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"I don't intend to challenge you. I honestly don't want to be the heir to the house of Black, it's bad enough having one vote in the Wizengamot. I don't know how my father enjoyed politicking the way he did. You're lucky you're too hard to find to be harassed about the way you and Longbottom vote your seats, since you're voting the Black seat so differently than the way it was traditionally voted," Draco replied.
"Neville votes each seat exactly the way I ask him to, every time," Hadrian said mildly, refraining from reminding Draco that his father had enjoyed politics for the opportunity it gave him to exert power over others.
"Yes, even when it's different to how he votes his own seats. I've noticed that, but the two of you don't disagree often, or maybe there's not a lot of issues you feel strongly enough about to care how he votes, so there's plenty of people who haven't noticed that and believe you have abandoned your duties to the Wizengamot and give Longbottom free reign," Draco said.
"I care about all the issues he votes for me on, if I don't care or don't feel I know enough to make an informed decision I abstain from voting, I never just go along with what Neville wants without knowing the details. We discuss each agenda item, I am fully informed and make my own decision on all the proposals, but you're right Neville and I mostly agree on the future we'd like to see for magical Britain, at least from a legal point of view," Hadrian replied, slightly irritated that Draco thought that he either didn't care or was handing his votes over to Neville for him to do as he wished.
"But can you trust Longbottom to present the issues unbiased by his beliefs, desires and own interests?" Draco asked.
"I trust Neville to be absolutely fair in presenting both sides of the argument as he understands it, but if you have concerns about any issues that you feel beyond Longbottom's comprehension or think that I need a different point of view as well, feel free to drop me a line about things yourself. My account managers will be happy to forward any correspondence, once they've deemed it safe for me to receive," Hadrian replied.
"I'll do that," Draco said almost arrogantly.
"I look forward to reading your side of the issues," Hadrian said diplomatically.
"You've come a long way from the brash Gryffindor I used to know," Draco said.
"Well fatherhood changes all of us, there's nothing like having children depending on you coming home fit and well to make you start thinking more seriously about the consequences of charging in rashly like a Gryffindor," Hadrian agreed amused.
"Thank you for seeing me Potter, even if it is over this muggle contraption," Draco said standing and bowing slightly.
"You're welcome Malfoy, I'm sorry that I couldn't help you with your mother. Please don't think that the contraption as you put it indicates a lack of trust or an unwillingness to meet you face to face. As I said, it was impossible for me to be in Britain again for several weeks, even the Wizengamot meeting was difficult, and I didn't think you would appreciate an international portkey for such a short conversation if I had an alternative," Hadrian stood and executed an awkward bow, letting Draco see his pregnant belly for the first time.
"Wow, Potter you look ready to explode," Draco almost stuttered in shock.
"I'm definitely ready to be done with this pregnancy, luckily my healer agrees with me so the twins will be born Monday if they don't decide to come before then," Hadrian agreed.
"Good luck with it all. But you said your healer already knows that they're magical?" Draco asked.
"Yes, it's a spell that every healer is banned from teaching to anyone, particularly anybody from your part of the world. He required an oath from me not to share it before he'd perform it on me when I was expecting Rosie," Hadrian said.
"But it could save lives," Draco protested.
"By killing infants before they were born? That's not saving lives and I'm sorry but I doubt that it would have saved your mother's sanity either, these children are already entrenched in my magic and my emotions, losing them at the point they were mature enough for the spell to be 100% accurate would do just as much damage to my family magic as killing them after they were born, perhaps even more if they were killed while we were still sharing magic, and it might very well kill me too," Hadrian said softly.
"Sharing magic? I thought that unborn children drained their mother's magic to survive not shared it," Draco said confused.
"No they share their magic with me as much as I do with them. Of course, I cannot actively use their magic except in times of extreme stress and much of mine is tied up protecting the babies, so I have less to use most of the time. But I could feel the vow I made in the Wizengamot the other day bind their magic as much as it did my own, as if they made the vow as well," Hadrian tried to explain.
"You said something like that during the session," Draco said nodding.
"Yes it was important that anyone who makes a vow like that knows that they are committing their children to it. I need to make sure that those around me know my children are bound to that vow so if history repeats itself and they are orphaned, they will still be told. I'm just lucky my mother apparently didn't make any vows whilst pregnant with me, or at least she didn't vow anything that I haven't accidentally kept, since I know absolutely nothing about that time of their lives," Hadrian said.
"I see, that's why you warned the ladies of the Wizengamot, but I wonder you took the risk of vowing," Draco said understandingly.
"Yes, I felt that I needed to back you up, that if I did others would follow. Neville heard me talking to my healer to check that it would be safe and distracted everyone by making his own vow. I honestly didn't expect any of the ladies who might be pregnant would vow after my warning, but I agree with Bones. No child of mine will grow up to be a child murderer if there's a single thing I could do to stop it," Hadrian said.
"I'm not surprised that Bones made the vow," Draco replied.
"Her argument made sense, I wouldn't want to believe a child I brought up, could grow into an adult willing to kill children, but nearly everything Bones does lately seems to surprise me. I was astonished when I found out at Ellison's christening that she married that arrogant fop MacMillan. Then when I met her at the Longbottom's she seemed to be just another useless pureblood society wife, happy to live the frivolous life MacMillan wanted, which surprised me after how fiercely she fought during the war and I was surprised they had no children considering how she dotes on her godson Franklin Longbottom. It was as if the lady I met at Ellison's christening wasn't Susan Bones at all and she's reverted to being more like the girl I knew," Hadrian commented.
"Lots of things have changed since you left," Draco said mildly.
"And from what I see, far too many things haven't," Hadrian retorted.
"You put the cat among the pigeons by suggesting that the WCPS needed to take an oath to do their jobs properly. Half the ministry was outraged," Draco said.
"And the other half was probably afraid that I will one day suggest that they should have to do the same. I honestly think more than half the ministry workers don't have a clue what their actual job should be and the skills to do it. The whole place was corrupt for so long that it's going to take years to fully fix the problems but we can't leave the WCPS to itself. The children they're supposed to be protecting are our future. I was an orphan. I should have fallen under their purview for sixteen years and yet I never even knew about their department until I learned about it in Auror training. There's a lot of problems with the muggle child protection service they're grossly underfunded and understaffed, but at least they're out there trying and every child over the age of six knows how to contact them. The WCPS where I live now is also heavily involved in monitoring muggle parents of first generation witches and wizards and investigate any defensive magic performed by any child anywhere, though I'm horrified that they don't consider binding a child's magic to be abuse," Hadrian stated.
"Children should be safe in their homes," Draco agreed. "He never hit me you know, my father. I barely saw him until I was about five or six but he was a good father to me, well I know now that he was good to me after I showed signs of magic but he wasn't abusive even before that. We didn't want for anything, the elves took good care of us."
"I'm glad you had a relatively happy childhood, our teen years sucked. What with Voldemort living in your house and punishing your father," Hadrian replied.
"That's what convinced me they were both mad. He was killing my father and the other Death Eaters by inches and Lucius still wanted me to follow him," Draco said.
"Your father knew your family would all be killed if he didn't deliver you to him," Hadrian said gently.
"Like he cared about my life after killing my brothers and sisters, or my mother's after sending her insane. He was trying to save his own worthless ass," Draco scoffed.
Hadrian had no answer to that since he agreed wholeheartedly that Lucius was a psychopath incapable of caring about anyone other than himself but he didn't think there was any benefit in saying so. "You were his heir, if the head of house had gone to a distant relative his part in your family's history would've been forgotten," he said instead.
"If he'd survived and mother and I had been killed he'd have married again and had another son. He blamed mother for my siblings not having magic," Draco said.
"He may have blamed her but it was just as likely to be his fault, and he knew it," Harry replied.
Rosie came running in crying and Hadrian hugged her close. "I've got to go Malfoy."
"Bye Potter. Cute kid," Draco said as the screen went blank.
Neville was waiting as Draco came out of the room. "Ready to go?" he asked.
"Yeah. Potter seems…" Draco began.'
"Content, happy, madly in love with his husband," Neville offered.
"I think I was going for content, and calm or even tempered. He seems very different from how he was at Hogwarts. I didn't see the husband," Draco replied.
"He is different, he feels safe where he lives now, he never had that before," Neville said sombrely. "I see a lot of similar differences in you too. You're both in control of your own lives now. I don't think that I ever recognised how little choice either of you had in anything as a teenager."
"For what it's worth, Longbottom, I am sorry now for the way I treated you," Draco said.
"I accept your apology," Neville replied.
"Harry said your sons have both showed signs of accidental magic, congratulations you must be relieved," Draco offered.
"I am but to be honest I'm also somewhat relieved they were both old enough to understand the words 'no' and 'stop' before they did. Potter's daughters were both using magic before they turned one and keeping them safe was a full time job, especially as they live in the muggle world, you wouldn't believe the weight of wards they have on the house" Neville replied. "Harry thinks that Ellison started to use magic earlier than Franklin because he's seen his brother doing it now and was able to copy him."
"He ought to keep that theory to himself, it's an argument against having multiple children," Draco replied.
"I don't think he's completely right. Franklin has spent a fair bit of time with Teddy and Rosie and I know they did magic in front of him but it still took him until he was four to do any himself. The Potter children all have very strong magical cores, even Teddy after his blood adoption though his birth parents weren't weak by any means either," Neville offered.
"Scorpius hasn't shown any signs of magic yet," Draco said.
"You've not been trying to engineer a situation where he'll have to use magic to save himself though, have you?" Neville asked.
"No, I'm willing to wait until he's ready. I don't want his first experience of using magic to be traumatic," Draco admitted.
"Your elves probably wait on him hand and foot. We had to get ours to back off a bit to motivate Franklin to want to do things for himself, summon things he couldn't get to instead of just pointing at it and having the elves summoning it for him," Neville suggested.
"Doesn't Potter have elves?" Draco asked.
"More than both of us put together probably, but he also has a witch nanny for the children and limits the amount of time they spend alone with the elves," Neville replied.
"Scorpius is also pretty isolated, none of my friends or associates have a four year old," Draco said.
"Have you considered putting him in muggle play groups or nursery school?" Neville asked. "Harry encouraged us to, he said that it wouldn't matter if Franklin and Ellison talked about magic or magical creatures, the adults would just believe it was imagination or something they'd seen on the television."
"What's television?" Draco asked, curious but hating to admit he didn't know. Better to admit it to Longbottom than to Potter though.
"Like a cross between muggle radio with pictures as well as sound and a play or a story book. It's rather amazing to see. Anyway, they have a lot of highly fanciful children's programs with talking toys and fake fairies and things," Neville said.
"I'll think about it and talk it over with Astoria," Draco replied noncommittally. Neville didn't believe he would, even though it would be good for the little boy to learn more about the rest of the world he could understand Malfoy's hesitation, it had been a difficult decision for Hannah and he to make too.
Neville nodded and held out the portkey returning them to the magical world.
"Can I contact Potter like that again?" Draco asked. "I'd like to hear what happens with the babies, if they're okay."
"I'll get word to you when I hear anything, and yes I can show you how to set up an email and skype account so you can talk to Potter. There are computers available to hire time on in most towns, or you may prefer to get yourself a cell phone you won't be able to see him on it but you dial his number and can talk to him or anyone else's number you know," Neville replied, showing Draco his mobile phone.
"Can you show me where to get one and how to use it? Do many of your friends have one?" Draco asked looking at it worriedly.
"They're fairly simple but yes I'll show you. The most complicated part will be arranging a muggle bank account to take care of paying the bill for you each month," Neville said. "That and convincing your wife that she and all her friends don't need to call each other half a dozen times per day once they all get one."
Draco laughed, "So it's a muggle sort of floo call?" he asked.
"Yes, but totally portable. It doesn't work at Hogwarts which I'm sure the professors will be very relieved about once they catch on. Harry said it's a real problem getting teenagers off their phones in the nonmagical world. This is a very simple one but Harry's does a lot of other things as well as calls and short written messages."
"So Harry's phone is better?" Draco asked.
"It's probably more expensive and it does more things, he uses it as a diary, a map, a camera and I don't know what else, but it's also more complicated to use, I had enough trouble learning to use this one, his husband Tim's phone is more complicated again but they need them that way for work," Neville replied amused. If Hadrian didn't put his foot down and insist on starting simple Malfoy would end up with a phone so expensive and chock full of gadgets that he wouldn't be able to learn to use it.
Hadrian was relieved when he finally started labour on a Saturday afternoon while Tim was home. He didn't want to have to pull his husband out of work in the middle of a case and he was more than ready to be able to walk without waddling and get out of chairs without feeling like he needed to use magic to help him stand.
"It's nearly time to go to the hospital," he said quietly.
"I'll grab your bag and let Mom and Barbara know. Do you want me to bring the kids in to say goodbye before we go?" Tim asked far more calm than he'd been the last two times. He knew if there was any hurry Hadrian would have told him they needed to leave immediately.
"Yes please, but don't wake Daisy up if she's still sleeping," Hadrian said.
Teddy came running in excitedly. "Daddy said its time to go get the babies out, and we can meet them," he told Hadrian.
"Yes it's almost time to go. Daddy's gone to get our bags and send you and Rosie in to say goodbye," Hadrian replied.
"I want to come and see the babies," Teddy objected.
"You can come and visit once they're out and I'm all healed up and Healer Roberts says the babies are ready for you to visit," Hadrian promised.
"Why can't I go with Daddy?" Teddy asked, pouting.
"Getting the babies out is hard work. Daddy's going to be busy helping the Healer take out the babies and making sure they're okay and I'm all healed up so Daddy and I need you to stay here and be good for Grandma Heather and Barbara," Hadrian said. "As soon as the babies are out, and I've had a bit of sleep then Daddy will bring you and your sisters to meet the babies. It might be after dinner or it might not be until tomorrow it depends how quickly the babies come out. We will probably need to sleep a lot after they come out, it's very tiring work," It depended more on how much healing the three of them required but he didn't want to worry Teddy and didn't know how else to explain it.
"I want a baby sister," Rosie reminded her father's making them chuckle.
"Remember that we told you that we don't get to choose, the babies have already chosen if they want to be a boy or a girl, so it might be two sisters or two brothers or one of each, and you already have a little sister," Tim reminded the little girl patiently, hugging her gently. "Be good for Tollie, Barbara and Heather and we will see you soon."
"I would like a brother, but I promise to be a good big brother if it is more sisters," Teddy said, it was a frequently repeated promise lately.
"We know you will Teddybear, the babies will be lucky to have a big brother as amazing as you are," Hadrian said using the rarely used nickname to reassure his soon to be eldest son, and hugging him as well.
Tim wondered whether Teddy would be secretly a little relieved if the twins were both girls because he was afraid not being the only boy would threaten his place in the family. They'd both reassured him that he'd always be their eldest son but knowing he was the only one that was adopted wasn't always easy as Teddy grew older and understood what it meant a little more, even if there wasn't a difference in Hadrian or Tim's eyes and they tried hard to make sure they didn't treat him differently except for the differences resulting from being older.
"We need to go, both of you give Papa a gentle hug and we will see you later," Tim said seeing his husband shift uncomfortably as another contraction started.
They hugged Hadrian and then stepped back as Tim helped his husband stand and activate the hospital grade portkey.
Being twins, Hadrian wanted Tim to be there with him during the surgery so he could hold the first baby while the healers concentrated on birthing the second and healing Hadrian. Tim knew that Hadrian's entire torso had been spelled to feel nothing at all but it was still horrendous to watch the healer cut him open while he lay there talking to them. A nerve wracking ten minutes after the start of the procedure the healer handed the first baby to Tim. "A healthy baby boy, tuck him in next to your skin, while I deliver his brother or sister," he ordered as the nurse vanished his shirt and covered them with a soft blanket. Tim looked down at his son and instantly fell in love, he was so distracted that the second baby's cry startled him and he looked up to see the healer lift out the other baby.
"Another healthy baby boy, good job Hadrian, let's get you healed up and ready to meet the wee ones," Healer Roberts said in satisfaction.
Soon the second baby boy was cuddled up to Hadrian's chest as the healer finished sealing up the incision across his lower belly.
"They're perfect," Tim whispered in awe.
"Two perfect little boys," Hadrian said looking at them adoringly.
"So, which one do you think is which?" Tim questioned as he came to sit beside Hadrian so he could see the first baby. knowing that Hadrian probably had definite ideas which child suited which name better.
"They don't look much alike at all now they're together. I think that I'm holding Liam Sebastian and you've got Archer Finley," Hadrian said decisively.
The nurse looked to Tim who nodded, and she quickly spelled the names onto the name bands and attached them to both ankles of each child. The healer came and took Archer for assessment returning him and doing the same with Liam.
"They're both perfectly healthy little wizards," he told them.
"Thank you," Hadrian said smiling blissfully down at his babies.
"Their bottles are warming they'll be hungry soon so give them a feed when they start to fuss and then try to get some rest," the nurse instructed.
"Can I bring the children in to visit their new brothers?" Tim asked.
"Let Hadrian get a little rest soon and go get them after he wakes up," the nurse suggested.
Hadrian fell asleep and Tim rang his mother with the news before feeding the twins and settling them for their first nap. Luckily both of them were content to fall asleep in the double bassinet together instead of needing to be held like Daisy or talked to like Rosie had been. Tim snuggled up behind Hadrian holding him gently while watching the three of them sleep.
Later that afternoon after the twins had woken them and Tim had changed both babies and fed Archie while Hadrian fed Liam, he went to collect the older children to meet their new brothers. Heather had all three children cleaned up and wearing some of their nicer play clothes in matching tones ready for the first pictures of the seven of them as a family, and the elves had packed up Hadrian's favourite meal and treacle tart for dessert.
Teddy was excited that both the babies were little brothers not more sisters and while Rosie was a little disappointed, Tim reminded her that it was fair because she already had a little sister in Daisy. Daisy was just excited that there would be babies to play with, though Tim thought she would be disappointed that it would be a while before they would be big enough to play with her.
They portkeyed back to the hospital and Hadrian greeted them enthusiastically as they hugged him before moving over to the bassinette to look at the babies and take turns to hold them. Teddy told his little brothers about how he was going to teach them to play soccer and fly a broom and play quidditch.
"Me too fly broom," Daisy said.
"Yes Daisy I'm sure Teddy will help me teach you how to fly a broom when you're big enough," Hadrian said.
"Big enough now?" Daisy demanded.
"We can't fly around here, but maybe when we go to the beach in summer you can start learning to fly and to swim," Hadrian said calmly.
Rosie cheered at the idea of going back to the beach, and swimming though she didn't love to fly the way Papa and Teddy did. She held each of the babies for a few minutes but quickly became distracted, Tim saw Hadrian starting to tire again and took the children home, encouraging them to tell Grandma Heather and Barbara all about their new baby brothers.
Because it was twins, even though they were both a good size and the actual operation and blood loss wasn't much worse than a single delivery caesarean the healer wanted to keep the three of them an extra day, confiding that it was also because he knew they had three very active children at home and no matter how much help they had with them they wouldn't get enough rest there. So Tim and Hadrian had two full nights in the hospital instead of one and they had to admit they were grateful for the extra time and advice in dealing with two babies at a time.
A/N: Thank you to all those who reviewed followed or favourited this story for your support.
I wish everyone the best in this time. Please stay safe and keep your distance, stay at home if you can and keep in contact with family and friends on line, take care of your mental and emotional well being and seek help if you need it.