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Of Horcruxes and Kings

by excentrykemuse

Rating: Explicit

Archive Warnings: Major Character Death, Rape/Non-Con, Underage

Warnings: language, slash, chan (15), mpreg, character death, child prostitution, incest, blood play (vampires), noncon (prestory), dubcon, inter-species relationships (vampire/human), Bellatrix Lestrange

Category: M/M

Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling

Relationships:
Harry/Octavian (OMC); Daphne Greengrass/Viktor Krum, Daphne Greengrass/Marcus Flint, Justin Finch-Fletchley/Original Female Character, Draco Malfoy/Astoria Greengrass

Additional Tags: Mpreg

Words: 93837

Summary:

Sequel to Of Princes and Fireflies. AU HP7. Harry threw the book into the fire, his face set. He didn't care if he was a horcrux—he wasn't going to die and leave Octavian alone, and the rest of the wizarding world be damned. SLASH.

Chapter 1: Prologue


Prologue—
And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie, that kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
—Milton, “On Shakespeare”

Draco ran through the night, his mind still at the Astronomy Tower where he’d been forced to leave his brother, the boy he had wanted for so long and then hated when he thought—he thought—

That, though, was now in the past. His father hadn’t committed adultery, instead a filthy half-blood had cast the Imperius Curse on him, creating life in Octavian; destroying it in his mother, the infamous and hauntingly beautiful la Princesse; nearly tearing it apart for Draco when he learnt the truth his third year—or what he had thought was the truth.

He could remember it so clearly. It had been only the first day of classes and he had been barely able to sleep the night before. He had delighted in the tales of a boy on the train who had nearly fainted at the Dementor attack. He’d only wished it had been Potter; that would have been so much better.

Rather apathetically he had watched the sorting until a name had been called, changing his perception of the world. A small boy, with dark blond hair and a tremulous smile, walked up to the stool and had the Hat put on his head. He carried himself like a Pureblood, all grace and entitlement yet with a shyness that confused Draco until he noticed the boy’s full lips that were so like his father’s, the high cheekbones, the eyes that, though onyx-colored instead of the Black gray, were shaped like his own. His features were slightly less pointed, but the resemblance was unmistakable.

It was almost like looking at a mirror that showed you yourself two years before, slightly distorted yet still true.

The hat, after several minutes, called ‘Hufflepuff,’ and Draco could feel the shame burning in his throat. This boy, this Malfoy, was worthless, being sorted into the house for Dunderheads and pretty-boys who couldn’t be bothered with any decent virtue.

He thought it couldn’t be any worse, until the rumors began the next day. Foolishly, he’d sought out Octavian, pulled him into an empty classroom and looked over his features. “Who’s your father?” he demanded, but the boy hadn’t responded.

It had been answer enough.

“Curious that there’s a Black that I didn’t know of,” Bellatrix sang happily as her words broke Draco out of his thoughts.

He looked about and saw that they were in the Forbidden Forest, the unearthly green glow of the Dark Mark haunting the shadows as well as flames from what appeared to be what was left of Hagrid’s Hunt.

Served the giant right. He was nothing but a terrifying, large, filthy half-breed. Draco rued the day he had decided to take Care of Magical Creatures. If he had known the oaf was going to teach, he would have signed up for Ancient Runes or even Divination.

“What’s his full name, Draco? Your little brother?”

“Octavian Nür—for someone and then for Father.”

“Prince,” Snape spat, coming up beside them, “is not a Black.”

“A Black by marriage,” Aunt Bellatrix sing-songed, tapping Snape lightly on the cheek with her wand. Draco thought it rather menacing. “A Black in every way that matters.”

She grabbed Draco’s arm and he closed his eyes, preparing himself for the feeling of side-along Apparition. Although he knew how to Apparate, he wasn’t of age—not that it mattered considering he had just killed Albus Dumbledore in cold blood.

His feet slammed against cold earth and he staggered, trying to keep his balance. Bellatrix instantly released him, a smile on her red lips, her hair wild about her, before she flung herself in the arms of her waiting husband.

Draco turned away, not really wanting to see their interactions. He’d been scarred enough when he first met them. Muggles had invented closed doors for a reason.

He moved away from them and into the small cottage they had come to, hoping there was a fireplace and Floo powder so he could go home to his mother. She needed to be told, before Bellatrix informed the Dark Lord.

Once, a year or so ago, he’d found a beautifully bound book that turned out to be a Muggle play about witches and magic. He’d read it from cover to cover in a matter of hours before his father found him and informed him it was a gift for someone else—and with his words Draco had known it was for his half-brother.

Strangely, it came into his head again, the ramblings of Lady Macbeth about her hands being stained with blood floating across his consciousness.

Draco looked down his hands. They were smooth, untainted, and despite the fact that they were forever be stained with the murder of the greatest wizard of Modern English history, he knew that he would never regret it.

Chapter 2: Part the First

Chapter Text

Part the First—
How sweetly did they float upon the wings of silence, through the empty-vaulted night, at every fall smoothing the raven down of darkness till it smiled!
—Milton, Comus

Harry’s hand protectively rested on Octavian’s flat stomach as the world continued on around them. He counted Octavian’s steady breaths—in, out, in, out—seventeen, twenty-nine, forty-seven, one hundred and fifteen—in, out, in again. How he adored this small wizard who slept peacefully, protecting the unborn life of their little girl. Romola—Romola Lux Black. She was to be named for the founder of Rome.

A small smile spread on his face as he took in Octavian’s peaceful face. His cheekbones were high, his features angular, his lips smooth and slightly full unlike his brother’s, which were thinner. Honey blond hair fell gracefully to his shoulders, perhaps a little bit past that now, not quite straight and yet without any definitive wave to it. He could see little of Octavian’s mother in his features—the handsome and austere Lucrece Prince. The hair perhaps was somewhere from the Prince line, as were his beautiful black eyes. The rest was his sire, Lucius Malfoy. He was a softer version of the older wizard, more handsome, slightly more graceful though no less masculine. He was lithe like a Chaser or even a Seeker would have to be, although he didn’t know if Octavian even favored the sport. He certainly didn’t play to Harry’s knowledge, had never wanted to ride Harry’s Firebolt, though now with a child on the way that would certainly have to wait.

Perhaps when it was all over Octavian would help him teach their little Romola how to fly. They’d buy her the perfect training broom when she turned three and would stand beside her as she hovered a few inches in the air.

He would bestow all the love his over-filled heart could possess on their little girl, who already had such a strong claim on his heart now that Harry knew she would be born in a little more than eight months. Octavian, his selfless husband, had given him a family as Harry had always wanted, and although he thought his heart could never love him more, he found that Octavian was dearer to him than ever before.

Members of the Order of the Phoenix milled around them, but Harry barely paid attention, too intent on his sleeping husband, who looked so peaceful despite the trials they had endured.

Death Eaters had invaded Hogwarts. Harry wasn’t quite certain how, though it didn’t matter. He had rushed after Octavian to the top of the Astronomy Tower only to find himself immobilized against the wall, his invisibility cloak hiding him from the assembled Death Eaters and the trapped Dumbledore, who Malfoy—Draco Malfoy—his brother-in-law had cast the killing curse on him to save the lives of his parents and to protect Octavian from Snape, the disgusting cur who had cast the Imperius Curse nearly sixteen years ago on Lucius Malfoy so that he would violate Lucrece, creating Octavian.

His head was still swimming with all the revelations that short half hour had granted him. Snape was the Half-Blood Prince. Draco, for now he must be Draco as he was family, was his brother-in-law, Lucius his father by marriage. Snape had ruined Lucrece Prince’s life, causing her to be cast out of pureblood society and into obscurity, labeling his precious Octavian a bastard all because he was in love with Harry’s own mother and feeling vindictive the day after she died.

If Harry ever got his hands on Snape, he silently swore that he would choke the life out of the bastard himself. Magic was too good for him.

Octavian sighed in his magical sleep and he turned slightly toward Harry, seeking him out. Harry placed a trembling hand against Octavian’s cheek, alerting his unconscious mind to his continued presence, and smiled when Octavian nuzzled closer.

They were finally free of Dumbledore’s machinations—he was gone. Harry never would have wished the man dead, but still, they were free, and with a quiet lie Harry had protected his husband’s brother and condemned the man who had plunged Octavian’s family into continuing heartbreak: Snape killed Dumbledore.

Now Voldemort would be out for the bastard Snape’s blood as Octavian had requested punishment for his crimes through Bellatrix Lestrange, and the Order wouldn’t give him sanctuary if he ever came running to them. Snape was barred, an outcast, and he wouldn’t even be able to find refuge at Grimmauld Place as just before Dumbledore’s death, the Fidelius Charm had been recast with Harry as the only secret keeper. He needed to give Octavian a home, somewhere safe, a place to raise their family, although neither of them planned on it being quite so soon.

Octavian was still so young, Harry thought plaintively to himself. Not even fifteen, and yet he had given him this precious gift, albeit unintentionally, and Harry would always be grateful.

Leaning forward he pressed his lips against Octavian’s sleeping mouth, gently kissing his darling husband, willing him to slumber, to be strong, to get better for their little one and for himself. His hand stroked Octavian’s stomach, tucked gently beneath the black shirt that Octavian often wore to bed.

Sounds filled his senses as the Weasleys continued to cry over the death of their youngest, Ginny, who had died in the attack somehow. Harry had seen her briefly when she sent a hex toward Octavian who easily immobilized her with a flick of his wand after disarming her. He must have taken the Felix Felicis Harry left with him in case of an emergency. Octavian had left her there, moving on, but Harry had freed her from her prone position, though now a small sliver of his mind absently wondered if she died because she never recovered her wand.

He had known she was desperate. She had schemed with Hermione to try and end Harry’s marriage to Octavian and then, when she realized it was impossible, she tried to convince Harry to leave the wizarding world with her. Their children wouldn’t have to be illegitimate and spit upon by society like Octavian had been, Ginny had reasoned. They could be as Muggle-borns if they did it correctly. He’d thought she had stooped as low as she would go at that, but attacking Octavian in a battle caused him to lose any brotherly affection he might have still held for her.

He looked over briefly and saw her lying a few beds down, a mass of red hair covering her severely scarred body. It seemed like something had ripped her apart, either several curses or perhaps even claws. Her once pretty face was marred and a mottled blue, the lingering effects of a hex, her hair even singed in some places. It had not been an easy death, he noted absently before his eyes continued on. Anthony Goldstein had suffered a much more peaceful death, he noticed, his face unmoving and partially covered with a sheet and Hermione Granger—

Harry sighed.

Her parents hadn’t arrived yet, if they had been called at all. No one stood around her bed to mourn her, Ron sitting listlessly at Ginny’s feet, his eyes partially closed as near-silent tears dripped down his blotched face.

Luna Lovegood rested in a corner, clearly sleeping; her arm appeared shattered in several places and must have been magically healing. It looked painful, but still she would survive.

Then there was Bill who was in the next bed over, his eyes closed in pain as angry scars ran across his face. Fleur Delacour sat quietly at his bedside, gently stroking his hair as he tried to fall into slumber.

“Look,” he heard Tonks say from somewhere behind him. “Look, Remus. She still loves him—she doesn’t mind that he might be infected.”

He turned quietly and saw Remus sitting dejectedly on one of the few free beds, his bright eyes roaming over the bodies of the dead. Tonks, whom Harry had known was in love with Remus since the previous February, was standing close to him, her hair a nondescript mousy brown.

Harry swallowed. He was related to Tonks by marriage—well, almost. She was his brother-in-law’s cousin. It was a strangely small world after all.

Come to think of it, though, his grandmother had been a Black as well, so he was also related to her by blood somehow too. As soon as he and Octavian took up residence at Grimmauld Place he would have to inspect the tapestry and, if both of them did not appear on it, he wouldn’t rest until the wretched thing was removed.

“Yes, I can see,” Remus responded, pulling Harry out of his thoughts. Remus’s eyes were trained on Bill and Fleur, almost wistfully, before turning to rest on Harry’s hand which was still stroking Octavian’s stomach possessively. His amber eyes glinted knowingly and Harry sat up straighter, tensing.

Remus gave him a quiet smile and a slight nod and Harry relaxed. Their secret would be kept. He should have known Remus would have known, that he might have smelled the child or put all the pieces together.

Octavian shifted again, pulling Harry’s attention back to him and Harry sighed in relief as he saw a small smile on Octavian’s face, softening his features in his sleep. As soon as it was safe, Harry would take Octavian back to their makeshift room in Hufflepuff and tuck him in tightly. It was the only home they had known so far, and Harry didn’t like so many people milling about, looking at Octavian curiously. His husband should never be on display.

“They’ll be happy,” he heard Tonks persist. “They’ll work around the—illness—and age doesn’t matter. Remus, I’m in love with you, you know I am.”

“I’m too old for you,” Remus responded harshly and after a brief moment, he continued, “and I don’t return your feelings, Tonks. I never will.”

Harry could hear the hollowness in his voice, the quiet untruth, and continued to rub Octavian’s stomach before leaning down and pressing a soft kiss against it, his eyes closing in silent thanks that Romola hadn’t been hurt in the turmoil.

“Remus,” Tonks said desperately, but she stopped when Harry heard the rustling of cloth.

A moment later, Remus appeared in his vision, sitting on the other side of Octavian’s bed, looking at his quiet face. “Your husband is well?” he asked quietly, his face worn and tired.

Harry nodded absently. “Yes. They’re both fine,” he whispered. “I—I didn’t know. Octavian never told me he took the potion,” he confessed in a moment of weakness, needing to tell someone. He was so happy, so relieved, and so worried.

He didn’t know what was going to happen, he needed to keep both of them safe; Harry loved both his husband and their little girl with his entire being.

“He’s a Malfoy,” he continued, his emotions swirling almost out of control. “Lucius Malfoy is his sire. I’m related to Lucius Malfoy. He tried to kill me last year and he’s my father-in-law. I think I’m going mad because I don’t even really mind, I just hope he doesn’t try it again because Octavian adores him and I don’t want to have to witness the falling out over it.”

Remus chuckled tiredly, drawing attention to both of them.

“And Snape—Snape is my cousin by marriage. Snape, the backstabbing bastard! He was in love with Mum, did you know? They were childhood friends or something and—and—he’s twisted and a half-blood, Remus.”

Octavian stirred under Harry’s touch and he stilled, looking worriedly down at him, noticing that Octavian was moving closer to his voice.

“People are dead,” he whispered brokenly, his heart breaking quietly for a moment over Hermione’s death—as angry as they had become at each other, she was still his childhood friend. He never wanted her hurt, dead. Never that. He quickly buried the thought. “I saw Dumbledore murdered by—Snape killed Dumbledore and I saw it with my own eyes.” He took in a deep breath, his eyes lovingly tracing Octavian’s every feature. “But it doesn’t matter—nothing matters except that he’s well and safe and that as soon as he regains his strength, I can show him just how much I love him.—Mon amour, mon fiancé, mon mari, mon Octavian.”

“I think James would know exactly what you’re talking about,” Remus whispered after a long pause. “Lily was his entire world ever since he first saw her on the Hogwarts Express before our first year. I wasn’t there, but Sirius was and he would often joke about it.” He chuckled again. “She was a spitfire and, well, James insulted Severus Snape, her dearest friend. She instantly hated him and James. Well, James loved every moment of it and was determined to get her approval. It took him over six years, but it was always Lily. Everything was Lily and as long as she was alive and well, he was happy.”

Harry looked at Remus with wide eyes.

“Don’t get me wrong. He liked his pranks, enjoyed taunting Snape, and his heart broke when his parents passed away just before you were born, but Lily was everything and then when you were conceived—his eyes would just light up whenever he spoke about you, his Prongslet. James’s love would move mountains without using his magic and yours, well, yours seems to be the same.” He glanced over Harry’s shoulder, supposedly where Tonks still sat. “That sort of love makes anything pale in comparison and we mere mortals look constantly for it. Of course, most of us never find it, but you, Harry, you love so completely like your father. It’s a rare gift. Safeguard your husband well.”

Someone sniffed and Harry glanced around to see Mrs. Weasley staring at him with disapproval in her eyes. Harry’s hand tightened instinctively against Octavian’s stomach, giving a gentle pressure that caused Octavian to shift nearer to him again.

“Henri Jacques,” he murmured and Harry leaned down and kissed his upturned lips.

“I’m here,” Harry promised softly. “You’re safe. Nothing can hurt you.” He ran his hand through Octavian’s honey colored hair and just breathed in his familiar scent. Milk and honey, a taste of heaven on earth.

Octavian reached out for him instinctually and pulled him closer until Harry was lying half on the bed.

“Give me a hand?” he asked Remus, who stood up and shifted Octavian slightly over to the side so that Harry could curl around him on the narrow bed.

Harry laughed lightly into Octavian’s hair as soon Octavian had entwined their limbs, resting his head just beneath Harry’s chin.

“You’re a good looking couple,” Remus remarked casually and Harry smiled tiredly back at him.

“Of course we are. Octavian is a Malfoy after all, and I’ve never met one that isn’t handsome at the very least.” He stroked the side Octavian’s cheek and then traced his high cheekbones. “I think Octavian, though, is simply stunning. Draco doesn’t hold a candle to him.”

He could feel startled gazes resting on them, but it was Fleur who fortunately broke the silence. “I ‘ave not met zees Draco as you call ‘im, but I am certain you are right, ‘Arry.”

“Well, he doesn’t have a French accent,” Harry teased her and she blushed slightly. “It makes all the difference.”

“Yes, well,” Mrs. Weasley sniffed, bustling over to Bill’s bedside now that most of her tears had been spent for her daughter. “I suppose Bill will just have to get over the French Withdrawal or whatever he calls it, what with everything.”

Fleur bristled visibly at her implication. “Whatever do you mean?” she snapped angrily, flipping her hair over one shoulder.

“Why, it’s simple. Now that Bill is injured and will be permanently scarred, there’s nothing you can possibly want with him anymore.”

“Beell,” Fleur retorted, “eez my fiancé. I do not care about zee scars. Zey make ‘im dashing and I am pretty enough for zee both of us!”

“You cannot possibly—“

“Zee wedding weell continue as planned,” Fleur stated firmly, “een August.”

Mrs. Weasley looked incredibly flustered. “But Ginny—she—“

“Eet eez ‘orrible, of course,” Fleur said sadly. “I am sure zat Beell weell mees ‘er dreadfully, but ‘e needs to know zat nothing ‘as changed, zat ‘e eez accepted and loved. Unless ‘e asks for a delay ‘e needs normalcy.”

“Why you heartless,” Mrs. Weasley began, but Fleur ignored her, erecting another privacy bubble over Bill and Octavian’s beds.

“Finally. I do not like Mrs. Weasley,” she confessed to Harry. “She eez determined to theenk zee worst of me. Eef I postponed, she would accuse me of not really wanting Beell and call me a liar when I eenseested I did. I ‘ave no reason to lie.”

Remus looked slightly put-off by her passionate declaration.

Fleur glanced over at Ginny’s bed, which was still surrounded by most of her brothers. Percy was noticeably absent among them.

“I need a bridesmaid,” she murmured before casting a quick glance at Harry. “You saved my seester from zee lake,” she stated quietly, even though no one apart from Remus could hear them, “and I know zee Weasleys do not support your marriage even zough zey should.”

Harry looked up at her, startled. “What are you saying?”

“Octavian ‘as seemilar coloring to my seester and would look magnifique in gold robes.”

Harry licked his lips and glanced down at Octavian’s sleeping form. “You want Octavian to be in your wedding party?”

“Oui, ‘Arry. I weesh to show support and Beell is fond of you, as well. I did not much like Geenny anyway. She called me ‘Phlegm’ and thought I deed not know. Of course I knew. I ‘ave ears!”

Harry winced. He had known as well but had done nothing to curb Ginny’s intense dislike of her future sister-in-law. It was now too late, however.

“I’m certain Octavian would be happy to accept. We haven’t, though, received a proper invitation to my knowledge.”

Fleur’s eyes narrowed angrily. “I gave eet to Mrs. Weasley several months ago. You and Veektor ‘ave special ones as we were all champions together.” She pouted. “Eet eez for zee first of August.”

Harry nodded against Octavian’s hair. “That shouldn’t be a problem. Just drop us a note. I think Octavian likes to keep those things organized. . .” His voice trailed off. Really, he didn’t know if Octavian did or not, but ever since they had consummated their marriage, Octavian had preferred to run their lives with a quiet but steady will and to do everything possible to take care of Harry as, Octavian reasoned, Harry was now his husband and it was his honor to do so.

Of course, Harry loved to spoil and protect Octavian, so it went both ways.

“What of your wedding? Was eet private?” Fleur asked, her hand running smoothly over Bill’s neck as he slept.

“Yes, just the two of us saying our vows. We were betrothed after all and we didn’t really have a set wedding date.”

She didn’t respond and Harry pressed himself closer to Octavian, raking his fingers through Octavian’s hair. He usually slept with it in a ponytail, but tonight it must have come out or he hadn’t had time to put it in.

Harry had been on his way back to the Hufflepuff Basement, where he now lived since he’d been “Hufflepuffed” or “Badgered” as the other members of Octavian’s house liked to call it, when the Death Eaters had swarmed into the school, casting curses at unsuspecting students. He’d been relieved, thinking that Octavian was safe, but it turned out that Octavian had come out of the dorms specifically to support his brother.

“Fleur,” Harry whispered quietly, a thought crossing his mind, “would it be possible to perhaps invite a few of our friends?—for Octavian. It will be difficult enough for him and a friendly face—“

She shifted so she was looking at him and their eyes locked. “ ‘Oo do you ‘ave een mind?”

He bit his lip, considering. “Daphne and Astoria Greengrass and perhaps Draco Malfoy, unless Bill objects. I’ll make sure he doesn’t say anything about the Weasleys in general—“

“Zey are friends of yours? Both of you?” Her eyes held an open question, as she hadn’t probably ever heard their names before.

“Yes. Daphne’s in my year—a Slytherin, I must admit. She helped me learn etiquette so I could properly woo Octavian.”

“She recommended that book you were always carrying about last Christmas—Spungen’s, I believe,” Remus cut in, a look of comprehension in his eyes.

Harry smiled softly, thinking back to his copy that was safely in his trunk back in Hufflepuff. Octavian still loved to pour over it, especially when his name, which had once been a light gray to symbolize his impure status as an illegitimate scion, became a bold black upon his marriage to a pureblood lord. He hoped that Lucius Malfoy would soon publicly acknowledge Octavian, no matter what his mother-in-law’s opinion on the subject, further cementing Octavian’s place in wizarding society.

“Astoria Greengrass is a Ravenclaw, if I recollect,” Remus continued, “in Octavian’s year.”

“Yes—and she is intimately connected to the House of Malfoy,” Harry whispered, looking down lovingly at his sleeping husband. If Astoria and Draco got their way, Astoria would be the next Lady Malfoy, and knowing Astoria as he did, he didn’t doubt for a moment that it would actually happen as soon as she graduated. Without even fully realizing it, Astoria had Draco wrapped around her finger. Every smile and laugh would light up Draco’s eyes, even if he refused to acknowledge it, and—well—the scent of Amortentia was very telling.

“Zey are pretty, non?” Fleur asked, genuine curiosity in her eyes.

“Yes, I think so,” Harry assured her, and Fleur’s glance fell on Ron, who was now holding Hermione’s still hand. The rest of her was hidden with a sheet.

“Perhaps eet eez just what Ronald needs. ‘Ee eez forever smiling at me, but I ‘ad thought zat perhaps ‘e ‘ad a slight fondness for zee girl ‘oo dated Veektor.”

Harry groaned. “We’ll have to tell Viktor before the wedding. He still writes to her quite frequently even after she wouldn’t come visit him in Bulgaria.”

“Well, zees Daphne perhaps can ‘elp one of zem. Does she ‘ave un petit ami?”

“No. I think she went with Zabini to Slughorn’s party, but she’s free as far as I know, but—er—I don’t think she’d like anyone to try and set her up. She’s rather strong willed when it comes to that sort of thing.”

Fleur shrugged prettily. “Of course. Eet eez just a thought, a perhaps. Veektor does not like Veela so my cousins weell not take ‘is mind from eet.” She paused and glanced suspiciously at Remus, before leaning closer to Harry. “I should warn you, despite your marriage, I believe zee Weasleys steell thought zat Ginny might ‘ave a chance with you. Now zat she eez gone, eet might be more difficult.”

Harry sighed. “I wish they’d just understand that I’m gay. I’d kind of known since the thing with Cho was such a disaster and maybe even a little before that.” He smirked. “My Quidditch captain was very fit, though I always told myself I thought he was a good athlete.”

Remus chuckled quietly to himself. “I think the twins, too, were a little bit in love with him. George especially. Some of the homework they turned in had scribblings about ‘Wood’ in the margin.”

“George?” Harry asked in curiosity. “Really?”

“Mind you, Molly doesn’t know,” Remus warned. “And it’s just an old professor’s suspicion. They might have been planning to prank him just as easily, and Fred’s work mentioned Ron as well, so I could be completely wrong.”

Harry laughed quietly and smiled as Octavian shifted closer to him.

His beautiful Octavian was safe and he had successful cast aside all blame from Draco. Just yesterday, even just earlier that day, he never would have thought he would aid Malfoy. He was friendly with him, he’d been a strange and unexpected ally when he’d married Octavian, though now Harry could see his actions for what they really were—protecting his younger brother from afar.

Still, he was grateful. Not that it mattered quite as much anymore, but he’d put a stop to Ginny’s plottings to end his marriage in one form or another. He’d even begged Harry, on the pretense of asking for Octavian’s mysterious half-brother, to take care of Octavian if he was unable to, and Harry would lay down his life to keep that promise. Octavian was too dear, Octavian was everything—and with that final thought, he drifted off to slumber, his arms curling possessively around his healing husband.

Chapter 3: Part the Second

Part the Second—
And the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe, with loss of Eden.
—Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I

“No,” a voice said firmly, pulling Harry from his slumber. “I’m sorry but until they awaken, no one—and I mean no one—will speak to either of them without either my express permission or Ernie’s. I don’t care who you are.”

Harry knew that voice, it sounded so familiar.

“On whose authority?” It was said gruffly and was definitely feminine, but Harry didn’t recognize this voice at all.

The first voice huffed angrily. “On the authority of the House of Hufflepuff. Lord and Mr. Black are members of our house,” the voice hissed angrily. “They need their sleep and they will get it. Does Madam Pomfrey know you’re trying to disturb her patients?”

There was a shuffle.

“I thought so,” the voice said, sounding smug. Male. It was someone male, someone who knew Ernie well, another Hufflepuff. He’d never quite realized it before this year, but no one was as loyal as a Hufflepuff could be. “In fact, I know for a fact that in the Muggle world you need a signed permission form to actually see a patient unless you’re next of kin. And the next of kin for both the Blacks is behind the partition. Yes—I know you’re Muggles,” he answered the unasked question. “I may be a Muggle-born but I can easily tell the difference.”

Harry pulled himself out of sleep a little bit more and, opening his tired eyes, saw Octavian lying halfway across his chest, a thin arm wrapping possessively around him.

“Non,” Octavian murmured in his sleep, nuzzling closer to Harry’s warmth. “Stay, mon Henri Jacques.”

The voices rose from outside the partition again, causing Octavian to whimper.

Really, Harry thought, this was a hospital and his husband needed his rest. This was absolutely ridiculous. Octavian had seen his brother murder someone else, he had to be emotionally exhausted at the very least, and although Harry knew little about male pregnancies he knew that it was easier to lose the child to miscarriage and he wouldn’t let anything—and he meant anything—cause any harm to either of them, including some loud Muggles who apparently wanted to speak to him for some unimportant reason.

“I’ll be right back,” he whispered against Octavian’s hair, gently pulling himself from his husband’s grasp.

Octavian’s favorite sleeping ensemble was torn in several places and Harry sighed. He’d have to make amends and find Octavian something new to wear. Perhaps his Quidditch jersey would serve, he thought with a predatory glint in his eyes. Harry knew he’d absolutely adore seeing Octavian wearing it.

“Justin Finch-Fletchley,” the first voice was now saying as Harry straightened his clothes.

He sighed out in recognition. Of course. Justin. He hadn’t really spoken much to Justin over the past year. He preferred the company of his closest friends Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott, but both of them were rather protective of Octavian. His husband, also, was a pureblood traditionalist and preferred not to interact with Muggle-borns unless he had to. He was kind to them, considerate, but he didn’t form strong bonds with any of them. His best friends were a pureblood from one of the staunch families, Caspar Summers, and a rather sophisticated and intelligent half-blood who was raised by two magical parents, Aidan Whitby. Nevertheless, it made a certain kind of sense.

“Second son of the Earl of Wintersthorpe,” Justin continued as Harry walked around the corner, his arms folded angrily at the intruders who were disrupting Octavian’s sleep.

Harry was momentarily shocked. “I had no idea, Justin,” he admitted, preferring not to look at Mr. and Mrs. Granger who were standing angrily in front of him. They were clearly trying to make their way into the enclosure, but Justin was standing in their way with his wand drawn and ready.

Justin Finch-Fletchley turned to him, his brown eyes startled to see him standing there. “Dammit,” he swore. “I was hoping that you and Octavian would sleep. You need it, I’m sure.”

Harry smiled at him quietly. “Octavian is fortunately still asleep,” he glared ominously at the Grangers, “but he was beginning to awaken.—Now, what was so important that my husband was denied his rest? This is a hospital, Dr. Granger.”

Mrs. Granger opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, Octavian called out sleepily, “Henri? Draco?”

Harry could hear the desperation in Octavian’s tone, and without looking back he reentered the room and saw Octavian sitting wide-eyed on the bed.

“Henri Jacques, tu es ici,” he breathed out and Harry gently took Octavian in his arms. “J'avais si peur. J'ai rêvé—J'ai rêvé—” His voice trailed off and Harry stroked his hand through Octavian’s tangled hair.

“Shh, je suis ici, mon Octavian. I am well; Draco is well. Romola is well and unharmed.”

“Romola?” Octavian breathed, confused, and Harry looked down into his wide dark eyes.

“Romola,” Harry repeated, resting his hand on Octavian’s flat abdomen. “Why didn’t you tell me about the potion, Octavian? I would have been more careful.”

Octavian bit his lip nervously and his eyes began to water. “D’accord. I should ‘ave known. You do not want ‘er—not yet.”

“Non,” Harry refuted, and he desperately drew Octavian into a soft kiss, brushing his tongue against his soft, honey-flavored lips. “No. Of course I want her. I just worry—you’re so young. You’re not even fifteen.”

Octavian stretched upward, pulling his body closer to Harry’s and kissed the line of his jaw softly. “Je suis désolé. Je t’aime.”

“Je t’aime aussi.”

Harry deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping into the confines of Octavian’s mouth, and he delighted in the quiet gasps he drew from him. Small hands fluttered against Harry’s cheeks, pressing, flickering, trying to grasp and yet to move as Octavian melted into the gentle expression of love.

At the back of Harry’s mind, he realized he could still hear the Grangers arguing with Justin.

“N'es-tu pas fâché?” Octavian asked gently as they finally pulled away, breathing heavily and staring into each other’s eyes.

“I could never be angry,” Harry swore, running his hand affectionately across Octavian’s high cheekbone. “I could never regret having a child with you, mon mari. You’re everything—and now Romola is my everything as well.”

“I said ‘no,’” Justin’s voice cut in angrily and Harry sighed against Octavian’s lips. “This is a hospital and the Earl Black and his husband are not to be disturbed.”

“Who is the Earl Black?” Dr. Granger—well, Hermione’s father; both of her parents were dentists, after all—hissed angrily. “I need to see Harry Potter immediately.”

“What is ‘appening?” Octavian asked quietly, his hands finally resting on the neckline of Harry’s shirt, tugging him closer so that he could not escape.

“The Grangers—they’re being rather insistent about seeing me. Hermione—she died last night.”

Octavian sucked in a harsh breath. “Anyone else?”

“The Earl Black is Harry Potter. He’s inherited a title,” Justin explained calmly.

“And what of this husband you keep on referring to? Such a thing can’t possibly be legal,” Mrs.—Dr.—Granger was now saying angrily. “Hermione never said a thing about it, and, well, it was as plain as day that Harry must have fancied her.”

Octavian’s black eyes flashed even darker.

Harry kissed him gently, noticing that his lips were pressed into a slight pout. Octavian’s lips were far too delicious in Harry’s opinion. “I’ll go take care of it.”

“Mon mari. Mine,” Octavian growled with a slight possessiveness as Harry laid him comfortably, or as comfortable as possible, on the hospital bed.

Harry gently traced the betrothal and wedding rings on Octavian’s left hand. “Always yours,” he agreed before he slipped through the curtain again.

The scene was much as it was before, but now he noticed that a small girl with bushy brown hair was sitting beside Hermione Granger’s bed. She was so young, perhaps no more than thirteen, not even Octavian’s age, and she had such a lost expression on her face. She had to be a relation of some sort, even a sister, but in all of the years Harry had known Hermione he had never heard her mention anyone in her family except for her parents in passing.

He drew his eyes away from the sad scene and rested them on the Grangers again.

Harry noticed that they looked rather frazzled, as if they had just arrived, their clothes thrown hastily on. Their eyes were devoid of any expression except for intense anger and he could clearly see the tear tracks on Hermione’s father’s worn and aged face.

“Justin,” he said quietly. “Would you mind sitting with Octavian? I don’t want him to be alone. What time is it anyway?”

“A little after six in the morning.”

Harry withheld a groan and only nodded. “Thanks.”

“Harry,” Mrs. Granger was now saying. “How the hell did this happen?”

“Perhaps we should take this outside,” he suggested calmly despite the fact that he was full of tumultuous emotions, primarily worry for Octavian and irritation that the Grangers would disturb him when his husband was a patient. “There are patients here after all.”

Without waiting for a response, Harry quickly walked out the doors and waited until the Drs. Granger followed him out again.

“Surely a professor has told you what has happened,” he began icily, leaning tiredly up against the wall. It had been after two, he estimated, by the time he fell asleep. He barely had gotten four hours of rest and, despite the fact that he was a teenager, he needed more sleep than that.

Mr. Granger hastily cut in. “Yes. McGonagall did. She said that terrorists—Death Dealers—“

“Death Eaters,” Harry corrected.

Hermione’s father nodded absently. He had rather large front teeth like Hermione once had, Harry noted absently, another pang of loss coursing through him for a short moment.

“Death Eaters, then—infiltrated the school and that fighting broke out. She said that it appeared Hermione was killed with a slashing hex.”

Harry closed his eyes briefly, trying not to imagine how painful that must have been. Hermione Granger would have slowly bled to death.

“But, well, you’re always with her on her ‘adventures,’” Mrs. Granger put in, an odd hint of both hope and disapproval in her voice. “You would have seen—“

“I haven’t spoken with your daughter for nearly a month,” he admitted, crossing his arms over his chest. “In fact, I told her quite plainly before Christmas that I no longer considered her a friend. I assume she would have told you.”

The Grangers exchanged a perplexed look.

“What exactly do you mean?” Mr. Granger hissed angrily at Harry, but he stood his ground.

“I will not speak ill of the dead and you’ll probably hear more than enough from prejudiced individuals. Ask Ronald Weasley, but he’s in mourning for his sister.”

“So you weren’t there at all?”

“I was with my husband and my brother-in-law,” Harry said, a hint of defensiveness in his voice. “Octavian and his safety is my first priority.”

“How could you do it?” Mrs. Granger whispered brokenly. “I—you’ve saved so many—why not our little girl? How could you?” she almost shrieked.

Harry’s temper flared angrily. “I am not the world’s keeper. It is not my job or duty to save everyone. I’m human, Mrs. Granger—or do you believe the crap that because I’m the Chosen One or the Boy-Who-Lived you have some right to how I live my life? Who I choose to protect?”

He could see the truth in the mourning woman’s eyes. It was exactly what she thought.

“You went and saved Ginny Weasley when you were only a second year.”

“Yes, and now she’s also no more than a corpse, and before you say anything I saved Hermione from a troll our first year.”

“She was my first born,” Mrs. Granger wailed and her husband clutched her to him, his eyes dead and unseeing.

Harry took a steadying breath. “Yes.”

“You could have saved her.”

“No, I couldn’t have. What would you do?” He stared her in the eyes. “If you found yourself in a warzone would you make certain your family was safe or traipse after someone who tried to end your marriage at every possible turn because she believed she was better than your spouse? What would you do?”



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