Author: Athea (
Title: Forbidden Forest, part 25 Summary: It's Harry's birthday but Draco gets the first present.
Date: 18 October 2002
Charles Weasley

I wasn't sure why I was here at Hogwarts celebrating the birthday of a boy that I only knew through my little brother. But I'd gotten my own invitation so I'd popped in with the rest of the family to find out what was going on. Next to the lake, a pavilion was set up and it looked like school was back in session by the number of people already here. Funny, but several of them looked like larger versions of our family.

Hagrid had always been my favorite instructor and had been one of the reasons that I became a dragon handler. Meeting his family was great fun and I started to relax once I got a pint of beer in my hand. It was tough getting British ale in Rumania and the local rotgut could singe a dragon's hide so I'd been a teetotaler for almost six months. This was heaven.

Ron and Hermione were talking a mile a minute to the birthday boy and the rest of the Weasleys were scattered among the staff, students and Hagrids. It was oddly like a reunion but none of my classmates were here and I wondered nostalgically where some of them were. The tap on my shoulder brought me back to the here and now and I turned to see Hagrid wearing a little frown instead of the smile I'd seen earlier.

"Charlie, it's good to see ya again." He looked casually around before coming to the point. "I've got a patient that I'd like ya ta see. She got hurt a couple a days ago and she's not healin' like she ought."

"A dragon?" I asked, interested in spite of myself. The dragons in the United Kingdom were strictly registered and protected.

"Aye, a pretty little lass who took on some Death Eaters and lost." He looked down on me and smiled apologetically. "Sorry to bother ya at the party and all but I'm that worried about 'er."

"No problem, Hagrid. The party will still be here when we get back." I drained my pint and set it on a nearby table. "Where have you got her?"

"This way," he signaled to someone across the field before leading me towards the Forest. "I'm in me summer quarters, Charlie and that's real near where she crashed."

I hadn't been in the Forest for years and it still looked kind of creepy to me. All the horror stories we'd been told about the place were probably nine tenths tall tales but it was the one tenth that was true that had me spooked. And yet, it looked kind of peaceful and green now that I was looking at it with adult eyes. Rumania had a lot of forests that looked just like this and yet . . . I looked around and listened intently. There was something different about the light here.

"Um, Charlie, I need ta ask a favor of ya." Hagrid stopped in front of me and smiled apologetically. "Well, more than ya lookin' at the wee dragon."

I felt a tingle go up my spine. "What, Hagrid, what's stranger than a dragon in need?"

"A secret that can't get out or lives could be lost." He said simply and I blinked up at him. "And it's dangerous ta know what ya're going to see."

'Lives lost', that sounded extremely dangerous. Smiling, I shook my head. "I work with dragons, Hagrid. I know dangerous and I can keep a secret."

He looked deep into my eyes and finally nodded. "Welcome ta the club, Charlie. We'd best get ta steppin' or ya'll miss out on the cake."

We finished the trip with me telling him about a new way to use concrete as a wound dressing for ice drakes. I was taken aback when we stepped into the clearing where his small cottage used to be. There was now a house in its place and two caravans and the beginnings of a greenhouse. Another pavilion was set up but the flaps were closed on this one and when Hagrid whistled, it opened for a moment then closed again before I could see who it was.

Hagrid entered first, holding the flap open for me. Once inside my eyes adjusted from sunlight to dim light and I saw what secret Hagrid was keeping. "Professor Snape?"

"Ah, Charles, how nice of you to come. We're hoping that you can find the reason why Ss-serens isn't eating properly." He said with a smile that I'd never seen from him. "Would more light help? Draco, let's fasten the flaps back so Charles can see to work."

The second surprise was seeing Draco Malfoy dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, taking orders and smiling while he did as he was requested. The dragon was the least of it but I knelt beside her nose so she could sniff me first, while I tried to think of something to say to a man I'd thought dead.

"You can question me later, Charles." That velvety soft voice was just the same. "For now, focus on Ss-serens and then I promise that I will answer all your questions."

He'd never lied to me yet so I got to work. The wand wounds were healing nicely but she was listless and still weak. Checking her abdomen, I got an inkling of what might be wrong and when I asked to see her droppings, they confirmed it. Washing my hands in the disinfectant provided, I looked at the others anxiously awaiting my diagnosis.

"She needs some vitamins and a special diet for the next month." I knelt by her again and watched Malfoy stroke her nose comfortingly. "She's pregnant and her natural healing abilities went to protect the fetus rather than to help her heal."

Severus rubbed his stomach as if in sympathy. "What kind of vitamins and would I have them in my private lab?"

"Depends on what's in your lab, Professor." I grabbed a pad of paper and a muggle ball point pen out of my jacket pocket, starting to write down the supplements that she'd need.

"Come inside, Charles. We'll have tea and you can ransack my lab." Severus smiled again and I blinked in surprise. "Draco, I'll have Ara bring yours out."

"Thanks, Severus, and thank you, Mr. Weasley." His smile was almost shy but quite genuine and how the hell did the Malfoy heir end up with a dead wizard, a half-giant and a pregnant dragon?

The inside of the house was pleasantly disheveled although the small house elf was busy setting out tea. Severus sat down with a sigh on the brown leather sofa and Hagrid sat down as close as he could get to him, sliding an arm around him and cuddling him close. I sat down in a green leather wing chair in a state of shock because Professor Snape wasn't just letting him do that, he was cuddling back.

"Well, Charles, as you doubtless see, there have been some changes in the last few months. Ask your questions but for heavens sake, call me Severus. You are no longer my student and you're an expert in your own right. What's your first question?" He said with another smile right before accepting a cup of tea from the house elf. "Thank you, Ara. Would you see that Draco has some, too?"

"Yes, sir," she all but whispered before pouring more for us.

Once she disappeared, I started asking questions. The next hour was surreal but exhilarating, too. The ramifications of his pregnancy in conjunction with trying to keep Draco alive and in one piece hit me hard. They were dancing around a full scale confrontation with Voldemort and it wasn't 'if' they'd be battling him but 'when'.

"I want in on this." I said baldly when my last question was answered. "You're going to need more allies than just Hagrids, although I can see they've done a great job so far. You're going to need more help with Ss-serens and I'll get Bill to help, too. A curse breaker might come in handy."

"I've thought of him." Severus nodded. "I'd like him to tutor both Draco and Harry in his field. A good knowledge of curses and how to break them might save their lives."


I stroked Ss's nose and thought about what Weasley had said. She was pregnant and she'd tried to protect her baby even if it meant losing her life. I looked down into her silver eyes and thought that her instincts were more human than my parents had been. In a lot of ways, she was nicer than they were and I felt closer to her than I ever had to them. Ara interrupted my thoughts and I smiled at her.

"Master Draco, tea is ready." She said quietly and set the tray down on my other side. She hovered for a moment then sat down beside it while I poured out the tea. "Wish to say something."

"Please do," I said politely while watching Ss' sniff my cup before wrinkling up her nose.

"Ara is sorry that Master Draco was hurt." She said while clasping her hands so tight that I was afraid that she'd hurt herself. "Bad man was master once and I hid when he hurt others. Ara was afraid."

I took a sip of tea and deliberately thought about her former master. "MacNair is an evil man. He will be punished soon for what he did to the Malfoys."

She nodded and took a deep breath. "Ara knows something that might help. I-I-I," she stuttered a little and I caught a glimpse of Weasley stopped outside the pavilion. I hoped he'd stay away until she finished. "Master told everyone that son died of small pox. Not true. Bad Spirit say sacrifice him. Master Michael only ten when Bad Master slit his throat and give blood to Bad Spirit. Ara ran away and hid for long time before Dobby finds her and gives her job at big school."

I swallowed hard and thought about that sad little tale. "Thank you, Ara. I always knew that MacNair was evil but to kill his own son." I shook my head and sighed. "I wonder if Michael has moved on or if he's lingering still?"

She got up and leaned towards my ear. "Master Michael stay." Then she hurriedly left for the house while I sat there and thought about a little boy who'd never had the chance to even come to Hogwarts.

Charles Weasley came in and sat down heavily. Our eyes met and he shook his head. "There's a special place in hell for men like that. I hope I get to help send him there."

I raised an eyebrow. "Interesting, Mr. Weasley, that's the most bloodthirsty thing I've ever heard one of your family say."

"We're not all alike, you know." He said that matter-of-factly. "Get to know me first before you pass judgment and until then, call me Charlie." He laid the bowl he was carrying on the ground near Ss's snout. "Here we go, sweetheart, this will help you start to feel better."

I watched anxiously while she sniffed it, thought a moment then licked up what looked like chocolate sludge. Her forked tongue darted in and out, delicately lapping it all up. Already, I could see a little difference in her. Her eyes shone brighter and a little rumble in her throat was almost a purr.

Smiling, I looked up to see a funny expression on We-Charlie's face. He was looking at me instead of Ss' and almost holding his breath. I checked myself but I hadn't spilled tea or cookie crumbs on my t-shirt so I didn't think it was me. Maybe there was something he'd forgotten to do?

"Draco, may I call you, Draco?" He said slowly and I nodded. "I'm staying and volunteering to help. Are you at all interested in learning about dragons?"

I sat up straight and smiled again. "Yes, I want to know everything about them. Sev loaned me some books and I've been reading up on them but so much hasn't been written down. And we can use all the allies we can get."

His smile matched my own and he chuckled. "Good, then I'll tutor you in dragons."

I remembered my plan to disrupt some board rooms. "Charlie, how would you like to spread a little mayhem in the corporate world? I'm looking for a few good men."

He looked at me with startled eyes then a gleam came into them that must be a Weasley trademark since I'd seen it from both of his younger twin brothers. "I'd have to say that I qualify for that. What did you have in mind?"

So, I settled in to tell him about Harrod's Magical Store in which I held a 51% share. They'd long dealt in credit for their most loyal customers, mostly Death Eaters, and I was about to cut them off without a farthing. And institute legal proceedings to collect what was owed. There was a definite gleam in his eye when I finished and we began to plot what should happen at the first board meeting.

I was planning the magical version of a conference call since I wasn't about to let myself walk into a trap. I asked him if his father Auror Weasley might help and he shrugged, saying he'd ask. It would be better coming from him, I thought and watched Ss struggle to her feet. She swayed a little but accepted a shoulder of support from me. Charlie crooned to her and I felt myself flush at the little flutter in my stomach.

'Don't be a fool, Draco', I silently scolded myself. 'He loves dragons, he's not trying to get your attention.' My internal chastisement continued while he helped her stretch out her wings so he could see the damage there. He looked grave and I started worrying about that instead of my silly fantasies.

I'd keep them for my bath. Rubeus came out and helped Charlie reset a broken wing panel while I held Ss's head still and Severus poured some kind of green goop on the dragon bone. It hardened within the moment and Ss purred in relief at the end of that pain. She stretched up to her full height before coming back down gracefully, licking my cheek with her tongue, which tickled me right into laughter.

That funny look was back on Charlie's face and the little flutter was back in my stomach. I'd never have believed that on Harry Potter's birthday, I'd get the present of another friend. Sneaking another look at him while he laughed at something Sev said, I smiled. Maybe more than a friend?


My wing felt much better and the mixture that the small red-headed dragon-handler had offered me had finally quieted my stomach. It felt good to stretch and move about. I wasn't ready to fly but I would be. I licked my small protector's face and listened to him laugh. Young-Draco was interested in the dragon-handler and the other was interested in him if his scent was anything to go by.

I flared my nostrils and smelt the same emotion from both the giant and the potions master. They were mated and the small one was carrying a child, too. I listened to my little one's heartbeat and was satisfied that he was growing at the right pace. The egg shell was not quite thick enough so it wasn't time to prepare my nest just yet. I'd had my eye on the island in the middle of this lake for quite some time.

But when I flew in to check it, I met the black-robed ones in the air and they had surprised me. Their evil stench had sent me winging towards the Forest but they had pursued me with hurting spells that burned and pierced my scales like lightning bolts. When I dove for the Forest cover, I fully expected to die and take my child with me but the small protector was there and he'd brought the giant one and others.

The protector had been wounded himself, I could feel it in him. The sadness and despair still clung to him although it was dissipating slowly. He liked working with me and his spirit lightened when he didn't think about the black-robed ones. That was good, it showed that he was worthy.

I was suddenly tired and I curled up as best I could among the pillows they'd gotten for me. Now that my wing no longer throbbed, I would be able to rest. Young-Draco stroked my nose and leaned down to press his lips against my forehead. Yes, I thought, he is worthy.


I'd never had a better birthday in my life. It wasn't the presents, although there were lots. It wasn't even all my friends around me and that almost everyone I cared for was here. It was being part of a family for the first time in my life. I had so few memories of my mom and dad that they felt like ghosts in my mind. But the Hagrids had taken me in and made me a part of their family and that felt so good I could fly.

"Harry, what is with you today?" Ron thumped my shoulder and I grinned at him. "You keep spacing out on us."

"I'm happy, Ron." I said simply. "Everyone that I love is here; we're all having a great time and wait until you see the cake."

"It's good to see you smiling, Harry." Hermione smiled and looked around. "I never thought I'd see this many red-heads in one place. It looks like somebody placed an ad asking for all red-headed wizards to come to Hogwarts on Saturday, July 31st."

"The Hagrids are great," Ron said enthusiastically. "Mum and Mrs. Hagrid were swapping recipes when I last saw them. Dad and Mr. Hagrid are talking about some kind of magic that I've never heard of."

"And Gersey," Hermione got a kind of glazed look in her eyes, looking at Ger where he was talking to Sirius and Rhea. "Gersey Hagrid is such a hunk. I can't believe that we didn't know he was related to our Hagrid. By the way, I haven't seen Charlie and Hagrid since they went off into the Forest."

I went from jealous to worried in the space of a second. "Um, Rubeus has a difficult patient and Charlie has special knowledge of the species."

Those sharp eyes of hers suddenly were looking at me. "Species? Perhaps a dragon species? I thought all the dragons in the UK were registered and tagged."

"Not all, 'mione and it's kind of a secret." I said, gathering my courage to talk to my best friends. "Would the two of you come down to the lake with me? I need to tell you something."

They nodded and I glanced at Ger for courage. His blue eyes met mine and we smiled at each other. No matter how this conversation turned out, he would help me through it. We walked until the party noise was just a hum in the background. Hermione had her thinking look on while Ron just looked worried. I stopped under a willow tree that grew close to the water and got out my wand. Casting a quick seeking spell, I made sure that we were private before throwing a silencing curtain around us.

"Thanks, guys." I sat down on the ground and wondered what to say first. I'd planned it a hundred times but now I couldn't think of a single word. I looked at my first friends and hoped they didn't become former friends in the next few minutes.

"Just tell us, Harry," Hermione was on one side of me and Ron on the other. "We're ready for anything."

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, remembering the yoga I'd done that morning. "Things have been happening here that haven't made it into the papers. Ger and I rescued Draco when we found him at the auction of the Snape estate. He was supposed to get his mark that full moon even though he didn't want it."

"Malfoy?" Ron said incredulously. "Didn't want it, my ass. He was probably chomping at the bit, the stuck up prick."

I tightened my jaw and looked at him. "Don't be an idiot, Ron. Draco's smarter than that. But he didn't have a choice until we met up and I offered to help him get away. Luckily Ger and I had a portkey so we were able to bring him here, where he'd be safe."

"Was he hurt?" Hermione asked clinically.

I shivered. "Yes, very hurt but Rubeus and . . . Poppy healed him. His parents were slaughtered a few days ago. Dra' and I both dreamed it." Anger flashed through me when I split a look between the two of them, which was better than the sick feelings I still got when I remembered the torture. "Don't ever let me hear you call him names again. You have no idea what he went through and continues to go through even now."

"That's the second time you've used Hagrid's first name. Why?" Hermione asked.

Freezing, I remembered all the things that I still needed to keep secret. "The Headmaster and I have been helping him build on to his summer cottage. He wanted a small animal hospital for his really sick patients." I smiled at the memories of building. "It's been great fun and I've learned a lot. Draco is living with . . . him now until all the legal stuff gets finished about the estate. We're friends."

"Does that include Malfoy?" Ron was trying but he just couldn't keep the sneer out of his voice. "Are you friends with him, too?"

I nodded. "Yes, we are. Not like the three of us are friends but more like the kind of friends you make in a war zone."

"War zone," Hermione said softly, her eyes catching mine. "There have been more battles than the rest of us know about?" I nodded, unable to say another word. "Will we ever know about them?"

Swallowing hard, I shrugged my shoulders. "That depends on how you take my other news." Another deep breath and I jumped up to stand in front of them so I could see them both at once. "Hermione probably already knows this but I need to say it out loud. I'm in love with someone and it's a . . . he."

"What?" Ron's strangled shout would have been funny if it hadn't hurt so much. "A guy? Harry, what are you talking about?"

"I've always known that girls are really nice but I didn't ever want to shag one." I knelt in front of them, dividing my attention between them. Hermione was nodding as if I'd just confirmed a hypothesis for her.

"It's not Draco, is it?" The look of horror on Ron's face was almost funny.

"No, it's not him. What are you thinking, Ron? Are we still friends?" I watched all the different expressions flicker over his face while almost holding my breath for his answer.

He just looked back at me mute and I felt my heart squeeze. But Hermione snorted and brought both our attentions to her. "Harry, you're an idiot. Of course we're still your friends. I've known since you dated Cho that girls wouldn't do for you. Liking guys is fine with me so long as it isn't Ron." She smiled affectionately at the look of horror on his face. "I have plans for him."

I had to laugh when Ron's look for horror turned to shocked surprise. "You do?"

His squeak made me laugh harder and 'mione joined in while he looked back and forth between us with a bewildered expression. Between gusts of laughter, I reassured her. "Nah, it's not Ron although he does have red hair."

And just like that, we were okay with each other. Ron hit my leg and turned a soupy look onto Hermione who ignored him for a minute while looking at me with a speculative gaze. "Then who?"

"Gersey Hagrid," I sighed his name and thought about how he made me feel. "We'll be together when I get older. Mum Hagrid said we have to wait for me to grow up more but it's going to be harder than hard to wait and not do all the things I want him to do with me."

"Gersey," she looked back towards the party and a dreamy look crossed her face. "He's so handsome and his voice is to die for."

"Yeah," I agreed and we grinned at each other while Ron went back to shocked.

We talked for almost an hour before I took down the spells and we went back to the party. Ron was mostly okay with it. Hermione wanted details about Gersey and I didn't once slip up and mention Severus. All in all, it could have been a lot worse. I found Gersey talking to Royan and I hugged her in place of hugging him. I wanted to be alone with him in the worst way but that was for later.

I still hadn't told him what I wanted from him for my birthday. But that could wait for now. Rubeus and Charlie were back so it was time to cut the cake and open presents. And there were a lot of presents. I opened them all and was astounded by how well they knew me. There were joke gifts from my friends, useful gifts from the Hogwarts contingent and wonderful gifts from the Hagrids.

I got new school robes from Mum Hagrid; Dad Hagrid gave me a book on theoretical magic that made Hermione's eyes light up; the twin's box had new supplies for broom maintenance; Sirius and Rhea gave me a subscription to the Hogsmead candy store's Chocolate of the Month Club; Remus and Royan's box had three books on Defense Against the Dark Arts and two new sweaters that matched my eyes.

The rest of the family presents would wait until we got home. I was getting tingles at the thought of Ger's gift. Everybody moaned when they took their first bites of the Triple Fudge Mocha Delight and Mum Hagrid beamed at our appreciation. Everybody had a good time and I went around thanking everyone personally for helping make this birthday the best I'd ever had.

But eventually people started saying goodbye and leaving. Charlie Weasley told his parents that he was going to stay over for a day or so, to keep an eye on the dragon. I thought that was pretty cool of him as I tried to gather up everything I'd gotten to carry back into Gryffindor hall. But there was just too much stuff and Dobby giggled before telling me kindly that the elves would carry everything in.

Hermione had already borrowed my new book from Dad Hagrid so that was one less thing to worry about. I took my new maintenance kit over to the locker room and stored it away in my locker. Later on, I'd come out and work on my broom. For now, I was ready for the next part of my birthday. Running back to the mostly empty pavilion, I found the Hagrids waiting for me.

Rhea and Sirius were hand in hand next to Remus and Royan. Dad Hagrid had his arm around Mum Hagrid and they were all waiting for me. But mostly I saw Gersey, his eyes bright and his warm hand just waiting to slide into mine. Sirius was still a little wary of Ger and anxious that I didn't do anything I'd be sorry for later. We'd had a long talk in between all the other events of the last few days. I told him that I was really happy that he was so happy with Rhea.

But I wasn't made that way and the Headmaster knew it, now Sirius did, too. We talked and talked about the past, about my parents and his friendship with them. I asked him if he thought that they'd be upset that I was gay. He thought for a long moment and sighed. 'They'd ask if you were happy and if you said yes then they'd be happy, too.'

That made me feel better and I think it made me realize a few things also. He was my godfather but I really didn't know him and he didn't know me very well either. We promised each other we'd spend more time together and get better acquainted. That was something else to look forward to and I leaned into Gersey with a happy sigh. This really was the best birthday I'd ever had.


Charles Weasley had lived up to his promise as a student. He was calm and knowledgeable in his field. He accepted our explanations with only a widening of his eyes when he heard about my pregnancy. His offer to stay and become an ally was rather exhilarating. He would be a most potent helper and he seemed rather taken with Draco and his dragon.

I smiled and rubbed my back. The baby's sudden growth spurt had pushed several interior organs around and I feared the ache was there to stay. Ru's hand obligingly began to gently rub the spot I couldn't reach and I hummed my approval. He kissed my cheek and I turned so I could lean against his chest.

"He'll be a good addition, Charlie will." His rumble vibrated through my cheek and I smiled into his shirt. "Did ya notice that he was surprised by Dra'?"

"Hm-m-m, I think that Draco will learn from him." I moved just a little and felt his groin swell against me. "Do we have time for a nap?"

"Nah, I can hear the others comin' back." He dropped a kiss on my head and said hopefully. "Everybody will be tired so maybe we can 'ave an early night?"

"We can but try, Ru'. Did Charles say that he was coming back to stay with Ss' tonight?"

"Aye, he and Dra' will probably sleep out in the pavilion. They've got to get more of that supplement stuff down her."

"True, we're going to need more of those ingredients, especially the dandelion roots. I wonder if Remus and Royan would be willing to go shopping for us?" I stepped back far enough to look up at him and he smiled at me.

"Royan is always ready ta go shopping. Ya should have noticed that, Sev."

I stuck out my tongue at him only to have him swoop down and capture it in his tasty mouth. We kissed for long moments until I heard Mum Hagrid laughing at us and we finally parted to greet the rest of the family. We all had a cup of tea and discussed what we'd do the next day. I enjoyed making plans that had nothing to do with potions or Voldemort.

Watching without seeming to, I saw Charles sit next to Draco on the floor. We'd run out of chairs again and the four youngest were all sitting together. Charles and Gersey looked almost like brothers and I pondered the two men. I liked them both and thought that Harry would be safe with Gersey but I'd watch Charles to see if he was good for Draco. With a start, I realized that I was thinking like a father.

How amazing that was, I thought and rubbed the bump that was our child. Ru' kissed my temple and whispered a question about the baby. I reassured him with a smile and went back to thinking about the amazing fact that I was part of a family, an integral part of the nicest family on earth.

Suddenly I remembered the gift that Draco and I had put away for Harry and I signaled him with my eyebrow that it was time. We'd gone in together to purchase the parts of a portkey that he could wear in public but not be recognizable as what it was. The small box had both of our names on it and Harry ripped it open hurriedly to find the Rolex watch.

He put it on at once and admired it before giving us his thanks. That's when Draco explained what it did besides keep time. Harry's eyes were wide as saucers when I told him that all he had to do was think of one of the Hagrids and he'd find himself with them. No matter where that happened to be. It's a tricky spell but each family member had given me a strand of hair that I'd carefully braided and sealed into the mechanism. And that included, mine, Draco, Remus and Sirius' in there, too.

Really, the Swiss wizards do know how to make a superb watch. Harry hugged Draco before the blond realized he was going to do that. Draco protested vociferously but returned it gingerly. He was still rather shy about being touched and probably would be for some time. Then it was my turn and I whispered 'you're welcome' to the young boy who had somehow burrowed into my heart.

This was not at all what I was expecting when I thought about my future even six months ago. I was truly blessed with family and friends. A yawn took me by surprise and I covered it hastily. For some reason, I was tired and it was only seven o'clock. The others noticed and our family evening began to break up. Charles and Draco left to keep Ss-serens company with a pile of blankets in case it turned chilly.

The Hogwarts couples left to walk back to the school. Mum and Dad told everyone that they would see us in the morning, leaving with a speaking look at Gersey, who had Harry back at his side. Ru' and I looked at them and wondered what to ask or even if we should say anything at all.

"I want to spend the night with Ger, in a bed, without all our clothes on." Harry said quietly, looking at us both with those big green eyes so much like his mother's. "I'm not ready to do lots of things but I do want a kiss," he looked at Gersey and licked his lips, "a real kiss, not on my cheek. And I want to explore some more. I trust you and I know we shouldn't do too much but I want to learn more."

Gersey closed his eyes with a sigh. "Harry, I'm glad that you trust me but I don't know if 'I' trust me, not if we're alone in a bed, clothed or not."

I smiled. "Gersey, I'm afraid that I trust you, too." I almost laughed at his look of shock. "Harry is not your ordinary sixteen-year old. He knows who he wants but not exactly what he wants. That can be your gift to him, Gersey. Show him what you like and see if he likes it, too."

Harry was so still while he looked beseechingly at his future lover. He wasn't even bouncing, he was so caught up in wishing. Ru' wanted to laugh, but he kept it to a cough. "Sorry, Ger, but I trust ya, too. If it gets ta be ta much, then breathe deep and come. I figure ya can wear Harry out in, oh, say four hours."

"You're trying to kill me aren't you?" Gersey said with a frown but one look at Harry and he caved. "All right, I promised you anything you wanted. But if I say no to something it means no. You're not ready for everything, little love."

Harry tackled him back onto the rug and hung on, hiding his face in Gersey's throat. "I know I'm not but oh, I do want to touch you and have you touch me."

Ger smiled and hugged him close. "Then we'll both get what we want tonight. Come on, we can start with a bath in my caravan."

Harry flushed bright red before practically levitating off his prone lover and pulling him upright. But before he dragged him out the door, he hugged both of us again, whispering his thanks over and over. I tousled his hair and whispered back, "Happy birthday, Harry. May this be just the start of very many more."

He kissed my cheek and then Ru's before taking Gersey's hand and leading him out of our suddenly silent house. Rubeus stood and drew me up with him. "Mum and Dad will be talking ta us tomorrow. But I think we did the right thing, Sev. Now how about we take our own bath and practice some of that touchin' we like so much?"

"Yes, that sounds like the perfect ending to a perfect day." I let him pick me up and carry me into the bathroom, making one last wish for the evening. May all of the Hagrid family lovers, established and potential, have nothing but love tonight.


I was afraid I was going to pass out. Ger had said yes. I wanted to see him so badly I could taste it but I wasn't sure that I wanted him to see me. My body was still playing catch up and there were times I felt so awkward that I was tripping over my own feet. What if he thought I looked like that stork I'd thought of before?

"Harry, I think you're beautiful, with or without your clothes on." His deep voice made my stomach jump. "I've seen you with only that little scrap of material that Hossic calls a bathing suit on, remember?"

We were right outside the door to the caravan. "Really? I look at you and see somebody so perfect you can't be real."

He pulled me into a hug and dropped a kiss on my hair. "It doesn't have to be now, Har'. We've got all the time in the world."

A cold chill ran up my spine and I pressed closer to him. "We don't know that, Ger. We may not have much time at all. But for now, I . . . I just want to do some exploring."

He chuckled and lifted me into his arms just like I didn't weigh anything at all. Then he opened the door and carried me inside. I didn't notice anything but him and when he sat down in the old brown leather chair with me in his lap, I forgot about the cold chill because he was giving me his kiss. His lips were hard and soft in turn, first brushing lightly over mine then returning with a little more pressure.

When I opened my mouth to drag in a breath, he was inside of me. Just a tickle of his tongue at my upper lip at first but he tasted good so I moved a little to get more of me against more of him. He tasted better than chocolate so I had to lick his lips for more and the little growl he gave made my stomach clench, but in a good way. Then our tongues were sliding together first in my mouth and then in his while I tried to figure out how to breathe and not let go.

But then our foreheads were resting together and we were both gulping air like it was water in a desert. My eyes had to be as big as saucers because I was so amazed. "Ger, does it always feel like that?"

"Like you're about to pass out?" He started scattering little kisses across my cheek, over my nose and down to the corner of my mouth. "No it doesn't, Harry." Then he stopped and with a little flick of his wrist lit the candles over the fireplace. "But I expect it will feel like that for us until . . . oh seventy years from now."

I grinned and started stroking his face. There was a little bit of stubble on his chin and I wondered what he'd look like with a beard. "I hope you're right. Have you ever grown a beard or a mustache, Ger?"

He chuckled. "About ten years ago, I thought it would make me look older so I grew both. Mum finally took me aside and firmly but kindly told me that it looked like I was growing a fungus that had gotten out of hand. I shaved it off that night and never tried again."

I chuckled with him and let my fingers touch his chin and the long column of his neck. The skin was softer at the hollow of his throat and I started unbuttoning buttons so I could see more of him. He sat still and let me reveal his chest. There were tight red curls every where and they felt wiry against my finger tips. But when I brushed across a reddish nipple, he caught his breath.

His lap was growing kind of lumpy and I suddenly wanted to see him all over. "I think it's bath time, Gersey. I want more of you."

He sighed and nodded. "More it is, Harry. Up, little love, and we'll see if Cyrus heated the hot water."

That was twice he'd called me that and I liked it. I liked it a lot. We headed for the bathroom and it was nice and steamy once we turned the water on and finished undressing. Ger wanted to undress me first and I was so hard that when he tried to ease my underwear off, it hurt. I was biting my lip but he just chuckled and very gently eased his warm hand inside to hold my shaft.

And I exploded at his first touch. I would have fallen but he held me close and lowered us both to our knees. I was shaking so hard that I couldn't catch my breath but he held me and stroked a hand down my back. "It's all right, little love. You'd been saving that for a while, I know. Don't worry, you'll find that your recovery time is in minutes rather than hours."

I took another deep breath and nodded. He swished the hand that had held me in the bath water then finished pushing my y-fronts down. I was already attacking the buttons on his jeans so I could get his shirt all the way off. When I pushed it off his shoulders, I just looked at him. I'd seen his chest before but not like this, not when I could touch him and hold him against me.

"Harry, we need to turn off the water or we won't fit in the tub without flooding the place." He chuckled and stretched around me for the faucets. That pressed my nose against his chest and I tentatively licked the skin, just to see how he tasted there. He gasped while his whole chest rippled and I traced the movement down to the waist of his jeans with both hands.

The bulge there looked promising and I felt my shaft start to get hard again. "Ger, it's your turn. I want to see you."

"I know, little love. Slide on into the tub for me and I'll let you see what belongs to you now." He helped me up, kissing the end of my shaft when I stood.

Okay, so I could see that the tasting thing would feel pretty good. I stepped over the side of the tub and into the steaming water, never taking my eyes off of him. He stood and pushed his jeans down his legs before stepping out of them. Then with a little wiggle, he carefully eased his boxers over his erection and let them slide to the floor.

He was big. My eyes were glued to his shaft. It was long and thick and it had kind of a hood of skin around it that mine didn't have. "Why is there extra skin, Ger?"

"Giants don't go in for circumcision, Har'. I've noticed that the pureblood families usually snip the extra skin off right after a baby boy is born." He stepped over the side and sat down with a bit of a sigh at the opposite end of the tub. His legs stretched out on either side of me so I was kneeling between them, still watching his shaft bob in the water.

"May I touch it, Gersey?" I wanted to so badly that I could taste it.

"He belongs to you now, Harry. Touch away." He sat back and let his hands lie loose on his thighs while I leaned closer.

One hand wasn't going to be enough, I decided. So I used both hands to wrap around him. My fingers had to stretch to enclose him. "You're big, Ger, really, really big. I don't see how you'd ever fit inside of me."

His shaft jerked when I said that and he chuckled. "I don't ever have to do that, Harry. There's a hundred ways to make love that don't involve anything more than fingers and cocks."

I'd heard someone call their shaft a cock once but I wasn't sure if it was a derogatory term or not so I hadn't used it. I gently slid my fingers down his . . . cock and the extra skin slid down, too. "Am I being too rough? How fragile is it?"

"Not that fragile, Harry, it just feels good." His hands were twitching just a little and I decided that it was because he wanted to touch me some more but he didn't want to interrupt my exploring. "Oh yeah, right there, Harry, your thumbs are stimulating a major nerve center and it feels wonderful."

I smiled and rubbed a little harder where he said it felt good. The skin beneath my fingers felt velvet soft and the crown flared all around like a mushroom head. I brought one finger up to trace all the way around the edge, fascinated by the softness of the flesh and the tear that was welling up from the eye of the crown. Even the little slit was bigger than mine and before he could say no, I leaned down and licked the little bead right into my mouth.

"Harry!" He almost shouted and his hands gripped the rolled edge of the tub, I think so he wouldn't grab me. "That's part of the advanced course that you're not ready for."

I was afraid that he'd say that. "But Mum said that I could kiss you once I turned 16. She didn't say where I could kiss you."

He chuckled and his hands grabbed my shoulders and pulled me up to lie on his chest. "That's an answer I'd expect from one of my brothers. It appears we've corrupted you, little love."

His chest hairs tickled and I wiggled just to feel them against my skin. My cock was against his stomach and I was pretty sure that I was going to come again. "Not corrupted, Ger, I'm just . . . expanding my horizons. Is it okay if I come again, 'cause it feels like I need to."

I felt one of his hands slide between us and grasp my cock while his lips came down and kissed me again. It was so warm that I had to move, tingles were traveling down my spine while I shifted against him and his hand slid up and down until I exploded again. I relaxed all over and he tucked my head under his chin while his hands rubbed my back from my shoulder blades down to my waist and back up again.

But I wanted his hands someplace else. "Ger, thank you. I love you so much."

"I love you too, Harry." I felt his cheek resting on my hair. "I'm glad that I finally found you, Har'. I was searching for a long time before I turned around and saw you."

I nuzzled the curls under my cheek. "Do you remember that I said it felt like we'd known each other for a long time?"

"Yes, I feel the same way, little love." He sighed a little. "Part of me wants you to hurry and grow up but part of me wants you to have the time to be a teenager, do teen things like play Quidditch and practical jokes with your year-mates."

"I've been doing that all along, Ger." I licked that nipple again and he chuckled. "But the others mostly get to leave Hogwarts and go home to family and a life outside of school, while this is the first summer I've been free."

"The Dursleys," he said their name with quiet menace.

"Yeah, them." I pillowed my chin on my arms so I could look at him. "Playing around and being a kid is what your family let me do this summer. That's the biggest, bestest gift I've ever had. Except for you, of course."

"Of course," he agreed and stroked my cheek with his left hand. "I love you, Harry Potter. What do you want to do after you graduate and Voldemort is destroyed?"

I blinked. He said that name so matter-of-factly that I was still kind of amazed, and destroyed sounded really good. "I want to travel a little and see parts of England that I've read about in books. I've always liked puzzles so I'd like to find a job where I can solve them. Charlie's brother Bill is a curse-breaker. That sounds like a really cool job."

"Curse-breaking? I'll enjoy meeting him and so will Hossic. You should ask Hoss about his hobby, you'd probably enjoy it, too." He grinned at me and I smiled back.

"But I want to go on tour with you and listen to you sing every night." I thought that now wasn't quite the time to share my vision of a baby with him. He was still a little unsure that I knew what I was getting into.

"Not to worry, Har', I'll sing to you whenever you want me to." He pulled me up a little and we kissed again. I wanted it to never end but I also wanted something else.

When we breathed again, I wiggled against his stomach and watched him catch his breath. "Ger, I want to see you come."

Those beautiful blue eyes blinked at me and he gave a little gasp when I wiggled my legs around his cock. "Harry, are you sure?"

I nodded and pulled free of his arms so I could slide down between his legs again. He was still rock hard and I gripped his cock with both hands, wondering how in the world it would ever fit inside of me. Because it was going to fit, I knew that much. He was moaning a little while I slid my hands up and down a little more quickly.

It was fun watching him get tighter and tighter around me, his legs clutching my waist and his hands back squeezing the tub rim. I could feel the pulse in his cock and I noticed that his testicles were changing a little, getting harder and tighter. I bet myself that meant he was ready to come and a few moments later, he did. I loved hearing the strangled shout of my name.

Darting out to catch some of the seed that was spurting out of his cock, my tongue tasted him gingerly to see if he tasted the same as me. I was kind of blandly bitter and he was too but maybe saltier than me. He was relaxed all over now so I leaned down and licked a little more seed from his skin, deciding that the saltiness was from the slight sheen of sweat that had broken out all over his body.

"You're going to kill me yet, my brave Harry." His voice was deep and sexy. "What did you think of it? Bland or bitter?"

"Salty and good," I said teasingly and licked some more from the tall column of flesh I still held in my hands.

He chuckled and pulled me up over him again; taking my lips with his while I moaned and got short of breath. "Sexy Harry, that was the best birthday present that I've ever gotten."

I grinned at him and wiggled a little, suddenly hard again. "I'm the one who got the best present, Ger. Would you touch me some more?"

Sitting up, he hugged me tight and whispered in my ear. "Yes, but I believe you asked for something else so why don't we get out of our bath and go to bed."

"Yes!" I said enthusiastically and practically jumped out of the tub. He followed a little slower and I learned how much fun it was to have someone else rub you all over with a towel. But then it felt good to be able to touch him all over, too.

Eventually, we made it into the big bed in the bedroom at the end of the caravan. I'd been amazed at how much bigger it was on the inside than it looked to be on the outside. There was a bedroom at each end and Gersey had been sharing it with the twins until they left to go back to work. The storage was under the bed to save space but the bed still would have slept everyone in my dorm if we'd been really friendly.

But right now it held two of us and that was all right with me. The sheets were cool and I shivered a moment before Ger warmed them with a soft command. I was going to learn how to do that one of these days, I promised myself. But his arms were around me and his lips were brushing over mine before slipping over my chin and down my throat to the hollow where his tongue tickled me.

Sighing, I let my hands go where they wanted, over his broad shoulders and down his arms as far as I could reach. Muscles were everywhere and I made a mental note to work harder on the weights in the Gryffindor locker room. I'd never be a lot bigger but I could be stronger and fitter. But there were little sparks of fire arcing through my chest and I looked down to see his strong white teeth tugging on my right nipple while his tongue flicked it.

"W-w-why does that feel so good?" I moaned a little.

"It's a major erogenous zone for men and women. For male wizards who give birth, they're usually extra-sensitive. Rubeus mentioned that Sev is at any rate." He switched nipples while I panted at how warm it was getting. Then he was moving down and the stubble on his chin was rubbed over my navel until I wanted to scream.

"Ger!" I felt him chuckle while swallowing my cock and I came again without any warning. He sucked hard and I spurted over and over into his mouth. When I fell back limp and sleepy, he chuckled and held my cock gently while he licked my whole groin clean, including my testicles.

I'd lost track of how many times I'd come tonight but feeling his tongue down there made me start to harden again. "Ger, would you put your fingers in me, the way you said we could? I've been practicing on myself and it feels good but not special."

"What have you been using, Harry, oil or lotion?" He sat up gracefully between my legs and pillowed my thighs on his so I was kind of lifted off the bed.

That felt kind of scary but in a good way, especially since I could see that great big cock of his getting hard again. "I had some hand lotion that Hermione gave me for Christmas last year after I used up the oil that Sev gave me."

"Not quite slippery enough, Har'," he reached for the bedside table and grabbed a bottle of something from the drawer. "I'll give you this to experiment with for now. It's a lubricating oil and lotion combined. Since meeting you, I've had to use it quite a lot."

I giggled at his mock glare then laughed harder when he tickled my sides with his fingers. It was odd but I hadn't known that making love could be so much fun. With him, everything was brighter and better. Maybe that was the best gift of all, I decided before realizing that slippery warm fingers were sliding over my entrance, ticking the skin and frictioning the suddenly sensitive hole.

"Ready, little love?" He asked me softly and I nodded determinedly, I had to know what it felt like. "It's going to feel odd to have someone else in there so tell me at once if there's any pain. Yes?"

"I will, Ger, I promise. Oh!" I felt his middle finger push past my muscle and sink inside of me. "It feels big . . . bigger than mine . . . oh, what's that?" Warmth flashed through my stomach and I clenched around him to try and get it back.

"That's the prostate gland that makes it feel so good, Harry. Hang on." He grinned down at me and brushed against it again while moving his finger in and out of me. It wasn't enough and I asked him for two fingers, which he slowly agreed to. That felt really full and kind of burned a little but the warmth was even better.

And his cock was bigger yet so I'd practice until I was stretched enough to take all of him inside of me. Not tonight, I thought while I watched the serious look on his face, but sooner than later. We had a few things to do first then he would claim me, the way that he said I'd claimed him. Smiling, I decided this was the best birthday ever.


August sixth may well remain in my mind as the day the world changed forever. We'd survived Harry's birthday, Ss'seren's decision to lay her egg in a nest she created out of our new greenhouse and the arrival of Bill Weasley, curse breaker. I knew more curses than any of the others so I spent the better part of four days teaching them to Bill so he and Charles could teach them to Harry and Draco.

They practiced on the school grounds under the reinforced wards that we'd put up on the 30th. Draco came home exhausted, barely able to eat, shower and go to bed. Harry did the same at school with Minerva keeping an eye on him for us. Gersey had had to leave for muggle London and some time in the recording studio. Harry was pretty subdued but he threw himself into learning the curses and counter-curses with all the passion of which he was capable.

I spent my time brewing potions for healing, wound disinfecting and strengthening. Rubeus traveled the Forest, enlisting the magic creatures to become an early warning system for us. Some of them would fight along with us while others would remain neutral. We'd take what we could get at this point. Remus and Sirius with their bondeds, Royan and Rhea were settling into Hogwarts and already making some changes that had been long in coming.

But I still didn't regret being dead. My teaching was done on a one to one basis now and my students were motivated to learn. Harry would never be a brewer of note but he would at least be able to differentiate between a good or bad potion. Draco was a much more promising student even if he chose a different path and I suspected he was going to take the wizard business community by storm.

Several lawyers had come calling but between Draco and Albus, they'd gone away scratching their heads to do their bidding. While rumors abounded in the papers, the wizarding world waited with baited breath to see what the Malfoy heir would do. Draco and I agreed that he had a free hand and I would support what ever path he chose. He and Charles went everywhere together and I approved of their relationship.

Charles and I had a long talk about what Draco could take at the moment with the rape still fresh in his mind and body. The red-headed Weasley had gone quiet when I explained what had happened to the young man. He'd asked what MacNair looked like and nodded when I brought up a moving picture of him. If ever I saw someone decide to kill, I saw that in Charles' eyes. My Draco was in good hands with the dragon handler.

How odd to feel contentment at such a dangerous time in my life. The baby's growth had slowed for the moment and my body had almost caught up with the changes. I was showing a little more but instead of making me self-conscious, I felt more settled. More loved by the wonderful man who held me each night and told me over and over how much he loved me. I would have pinched myself but I no longer needed the pain.

My death mark had flared the day after Harry's birthday but no new atrocities were reported and Harry didn't dream. The others rejoiced but Draco and I exchanged a look of complete agreement. Voldemort was planning something big and just because we didn't know who had just died to give him that power boost didn't mean that we wouldn't find out shortly. But as the days went by and nothing came out, the order of the light relaxed.

Which made the revelation all the worse when it came in a screaming headline - Village of Hampstead Destroyed! The entire muggle village of 356 souls had been utterly destroyed by fire. Nothing living remained, not even the insects. The postal truck had been the first visitor on his weekly schedule to the little village off the beaten track. He'd found nothing but charred buildings and the bodies of the dead. Scotland Yard had been called in but the village itself was off limits.

Not a fluke, I thought and had Charles contact his father to alert the Aurors to the possibility that magic had been involved. Arthur Weasley couldn't get permission from the Minister's office to investigate but he took a trip to the area, cloaked from the muggles and it was a shaken man who apparated to the gates of Hogwarts. Albus decided that Arthur needed to become a part of our secret.

So he brought him through the Forest and to our home. To say that he was surprised would be a misnomer, he was shocked silent. Perhaps it was the knowledge that his sons were now on the firing line that caused him the most consternation. No father ever thinks that his sons are ready to face the evil that faced us today. I know that I was hoping with all my heart that Draco and Harry would be left out of the final battle.

"I . . . it's too much, Albus." Arthur sighed and pinched his nose. I silently put a cup of tea in his hand and pretended not to see the tremor that shivered the surface. Sitting down by Ru', I let him cuddle me close, no longer caring what the man before us thought of me or our relationship.

But when he finally looked up and saw us, a smile crossed his lips. "The age of miracles has come again, it seems. Congratulations, Rubeus and . . . Severus. Perhaps your bonding gives hope for our future, at least I hope so."

"Thanks, Auror Weasley, we're happy." Rubeus said gravely and I nodded my own acceptance of his congratulations. "Now, Albus wouldn't have brought ya here unless it was important. What did ya find at Hampstead?"

"Nothing." He said with a sigh and finished his tea. "The place had been scoured clean completely. Hampstead is a dead zone as if nothing live had ever set foot within its stone walls. There's no residue left of any kind, I've never been so shocked in my life. They've taken the bodies away but one of the policemen told me they'd found every sort of animal from squirrels up to men . . . burned alive."

"Nothing left," I said harshly and shivered. The boys didn't know what that meant but the older wizards did. I could see the bewildered looks pass from Draco to Harry and the Weasley boys. "Nothing means that all the energy and power generated by the living was absorbed by something or . . . someone."

"Voldemort," Draco said faintly and shivered, remembering the dream of his father's death. Charles put a comforting hand on his shoulder and Draco leaned into it while Arthur's eyebrow arched upwards.

Harry had wrapped both arms around his knees and was rocking back and forth gently. "He's gathering power for another attack, a final sweep of those who oppose him."

Albus sighed and looked his age. "Yes, I'm afraid that is exactly what he is planning. And we have nothing that can raise that kind of power for our side."

I had an idea but it depended on further research so I kept quiet for now. Arthur came down on our side with a vengeance and promised to bring in some of his fellow Aurors who could be trusted. We no longer had much time to prepare but what little we had would be spent in gathering allies for this battle. The final battle if we had anything to say about it, I thought and rested my head against Rubeus' shoulder.

He pulled me in tight and I let him, needing his strength to bolster my courage. I wanted him to make it all go away, to make our lives safe and free of the threat of Voldemort. There were going to be sacrifices made in this battle and I wished with all my heart that those deaths would pass by this new found family of mine.

Thankfully, I had no talent at prevision so I could not be tormented by a look into the future. I thought that a blessing right now.


I couldn't hardly believe in such evil. To kill an entire village of muggles to gather power was beyond my ability to understand. Sev did though and I could feel his thoughts sicken and his need for comfort grow. So I pulled him in close and gave him my strength as best I could. He hugged me back and within the hour we were alone again.

"It was done on the first," Sev said almost absentmindedly, "the first of August."

I suddenly made the connection and looked down at him. "Lughnasadh, the first harvest leading to Mabon on September 21st."

"Yes, the old ways are still celebrated by the Dark. Mabon brings the end of the harvest and the reaping of great power." He leaned in and wrapped his arms around me, as far as he could reach. "And that leads to Samhain, when the walls grow thin between the worlds and creatures of both Dark and Light can enter our realm. That's his target."

Rubbing his back, I felt cold chills race over my skin and his. "We'll find a way ta stop him, Sev, we will."

"I hope so, love. Our lives and the life of our child depend upon us finding the power we need to counter him." He said quietly and I silently agreed.

The next six weeks passed so quickly that one day ran into another and rest became hastily snatched between periods of work. The school grounds became a mini-camp for the forces of the Light. Owls were sent to the students telling them that school was postponed because of a gnarly invasion. The exterminators were having a hard time eradicating the little menaces.

It gave us more time to keep enforcing our defenses and bringing new weapons into being. Bill was very much in demand and he taught curses right and left along with their counters. I learned a lot but I also worried as the days wound down towards the feast of Mabon. My family stayed near and became the nucleus around which our defenses grew. The twins returned and brought another caravan with them so we weren't so crowded.

Bill and Charlie had the second bedroom in Gersey's caravan and my little brother had finally returned after six weeks in the music studio making a new album with the muggle band he was currently with. Harry practically levitated into his arms when he came striding onto the school grounds. I was introducing the hippogriffs to the others that had declared on our side so I wasn't the only one who saw their reunion.

Sirius was growing a wee bit restive by the time that Gersey let Harry down. If I'd been away from Sev for that much time, I'd still be holding him so I thought Ger had been real restrained. But Harry's godfather was glaring pretty good by the time he reached their side. I chuckled and went back to teaching the Aurors how to work with a hippogriff. Ceyx was training his kin how to work with humans so together we were training up some unbeatable fighting teams.

At least we hoped we were.

"Rubeus, could I have a word with you?" Dumbledore asked once the new teams moved off to practice in the Quidditch field. When I nodded, he pulled me closer to the Forest. "I have been approached by a representative of the MacPherson Family of giants. He requested a face to face meeting here at the school."

"They're bonny fighters, Headmaster. They've won the Highland Games three times in the last decade." I felt a kind of tingle in my head and I thought maybe it was Severus. "Mum is the one ya need ta talk ta. Her Mum is a MacPherson and Granny is always telling stories about her Family. Ya mind walking home with me, now?"

"Excellent idea, Rubeus, I've had no exercise today at all." He beamed at me and beckoned to Harry, who was still being talked to by Sirius while Gersey listened with folded arms. Not a good sign and one that my new brother-in-law would learn as time went on. Rhea distracted him and they made their escape to us.

We walked real fast for a little bit then slowed down so the Headmaster wouldn't get too tired. It was real warm for September and none of the trees had begun changing color so it felt like summer was still here. We were all enjoying it and it was good to see Harry so animated, telling Gersey all the things that had happened while he was away. My brother couldn't seem to stop touching Harry, even when it was just a caress to his hair or a hand on his shoulder.

Maybe I could get some alone time for them while the rest of the family conferred on the MacPhersons. We reached a home that still kind of surprised me. It was all so different from what had been there in late April when I found Sev and brought him home. But it was different in a good way and I was already smiling when I saw my bonded come around the corner of the house with my Mum.

They were smiling too and Sev's face lighted up when he saw me. "Ru', you're early. Gersey, welcome home."

It was kind of confusing for a bit but we all got sorted out and Harry dragged Gersey towards the little place where he and Sev liked to relax. Mum just smiled when they left. "They'll be back for tea. But Headmaster, ya can 'ave yars now. It's all ready for pourin'. Come along in."

Sev was hugging me right outside in public and he didn't hardly ever do that so I knew he had something good to tell me. "Ru', did you feel something a while ago?"

I kissed his cheek. "A tingle 'bout an hour ago?"

He chuckled. "Yes, a tingle."

"What was it? Ya come up with a new potion?" I rubbed his back and felt the swell of his stomach against me, bigger than ever. And that's when I felt it, a tingle in my mind but also a flutter where he touched me. "The baby?"

He smiled dreamily and stroked above the spot where we touched. "He turned over or around or whatever position he was in and I felt him. At first I thought it was gas but Mum came in and I told her about it. She laid her hand right here," he showed me and I put my hand there real gentle like. "And he kicked his little foot so we both felt it."

"A Quidditch player, ya think?" I could hardly get the words out over the lump in my throat. And our son kicked out again as if to say 'Yes!'

"Possibly, Ru', or perhaps he's a musician like his Uncle Gersey?" He smiled up at me and I just had to kiss him again to celebrate our son moving.

There really was a tiny baby inside of my love and he was a brand new person made up of little bits of both of us. I could hardly wait to get him out into the world and start loving him. Since I couldn't touch him just yet, I touched Sev instead and he kissed me back so sweetly that I wanted to pick him up and take him to bed right then and there. But we had duties still and we ended our kiss for the moment, walking in for tea.

Mum was listening to Dumbledore with a little wrinkle between her eyes and I got tense, just like that. Severus caught my change in mood instantly and looked back and forth between me and her. "T'was Ian MacPherson, ya say, Headmaster? Would ya be able ta describe 'im for me?"

Dumbledore pulled something out of his pocket and I recognized a pensieve. "I put the entire encounter in this to preserve it." He fussed a moment then a small moving picture appeared above the kitchen table. "There, that's got it."

It was a face that I'd never forgotten and Mum hadn't either. She got a real forbidding look on her face. "That's no Ian MacPherson but black-hearted Geil. 'e should still be in prison for hurting Rube and a dozen other crimes."

"Ru', is he one of those who hurt you?" Severus' voice was still silky smooth but the menace was back in it after months of being gone.

"Aye," I was confused and a little scared, big half-giant that I am. The old pain swamped me for a moment and Sev held me fiercely.

"He won't hurt you again, my love." He promised me and I saw him and Mum exchange a real scary look.

Dumbledore didn't understand what was going on but he closed the pensieve so Geil's picture disappeared and I began to get my courage back. Mum was furious and she left the table for the outside. When we followed her, we found her crouched on the plot of ground that would one day be our herb garden. Digging both hands into the black soil, she called out to the air.

"In darkness and in light; through earth and rain; by flame and wind; I summon thee to my side, my sisters of the dawn." Her voice had that eerie vibration in it that had scared me good when I was a little one and she'd had to call a meeting of her sister-kin.

Severus held on tight to me and I've got to say that I was holding onto him like I was afraid something would snatch him away from me. Dumbledore watched with amazed eyes as three giants appeared before us. Great-aunt Illona of the Gibson Clan was dressed in her Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, her white hair braided over one shoulder with a bit of heather woven into the end.

Granny MacPherson wore her tartans, her reddish-gray hair loose on her shoulders. Arwen Innes was the youngest of the four and her dark hair was piled high on her pretty head. Her flowing purple robe looked like something that usually didn't leave the bedroom. I'd done my share of sighing over my second cousin before I realized that no girl was going to do it for me.

"I thank ye, all for comin'. We've got a problem, a big one. Come ye all in and we'll explain." Mum nodded to them and they all nodded back before looking at us. "Ye all know me Rubeus and this is 'is bonded, Severus. And this is 'eadmaster Dumbledore of the Order of the Phoenix."

The Headmaster started a bit and the giants chuckled as one. Aunt Illona spoke first. "Congratulations, Rube and Severus. But what's this I'm seein'? Ya're expecting?"

Granny clapped her hands and took two strides to hug us both. "I'll be a great-grandmother at last. Wonderful!"

Her hugs can squeeze a body to death so I made sure that Sev didn't get the full treatment. "Thanks, Granny. We think it's a boy and he's got five months to go."

"It will be less than nine but more than six." Arwen said in a quiet voice, the one that she used when a vision came to her. I flinched but her lavender eyes came to mine. "But he'll be healthy and powerful from the moment he's born." Then she laughed out loud. "I can feel him from here and he's not yet five months formed. You're growing a prodigy, my dear cousin."

I blushed and Sev kind of sighed, smiling at her and resting his head against my chest. "Thank ya, Arwen. Let's go in for our tea."

I just hoped that we had enough apple crumble to feed them all.

End part 28