Actions

Work Header

Dear Uncle Plume

Work Text:

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
I've been seeing the man of my dreams for two years now. Everything is perfect, except he doesn't seem interested in getting married. My friends say to give it more time, but after two years, I should have a ring, right? I don't want to break up, but I want to get married. What should I do?
Can't Wait Anymore

.~.

The thing about war that no one ever talks about is that it can be kind of brilliant. Brilliant for waking people up, for changing their priorities. Brilliant for destroying the past and forcing you to move on, even when you don't know what on is. Brilliant for learning what really matters and what really, really doesn't.

And the war made him certain of one thing: family was important, nothing else mattered. It wasn't even worth it.

At least that's what Draco told himself in the aftermath of the war when he stood in the Great Hall with his parents on either side of him, clinging to his mother, his father a solid presence at his back.

It's what he told himself when they returned to the Manor, ducking out before anyone could notice them still at Hogwarts and take them to the Ministry for questioning or worse.

It's what he told himself when the Aurors came pounding on their door the next morning. It's what he told himself when he and his mother waited in the blue parlor, under the bored gaze of a pair of Aurors, for his father to join them. It's what he told himself when one of the elves popped in, frantically wailing, and with a swirl of red robes, and everyone ran to his parent's room to try and staunch the flow of red from his father's body.

Draco had thought the end of the war would be the end of blood. That family would always be the most important thing. That his father understood that as well as he did.

But some beliefs apparently hadn't sunk in, not for Lucius; being exposed as a victim of Greyback, a werewolf, no longer a Pureblood, was more important to him.

And after questioning, after the trials, after he and his mother were returned to the Manor with a pair of elves for a year of house arrest, his mother hexed the large portrait of his father hard enough to knock his flat image out of the frame entirely.

Draco didn't comment on how she cried at night. She never mentioned him arriving to breakfast in the morning with his eyes red-rimmed. Family was the most important thing, and they had each other.

Because of that, Draco wasn't surprised when she began owling her sister, the one who'd been disowned before he was born for marrying a Muggle-born. He also wasn't surprised when months of stilted exchanges via owl led to even more stilted conversations in person. Andromeda looked frighteningly like Bellatrix, though her hair was grey-streaked brown and she favored Muggle-style clothing in tweed and wool. Seeing her sitting across the settee from his mother caused his shoulders to tighten, his stomach to knot.

But it got better, even though he was sometimes certain he had no real idea what better was anymore. And then, when things had finally begun to feel settled, Andromeda started bringing the thing.

It wasn't a thing, really. It was a baby. A squirmy, loud, messy, leaky, stinky, blue-haired baby that Draco really didn't want anything to do with. Worst of all, it liked him.

His mother and aunt seemed to derive a great deal of amusement at his expense when the creature would pull a fist from its mouth and reach the wet thing toward him, making demanding noises until Draco took it. His mother smiled rarely enough that Draco simply accepted the thing and all its gummy smiles and burbling.

And by the time their house arrest ended, and Draco could think about leaving the house and grounds again, he had almost come to like it.

.~.

Dear Can't Wait,
Is he really the man of your dreams if he's not interested in getting married? It seems you need to decide what is important to you: this bloke or marriage. It can't be both.
Stop fooling yourself; you know the answer to this one.
Uncle Plume

.~.

Draco leaned over the toilet, trying to breathe through the roiling in his stomach. Nausea had been a frequent companion for more than a week, striking without rhyme or reason, and nothing seemed to help. At least not reliably. The ginger tea he'd had great luck with three days earlier had made his nausea worse yesterday, and yesterday's successful dry toast was the reason he was here now.

He closed his eyes, counting his breaths, concentrating on anything but the twisting of his stomach and the rush of saliva at the back of his mouth.

Finally, wonderfully, it passed. Sometimes it did that; after spending five or ten or twenty minutes knelt over the toilet, certain he was going to sick up, the feeling would fade on its own. He sat up with a sigh.

He glanced to the open doorway when a loud pop heralded Mipsy's arrival and he met the worried, watery glare of the ancient elf. "Young Master Draco should be seeing his Healer." She leaned in, shaking a knobbly finger at him. "Young Master should be taking better care of himself. Young Master should be doing it or Mipsy be telling Mistress Narcissa."

Draco huffed a sigh. "You're my elf. Mum gave you to me. You can't tell her when I've specifically told you not to."

"Mipsy will find a way if Young Master not be taking care of himself."

With that dire warning and a final shake of her finger, she popped away again. Draco groaned. "It's just a bloody flu." A loud clatter from the direction of the kitchen followed, and Draco didn't even wonder how Mipsy heard his comment. "Fucking flu," he muttered again, mostly to himself. It would pass.

**

The illness didn't pass. And after a third week of frequent nausea, Mipsy didn't need to tell his mother anything. She simply invited her over for breakfast one morning without warning Draco. Narcissa had taken one look at his green-tinged complexion when he smelled the coffee Mipsy had brought in, and she was on him in an instant, fluttering and fussing and pulling the whole story out of him before he had a chance to dissemble.

He lay in bed, half-listening to the one-sided Floo conversation his mother was having in the other room, and glared at Mipsy. She didn't even have the grace to look at all apologetic. "I should give you clothes for that."

Mipsy sniffed, completely unconcerned. "Young Master be telling Mipsy not to tell Mistress Narcissa anything. Mipsy be telling Mistress Narcissa nothing." Then she shrugged at him.

"Clothes. A full set. Including hat, coat, and boots."

Mipsy turned and wandered out of the room. "Mipsy be seeing if Mistress Narcissa needs anything. Young Master should be staying in bed." She waved a knobbly finger over her shoulder, and he felt the familiar tingle of elf magic settling over him, doubtless binding him to the bed until she or his mother returned.

"Clothes!" he shouted.

**

His mother returned to his room several minutes later, Andromeda following closely. Draco sighed. "Family reunion in my bedroom. Let me just get up... Oh wait, I can't because of that sodding elf."

"Don't be rude, Draco. Mipsy did exactly as she ought," his mother replied distractedly. "Thank you again, Andromeda."

"Oh, it's no bother. Good morning, Draco." She passed his mother to set a leather satchel on the bed beside him.

He glanced between them, taking in his mother's frustrated expression and sighed. "St Mungo's not interested in making an appointment for me this morning?"

"You are ill. Mipsy has implied for some time. You shouldn't be kept waiting in the lobby."

"Indeed. When did this come on?"

"Who's minding the brat?"

"Teddy's in school this morning, as you very well know. Please answer the question."

Draco sighed. "I don't know. A few weeks."

Andromeda pursed her lips slightly. "Nausea? Vomiting? Fever?"

"Nausea. Vomiting. No fever."

"And it usually occurs when, exactly?"

He shrugged. "Whenever. Usually after I try to eat."

His mother frowned, touching Andromeda's arm. Andromeda frowned slightly. "Where is your food coming from? Are you owling it in from Diagon Alley?"

A cold feeling spread through his stomach that had nothing to do with the nausea lingering there. "Yes."

He glanced between his aunt and mother, taking in their somber expressions. "I'll have Mipsy throw it all out. Andromeda, will you get some things from the Muggle grocery until Draco has recovered?"

Andromeda nodded. "You don't appear to have lost any weight, Draco. I'm going to assume this is something more along the lines of a nasty prank, rather than a true attempt to do you harm. Hopefully, there will be no lingering effects."

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
My parents make so much noise when they're having sex. It's embarrassing. I can't have my friends stay over because I'm afraid they'll hear. What do I do?
Embarrassed By My Parents

.~.

Draco didn't like to think about how lucky he was to have Pansy.

Andromeda and Teddy were well and good, but there was nowhere Draco could go where he wasn't shunned at best, hexed at worst. And even having several of his long-held beliefs put to serious question by the war, he still had no idea how to interact with Muggles.

And there's only so many times his aunt can escort him to the grocers. It's easier to just owl in his orders, or have the elves deal with it.

Pansy was the biggest help. She'd had her own problems immediately after the war, though words said during a siege had much less of an impact than bearing the Mark. By the time Draco's house arrest ended, she was swiftly rising to the position of best-paid reporter for Witch Weekly and due to marry Blaise.

She'd seen the reaction to Draco in Diagon Alley once, and had taken over in that way she always had. Before he knew it, he had a flat in a building owned by Cordelia Zabini, and a job at Witch Weekly to pay for it.

Granted, the job was under a pseudonym, but that was to be expected for an Agony Aunt. Or Uncle.

And, also granted, it wasn't as easy as that. Draco took the job, because he couldn't spend every day with his Aunt, and a year of enforced solitude and contemplation had left him feeling completely done with his own company.

But leaving the Manor. Even after the year within those same walls, the year before with Voldemort living there, it was still his home.

Even if he vaguely hated it now.

"This is ridiculous," his mother frowned at him from across the small breakfast table in her parlor.

"This letter is ridiculous," Draco countered, not wanting to start the conversation again. His father rolled his eyes and huffed a sigh from where he stood in the small landscape on the wall.

His mother shot his father a glare. "I shall find an artist to paint sheep in there to keep you company if you do not behave yourself."

"Malfoys have always lived in the Manor."

"And cows."

Draco buried his head in correspondence, pretending the ridiculous love lives of the wizarding world at large was enough to hold his entire attention.

"Cows?" His father sounded scandalized, and Draco resisted the urge to look up.

"Cows would improve the company," was his mother's tart reply. Draco listened to the faint clink of her spoon against the saucer, concentrating on the familiarity of it. If not for the faint flatness of his father's voice, it would sound very much like history. His father having done something to annoy his mother, though not enough to warrant silence, the quiet sniping over tea and toast. He didn't want to look up and break the illusion, even if portraits never did get voices quite right.

"But Draco shouldn't be rattling around this mausoleum anymore. He needs to make a life for himself."

Draco grimaced as he was pulled back into the conversation. "I have a life, thank you very much. And a job."

"You shouldn't do work at the breakfast table," his father interrupted. "It is impolite."

Draco and his mother shared a look before turning it on the painting. His father had the grace to flush slightly.

His mother cleared her throat, drawing Draco's attention back. "You have letters, yes. Ridiculous letters, and don't feel I don't enjoy them just as much as you do, but you need more than that. When's the last time you saw Pansy?"

Draco grimaced. "She tried to get me to move into that flat."

"Yes, well, Pansy always did know you better than you knew yourself."

"You're only saying that because you agree with her."

"And I know you as well. That should tell you something."

"I hate the flat."

"There! You see?"

His mother shot a Stupefy at the painting before turning a softer expression on Draco. "You don't hate the flat, Draco. You hate the thought of leaving me alone here."

"This is my home."

"Oh, Draco." Her voice was so terribly gentle that the sound of it made his face heat and his eyes prickle with moisture. "It isn't. You lost that. And I'm so sorry for it."

**

Draco moved into the flat. Pansy lost no time between her first "I told you so" and stocking the pantry with her favorite snacks.

"Make yourself at home."

"I got you this place, that makes it practically mine."

Draco shook his head, experienced with Pansy's particular logic.

"Don't give me that look I know you're giving me. It's true and you know it."

"Yes, Pansy. Of course, Pansy. You are entirely correct, Pansy," Draco replied in sing-song. Then he ducked the shoe she lobbed at his head.

He wasn't going to tell her that he wasn't actually bothered by her taking over of his pantry. Her doing so was a guarantee that she'd visit. She knew how much he needed that, and neither of them needed to discuss the why behind it.

Because his mother was partially correct. But only partially. He hated leaving her alone in the Manor with only his father's portrait and visits with Andromeda for company. But he hated solitude even more.

And Mipsy, for all that she'd been in his life forever, was hardly company.

"You can sod right off, darling. I was going to owl for curry, but now I'm not sure I'm willing to pay for your housewarming."

"You have the most plebian tastes."

"Just because Mipsy can't make it doesn't mean it's plebian, darling. No one cares that you can't handle the spices."

"Shouldn't I choose what to eat if it's my housewarming?"

"What was that? You want to cover the bill?"

"Nevermind."

**

The advantage of Pansy being over so often was it was easy to determine who was willing to owl food to Draco's flat and who was not. And, even better, Pansy was willing to deal with it.

He claimed it was enough to have a pair of curry shops, a Chinese restaurant, and three chippies willing to owl him dinner without exorbitant markup. He didn't need takeaway, he had Mipsy.

And Pansy, for all her protests to the contrary, ordered takeaway upon takeaway in the first months he lived in his flat, even though she loved Mipsy's cooking. Just so Draco didn't have to.

It was true friendship, and he knew it. Fortunately, Pansy was as uncomfortable with sentiment as he was, so the care behind it went unmentioned. Things were much easier that way.

**

Of course, after those first few months, Pansy didn't want him settled in his flat. Sending Mipsy for groceries and owls for dinners wasn't enough, and she'd attempt to wheedle him into escorting her to Madam Primpernelle's or Twilfitt & Tatting's.

Draco went, once. Pansy dragged him to the Apothecary for a quick nip before dinner with Blaise and Millicent. He'd had to return home to clean up after someone hit the jar of Erumpet Fluid with Deprimo, and spilling it all over him. After the half dozen Stinging Hexes he'd ignored between the Apparition Point and the shopfront, Draco was feeling completely done with being sociable.

Pansy tried even harder after that. But she never could out-stubborn Draco and he retreated to his owl orders and letters. Things were just easier that way.

.~.

Embarrassed,
If you're old enough to write to me, you're old enough to have learned to cast a Silencing Charm. Your parents have sex, it's how you got here. Talk to them or cast the charm. And remember, your friends' parents have sex, too.
Uncle Plume

.~.

Draco was at Teddy's fourth birthday party when he ran into Potter again. Part of him was honestly surprised it had taken that long. After the year of house arrest where Potter had been back at Hogwarts, he'd known Potter spent a great deal of time at Andromeda's with Teddy.

But by accident or design, they'd never crossed paths. Not at Andromeda's, and certainly not Diagon Alley.

It left Draco feeling rather flat-footed when he'd looked across Andromeda's balloon-filled garden to see an equally gobsmacked Potter watching him.

They managed to avoid each other for the most part, exchanging nods here, awkward smiles there, until it was time for presents and Teddy insisted on them sitting to either side of him. Draco didn't need his mother's stern look to know he'd be better keeping his mouth shut, but the presence of Potter after so long apart had his mind churning with insults.

It was habit more than anything else. Potter looked oddly put-together. His hair was neater than Draco had ever seen it, he'd changed from those horrible thick round glasses to a thinner, more angular pair, and his clothes, though Muggle, looked nice enough. Clean and pressed, at least, which Draco didn't remember from Hogwarts.

In short, he looked familiar enough that Draco felt he should be insulting him, but unfamiliar enough to bite the words back. It was awkward, and more so because Teddy was bouncing and squealing and tossing wrapping paper around, and he and Potter were forced to work together to keep Teddy seated and the flow of presents coming.

All in all, it was a very odd Saturday.

It was an even odder Tuesday, some weeks later, when a small screech owl flew in his window, a piece of parchment clutched tightly in its claws. It was a message from Potter asking to meet that afternoon at the playpark near Andromeda's house. Draco stared at it for some time, wondering if it was a prank, or a joke, or an opportunity to hex him.

Finally he shook his head, he knew his curiosity was calling him too strongly to ignore the request, and penned a reply acknowledging the meeting. Then he fidgeted around his room, not-watching the clock, and wondering what in Merlin’s name Potter would want to talk to him about.

He arrived at the park early, needing to do something besides second-guess himself. He also had half the thought that arriving before Potter would give him the advantage.

Of course Potter was already there, looking awkward and uncomfortable where he sat on a bench beside a small willow. Draco straightened his spine and shoved his hands in his pockets, crossing to the bench and sitting as well.

They sat in awkward silence for several minutes before Draco finally sighed. "Yes, Potter, I’m quite well. Thank you for asking. Come here often?"

He saw Potter shoot him an aggravated look out of the corner of his eye, and allowed himself a mental tally mark. Draco 1, Potter 0.

"Often enough." Potter's voice was low, edged out through a tight jaw. "With Teddy."

"It is the park nearest Aunt Andromeda's house. I'd assumed you'd been here with Teddy."

Potter gave a sort of grunt at that, and they lapsed into another silence. After a moment, Draco shook his head and stood. "As charming as the company has been, I really must be going."

"Just… wait. Just wait, Malfoy. God." Potter rubbed a hand through his hair and he frowned up at Draco. "You. Just wait a minute, all right?"

"For you to continue frowning in silence? Why did you ask me here?"

Potter gave his own sigh at that, turning to stare back at his hands. "It's just…. We are each spending time with Teddy, but avoiding each other. It’s awkward. I just wanted to see if we could make it… less awkward."

Draco blinked at Potter. "What? Tolerance through proximity? Because that didn't work at Hogwarts."

"We're different people from when we were in Hogwarts." Potter glanced up at him. "I'd like to think we've both grown up some."

Draco nodded slightly, sitting down once again. "I suppose we have."

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
Ten years ago, I fell in love with a wonderful man, and we married against both of our families and friends wishes. His parents were horrible, and after three years of constant issues, finally succeeded in separating us just for peace. We didn't stop seeing each other, however, and have been sneaking behind everyone's backs. He says we should move to Brussels and ignore them, but my parents are both elderly, and I'm afraid the shock will kill them. What should I do?
To Belgium or Not To Belgium

.~.

Draco did not improve. All the food in his home that had come from Diagon Alley was thrown out, and his cupboards were full of items from Sainsbury's and Tesco. Nevertheless, Draco still found himself crouched in front of the toilet on an uncomfortably frequent basis.

"We really need to visit St. Mungo's." His mother's worried voice carried through the open door of his bathroom.

"It's possible, though unlikely, that he was given something that could still be affecting him." Andromeda's reply was as calm as ever.

Draco groaned, leaning back against the cool side of the bath. Going to St. Mungo's was about the last thing he wanted to do.

Things were better now than they'd been in the period immediately following the war. He recalls his trip to the Ministry for the trials, accompanied by his mother and four Aurors.

There had been yelling. The crackle and ozone smell of hexes hitting the Protego that had been held around them.

By the time his term of house arrest had ended, the immediate ire of the populace had faded. He wasn't usually hexed outright, though a rough jostling was commonplace. He was also usually shunned outright in the shops, unable to make any purchases in person.

And in the most immediate period, that had also extended to St Mungo's. He remembers standing at the desk, the Welcome Witch not raising her eyes from the paper in front of her, attempting to get a simple bottle of Pepper Up.

It stung, even years later.

"I don't need to go to St Mungo's."

His voice was nothing more than a quiet mutter, but of course it was enough for his mother to hear. He heard the quiet clicks of her shoes before she reached down to run her cool fingers through his hair. "Be practical. We can no longer summon a Healer here to aid us whenever we need. We need to travel to St Mungo's for our ailments as everyone else does. And this has gone too long."

"This, whatever this is, is beyond my ability to treat, Draco." His aunt's voice carried from the doorway, and he cracked open an eyelid to peer at her. "I am not a Healer, and I've not been trained in diagnostics. You need someone who can help you find out what is wrong so you can recover."

"Please, Draco." His mother had tears in her eyes. He was tempted for a moment to tell her off, that tears were a ploy for the lack of true argument, that they wouldn't work on him. But his heart twisted at the same moment as his stomach, and he knew it was useless.

"Fine. Let's to St. Mungo's, then. They can tell us it's nothing and send me back home."

His mother and aunt shared a glance at that, but he couldn't bring himself to care.

.~.

Belgium,
If your family is active enough to break up a marriage, they're well enough to survive you moving to Belgium and getting on with your life. If this bloke is as wonderful as you say he is, and you've been together ten years even after a divorce, that should tell you something.
Uncle Plume

.~.

Draco was man enough to admit that he'd never expected to find himself in Potter's bed. Fantasized, maybe. But then, everyone had probably done that at some point in time. It wasn't Draco's fault that Potter's hands had gotten broad, that his legs had filled out to hide the knobbly knees, that his shoulders and chest had stopped looking wasted and weak and begun taking on something resembling a lean breadth.

Draco knew for a fact that Daphne had been enamoured with Potter's eyelashes and Tracey the veins on his hands. Even Blaise had been known to steal glances at Potter's backside during Quidditch.

In fact, the only person Draco knew who hadn't stolen a glimpse of the Chosen Arsehole was Pansy. Glorious Pansy. Wonderful Pansy who had been arse over tits first for Draco, and then for Blaise.

Pansy who was currently on bedrest with her and Blaise's sprog, leaving Draco's echoingly empty social calendar even more so. Empty enough to find himself here, at least.

And even if bed in this case was metaphorical, up against Potter's bedroom wall was really close enough.

"Fuck. Malfoy." The words, coupled with the rush of hot moist air, against his neck dragged his wandering thoughts abruptly back into the moment. Potter's mouth, teeth and tongue and lips, latched onto the tendon in a harsh something midway between a bite and a kiss.

Draco groaned, hips rocking up without his control, fingers reaching to twine tightly in Potter's hair. He wouldn't go so far as to say he liked Potter, but he had to admit the feeling of him rocking into Draco was enough to ignore the fact that it had taken half a bottle of firewhisky to get them this far.

Draco tugged sharply at Potter's hair, pulling his head up from the mauling of Draco's neck, to scrape his teeth along Potter's jaw. Potter gave his own moan at that, breathless in a way that made Draco's cock throb inside his pants.

Then Potter was kissing him, the taste smoky and sharp on his tongue, and grinding hard against Draco. The firm press of Potter's cock against his own left Draco breathless, even through several layers of clothing.

"Fuck." When Potter pulled away to gasp a breath, Draco was honestly uncertain who spoke. Potter looked dazed, eyes glassy and dark, and Draco murmured his own, "fuck" breathless around the pressure building inside him. "Oh, fuck."

Potter groaned, burying his face again in Draco's neck, pulling Draco's leg high over his hip and using the angle to slot them together more tightly. And that was the moment, the too-intense pressure, that sent Draco over the edge.

He was still catching his breath when Potter's hips juddered against him and Potter again bit into Draco's neck.

When he caught his breath, he gave Potter a shove. "Move. You're smothering me."

Potter huffed something that could have been a laugh. "Arse."

"Not drunk enough to let you at my arse, Potter. I do have standards, you know."

Potter pulled away enough to give a flat look. "So glad I could be an adequate drunken mistake."

Draco patted him on the shoulder. "It's alright. Everyone has to start somewhere."

Potter laughed. "Arsehole."

Draco just grinned.

**

It had been strange the first time. But then they did it again. And again. And again.

There was nothing behind it. Potter was practically never in England, constantly off meeting leaders of various countries. Using his status as Chosen One and Defeater of Voldemort to improve the lot of werewolves around the world. And while Draco acknowledged Potter's visible assets, they remained incapable of more than a few hours of actual conversation without it coming to arguments or blows. But Draco's mother and aunt seemed to view the lack of bloodshed and drama at Teddy's birthday as a sign, and stopped trying to keep them away from each other entirely.

So every month or two they would see each other at a Sunday brunch, or a Thursday dinner. And if brunch turned particularly boozy, or dinner ran late, they often wound up in the same place.

Not that Draco was complaining. He liked sex, and Potter was good at it. And was much more convenient than pulling a Muggle, which always left Draco feeling uncertain, surrounded by all their technology.

It had annoyed him at first. A knee-jerk habitual reaction to yet another thing Potter did well. But he (silently) acknowledged it as stupid, especially when the thing Potter was doing well was him.

And so, even though he didn't particularly look forward to Potter's company, he came to look forward to those occasions when the time they spent together dragged, and they were forced by circumstance to linger.

Because that always left him wonderfully fucked.

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
I'm currently in revision hell for NEWTS, as are my usual hook-up buddies. My grades look promising, but I feel like I'm going to go crazy before I even sit my tests. Any advice?
Wand In A Knot

.~.

St Mungo's waiting room was blessedly empty when Draco stepped through the Floo after his aunt, his mother close behind. The Welcome Witch pasted on a professional smile as Andromeda approached.

"We would like to see a Healer."

The Welcome Witch's eyes darted between Andromeda and his mother, before lingering briefly on himself. Her lips tightened slightly before the smile was back, flatter than before. "I'll have to check if anyone has an opening in their schedules today."

"That will be fine," his aunt replied smoothly. "We shall wait right here."

The Welcome Witch's face froze in an expression of dismay as Draco and Narcissa sat in the chairs nearest the Floo banks. Draco leaned against his mother's shoulder. Normally he'd appreciate what Andromeda was doing, using the hope of getting them out of the waiting room against the attempted snub, but at that precise moment, his stomach and head began to twist as if they were both still in the Floo.

He closed his eyes, focusing on his breathing, and felt the brush of his mother's hair against his cheek. Then she was shifting him, wrapping her arm behind his back and pulling him close until his head rested on her shoulder. He thought for a moment that she would begin rocking him as she had when he was a child before the sound of his aunt's footsteps approached.

"We have an appointment with Healer MacAllister on the third floor in fifteen minutes. Are you feeling well enough for the lifts or do you need another moment?"

Draco reluctantly sat up. "This probably won't pass on its own in that time. We should go now."

His aunt nodded and held a hand out to him, as if he needed assistance to stand. He shot her a glare and stood on his own. His mother stood as well, sliding her arm in his, allowing him the illusion of supporting her.

The lifts were as horrible as Draco feared, and he was feeling green by the time they slammed to a stop. Andromeda tsk'd quietly, and his mother brushed a quick hand across his forehead before the doors opened onto the quiet hallway.

Draco had never been on the third floor. In truth, he'd only ever been to the ground floor for himself. He'd been eight, and had fallen from his training broom and broken his leg. He remembered visiting his grandfather on the second floor as well, when he was very young, but that memory was mostly of the smell of brewing Potions and the hurried flurry of green robes.

Even leaving the hallway through the door leading to the main ward is… quiet. Draco glanced briefly around at the empty chairs lining the waiting room, feeling the tug of anxiety joining the nausea from the lift.

He was ready to suggest leaving, going home, even returning to the Manor where his mother could fuss over him, but the Welcome Witch at the desk caught his eye with a smile more genuine than the last.

"Mr Malfoy?" The Welcome Witch's voice, when they approached, was surprisingly deep and soothing, and he straightened in response. "Healer MacAllister is just finishing up with a patient now. If you'd step into the third room on the left, he should be in to see you in just a few minutes."

Draco nodded jerkily, even as he sensed his aunt and mother relaxing. "Thank you."

**

Healer MacAllister was not what Draco was expecting. He was young, for one. Younger than Draco by the looks of it. He reached a hand forward, smiling, and greeted Draco with a strong New Zealand accent.

"Beauxbatons," he grinned in response to Narcissa's unsubtle prodding. "Grew up in Whakatane, but mum had gone to Beauxbatons, so nothing for it but us kids to go, too. Apprenticed here after I graduated, just finished my residency this year."

It was actually somewhat of a relief. Healer MacAllister, though young, would have been separate from everything that happened during Draco's term at Hogwarts and the war after. Draco felt some of the tension in his shoulders unwinding in the wake of the chatter.

"How long have you been having this issue?"

Draco blinked, abruptly pulled back into the conversation by a gentle touch to his arm. "Er. A few weeks."

Healer MacAllister nodded. "I'm going to run the full span of diagnostics on you. Normally you'd get a full checkup before being sent up to Potions and Plants, but… Well…" He gave an awkward grimace before shaking his head and clearing his throat. "So, if you would lie back. This should only take a few minutes. Mrs Malfoy, if you'd just stand over there?"

His mother's hand lingered in his, stretching his arm as she stepped away until Andromeda pulled her back. He glanced briefly at the Healer, who smiled reassuringly, before raising his wand. "I promise, this will be quick."

Healer MacAllister waved his wand over Draco, pausing to make notes on the chart, and sometimes repeating scans, for nearly half an hour before his expression changed. He glanced at Draco, then at his mother and aunt, before looking back at Draco.

He cleared his throat. "Mr Malfoy, I believe I've narrowed down your… issue. But I would like to extend the request we discuss this in private."

His mother's and aunt's immediate protests were expected, and Draco held up a hand. "Anything you have to tell me, they'll pry out of me within five minutes of leaving. You may as well save them the badgering."

Healer MacAllister glanced between them again before nodding. "Right. Mr Malfoy, you appear to be pregnant. About nine weeks on."

And whatever Draco had been expecting, it was not that. He felt his stomach drop before rolling again. The silence in the room was deafening.

"Did you say pregnant?" His mother's voice sounded weak, and he glanced over to see her wearing an expression of complete shock. Rather like the one he felt on his own face.

"That's impossible." Draco shook his head. And then again, "That's impossible."

Healer MacAllister's expression morphed from caution to sympathy. "No, Mr Malfoy. You are definitely pregnant."

"But—" Draco swallowed around the hollow feeling in his chest. "But that requires things. Potions."

And then he stopped. Because nine weeks ago was Teddy's birthday. And he remembered Pansy's jumbled Potions cabinet, and piles of unmarked Potions, and the overwhelming taste of mint. "Oh, fuck."

His mother looked between MacAllister and himself, clutching Andromeda's hand. "Draco?"

But all he could answer was, "Oh, fuck."

.~.

Wand,
Masturbate harder. Conversely, find a Ravenclaw who's been revising since Christmas for fifteen minutes to let off some steam. I remember the average stamina of a Hogwarts student.
Uncle Plume

.~.

Draco knows he's done more stupid things than going drinking with Pansy the night before Teddy's birthday party. But the pounding of his head makes it hard to remember any.

"Where's your fucking hangover Potion?"

Pansy doesn't even open her eyes from her position on the chaise. "In the bathroom. Under the sink."

Draco groans. "How are you not sick?"

Pansy took a large slurp of something pinkish through her straw. "The brat is in the loving embrace of her Grammy Zabini for three days. Do you think I'm going to waste any of my me-time on a hangover?"

"Ugh, you're a horrible person."

"Yes, darling. I know." She gave him a tiger's smile, all teeth, and he threw his hands up and made his way to the bathroom.

He groaned when he peered under her sink. It was cluttered with vials; round, square, cylindrical, and ornate. "Merlin, Pansy, do you ever throw anything away?"

"What was that?"

"Your potions collection is horrifying."

"What was that? You don't want a hangover potion?"

"Ugh." He dug around until he found a yellow potion in a round vial. He cracked the wax seal at the top, and was met with the smell of mint. He swallowed it quickly and waited for the pounding in his head to pass.

Several minutes later, he yelled, "Pansy! How old is this fucking hangover potion?"

"No idea. I haven't bought a hangover potion since before I got pregnant."

He stumbled back into the lounge and glared blearily at her. "You never clean out your fucking potions cupboard. And hangover potions are only good for six months before the mint begins deteriorating the lacewings."

Pansy, the bitch, shrugged at him.

"Fuck." He peered through the pounding behind his eyes at the clock on her wall. "Fuck," he repeated. "Teddy's birthday party is in an hour. And I can't take another hangover potion for at least two."

"Give my love to the little hellion. And let him know Iris was very put out to miss his party, but Grammy comes first." She waggled her fingers at him. "You should shower. You look like shit. Don't come over tonight, Blaise and I are having a little alone time."

"I hate you so much."

"Love you too. Thank you for the wonderful evening, et cetera, get the fuck out or you'll be late and even more grumpy."

He shot her one more glare before tossing a pinch of Floo Powder into the flames and returning to his flat to shower and change and attempt to prepare himself for an afternoon with family and six year olds.

**

Potter approached him as he was staring at the clock in Andromeda's lounge, counting minutes. "You look so happy to be here."

Draco didn't turn to look, he could tell Potter was smirking by his voice. "Pansy only had expired hangover potions. If I sit quietly and don't move, I maybe won't be sick before I can take a new dose in seven minutes."

Potter laughed outright at that. "I can get you some tea if you'd like."

Draco slowly turned to glance at Potter, careful of his head. "Solicitous of you."

Potter shrugged and grinned. "No plans this evening. Was hoping that might change if I could improve your mood a bit."

"Ugh. I can't even think about that right now. Ask me again later. After you bring me tea."

Potter sent him a jaunty salute as he wandered out, hopefully in the direction of the kitchen. Draco listened to the muffled shrieking of children from the yard, their joy audible even inside the house. He looked back at the clock. Six minutes.

**

Draco Floo'd to Potter's house shortly after dinner, and stood awkwardly in front of the fireplace in the empty drawing room for a minute. "Hello?"

There was a thump from overhead, "Fuck. Shit. I'm upstairs!"

Draco blinked, but took off his cloak and laid it over the back of one of Potter's favorite overstuffed chairs as he made his way further in the house. At the base of the stairs he paused, listening to the continued muffled thumping. "Do you have a Boggart up there or something?"

"No."

Draco waited for more, but Potter seemed disinclined to elaborate. Finally, he shrugged, making his way up. He leaned in the door to Potter's room, watching as he wrestled what appeared to be his old school trunk back on top of the wardrobe. "That's what Wingardium Leviosa is for. First year Charms, Potter."

"Ha bloody ha." Potter scowled fiercely at the top of the wardrobe. "Dampening Charm. Can't levitate it."

Draco blinked, surprised. "Why do you need a Dampening Charm on your Hogwarts Trunk?"

"To keep the things inside it from getting Summoned." Potter's eyeroll was impressive.

"Because you are allergic to Accio?"

Potter shook his head and turned his frown on Draco. "No, because I'm gone for weeks at a time and I don't want people having an easy time with my stuff if they break in."

"Who is breaking in? That's what wards are for. And not doing something obvious like saying 'hey, there's something interesting enough here that I've got a Dampening Charm on it' like you're doing now."

"I'm sorry. You keep talking but all I hear is 'I'm an arsehole who doesn't want a shag tonight.'"

Draco gave his own eyeroll. "You're the one who invited me over."

Potter prowled toward him. "And I always wonder why I do that every time you open your fucking mouth."

Draco smirked. "Because you like my mouth."

"Not when it's talking."

Draco made a show of protest, but he and Potter both knew it was just part of the… thing that they had. It was as much about winding each other up, without his aunt or mother jumping in to diffuse the tension, as it was about getting off.

And the winding up made the getting off exponentially better.

Potter's mouth was on his in an instant, hard and fast. He didn't even notice when they'd stopped needing firewhisky for this. The taste on his tongue was all Potter, bergamot from his tea, and sugar from the cake at Teddy's party.

He had no idea when Potter started tasting familiar.

But Draco wasn't going to think about that. Not now, when Potter's hands were on him, hot and rough under his shirt. Sliding across his skin, feeling the wand- and broom-calluses catching lightly on the thin skin along his ribs and down his back.

The feeling made him gasp, and he was aware more than anything of his cock, heavy in his trousers, pressing against the placket of his flies. He groaned, and Potter's breath caught, hands tightening almost painfully over the trousers covering his arse.

He sometimes wondered, when Potter's hands were wrapping around him, grasping and kneading tightly enough to cause him to gasp and grab back just as hard, leaving marks, what this could be like if it were quieter. If instead of biting and bruising, if there were gentle kisses, soft words.

He shook his head, trying to dislodge the thought. He didn't have that with Potter, and truthfully he really didn't want it. Because this, this felt like being alive.

He gasped again at the feeling of Potter's mouth bruising his neck, and he turned his own hands on Potter, working the buttons of his shirt until he was able to push it back over Potter's shoulders.

Potter made a small noise of discontent, before releasing his grip on Draco and tugging the shirt off. Draco took advantage, working on his own buttons as it seemed Potter wasn't thinking well enough to work out the fact that naked was good.

"Fuck just… Wait a moment, will you?" Draco frowned at Potter when his crowding made it more difficult to finish unbuttoning. "Merlin, Potter, you're making this difficult."

Potter rolled his eyes, but stepped back. "Fine," he sighed. But then he took another step back and began working on his trousers. "Fancy the bed tonight, anyway."

"You usually do." Draco shivered slightly. Potter's room wasn't cold by any means, but Potter was always hot, and the distance left Draco chilled.

Potter smirked, glancing at Draco through his eyelashes as he dropped his trousers in a pile around his ankles and stepped out of them. "Beds don't leave rugburns. Which you were the one complaining about."

Draco rolled his own eyes at that, sliding his shirt off and folding it neatly. "That's because your cushioning charms are shite."

Potter made a noise at that, somewhere between a snort and a laugh, but Draco ignored him in favor of laying his clothing neatly on the chair near the door. When he heard the familiar sound of Potter flopping onto the bed, he glanced up, attention caught. Potter was smirking, skin golden in the lamplight, as he absently fondled his hard cock.

Draco swallowed around his suddenly dry mouth, gaze held by the slow slide of Potter's hand. Potter, the arse, knew exactly what he was doing, and his smirk deepened.

Draco couldn't resist getting a bit of his own back, however, as he climbed onto the bed and settled on top of Potter. He gave his own smirk when Potter's breathing stuttered at the drag of Draco's skin against his cock.

"You're an arsehole, Malfoy." Potter's grin was avid as he settled himself slightly against the pillows, hands moving to grip Draco's thighs.

Draco gave his own grin before leaning down to nip at Potter's jaw. "Likewise, Potter."

Potter groaned softly at that, head tilted to allow access to his neck. Draco let his lips trail across the skin there, relishing the drag of stubble. Potter's hands slid up, past his hips and around his back, fingers grasping, slotting them more tightly. Draco repeated the earlier slide of lips with his teeth, and Potter's hips jerked beneath him.

"Such a fucking tease." Potter's words were breathless, and Draco pulled away enough to smirk down at him. Potter surged up, wrestling Draco's head down to a sloppy kiss.

Draco allowed himself to loosen against Potter, now knowing how the evening would go. Potter was impatient, and while sometimes Potter seemed to have the patience of Merlin, taking Draco apart and teasing him for hours, this was not going to be one of those nights. Impatient Potter had its own benefits: namely hard and fast and likely two or three goes tonight.

And Draco was completely fine with that.

He gasped, even though he was unsurprised when Potter flipped them. The suddenness of the movement, the way Potter ground down hard against Draco's cock, caused Draco's knees to draw up all on their own. And of course Potter did it again, dragging his cock in a hot press against Draco's, teeth worrying along the tendon of Draco's neck.

Draco keened, squirming at the return press. He had no real leverage, could only rock the tiniest bit into Potter's cock.

"Fuck." Potter breathed into Draco's shoulder, finally pulling away. Draco gasped a breath he wasn't even aware he'd been missing as Potter slid down his chest, pressing sharp biting kisses that Draco was certain would leave marks. Then he felt the hot puff of air against his cock before Potter's mouth was there, lapping at it like a fucking kneazle and Draco didn't even care what sound he made at that, frustrated with the teasing.

"Gonna fuck you so good." Potter murmured against Draco's cock, ignoring Draco's frantic tugging on his hair. Draco felt a faint tingle of magic, causing gooseflesh to pebble his skin, and then Potter's finger was pressing firmly behind his bollocks, sliding with slick.

Draco whimpered, and Potter finally slid Draco's cock into his mouth, swallowing him deep as his finger rubbed firmly against Draco's hole.

"Fuck!" Draco nearly came off the bed as Potter pulled back, tongue working the underside of his cock, giving the head a sharp suck. At the same moment, he felt the burn of Potter's finger breaching inside him, and he was caught between thrusting forward into Potter's mouth, or back onto the burn behind.

He was left to rock helplessly for a moment, before Potter was pushing another finger in. It was too quick, he wasn't really ready for it, and the sting stole his breath.

Potter hesitated briefly, Draco moaned when Potter popped off his cock to look at him. He bore down on the thick fingers, watching as Potter's breath hitched. "Fuck you, Potter. Why did you fucking stop?"

Potter swallowed, face flushed and pupils blown. He shook his head slightly. "I don't know." He dropped down once again on Draco's cock, moaning when Draco twisted his fingers in Potter's hair, and crooked the fingers inside him, rubbing hard.

"Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck." Draco collapsed back on the bed, spine arching into the press. Potter moaned again, the vibrations around Draco's cock almost unbearable.

After too long, or too soon, Potter pulled off again. "More or can I…?"

Draco hooked his foot around Potter's thigh, pulling him closer. "I was promised a shagging."

Potter's smile was brief, but bright, when he leaned in to kiss Draco again. Draco welcomed the slide of Potter's tongue against his, and he held Potter tightly for a moment before Potter pulled away and Draco rolled over, balancing on his elbows and knees. "Fuck," Potter murmured, pressing a hot kiss low to Draco's back.

"That would be the id—" Draco's breath caught in a hiss as Potter began pressing into him. "Fuck."

Potter's hand was warm as it slid up his back, following with a trail of gentle kisses. Draco concentrated on his breathing, keeping it steady as he bore back onto Potter, until he was seated fully inside.

"Fuck, Malfoy." Potter's words were all breath against Draco's shoulder, and his hands slid down his sides. Draco swallowed, eyelids fluttering open when he'd not realized he'd closed them. Potter's hands were affectionate, gentle, and Draco reminded himself of how, once early on, he'd almost let himself read more into the gesture than Potter being Potter.

He knew better than that now, and instead rocked his hips back, enough to feel Potter's bollocks sway against him. Potter gave a huffed laugh, hands wrapping around to grasp the jut of Draco's hips firmly, and arranged them both before giving a roll of hips that slid his cock out just a bit before slotting home again.

Draco groaned at the return press. He was probably too tight for this, but he wanted--needed--the burn for the first time tonight. Something about Potter's earlier impatience had infected him, and he pushed back against Potter, hard and quick enough to cause a slap of sound.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," Potter gasped. Draco didn't care, because he was finally fucking into Draco, earlier care forgotten. Each thrust sharp enough to cause his breath to catch, the sound of it loud in the quiet room.

Potter's hands were tight where they held him, pulling him back onto Potter's cock with enough force to feel almost bruised. Draco reached back, grasping his cock in a tight grip. He wanted to come, wanted the feeling of Draco, tight around him, to force Potter's orgasm as well.

Draco tightened around Potter's cock, mimicking the overly-tight grip he had on his own cock, eyes closing at the feeling of Potter's rhythm already beginning to stutter. The burning had faded to a dull ache, grounding him and Draco knew Potter was coming soon when one of his hands released his hip to reach up and grasp his shoulder.

Potter was pulling him back hard with every thrust, and Draco tilted his hips, attempting to catch the head of Potter's cock against his prostate. Potter paused after a moment, shifting his hips until he began again. This time the angle was perfect, and Draco allowed his chest and face to collapse into the bed, unable to support himself any longer. He focused on the twin feelings of Potter's cock thrusting inside him and his own hand rapidly stroking his cock until the sensations crested and he was coming in messy streaks across Potter's sheets.

Potter groaned something that might have been words as his rhythm was lost and he arched into Draco once and then twice and then stilled.

Draco wondered if this would be one of the times Potter left bruises for his fingers to match the marks from his mouth, and found he didn't really mind. Potter ghosted another kiss against his back, and Draco let himself collapse fully onto the bed, sliding off Potter's spent cock.

Potter collapsed beside him, and he turned slightly to see how Potter's face had gone nearly scarlet with exertion. He was just about to open his mouth and comment when Potter spoke first. "It's Teddy. His accidental magic, I mean. The trunk."

"What?" Draco blinked, before he glanced back at the trunk on top of the cupboard that Potter had been wrestling with.

"It's got… some things I don't think he should be seeing. Not yet. So."

Draco felt the smirk growing at Potter's explanation. "You've got your porn hidden from Teddy in your old school trunk, and you're so worried about him seeing it, you used a Dampening Charm on it?"

"It's not my porn." Potter's voice was defensive, so Draco just began to laugh. "It isn't. Just… Oh shut up you wanker."

"That's because you can't manage to fuck me and wank me at the same time. No coordination."

Potter's own face was going from frustrated to amused, and he laughed. "I'll show you coordinated…"

Then he hit Draco in the face with his pillow. And Draco had to retaliate. In the end, they ended up vaguely where they'd started, with Draco pressed against Potter's bare mattress, surrounded by feathers and toppled knickknacks, as Potter attempted to wank him as they fucked. He could just about manage it when they were facing together, but Draco knew he'd have keep giving Potter shit for it.

Giving Potter shit always ended things exactly as Draco liked them.

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
Last year my mum came for an overnight visit and found my toy stash under the bed. She lost it, yelled at me for an hour about "that filth" and then started crying. She's not been back to my flat since, but now she's wanting to do another stay. I don’t want a repeat, what do I do?
Not Safe For Mum

.~.

"So, let me see if I'm following. You got pregnant shagging Potter and it's somehow my fault?" Pansy took a partially-chewed biscuit from Iris, passing her a cup of milk.

"Your fucking fertility potion. Which you didn't have labeled."

"You took it."

"It smelled of mint! Hangover potions always smell of mint!"

"Biccit!" Iris pointed at the biscuit, milk still dripping down her chin.

Pansy handed it back to her, righting the cup when it toppled. "So do fertility potions, darling."

"How was I supposed to know that?"

"Mmm. You could have asked me rather than just taking an unmarked potion."

"Who the fuck decided that both hangover and fertility potions should be yellow and smell of mint."

"You're the one who actually studied for Potions." Pansy offered Iris the cup again, smiling in a hugely un-Pansy-like way when she squealed. "Besides, none of this would matter if you weren't shagging Potter."

"I wouldn't have if I knew you were still keeping your fucking fertility potions."

Pansy shot him a look. "So that's the first and only time?" Draco flinched at the flat sarcasm in her voice. "No, I thought not."

"It's not like that. We're not… like that." He grimaced, and Pansy rolled her eyes at him. "He's never in London, much less England. And I really wouldn't want him to be."

"What, you two stop fighting long enough to shag, and then each go your separate ways?"

"Well. Yes. Mostly."

Pansy stared at him a moment, then shook her head, erupting in giggles. "You are shag buddies with Potter. A booty-floo. Sex friends. Happy handshakers." Pansy's giggles stopped, and her eyes lit in a way he knew only meant bad things for him. "Cum chums," she enunciated carefully.

"Merlin! No!" He held up a hand in surrender. "Are you quite finished?"

"Oh I can keep going. All day, if needed."

Iris squealed and Draco rubbed his forehead. "You forgot pregnant."

"Oh no, darling, that part is just the icing on the cake." Pansy pulled Iris close, wiping biscuit smear and milk from her face. "Because now instead of just shagging Potter, you need to actually talk to him. And I know you, and I know you are terrible at that. It's the most amusing thing that's happened in my life in years."

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself."

"Oh don't be like that. Having a baby is hardly the end of the world. I do speak from some experience."

Draco took a slow breath. "You are married. You have your family, Blaise, even Cordelia. Can you imagine what will happen when the public at large discovers I'm pregnant with the Chosen One's child?"

"Who cares?" Pansy gave a shrug, bouncing Iris on her lap. "They have no say where he sticks his penis. Or in whom, as the case may be."

"Won't stop them from saying it." Draco murmured mutinously.

"So let them. Words are worth shit, as you well know. They won't take it beyond words, not when it could piss off their precious Chosen One. Besides, maybe this will get you back in public again."

"I've been in public. It's not worth it."

"Because you've let them hide you away. You think you're worth shit, so you let them treat you like that."

"Pans—"

"No, you shut up and listen to me. You've got some fucked up guilt thing lingering from years ago. You think you did wrong, that you're a bad person or something, and so you let them treat you like shit. Because you think you deserve it or something. You've got some penance hard-on and I'm sick of it. I miss my friend, the one who didn't give a shit what people thought. The one who would hear what people said, and shrug and go rub their faces in it."

"Former me was an arse."

"He was my arsehole." And Draco was alarmed to see Pansy's eyes filling with angry tears. "You were you, not this shadow you've convinced yourself that you are. Hiding from people like you give a fig what they think. You've got a fucking hard-on for guilt, and if I didn't know Potter didn't give a fuck about it, I'd say screwing him was continuing your new life goal of self-flagellation."

"I'm not… I'm not guilt-shagging Potter. He's… convenient."

"Easy, you mean. Gone months at a time is the opposite of convenient." Pansy waved a hand, determinedly bouncing Iris as she angrily rubbed her eyes.

Draco sighed. "Easy, then."

"I hope he's good, at least."

"Merlin, Pansy, I'm not talking about this with you."

"Because if you're going to have to figure something more than shagging every couple months, the least he can do is be decent at it."

"I hate you."

"So you've been saying. I'll remind you of that when you're looking for someone to hold your hand when you need to actually tell him about this."

"Oh fuck."

"Mmm." Pansy let Iris slide off her lap and watched as she darted straight for her toy Horntail. "Or your mother will. Because I know you won't be able to keep this from her for long."

"Fuck."

.~.

Mum,
Either hide your stash better (don't use Dampening Charms, they scream guilty conscience) or send her back home through the Floo when she starts getting snoopy.
Uncle Plume

.~.

He had met Potter for two more awkward meetings at the park near Andromeda's house before Potter held a box out to him. "Here."

Draco blinked, giving Teddy another push on the swing before accepting the box. It was long and flat, and his initial instinct was that it was a wandbox.

"What is it?"

Potter's lips quirked in a grin. "You're supposed to open it."

Draco stepped away, letting Potter take his position pushing the swing, and opened the box. "It's my wand."

The back of Potter's neck flushed. "Yeah."

There were a million things he wanted to say, wanted to ask, but he had no idea where to begin. He reached out, fingers skating lightly against the familiar surface. It felt familiar, and caused his finger to tingle where it had brushed the wood.

"It's a good wand."

Draco shot a look at the back of Potter's head. "Yes, I'm quite aware of that. I was quite attached."

Potter's shoulders hunched slightly, but then relaxed. "I'm not gonna apologize. It helped me out. It… I'm going to miss it."

"You've been using it?" Draco's hand tightened, crumpling the sides of the box. The years since losing his wand to Potter, spent using his Great Uncle Antonius' wand which was a shite fit, but at least didn't set everything on fire when he tried to summon the butter dish. "You've been using my wand?"

"It liked me."

And there was nothing Draco wanted more in that moment than to hex Potter blind. But he couldn't, not with Teddy in the park, and turning his wand on the Savior would doubtless end with him in Azkaban.

"Fuck you, Potter." Then he left.

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
My friends won't quit trying to set me up. But I'm with someone, in a fuckbuddies kind of way, and that's all I'm wanting out of life at the moment. How can I get them to stop?
No Strings On Me

.~.

When he thought about it, Draco realized it was silly of him to expect a diagnosis to actually improve his situation. His life just wasn't like that.

"And you've been taking the Antenatal Elixir?" Healer MacAllister frowned at Draco's chart before turning the same expression on Draco. "Daily?"

"Between 7:30 and 8 every morning, yes."

MacAllister's frown deepened as he tapped his quill against the parchment. "And no reduction of the nausea? Any other symptoms?"

Draco shrugged, too exhausted to care much. "It worked for the first week, since then it's been back."

"Are you sleeping?"

"Vomiting too much to sleep."

He watched MacAllister's jaw twitch a moment, before he offered Draco a faint smile. "Will you lie down? There's a few other things I'd like to check."

Draco grimaced, as lying down seemed to be his body's largest nausea trigger for the day, but allowed MacAllister to assist him in a slow recline. "No further than this if you don't want a demonstration right now," Draco took a breath around the churning, cursing his body and this baby and Potter and Pansy all in one thought.

MacAllister nodded, waving his wand to adjust the table. "Just a few more tests, and we'll have you up again."

Draco didn't answer, keeping his eyes closed and his breathing even. The heavy, sour feeling in his throat caused his jaw to clench, and he focused on counting his heartbeat to try and keep the sick at bay.

He was just so tired. He was back in St Mungo's, seeing MacAllister for lack of anyone else willing to treat him, with his mother waiting in the reception, primarily because things were getting worse.

And it wasn't the worse of the anti-nausea potions not working, but the worse of the nausea reaching the point where he couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, or do much more than lie in bed for most of the past week.

He wasn't quite praying for death, but a few times came close.

"Mr Malfoy?" Draco blinked his eyes open, meeting the concerned gaze of MacAllister. "Can you sit up please?"

Draco didn't want to sit--something in MacAllister's expression told him that whatever he had to say would join the long line of things he didn't want to hear about, but he let himself be gently tugged more upright based almost entirely on lack of energy for anything else.

"Mr Malfoy," Healer MacAllister paused, before shaking his head. "I'm not going to sugar coat this. It appears your pregnancy has formed a bond with the… other father."

"What." Because no. Not even Draco's life could be doing this to him right now. "A bond."

MacAllister looked uncomfortable with Draco's obvious tone of denial. "The bond seems to be to the child…" His words trailed off as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Means the bond may not stay after it's born, but in the meantime you need to spend more time together or you… won't improve."

"Won't improve?" Draco began to laugh, even though nothing about this situation was funny. "Won't improve. You mean continue getting worse until I'm on my deathbed."

MacAllister grasped Draco's hand tightly and flicked his wand at the charmed bell on the door. "One Calming Draught to 406, please." Then he turned back to Draco, squeezing his hand. "We know what the problem is, now. We have means to deal with it somewhat. We can improve things for you. We can support you through the entire pregnancy if the other father is unavailable. It will be unpleasant, but hardly fatal."

Draco shook his head, not thinking about how hard his hands were shaking, how close he was to tears. "Unpleasant. What does that mean, exactly?"

"Bedrest. Potentially here at St Mungo's—"

"I can't have bedrest here. They won't admit me."

"I will admit you if it is necessary." MacAllister paused as an orderly stuck his head in the door and held out a vial. "Thank you," MacAllister smiled at the orderly before handing the vial to Draco. "All of it."

Draco nodded, raising the glass to his lips, hearing the clink as his shaking hand tapped it against his teeth before he swallowed the sweetsour honey and lemon taste from his mouth.

It was strong, he could feel the warmth suffusing his limbs, the shaking in his arms stopping and his breathing slowing, deepening. He could feel the worry, the fear, still, but in a distant way. Like experiencing it through a Penseive, where it was there, but couldn't affect him directly.

"Good." MacAllister nodded, frowning intently at Draco. "The Calming Draught working is very good to see. But this may be a bit strong… How's the nausea?"

Draco blinked, aware of the slow movement of his eyelids. "Less."

MacAllister's grin quirked and he nodded. "A bit strong. I'm going to prescribe you a half dose twice a day for the next week. Breakfast time and dinner. Keep taking the Antenatal Elixirs, and I'll also set you on a Dampening Potion as well. Should buffer some of the worst of the drain you're feeling and allow you to gain some weight back."

Draco nodded, then nodded again. "I don't like Calming Draughts."

MacAllister's expression was sympathetic. "No, me neither. We can't go longer than the week, but hopefully that will be enough time to get your strength back up."

Draco could feel his jaw tighten, dread spreading even through the haze of the potion. He'd need more than strength to contact Potter.

**

Draco arrived back at his flat and sent his Mother off with promises of news later still feeling hazy from the Calming Draught. It was the only thing he could think to excuse his actions.

"Can I help you?" The overly-enunciated voice of the Concierge through the blue light of the international Floo brought Draco's attention back to focus.

"Harry Potter's Floo, please."

A sniff and then, "Is Mr Potter expecting you?"

Draco gave his own sneer at the officious tone. "No, but it is important."

"Mr Potter has not given any indication he expects a firecall, especially from one not in possession of his direct Floo number."

"Then you can be responsible for keeping Potter from information on his godson."

The lie was blatant, but Draco took a bit of pleasure in watching the Concierge squirm. "I will see if Mr Potter will speak with you, Mr…?"

"Malfoy."

Draco sat back on his heels as the flames dimmed slightly. This was a bad idea, and he could feel the panic even through the blanket of distance granted by the potion. But this would start Potter upset, and an upset Potter was not something he wanted to deal with.

"Hello? Malfoy? What's going on? Where's Teddy?"

Potter's words carried over the connection even before his face filled the flames. Draco gave a sigh. "Teddy's fine. It was all I could think to say to get connected."

Potter blinked owlishly at him, before a crease formed between his eyebrows. "You don't look well."

"Yes. I've been…" Draco trailed off, now that he was speaking with Potter, it was becoming overwhelming again. "Calming Draught. I'm… Sorry, I'm…"

Potter's expression shifted, a softening about the mouth even as his eyes tightened. "Andromeda said you'd been ill, that you'd gone to St Mungo's."

Draco laughed weakly. "Yes, I…"

After a moment, Potter cleared his throat. "Do you have something? Do I need to get tested, is that what this is for?"

Draco gaped, and Potter's expression closed off a bit. "Well, you're sick, you firecall me which you've never done—"

"I'm pregnant."

Potter stared at Draco a moment, expression completely blank, before his face disappeared and the flames died down to embers. Which was actually better than Draco had imagined the conversation going. He sighed and sat back, feeling his hands begin to shake again. It was too early to take another dose, but Draco shook his head, swallowed it down and crawled into bed, threatening Mipsy with clothes if he was disturbed before morning.

**

The sound of raised voices pulled Draco out of his stupor some time later. He blinked, pushing himself slowly up from under the heavy weight of his blankets. The room was dim, and he frowned, apparently more time had passed than he'd realized.

Then he blinked again, wincing when his bedroom door opened, spilling bright lamplight across his bed.

Then he frowned, because Potter was standing in the doorway, Mipsy clinging to his leg and wailing. He almost regretted the Calming Draught, because he thought without the distance, the image would have been funny. As it was, he felt incapable of more than a blank stare.

Potter was staring at him as well, breathless and flushed, hair a mess and shirt badly buttoned. Then he took an obvious breath and ran a hand through his hair, jaw twitching. "You're still on Calming Draughts." At the forced calm of his voice, Mipsy stopped her crying, though she did not release her grasp.

Draco nodded. Nodding was easy. "The Healer wants me to take them for a week to try and get my strength back. And Dampening Potions."

"Dampening Potions?" Potter flinched back. "Is something wrong?"

And Draco could feel the dread in his stomach. Because the pregnancy was only part of it, the smallest part. Even the Draught wasn't enough to calm the pounding of his heart. "The… it…" He finally gestured to his stomach, eyes firmly on his knees, unwilling to look at Potter's face. "There's a bond. With you."

Potter reeled back at that, stumbling around the weight of Mipsy on one leg, and fell. "Oh fuck."

When Draco finally looked, Potter's face was buried in his hands and Mipsy was patting his shoulder. Draco curled back up in bed and pulled the blankets over him.

**

He woke in the darkness of true night. There was noise, quiet and muffled, coming from outside his bedroom door, a faint glow lining it. He could feel that the effects of the Calming Draught had faded, though the nausea seemed content to remain in the background. He pushed himself up out of bed.

He opened his door, looking out at where Potter was sitting beside his mother on the chesterfield. They both quieted at the sound of the door, looking up at Draco with equally indecipherable expressions.

Draco sighed, stepping further toward them. "What time is it?"

"About four."

He nodded, uncertain where to look. Potter had dropped his head again, hunched forward and staring, while his mother's expression was painfully loving. He spent a moment wishing he'd never left his room, but then straightened. This was his flat.

"I'm going to start some tea." His mother looked ready to follow him, so he hurried to the kitchen before she could.

He made as much noise there as he could, clattering the kettle, dropping spoons, rummaging in the pantry. He needed to be busy, to do, anything that was not thinking about the people sitting there and the conversation that was going to have to happen.

There was a quiet noise behind him. "Nevermind, Mipsy. Go back to sleep, I'll take care of this."

"Not Mipsy."

Draco froze, fingers clenched around the tea tin. Potter's voice was rough and thick, and Draco's shoulders tensed before he turned slowly. "Ah. No."

"How long?" Potter ran a hand over his face, dislodging his glasses. "I mean…"

"Earl Grey for you, yes?"

Potter gave him a flat look before he nodded. "Yes." He made his way further into the kitchen, collapsing again on one of the hard wooden chairs at the small breakfast table.

Draco dragged out the process as much as he could, but soon enough he was sending a mug of tea to rest on the table before Potter. Potter's hands reached out slowly, grasping the cup, breathing in the steam.

"I went to the Healer yesterday." Draco found himself holding his own tea close, concentrating on the warmth bleeding into his hands. "I've known about… three weeks? I think. I'm… I've been very ill, it's hard to keep track of time."

Potter took a sip of his tea. "Teddy's birthday, then? What happened?"

"Pansy." Draco grimaced. "It apparently wasn't an expired hangover potion. Fertility potions are also yellow and flavored with mint."

Potter gave his own grimace at that and Draco pushed on. "It… wasn't intentional. I wasn't trying to. Do."

Potter blinked, looking at Draco. It was the first time he'd made eye contact, and something low in Draco's gut clenched at the earnestness of Potter's expression. "I didn't think you had. You're not… You wouldn't." Potter shook his head. "What do I need to do?"

"What do you want to do?" When Potter opened his mouth to retort, Draco held up a hand. "I mean… My Healer has said that you being… around, my health will improve because of the bond. But if you can't, I'll… He'll… It will be alright. St Mungo's will be able to help through the end."

"This was a mistake."

Draco's stomach plummeted and his mouth shut quickly enough to cause his teeth to ache.

Potter put his cup down. "No, I mean. I didn't mean." He sighed. "What I meant was this was an accident. It's no one's fault. But we need to deal with it."

Draco's lips quirked faintly, and he took another sip of his tea. "How do you propose we do that? We've not got much of a record of working together."

"We do fine with Teddy."

Draco rolled his eyes. "We ignore each other in favor of a six year old. It will be months before we can do the same with this one."

Potter gave a faint laugh. "True. We'll just do a lot of babysitting until we figure it out."

"Speaking of babysitting, why was my mother babysitting you?"

Potter flushed. "She was here when I arrived. Reading. I mean, she was reading. You were asleep."

Draco nodded. "I… wasn't expecting you."

Potter sighed, standing and fidgeting around the kitchen. "I'm sorry. I was. I was worried about Teddy because Guillaume is a fucking twat who thinks he should screen my firecalls, and then Teddy was fine and you were… pregnant." Potter swallowed audibly. "I doused the flames, drank a glass of Firewhisky, left a note for Marjolaine, and got an emergency Portkey back to London."

"Ah."

"I'm on leave. Well, I'm taking a leave, at least a few weeks, while we sort things. Figure what we're going to do."

"What are we going to do?" The question was mostly rhetorical, and when Potter went to reply, Draco shook his head. "I mean, neither of us are at all equipped to raise a child. You have your job, you love it and I know you're not going to quit, even after this leave. I'm pretty high up on the Wizarding world's most-hated list. It may be better if…"

Draco trailed off, because he had no idea what could make this better. Potter couldn't keep the child, not with his work and travel schedule. And Draco, Draco wouldn't wish anyone to bear the ire of the Wizarding World as he still did. "Maybe Andromeda…"

Potter shook his head. "I know what you're thinking, but Andromeda is busy with Teddy. We can do this. Together."

"How? How the fuck are we supposed to do this? It wasn't a lie that we've not even managed a day together without fighting."

"We have to try. We have to want to."

.~.

Strings,
You can ask your friend to play house in a more obvious fashion, or you can tell your friends to butt out. I'm not going to do it for you.
Uncle Plume

.~.

At one point, Draco was sure there could be something more to his thing with Potter.

He didn't admit it to anyone. He didn't tell anyone that he was fucking Potter after family events. But about the time that the shoulder-checks over wine became something friendly, and they stopped needing intoxication as an excuse to fall into bed, the thing with Potter seemed… pleasantly inevitable.

They were almost getting along. Bickering felt comfortable in a way that Draco could see evolving into the kind of arguments he had with Pansy. He even caught himself calling Potter Harry in his head.

And then he'd arrived unexpectedly at Andromeda's, stepping through the open Floo and following the sound of voices to the kitchen.

"I don't know, though. I like Bern. So much better than London. Maybe you and Ted could come live there, eh?"

Draco froze in the hallway, afraid to breathe. He could only listen to Harry's voice.

Andromeda laughed. "I like London very much, thank you."

"I'm serious, though. I've been looking into moving out of the flat. Getting a house. A real house. I'd love for the two of you to live with me."

"Harry. I'm not looking to leave England. My family is here. Your friends are here as well."

"Ron and Hermione know I'm happy there. And they are eager for some place to stay on the Continent." Potter's voice went wheedling. "Switzerland is lovely this time of year."

Another laugh. "Switzerland is lovely every time of year except in February. Nowhere is lovely in February."

"Please, Andromeda?"

Draco wanted to leave, but it felt like he'd been hit with Petrificus Totalus. It was all he could do to keep silent around the painful hollowness in his chest.

She sighed. "I can't, Harry. I can't leave my family."

"But you're my family. You and Teddy, both. I miss you…."

"Then come back here. Spend weekends. Family is important, but it is a two-way street. Look to what you can do, and we will make an effort to visit more as well." There was a pause. "We're not asking you to move back to London, Harry. You had your reasons for leaving. We miss you, but we understand. Please do the same for us."

The ensuing silence was too much for Draco, and he fled. He didn't care in that moment if his aunt and Harry--Potter-- heard him. It was enough to know that, to Potter, he was a convenience and nothing more.

But that was all right. It was fine. Because that was all his feelings for Potter were as well. A good shag. Convenient. Easy. And that's all that mattered.

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
I'm pregnant, and I have no idea how to tell my boyfriend. We haven't been together long, and I don't know what to do?
Surprised

.~.

When Potter escorted Draco, without his mother and aunt for once, to St Mungo's for his appointment, the reception was almost exactly as Draco expected it to be. The Welcome Witch, who until that point had managed to avoid so much as glancing in Draco's direction after his first visit to St Mungo's, fell over herself to greet Potter, offer him tea, and escort him personally to Healer MacAllister.

It really was amazing how she managed that without ever really looking at Draco.

Potter just looked uncomfortable. And then he began to look stubborn, jaw jutting out mulishly, and then he wrapped a determined arm around Draco's shoulders. Part of Draco was amused by the way the Welcome Witch's words trailed into silence, but he was mostly angry that Potter was just using him to make a point.

And then Healer MacAllister liked Potter. Because everyone liked Potter, apparently. At least he didn't seem to have the blind hero worship of most of the wizarding world. But it still grated on Draco's already frazzled nerves.

Potter had obviously been ready for confrontation when MacAllister entered the examination room. Draco wasn't certain if he was expecting a fight or simply another stare-down like with the Welcome Witch. But MacAllister didn't even seem to recognize him at first, and when he did it was nothing special.

Potter's shoulders relaxed at that, he smiled, and MacAllister's easy personality seemed to match with Potter's. Soon they were discussing Quidditch while Draco sat on the examination table.

It was uncomfortable, though MacAllister caught something in Draco's expression during the examination which dragged his focus back.

"How's the nausea?"

"Fine." Which wasn't exactly true, but close enough under the circumstances.

"Eating?"

"Yes."

"He doesn't eat breakfast." Potter interrupted.

Draco gave Potter a flat look when MacAllister frowned. "Compared to a week ago, I'm eating."

"I'm not an obstetric specialist. I do need you to tell me things if I'm going to be able to treat you properly."

"You're not?"

Potter looked confused and Draco raised an eyebrow at him. "We're on Potions and Plants."

"There was some… issue in finding a Healer willing to treat Mr Malfoy."

Potter's jaw went all stubborn again, and Draco was just done with it. "Healer MacAllister is doing a fine job. We were thinking at first it was a potion that caused the… symptoms."

"Well, it was." MacAllister grinned. "In a roundabout way, I mean. Not in the way you thought."

"You thought…?" Potter looked confused for a moment before his brows drew together. "You thought someone was hurting you?"

Draco shrugged. "Seemed the most likely cause. Hence Potions and Plants."

MacAllister cleared his throat. "Back on subject, you aren't eating breakfast?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Nausea in the mornings. I thought that was normal."

MacAllister frowned. "It may be. But I don't like you skipping meals, you've gone weeks already not eating enough."

Draco grimaced and MacAllister turned to Potter. "And what is your schedule?"

"My… schedule?"

"What sort of time are you spending near Mr Malfoy? I'm aware that you're not in that sort of relationship, but things will go much more smoothly with the pregnancy if you and he are spending as much time together as possible."

"There's a… bond he said."

MacAllister nodded. "I've done some reading up. It's not actually that uncommon in two-father pregnancies. It just normally doesn't cause problems because those pregnancies usually have some level of intent behind them." At Potter's blank look. "You need fertility potions, which implies a relationship, which implies enough time spent together that there are… effectively no symptoms of the bond."

"Oh."

"And the fact that this was a… mistake," Draco swallowed around the tightness in his throat at using that word, "And since Potter spends most of his time abroad…."

Potter grimaced and MacAllister gave a sympathetic nod. "Yes, exactly."

Potter took an obvious breath. "So what do I need to do?"

Draco recognized the expression on Potter's face at that. It was Potter's martyr-face. And in that moment, Draco couldn't stand it. "It means you spend the minimum amount of time with me as you can and go back to your life in the meantime."

Both MacAllister and Potter shot him glares at that, but Draco didn't care. "It's what is going to happen, I'm just being honest about it."

"Being obnoxious, you mean."

MacAllister held up a hand. "I would like both of you to know that the variation on Incarcerous they teach Healers is especially potent and I will use it if you two start fighting in here.

"Now, Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy is technically correct. There is no reason you can't lead a fairly normal life over these next months. We won't know what amount of time this bond will need, however, without some level of experimentation.

"It's likely that over the next weeks, you will need to spend a great deal of time with Mr Malfoy while the bond settles. He needs to regain his strength and gain some weight. But I don't think you'll need to do that for the entire duration of the pregnancy.

"I would advise you to plan on a month leave and reassess then. Mr Malfoy, I would like to continue seeing you every week to monitor the situation. Mr Potter, I would like you to come with him because I don't want either of you to get farther than a dragonlength from each other for the next month. Do I make myself clear?"

MacAllister's glare reminded Draco of his mother's, and he nodded, noting that Potter did the same.

"Good." And MacAllister's grin was back full-force. "Any questions?"

.~.

Surprised,
It's difficult, but honesty is always best. This might blow up in your face, in which case you'll know that this relationship wouldn't stand the test of time anyway, but it might surprise you. Sincere wishes and best of luck.
Uncle Plume

.~.

Draco was uncertain what he'd done to deserve Pansy, Potter, and his mother in his flat all at the same time. Not that his mother was an issue; she was the only thing keeping him from drawing his wand and Stupefying himself until they all just went away.

He and Potter were getting along. They'd squabbled over the toast Mipsy had laid out; Potter insisted on pressing more food on him, and Draco retorting that a single slice with his tea was more than adequate. Mipsy ignored Draco's protests in favor of Potter, the traitor.

Then his mother arrived through the Floo, and Mipsy was practically beside herself and brought out even more toast. Draco closed his eyes, discreetly vanishing a triangle from his pile, while Potter and his mother discussed their most recent visit to the Healer and baby names.

Draco told himself the nausea at that was simply due to breakfast and not the reminder that he and Potter would have an actual baby in a few months.

But on the whole, it was not at all as bad as it could have been. His mother deftly dragged him into the conversation as well, and he and Potter ended up vetoing every family name on both sides going back six generations.

"Cassiopeia? No way."

"And Fleamont is better?"

His mother simply sat, sipped her tea, and smiled. Draco realized he was enjoying himself, and Potter was as well, based on the half grin twisting his lips.

And then in a flash of green, Pansy stepped through the Floo.

"Darling!" Pansy obviously took in the room and gave a shark's grin. "Mipsy, tea please! Draco, darling, I brought you the new batch of owls."

Pansy summoned a chair and collapsed into it before passing Draco a thick stack of parchment tied with ribbon.

"Owls? Why are you getting Malfoy's owls?"

Potter sounded genuinely bewildered and Pansy's smile sharpened. "His business owls, Potter." Potter continued to watch her blankly and she laughed, even as Draco felt his stomach sink, heavy with the second slice of toast he'd been bullied into. "Draco is Uncle Plume."

Potter laughed. "Uncle Plume? You're shit—er." Potter's laugh cut off and he glanced at Narcissa, still smirking faintly into her teacup. "You can't be serious."

Pansy waved airily. "Dead serious. Draco's been Uncle Plume for years now."

Potter laughed again, shaking his head. "You're having me on."

Draco crossed his arms, aware of the defensiveness of the gesture, and how easily Pansy would read it as such. "No she's not."

"But…" Draco watched Potter glance between them, before turning his own attention to his teacup. "But Uncle Plume is… old."

His mother began laughing at that, joining in with Pansy's giggles. "Uncle Plume is approximately six weeks older than you are, Harry."

Draco took a sip of tea. "If you are all quite done."

"How did you get a job giving out love advice?"

"It's not just love, darling. Draco advises the matrons of the wizarding world on a great many subjects."

"But most of the stuff is love advice, right?"

"It was the job I could get." Draco forced the words out through the tight clench of his jaw. "It was the only job I could get because it is anonymous and no one knows they're sending their problems in to a Death Eater."

There was silence at the table before Pansy huffed out a sigh. "No need to be so down, darling. You love these letters. Don't think I've not see you giggling over them yourself."

"Draco gives very good advice." Narcissa chipped in as well. "Both relationship and otherwise."

Potter cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable. "So, um, do you answer and print all the letters that are sent?"

Pansy shook her head. "Oh, no. Draco gets too many to hope to answer. We pick the ones that seem the most interesting or most generally relevant."

Draco let Pansy continue the discussion. He still felt vaguely sick from his breakfast and raw from the laughter. After several failed attempts by his mother to include him in the discussion, she sighed and shook her head.

Draco drank his tea and tried to keep himself from hexing the lot of them.

.~.

Dear Uncle Plume,
I want to propose, but I want it to be special. He's not really into flowers or chocolates, and I've never been too good at romance. But I'm certain he's the one. What would you suggest?
Hopeful Bridegroom

.~.

Draco groaned as he tried to settle the pillows comfortably around himself. It had been a bad day; his aunt and mother arriving with Teddy for a surprise tea, and hovering underfoot until well after supper.

Draco had finally given up on their coddling and shut himself in his room. He was exhausted, he probably should tell Potter to be around more, but he just… couldn't. Couldn't deal with Potter, or his family, or anything else. He was so fucking tired and didn't want to talk about the future or the baby.

He punched the pillow again, cursing the small hard lump that had seemed to spring up overnight but had already made it impossible to sleep on his back without shooting pain in his spine. MacAllister had said it was nothing to worry about, that even in women, some pregnancies just did that, but the sudden visibility… He hated how real it made everything.

He closed his eyes, trying to force his jaw to unclench and focus on his breathing. It was slow, but he'd finally almost drifted off when there was a knock on his bedroom door.

Draco buried his head under the pillow, and heard the soft sound of Mipsy unlocking the door.

"Malfoy?" Potter's voice was quiet, and Draco pretended to be asleep.

There was a sigh, the familiar thuds of shoes falling on the hardwood, and then the bed shifting as Potter climbed in behind him.

He'd only just begun to relax when Potter curled up around him, arm around his side and hand resting on the bump of his belly. Then, with a light kiss to his neck, Potter murmured, "I know you're awake. But we don't have to talk if you don't want to."

Draco's shoulders tensed back up, and Potter kissed them, hand moving off Draco's belly to rub gently at his back. All the while, he murmured soothing nonsense that Draco did not want to listen to. Because it wasn't all going to be okay. It wasn't going to be fine.

"Nothing about this is fine."

Draco only realized he'd spoken those words out loud when Potter's hand stilled. Potter sighed before going back to the light stroking. "No, it's not. But we can make the best—"

"What precisely is the best of things in this situation, Potter?" Draco could feel the words bubbling up from inside him, pushing against his teeth from where he'd kept them tightly bound. "You hate me. You hate being in England. You hate having to spend every night with me. What about that is fine?"

Potter said nothing, only continued rubbing, and Draco felt himself deflate. Some part of him, a quiet part he didn't like to think about, had been hoping Potter would deny his words.

Finally, too-long later, Potter spoke. "I don't hate you. I don’t think I've hated you since third year."

Draco laughed at that, sounding more hysterical than he cared to hide, and Potter curled up tightly around him and muttered. "I don't make a habit of shagging people I hate."

"But people you dislike are just fine."

There was a huff of hot air against his neck, but he couldn’t tell if Potter had laughed or sighed. "I like you a bit more than you seem to realize, you berk."

"Don't lie to me. Not here, not now."

Potter squeezed Draco tighter. "M'not. You're surprisingly likeable for an arsehole."

Draco shook his head. "You're a fucking—"

"Hey, hey, hey, no." Potter sat up, pulling Draco up with him. "I'm not fucking lying, all right? We get along better than you realize, when you're not making an actual effort to drive me mad. And I think I'm able to tell the difference between Draco-the-Prick and Draco-trying-to-piss-me-off."

Draco clenched his jaw, because Potter was right. He'd been trying to keep that distance because the alternative was too much to think about. "Yes, well. Maybe I don't like you."

Potter sighed. "Maybe you don't. And that's your choice. But my choice is to keep trying. For the baby and for you."

Draco blinked, frowning. "What do you mean?"

Color rose high on Potter's cheekbones, but his gaze was steady. "I mean I'm kinda glad things turned out like this."

"Riiight. Because your life plan included knocking up your booty floo and having to move in with him."

"I didn't say I'd planned it. Just that… I've been thinking. And shut up before you say something arseish to distract me. I've… This thing? I like it. I've always liked it. And at first, yeah, you're a good shag and that was enough but…" Potter's flush had spread over his ears and down his chest, and he rubbed the back of his neck nervously, though his voice was steady. "It's not enough for me. I want this. I want you. More, I mean." Potter took a deep breath. "I mean, I want you for more than a shag."

Draco blinked, because this was not how he'd imagined any conversation going. "More than a shag."

"Merlin, yes. More than a shag. So… I'm glad that this happened. And it's not like I would have thought I wanted, and I'm… I'm babbling and… I'm trying to say I like you, okay? All of it."

"All of it," Draco repeated again, but he couldn't seem to make his mind process Potter's words. Words he never thought he'd hear.

"All of it." Potter's hand was warm against his face, and he leaned into it, only realizing then that he'd started crying. "It'll be hard. We need to figure out our jobs, and where we'll live, and how we're going to do this without killing each other but… Doesn't that sound kinda… great?"

And Potter—Harry—sounded so fucking hopeful that Draco hiccupped a laugh through his tears. "You're barking. Completely barking."

Harry's smile grew at that. "Yeah. That's why we fit. Because you make me that way."

"Yeah." Draco laughed. And then he kissed him.

.~.

Bridegroom,
If you love him as much as you say, you know what he loves: you. Be yourself, and don't worry about romance. Just say the words you've been thinking.
Uncle Plume

.~.