while he did the dirty work, but to his surprise (although he really shouldn't have been), Draco was coldly enthusiastic about the project. The blond had been one of the targets, so of course wanted his revenge as well. He mightn't be able to help, but he wanted to be there to see it.
Although the boy swore up and down that someone had pushed him, everyone who had been close to him on the stairs, Slytherin and Gryffindor alike, testified that nobody had. Nor had anyone seen a wand out, so it was assumed he was making up a story to cover for his own clumsiness.
While each House had its own quidditch team, only seven people from each House could be on it. There were the substitutes of course, in case of injury or illness, but they rarely had the opportunity to play. That being the case, you could be assured that whenever the quidditch pitch wasn't being used by those teams, extemporaneous games would pop up. And two of Harry's targets played in these as often as possible. All he had to do was become a spectator - presumably trying to find Seeker replacements for Gryffindor and Slytherin. Their presence, with their excuse of trying to spot potential replacements, spurred the players on to some rather outstanding plays - and risky moves. Eventually, a bludger came close enough to one of the targets so when Harry gave it a slight 'push' with his magic, it knocked him off his broom. The report from the hospital wing reported severe bruising, and several broken bones including three ribs, and a neck injury that would take some time to heal.. The couple did continue going to these games, and did make honest recommendations to their respective teams until after the tryouts, where their positions were filled.
Finding another way to create an accident for number three, a rather nice-looking brunet, was harder. That, and Harry was losing his appetite for this revenge. He didn't like hurting people. After two, his anger was assuaged; but would it be justice to leave this one alone? Regretfully, he decided it wouldn't, and he knew his husband probably wouldn't be satisfied with anything less, anyway. That being the case... He sighed, resigned to the task, and set about trying to find a suitable punishment for the boy.
It was during Herbology that the idea came to him. Bubotuber puss. The liquid, when it comes in contact with bare skin, caused extremely painful boils that weren't easy to treat, but when properly diluted, made a wonderful acne treatment.
It wasn't hard to get into the hothouse where the tubers were grown that night, but harvesting the pus was a tricky process, and Draco wound up having to perform the job. The Slytherin insisted on it when Draco found out Harry had never harvested the puss from the tubers before, despite Harry's protestations over a possible danger to Draco's pregnancy. (It turned out Draco had harvested the stuff before in his third year for a similar revenge. He'd given the rest of it to a 2nd-year to dilute and sell to complexion-challenged pupils. [The boy had needed book money, and knew not to reveal his source.]) However, the blond did take precautions, donning protective gear kept in a locker in the building, and the fluid was harvested without incident. The tubers were then replanted, and the protective gear put back where it belonged, leaving little to no evidence of their having been there.
Not having rubber balloons, they put the bubotuber pus in a paper-thin, balloon-like structure be-spelled not to leak. They then put an invisibility spell on the bag and planned to magically suspend it above the door of one of the boys toilets, with a recognition spell built into the trap to cause it to break when their target walked under it. (The location was chosen because a toilet was the only door where one would likely be alone, when walking through it.) It merely awaited the appearance of the last miscreant. Harry and Draco could be on the other side of the castle, in Hogsmeade, or on the other side of the world, and it would still work. And when someone went looking for the culprit, Peeves would likely be given the blame, since he was infamous for similar, if less painful pranks - and what could they do to a poltergeist?
There were a few close calls as they set up the trap, as a student or teacher came by, but they'd had the foresight to do the work from under Harry's invisibility cloak. As awkward and frustrating as that was, it did keep them from being discovered, and finally the bubotuber puss filled bag was in place. It was two days before the boy used that particular loo, but he was then in the hospital wing for three days before the boils were cured.
Harry was just relieved that it was all over, and hoped that he'd never have to do anything like that again. Well, there was that little problem of the person who had talked to 'The Daily Prophet', but that was a different kind of situation altogether. Since that was a matter of privacy instead of immediate endangerment, humiliation of the gossip would do.
Three days after their revenge on the attackers was complete, Blaise finally had proof of the identity of the person who'd talked to The Daily Prophet, prompting that article in the gossip section. As usual when he wasn't with Hermione, he visited them at their small table in the Great Hall towards the end of supper.
"I've finally tracked down the culprit," Blaise revealed.