Summary: Draco thinks he is pregnant, but Harry won't believe it for a minute. Regardless, Draco prepares for their child with eagerness.
Notes: Thank you, maltkate22, for beta'ing this chapter! For readers: next chapter on Saturday.
Previous chapters: One
Next chapters: Three, Four
Chapter two: Relationships
The five men were hunched over a table in the middle of a crowded restaurant, which was so thick with laughter, the banging of hungry customers, and the scraping of chairs on the floor that one had to lean forward to hear the person right next to him. In addition to the commotion of the restaurant, the five men were so engrossed in the joke Ron had just told that they almost missed the shrill noise that came into the air. The laughing at their table died down, and they began to look for the source of it.
Dean patted his pockets, removed a mobile phone, and said, "Sorry, this might be important."
Ron watched over his shoulder as Dean slipped past the waitress, who was just returning to them. "Now, what on earth was that gadget?"
"A mobile," Harry replied. "A Muggle telephone you can carry around with you."
"What else will they come up with?"
"Can I have another firewhisky?" Harry asked the waitress. He realized she was standing with their tab in hand, looking very cross to find they weren't all going to leave. She must have been quite busy. He took it from her, and said, "Thanks."
He turned back to the others as she left, to listen to Ron and Neville contemplate the oddities of the Muggle world. Harry was surprised Ron was so out of touch with the Muggles, having dated a couple in the past. When Dean returned, he seemed anxious.
"I've got to run," he said.
"Sorry?" said Seamus, his mouth filled with steak.
"I've got to run," Dean said louder.
"Oh no, we were having a good time," said Neville.
"Well, it's now or never! I think they might be considering me for the job."
While everyone nodded their understanding, Seamus only managed to look bothered. "These executive sorts, they're really bigheaded, aren't they? Calling you whenever they like for an interview?"
"Mr. Stevens is a busy man, and this is the job of my dreams. I'll take what I can get." Dean tossed his share of Sickles onto the table and turned away. He made his way out into the rain, head ducked and hands in his pockets.
Seamus watched him intently as he left.
They fell back into conversation, the swarming, hot restaurant reminding Harry of the murmur of the Great Hall while they were at Hogwarts. He and his former roommates made an effort to meet up here at the Cackling Cauldron once a month so as not to lose touch, and things were as amicable as they had been when they were students. This was the first time in several months all five of them could be present at once, so it was not a huge surprise when Dean had to leave early.
"I wish he'd tell that Stevens fellow to bugger off," said Seamus. "I mean, what's more important? His friends or his job?"
"I'd say his job," said Ron. "Most people like to eat. I bet Dean feels the same way."
"He's been having a hard time finding a newspaper to hire him, hasn't he?" asked Neville.
"Well, yes," Seamus agreed reluctantly. "The Prophet is too high profile for a beginning writer and the Quibbler's a load of crock. But Muggle newspapers? Don't know why he bothers with them."
"Like he said, he'll take what he can get," said Harry, who recalled that he himself had no trouble achieving one of the top-paying mediwizard jobs at Saint Morbus Treatment Center. He had no idea what Dean was going through, but he was sympathetic.
Seamus went on: "I keep telling him that Dad's got a perfectly nice job for him at the shop. He'd be working right beside me and we'd be best mates again."
"The day I see Dean working at a bicycle shop I'll run naked through Knockturn Alley," Ron said around a bite of pie. "Plus, he wants to live near Ginny. He's not going to move all the way to Ireland to do something he knows nothing about."
Seamus snorted. "Ginny..."
"Got something to say about her?"
"I just can't imagine why Dean would revolve his life around some girl he's not even married to."
"That girl is my sister, Finnigan---"
"Oi, lower your voice, Ron," Harry snapped. Harry, too, threw a look at Seamus as if to say, I'll beat you if you talk rudely about Ginny Weasley.
"Look," said Seamus, "I'm just saying he'd be better off if he'd stop chasing around a job that he never gets and a relationship that's never been very serious."
"They have been together since Hogwarts," said Harry.
"Off and on," Seamus reminded him.
"Well," Neville added quietly. "It sounds to me like you're jealous."
Seamus looked aghast. He leaned toward his soup, picking up his spoon as he answered. "I am not jealous."
They spoke of happier things throughout the rest of supper, only interrupted by the reappearance of the waitress with Harry's firewhisky. (She noticed they were still focused on their meals, and walked away with her fingers tapping madly against her thigh.) Neville was considering asking a young lady, who he'd met at a gardening convention, to marry him. Ron, with waving arms and wide eyes, told them how sure he was that the Wigtown Wanderers would be pulverized in their match against the Applebee Arrows.
"So, Harry," said Neville, while Seamus and Ron argued about the competence of the Arrows' Beaters. "How is Draco?"
"Sorry?" A new group of customers were making a lot of racket next to them, taking their seats.
"How is Draco?"
"Nothing new going on?"
"I haven't seen him in a while."
"He looks the same."
"Maybe we could get together sometime---you and Draco, me and my girl---a double sort of date. I know a great restaurant---quiet---"
"I don't think," Harry said uneasily, "I don't think Draco likes...restaurants."
Neville lifted his eyebrows. "He doesn't like---?"
"Damn it!" Harry barked.
Everyone at the table looked at him.
He hadn't meant it to come out that loud. He'd only wanted to avoid getting together with Neville, for reasons he didn't care to think about just now, but his frustration at not being able to think of a polite way to decline had boiled up and shot right out of him. He took a breath, deciding to change the subject.
"Er," he said. "I forgot: Hermione asked me to pick up a starter broomstick for Roger while I'm in Diagon Alley. I should go."
"The kid's six years old! He doesn't have a starter yet?" Ron asked.
"They live in a Muggle area. What do you expect?" Harry gathered his summer cloak and slung it over his shoulder, not looking at Neville. "I need to get to Quality Quid before it closes."
"I'll come with you," said Ron.
The four paid their respective amounts and went outside, where they parted with pats on the back and promises to meet again. The sky was gray with clouds but the rain had stopped, and Harry shielded his eyes from the sun as he and Ron pushed their way up the street. Even though Quality Quidditch Supplies was closing in a half hour, children were running amok in the racing broom section, employees were worrying over hagglers, and one gray cat thought it his duty to stride about looking imperiously upon the disorder.
Harry went off on his own and quickly found the sturdiest looking starter broom. It was red and gold and made him wish he'd known the sport as a child.
After a walk around the store, he found Ron leaning against a shelf; he was mooning over a voluptuous woman. She looked a bit top-heavy to balance on a broomstick.
"32 Gardenia Circle," she murmured with dark red lips, and wrote it on a bit of parchment and slipped it into Ron's hand. She sauntered away, eyeing Harry discreetly. Ron noticed him looking at the parchment.
"Her floo address," said Ron, his eyebrows waggling. "She invited to come over Tuesday."
"She's a model. She was here buying copies of a magazine for women's Quidditch things she posed in."
"Right. What about Martha?"
"Martha. I thought you were seeing someone named Martha."
"Oh. Yeah, Harry. Martha's incredible."
Draco was startled when he heard the door slam that evening. Usually when Harry went out with his friends they stayed late into the night, but---he checked the clock on his bedside table---it was only 8:15.
He was surrounded in his most recent baby purchases. Hermione had told him about a store in Scotland, where he had flooed this afternoon, that had all the best infants' robes, and they all came pre-made, whereas at Madam Malkin's one had to have most items customized. He was fond of the white ones with intricate designs on the cuffs, and longed to show them to Harry to see whether he approved, but Harry still didn't believe in Draco's pregnancy.
Draco hastily put the robes into his shopping bag and stashed it in his own wardrobe. Harry never looked in there.
Harry was with Weasley in the sitting room, talking about Quidditch. Draco peered around the doorway while Harry produced two tumblers and invited Weasley to take a seat.
"Don't start drinking," Draco called. "You said you had to be at work early tomorrow."
They turned and noticed him. Harry smiled at him in greeting, but ignored his words.
"The Wanderers have got an amazing replacement Keeper waiting for a shot," Weasley was saying. "If Damon would break his arms or something, they'd have a chance at winning.
"I thought you hated the Wanderers. You sound like you want them to win," Harry replied.
"Nah, but it'd be interesting if the match were more competitive."
"Like when Potter and I played each other," said Draco, strolling in and slumping on the arm of Harry's chair.
Weasley looked up in thought. "Yes. Just like that, I suppose."
"I was the most amazing thing Hogwarts had ever seen. Of course, the only reason Potter ever beat me was because I was too busy with my studies to pay attention to something as silly as Quidditch."
"Right," Harry laughed, resting his hand on Draco's arm.
"Did you eat, then?" Draco asked, and kissed him on the head.
"It didn't occur to me to bring you something back."
"I had leftover lasagna, anyway."
Harry didn't object when Draco removed the tumbler from his hand, grimaced at its contents, and handed it back.
"You remind me of my father when you drink brandy," he said, and padded out of the room.
Weasley had been staring at their scene with his ugly weasel eyes. Draco was never comfortable with the fellow and hadn't expected to be in the room for long, but those eyes, unwavering as they were, drove him away quicker than he might have preferred. He went into the kitchen for a bottle of water and returned to the bedroom to read Uterus Schmuterus: Pregnancy Is for Everyone.
Half an hour later Harry came in, showered, and crawled into bed.
"Weasley gone?" Draco asked.
"Tired? It's only nine."
"Not really. But I have to be up at five."
He watched Harry beat his pillow until it resembled a pancake and flop onto his side. Draco tried finishing his chapter, but something was nagging at his mind. He stuck a ribbon into his book, capped his water bottle, and snuggled up to Harry's back.
"Are you asleep yet?"
"Oh." Draco leaned over Harry's shoulder to see his eyelids flutter. It would probably be best to talk about this when he was half asleep. "Harry?"
"Just had a question."
"Um. Do you think it would be a good idea if we...?"
"What is it?" Harry mumbled, burying his face into the pillow.
"Well, I wonder, do you think it would be a good idea to get married?"
There was silence, a stomach twisting silence during which Draco laid his head against Harry's shoulder and hoped, if Harry was going to be a prat about this, that he had fallen asleep before Draco had finished the question.
Harry sighed at last. "What?" he asked.
"You heard me, Potter."
"Haven't we talked about marriage before?"
"Yes. You said you wanted to."
"And we agreed that we were both too busy right now to deal with it. When the time comes we'll think about it then."
Draco wasn't surprised at how awake Harry sounded now. He was often snappish about the subject. When they last discussed it, they had agreed it was too complicated a time to arrange such a thing, but that was months ago, when Draco was still going through mountains of paperwork, trying to gain his parents' estate, and it was over with now. The only thing Harry was busy with was his job, and that wasn't going away.
"I want to get married," said Draco. "I don't want to float around without being legally connected to you in some way."
Harry turned over to face him. "Is this about you being pregnant?"
"Merlin..." Harry sighed. "You have this idea that you're pregnant. Are you hounding me about marriage because you think that?"
"Hounding you?" Draco asked, annoyed. "I'm not hounding you. I'm asking you a simple question."
"A question that you already know the answer to."
"Potter!" Draco sat up and put his head in his hands. He felt Harry's eyes on him. "I want to have an ideal life for our baby."
"We already decided you weren't pregnant."
He whipped around. "Nothing was decided! You were scared of the subject, so you refused to pay attention it. But I know I'm pregnant, and I want to be prepared when the baby comes."
"Why do you have to be so difficult? Why do you think you're pregnant?"
"I don't think a thing! I know, damn it."
Harry rolled out of bed and strode to the other end of the room with his hands on his hips. He opened the curtains and watched the city lights out the window. It was all a blur, Draco knew, as Harry's glasses were on his bedside table, but it calmed Harry to look out at scenery; Draco supposed he liked to know there were other people out there with big problems to worry about, and he had it easy in their comfortable flat.
Draco walked to his wardrobe. He pulled out the bag of robes he'd been looking at, and Harry turned slightly at the sound of crinkling paper. He didn't say anything as Draco dumped the lot on the bed.
"I bought this today," said Draco. A blue cap with little animal ears sewn on top lay closest to him. He picked it up and brought it to Harry. Harry glanced at it, then back to the city. "We could have fun shopping together...I guess. I thought you might like to pick out Quidditch things for the baby. Did you buy Roger's starter broom?"
"Well," said Draco, playing with the cap's stretchy material. "Wouldn't you like to buy things for our own child? I found some shirts with footballs on them. I couldn't find anything with brooms or Snitches at the shop I went to. It's sort of a cross between Muggle and wizard, so they don't have a lot of that."
Harry's arms were folded on his chest. His jaw was tense.
"I don't know why you don't want to believe me, Harry, but I wish you would. It would be so much better if you'd help me with this. And I bet you'd be a good father...."
They stood for a few moments, until Draco began to feel very worried. Harry wasn't moving a muscle. Draco could hardly tell if he were breathing. Finally, he worked up the nerve to run his hands across Harry's shoulders. He didn't respond.
"Come to bed, won't you?" Draco asked.
Harry took in a sharp breath, as if he'd forgotten Draco was there. He unfolded his arms. He closed the curtains. He looked at his toes, which were curled tightly into the carpet. He cleared his throat.
"I think I'll sleep on the sofa," said Harry, and without another word he took his pillow and made his way to the living room.
Victoria was sure she had counted right. She had bought three copies of Snitches for Witches: one for her parents, one for her sister, and one for herself. But she was so proud she was on the front cover of this issue that she had no problem going all the way back to Diagon Alley to buy another copy, as she seemed to have misplaced one. Maybe someone would see her and ask for an autograph.
After finishing her business in the magazine section of Quality Quidditch Supplies, she was ready to pay and go to a more practical shop---Mattie's Magical Makeup was closing early today, so she had to hurry. As she walked past the toddler section she saw a man crouching in the isle. He was holding a tiny Muggle-style shirt that read, "My daddy taught me how to play Quidditch!" Victoria recognized immediately that the man was Harry Potter, and she would have gone on her way if she hadn't thought of the redheaded man who had been with him the other day.
Yes, now she remembered. The redheaded man who had been so nice in bed---Harry Potter had been standing right next to him in this very store, as though monitoring his friend's safety.
"Mister Potter?" she asked.
He stood up and looked at her blankly. "Hello."
"How are you?"
"I saw you here last week with, um, your friend?"
His brow wrinkled in confusion, and then he nodded. "Yes, you had a date with him on Tuesday."
She nearly fanned herself in pleasure because he remembered so much of it. "Well, kind of a date, yes."
"He was very competent. In bed, I mean." He threw a nervous glance at a nearby customer, his Adam's apple bobbing and his hands twiddling in his pockets. Victoria thought she had mentioned the wrong thing. "I'm a model---a fashion model," she said, and held up a Quidditch magazine.
"Oh. How nice."
"That's me right there on the front."
"Yes. It's lovely."
"Has, ah, your friend said anything about me?"
"Mm, no. We don't see each other often, and..."
"Well, I don't think you and he will be...er..."
"He has a girlfriend, doesn't he?"
"No!" Harry paused. "Well, yes."
She looked down at her satin handbag, smiling faintly. "I don't suppose I'm angry, but I didn't know he was dating anyone at the moment. It's funny, really. I felt so guilty when he was at my place. I have a girlfriend, too, you see."
"I suppose that's---oh. Oh, a girlfriend, then?"
"Yes," she laughed. "When I first saw your friend he reminded me of her very much---they have very similar features---and I'd never been with a boy, so I thought 'who better to experiment with?'" Harry looked uncomfortable again, though she didn't know whether it was over the fact that they were discussing his friend's sex life or that he was discussing sex at all with a stranger. She said, "He left so quickly Tuesday that I never even caught his name. Imagine that! We talked a great deal and I never caught his name."
"It's Ron Wea---"
"Oh, don't bother! We celebrities don't want to get too involved with our fans, do we?"
"He was so charming. Shame he's so sad! He told me all about his past relationships. It's usually such a turn off---don't you think?---when your lover does that. But my heart just ached for that poor boy: he told me how sad he was about someone named Adrienne he recently broke up with; and then someone named Bertha--no, wait, Bianca--with awfully strict rules about their relationship; and then there was Cindy, who was very nice but very religious; and then there was---"
Victoria stopped and clicked her tongue. "Mister Potter, just listen to me. I'm telling you these things you probably already know!"
He shrugged politely.
"Oh, you're just as charming as he was, Mister Potter." She laughed again and put her hand on his shoulder. "You don't want me flirting with you, though, do you? I saw you in the papers a few months ago. In a respectable, long-term relationship, are you?"
"How perfect! I intend to have one of those someday. Perhaps I'll be in the papers, too, do you think?"
"Er," he said, eyes flitting to her magazines. "Yes, I bet you will."
In spite of her hopes, he did not continue their talk. He said he had a busy schedule today and needed to continue his shopping, which she thought was admirable. A man of duty. His lover was lucky.
"Mister Potter," she asked before he could turn away, "may I...have your autograph?"
Victoria beamed at him as she took a quill from her handbag. Well, if no one wanted her autograph at least she would have something to brag about to Virginia. Her girlfriend was such a fan!
She watched him slink off with his hands in his pockets, continuing to look attentively at the toddler merchandise.
"Honestly!" Hermione exclaimed when Draco told her about the fight. "I'll give Harry a piece of my mind tonight. What time is he coming over?"
"Right after work," said Draco. "At least, he'd better, or I'll hex him in sensitive places."
"He's really not spoken to you since Sunday?"
"No more than asking me to pass the salt."
"I just don't see what's wrong with him. Harry should be thrilled. He's never had much of a family."
Draco was sitting stiffly on the couch. No matter how Hermione tried to make him relax, with tea or a little massage or recitations from Hogwarts: A History, he couldn't stop thinking about Harry.
"How did you let him know David and I invited the two of you over for dinner tonight?" she asked.
"I don't know. I asked him if he'd like to eat at your place and he shrugged his shoulders. I guess that means he's coming."
Hermione shook her head in exasperation, grasping his arm. Draco wanted to hear the shouts of her children in the background, and wished she hadn't sent them to her parents' house for the evening, so he might have some sort of distraction. It was only the two of them and David, who lounged nearby with a book, occasionally looking over the top to raise his eyebrows at their conversation.
A bell sounded from the kitchen.
"My rolls," said Hermione, and slid away from Draco, touching his shoulder. David offered to get them---he might have been uncomfortable being left alone with Draco---but Hermione swatted him away, and he fell back into his chair.
Draco laid his head back on the sofa. He almost wished Harry would find too much work to do at Saint Morbus and forget to show up. It was tiring trying to make Harry pay attention to him since their fight and he didn't want to put forth any more effort, especially since Harry was being so stubborn. He would leave for work before Draco woke up and return several hours later than he normally did; so with Harry's constant avoidance and irritability, Draco was feeling isolated and often found himself at Hermione's house even though he knew she and David were busy with the children.
David cleared his throat, taking off his reading glasses and sitting forward. It was such a funny gesture for someone who didn't tend to acknowledge Draco, besides in kind hellos and goodbyes, that he found himself looking up expectantly.
"You know, Hermione gave me a magical shrub for my twenty-fifth birthday," said David. "I liked it...a lot, I mean, but I didn't react much at all, and Hermione thought I was disappointed that she hadn't bought me a book or a new fishing pole or something she would have normally bought me."
"Oh," Draco said awkwardly. "That's too bad."
"Well, not exactly. It turned out fine in the end. Hermione had known I enjoyed gardening, and we only had a few herbs and flowers in the backyard at the time, so she'd went with her instincts, and her instincts told her I might like to try expanding on that garden. She was right, but the problem was, as you may have guessed, I'm not a wizard---so how was I supposed to take care of this new plant?"
"Hermione didn't think of that?"
"For once, oddly enough, she hadn't thought of everything. And that was our dilemma: she thought I was disappointed in her gift, when really I just didn't want to disappoint her by reminding her there was no way I could take care of the shrub."
"Well, what happened?"
"You see that out there?" David and Draco looked out the window, but there was nothing but blackness. "Ah...no, you don't, I guess. But if it were daytime, you'd see a beautiful, expansive garden, and it was all because of that magical shrub. Magical plants grow faster and influence other plants to grow, too---you knew that, didn't you?"
"Yes. First year Herbology."
"Well, there you have it."
David smiled embarrassedly. "My mother often tells me I go off subject when I'm talking. What I meant to say is that I finally got the courage to tell Hermione what the problem was, and, lo and behold, she understood completely and we were fine with one another again. I ended up digging the holes and standing aside, while she did all the magical stuff, but..."
"Um, I'm sorry..." said Draco. "I don't know why you're telling me this."
"My mother also tells me I'm no good at advice. Well" ---David dragged a hand through his hair--- "I thought that, after hearing your conversation with Hermione, it sounded a lot like my birthday present situation. Maybe, well, Harry has something on his mind that's keeping him from warming up to this pregnancy...something that you haven't considered or that has nothing to do with you."
"Do you think I've been selfish?"
"I think there's more to Harry's reaction that you might assume."
So David thought he was selfish. Draco looked at his hands, remembering how Harry avoided mention of the baby and marriage, and how until their recent spat Harry hadn't turned away from Draco, really, just the subjects that Draco wanted to discuss. He didn't know what Harry could be hiding, though....
There wasn't much time to consider that, because Hermione came into the room and, to Draco's surprise, Harry came in behind her. He had an upset look on his face. Draco hoped she had crushed him with her fury.
"When did you get here?" Draco drawled.
"Few minutes ago," said Harry.
Hermione sat on the arm of David's chair, her hand on his shoulder. "So what did you two talk about while I was gone?"
"Politics," said David, and returned to his book.
"Dinner is cooling. It'll be ready in a couple minutes."
Harry settled beside Draco, much closer than he'd been doing lately, and leaned so that his nose squashed against Draco's temple. "Sorry," he said.
"Did Hermione tell you to say that?" Draco replied carelessly.
"Yes. But I was going to anyway."
Draco glanced at Hermione and David, who seemed far too absorbed in each other for likelihood, and then back to Harry. "Where have you been?"
"I went home after work. Then I went for a drive because I needed to think."
"Hermione, is it time to eat yet?" Draco asked.
"Um, yes. We can eat now." She and David rose together, but when Draco tried to move Harry held him back.
"We'll be in the kitchen in a second," said Harry. Overconfident prick. Harry spoke again as soon as the others had left. "I told you I was sorry. Do you not believe me?"
"Unlike you, I don't assume my lover is lying to me whenever I hear something unusual."
"What's so unusual about me being sorry?"
"You've been such a bastard lately that I've completely forgotten there's good side to you."
"Fine! Yeah. I know I've been rude to you this week, but why are you being rude back only now that I'm trying to apologize for it?"
The anger melted inside Draco. Perhaps it had to do with the pitiful frown line between Harry's eyebrows. He let out an audible breath. "I don't know."
Harry closed his eyes for a moment. He opened them and put his arm around Draco. It was warm. Draco leaned into it.
"Don't be angry with me," said Harry.
"I'm not. Anymore. I just want you to believe me."
"That's what I was going to tell you before. I've been doing a lot of thinking and...well, I've decided that I do believe you."
Draco pulled back so he could see Harry's face clearer. The frown line between his eyebrows was deeper, more serious, and, as far as Draco could tell, his hand was shaking gently where it lay on his knee. He rested his hand over Harry's.
"You do?" Draco asked.
"Why are you nervous?"
Liar. When Draco shifted forward again, pressing his shoulder into Harry's chest, a heartbeat pattered wildly against him.
"So we're having a baby," said Draco.
"I guess so."
"Are you going to tell me why you didn't believe me in the first place?"
Harry's breathing paused. For a moment, all they heard was clatter in the kitchen, and then Harry said, "I don't think it matters."
"Won't you tell me?"
"Please, don't push me on this. I've admitted that I believe you, but it's still bad knowing..."
"You'll probably hate me for it---knowing that I want to take you in for a test before we make any preparations. We can't be sure until you've seen a mediwizard who knows about this sort of thing."
Two very annoying fingers were on Draco's lips. "Humor me. I'm open to the possibility of a baby, isn't that enough?"
"You're---" Draco shook his head. Suddenly he smiled. "You're a stupid prick."
Harry's cheeks turned red. "All right..."
"I hate you."
Draco hugged him close. "Do you want to get married?"
"Oh god," Harry laughed, slumping forward in what looked to be exhaustion. After wearing his throat dry with what were either chuckles or heaves of pain, he sat up and wiped his eyes on the heel of his hand, and yanked Draco onto his mouth. It made Draco swell with joy that, for the very first time, Harry stopped himself and was deliberately gentle when his hands touched Draco's midsection, as though frightened that Draco and the baby would be smashed into pieces.
They were still kissing passionately when Hermione came in to tell them dinner was getting cold.