Harry sighed happily, and drank his tea. He couldn't wait for their first trip out as a whole family. It might very well be a disaster waiting to happen, but they were a large family, and they were only going to get larger, he refused to keep his children trapped in the house continuously just because they had nine of them. He couldn't wait to get to that garden centre.
Chapter One Hundred-Thirty – Gardening
It was ridiculous how excited he was to go to a bloody garden centre, but as Harry made sure that Leolin was safe in his pram, and that the toddler reins he had on Calix were securely around his wrist, Harry's heart was actually hammering from excitement, and he couldn't keep the grin from his face.
Blaise had the other pram with Taren nestled safely inside, and Draco, Max, and Nasta had their work cut out for them with the other kids, who were treating this simple walk to a shop like the biggest adventures of their young lives. They were as excited as Harry was, and it made him so happy, as they took a nice, easy walk down the street as a family.
"We must be insane." Draco insisted, as he held Farren's hand.
"It's nice to do things as a family and not just in groups of three or four." Harry said, keeping his eyes on the group of his kids walking together along the pavement. He'd forced them to hold hands with one another.
They saw some of their neighbours, who were virtual strangers to them as they rarely came out of the house, especially not together, and they were gawping. Harry wondered if they'd believed him when he'd gone on a meet and greet with Eva and Ave that one time, when he'd told all of them that there were five men living in that big house. From the looks on their faces, no, they hadn't believed him, and had thought, or maybe hoped, that he'd been winding them up.
"Daddy, what's 'at?" Braiden asked, holding hands with Nasta and pointing at things.
"It's a lamppost, Braiden. It's a light for when it gets dark outside." Nasta explained to a fascinated Braiden…and a curious Draco and Blaise.
It was Eva and Ave who were going to be the biggest worry, as they liked fighting one another, and would likely get tired easily, especially as they were not strong walkers, but Max had one in each arm, their curly chestnut hair a match for his own.
They had to stop for breaks along the way, both for nappy changes and drinks, they had to stop Regan from running into the road, try and stop Calix from having a tantrum because he wanted to run everywhere, but was tethered to the pram by the toddler reins he was wearing, and it did take them almost an hour to reach the garden centre…twice as long as it should have taken.
"Hold my hand, Regan." Draco insisted firmly, holding it out to Regan, who was holding Tegan's hand on the other side.
"This might not have been the best idea." Harry admitted with a giggle, as he watched his mates trying to control the kids, who clearly thought that the garden centre was a new playground to explore.
"You say that now, when we're already here!" Max groaned, getting a trolley and sitting Eva and Ave into it.
Harry laughed, and pushed the pram into the garden centre and he headed immediately for the outside section, and the vast selection of plants.
"Leolin, baby, look."
Harry helped Leolin to sit up in the pram, using the blankets to wedge him upright and keep him there. Leolin's gold eyes went round with wonder, and the grin that took over his face threatened to bring Harry to tears. Whatever happened now…if his kids went on a rampage and they had to fork out several thousand pounds for damages, this was worth it.
Nasta was the only one who was properly shopping, picking up plants and bedding flowers and filling the trolley that Max was pushing.
"Love, pass Calix to me." Max insisted. "You take Leolin around to see if there's anything he really likes."
Harry twisted his wrist and got the strap into his hand and then passed it over to Max, who redirected Calix easily enough by allowing him to climb the side of the trolley and hold on. Calix loved climbing.
Harry picked up Leolin and went around the plants, as they had at Alexander's, and he allowed Leolin to touch all the plants and flowers.
"Ma!" Leolin called out, and tipped his head back to look at him, as if making sure that Harry was seeing what he was.
"Do you like this one, baby?" Harry asked him. "Yes, we like this one."
Harry picked up a tray of the very pretty purple flowers and he handed them to Max, who placed them carefully into the trolley that was already getting to be overfull.
"Between you and Nasta we should have got another trolley." Max teased.
"We could always send you to go and get another one." Harry teased right back, grabbing all the bright, colourful flowers, and picking up as many different ones as he could find. Nasta was covering all edible plants it seemed, as Harry noticed strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, and blackberry plants already in the trolley. He smiled, he was excited, even as he saw Blaise chase down Regan, who was trying to tip a huge tree onto himself.
"Do we have all of them still?" Max asked, looking around, and counting the kids. He nodded to himself. "All nine."
"Are you sure you didn't count one of them twice?" Harry giggled, even as he put the red flowers in the trolley that Leolin had touched.
"Mummy, these ones pretty."
Harry turned and smiled down at Tegan, taking the tray of bright pink flowers from her and adding them to the trolley. Tegan grinned widely as she saw, and wriggled herself, and then dived back to find more, Blaise trailing after her hurriedly, Regan tucked under his arm.
"We're going to buy out this garden centre, I can see it." Max chuckled.
"Daddy, those ones! Pick those ones!" Calix called out, pointing to the black flowers.
"Do you want some black flowers to match your eyes?" Max asked him, picking up the tray of black pansies.
"Yuh. I want those!"
Max placed the tray into the trolley, and shook his head at how many they already had.
"It's a good thing we have such a large garden." He said, pushing the trolley further forward, following Harry and Leolin.
"It's going to be great." Harry insisted. "I can't wait to plant all of these for Leolin. For all of them."
"Mostly for Leolin, but we understand that he needs them more."
Harry looked quickly at Leolin to see what had caught his attention, and it was a large bush of lavender. Leolin was reaching out for it desperately, stretching his arms as far as he could.
Harry moved them towards it, and he let Leolin snuggle with it.
"Max, we want a few of these." Harry told his mate.
"Sure thing." Max agreed, picking up two of the lavender bushes and putting them carefully in the trolley, without flattening any of the flowers, before he turned and got two more.
"We definitely need another trolley." Harry giggled.
"Nasta's on it." Max told him. "He's found some tomato plants that Farren is very interested in, so he's gone to get another trolley for them."
Harry laughed. "Of course Farren likes the tomato plants."
"Mummy, these ones."
Harry turned back to Tegan, and he smiled as she presented him with a violet-blue coloured plant.
"Oh, those are so pretty, Tegan. Do you want them?"
"Yes, Mummy. They pretty."
Leolin liked them too, as he turned from the lavender bush to run reverent fingers over the bell shaped flowers of the bluebell plant that Tegan was holding.
Harry stood with it, and he handed it to Max, to try and balance the pot on the tower of plants he already had.
"We might need three trolleys." Harry giggled.
"No, two trolleys is enough to be getting on with, don't forget we need to get compost too, and then actually dig the flowerbeds and fill them." Max reminded him.
"You're no fun." Harry teased.
"It doesn't seem like a lot of work, but it actually is." Max told him. "It already might take us a few days to finish it, and that's with a little extra help."
"I can't wait, Max!" Harry insisted, so excited at the very thought of digging in the garden with his mates and babies.
Max smiled at him softly, and bent to kiss his head.
"We can start when we get home."
"What about compost?"
"Nasta's handling it. He's ordering one of those massive industrial bags to be dropped off at the house, along with everything else that we buy. There's no way we could get any of this home without a car."
Harry wanted to screech, or squeal, like an excited child, but he managed to control himself.
He turned back to continue down the line, bending and leaning to allow Leolin to touch or hug anything he showed interest in.
"Harry, the kids are starting to get more destructive, they need some time to sit and wind down." Nasta told him. He was pushing another trolley that was already full.
"Yeah, okay. You said there was a café near here?"
"Just a few stores over. If I get this paid for, can you, Draco, and Blaise start getting the kids to the café, or do you need Max too?"
"Nah, we'll be fine, we have the prams." Harry said. "We can heat up bottles in this café? Leolin could use a bottle."
"Yes, they have a little microwave where you can heat up bottles and baby food, it might cause a few heat spots, so just shake it for an extra minute." Max told him.
Harry nodded and he helped Draco and Blaise round up the other kids, and he laid Leolin back in his pram. Leolin did not like that he was no longer within touching distance of a plant, and he scowled, glaring up at Harry.
"It won't be for long, sweetie." Harry told him gently. "Very soon the garden will be filled with flowers for you, and so will your bedroom."
"Mummy, pick up!"
Harry looked down to Regan, and smiled at him, hefting him up and cocking him on his hip as he pushed the pram. That only made Leolin more upset, and he thrashed his arms and legs, letting out a loud cry.
"Baby upset." Regan told him.
"Leolin just needs a nap, Regan."
"You're tired too?" Harry asked.
Harry stopped and he pulled Regan in tighter to him, snuggling his face into his neck, and stroking his hair.
"You just go to sleep, honey." Harry told him.
Harry carried Regan, while Leolin wound himself up.
"Did you find everything you were looking for?" A helpful cashier asked as she saw three of them leaving, with all of the kids.
"Yes, thank you." Harry said, smiling back. "Our other two partners are going to be paying for everything, but the kids need lunch, so we're going on ahead without them."
The cashier was still gaping as Harry casually announced that they were all partners. He gave a little wave, and encouraged the kids out of the store.
"Do you know where this café is?" Draco asked.
"Max said it was three stores down so…" Harry trailed off and looked either way. "Ah, there it is, come on."
Harry walked towards it, and peeked inside to see if there were enough seats. This would be a first for them…their first meal out with all of them and all of the kids.
The café was nearly deserted, and Harry was grateful. Blaise got the door, and Harry pushed the one pram in, and Draco pushed in the other. He went to the furthest table he could, that would still fit them all, but away from the other diners, just in case. The poor boy behind the counter looked anxious enough as it was.
Farren had already climbed into his seat, and Braiden climbed up beside him, and Harry heard people tittering and cooing. It made his Dracken want to thrust out his chest, but he ignored the urge.
"I feel so awkward." Blaise whispered, even as he helped sit Tegan in her seat.
"Don't be." Draco told him. "We have a right to be able to sit in a café with our family. I can go and order food, but Harry, you're probably best using the microwave."
Harry nodded at that logic. "I want tea and a chocolate cake." Harry told his mate, grinning, even as he dug out the two baby bottles.
Blaise had lifted Taren from the pram, so Harry laid Regan down into it, and then went to the counter and flashed the cashier a smile, and held up the bottles and pointed to the microwave. "Can I?" He asked.
"I…uh…yeah, yeah of course, Sir." The man insisted, regaining some composure.
Harry went and placed the bottles into the microwave one at a time. He could hear Leolin's cries rise to deafening.
"I'm sorry about him, he's just hungry." He tried to explain, even though he didn't include even half of what was frustrating Leolin right now.
"It's fine." The man waved away. "Are they…are they all yours?"
Harry nodded, even as he tested the bottles against his arm, and finding the bigger bottle a little cool, he popped it back in.
"Yeah, all nine of them. My lovers and I are a little overrun, but we've always wanted a larger family. We enjoy the unique challenges it poses."
"You're…you're not a day care?"
Harry laughed. "No, we might look like one, we feel like it too, at times, but no, we're family."
"But…how do you get the babies?" The boy asked, then coloured right up. "Sorry, I shouldn't have asked that."
Harry smiled as he switched out bottles. "It's fine, we understand curiosity, and you were hardly rude."
"That's debatable." Draco said coolly, coming up behind him, making the boy go a shade darker.
"We use a surrogate." Harry said, giving Draco a warning look. "All of us have always wanted a large family, and we see no reason to curb ourselves. We can certainly afford them."
"It's not always about affording them. It's about time given." A snobby looking woman told them. "You're already outnumbered three to one."
"No we're not." Draco snapped back. "We're not even at two to one yet. There are five of us. Harry, go and feed the kids their bottles, you don't have to listen to this."
Harry didn't argue, he really didn't want to listen to this same argument over and over, just from a different voice. He was getting sick of people sticking their noses in. Instead he kissed Draco's cheek and then carried the bottles back to the table.
"More busybodies?" Blaise asked disinterestedly.
Harry hummed. "The cashier is just curious, that snobby woman there is the issue. Draco has her in hand though. He's got the sharpest tongue I've ever seen."
"Kissing sure is interesting though." Blaise teased.
Harry laughed, even as he picked up Leolin and offered him the bottle. Blaise was feeding Taren, and the kids were babbling to one another, hitting the table, making noise, or in Calix's case, trying to climb onto the table.
"Sit down, Calix." Harry said sternly.
"No." Calix whined, still trying to get onto the table.
"Calix." Harry said, lowering his tone just slightly, giving his son a slight scowl.
Calix whined wordlessly, but sunk back into his seat.
"You're getting better at that." Blaise told him, smiling.
"Just copy Nasta. I've found that works out really well." Harry laughed.
Blaise chuckled with him. "He is a rather good role model, for all of us."
"We love him." Harry said with a grin.
Blaise scoffed. "Sometimes."
"Aw, is he still giving you a hard time over how much coffee you drink? You know he only does it because he worries. It's his job as top dominant to worry, I think half of it was his upbringing with an overprotective Aneirin, and the other half is just his Dracken riding his arse about constantly looking after us."
"Doesn't mean it's not annoying. I'm only twenty, I'm not going to keel over from a few cups of coffee."
"He might be a bit more lenient if you didn't double shot your espresso every morning." Harry pointed out, his smile wide enough to hurt.
Blaise gave him a grin back. "I like the way he fusses."
"I knew it!" Harry said, letting out an evil sounding cackle. "You do it because you like him fussing over you."
"Don't tell him."
"Of course not. I like Nasta's fussing too." Harry winked. "But you know you don't have to wind him up to get him to fuss, don't you? Just go and snuggle up to him, he likes it when we do that."
"Oh, I do that too." Blaise insisted. "I just like seeing him fuss over me when I drink coffee. It's nice to know that he cares."
Harry chuckled. "Oh, I more than understand." He said, placing the bottle on the table and lifting Leolin to his shoulder to wind him.
The two of them shared a look, then a chuckle. Draco came over with one tray, and he started handing out drinks to the kids. They were little bottles of fruit flavoured drinks, and they had a sport's cap, which the kids had never had before, but they seemed to be managing just fine.
Draco had to go back for another tray, and the cashier brought over the third.
"I got sandwiches for the kids, brown bread to appease Nasta." Draco said, as he handed out sandwiches to the kids. "I told the cashier to cut them into fourths so they can have two each, and still share."
"Good thinking, Draco." Harry said, but he didn't look away from the plate of chocolate cake that his mate had placed in front of him.
Blaise had gotten a coffee, of course, and a little lemon tart. Harry looked interestedly at it.
"Do you want a bit?" Blaise asked him, looking at him watching with a smile.
"We can trade a bite?" Harry offered, slicing a bit of his cake with his fork and offering it to Blaise, who did the same with the tart.
"Hmm…that's nice." Blaise said. "Very rich, but I do prefer zesty to indulgent."
"I like yours, but I prefer this one." Harry grinned.
"Where's mine?" Draco demanded.
Harry gave a wicked grin, and he offered Draco another forkful of cake. He brought the clean fork back to his mouth and he licked it while staring at Draco. His eyes darkened and he gave a little smirk.
"Want some?" Blaise asked, offering a forkful of his tart. The two of them repeated what Harry had done and Harry let out a naughty giggle.
"We really can't leave you three alone, can we?" Max asked, grinning down at them, hands on his hips.
"Why would you want to?" Harry teased coyly, before sucking another piece of cake from his fork.
Max let out a soft, aroused growl. Harry wasn't surprised when Max took the chair next to him and crowded into him, taking a kiss and licking into Harry's mouth. Harry let out a soft moan.
"Enough you two, we're in public, and with our children." Draco chastised.
"I was just having some cake." Max said innocently…or as innocently as he could manage while his voice had gone all deep and rumbly with arousal.
"Taking it from Harry's mouth is not having cake."
"It was a very delicious cake." Max said.
"I like it." Harry agreed, sending Max a sly look.
Nasta came over to their table with another tray, with his and Max's drinks on it, and two sandwiches.
Before he even sat down, he kissed all of the kids, and even accepted a bite from Tegan's soggy, mushed sandwich that she held up for him.
"Where's Regan?" He asked with a frown, then spotted him in the pram.
"He wanted a bit of a nap." Harry explained. "He's still refusing to nap at mid-morning, so his afternoon nap always hits him harder."
"We're going to have to try to get him to take his morning nap."
"It's because the others don't have one, he feels awkward, I guess." Harry said.
"The others don't need a nap, he does."
Harry sighed, and took a deep drink of tea. He didn't think it would be that simple. Regan could be very stubborn when he wanted to be, and if he didn't want a nap, they couldn't force him to have one. The problem was he got so tired in the afternoons that he crashed for three hours.
"When are they going to deliver the plants now?" Blaise asked, changing the subject, and brightening Harry back up as he looked at Nasta expectantly.
"They're loading it all into a lorry and it'll be delivered in two hours. Enough time for us to get home, for the kids to have a bit of a nap, and then we can tire them right back out again in the garden."
"It's a nice day. It's not going to rain, so we can dig in the garden all we like. Did you get the kids tools?"
Max grinned. "Yeah, a dozen sets of toddler sized trowels and forks, and five adult sets."
"Why five?" Draco asked. "I'm not going to be digging in the mud!" He told them seriously.
Harry laughed in the face of Draco's disgust, and he trailed off to little giggles, so he wouldn't disturb anyone else in the cafe
"I got it just in case you wanted to help." Nasta soothed. "You don't have to join us if you don't want to."
"Yeah, we know how much you've been itching to read the last few chapters of that book. You can do that instead."
Draco looked from Nasta to Max, but then he looked at Harry.
"Would any of you mind if I did that?"
"Course not." Harry said immediately. "Just because I want to dig flowerbeds doesn't mean any of you have to do the same."
"I have to abandon you at some point to make dinner." Max shrugged.
"I might just supervise the kids." Blaise said.
"You two are such snobs." Max chuckled.
"You like me all clean and fresh." Blaise said immediately.
Max gave him a heated look. "Oh, I most certainly do. I like you all hot and sweaty too."
"Maybe we could get all hot and sweaty after you're done bathing from digging in the mud."
"Aw, but I wanted to go to bed all dirty." Harry grinned.
"No, we just want to do dirty things in bed." Max corrected him.
Harry chuckled, feeling himself getting a little hotter. He hadn't had sex since before Taren was born, and he was ready. More than ready for a bit of fun and intimacy with his mates.
The trip home took longer than the trip to the garden centre, because instead of having very active, wound up toddlers who were ready for an adventure, they had tired, grouchy toddlers who all wanted a nap, and clamoured to be carried, so now Nasta was carrying both Farren and Tegan, and Draco had Braiden cradled in his arms, all three of them sleeping. Eva and Ave were in Blaise's arms, also sleeping. The only kids still awake were Leolin, who had been distracted by his light up ball which Harry had packed in the nappy bag, just in case, and Calix, who was still bouncing around, full of an endless energy that was impressive…and just a tad frustrating.
One back home they had settled the kids down for a nap in the family room, and Harry had taken Leolin and Calix into the smaller living room, so they didn't disturb the sleeping kids.
His tea had been nice in the café, but he sighed in acute pleasure as Max handed him a cup of his honey tea, and he took the first, perfect sip.
"The delivery will be here in half an hour. Until then you can just sit tight and enjoy yourself."
Harry nodded, as he watched Calix playing by himself, and Leolin in his bouncer with his light up ball still.
"Are the others all okay?"
"Perfectly fine, Harry. They're all still asleep after the excitement of trashing a garden centre and then a café."
"They didn't trash it." Harry said, though he smiled.
Max bent over the back of the settee and wrapped his arms around Harry's shoulders, turning to kiss his neck, and Harry giggled and squirmed.
"I love you so much." Max declared out of the blue, and Harry smiled up at him.
"I love you too, Max."
"I swear I'll be better. I'll try harder. For you, for us, and our family."
Harry sighed. "I forgave you already, Max."
"I don't care. I haven't forgiven myself."
"Please. Please don't ruin today by thinking about it. I have had a really nice day. I'm excited about gardening still. I…I was scared when you started fighting, all I could think about was the aftermath of that last fight, and I panicked a little, and let out a distress call."
"We understand, and I don't want to ruin today. I like seeing you happy and excited. But I'm just aware that it is still hanging over us, and I do really, truly love you."
Harry smiled, and reached up with his free arm and wrapped it around Max's neck.
"I love you too, goof ball."
Max kissed him again and then stood back up. "I'm going to go and make sure we have all our old clothes laid out."
"That'll be a good idea. I got a bit dressed up for our outing, getting back into slouchy clothes will be a good idea."
Max smiled and headed for the door, and Harry was left alone again, with his tea and two awake children.
He pushed aside his sad thoughts of that fight, and the feelings that came with it, and instead thought of the fun he was going to have digging trenches in the garden to plant flowers. Nasta was out in the garden, marking out where all of the flower beds, and the veg patch, would go. He needed to make sure that it wouldn't get in the way of his little tree house project, so Harry didn't mind him doing it. He didn't even mind that Nasta and Max were going to do most of the digging, because the kids couldn't do it, obviously, and they didn't want him doing too much, because of Taren's birth.
The door knocked and Blaise called out that he was getting it, Harry was too excited though, so he made sure Leolin was safe, and he picked up Calix and took him to the front door. Blaise was signing for the delivery of plants and compost.
"They're putting it all around the back, Harry." Blaise told him, as he handed back the clipboard.
"In that case I'm going to get changed. Calix can come with me."
"He's going to love digging in all the mud."
"I hope so." Harry said, grinning, as he headed for the stairs.
"Mama, no go bed."
"You're not going to bed, Calix." Harry said, as he carried him up to his own bedroom.
"No nap?" Calix asked, rather suspiciously, which made Harry laugh.
"No, sweetie. If you don't want a nap, you don't have to have one. We're going outside."
"More outside?" Calix asked, his black eyes lighting up.
"Yes, more outside time."
"Downstairs?" Calix said questioningly.
"I know outside is downstairs, but we have to change clothes first."
Harry placed Calix on the floor, and set to changing himself into the old clothes that Max had laid out for him. Harry frowned at the old jeans, and wondered if he'd even be able to fit in them anymore. Almost back to back pregnancies had made him a more healthier weight, and after Draco and Blaise had started buying him new clothes from the start of their mateship, most of his oldest, most ragged jeans were from when he was a lot slimmer.
He tried them on, and though they were a tight squeeze, he fit into them. Harry rolled his eyes as he realised why Max had chosen these particular jeans, as he looked in the mirror and saw his arse. The back seam had pretty much vanished between his cheeks and how tight they were was holding his arse in place, making it look peachier and more pert than usual.
He considered taking them off and finding another, looser pair for all of a minute, but then he smirked. Why should he? He could have some fun gardening with his babies and tease his mates while he was at it. Maybe this would end the dry spell they'd been having since Taren had come along.
"Come on, Calix." Harry said, holding his hand out to his son. "Let's get you into some gardening clothes and go dig some holes."
Calix actually laid still for once, as Harry changed him into some old clothes that offered him more manoeuvrability, and it wouldn't matter if he got holes in them, or got them covered in mud.
"Done now?" Calix asked him, looking down at himself as Harry lifted him to his feet.
"Yep, we're done, sweetie. Let's go make a mess!"
Calix grinned, all of his little teeth on show. He had almost a full set now, at two years old, and he looked adorable…cheeky, but adorable.
Max and Nasta were in the garden, just staring at the delivery which had just been dumped on their lawn, as if they couldn't believe how much they'd bought, and were wondering how they were going to get it all put into its proper place.
"It's not going to get planted with you staring at it!" Harry called out, as he led Calix over.
"I'm hoping that it might." Max bemoaned, then caught sight of Harry's legs in the tight jeans and he looked gobsmacked, as if someone had taken a mallet to his forehead.
It was ridiculous really, they'd been mated for two years now, but Harry still liked the little thrill he got when his mates reacted to him like that. He pretended not to notice as he fussed over Calix, and pulled the little toddler gardening tools from the cardboard packaging.
Nasta had at least made some headway into digging beds for the flowers to go into, and it was to this that Harry directed Calix, and he took delight in sitting on his knees, and bending forward more than he strictly needed to, to show Calix how to dig with the miniature trowel.
He had been waiting for it, excessively listening for it, so he couldn't help the smug smile when he heard Max's deep groan of appreciation.
"What is that for?" Nasta asked.
Max must have indicated towards him, because he heard the sharp inhale from Nasta.
"Where did he even find those?" He barely heard Nasta whisper.
"I laid them out for him. I thought they were one of his bigger pairs. We really need to get him some new clothes that fit him."
"We can spoil him later. First we need to survive gardening with that as a distraction."
Harry assumed that 'that' was his arse on display, and he hid a chuckle.
"Mummy, I like this." Calix said happily.
"Do you like this, Calix? I like this too." He said, digging with his own trowel. "Nas, can we throw in the compost?"
"Sure, Caru." Nasta told him, trying to act nonchalant, but Harry could hear the deeper tone to his voice.
"You two okay over there?" He asked, throwing a concerned look over his shoulder. "You're supposed to be helping."
"Hey, we've already dug a trench for you." Max laughed.
"Oh, don't pretend that you didn't use magic. I don't see any of the dirt you've dug out anywhere."
"He's got us there." Max said, grinning to Nasta.
Nasta chuckled. "He probably would have guessed from how quickly we managed to do it too, but we thought it best to get rid of what we could before the kids came out." Nasta said looking back at Harry.
"Good thinking, love." Harry smiled his best smile, and stood to go and give Nasta a kiss.
"I helped too!" Max said almost desperately.
Harry kept his wide smile in place through sheer stubbornness, as he went to Max and kissed him. He could almost feel Max's hand flexing towards his arse, but Harry pulled back and turned back to Calix.
"He really likes digging." Harry cooed, watching as Calix merely shifted a bit of loose dirt from one place to another. He'd have a much easier time digging once they actually filled the trench with the compost.
"Grab him for a moment, Harry. I'll fill it in with compost now."
Harry went and redirected Calix to the flowers, asking him to pick some out to plant. This took a very long time, as there were so many. Plenty of time for Nasta and Max to tip full wheelbarrows of compost into the little dug flowerbeds.
"Hey, we're done with this section, Harry. It's ready for planting."
He was excited, as he picked up Calix's chosen flowers and herded his son over. There was no pattern really, no colour coordination or groupings of similar plants together, Harry planted what Calix wanted to plant, where his son wanted them planted.
Calix really did have a lot of fun digging in the loose compost, which was a lot easier for him to move, and it was mostly Harry who was planting, because as soon as Calix was done digging one hole, he'd move onto digging the next while Harry was left to plant the flowers.
Max and Nasta carried on digging trenches with magic, and then filling them in with compost. They were done before Blaise herded out sleepy-eyed toddlers who had all been changed into more appropriate gardening clothes. Blaise was carrying Leolin, who was squirming and crying, until he caught sight of the mass of flowers all over the lawn.
"Draco is going to keep an eye on Taren. He obviously can't help with the gardening, so it makes more sense to have Draco watch him."
"Draco wanted to read his book, though." Harry fretted.
"He still can, Harry." Blaise waved off, coming over to him. "Taren's still sleeping. Besides even if he does wake up then Draco can read while Taren is snuggled in his arms. As long as he's fed and dry, Taren doesn't complain."
Harry went to take Leolin, but Blaise pulled back and shook his head.
"You want to dig in the mud, I don't." Blaise told him. "I'm happy enough to let Leolin cuddle some plants and flowers, but you can't dig in the mud and watch over him."
Harry nodded, and watched how Leolin reacted as he was moved away from him. For a moment it looked like he might cry, then Blaise waved a lavender bush at him and Leolin decided he wanted plants more than he did his Ma, and Harry chuckled at how happy the plants made his Faerie baby, trying to brush away his upset, and hint of jealousy, that Leolin preferred a plant to him. It wasn't a fair comparison, Leolin needed them both to be happy and healthy.
Instead Harry dived into teaching his children how to garden, letting them pick what flowers went where, trying to stem arguments as Braiden and Tegan both wanted their flowers to be next, trying to wrangle in Eva and Ave, who started fighting one another.
"Girls!" He called out desperately, as he hefted Eva off of her sister.
"I got one, you keep the other." Max insisted, as he jogged over and took Ave.
Harry gave his mate a kiss, and then took Eva back to his little section of flowerbed. Nasta was handling the veg patch slash herb garden, where they were going to plant all of their edible plants, and he had Farren and Regan with him, picking fruits and leaves off of plants and letting the boys taste.
Blaise was sat on the grass, in the dwindling pile of flowers, just watching them, as Leolin had fallen asleep in his arms with a bluebell pressed to his face.
At three in the afternoon, Max sighed, and left them for the kitchen, so that he could get the kids' dinner on.
They were a little more than halfway through the work, and Harry knew they wouldn't, couldn't, finish it all today. They would be back out here tomorrow, and despite how his muscles ached with all the hard work he'd already put in, Harry was so excited to come out and do it all again tomorrow too.
The flowerbeds they'd already done looked amazing, and Harry smiled at the hodgepodge placement, and mismatched colours. His babies had done that, and it made him so proud.
They carried on digging and planting, even if some of the kids had stopped helping and were now playing with other things, bored of doing the same thing for half the afternoon.
"Hey, dinner will be in twenty minutes, these kids need to be washed up." Max called out.
"Come and grab a few then." Blaise called out, standing and prising the flower from Leolin gently. Their Faerie baby stayed asleep, and Blaise happily carried him back into the house.
Max came and got Farren and Braiden, two of their big eaters who would want their dinners first, and he took them inside to wash their hands and faces.
Harry stayed out digging as long as he could, but when Calix, their last remaining child, was taken inside by Blaise, Harry sighed and followed suit. He cheered himself up by thinking that it would still be there tomorrow. He was hot and sweaty, and he could use a shower and a cup of tea.
He left his mates dealing with dinnertime, and he did just that. He hoped it didn't rain tomorrow though.
He cleaned himself off, scrubbed all the dirt and soil from himself, and he dressed in pyjamas. He was done for the day, and it felt nice to be in loose fitting clothes. Those jeans had been hell to move in, and he had to keep adjusting his dick inside them as the unrelenting zip and front seam dug into him awkwardly, though hopefully his mates remembered how he'd looked in them. He gave an evil smirk…if they didn't remember he'd just have to remind them tomorrow. He was over his six week post birth sex ban. He hadn't had sex with his mates in months, and he was ready. He wanted them, and he wanted them tonight.
The kids had eaten, been bathed, and were out like little lights before their usual bedtime of six. At quarter to, the five of them were blessedly baby free, and enjoying a nice, quiet house.
"We should let them destroy shops more often." Max joked, as he rested back against the settee.
"They didn't destroy anything." Harry insisted.
"It was a near miss." Max chuckled.
Harry snorted a laugh and snuggled with Blaise some more. He'd found that he was tired too, now that he was clean and relaxed. He'd done more exercise today than he had in several months, and he was paying for it in exhaustion. It was aggravating, he didn't want to be tired, he wanted to be energetic, and he wanted sex with his mates, but it didn't look like he was going to get it…not tonight at least. He'd try again tomorrow.
"Oh, I better go and start our dinner, or we won't be eating tonight." Max groaned.
"We could always order if you're not up for cooking." Harry pointed out. "That way we could all watch films instead of having you out in the kitchen for an hour."
"Is that what you want to do?" Max asked him.
Harry shrugged. "If it's fine with everyone else, yeah."
"I have been craving Chinese food." Max admitted, grinning. "Fine, we order a takeaway. Nasta, are you okay with that?"
"Once in a while is fine." Nasta waved off. He was relaxing back into the settee, and looked almost like he'd fall asleep where he was sat.
"You're a Dragonologist." Harry giggled. "You literally wrestle with dragons all day, how are you this sleepy after a bit of gardening?"
Nasta laughed. "Harry, most of my job is paperwork, and medically assessing the dragons. My dragon wrestling days are long gone, and left to the senior handlers, unless there is an emergency, or a dragon goes on the rampage."
"He's getting soft and comfortable in his dotage." Max teased, even as he went to the sideboard to dig out a menu.
Nasta's hazel eyes narrowed on Max, who grinned cheekily.
"I can still chase you down, Max, and I can keep you satisfied."
Max's blue eyes widened, and his steps faltered. He gathered himself and shot a look over his shoulder. "Promise?"
Nasta snorted. "Sure. Any time you want an old fashioned chase, just let me know."
Harry frowned. "Does a chase mean what I think it does?" He asked.
Blaise nodded from beside him. "Yes, Bello. Like how we mated."
"I still can't believe you got a chase." Max said, shaking his head. "They're banned from mate meetings for a reason."
"It wasn't during a mate meeting though." Blaise pointed out smugly.
Max rolled his eyes and passed the menu to Draco.
"Yeah, because chasing and mating an undeclared submissive isn't as illegal as hell too."
"It all worked out in the end." Harry said, smiling at Blaise and moving to kiss his cheek.
"Thankfully the Elders never found out, or Blaise might have been executed. Though given how attached you were to him, they wouldn't have been able to."
"They might have called in foul play, and tried to test the bond, but from what the both of them have said about what they felt at the time…" Nasta trailed off and shrugged. "They wouldn't have gotten away with executing Blaise."
"Good." Harry declared shortly. "He was mine, and has always been mine!" He insisted possessively.
Blaise turned and pulled Harry back into his arms, and he pressed a kiss to the top of his head.
"You know…if you all wanted a proper chase, I wouldn't mind." Harry said thoughtfully. "It probably wouldn't be the same, because obviously we're already mates, and I love you, but still, if you wanted to run after me a little, you can just say so."
"You'd really let us chase you down?" Max asked, a little gleam in his eyes.
"Sure." Harry said with a shrug.
"It can get quite rough with our Dracken sides going feral." Nasta warned.
"I don't mind a bit of rough as long as you don't actually injure me." Harry said. "In fact rough sex can be amazing."
"The issue might be the biting." Max said. "We'd try to put our claiming mark on you, and those bites could go quite deep."
"I don't mind that, I meant like breaking a bone or whatever." Harry waved away.
All four of his mates looked aghast at that. "You're our submissive mate, of course we wouldn't break your bones, Harry!" Max told him.
"Then biting is fine. I like biting you all back anyway. I do it on heat periods, and while pregnant if I need blood from you."
"Are we really going to do this?" Max asked.
"Maybe not today. It would be a very poor chase seeing as I doubt I'd make it from the backdoor to the end of the garden at the moment, but sure, soon enough." Harry said.
"Takeaway first, Max." Nasta insisted. "It can't be tonight. We'd need a babysitter, and Harry has only just given birth."
"I'm over my six week sex ban." Harry pointed out.
"We know, Caru, but can you truly say that you're ready to start running around in a forest, letting us chase you in Dracken form, and then rutting you into the ground?"
"Well I am now." Harry laughed.
Nasta smirked. "Soon, but not right this moment."
Harry sighed, but he smiled and agreed. If he truly thought about it then he wasn't quite ready to start running around just yet. A few more weeks, if he worked on getting back into shape and getting his stamina back, then yeah, he could give his mates a good chase. The thought excited him, and he calmed himself. Maybe to get himself in the mood he could have one of them hunt a meal for him. That would make him feel more in the mood to slip into his Dracken form.
The five of them eased down from the excitement gradually, and they ordered food and put on a film. They ate at the coffee table, sharing food with one another and trying a little of everything. They watched another film after the first, and then it was time for them to head to bed. Harry fed Taren, while his mates took turns to wash up and get into their pyjamas, seeing as Harry was already dressed for bed.
He winded the six week old, and checked his nappy, before tucking him back into his bassinet and then climbing into the bed to claim the best spot. Right in the middle.
Draco was done first, seeing as he hadn't been out in the garden for half the day, and he slid in right up against Harry, wrapping his arms around him and holding him tight.
"I love you." He declared.
Harry smiled and squirmed happily. "Love you too."
"Did you have fun gardening?"
Harry hummed. "Yeah. I really enjoyed it. Did you enjoy your quiet time?"
Draco nodded. "I managed to finish the book I was reading. Taren wasn't much of a distraction, he wanted a feed, he wanted a nappy change, but after those needs were met, then he settled back to sleep."
Harry smiled. "He's a good baby."
"Squirmy and fussy while awake, but he is a very easy baby to care for."
Harry yawned and turned in Draco's arms to face him, tucking his head under Draco's chin.
"You two look comfortable." Max declared.
"We are. Come and make me more comfortable." Harry insisted sleepily.
Max slipped into the bed, wearing just a pair of boxer shorts, and he wrapped an arm around the both of them.
Blaise was on the night duty tonight, so he slipped in behind Max, and Nasta slipped in behind Draco.
"I love being in the middle." Harry said, smiling into Draco's chest.
"I could make a joke about innuendos there, but I'm too tired, so just pretend that I did." Max said.
Harry snorted a laugh, and he wasn't the only one.
"Not even for sex." Harry said, before he yawned widely. "I just like how protected and comforting it feels to be in the middle of you all."
He felt all of his mates squeeze in tighter at hearing that, and Draco's arms hugged him tighter too, and he smiled and hummed.
"That's nice." He said softly, feeling his brain start to go blank with sleep.
"Just sleep, all of you." Nasta said in a whisper. "We have another big day ahead of us, we have to get the garden done tomorrow, as it's raining the day after."
"I want to order those plants for Leolin too. The garden centre didn't have hardly any of the plants to go in his bedroom." Harry said, his words slurred a little with sleep.
"We can do all of that tomorrow, just sleep for now, it's getting late."
"Not even midnight." Max complained.
"We're parents now, anything past ten at night is late." Nasta argued.
Harry just blocked them out and inhaled deeply, shuffling a little in Draco's arms, and then nothing. He was fast asleep in just five minutes, and he only woke up when Taren started crying through the night, but it was Blaise's job to sort the baby out tonight, so he easily rolled over and went back to sleep.
A/N: I loved writing those gardening scenes, and the little trip to the garden centre. My baby Leolin was so happy. He'll be even happier when the guys kit out his room with baby friendly plants too. If anyone needs an indoor garden, it's the Faerie babies.
This fic might get another update soon, I've got a few thousand words for chapter 131, and I also have 5,000 words for the next chapter of The Black Heir, if anyone is reading that fic as well, but I have some spare time now that Servus ad Harenas is completed, so RotD and Black Heir will be getting some attention for the next few weeks.
Potterstar202: Thank you for explaining that to me! I had no idea that it took longer for immunocompromised people to develop symptoms of sickness. It's too late to change it now, so I'm going to have to say that it's an early warning system for Faeries, because they have such weak immune systems, and it's a way to keep them alive, but I will definitely keep this in mind for other fics.
Adel22: You've gotten some of the babies' wrong, lovelie. Nasta does only have 4 of them, Tegan, Regan, Leolin, and Taren. Calix, Eva and Ave are Max's babies.
Lunnaa (guest) Oh, you hit the nail right on the head with one of your guesses for Blaise's future profession, lovelie. Well done!
That was all, lovelies, I hope to be seeing you all again soon! Something very special is coming up in the next few chapters, but shhh, I don't want to spoil anything. Take care of yourselves,
StarLight Massacre. X