by Draeconin

Beta: Phoenix
For story details and disclaimer, please see chapter one.

Chapter Twenty-One

A visit to the Hospital Wing garnered them an appointment at eight that evening, when it was unlikely that any other pupils would be popping in. A quick fire-call to Professor Snape ensured, after he'd confirmed the facts with the medi-witch, that they could start their detention the next night, rather than that night.

When they arrived after supper, Madame Pomfrey ushered Draco behind a partition, Harry following behind. "Now, Mister Potter," she said briskly, addressing Draco, "if you would be so kind as to remove your robes, open your shirt and loosen your trousers?"

"I need access to your abdomen," she explained, when Draco looked at her as though she'd gone mad.

"And you, Mister Potter," she said, speaking to Harry and waving her hand vaguely towards the other side of the screens, "may wait out there."

"May Harry stay?" the blond requested. Being alone with a woman whilst half-naked was a thought that left him very uneasy - one might even say... nervous. And he needed the moral support of Harry's presence while they waited to find out if Nott's use of the Cruciatus on him two months before had caused any harm to their baby.

The medi-witch raised an eyebrow at the blond, but Harry was allowed to remain during the exam.

The minutes passed as Poppy cast one spell after another, pausing between them to write down the results of each. The fact that she said not a word, made not a sound, was nerve-wracking. Globes of swirling coloured smokes or lights appeared and were dismissed; runes appeared, and were erased. Other than the muttered spells, the only sound was the scratching of her quill on parchment.

Their eyes were fastened to the woman's face, searching it for any clue to the fate of their child. Draco's grip on Harry's hand tightened more and more as time dragged on without a verdict. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer. "Bloody hell, woman! Are you trying to kill us with the suspense?" Draco suddenly yelled. He immediately reddened. That was not how he'd been brought up to address a woman; even one as maddening as Madame Pomfrey was being. However, he refused to apologise.

"Draco!" Harry reprimanded in a quietly urgent voice.

It was a measure of her annoyance and upset that she made the mistake. "Mister Malfoy-" Poppy began in her 'professional' voice, but was interrupted as both boys corrected her.

"Potter!" Draco snapped. Harry had spoken at the same instant, but in a calmer voice.

"My apologies; but your histrionics are not going to speed up the tests, Mister Potter," she told Draco.

Draco gaped at her as he propped himself up on his elbows, ignoring Harry's attempts to placate him. "Histrionics?" he repeated with mild astonishment that was rapidly growing into frustrated anger. "Histrionics? You bloody... I'll show you histrionics! We're trying to find out if we have a damaged child or a healthy one, you sanctimonious cow! The least you could do is keep us updated with what your ruddy tests are telling you!" He silently started cursing himself. His bloody hormones were acting up again - his eyes were brimming. He truly felt like drawing his wand and cursing the medi-witch. The only thing stopping him at that moment was that he needed her to finish doing the tests. Well, and he didn't want to upset his husband, but he quickly pushed that thought aside.

Madam Pomfrey ignored the blond's outburst, having heard similar language from him before when he was there for quidditch injuries, but she was looking quite uncomfortable with his display of tears. Then she pulled herself together, hiding behind a mask of professionalism. "I assure you, Mister M- Potter that I would have told you by now if I had found anything amiss. However," she continued as joy lit the young couple's eyes, "it would hardly be appropriate for me to keep saying everything is all right with the results of this test or that, raising your hopes, when the next test might dash them."

That pronouncement sobered both young men.

"Now - may I continue?" she inquired, pinning the blond with her stare.

A decidedly chastened Draco nodded, and relaxed back into the pillows under his head and shoulders.

Harry leaned over and kissed the blond's cheek, squeezing his hand at the same time. Straightening up, he ran his fingers through his gray-eyed husband's hair. Draco pressed his cheek into the Gryffindor's palm, seeking comfort.

"I'm sure everything is just fine, love," Harry said, glancing up for reassurance from an unresponsive Madam Pomfrey. He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment before again giving the blond's hand a hopefully-reassuring squeeze. "But I really wish you'd learn to watch your temper."

"You're a fine one to talk," the blond muttered mutinously.

Harry had to chuckle at the truth of the words, earning a grudging smirk from his husband.

A half-hour later, the medi-witch finally let her hands drop to her sides. Her face relaxed, and the corners of her mouth turned upwards just the tiniest fraction. It was all Draco and Harry needed.

"The babe is unharmed, then?" Harry asked, hopefully.

Madam Pomfrey's smile bloomed, happy to be able to deliver good news. "It is, indeed," she said.

As the boys clutched each other tightly in their joy, she continued. "It seems to be quite a healthy little boy. Have you picked out a name for him, yet?"

Draco looked at his husband. They hadn't really discussed it, but they each knew the other had been thinking of names, in case the child turned out to be hale. "Kael?" Draco offered.

Harry thought it over. "It seems like a wonderful name; I like the sound of it," he opined."What does it mean?" he asked, smiling.

"'Mighty warrior,'" Draco said proudly.

Harry's face fell, and Draco's smile waned in response.

Harry smiled again, but it was rather tentative. "It's a beautiful name, love, but..." He took a deep breath, then sighed. "I've been fighting all my life: first to survive my relatives' neglect - then there was you, Voldemort, your father - the other Death Eaters... I'd rather not be reminded of fighting every time I say my son's name - our son's name," he corrected himself. "Do you mind, terribly? How about 'Kane?' It's a Gaelic name meaning 'honour.'"

Draco was rather hurt that his choice had been rejected, but he had to admit that Harry's reasons for doing so were sound. He himself had rejected any name that sounded even remotely like his happily deceased sire's, for similar reasons. 'Kane' was close in sound to his choice, and it's meaning - honour - was a good one. He'd had ample time to appreciate that quality; it was what had finally led him to choose Harry as the person to whom he should become bonded. It helped that the name's Celtic meaning was 'beautiful.'

The blond looked up into his husband's worried eyes, and smiled. "I love it," he said.


Halloween day dawned bright and clear, frost coating everything in sight, making it appear that the world had, overnight, been painted a bright silver. Today would be a half day insofar as classes were concerned. It had been announced that afternoon classes would be cancelled so pupils would have plenty of time to prepare themselves, and their costumes, for the ball that night.

But right now Harry and Draco were warm and toasty under the heavy duvet on their bed, wrapped in each other's arms.

Draco stirred, pressure from his bladder waking him. Slowly he slipped out of Harry's arms and padded, nude, to the toilet. He carefully cleaned himself afterward, freshened his breath, then returned to his husband.

"'Morning," Harry murmured.

"Did I wake you?"

"In a way; I missed you," Harry admitted sleepily.

"You woke up because I wasn't here?" Draco asked, amazed and flattered.

Harry nodded on his pillow, reaching for the blond, and pulled him close.

Draco came to him more than willingly.

They barely made it to their first class, but the morning went by smoothly despite the fact that the professors seemed to ignore that it was a holy day for most from the older wizarding families, and the rest were thinking more of the ball than of studies. They were even more relentless in their attempts to fit some knowledge into the skulls of their pupils than usual. A lost cause, but they were determined. But finally mid-day rolled around and everyone headed to the Great Hall for dinner.

Harry and Draco were quite looking forward to the meal, having missed breakfast. They sat down to their small table just as Neville walked up to them, looking quite nervous.

Draco sneered at the boy until Harry slapped the blond's thigh under the table - just hard enough to sting a bit. Draco shot him a disgruntled look, then subsided.

"Hello, Neville," Harry greeted pleasantly. "Would you like to sit?"

The shy Gryffindor shook his head. "No, thank you, Harry. H-hello, Draco," he ventured.

"That's 'Potter' to you, Longbottom," the blond replied.

"Behave yourself!" Harry hissed at his husband, then relented when, shortly afterward, he saw the blond's eyes brighten with unshed tears. He took Draco's hand and held it in both of his, then turned his attention back to Neville.

Neville looked rather startled and unsettled by that exchange, but carried on. "I've been asked to request your presence at the Gryffindor table for the midday repast," he stated formally.

Harry's eyebrows raised in question at this. "Why?" he asked.

Neville grinned, and shrugged. "Because they thought you wouldn't hex me, if I did the asking," he said.

That brought an answering grin, and a short laugh from the green-eyed young man. "They were right," he reassured Longbottom, "but what I meant was; why are they asking?"

That brought a confused frown to the young man's face. "Because we like you, Harry," he said plaintively.

"And Draco?" Harry asked.

Neville looked askance at the blond. "I don't know, now," he admitted, "but we're willing to give him a chance. There must be something there we've missed, if you were willing to marry him."

Draco's cheeks tinted - half because he was sorry, now, that he'd been so snarky, and half because of the implied insult.

"If he's not, maybe you could give us a try, Harry," came Blaise' voice.

Harry looked up. "I'd give a lot to know how you managed to sneak up like that without me seeing you, Blaise," Harry said, grinning. "Is your girlfriend invited as well?"

"Hold on, now, Harry!" Neville protested. "We invited you first!"

The former Gryffindor Seeker looked at the boy, then turned to the Gryffindor table. "'Mione?" he called, loud enough for his voice to carry to her. When she looked up and saw her boyfriend her face brightened, before she looked to her friend. Harry beckoned to her, then turned back to Neville as she got up and started making her way over to them. "Could you give us a moment, Neville?" he politely requested.

Neville nodded and walked off a dozen feet or so.

Draco looked curiously at his husband, a question in his eyes, but Harry just smiled at him.

"Blaise, 'Mione - won't you sit down?" Harry invited, when the young woman had arrived.

After they were seated and comfortable, Harry leaned forward. Keeping his voice low so that his words wouldn't travel beyond the table, he asked, "Isn't it about time you two went public with your relationship? Inter-House dating isn't forbidden, you know - or even rare. It's quite common."

"But not between Slytherin and Gryffindor, Harry!" Hermione hissed back at him, looking around. The other three just looked at her.

"You may not have noticed, Hermione," Blaise replied a bit cooly, "but we're sitting at the table of a Slytherin-Gryffindor couple. Are you ashamed of me?"

Hermione blushed - brightly - then had the grace to look ashamed of herself. "I feel such a berk. For someone who's supposed to be so bright, I really stuck my foot in it, didn't I?" She braced herself, looked up and smiled at her impassive boyfriend, then she stood up, sat in his lap, putting her arms around his neck, and kissed him quite thoroughly, eliciting gasps and whispers from people all over the Great Hall, which grew as the word passed. When she let up to look at him, he grinned at her and hugged her firmly. She was forgiven.

Neville's chin had dropped halfway to his chest, mouth gaping at the sight. Half of Gryffindor House, as well as not a few others from other Houses, were aping him. There were a few scowls from the Slytherin table, but remarkably few. There were even a couple of Slytherins smiling; Pansy being one of them.

"Miss Granger," McGonagall's disappointed voice called from the head table, "that will be one point from Gryffindor. What is tolerated from a married couple," she continued, shooting a disapproving glare at Harry and Draco that implied Hermione's behaviour was their fault, "is not appropriate for unmarried young ladies: least of all in public."

Hermione gave an insouciant shrug, hugged her boyfriend again, then got up and primly resumed her seat in the other chair (more as a mild mockery of the Transfiguration professor, who didn't fail to catch it, but who chose not to comment).

Harry and Draco were both grinning, proud of their friend.

"Well, that almost answers my next question," Harry said. "If we give the Gryffindor table another try, would you like to invite Blaise as well?"

Hermione shot a worried glance at the table in question, then looked back to her boyfriend. "They can be fairly narrow-minded to begin with," she said to him. "Do you feel like trying, with me, to widen their minds for them?"

Blaise gave a care-free shrug. "With you? Anywhere, any time," he replied.

Hermione blushed yet again.

Harry looked to his husband. "What do you think, Draco? Are you up to trying again? Maybe we can, all of us, start pulling down this stupid wall between our Houses."

Draco pulled a face, but shrugged and nodded.

Harry motioned Neville to return. "If Hermione's boyfriend is invited as well, we'll give it another try," he said.


Later, in their rooms, Harry commented. "That didn't go nearly as badly as I'd feared," he said.

"I rather felt sorry for Blaise, though, being given the cold shoulder as he was," Draco replied.

"I don't think he minded so much; there was one quite warm shoulder for him there," Harry said, grinning.

Draco smirked. "They were rather cute, weren't they?"

"Ron surprised me, though. He took it quite well, I thought."

Draco frowned. "That is a bit of a puzzler," he agreed.

This year, for their fancy dress for the ball, they'd decided to go as themselves, plus. Plus what? Well, they were a gay couple, so they'd decided to 'camp it up'. Draco had picked out a clothing combination for each of them that would simply scream 'pouf'. For Harry, there was skin-tight black, glove-leather, side-laced trousers, a black, glove-leather, lace-up waistcoat that vee'd to just below his breastbone, black, knee-high, dragon-leather boots with wide studded tops, a silver-studded black leather choker, and he'd carry a short whip. (Harry had insisted on it after seeing Draco's outfit. Woe be to any would-be poachers!) Draco would wear tight, light pink shorts of the variety Americans called 'hot pants', a tight lace, long-sleeved, virginal-white shirt that left his midriff bare, short, white, side-zip leather boots, a wide lace choker liberally studded with rose quartz and tiny rubies, and enough make-up to start his own review. Harry would wear a little mascara and kohl, and if Draco could talk him into it, a little blush as well, but that would be all. Both would wear feathered domino masks - Harry's black and silver, Draco's white and light pink - and neither would wear underthings, in order to avoid pants lines. A warming spell would keep them from feeling the chill.

Draco had just finished laying out their outfits while Harry drew their bath, when Sir Roxley yelled out, "Visitors, lads! Heavy types that claim ye know them."

"Did they give their names, Roxley?" Draco inquired.

"A sea creature and a blemish, from what I can make out, lad. ... ... ... Ach! Me apologies! Not a boil, after all!"

Draco's heart froze. Crabbe and Goyle? "Harry! We've company," Draco called. "Crabbe and Goyle, if Roxley's to be believed."

Harry came out of the bath, face concerned. "You've your wand?" he asked rhetorically, as he could clearly see it in his husband's hand. "Where's mine?" He hadn't, after all, taken it in to bathe with. Not good for the wood.

Draco silently picked it up from the side table along with his glasses, and handed them to him. "Really, Harry; you really should get your eyes fixed," he opined.

"Later. Let's see what your former goons want."

Standing to one side of the door, Draco on the other, Harry opened it - to a sudden lack of flying curses. Carefully peering around the frame, wand at the ready to cast a deflection spell, Harry was treated to the sight of a slightly amused, but mostly chagrined - and unarmed - Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle.

"May we come in?" Vincent requested hesitantly.

"And why should we allow that, Crabbe?" Draco asked, stepping into the doorway.

"I would think, Draco, that five years of loyal service would at least get us a hearing," Gregory replied.

That was unusual enough to get both boys' attention. Not what was said, but how it was said. It was intelligent!

Harry looked at his husband. "Polyjuice?" he suggested.

"Has to be," the blond replied.

But even now the two still standing in the corridor made no move to reach for their wands. "We would really rather explain where we're less likely to be seen," Vincent hinted strongly.

Exchanging looks and coming to a silent agreement, Harry and Draco stood away from the doorway, but kept their wands out and at the ready.

"There really is no need for those," Vincent complained mildly.

"I'm sure you won't mind our being cautious until we've been convinced of that, Crabbe," Harry replied, civilly enough. Glancing at his husband, he could see that Draco was just as confused and cautious as he was.

"May we sit?" Gregory asked.

Harry nodded, and motioned to the sofa. The... solid... Slytherins moved to the piece of furniture indicated, while Draco went to one of the chairs. While everyone's attention was thus occupied, Harry cast a powerful protection charm on his husband, then went to stand behind him. The blond took his hand and gave it a squeeze, letting him know that Draco knew what he'd done. Both boys were surprised to see Crabbe and Goyle reach for, and hold, each other's hand.

"All right, then - explain," Draco demanded - ignoring, for the moment, the intimacy displayed by the two Slytherins. "You may start by explaining who you are."

Vincent and Gregory smirked at each other. "I suppose we have rather flummoxed you, Draco," Gregory said. "I'm rather surprised that we were able to delude you all these years, however."

"If you're through congratulating yourselves, perhaps you'd like to get on with the explanations?" Draco growled, miffed.

"It's quite simple, really," Vincent replied. "It all has to do with who our fathers are - including yours, Draque."

Startled by the nick-name, Harry repeated, "Drake?"

Draco looked up at him with a small smile. "No, love - Draque. Dee-ar-ay-cue-you-ee."

Harry couldn't hear the difference, but evidently his husband could.

Draco turned back to his former cronies. "Our fathers are Death Eaters - or was, in the case of mine. So?"

Vincent and Gregory exchanged solemn looks. "We heard what happened. And why. Our fathers are a bit dim," he admitted. "Fortunately, our mothers aren't. They tease everything out of them, sooner or later. That's how we found out. We're glad you got away," Vincent said. Then, looking sidelong at Harry, said, "But..." He thought better of whatever he'd been about to say, and just shrugged. "We're just glad you're okay."

Harry couldn't reign in his curiousity any longer. "You both seem to have become... Well, quite a bit more intelligent," he commented.

The boys laughed. "Yes, well, it was a necessary deception," Gregory replied. "If our fathers knew we had more gray matter, they'd expect us to help more with their 'lord's' cause."

Two words struck the lone Gryffindor in the room. 'Their lord.' "I take it you don't support Voldemort, then?" he asked.

The two on the sofa flinched at the sound of the name. Harry was proud of the fact that his husband hadn't.

"No, we don't," Gregory replied. "But we hadn't dared come forth with it. Not sure we should even now."

"And - that?" Draco inquired, gesturing to the boys' still-linked hands.

Crabbe and Goyle tinted a bit. "We've been together since third year," Vincent replied, retreiving his hand. "Didn't think you'd mind."

"We don't," Harry reassured them. Draco glanced back at him - annoyed, in this case, to be spoken for in front of his former bodyguards.

Gregory reclaimed his boyfriend's hand.

"You knew I was - inclined the same way; why didn't you ever say? Not that I'd ever be interested in either of you." Draco tinted at the unintended rudeness of that last remark. "No offense intended," he added.

"And no offense intended here either, Draco, but you were just a bit too obvious. And with your temper, we just didn't trust you not to blurt something out where others could hear."

Harry clamped a hand over the now angrily red-faced blond's mouth. "Now, love, you do have a bit of a temper; as witness your present reaction?"

Draco ripped his husband's hand from his face. Twisting to face him, he said, "I'm well aware of my short-comings, Potter."

Harry merely raised a skeptical eyebrow.

Draco's face turned from the red of anger, to that of embarrassment as he ducked his head, trying to hide his face. He should have known better. His husband knew him too well, even as short a time as they'd been together.

Harry gave a low laugh, leaned over, wrapped his arms around his husband from behind, and firmly kissed the blond's neck.

A laugh from the sofa brought their attention back to their visitors.

"Looks as though the 'Prince of Slytherin' has been tamed, Greg," Vince said, grinning, and leaning over to give his own boyfriend a kiss. The two would never grace the cover of 'Wizard GQ', and the sight was just... wrong. But who could gainsay love?

Angry again, Draco was glad of an excuse to leave his embarrassment behind. "You still haven't said why you've graced us with your presence," he snarled.

Raising his eyebrows, 'Greg' remarked, to no one in particular, "Maybe not so tamed, after all." Addressing the blond, he continued. "When it became obvious that you two were going to last, we decided to let you know that you have friends; friends that will back you if there's ever any trouble."

"And Vol- 'He Who Isn't Named'?" Harry asked, changing his wording to accomodate their guests.

Vince shrugged. "As long as we're not expected to kill? There, as well. We won't take the chance of killing our fathers," he explained.

That was the final proof, for Harry. They were being genuine. He was still rather floored however, that these two were so much more intelligent than anyone had known. He'd rather suspected that something strange was up with them that day they'd visited Hagrid, and talked about the duo. And that they were a couple! An involuntary picture of the two shagging caused him to shudder.


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