Disclaimer – All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc., are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. This work includes direct quotes from the Harry Potter series including, but not limited to, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Members of the Chudley Cannons Quidditch team are named for members of the U.S. Men's World Cup Team.
This fic was written as part of the 2014 Harry/Draco Career Fair based on a prompt submitted by huldrejenta. I would like to thank my Project Team Beta transit betas hammondgirl, ElleCC, Spider Lilly, and Thir13enth and especially my permanent assignment beta, wifie29, who agreed to beta the fic from beginning to end. Also thank you to all the lovely Brits at hp_britglish for helping this American to British her writing up a bit. Last but not least, thank you to huldrejenta for your awesome prompt. There is a reference to past dubious consent but not regarding Harry/Draco.
Summary: Scorpius needs a teacher before he goes to Hogwarts. Several teachers/tutors with the best credentials and impeccable background have been hired, then rapidly fired. Enter Harry Potter, who immediately hits it off with Scorpius. It takes a while longer for the Lord of the Manor to come around.
"And his name was 'Dippy'! Almost just like yours, Ippy!" Scorpius said gleefully to the little elf as he pulled his pyjama top over his head later that night. He had talked to his grandparents' portraits endlessly of their day out and his friends since the moment they'd returned to the manor and was now repeating everything to a new audience. "Except, Harry said he wasn't really real. But they did have loads of real ones, and they were great big! As big as dragons! Their teeth were this big!" He showed the elf with his hands how big a Tyrannosaurus's teeth were, overestimating somewhat. "And we went to the Magical wing, and I got to pet unicorns!" He showed the elf the photograph he had of himself and his new friends in the unicorns' enclosure. To his grandparents' portraits, he said, "And we talked to the portrait of the man who wrote my monster book! And he knew Daddy!"
"Did he, indeed?" Lucius Malfoy asked.
"And we got to make potions, just like real potioneers! I made Berryserum. It was red, and it tasted like strawberries, and it had bubbles, and it sparkled!"
"How lovely, darling," Narcissa Malfoy cooed for at least the tenth time that night.
"It was the best adventure ever!"
Draco had busied himself with his son's bedclothes, readying them for Scorpius to climb in, but faltered when the child's words reminded him that he'd promised him an adventure after the Miss Westbourne disaster. His son considered a day at the museum with friends to be an adventure. "Hop in, monkey," he said, keeping his voice calmer than he felt.
"I'm not tired, Daddy. Can't I go back downstairs?"
"No, you cannot go back downstairs, and yes, you are tired."
"No, I'm not," the child insisted.
Squatting down in front of his son and balancing on the balls of his feet with his elbows on his knees, Draco looked at his son closely, as if he was a Healer examining a patient. "Not tired, you say. I think you are. In fact, I see a yawn growing inside you right now."
"No, you don't."
"Oh, yes, I do. You're so tired, I think you're going to yawn any second. The yawn is getting bigger. It's right about," Draco twirled his finger around in the air before pointing to the base of his son's throat, "there." He kept his smile to himself. This was an old trick his mother had used on him as a child. Say the word 'yawn' in front of someone often enough, and it was inevitable that they would yawn before long. He could see Scorpius stubbornly clenching his jaw in effort to keep his mouth firmly shut.
Draco yawned himself. "I'm tired, too," he said.
Unable to hold it back, Scorpius yawned.
"See? I knew you were tired. Now, up into bed."
Defeated, Scorpius climbed up into his bed.
"What story would you like?" Draco said, going to his son's bookshelf. "Dionise?" he asked, already flipping to the page of his son's favourite story.
"No, I want Aeneas the Aethonan Takes Flight. Hugo and I are going to fly horses in races when we get big."
"Is that so?" Draco asked, amused.
Scorpius was sitting upright in his bed with his pillows piled behind him, his covers pulled up to his chest. The little stuffed Snitch snuggle ball with the green plush blanket he'd had all his life was tucked under his arm, and Draco could see his feet rocking from side to side under the covers. Sitting down beside him in the bed, Draco pulled his son against him. He kissed the top of his little boy's head and thought of the role Potter and Rita Skeeter had unknowingly played in Scorpius' having been born and how dismal his life would be without him. Perhaps he should send Skeeter a thank you card.
In his study after Scorpius had fallen asleep, Draco poured himself a generous three fingers of scotch and drank it straight down like a shot. He knew his parents were watching like the proverbial flies on the wall, and he knew they disapproved. It didn't stop him from pouring himself a second glass and downing it just as quickly as the first.
"Scorpius certainly seems to have had a wonderful day. Potter is an adequate instructor, then?" his mother asked with some hesitation.
Swirling the last dregs of scotch in the bottom of his glass, Draco responded acerbically, "Oh, yes. He was instructive and engaging. Scorpius hung on his every word." As priceless as having his parents' portraits for advice and company was, it could be rather like living in a fishbowl at times. This was one of those times.
"Instructive and engaging. How dreadful. I can see why you are so upset. "
Draco set his glass down on an ornate Elizabethan sideboard. He felt the warmth of the alcohol spreading through him, and he closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation. A few more, and he would no longer care who Potter chose to share his bed—but he wasn't quite there yet. "Scorpius thinks he's the greatest thing since pumpkin juice."
"Terrible thing, that. A pupil's liking his tutor can lead nowhere productive."
"He is coming to the manor tomorrow morning before breakfast to discuss Scorpius' lessons."
"I see. And you feel hung-over will be the best way to make arrangements for your son's education?"
Belatedly, Draco realised whatever hangover potion he had in the manor, if he had any, had likely expired ages ago, if not dried up. It was unusual for him to drink more than a glass or two of wine with dinner or two fingers of scotch in front of the fire with a book after Scorpius was tucked into bed. He would face one bugger of a headache in the morning if he drank much more. A headache tomorrow versus forgetting ever laying eyes on Johnathan Wrayburn tonight—it was a tough call.
"Ran into his ex in Muggle London."
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence before his mother began regretfully, "Oh, Draco—"
"Bloke named Jonathan," he said abruptly, in no mood for maternal platitudes. He was seriously considering a third stiff drink in less than ten minutes, hangover be damned. He was also considering forgoing the glass and just taking the decanter to bed with him. He could always send Ippy to Diagon Alley for a potion first thing in the morning.
If the silence that fell after his previous comment had been thick enough to cut with a knife, the one that followed his latest statement would require something more along the lines of a sword.
After what felt like hours, his father cleared his throat. "Are you quite sure? Did Potter confirm the relationship?"
Draco laughed scathingly. "Not in so many words. But, oh yes, I'm quite sure." Merlin knew, Potter's verbal confirmation hadn't been necessary. Neither man had let there be any question in the matter.
Pompous fool of a man—actually referred to me as his replacement!
Draco picked up his glass and hurled it across the room. He felt a brief moment of satisfaction as the hundreds-of-years-old crystal shattered against the wall.
"Apparently, I'm the only wizard alive who did not know which team Potter plays for. Rita Skeeter ran an exposé on the subject, as if it was any of anybody's concern. I'm sure it was all over the front page of the Prophet."
"I see," his father responded. "That certainly shines a new light on—"
"Yes it does rather, doesn't it?" Draco responded, but at that moment his thoughts were much more on Potter's ex than on the reason behind an erroneous assumption made by Heathcliff and Ariadne Greengrass years ago. The man had infuriated him beyond reason. Even now, Draco had trouble letting go of his resentment .
Jonathan Phillip Wrayburn, of the Wrayburns of Cliffemount Hall, seat of the Viscount Brexstone—thank you very much. Who fucking introduces themselves like that? Fucking pretentious tit. If Potter's taste runs towards vapid, conceited, insipid little upstarts, he's welcome to them.
"Except, it didn't seem at all like that is the direction his taste runs, did it? He could hardly have seemed less pleased to see the man," a little voice in the back of his mind pointed out to him.
Draco ran his hands through his hair and sat down heavily on an overstuffed armchair facing the fire. He stared into flames, watching the embers glow red and yellow—colours he would always associate with Potter, even so long after Hogwarts. He had been horribly rude towards Potter, and he knew it. Hell, even at the time he'd known his behaviour was inexcusable, but he'd been unable to stop. What must Potter have thought? Fuck, he'd reacted just like a jealous lover, irate at having a date interrupted by the one who had come before him. Draco had no idea what had possessed him to behave in such a manner.
"Do you not?" asked the little voice in the back of his head.
Draco rubbed his eyes, ignoring the question. In the future, he must work to keep himself in check. The fact that Potter was gay changed nothing. He was certainly never going to develop feelings for Draco.
He might, however, be wishing to be rid of him and regretting his offer to tutor Scorpius.
Draco covered his face with his hands. No matter how rudely he had behaved, Potter had not lost his patience and responded in kind—not even after that wretched scene in the Magical Creatures gallery whilst the children had been in with the unicorns. However, through his affability and pleasant manner, his growing irritation had been apparent in his sighs of annoyance and loudly exhaled breaths.
The frame Draco's parents favoured in the room hung on the wall to his right. They preferred that particular frame because it put them in the most natural position for conversation when he was seated in front of the fire. It was almost as if they were in the room, sitting beside him.
Or it was at least as close to it as was possible.
He could see them out of the corner of his eye, still there but silent as they allowed him his moment of introspection. He turned his head fractionally in their direction but quickly looked away.
"I'm afraid I treated Potter rather abysmally. I shall have to apologise and hope he will forgive my behaviour. But what explanation can I possibly offer?"
"Offer no explanation," his father said stiffly. It was not in the nature of a Malfoy to apologise. "On such occasions as this when one is forced to offer an apology, it should be done with a minimum of fuss, like having to take a particularly vile potion. Do it and be done with it."
Draco nodded his head and stared into the flames once more.
Right, then. Like Father said, do it and be done with it, Draco told himself the next morning. Just say, "I behaved very poorly, and I apologise."
He'd tossed and turned half the night, and what little sleep he'd got had been plagued with dreams of Potter learning of Draco's feelings towards him and mocking him—or worse, pitying him. Standing at the sink after his daily ablutions and staring at his reflection in the mirror, Draco couldn't help but compare himself to Jonathan Wrayburn and feel he came up short. Jonathan had thick, wavy, golden-blond hair. Draco's own pale white-blond hair had begun to thin. Before long, it would likely start receding. Jonathan's face could have been sculpted by a master artisan. His eyes were a deep shade of blue. Draco had always known his own countenance was far too angular to ever be considered handsome, and his eyes were a dull grey.
The grandfather clock chimed the quarter hour. In fifteen minutes it would be eight o'clock. Draco splashed cold water on his face and dried it roughly with towel. What did it matter what he looked like? Potter would never spare him a second glance. He squared his shoulders and re-entered his bedroom to finish dressing. Potter would be arriving soon, and Draco had an apology to offer.
Ten minutes later Draco waited in front of the Floo in the small library, rehearsing his very short and to-the-point apology. " I behaved very poorly, and I apologise . . . My behaviour was uncalled for, and I apologise . . . I regret my behaviour, and I do apologise." He dropped down onto a leather sofa and rubbed his forehead. Malfoys were not cut out for apologising. It was not their metier.
The flames in the hearth turned green, and a sound like bell peals filled the room. Draco looked at the mantle clock. It was three minutes to eight.
"You know what to do, darling," his mother said. His father tipped his head to him, and the pair slid from the frame as Potter's agitated face appeared in the fire.
"Draco? Are you there?"
Potter's voice was as tense as his face, and Draco feared the worst—that he was going to say he'd changed his mind. He rose and smoothed his robes. His stomach was tied in knots, and his chest felt tight. He adjusted his collar and fidgeted with his cuffs. He knew he was stalling, and he scolded himself. Right, then. Like taking a potion, take a deep breath and just do it. "You may come through."
The green flames roared, expanding in the blink of an eye to triple their original size, and Potter stepped into the library, wringing his hands in front of himself.
Unwilling to give him the opportunity to withdraw his offer to tutor Scorpius, Draco steeled his nerve and spoke before the other man had the chance to utter a sound. "Potter, there is something I feel I must say—"
Before he could continue, Potter held up his hands in the universal signal to stop. "I know what you're going to say," he said regretfully. "Look, I'm really sorry. I'm sure you don't want to hear it, but I am."
Draco's own apology forgotten, the knots in his stomach vanished, and the tightness in his chest changed from one of nerves to one of paternal anger. He had expected better from Potter, but he was no better than all the Miss Westbournes Draco had encountered since the war. He was worse—demonstrating such outrage at the treatment Scorpius had suffered, only to repeat it himself.
"So, that's it? You're angry with me, so you're just going to forget about your offer to tutor Scorpius?"
Potter had been poised to speak again, but instead he fell silent, and his eyebrows drew together. His reaction to the accusation surprised Draco. That he had expected something else was so obvious, Draco felt his anger deflate and something akin to panic build up in his place. Had he jumped to the wrong conclusion?
"What?" Potter asked. "Of course not."
Draco mentally swore. He had been wrong, and his hot-headedness had no doubt sunk him further in Potter's eyes. "I know I was an absolute arse to you yesterday, and I apologize." He winced at the pleading tone of his voice. He'd intended to apologize in a far more business-like manner, but his words were fuelled by more than just his need to make Potter keep to their agreement. Draco had already given him enough reasons to dislike him when they were younger. Even if Potter would never return his feelings, Draco didn't want his rudeness to add one more reason to that list. "My behaviour was unjustifiable, and I am truly sorry."
A hint of a smile played at Potter's lips, and Draco's eyes were helplessly drawn to the other man's mouth before he forced himself to look elsewhere.
"Yeah, you were kind of a git," Potter agreed.
"I hope you won't let my conduct influence you against Scorpius."
Harry swallowed. He looked around the room, fidgeting and shifting his weight from one foot to the other, never letting his eyes land on any one object for more than a moment. "Your conduct . . . your conduct in other regards more than made up for your brusqueness towards me," he said in a whispered voice. A humourless laugh escaped his lips. "I rather thought you'd tell me to bugger off the moment I stepped out of the Floo. Still waiting for it, actually."
It was Draco's turn to be surprised. He blinked twice. What did Potter think he had to apologise for? Was he still thinking about Draco's reaction to Wrayburn's words? He opened his mouth but hesitated before asking, "Why would I do that? It's to Scorpius' benefit—"
"I take it you've not yet seen the Prophet, then?" Potter asked, his words spoken in a nervous rush.
Draco shook his head, comprehension dawning on him. It could hardly be surprising that their appearance together in public yesterday would be remarked upon, but why Potter would think Draco would be angry over it made no sense. Surely, he had to see the advantage of having their names mentioned in the same breath was all Draco's. "I've not seen the Prophet in several years." Draco's hand went to his left forearm. "The opinions expressed regarding my family were . . . unpleasant to read. I read the financial papers, and aside from that, my solicitor keeps me abreast of any relevant goings-on."
Potters eyes widened before he looked away. "Then . . . then you didn't know . . . ?" He worried his bottom lip between his teeth before pulling a copy of the Prophet from the pocket of his robes. "Front page of the society pages. You're not going to like it." His tone managed to be both apologetic and straight forward at the same time.
As Draco reached for the newspaper, their fingertips brushed. Potter took two steps towards the windows overlooking the informal gardens.
Rather than examine the paper for whatever had disturbed Potter so badly, Draco watched him as his eyes roamed around the library. What must he be feeling at being in the manor again, Draco wondered? Should he propose Scorpius' lessons be held at Potter's home instead?
The walls were lined with five-foot-long floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Between the bookshelves on the exterior wall were the same French doors found throughout the manor. On the interior walls hung large, gilded frames, all of which were empty.
"I can certainly clear a room, can't I?" Potter asked.
"Don't flatter yourself so much. That's nothing to do with you," Draco said, repeating Potter's words from yesterday back to him. "Those frames have been empty for years. The exodus of ancient Malfoys happened long ago."
"Why do you keep them up then?"
"I've been meaning to purchase Muggle paintings to replace the original portraits with."
Draco couldn't remember ever saying anything that made Potter laugh. The sound unravelled a knot that had formed in his stomach. "They give my parents' portraits more mobility around the manor," he said truthfully in a low voice.
Potter nodded in understanding. "I've photographs of my parents, but no portraits." He indicated the newspaper Draco still held. Draco had quite forgotten the article featured in the society pages that had so upset the other man. "Open it," he instructed.
The headline was splashed across the top of the page in large print.
HARRY POTTER'S NEW LOVE INTEREST - A MARKED MAN!
Draco felt his legs weaken beneath him. That was not what he had expected. Allegations that he'd Confunded or even Imperiused Potter would not have surprised him—but this? He reached behind himself for the arm of the sofa and guided himself onto it not a second too soon. He did not think he could have stayed on his feet a moment longer. It was like a slap in the face. What he wanted but knew he could never have stared up at him in cruel, taunting black and white.
He scanned through the article. It was written by Rita Skeeter, of course. Who else would write such tripe? It was full of suppositions and deliberately misleading inferences and reminded Draco immediately of the one she had written about Potter during the Triwizard Tournament in their fourth year, when he had been the one feeding her exaggerations and outright lies. Who were the culprits this time, Draco wondered. Those two men Potter had put in their place, or someone else?
Draco carefully folded the newspaper and set it aside. "Someone should step on that loathsome little insect."
"I am so sorry," Potter said. "She's done this before when I was seen out in public with a man. With our history, I should've realised she'd jump at the chance for a headline."
"It's hardly the first untrue thing they've printed about me." Draco didn't dare look at Potter. A firestorm of emotion was gathering force inside him, and he was sure everything he was feeling would be visible in his face.
"I was afraid you'd be livid." The relief in Potter's voice was unmistakable. "Especially after Jonathan running his mouth off like that."
The last thing Draco wanted at that moment was to think about Jonathan Wrayburn. "It's not that bad. I was expecting something much worse, that I'd used dark magic on you or something of that sort."
"Most straight men would have had a fit at the implication they were romantically involved with another man."
"No one who reads that rubbish will think for one second there was the slightest bit of truth to it. No one would believe you would ever develop feelings like that for me. The very idea is ridiculous."
Potter mumbled something under his breath which Draco did not quite catch, but sounded remarkably like, "Don't be so sure about that."
"What did you say?" he asked, his ears perked up and his back a little straighter. His heart jumped in his chest, and he felt a tremor run up his spine.
Draco dared to turn his head enough to see Potter from the corner of his eye. "It sounded like you said 'Don't be so sure about that'." The other man fidgeted uncomfortably, as if he'd not realised the words had been spoken out loud. It couldn't be. . . .
Potter ran his hand over his face and through his hair. He didn't look at Draco; rather, he appeared to be entranced by the pattern on the carpet. He drew a deep, shaky breath.
"Look, if I'm being honest, I have to admit I do find you quite attractive, and if I didn't know very well you were straight, which I do, I'd definitely be interested in seeing you—"
In the blink of an eye, Draco was on his feet, facing Potter. He was breathing as if he'd just run a mile up hill.
"—but I do know you're straight, I mean, you've got a son, so obviously . . . er . . . yeah . . . I mean, it's not like I'd—"
Potter never got to finish what he'd been about to say. Draco's vision, his thought process, everything had narrowed to one single aim. Between the two men stood a small decorative table covered by a collection of ornaments as fragile as they were valuable. It was nothing but an obstacle separating Draco from what he wanted, and unable to think of anything other than the fact the Potter had just said he found him attractive, Draco flung it to the side. Covering the remaining few yards between them in long strides, he grabbed Potter by the collar of his robes. The two collided against the edge of the bookshelf, and Draco crashed his lips down on the other wizard's. Their noses bumped, and their foreheads banged together. Potter gasped in surprise, and Draco, not thinking but rather acting purely by instinct, slid his tongue into the other man's mouth. He clung to Potter, feeling his body pressed against his own, tasting him.
But Potter did not respond. He stood as motionless as a statue.
Draco felt his blood run cold. Had Potter been taking the Mickey? Mortified, he released the other man and stepped away. He had no idea what to say or do. He was living the dreams that had plagued him last night.
Though intense, his agony was short-lived. One step away from Potter was all he had taken before the other man groaned and reached out for him. Before Draco could speak, before he could even think, they were kissing again. This time was so different. Potter had been frozen a moment ago, but now he had come alive and taken control. Potter kissed the way he did everything, with complete abandon. He didn't just kiss—he devoured. His hands were everywhere all at once. He pushed Draco towards the leather sofa, and together they fell onto it. Part of Draco's mind feared that any second he would be awoken and find himself alone in his bed, but Potter's—no, not Potter's, Harry's—weight on top of him was so solid this could be no dream. This was real. This was really happening. Harry was really lying on top of him, snogging him as if nothing else mattered, nothing else existed.
They broke apart only when forced to by the need for air. Even then, breathing heavily, Harry allowed no more than an inch to separate them. Draco licked his lips, still able to feel Harry's against them.
"Didn't dare hope," Harry breathed as he cradled Draco's neck and jaw in his hand. "Do you have any idea how fucking good you look in Muggle clothes? Been half mad thinking about you." He gently traced the tip of his tongue along Draco's lips, mimicking Draco's own action a moment previously. He exhaled against Draco's skin, covering his lips with closed mouth kisses. Draco didn't know which excited him more—Harry forceful or Harry gentle.
Harry's hand slid from Draco's neck down his chest to settle at his waist. Harry kissed him again, a slow, burning kiss that left Draco realising he'd never really been kissed before that morning. Nothing he'd ever known compared to kissing Harry.
Draco touched Harry's face, tracing his fingers along the other man's forehead, down his temple and across his cheek to his lips. "I've wanted this for so long. Dreamed about it . . . never thought. . . ." He brought Harry's mouth back to his own. Harry's mouth tasted like the coffee he must've drunk that morning. He smelled of soap, simple and clean, masculine.
"I've lost time to make up for, then," Harry said between kisses, pushing himself against Draco, letting him feel exactly how badly he wanted this. "I want you to tell me every one of your dreams, and then I want to make them real."
Draco moaned as Harry gently grazed his bottom lip with his teeth. "Could take some time." He ran his fingers through the thick mop of Harry's coal black hair. "I've an active imagination."
There was no more talking for several minutes, but far too soon, Draco had to force himself to slow things down. With one hand on Harry's chest and the other still buried in that uncontrollable hair, he said, "Scorpius will be down for breakfast before long."
Harry nodded his head. He stole one last, lingering kiss and breathed deeply, exhaling a long breath. "I assumed you were straight." With a note of reluctance in his voice, as if he were afraid of the answer, he asked, "Scorpius' mother?"
Draco closed his eyes. The story of his marriage was not a pleasant one, but he knew if he wanted any chance of a real relationship with Harry—and he did—it was one he would need to fully disclose. He started at the very beginning. "My marriage to Scorpius' mother was arranged."
Harry stood and moved away from him. "You're married." His words were heavy with disappointment.
Harry was not the sort to involve himself with a married man, regardless of the circumstances of the marriage, Draco was sure, and he hastened to clarify. "I was married." He rose and moved towards the fireplace. "Astoria died four months ago." On the mantle stood several photographs in silver frames. He picked one up and held it, looking at the person in the photograph. "She had been . . . unwell for a long time." Unwell . . . Even after all this time, the word left a bitter taste in Draco's mouth.
"I'm sorry," Harry offered awkwardly.
Immediately after learning of the deception behind his marriage, Draco had been able to feel nothing but resentment and open hostility; however, as the years passed, compassion and pity had driven the bitterness away. Now he felt genuine sympathy for all involved.
"She is at peace now." Turning to Harry, he said, "Our marriage was arranged, as I said. I've you to thank for it, actually. And by extension for Scorpius."
"Understand? No, I wouldn't expect you to. But you see, you came to my mother's funeral."
"What's that got to do with anything?" Harry asked, clearly confused.
"I'd no idea myself until just yesterday." Draco said. He handed the photograph to Harry, saying, "My late wife. The former Astoria Greengrass."
Harry looked at the photograph and then at Draco. The photograph showed a beautiful little girl with dark hair and eyes sitting in the grass, smiling and waving. Sunlight streamed down on the child, who laughed as she rocked her bare feet from side to side, flowers between each of her toes.
"I remember Daphne Greengrass, but I don't remember—"
"Astoria? No, you wouldn't. She was home-schooled. Her health was not good, or so her family claimed. Daphne was her older sister.
"Very shortly after my mother's funeral, I received a communication from Heathcliff Greengrass, Astoria's father, expressing his desire to arrange a marriage between his younger daughter and myself. The letter touted the advantages of marriage to a man in my particular circumstances, specifically mentioning that he was 'sure Mr. Potter would agree'," Draco quoted the letter from memory. "As to my particular circumstances, I assumed he was referring to my being the last of my line and having just lost my mother. I'd no idea until much later that at the beginning of sixth year Daphne had happened upon me and another student—male, of course—at a very compromising moment. Being the Slytherin she is, she kept what she'd seen to herself until it was beneficial to her to use it. As to why he suspected you would agree, or even mentioned you, I'd no idea until yesterday. Those articles you said Skeeter printed about you. That would have been before my mother died, I suppose?" Draco asked.
When Harry nodded, Draco continued. "You surprised the entire Wizarding world by attending my mother's funeral. I can only presume that when the Prophet reported on it, Daphne informed her parents what she'd seen in our sixth year, and that they read into your attendance something that was not there."
"They believed a marriage to my secret lover would benefit their family," Harry said coldly, his feelings regarding such a motive plainly obvious.
"And that I would be willing to do anything to keep our illicit affair out of the Prophet, no doubt." Draco replaced the photograph on the mantle. "Within days of our marriage, I learned the real reason Astoria's parents were desirous of my marrying their daughter. I learned the terrible truth behind the reported poor health which had kept my wife from attending Hogwarts. Astoria was the victim of a dark curse cast as an act of revenge by a wizard her father had angered not long after that photograph was taken. She was seven years old. One year older than Scorpius is now. Her mind . . . was never sound again. She vacillated from being perfectly charming one day to violently savage the next or from . . . a nearly completely unresponsive stupor to wild delusions and hallucinations. The curse was degenerative and unstoppable."
Harry gaped at him, clearly appalled.
"Her family used a very potent—and very illegal—variant of the common Calming Draught to control her during the negotiations for the marriage. The potion in question is practically the Imperius Curse in liquid form. As a result, she was as quiet as a mouse every time we met, not that we met very often. Her father was eager for the marriage to take place—citing both his and his wife's failing health, which was true—and I, unsuspecting of anything's being wrong, agreed there was no reason to delay. I thought she was merely shy, which was hardly surprising, and I believed the sooner things could be settled and we could begin our new lives, the better for the both of us." Draco paused. "I could have had the marriage annulled, of course."
"Why in Merlin's name didn't you?"
"I would have lost my son. I wanted to marry because I wanted a family, a child. The curse destroyed her mind, but physically, Astoria was perfectly healthy and able to carry a child. Her parents must have feared the power they believed they held over me with the threat of exposing our non-existent relationship to the world would not be enough to prevent me from seeking an annulment once I'd learnt the truth, because they took the added precaution of giving her a strong fertility potion starting immediately after we entered into talks as an additional deterrent. Not relishing the thought of that particular aspect of married life, I began taking a similar potion myself. The result was that conceiving a child on our wedding night was virtually guaranteed and did, in fact, happen. Had I had the marriage annulled, her family would have been perfectly within their rights to have the pregnancy terminated."
"At the time I agreed, I assure you. I could have wrung her father's neck. But having Scorpius, I've come to understand their actions."
"You've forgiven them?" Harry asked, astonished.
Draco rubbed his forehead. "You must understand. They were parents desperate to see their daughter provided for after they were gone. They were not young and neither were in good health. They did not possess resources equal to providing for Astoria after their deaths—she required around the clock supervision and care and would for the remainder of her life, which would not come cheaply and the responsibility for which would fall to Daphne before long. They either had to allow that to happen, or—"
"Pass it off to someone else."
"Essentially, yes. Daphne had by then married a Spanish wizard and left England. She has limited means and a family of her own to care for."
"So they chose the second option."
"They got a wealthy guardian for their daughter who, while a social pariah himself, had a very powerful lover, or so they must have believed. What my money could not provide for her care, they had to have hoped your influence could."
"My God. I don't know that I would be so forgiving in your place." Harry ran his hands over his face. "You said her parents were in poor health. Are they still alive?"
Draco shook his head. "No. Her mother died within two years of the marriage and her father a year after his wife."
"What happened to the wizard who cursed her?"
"Caught and sent to Azkaban for an unrelated crime. At least the Greengrasses were spared a trial. But there was nothing that could be done to stop the curse. Once cast, its progress was unstoppable.
"I wanted to take Scorpius and leave England shortly after his birth, but Astoria had needed to be admitted to St. Mungo's during her pregnancy. She remained in the Janus Thickey Ward until her death. They were able to provide better care for her there than I could give her here, and most days her delusions were so bad she'd no idea who I even was. The staff was kind and considerate, unlike others I've encountered, but I couldn't leave her there alone. She was my wife and my son's mother."
Arms wrapped around Draco from behind, and he felt the warm pressure of Harry's forehead against the back of his neck. It had been so long since he had enjoyed any physical contact with another adult, and the simple gesture felt so good, Draco felt his eyes burn with tears of gratitude.
"How did she die?" Harry asked, his arms tightening around Draco's waist.
"When in the grip of the worst of the madness the curse caused, she had no ability control her magic and suffered terrible outbursts." Draco breathed deeply. "A variety of safety spells and enchantments were employed to protect her and others, but four months ago, she had a particularly bad episode, and her magic overpowered the protections. The destruction was extreme. Windows exploded. She sparked fires. Doors were blasted off their hinges. Staff tried to get to her through the chaos, but she flung herself from a blown out window before they could stop her. She fell six storeys."
Draco placed his hands over Harry's where they rested on his stomach. "She's at peace now for the first time since she was seven years old."
"How much does Scorpius know?"
"Very little. Just that his mummy was very sick. He never knew her, of course. The truth of what was done to her is just one of the things I'll have to explain to him one day. Daphne sent me photographs of her from before she was cursed so that Scorpius would know his mother's smile. It's the one thing he inherited from her."
Harry pressed a soft kiss to the back of his neck. Draco dropped his head forward, giving him better access. He treasured every second of Harry's lips and breath on his skin.
It was the pounding of little feet rather than the pitter-patter that alerted the men to Scorpius' imminent arrival.
Harry whispered into Draco's hair. "I'll remember where I left off and pick back up later."
He stepped away from Draco just as the library doors were thrown open and Scorpius ran into the room. Draco did not have his son dress for the day until after their breakfast, so the child was still in the pyjamas he'd slept in. His hair was unbrushed and sticking up in a bad case of bedhead, and faint pink lines marked his cheek from where it had rested on his pillow. He held his Snitch snuggle ball in his hand. Upon seeing Harry with his father, he stopped short, exclaiming, "Daddy! Harry's here!"
"Yes, I know. We've been discussing things. I know I promised no new teachers for a while, but what would you say if Harry were to teach you?"
"Yeah!" the little boy shouted in excitement.
"Good then, that's settled." Draco rubbed his hands together. "Now, how about some breakfast? Who's hungry?"
"Can Harry have breakfast with us?"
"If he would like," Draco responded, looking hopefully at Harry. He felt a nervous excitement spread through him. This was real. The kisses they'd shared, telling him about Astoria, Harry listening and holding him in his arms afterwards. The kiss Harry had placed on the back of his neck and his promise to pick up where he'd left off later. It had all happened. Harry cared for him; he returned Draco's feelings. Harry wanted him.
"I would like that very much," Harry answered with a smile for both father and son, a smile that held a different promise to both recipients.
"Can we eat outside, Daddy? It's not raining."
"I don't see why not. Why don't you ask Ippy to set the table on the terrace?"
The child called for the elf and politely made the request to the little creature, complete with 'Please' and 'Thank you'.
"Very well done," Draco complimented his son, who beamed under his father's praise. "Lead the way."
Harry fell into step beside Draco as they followed Scorpius and gently squeezed his hand. "You're a good dad," he said. "You know that, right?"
Draco basked in Harry's approval.
As the three stepped outside onto the patio together, the bright light of a new day enveloped them, and Draco reflected on how much had changed so quickly. Just days ago he had resolved on leaving England. Now, he and Harry had snogged like randy teenagers, and Harry was joining them for breakfast. Draco felt drunk with anticipation of what that night held. He was not naive. He didn't fool himself that there would not be difficulties to be faced if Harry and he were to be together. They would face many obstacles, but he'd been given a chance, and he would not give that chance up without a fight. He took Harry's hand in his and stroked his wrist with his thumb.
Scorpius ran from the terrace onto the lawn. The sky above them was pure blue. "Look, Daddy! The clouds are all gone!"
"Yes, they are."
The sun had come out.
There you have it! I hope you liked it! Thanks for reading. Drop me a review and tell me what you thought.