Heroes of Cosplay
Albus Severus was dressed like Spider-Man.
Harry sighed as he looked down at his youngest son. He'd barely recognized the Spider-Man costume, not having being exposed to a great deal of Muggle media in his own childhood (he didn't count Aunt Petunia's soap operas), but he'd managed to remember Spider-Man as one of Al's many obsessions when he was about eight years old. Apparently, Al hadn't got over that particular obsession as much as Harry had thought.
Harry's three children were seated around the kitchen table at the small cottage Harry had bought a year ago after divorcing Ginny. Harry was making them breakfast – bacon and eggs. The kids were only spending three weeks with him this summer, the rest of the time they'd be with their mother. Harry was determined to make the three weeks he had with his kids the greatest three weeks of their lives and if that meant that Al dressed like Spider-Man, then so be it. Harry was not, however, particularly pleased with the fact that Albus wanted to spend one of his precious Saturdays at a costume party or some such nonsense. Instead of showing his displeasure, Harry simply loaded Al's plate down with plenty of bacon and put it in front of him.
"Thanks Dad," Al mumbled, shoveling bacon into his mouth. Albus ate more than James and Lily put together, but he remained switch thin. Al would be starting his third year at Hogwarts this September and Harry hoped that the inevitable onset of puberty would help him pack on some muscle.
"So," Harry said, placing considerably less loaded plates of food in front of his other two kids. "Tell me about this costume party."
Al rolled his eyes. "It's not a costume party, Dad. It's a cosplay convention."
"Aren't you a little old to play dress up?" Lily asked. James burst into laughter.
"It's not dress up," Al said. "It's a cosplay convention."
"So tell me about your cosplay convention, then," Harry said, ruffling his son's hair.
Albus shrugged, swatting Harry's hand away. "People dress up. As characters. Paul and Felicia are going to be there."
Harry nodded thoughtfully. He was glad that Albus was friends with Paul and Felicia, the Muggle siblings who used to live down the street from the Potter family, but he wished that Al could make more friends at Hogwarts. As far as Harry could tell, Al didn't have one good friend at Hogwarts. Al had always been a little odd and Harry and Ginny had both been afraid when he started Hogwarts that he would be bullied. Al said that kids mostly left him alone, though.
"And you're going as Spider-Man?" Harry asked.
Al shrugged. "Obviously."
"Where did you get the costume?"
Albus looked at Harry as if he were an idiot. "I made it, Dad."
"Oh," Harry scratched his head, feeling stupid. "You sewed it?" He'd had no idea that Al knew how to make a costume.
"Grandma helped me," Al said.
"Your Grandma taught you how to sew?"
"Oh," Harry said.
"Let me break it down for you, Dad," James leaned back his chair, grinning. "Albus is a huge nerd."
"James," Harry warned.
"And now he's found the biggest meeting of nerds in Great Britain. So he's going to dress in nerd-wear and they're going speak nerdish to one another. That much exposure to his own kind is going to give him a huge nerd boner –"
"James," Harry said wearily as Lily giggled. Trying to control James's mouth was a hopeless endeavor.
"Fuck off, James," Al said, without rancor.
"Dad, Al's cursing," James said.
Harry chose to ignore both boys' outbursts. "You'd better hurry up and eat or you'll be late for your –"
Damn it, he'd already forgotten the name of the thing again.
"Nerdgasm," James said triumphantly.
The convention-thingy was eye-opening for Harry. It was in this old, overheated amphitheater and there were rather more people there than what Harry had expected. What was really surprising to Harry was the number of fully grown adults running around dressed up like superheroes and video game characters. Somehow, he'd thought that this was a kid thing.
"Albus," Harry put his hand on his son's shoulder to halt him going into the main room. "Are you sure you'll be alright on your own here?"
Albus rolled his eyes. "This is a Muggle thing, Dad. There won't be any reporters trying to take pictures of me or asking about the divorce."
Harry winced at the idea that this was the greatest danger his son could imagine. "It's not just wizards trying to take your picture that you have to worry about," he said. "You could be –" he waved a hand vaguely in front of his face, "kidnapped or something."
Albus's mouth split into a wry smile. "Kidnapped, Dad? Really?"
"Hey," Harry said. "That sort of thing happens."
Albus sighed. "Look, I'll be fine. But if you really want to …" he trailed off and his eyes widened as he looked at something behind Harry.
Harry turned and followed Al's line of vision to where he saw a boy about Al's age. He was wearing an absurd-looking costume and his hair was in such huge blond spikes that Harry was certain magic was involved. The boy was being followed by his very hassled-looking father: Draco Malfoy.
"Damn," Harry said under his breath, as the Malfoy child approached Albus. Harry tensed up, remembering how a chance meeting between himself and Draco would have gone when they were the boys' ages. And indeed, when the Malfoy boy – Scorpius, Harry reminded himself – looked Albus over, his lips were curled into a familiar Malfoy sneer.
"Spider-Man, Potter?" he asked, sarcastically. "That's real original."
Albus just laughed. "Well, what are you supposed to be, Malfoy?"
Scorpius tilted his head back in an arrogant little gesture. "Cloud from Final Fantasy VII."
Albus nodded. "Classic."
"Your costume's kind of shit too," Scorpius continued. "Who taught you to sew like that?"
"Now hold on a minute," Harry said, not liking Malfoy Junior's tone, but Albus just shrugged.
"My Grandma," Albus said. "I know I can't sew for shit, but I'll get better. Your costume looks –" he searched over Malfoy's attire, obviously looking for an insult.
"Flawless," Scorpius said, his face splitting into a rather toothy grin. "The word you're searching for is flawless."
Albus shrugged. "Okay, I guess it is pretty good."
Scorpius laughed. "And I can be seen in public with you, I suppose."
Al grinned. "Cool. You want to go check out the booths?"
"Sure," Scorpius said before turning to Draco. "Dad, if you insist on being here, why don't you stay out here and catch up with Mr. Potter? Albus and I are going inside."
Harry's mouth must have dropped open. A faint blush stole across Draco Malfoy's face.
"Scorpius, I really don't think –" he began, but Scorpius interrupted him.
"Dad, don't make a scene. You're embarrassing me."
Harry had to smile because Scorpius's tone was one he knew well – one of a teenage boy wanting to get as far away from his father as possible. Harry heard it regularly from both his boys. Draco Malfoy huffed. "Fine."
"Great," Scorpius said. And before Harry quite knew what had happened, Albus had bid him goodbye and was walking toward the main room, chattering animatedly with Scorpius.
Draco Malfoy's lips curled into a wry smile. "Potter," he drawled. Harry looked Malfoy closely for the first time and noticed that he was wearing a finely tailored suit and had his hair slicked back. He could have been going to court, but of course he wasn't – he was just a prat who wore dressy clothes to drop his son off at a cosplay something-or-other.
"Malfoy," Harry answered.
"Well," Malfoy said after a long, exceedingly awkward pause. "I'm going to sit at that bench over there and wait for my son." He pointed a bright orange bench several feet away. "You can sit at that bench." He pointed at a blue bench right behind Harry. "And neither of us will have to make awkward conversation. Sound good to you?"
"Fine with me." Harry muttered. Honestly, what else was he supposed to say to something like that? He always forgot what a huge arsehole Draco Malfoy was until he had to interact with the prat. He sat down at his blue bench and Malfoy sauntered off to his orange bench, sat down, and took out a paperback book.
Harry sighed. The thing about waiting for your thirteen-year-old to get done with his cosplay something-or-other was that it could get very boring, very fast. At first, Harry entertained himself by watching the various people costumes passing by in their strange costumes, but he was far enough removed from the action that the crowd soon thinned. Then, Harry found a newsletter on an adjacent bench and read every word even though antique furniture and building restoration and wasn't at all interesting.
Finally, Harry resorted to an activity that had always kept him entertained through his teen years – watching Draco Malfoy. Draco looked a little thinner than he had the last time Harry had seen him at King's Cross two years ago – but not in a bad way, more as if he'd been getting in shape. Harry thought Draco's hairline was beginning to recede, though he wasn't sure if people who failed to watch Draco Malfoy as closely as he did would notice it. Harry touched his own full head of hair with a guilty sense of superiority. Malfoy seemed intent on his book and looked more content than he usually did in Harry's presence. Harry watched Malfoy's finely manicured fingers curl around the spine of that book several times before he actually noticed the picture on the cover.
The picture on the cover of the book showed two men – two near-naked men with loincloths and bulging muscles kissing one another to be exact. Harry must have made a noise of surprise, because Draco chose that moment to look up. "What, Potter?" he asked across the room, after looking at Harry in confusion for half a minute. "Do I have something on my face?" He scratched his nose.
"No," Harry managed to choke out. "No. It's just – your book."
Malfoy hastily looked down at it, but then looked back up at Harry, his eyebrows drawn together in confusion. "What about it?" he asked, rather too loudly. "I spelled the pictures to stop moving."
"Shush," Harry said, getting up and moving hastily toward Malfoy's bench before he could violate the Statute of Secrecy. He sat down beside Malfoy before he had time to think of how strange this must seem. "I meant that it's –" words seemed to be failing Harry, " – you know, provocative."
"Provocative, Potter?" Malfoy said with an arched eyebrow. Harry suddenly remembered that no one could arch an eyebrow quite like Draco Malfoy.
"It's just – a little inappropriate for a public place, don't you think? Especially since your son is here?" Harry flushed, realizing that he was sounding more and more awkward.
"It's just a trashy romance novel, Potter. You see house wives reading them at the Hogwarts fundraisers all the time."
"Well, yeah," Harry said, blushing brightly. "But you're not a woman."
"No, I'm not," Malfoy drawled, glancing back down at the book cover. "Got a problem with the homosexuals then, do you Potter?"
"No I don't –"
"I wonder how that would look in the Daily Prophet. Harry Potter doesn't like the gays."
"I don't dislike gay people," Harry insisted. He didn't tell Draco that he'd had more than a few thoughts about men himself. The only person he'd ever told about those thoughts had been Ginny back when they'd been married and she hadn't taken it particularly well. "I don't dislike gay people," Harry repeated. "I just didn't know you were one."
Malfoy arched that eyebrow again. "What rock have you been living under, Potter?"
"No rock," Harry said, cursing himself for coming over to talk to Malfoy. "I just thought you were married."
"Oh," Malfoy said, finally setting down his book. "Well, Astoria and I divorced when Scorpius was just seven."
"But I saw you together at King's Cross a few years ago."
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Amicably divorced, Potter. Thought you'd know all about that what with your ex-wife going on and on about how amicable your divorce is in the Daily Prophet."
"It is," Harry said, hastily, not wanting to give Malfoy a story to run to the papers with. "Oh look," he said, spotting his son's dark head of hair coming out of the main room. "There's the boys."
"Yes," Malfoy said with a sigh, his eyes trained on his own son who was talking animatedly with Albus. "I think we've been bamboozled, Potter."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"I mean look at them," Malfoy said. "This obviously isn't the first time they've chummed around."
Harry looked at the casual way that Albus clapped Scorpius on the shoulder and suddenly he remembered that Albus had claimed he was meeting Muggle friends at this thing – Muggle friends who were now nowhere to be seen. "They're friends," he said, flatly.
"Very good, Potter."
"I don't know why Al wouldn't tell me. I've been begging him to make friends at Hogwarts for years."
"I've been doing the same with Scorpius," Malfoy said, sighing. Harry shot him a sidelong glance, wondering if Scorpius was as much of an oddball as Albus. "If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that your son was afraid you'd go berserk at the idea of his being friends with the son of the mean old Death Eater so they concocted this elaborate scheme to spend time together."
"Hey, your kid didn't tell you either," Harry pointed out.
Malfoy merely shrugged. "Fair enough, I suppose."
Harry frowned. The boys certainly were taking their time about coming over. They'd stopped a snack machine and Albus was handing Scorpius Muggle coins to buy a bag of crisps.
"Of course, your kid is the Slytherin," Malfoy said. "And this little scheme has Slytherin written all over it."
"How did you know that Al's a Slytherin?" Harry asked, shooting a suspicious look in Malfoy's direction.
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "I do take the Daily Prophet, Potter." Harry frowned. Albus being sorted into Slytherin had been front page news and this was still a bit of a sore point for Harry. He didn't like his kids' lives being exploited like that.
"You're not one of those idiots who follows every story about the Potters, are you?" Harry asked.
"Not every story, no," Malfoy said, suddenly interested in smoothing an invisible wrinkle in his trousers.
"Isn't Scorpius a Slytherin, then?" Harry asked, purposefully changing the subject.
Malfoy shook his head. "Don't let his little impersonation of me back there fool you, Potter. Scorpius is all Ravenclaw."
"And you're okay with that?" Harry asked curiously. He knew that the Malfoys had once prided themselves on being Slytherin for generations.
"Of course I'm fine with it." Malfoy glared at Harry. "I just wish he'd make some friends in his House. And that his mother hadn't introduced him to Muggle video games and films. It's all he wants to do now. Astoria is the Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts, you know."
Harry nodded. "James takes her class. He likes her." James said that Professor Malfoy was "wicked cool." That's probably why Harry had assumed she was still married to Malfoy – she apparently hadn't changed her last name.
Malfoy snorted. "She's very popular. I bet your other kids will want to take her as well – most do."
"Yeah," Harry said, a bit uncomfortably. "She doesn't actually let them play video games in class, does she? Because Albus is already glued by the eyeball to his Playstation."
"With Astoria, who knows?" Malfoy muttered. By now the boys had gotten close enough to hear the conversation.
"Well, well," Harry said to the boys. "You two friends then?"
Albus and Scorpius looked at one another. "Yeah," Albus said, finally.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Harry asked quietly before looking over at Malfoy. "Us, I mean. Why didn't you boys tell us?"
Albus flushed and then immediately became apologetic. "Sorry Dad. It was just I knew you wouldn't go because you and Mr. Malfoy hate each other and I really wanted to hang out with Scorpius."
"Mr. Malfoy and I don't hate each other. Right, Malfoy?"
Harry looked at Malfoy who gave a long, exaggerated sigh. "I suppose not."
"Oh. Cool then," Albus said, still looking at Harry and Malfoy a bit suspiciously. "Scorpius and I were friends most of last year. We were partners in Charms and then we figured out that we both like to geek out over weird shit."
"Albus," Harry sighed. He was really going to have to do something about his kids' filthy mouths.
At that moment, Scorpius sighed in an exaggerated manner that matched Malfoy's earlier sigh almost exactly. He picked up Malfoy's paperback which lay forgotten on the bench beside them. "Honestly, Dad?" he asked. "You're reading your gay porno shit in front of my friend?"
Draco Malfoy smiled wryly. "It's not 'gay porno shit.' It's a romance novel. That happens to be about two men." Harry blinked at Malfoy, astounded that he was so open about his sexuality with his son.
"Two hunky barbarians," Albus said, leaning over Scorpius's shoulder. Everyone stared at him. "No, really. That's what it says right here on the back cover."
Malfoy laughed, easily. "That's right. Two hunky barbarians named Sven and Skylar who were just about to get to some romancing when I was rudely interrupted."
"Yeah, by Harry Potter," Scorpius said. "That's a whole other fantasy of yours."
"Scorpius!" Malfoy exclaimed, in a tone of abject horror. His easy, laughing manner from moments earlier had completely vanished.
A faint blush colored Scorpius's cheeks, but Harry was sure that the kid looked the least embarrassed of the four of them. "I was just joking," he said. "Anyway, I didn't even mean it like that."
Harry hastened to make the appropriate farewells before getting himself and his son away from the Malfoys.
Harry didn't see Draco Malfoy again until nearly a year later when he dropped Scorpius and Albus off at the Manor. Scorpius immediately insisted that Albus see his room and before Harry quite knew what was happening, a harassed house-elf was showing him to Draco's very extensive library. Draco was reclining in an overstuffed chair, wearing a red silk dressing robe and smoking a pipe. A pipe, for Merlin's sake.
He arched an eyebrow at Harry. "Potter," he drawled, putting aside his book. Harry couldn't help but glance at the cover to see whether or not it was another of his trashy romance novels, but this book was entitled How to Talk to Your Teenager about Gender and Sexuality.
"Malfoy," Harry gave a curt nod. "Scorpius wanted to show Albus his room."
Draco sighed and ran his fingers through his thinning hair. "Is he wearing a dress again?"
"Yeah," Harry had barely blinked when Scorpius had turned up at his house earlier that day wearing a long, ice-blue dress and tiara. He'd long since learned that Scorpius preferred to "cosplay" as female characters.
"And he and Al went to his room?"
"Yeah. They were speaking Sindarin to one another."
"Again?" Draco asked, with a small chuckle. "Potter, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure," Harry said, his heart beating a little faster for some odd reason.
"What the hell is Sindarin?"
Harry laughed. "Damned if I know. I've given up on trying to get them to explain the stuff they're into."
Draco smiled, but it was a sad sort of smile. "Tell me about it. Scorpius doesn't even try to explain it to me anymore, just grunts and rolls his eyes as if I couldn't possibly get it. When he was little, he used to make me watch the shows he was into, but now he's got Albus for that, I suppose. Remind me to give you back Albus'sGame of Thrones DVDs, by the way. I had to confiscate them from Scorpius – they were filthy and violent and Scorpius kept trying to dress up as the blonde girl."
"Really?" Harry generally thought the less he knew about his kids' viewing habits, the better. "But Scorpius always tries to dress up as the blonde girl in everything." He idly perused the books on Malfoy's shelves. He'd expected all leather-bound potions treatises and classics and indeed, the majority of the library did seem to be made up of expensive leather-bound books, but near Draco's chair, there were several rows of paperbacks – Draco's trashy romance novels. Harry pulled one out to see two shirtless men kissing each other intensely.
"I know that he tries to dress up as the blonde girl in everything," Draco snapped.
Harry glanced over at him. "That bothers you?" he asked in surprise. Draco was so open about his sexuality that he'd assumed he'd have no problem with Scorpius dressing like a woman.
Draco shrugged. "I just don't want him to get teased at school."
"Does he get teased at school?" Harry asked.
"He says not," Draco said. "But he's so odd and you know how teenagers are. I would have teased him when I was in school."
"Yeah," Harry said, flipping open Draco's novel. "But you were a prat."
Draco smiled wryly. "I'm sure there are plenty of prats at Hogwarts now. It's not changed that much, Potter."
"Uh-huh," Harry said, distracted by a rather flowery description of some guy's thigh muscles in the romance novel.
Draco smirked. "You can borrow that if you want."
Harry quickly replaced the book on the shelf. "What? No, I don't want to borrow it," he said quickly. "I'm not ... er …"
Draco just laughed. "Don't even bother, Potter. You're way too interested in my taste in books for a straight man." He walked over to stand beside Harry and picked up the book. "Here," he said, thrusting the book into Harry's hands. His fingers lingered briefly over Harry's. "It'll be our little secret." He winked at Harry.
Harry tucked the book into his robe pocket, his cheeks burning.
"Mr. Potter, can I talk to you?" Scorpius Malfoy was standing in the doorway of Harry's office.
"Sure," Harry said, trying to ignore the fact that Scorpius was wearing a short black leather dress and knee-high boots. Harry hadn't minded it much when the kid had worn flowing princess dresses but lately his costumes had been getting sexier – much too sexy for a fifteen-year-old in Harry's opinion. Scorpius walked into Harry's rather messy office and sat down across from Harry as Harry attempted to clear the old take-out and crumpled paper from his desk. Scorpius crossed his legs primly, watching Harry patiently.
"Did you and Al have fun at your convention?" Harry asked.
"Oh yeah," Scorpius said with a smile. "Everyone loved my costume."
Harry looked Scorpius up and down and grunted noncommittally. "So what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Well," Scorpius said slowly. "It's my Dad. I need you to talk to him for me."
"Oh?" Harry asked, trying not to look too happy at the thought of an excuse to talk to Draco Malfoy. "What about?"
Scorpius sighed dramatically. "Can you please tell him I'm not gay? Or bisexual or transgender or questioning or anything like that? Not that there's anything wrong with being any of those things," he added quickly. "I'm just not and he won't stop talking to me about it."
"Scorpius …" Harry hesitated, looking over Scorpius's outfit again.
"I just like to dress up as girl characters sometimes," Scorpius said, crossing his arms over his chest in a defensive posture. "They get all the good costumes. And I get way more attention that way."
Harry could believe it. But he couldn't imagine a conversation with Draco about his son's sexuality and gender ending well. "Scorpius, I think that this is a conversation that you should have with your Dad yourself."
Scorpius sighed and then bit down on his lip. "I know. But I've tried. I really have, Mr. Potter and he won't listen. He thinks I'm trying to tell him something by dressing this way, but I'm not. If I were gay then I'd have no problem telling him outright – he has no problem telling me that he's gay, after all."
"I'm sure he's just trying to do what's best for you," Harry said, knowing that this would sound like an empty platitude to a fifteen-year-old boy.
"I know," Scorpius said, running his fingers through his long, blond hair in a gesture reminiscent of his father. "But he's driving me crazy. He really respects you, Mr. Potter. You should have heard the stories he used to tell me about you when I was a kid. About how you defeated Voldemort and all."
"I – he used to tell stories about me?" Harry asked, a warm feeling settling in his chest.
"Yeah," Scorpius said, watching Harry's face a little too closely for Harry's liking. "I know you two didn't get along in school and all but he thinks you're amazing, really."
"I know you borrow his books sometimes," Scorpius said softly, his eyes still fixed on Harry's face.
Harry flushed, thinking of the book currently tucked away in his dresser drawer that he used nightly for wank fodder. "I just get bored sometimes. I need a little reading material."
Scorpius leaned down to adjust the sole of his high-heeled boot against the ground. "You know, Mr. Potter, if you ever wanted to talk to someone about your sexuality then my Dad would be really great for that. He's got all these pop psychology books about the subject."
Harry couldn't imagine such a conversation going well. "That's quite all right. But I can speak to your Dad on your behalf if that's what you really want."
Scorpius's face broke into a wide smile. "Really? Thank you, sir. Oh, and you might as well tell him that Albus isn't my boyfriend as well. Er – I mean Albus is a great guy and everything, it's just that I like girls." Scorpius shrugged helplessly. Harry's answering smile felt forced.
The next morning found Harry sitting on Draco's sofa, nursing a cup of cold coffee and somehow confessing all the things about himself he'd never told anyone, while Draco listened with surprising patience. Draco had grown a sharp little goatee since the last time Harry had seen him, which he stroked thoughtfully as Harry babbled on. Harry could only pray that Draco had changed enough since their school days that he wouldn't go blabbing the whole thing to the Daily Prophet.
"It's just – I've always known that I was attracted to men, you know?" Harry said. "At Hogwarts I used to fancy boys as well as girls sometimes. But I used to always think that I preferred women to men."
"Why did you think that?" Draco asked.
"I don't know. I used to think of women more often when I – you know." Harry blushed.
"When you masturbated?" Draco supplied with only a slight leer.
"Yeah," Harry said quickly. "But now I think of men more often and I don't know why it would change at my age."
Draco placed his cup of coffee delicately on the table between them. "What about sex?"
Harry laughed. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," and here Draco flushed looking almost as embarrassed as Harry felt. "Are you having sex with men or women? Or both?"
Harry looked down, picking a loose thread on his robes. "I've never been with man."
Harry half expected Draco to stay true to form and laugh like a prat, but he just blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I've never been with a man," Harry repeated. "There never seemed to be much reason to when I was younger. I knew I wanted a family and I found Ginny when I was very young." Harry shrugged.
"Oh, Potter," Draco said with a little sigh that Harry suspected was pity. "What about since the divorce?"
Harry shrugged. "Always women." At least it was always women on the rare occasion that Harry had sex at all.
Draco crossed his legs and looked at Harry thoughtfully before replying. "It sounds like you're telling me that you've always been bisexual -"
"I'm not bisexual!" Harry interrupted, a bit too loudly.
Draco sneered. "Really, Potter? Then what would you call it?"
Harry knew he was being ridiculous, that someone who was attracted to both men and women was considered bisexual, but he'd never felt comfortable applying the term to himself. When Harry thought of the term "bisexual," he pictured young singles who had lots of casual sex. Could someone who'd stayed married to one woman for over a decade and had three children with her be a bisexual? Could a middle-aged man who'd never so much as kissed someone of the same gender as himself be termed a bisexual?
He didn't answer Draco's question and after several seconds of Draco looking at him intensely, he huffed and continued. "As I was saying, your sexuality hasn't really changed. You've always been attracted to both men and women and you still are. It's just that when you were young, you knew that you wanted a family and so you were more drawn to women. Now, however -" Draco hesitated and drummed his fingers against his chair in a nervous gesture that was thoroughly unlike him.
"Now what?" Harry asked.
Draco paused before answering. "Now - I think you're middle-aged and you're wondering if you might have missed out on something when you were younger. That's probably why you're more drawn to men now."
Harry supposed that made sense. He felt a sense of relief flood him at the idea that his sexuality hadn't suddenly changed into something completely different. He liked to think he knew himself at least a little bit.
"Or it could just be all those smutty books you've been reading," Draco said with a smirk.
Harry managed an answering grin. "Well, those lads do get up to some acrobatic stunts."
"I've got magazines too, you know," Draco said. "If you'd like to borrow them some time."
Harry smiled wider trying not to show how embarrassed he was. Somehow, smutty books seemed more acceptable to share with another adult man than wank magazines. "I think I can procure my own wank material, Malfoy."
"Really?" Malfoy said with an artful quirk of that damned eyebrow. "I wouldn't have known." Draco's legs were crossed and his foot was very close to touching Harry's leg.
"Well, the books are different," Harry's voice came out in a whisper. "They're romance novels, really."
"Harry," Draco said after a long, pregnant pause. Harry was jolted out of his partial stupor by the use of his first name. Despite the fact that Harry had often thought of him as Draco ever since his Sixth Year, they only ever used surnames with one another. "Is there a particular man you're interested in?"
Harry suddenly realized how all this must look to Draco. The borrowing of the books. The excuses to come and talk. Allowing Draco to rub his foot up and down Harry's leg the way he was doing at that very moment. "No!" Harry pulled back as if he'd been burned. "I'm sorry," he continued as Draco's face went cold and hard. "I'm just still trying to figure all this out. I shouldn't have burdened you with this. I really came here about Scorpius."
But he'd already told Draco all about Scorpius's request in the first ten minutes of his visit. Draco had promised to lay off Scorpius and then Harry had blurted out all his own problems.
"I see." Draco looked as stiff as a corpse. "Well. I'm rather embarrassed that Scorpius felt he had to come to you at all. Perhaps I have been overly zealous in my efforts to get Scorpius to talk. The kid spends half his time in a dress – I figured there was no way he could be a heterosexual male. Obviously, I was wrong."
"Malfoy," Harry reached out to take Draco's hand, but Draco drew back quickly.
"I'm busy at the moment," he gestured vaguely to some papers lying behind them on his desk. "I hope you'll excuse me." He stood so that Harry had no choice but to stand as well.
"Of course," Harry said, shaking himself off. "Can I borrow another book before I leave?"
"Of course," Draco replied in a short, clipped voice. "You know where the library is."
"Great," Harry said, more enthusiastically than he felt.
"Good luck figuring things out, Potter," Draco said, softly.
The last place Harry would have ever expected to see Draco Malfoy was at a Muggle pizza place; and yet Draco was seated across from Harry at Vinny's Pizza Palace, picking pepperoni off his slice with a rather disgusted expression on his face. Harry had expected Astoria to meet him at the pizza place with Scorpius – it was more her sort of thing. Astoria Malfoy was the opposite of what Harry would have expected in someone who used to be married to Draco. She had short, curly hair, dressed in ratty blue jeans and was more enthusiastic about Muggle gadgets and media than any wizard or witch Harry had ever met, including Arthur Weasley. Harry had gotten to know her rather well in the last year mostly because Draco had been avoiding him.
"Dad," Scorpius rolled his eyes at Draco. "You're not supposed to pick off all the toppings. It's just bread and sauce if you do that." Scorpius had grown a lot in the last year and was now taller than Harry and almost as tall as Draco. Rather to Harry's relief, he hadn't chosen to wear a dress to his latest cosplay event, but was rather wearing a tight-fitting yellow spandex affair that didn't look much like either wizard or Muggle clothing.
"Hmph." Draco poked a pepperoni with a fork. "What is this thing, then?"
"That's a pepperoni, Mr. Malfoy," Albus crammed his fifth piece of pizza into his mouth with a distinct lack of table manners that made Harry wince. "It's meat. Well … sort of."
"Hmph." Draco looked at the offending pepperoni suspiciously.
"This is Astoria's favorite restaurant," Harry said. "She always wants to bring the boys here."
Draco sighed dramatically. "She would." He looked around at the décor which featured cheap wooden candelabras, plastic creeping vines, and a huge mural of an anthropomorphic dancing pizza holding hands with a dancing soda. In one corner, several arcade games blinked brightly, which were the main appeal of the place for Albus and Scorpius.
"The pizza is quite good," Harry said. "As pizza goes, I mean." He put another slice on Draco's plate. "Here, try this. It's just got cheese on it."
Harry watched in amusement as Draco cut a tiny sliver of pizza away with his knife and fork and then put it in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "Not bad," he admitted.
"Mr. Potter, you've done the impossible!" Scorpius exclaimed in mock surprise. "You've got my Dad to eat Muggle food. I guess when Harry Potter offers it, it's different than when I try to make him eat it."
Scorpius was always one to make embarrassing comments. Draco only flushed slightly. "I've got nothing against Muggle cookery, Scorpius," he said quietly. "If it comes from a reputable establishment." He looked around the restaurant in a way that made it clear that he considered this far from a reputable establishment.
"Well, next time we'll eat at a wizarding place," Albus said. "Seeing as how we're going to DiagonCon and it's for wizarding geekery and all."
"Really?" Harry asked, in surprise. "I didn't know there was such a thing as … DiagonCon." He knew he'd never remember the name of the ruddy convention – he never did.
"It's new," Albus said.
"I'm going as Maybelline Miggs from the Martin Miggs comics," Scorpius said.
"Classic," Albus munched on his pizza.
"So let me get this straight," Draco said to his son. "You go to half these Muggle conventions dressed as a wizard or witch and now that you have the chance to go to a magical convention, you're going dressed as a Muggle?"
Scorpius grinned. "Pretty much."
"What are you going as, Al?" Harry asked, without much interest. As much as he tried to develop an interest in Albus's hobbies, he could never much follow Al's talk of Muggle television shows, movies, and games. At times, it seemed a little obsessive and weird to Harry, no matter how many times Albus pointed out that James was just as obsessed with Quidditch.
"Oh. Well," Albus swallowed his pizza and turned very red.
"What?" Scorpius asked, noticing Albus's embarrassment. "Are you finally going to join me in dressing like a girl character?"
"No," Albus said quietly. "Actually, I thought I'd go as Harry Potter."
Draco laughed, but Scorpius brightened, his eyes taking on that glimmering, devious look that meant he was about to "geek out" as the boys called it. "Awesome. We wouldn't even have to do anything to your hair. For once."
"I know," Albus said.
"We'd have to make you look exactly like the Chocolate Frog card, though. Or we could do that Undesireable Number 1 Poster. That's pretty famous."
"Hold on a minute," Harry looked dazedly from Albus, who seemed embarrassed, to Scorpius who was excited, to Draco, who looked like he was about to burst into laughter at any second. "You're going as me? I thought you were supposed to dress up as fictional characters for these things."
Scorpius shrugged. "You are, mostly. But you're so famous that you practically are a fictional character, Mr. Potter. He won't be the only Harry Potter there, trust me. Just the best one."
"Well, he does have a bit of an advantage," Draco said slyly.
"I know, he totally has the look." Scorpius looked Albus over with some envy in his expression. "It's going to be so awesome. We'll get him some really dorky looking round glasses and some baggy plaid clothes. It'll be totally 90s."
Draco was unable to restrain his laughter any longer. Harry glared at Scorpius before turning to Albus. "I don't want you dressing like me in that Undesireable Poster," Harry said, frowning.
"I agree," Scorpius said. "The Chocolate Frog card is a much better idea. It's much lighter, you know? We don't want to go too dark."
"Yeah," Albus said. "I think so too."
Harry remembered his own life when he was the sixteen and he spared a moment to thank Merlin that Albus didn't have to worry about Dark Lords and dark curses and a war. That Albus's biggest concern was what some costume was going to look like. Harry hadn't had that sort of childhood and looking across the table, he realized that Draco hadn't either. Harry wondered if the Dark Mark was still there, etched into Draco's skin.
"Oh, come on, Potter," Draco said, apparently sensing Harry's hesitation about the costume. "Most fathers would love it if they're teenage sons wanted to dress up like them. Think of all the incredibly powerful fictionalwizards he could have gone as. Instead, he just wants to look like his Daddy. It's sweet."
Albus's face went bright red. "Geez, Mr. Malfoy, you don't have to make it sound so dorky," he muttered.
"Yeah, Dad," Scorpius said. "Seriously not cool."
Then Albus grinned, looking a little evil. "The only reason I'm going is because Scorpius wants to go. Because his girlfriend is going to be there."
Scorpius looked embarrassed but somehow proud at the same time. "She's not my girlfriend. We only went to Hogsmeade the once."
"You have a girlfriend?" Draco asked. Harry was surprised as well - he'd always thought Albus would have a girlfriend before Scorpius. Even though it wasn't much of a contest, Albus was still the least odd of the two boys.
"She's just a girl," Scorpius said. "Be cool, Dad."
"Is she the Ravenclaw you were telling me about?" Harry asked.
Scorpius made a face. "No, I got over her ages ago. This girl's in Hufflepuff. Her name's Bianca."
"A Hufflepuff?" Draco asked crossing his arms. "Really?"
Scorpius glared at him. "Really,"
Draco sighed. "Fine, fine. I won't ask any more questions." He turned to Albus. "What about you, Albus, any secret girlfriends we should know about?"
Scorpius snorted. "More like secret boyfriends."
"Scorpius!" Albus said.
"What?" Scorpius asked. "It's not like there's anything wrong with it."
Harry recovered from his shock enough to comment. "Of course not. I wouldn't have any problem with Albus having a boyfriend. Er … do you have a boyfriend?"
"No," Albus insisted. "C'mon, Scorpius. Let's go play Mortal Kombat." He glared daggers at his friend.
Scorpius just shrugged as if he hadn't noticed. "Okay." He looked back and forth between Harry and Draco. "We'll just leave you two alone then." Then, to Harry's surprise, he leaned over and put his mouth next to Harry's ear. "Try not to strike out this time, Mr. Potter," he said in a rather carrying whisper. "I think my Dad's getting sick of it."
He and Albus ran off towards the arcade games arguing with one another in a foreign tongue.
"What are they doing?" Draco asked in a resigned voice.
"I think they're speaking Klingon," Harry said. "They were doing it earlier."
"What the hell is Klingon?"
Harry grinned. "No idea."
It seemed that Draco was starting to enjoy his pizza after all – he loaded another piece onto his plate. "I'm sorry about Scorpius." He twisted some cheese around his fork. "He doesn't have an ounce of tact or subtlety, but he means well."
"I know that." Harry shook his head. "I guess I need to have a talk with Al."
"I guess you do." Draco looked in the direction of the two boys who were now absorbed in a game.
"Do you still have all those books about talking to your kids about this sort of thing?" Harry asked.
The faintest smile crossed Draco's face. "Been awhile since you borrowed a book from me, Potter."
Harry laughed uneasily. They'd been avoiding one another although neither of them was willing to say so. "Yeah. I guess it has."
Draco's smile widened. Harry had forgotten how nice it was when Draco really smiled instead of the smirks and sneers he usually favored. "I didn't know that you read outside of the trashy romance genre."
Harry grinned. "I'm desperate."
"I guess you are," Draco said.
"You know," Harry said, finishing off his pizza. "This is nice."
Draco quirked an eyebrow. Harry decided to just blurt it out. He'd been thinking about Draco for months – years, if he was being honest.
"I mean, it's nice being here with you," Harry said. Draco looked at him with even more alarm. "We should do this again without the kids. And in a fancy French restaurant." He thought that Draco would like fancy French food.
Draco frowned. "I don't think so, Potter."
Harry tried not to let Draco's refusal faze him. Nothing had ever been easy with Draco Malfoy, why should asking him out on a date be any different? Even now Draco was looking across the table with a challenging expression on his face.
"Why not?" Harry asked.
Draco put down his fork delicately. "Potter, you've been hot and cold with me for years. You come to my house, you borrow my books, you flirt with me and then you act like I have some sort of disease when I flirt back. You say you need time to figure out your sexuality. So take it. Maybe you'll have things figured out by the time you're fifty. Or sixty." Despite his harsh tone, Harry noticed that Draco couldn't help but smile.
"Oh, come off it, Malfoy. You know you want me."
"Hardly." Draco picked up his knife and fork and cut off another tiny sliver of pizza. He looked up at Harry observing him from under lowered lids. "I prefer Italian to French," he commented. "Nice Italian, not whatever this is." He ate another bit of pizza.
"Okay," Harry said, his heart beating a little faster. "Nice Italian."
"I'm free this Saturday," Draco went on. "And do dress nice, Potter. I despise a man who shows up to take me out looking like a slob." His eyes scanned Harry's body in a way that Harry sort of liked. "I rather like you in green, by the way."
Harry grinned. "It's a date."
"Ew, Dad. Can you not do that in here?"
Harry looked up. He'd been kissing Draco good morning over the breakfast table and hadn't even heard James come in. To his surprise, his eldest son was standing next to the counter, pouring chocolate cereal into a bowel. "James," he said in surprise. "Up before noon on a Saturday and there's not even a Quidditch game? Are you sick?"
James laughed. "No. Al and Scorpius woke me up. Dad, you've got to give me permission to make fun of Al just this once. You should see what he's wearing."
"Be kind to your brother," Harry said, automatically, knowing that his advice probably wouldn't be heeded. Albus and James staying under the same roof was still a bit of a powder keg situation despite the fact that they were both now of age.
At that moment, Albus came thundering down the stairs. Harry gasped as he saw that his son wore a tiny baby blue skirt with an even tinier apron. His face was covered with lots of extremely colorful makeup and his hair was done up in pigtails. High-heeled boots and stockings completed the getup, although he seemed to be handling the high heels with considerably more awkwardness than Scorpius would have. Albus shot a glare at Harry and then at James.
"Don't even say a word," he said.
"I wasn't going to, Sis." James laughed into his cereal.
"I think Scorpius has finally gotten to him," Draco said to Harry conversationally.
"I'll say he has," Albus said with a dark look up the stairs.
Harry regained his powers of speech. "What are you supposed to be?"
"I don't know," Albus said, nearly tripping over his own feet in his efforts to sit down at the table. "Some Japanese Harajuku thing that Scorpius is into. I don't even think I'm a real character. He always picks the weirdest shit."
At that moment, Scorpius descended the stairs wearing a similar get-up to Al's in pale pink. Since they were all used to seeing Scorpius in a skirt and since he could walk in heels without falling down, his entry caused considerably less commotion.
"Doesn't Al look pretty?" he asked the room, sitting down beside his friend. Albus looked at him murderously.
"No comment." Draco looked down into his cup of coffee with an amused expression.
"I look like a bloody idiot," Albus said.
"Oh, come on," Scorpius said. "You look flawless. And you shouldn't mind it – you're the gay one, after all."
"Scorpius," Draco said, rather severely. "Not all of us gay people are eager to run around in a skirt, you know."
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "I know Dad. You're the one who thought I was gay for my entire Fifth Year just because I kept wearing dresses. And I'll have you know that my girlfriend loves when I dress this way." He flipped his long, blond hair behind him in a vain way that was disturbingly reminiscent of Draco's mother. Scorpius's girlfriend, Bianca, was quite passionate about him, and was probably also the only girl at Hogwarts who was just as weird as Scorpius. Harry expected them to announce their engagement any day.
"I just meant that a lot of guys hit on me when I dress like this," Scorpius amended. "Now I can just direct them over to Albus. Only the fit ones, of course." He winked at Albus who moodily poked the table. Harry felt his own mouth drop open in horror.
"How would you know if they're fit?" Albus asked. "You like girls."
"Hold on," Harry said. "I don't want Al meeting strange men that way."
Scorpius and Albus looking at each other as if silently commiserating over how uncool parents could be. "I didn't mean old men, Mr. Potter," Scorpius said. "Just boys our own age. Don't worry, I'll keep the perverts off him."
James snorted. "I'm sure Dad feels much better knowing that you'll be there to protect him."
"You can't forbid me to go, Dad," Albus said with scowl, apparently forgetting that he didn't like his costume. "I'm of age."
"I wasn't going to forbid you to go," Harry said. It was a little late for that now. "But maybe James could go along with you."
James shook his head furiously. "No way. I'm hanging out with my friends today."
"You could go with us, Mr. Potter," Scorpius sounded perfectly innocent, although Harry suspected he knew that going with them was the last thing Harry wanted to do with his day. "Dad could too." He looked over at his father with the speculative look that Harry knew meant no good where Scorpius was concerned. "It's a magical con. We'd have to find a costume for Dad." Then he looked in Harry's direction. "You could go as yourself, sir. I don't know if anyone's ever told you this, but you're a dead ringer for an older Harry Potter."
"Oh no." Draco placed a hand on Harry's thigh. "We're not going anywhere this morning." He shot Harry a hot glance.
James and Albus just looked vaguely disgusted by this behavior, but Scorpius nodded slowly.
"Oh, I get it," Scorpius said. "Me and Albus gone all day, James out with his friends, and Lily out shopping with her Mum. You two are going to have sex."
Harry choked, nearly spitting his coffee in Scorpius's face.
"Ew. Scorpius," Albus said.
Scorpius shrugged, only looking a little sheepish. "I'm just saying that I get it."
James shook his head. "We all get it. Me and Albus were just polite enough not to say it."
"I think we should go ahead and get out of here." Scorpius glanced at Harry's kitchen clock. "Bianca's expecting us and I'm sure that Mr. Potter and my Dad are eager for us to be gone as well." He winked at Harry. Harry groaned.
All three boys soon ran upstairs to finish getting ready. Draco just shook his head. "Were we that weird when we were seventeen?"
"Definitely not," Harry answered. "We were much more serious and adult."
Draco's hand was slowly moving up Harry's thigh. "I don't feel serious and adult,"
Harry looked at his lover and laughed. "Right now, I don't either." He leaned forward and kissed Draco, enjoying the feel of Draco's soft lips and clever tongue before pulling away.
"Do you want to go reenact a scene from one of my trashy novels?" Draco asked.
Harry smiled. "Very much. But I think we should wait until the boys are gone."
Draco sighed. "Oh Potter," he said with a challenging smirk. "Always playing the responsible parent."
Harry loved it when Draco called him by his surname, and he was unable to resist leaning forward and kissing Draco again. Far too soon, Harry heard the sound of someone clearing his throat and he looked up to see all three boys standing in the kitchen and looking at them with expressions that varied from amusement to disgust.
"I know you two can't keep your hands off one another and all," Scorpius said. "But we were just going to tell you that we're leaving now."
"Have fun," Draco said in a dazed sort of voice.
The boys smirked at one another. "We will," Scorpius said. "You two have fun too. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"Goodbye boys," Harry said a little more insistently than he'd intended. He grabbed Draco for another snog.