The training room was huge. At least it appeared so, at ten metres wide, forty metres long, and with an eight-metre-high ceiling. But when he asked how so much room could be hollowed out in such a short time as a morning, even with magic, Professor Dumbledore informed them that the actual, physical space taken up by the room was only three feet wide, eight feet long, and six feet tall. Magic added the extra dimension. Additionally the floors and walls, although they appeared to be stone, felt as though they were deeply padded. Harry was almost willing to wager that the ceiling would be spelled the same way.
The headmaster had also informed them that the room was spelled so that no spell cast in it could be permanently detrimental, and the accompanying pain levels of any given spell or curse cast would only be one-third of what it would be otherwise. Pain was a good teacher, encouraging faster reaction times and fewer mistakes, but it needn't be torturous to do that job.
Along one wall were racks and cases of weapons, both Muggle and magical, and ranging from contact poisons (meant to incapacitate, rather than kill) to blades, staves, and other lightweight, albeit more exotic weapons.
"Harry... I can't use any of those," Draco said quietly, with a strange note in his voice that Harry couldn't quite interpret.
"I don't know how to use any of them either, love," Harry replied.
"That's not what I meant. I could miscarry if I were to be as active as using those would require me to be."
"How? It's not as though you have a vagina... thank the gods. I like what you have."
Draco blushed gently. "I like what I have too, thank you," he said with a bit of asperity. "But just because I couldn't naturally abort doesn't mean it couldn't kill the baby."
Harry paled. "Then we definitely won't be using them!" he declared.
"No, you won't, Harry," came a familiar voice from behind.
A big grin sprang to the Gryffindor's face as he spun about. "Remus!" He almost ran to the werewolf before throwing his arms around him in a fierce hug. "Where've you been hiding away? The only time I've been able to see you is in lessons!"
The short, auburn-haired man seemed to become a bit uncomfortable. "Ah... That is, Harry... Well... I've taken a new mate."
Surprised, Harry held his friend and DADA professor at arms length, looking at him. "Well, that would keep you busy. Who is he? Or she?"
"Harry. I thought you knew me better than that!" the werewolf teased. "He, of course,"
"So? Are you going to tell me, or am I going to have to... No, on second thought, that might not be such a good idea," Harry said, backtracking as a light growl came from the werewolf. Harry might be a powerful wizard, but nobody wanted a werewolf angry with them. "Oh, please, Remus!" the Gryffindor begged. "Who is he?"
"My supplier," Remus replied, smirking.
Harry was puzzled. "Supplier? But you don't use..." His eyes widened as an awful suspicion grew in his mind. He backed away, rudely pointing at the man. "You... You wouldn't... You couldn't have. You two have been at each other's throats for years!" He felt his husband's arms slip around his waist.
"It does rather explain why he was so much more edgy and snarky for awhile," Draco murmured in his husband's ear. "He wouldn't have given in easily."
"He didn't," Remus said, grinning, his sharper-than-normal hearing easily picking up on the quiet words, "but I won him over, eventually. Didn't have any free time before that happened, of course."
"But Snape?" Harry's brow furrowed in confused distaste as he shook his head, his mind boggling at the idea.
Lupin shrugged, his grin fading a bit. "The heart flies where it will, dragging the rest of the body along behind it," he said lightly.
Harry sagged. He knew that all too well. "You're right. I'm sorry for overreacting. It's just... Forget it. As long as you're happy together."
"That's all right, Harry. But about those weapons? They're for the both of you to practice defending yourselves against, using magic. Before that happens, of course, we'll have to find the parameters of the strength of your bonded magic, and have you practicing spell-casting while linked until it becomes second nature. Tomorrow night all right to start?"
"Anything we have to do tomorrow night, love?" Harry asked.
After a moment the blond replied, "No, I don't believe so. We might want to let Blaise and Hermione know that we'll be busy, though."
"I just wanted to drop in to see what you thought of the new addition," Remus remarked.
The green-eyed youth grinned. "I've been in the wizarding world for five years, and I'm still amazed by some of the things magic can do. All of this in a space little bigger than a gra..." Harry's grin faltered, and then faded as he finished his sentence. "...little bigger than a grave."
The werewolf pretended not to notice and shrugged, trying to pass it off. "With spells of expanding, you first need to have a space you can expand. For a room this size, those were approximately the dimensions that were needed. And with the magic that's likely to be flying around, a large space was needed."
"Ah... Professor? Not to pry, but I thought wolves mated for life? Weren't you and my cousin... ?" Draco hinted, as delicately as he could. Harry had told Draco quite a bit about his life, including about his godfather, Sirius Black, and how Sirius had been the mate of the werewolf that was once again teaching DADA.
"That's quite true, Draco, but I'm a werewolf. We mate for life as well, but if we lose our mate, we are able to pursue the task of acquiring a new one."
Looking at Harry, he said, "It was quite difficult for me as well, Harry, when Sirius - was lost. But a good friend reminded me that he wouldn't have wanted me to pine the rest of my life away over him. Sirius loved life, and he would have abhorred our wasting it."
Looking back to Draco, he said, "You've been good for him, boy; as much as that surprised me." When the blond bristled at the words, he apologised. "That wasn't how I meant it, Draco. Actually I'm not quite sure how to say it, but know that I appreciate the happiness you've given my godson."
"Wha-! Godson? I thought Sirius was my godfather?" Harry exclaimed.
"He was my mate, Harry. We couldn't marry because I'm listed as a Dark Creature rather than as a man, but as my mate we shared responsibilities. He was your godfather, so when... At any rate, I accepted the responsibility."
Harry's mind was working at a feverish rate. "So if you're my godfather because Sirius was, and you're now mated with Snape... Please. No."
"Draco, stop snickering! It's not funny!" Harry exclaimed.
Remus was nodding, a quirk to the corners of his lips.
The blond burst out into full-fledged laughter. "Yes! It is! How do you think he's going to accept the news!"
That caused the Gryffindor's lips to quirk, but... "But... Oh, Remus! How could you! Having you as my godfather would be - is - wonderful. But Snape?"
Remus was enjoying a full belly laugh now as well. Looking from one to the other, Harry threw up his hands, walked rapidly to the living portion of their rooms, and sat down for a good sulk. It only took a minute though before the irony of the situation hit him and he started to grin. Pale arms came around his neck from behind.
"Okay now, pet?" Draco asked.
Looking up and around, he saw Remus standing a few feet away, a hesitant smile on his face. "Sit down, dear godfather," he invited with mock sarcasm before looking up into his husband's eyes.
"Yes, love; I'm fine. Bit of a shock, though. Now come 'round here and keep me warm before I pull you over the couch-back." He grinned impishly to show he didn't mean it.
The blond leaned over and gave his husband an upside-down kiss before complying. "Don't get used to giving out orders, Scarhead," he said affectionately.
Harry noticed that his godfather still hadn't seated himself. "Remus?"
"As I said, Harry, I'd just stopped by to see how you liked your new training area. Sev is waiting for me," he explained.
The raven-locked teen stood and walked over to him, giving him another hug before stepping back and putting an arm around Draco, who had followed him. "You - and your new mate, I suppose - are welcome back any time, Remus. Just... try to give us some notice? I'm not sure Snape-" With the sharp look his newly-discovered godfather gave him, he amended his words. "...Professor Snape, could stand seeing either of us in dishabille again."
Remus raised his eyebrows in question.
"He has a bad habit of knocking us up* early in the morning," Draco informed him.
The werewolf grinned. "Probably purposefully," he said. "You're not, either of you, hard on the eyes. I'll have to have a word with him about that," he said, a slightly feral tone to his voice, before he mellowed again. "We're all related now, after all."
Draco paled. "Bloody hell," he breathed in realisation.
"Language, young man!" Professor Lupin remonstrated with a grin. "I won't take points this time, however."
Harry was having a hard time keeping his enjoyment of having the tables turned on his husband from turning into full-fledged laughter, but even his wide grin earned him a short punch to the shoulder when the blond noticed.
"I'll see you both tomorrow," Remus said as he exited.
"Tomorrow, Professor," Harry replied with a wave, still grinning.
Draco moved around to face his husband, Harry automatically bringing him into an embrace. "Harryyy..." Draco whined, lightly hitting his husband's shoulder repeatedly with both fists, "I don't want those two for godfathers! A werewolf and the grumpiest git on the planet? No!"
"Well, I'll agree with you about Snape, love, but Remus is a decent sort. He's always fair to everyone in his classes, isn't he? And what's with the whinging? Isn't that a little undignified?"
Draco cuddled in close, and pouted. "I'm not allowed to relax in private with my husband?" he complained.
Harry's grin was very tender as he answered. "Of course you can. I think you're adorable like this."
Drac looked at him suspiciously, but when he saw no mockery or teasing in Harry's eyes, relaxed back into his embrace. "That's good; because I am adorable, you know," he remarked smugly.
The green-eyed teen smacked his husband's bum in warning, causing Draco to jump into him slightly. "What was that for?" he asked, a slight edge to his voice.
"The pleasure of feeling your arse - and your front," Harry said teasingly. "And your front is definitely telling me you like it."
"That has nothing to do with you... spanking me!" he declared. "That just has to do with you."
Harry was rubbing the spot he'd slapped. "Admit it, love. You find it just as hot as I do."
"Maybe... But not as hard as you were doing it," Draco admitted reluctantly.
Harry lifted his husband's chin and kissed him deeply. "Bedtime," he said huskily.
Training turned out to be just a bit grueling. It was determined that Draco's magic was indeed enhanced by their link, but not to the extent Harry's was. The consensus, although it was only guesswork, was that it was due to Harry being the dominant in their bond. Since Draco's magic strength had never been measured against Harry's before the bond, it was possible that the Gryffindor's magic had been more than a bit stronger in the first place. But as already stated, it was all speculation, and did nothing to explain Draco's smaller victories against the raven-haired boy in the duelling club during their second year, even though Harry had eventually won each match.
Draco soon learned when he needed to stop any active participation in the training, and to sit back and relax. During those times he merely became Harry's magical 'booster', lending his support from the sidelines. The first time he'd felt a slightly nauseous roiling in his abdomen he'd assumed it was just 'morning sickness', although that term had turned out to be a misnomer. The nausea and vomiting could and had happened at all hours of the day. That first time in practice however, that hadn't been the case. He'd wound up cramping and was rushed, protesting and complaining all the way, to the hospital by his very anxious and worried husband. Madam Pomfrey had diagnosed natal stress and laid down the law - no more strenuous training.
It was also during this time that Dobby had started bringing in those elves he felt were best suited to 'Mister Harry and Master Draco'. When asked if the candidates had been hard to find, Dobby confessed to having talked to every currently unattached house elf in the country before settling on the twenty he eventually wound up introducing to 'the masters'. That effectively explained the long delay.
The elves were not introduced all at once, however. Knowing that the young couple were very busy, Dobby had arranged for no more than three to show up on each of the three weekday evenings the boys had free for the next two weeks. Draco, having been more exposed to the species, did most of the selecting, but Harry was by no means passive in the process. At the end of that two weeks they had decided on the small crew they needed. There was Juky, whose primary duties would be in the kitchen, Pokan, who would take care of laundry and the bedrooms, and Forkal and Dirny would act as general-purpose servants and were skilled in other areas as well; among them carpentry, weaving, and tailoring. All four of them would work to keep the house in good repair, vermin free, and spotless.
Harry talked to Dumbledore to find out how Dobby's pay was handled, then deposited a hundred galleons in Dobby's Gringott's account (originally set up by Professor Dumbledore) without telling the house elf exactly how much it was - just that he'd put a small gift in the account for his help. He knew if he had disclosed the details Dobby would have over-reacted in one way or another, and he wasn't quite sure he could take a year or more of whichever reaction it was. Even so, Dobby's protests and eventual effusive gratitude was almost too much.
It took a few week-end visits to 'the Place' to show the new house-elves what needed to be done and to have them correct errors, but eventually the small mansion was looking sharp and lived in once again; a distinct difference from its formerly shabby, run-down, deserted appearance.
By that time the solstice holidays were almost upon them, and shopping trips to the wizarding quarters in France were insisted upon.
"The tunnel is more than two-thirds cleared, my lord," Pettigrew reported.
"It is stable, now?"
"No more deaths, then?"
"No, my lord; just the three, although Rimbough had to have a hand regrown last week."
"How much longer, then?"
"I don't know, my lord Voldemort. It depends upon how much more of the tunnel is collapsed; and as you know, master, we cannot use magic to find out that information."
"I grow impatient, Worm. Crucio!"
Finding the 'perfect' Yule present for Draco presented a problem. He knew exactly what he wanted to get his husband, but the problem was trying to get it ordered and keep it a secret; especially since Draco had already sensed that he was trying to keep something from him.
*A/N: To be "knocked up," in Britain, means to have someone knocking on your door, waking you, as well as the American usage meaning 'to get pregnant'. (Evidently the former meaning is no longer in popular usage in Britain, but since the wizarding world is behind the times... )