It was hard to get back into the routine of classes again after such an enjoyable holiday. And Draco was, of necessity, slowing down, so getting to class on time was getting to be a problem as well. Knowing his husband though, Harry was reluctant to approach Professor Dumbledore for special dispensation for them to be late. Draco would use it, abuse it, and if Harry let him, wind up not going to classes at all, depending instead on notes taken by their mutual friends. But he knew it was only a matter of time before he'd have to. And not much time, at that.
"Harry, my back hurts," Draco complained in a low voice in the middle of Transfiguration.
"Sh... Pay attention," Harry admonished quietly. But he reached over with one hand and rubbed Draco's lower back, doing his best to apply enough gentle pressure to help relax the muscles.
"We're starting to hear echoes, my lord," Wormtail reported. "We can't tell if the tunnel is completely clear ahead, but it shouldn't be too much further before we're clear of the densely packed area, and then we'll be able to move faster."
Voldemort leaned back, steepled his fingers under his chin, and smiled, causing the rat animagus to shudder, although he was careful not to let his master see his reaction.
Their advanced training was going on apace. True, Draco's participation was very limited, but he was there, and he was at least learning the theory, if not always the practice. And Harry no longer had to cast Legilimens to connect to Draco; there was a light connection at all times, needing only concentration on either young man's part to deepen.
One of the spells Harry was learning was 'Sùgh', a spell used in battle to renew your magical energy by draining your enemy's. As might be expected, this spell was not well publicised. In fact it was a spell the knowledge of which was held by only a few top wizards in Britain, although the spell itself had come from Gaul. This was not so much because of the secrecy, although that was certainly a factor, but because it took a certain level of innate power to be able to use the spell, and those not able to use it looked upon it with more than a little suspicion.
As with all spells, practice makes perfect. Harry kept practicing, at first getting not much more than constant correction from the headmaster - day after day, for almost two weeks. It was one particularly emotionally trying day (Draco had woken up grumpy and demanding, Snape had been out of sorts in Potions and chose Harry as his target more often than not, friends and acquaintances had been too inquisitive and demanding of his time, etc) when he finally got the spell right - and almost killed Dumbledore.
They had been practicing for about an hour, and Harry's patience, already tried by the events of the day, was at the breaking point. But he was determined to succeed. He needed this spell, if the battle were to go on for any length of time at all.
Dumbledore sighed, after yet another failed attempt. "You need to flip the tip of your wand just a little faster, Harry. Maybe tomorrow," he said.
That was the last straw. Harry threw his wand down, staring the headmaster in the eye, and almost daring the old man to reprimand him for his temper tantrum. "I know I can do this damned spell! All it is, is a stupid word! Sùgh!" To his surprise, he felt a sudden influx of energy.
Dumbledore's eyes flew wide in surprise as well, as he felt his magic draining from him. "Harry! Stop!" he exclaimed.
"How?" Harry exclaimed, panicking. He knew he was supposed to lower his wand; but he wasn't using a wand.
"Break the connection!"
"How?" Harry exclaimed, again.
The old man was on his knees. "Look away..." he said weakly, just before he collapsed.
Harry tore his eyes away from the old man, even though he wanted to see if he was all right. To his relief, the influx of power halted. He hesitated, unsure whether or not it would now be all right to look back to see if the headmaster needed help. He decided to go for help instead, just in case he accidentally renewed the drain on the headmaster's magic.
He ran quickly to the fireplace in their rooms.
"Harry?" Draco said, alarmed. "What's wrong?"
"The headmaster!" Harry said, as he grabbed a bit of Floo powder from the canister on the mantle. Throwing it in the fire, he stuck his head in, and yelled "Infirmary!" The mediwitch wasn't in her office. "Snape's quarters!" he yelled, trying again. Not there. He was getting dizzy from the flue's that kept flying past when he called a destination. "Snape's office!"
"Potter! Why have you decided to inflict-"
"Albus is hurt!" Harry yelled, interrupting him. "Get help! Quickly!"
Snape didn't waste any more words in questioning the young man. "Get out of the way, Potter! I'm coming through!"
In no time Harry was rushing along behind the greasy-haired professor as they made they way towards the headmaster's limp body, Draco following as quickly as he was able.
Soon after the three men left the Potters' apartment, towing the stretcher holding Dumbledore's body, a flagstone in a dark corner of the sitting room slowly settled back into place. Peter Pettigrew was beside himself with glee. His master would be pleased.
"Yes, Master; the tunnel comes up into a suite of rooms. They seem to be the apartment Potter and the young Malfoy are inhabiting. Malfoy was quite pregnant, my lord."
"Was he?" Voldemort snarled, enraged. "You have done well, Wormtail," he said with a triumphant leer
"Is he going to be all right?"
"I believe so, yes," Madam Pomfrey replied, trying to reassure Harry.
"Are you sure?"
"Really, Mister Potter! We're just going to have to wait, to see."
"Sit down, Potter!" Snape snapped.
"I already am," Draco replied.
"This is no time for insolence, young man," the potions master replied.
Harry sat beside his husband. Draco shrugged, then ignored the professor. "Rub my back, Harry?" he requested.
"Draco, I may have killed the headmaster!" Harry said, even as he reached over to do as he'd been asked.
"I may despise the manipulating git, but I don't wish to be the one who kills him," Harry said, in reply to his husband.
One of Snape's eyebrows rose slowly, as though being levitated. His hand rose slightly faster, to cover his mouth, but a twinkle in his eye gave him away. Neither young man felt brave enough to call him on it, however.
A week went by and Albus Dumbledore, while still not up to his usual standards, had again taken over the reigns of the school. Oddly, he never mentioned the incident. Nor had he mentioned renewing Harry's training with him, nor with anyone else. Unknown to him, however, it was going on apace, with Snape and Lupin as the instructors.
Harry was getting quite nimble as he dodged, rolled, and dived out of the path of weapons, and out of the way of those spells and curses he wasn't quite fast enough to block or negate. His own blade work, while a bit unorthodox, was good enough to protect him most of the time, and often caught his opponent by surprise, which could have had dire consequences, as Harry wasn't good enough to be able to pull the force of his blows. Fortunately the edges of the weapons were dulled, so they only caused bruises, which were quickly healed.
The draining spell, however, was not a part of the curriculum. That Harry practiced alone on manikins, late at night. What he'd done to the headmaster had shaken him, but it had also proven the spell's efficacy. And it was war. He'd found that 'Sùgh' didn't work for him when he tried to use his wand. The intricate wand movement needed was too much of a distraction for him. But with wandless magic, and for this spell, he didn't even need to point at the target - just look at it.
He'd tried to find out why, but Remus had said it must just be a quirk of his mind. Snape had to enlarge on that comment of course, making it an insult. Surprisingly, Remus had only to give a slight glare at the greasy professor, and the man had subsided. Harry didn't ask. He didn't think he wanted to know the answer to that question.
It happened a couple of nights later. Harry was in the shower alone - a rare occurrence. Draco had bathed earlier, having had a long, hot soak while Harry had been in training - begging off being there himself because his back hurt, his legs were swollen, and the list of complaints went on, and on.
He heard Draco yell, but that had become a common occurrence, of late. With his advancing pregnancy and the accompanying aches, pains, and physical limitations, Draco had become increasingly short tempered and irritable. Fortunately, his temper tantrums were usually fairly short lived. Harry had become used to them. Draco had probably been unable to reach something over his expanding stomach. He'd reach it down for him, whatever it was, as soon as he'd finished his shower.
He finished drying himself and walked, nude, into the bedroom, drying his hair, which had grown quite a bit in the past few months. "What were you-"
He was interrupted by a strangely familiar - and hated - voice. "Incarcerous!" Ropes wrapped him and immobilised him, even to pulling his arms to his sides, but doing little to hide his nudity. In the next instant, hands grabbed him and threw him into the wall. His head hit the stone hard, and he dropped to the ground, stunned. Through his now blurred and awkward angle of vision, all he could see was approaching black robes, and then boots began impacting his body; jolt after jolt of pain preventing him from thinking of anything but escape or fighting back - both of which were prevented by the ropes. He felt at least one rib snap.
"That's enough, Wormtail," came Voldemort's cold, sibilant voice a mercifully short while later. "He's much prettier than I thought," the Dark Lord mused with a leer, studying Harry's nude form. "Perhaps, after I'm through with his little whore, I'll have a taste of him as well before I finish this little game."
Wormtail pulled reluctantly away from his activity, knowing that even one more kick would see him writhing on the ground from the effects of the Cruciatus Curse. "Yes, Master."
"Sit him up, Pettigrew; I wish him to see me take this little traitor."
Peter Pettigrew did as he was directed, getting a face full of spittle for his trouble. He backhanded Harry. When he drew his hand back for another blow, Voldemort again curtailed him.
Pettigrew backed away, trembling in his desire to do more damage.
Harry's eyes darted about, looking for Draco, and found him on the bed, apparently unharmed, and apparently in the grips of 'Petrificus Totalis'. Momentarily relieved, and since he couldn't do more than try to distract these two (where were Voldemort's entourage?) while hoping for help to arrive, he turned back to the Marauder's traitor, and smirked at him through his pain. "So much for life debts, eh, Wormtail?"
"What's this?" Voldemort demanded.
Pettigrew paled as Harry replied. "He didn't tell you? I prevented my godfather from killing him, once."
Voldemort laughed. "And now he's the instrument of your downfall! How ironic." All the same, he turned a jaundiced eye on his puppet. Someone without enough honour to honour a life debt, was someone to keep a close eye on, indeed. But there was vengeance to be extracted. He turned to the heavily pregnant boy on the bed.
"As for you..." Voldemort said, his voice coldly murderous. "You were to come to me untouched. But you will be mine, nonetheless." His thin, bony fingers began unfastening Draco's robes; trousers having long been put aside due to his size.
"Leave him alone, you monster! He's pregnant!" Harry shouted, inanely. He could see Draco's mouth moving as the blond struggled against his bonds, but no sound issued forth. A silencing spell, Harry assumed. Where were their protective 'toys'? Ah. There. On the floor, frozen in place. Broken? He didn't know.
Voldemort didn't reply as he yanked down Draco's pants, exposing the blond's pale genitals, then started unfastening his own robes.
"Your fight is with me, not with him!" Harry argued, desperately trying to distract the - man? - from what he was doing. He had fought against his bonds so violently that his skin was raw and bleeding slightly, in places.
"This was mine, boy, and you stole him from me," the snake-featured being replied maliciously. "You will see me reclaim him. Then I will have you, before you die."
Wormtail was over in a corner of the room watching, and rubbing his hands in a washing movement. Conflicted emotions were evident on his face; fear, gloating, guilt, lust, and more. If anyone had been watching, they'd have been able to see the man was insane.
Harry felt the connection with Draco firm. His co-husband had initiated a deeper power bond. Why? He didn't have his wand!
Snake-like he might have been, but Voldemort was still in possession of his penis. It was ugly; heavily veined, slightly scaled, and with sores on it here and there, but it still worked, standing out erect in front of him. He rolled Draco over, albeit with difficulty due to Draco's advancing pregnancy, exposing the Slytherin's delectable arse. Harry's eyes bugged out in panicked desperation as the wizarding world's would-be ruler poised himself at Draco's opening.
Ah! Harry had it! "Sùgh!" Harry shouted, and immediately felt the power flooding him as he started draining the Dark Lord.
Hearing the word, and feeling his power drain, Voldemort straightened from his attempted rape and whirled, facing Harry. "Where did you learn that? Stop it!"
Harry didn't say a word, concentrating on keeping the two connections firm.
Voldemort reached for his wand, but already his power was low enough that the curses he hurled did little more than cause relatively minor injuries. Harry flinched with each one, but his determination and concentration didn't waver.
"Wormtail... !" Voldemort called, just as he collapsed.
Pettigrew started when he was called upon, but before he got halfway across the room to come to his master's aid, Voldemort crumbled to dust - just as the manikins Harry had practiced on had. He stopped, staring at the small pile of dust, then at Harry. Finally, he dived for the still-open hole in the floor, transforming into his animagus form as he did so.
Harry howled his rage at the animagus once again escaping him. But then he remembered his husband; his life-bonded love. "Draco!" he called, urgently. "Are you all right?"
Harry's heart nearly dropped through his stomach when Draco didn't respond right away, but then the blond started wriggling, and managed to roll over - just as the magical bonds Voldemort had put on them started to dissipate, their power source now gone.
Harry was by his side just as soon as he could break the bonds, wincing from the pain of his wounds as he moved. He helped Draco to a sitting position, helping him arrange his robes as he did so. "Are you okay?" he asked, again.
Draco clutched at Harry, and started to shake in reaction to what he'd just gone through, but he nodded. "I... I think so," he replied.
"Did he... "
Harry's hesitant question, though unfinished, was perfectly understood. Draco shook his head. "No," he whispered hoarsely, gripping Harry's arms fiercely, "but I don't ever want to be that close to that, again. Where's Vol... Where is... it?"
"Dead," Harry replied with fierce satisfaction.
Draco relaxed into Harry's side. He had been almost certain of it anyway, but the vocal declaration was reassuring.
There was a pounding on the entrance to their rooms, causing both young men to start violently. "Potter! Draco! Are you all right?"
They relaxed. Snape. Harry gave Draco a quick kiss on the cheek in reassurance, then got up to open the door. He hadn't taken two steps before Professors Snape, McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Flitwick came rushing through their bedroom door, before coming to an abrupt stop.
The scene before them looked entirely ordinary, except for the shaken expressions on the young couple's faces, and the wounds on Harry's body.
"What happened here, Potter?" Snape demanded.
"Gently, Severus," Dumbledore reprimanded softly.
Snape shot the old man an irritated glance before looking back at Harry expectantly.
"Voldemort," Harry said simply, pointing to the pile of dust.
"That... dust... is supposed to be the Dark Lord?" Snape inquired with only a slight sneer. "How?"
"Sùgh," Harry replied monosyllabically.
All four professors stared. Hagrid chose that moment to lumber in. "'Arry! Is me 'Arry all..." he trailed off as his eyes answered his question, but... "Ehr yeh all right, 'Arry? An' Draco, too?"
Harry smiled up at the worried half-giant. He might not be sure of the motives of the others, but he knew Hagrid really cared. He went over and hugged the big man. "Yes, Hagrid. A little worse for wear, but all right." Suddenly he realized he was still nude. "Oh, Merlin!" he exclaimed, mortified. He turned and dashed for the bathroom, and came back a moment later wrapped in a bathrobe, his face crimson.
He glared at Snape. "How could you stand there and question me without...?"
The potions professor turned to Dumbledore. "He'll do," he said dryly, eliciting various degrees of humour from the others.
"How did they get in?" Snape asked, continuing the interrogation. "How many were there?"
"Over there," Harry said, pointing. "Only Voldemort and Wormtail."
Before he'd finished speaking all five of the teaching staff had surrounded the formerly hidden tunnel entrance, wands out - for four of them, at least. And just in time, as three heads poked up out of the hole. Before the Death Eaters could say or do anything, they were hit with stunning and immobilization spells.
A muffled yell of "That's stuffed it! They've got reinforcements!" came from the hole.
Another voice said, "Stuff this for a lark! We can't get through fast enough - they'll pick us off!" And then there was the sound of retreating feet.
"This tunnel must come out somewhere between here and Hogsmeade," Minerva said urgently. "If we send..." She stopped herself as she saw Professor Dumbledore shaking his head.
"We can't get enough people quickly enough to find the other end," the headmaster said. "They don't have any strong leaders remaining. I don't expect them to give up, but they should make enough mistakes to be able to catch most of them, anyway."
He looked around at them. "We need to seal this tunnel, for now."
Dumbledore then turned and spoke to Harry. "I suggest you dress, and get Draco and yourself up to the infirmary. Don't disturb anything. We'll call in the Aurors to take care of - the remains. They'll want to do tests."
Harry had been thinking of the headmaster's statement about their leaders. "Bellatrix Lestrange," he said.
Dumbledore looked confused. "I beg your pardon?"
"Leaders. Bellatrix Lestrange could take over," Harry explained.
Dumbledore shook his head. "Old aristocracy, Harry," he said. "They won't follow a woman."
"She still needs to be taken care of," Harry replied stubbornly. He rather thought the now-leaderless group would follow anyone strong enough to take up the reins. And that bitch was capable of it.
"I don't believe so, Mister Potter," Professor Flitwick said, from where the three Death Eaters had collapsed. The little man had removed the masks of the captured Death Eaters. "Seems we've caught Mrs. Lestrange, as well as the senior Misters Goyle and Crabbe."
Two weeks later, physically healed, both young men were starting to recover from their ordeal. In retrospect, the defeat of Voldemort almost seemed anticlimactic. But at the time... Harry still had nightmares about what had almost happened that night. Nor was he alone in that. It was a toss-up which one would have a nightmare - if both didn't. But with mutual support and regular counseling, they were dealing with it.
When the furore finally died down, Harry had asked how they'd known to come help. He was remembering Dumbledore's statement that there were no monitoring wards inside the apartment, and wondering if he'd been lied to yet again. As it happened, Dumbledore had felt the surge in ambient magic in the castle when Harry had cast the draining spell on Voldemort, and sent out an emergency signal to all members of the Order of the Phoenix in the vicinity.
Since Madam Lestrange, and the elder Misters Crabbe and Goyle had been caught in the act, and taking into account their history, the trial had been short. Crabbe and Goyle had been sentenced to life in Azkaban, and Bellatrix to the Kiss, which was administered that same day.
Vincent and Gregory were much saddened of course, but they had known that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, provided their fathers weren't killed outright. They were seen holding hands as they left the Ministry building.
"Draco?" Harry said thoughtfully as they cuddled in bed that night.
Draco was smoothing Harry's hair with one hand. It had become much longer - almost shoulder length - and only needed a trim to look absolutely stunning on his partner. "Hm?"
"I think it's time."
"Time for what?" the blond asked, idly.
Harry arranged himself so he could look Draco in the eyes, taking the blond's ring hand in his hands. "Will you marry me? For us, this time?"
Draco studied Harry's face, trying to determine if there were reasons other than love for the question. Did his husband feel guilty for what had almost happened to him? Was this an attempt to make up for that night? Try as he might, even through their bond, he couldn't discern any other motive than love; although Harry was starting to look concerned. Draco leant forward and kissed him, then pulled back to meet those wonderful emerald eyes, again. "Yes," he said simply.
Joy lit the Gryffindor's face, then a slight frown took its place.
"What's wrong?" Draco asked.
"I just remembered," Harry replied with a reassuring smile; "your mother wanted us to come to her for our next wedding."
"Can't be that bad, can it?"
"She's your mother, Draco," Harry replied. "You tell me."
Narcissa had insisted that they wait until after the child's 'birth' - a magically enhanced Cesarean procedure which posed no shock to the baby, nor left a scar upon the 'mother'. At eight and a half months, Draco gave birth. The child, named Joshua Kane Damian, had rich auburn hair and blue eyes; a legacy strongly influenced by Harry's mother. But the hair colour would almost certainly change as he got older, and it was possible that over the next few weeks or months, the eye colour would as well.
Draco was up the next day. Madam Pomfrey had then administered a potion/spell combination that took care of the slack muscles and stretch marks on Draco's skin, leaving him looking much as he had before the pregnancy. Narcissa's ritual would take place a week later. Hermione and Madam Pomfrey would watch over the newborn for the couple for the duration of it.
Not wishing a repeat of Mrs. Weasley's Howler, a small group of people were invited to attend: the Weasleys of course, Hermione and Madam Pomfrey with their tiny charge, Blaise, his arm usually around Hermione's waist, and Professor Snape, with Remus' arm around his waist. The potion master's sour expression told what he thought of this public display, but he didn't try to end it. A bubble of magical energy surrounded the small group, ensuring that the ritual would be uninterrupted by either noise or action.
As the ritual went on, the room, carved out of native rock and beautifully decorated to begin with, took on the appearance of a beautiful, natural garden inside a crystal cave.
Narcissa picked up the tiny, exquisitely formed silver knife. Carefully drilled on what was expected and needed during this ceremony, Harry held out his bare right arm. In fact both young men were clad only in silvery-white kilts. Narcissa grasped his wrist and carefully made a cut three inches above that wrist, then set down the knife and picked up a small, undecorated silver bowl in which she caught the flowing blood. When she had about two ounces, she muttered a spell to heal the cut. She proceeded to do the same thing with Draco.
The blond woman, dressed in white roe-skin, picked up a long slender crystal and stirred the blood, incanting Pictic spells over it, then using that same crystal, and their mixed blood, to draw symbols on their bodies - first on Harry, then on Draco. Each symbol, as it's twin was completed, glowed silver. As the last symbol, drawn on their feet, was completed, Narcissa stepped back and uttered one more spell over them. The symbols glowed brightly, the glow spreading from each symbol to meet and join, until each young man was glowing brightly, then gently drawing the two young men together until there was only one glow - one light. As that occurred, Narcissa smiled, pleased.
"Damn it, Mother," Harry said fiercely a year later, "things like that shouldn't be kept secret!"
Narcissa calmly sipped her tea. "I don't see what you're so upset about, Harry," she replied. "It's an Eternal Bond, just as I told you."
"But you didn't mention that Draco would be able to get pregnant much more easily, did you?" Harry accused.
Narcissa raised her eyebrows, as though mildly surprised. "Didn't I?"
"Oh, Mum, how could you? To your own son?" Draco moaned, into his second week of morning sickness.
"Well, dear," Narcissa replied, going over to sit with and comfort her son, "I was a Slytherin too, remember. And I've always fancied having a brood of grandchildren."