Title: The Strongest Affinity
Author: eidheann_writes (eidheann)
Career Choices: Harry: Wandmaker; Draco: Single Father/Hermit
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco. Some mentioned Harry/Lee Jordan. Past Harry/Luna, Draco/OFC. Mentioned Ginny/Oliver, Ron/Hermione, Teddy/Victoire, Rolf/Luna.
Warnings/Content Notes: Beyond a wank, there is a shameful lack of smut in this fic.
Summary: Trouble finding a wand for Scorpius leads Harry and Draco to something they never imagined.
Word Count: ~17,700
Author's Notes: Written for Career Fair 2014 at Livejournal. Dear momatu, I saw this prompt, and instantly my brain thought of a joke. So I claimed it without any thought of the plot needed to support said joke. Thanks to my super someone and the best beta ever, I was able to turn the joke into a fic, which really makes this sound funnier than it is. Thank you for your permission to not include smut because the boys just wouldn't cooperate. Title taken from Ollivander's quote in Deathly Hallows: "The best results, however, must always come where there is the strongest affinity between wizard and wand."
Draco frowned and rubbed his head, trying to will away the pounding behind his eyes. He'd been staring at the latest batch of legalese from the Ministry for the past two hours, and he was lost in wherefores and parties of the second part. He knew he should turn the whole thing over to Blaise, that as his solicitor it was his job to handle the Ministry so Draco didn't have to.
But he'd decided after sending Scorpius up to bed that sleep was unlikely this evening, and that archaic Peerage laws would be less stressful than thinking of tomorrow, or worse, Scorpius' impending first year at Hogwarts.
The pounding in his head flared, and he dropped the papers onto his desk, burying his face in his hands with a groan. He debated calling for Nipsy to bring him a potion or perhaps a firewhisky before he pushed himself up from his chair. Drinking wouldn't accomplish anything, and he knew better than to hide from his troubles in the bottom of a bottle. Instead, he decided to go downstairs, and to the plate of biscuits Scorpius had baked with Nipsy that afternoon. Maybe that with some tea would be enough to calm his nerves; Diagon Alley opened early in the morning.
Draco settled his mug of tea on top of the kitchen table with a sigh, pulling the plate of lemon biscuits closer and cancelling Nipsy's Stasis Charm with a wave of his wand. The smell of PG Tips was comforting. The box stashed behind the flour canister was at best an open household secret, but he'd gotten accustomed to it during his more fast-paced life in Germany. He lifted a biscuit, golden and brittle, and sighed. He always felt a wave of nostalgia biting into the treats; they'd been Adelina's favorite, and she'd baked them with Scorpius at least twice a month from the time he'd been old enough to hold a spoon.
Draco closed his eyes, savoring the pop of lemon on his tongue. It had taken a year after her death before Scorpius convinced him to eat them again. When he met Adelina Amstadter, he'd hated the biscuits. They were citrusy without being sweet enough to counter the tang of the lemon. But they'd been all she was allowed by the Harriers' coach during the Quidditch season, and her sweet tooth had demanded something, and over time Draco had gotten used to them.
They'd become a running joke by the time Scorpius was born, as both had relied on humor and friendship to counter the lack of romance. He'd proposed by burying the Malfoy engagement ring under a pile of them. She'd threatened to demand them in place of a wedding cake. She'd devoured them during her pregnancy, even though she wasn't able to fly and could have had free reign with the sweets. And of course, she'd addicted Scorpius to them by the time he was two years old.
Now, five years after her death, Scorpius and Nipsy still baked them once a week, and he focused very hard on not thinking about how empty his life would be without Scorpius tucked away in either the library or the kitchen, a quiet but always busy presence.
It was fine. He would be fine. He just needed to convince his mother of that.
Harry woke slowly, the sounds of quiet cursing rousing him from his comfortable position buried under the duvet of his bed. He poked his head out and blinked, taking in the familiar blur that was Lee Jordan tugging his shirt on over his head.
"Hey. Overslept?" He fumbled around, finally finding his glasses and jamming them onto his face.
"Yeah. Meant to head home last night but I fell asleep, now I have ten minutes to get in to work before they fire me."
Harry snorted, rolling over and stacking his hands under his head, enjoying the view. "That's a lie, the Wireless couldn't survive without you and you know it."
Lee grinned over his shoulder, white teeth shining. "I know, just wanted to make sure you knew it."
"Arse. You going to Ginny and Oliver's tonight?"
"Maybe. May have a better offer." At Harry's skeptical expression, Lee laughed. "Think I may have worn the new intern down; I asked about dinner and drinks Friday and he told me 'Maybe' so today I'm gonna push my luck."
"So happy to have taken the edge off then." Harry rolled his eyes, sitting up and stretching, relishing the release of muscles in his back. "If he's as bright as you claim, I'll be seeing you tonight, I reckon."
"We'll see. Now give us a kiss, I need to get. And you've got the school rush, too." Lee brushed a hurried kiss to Harry's cheek and made a dash to the Floo.
Harry flopped back into the bed, a smile tugging his lips. He was looking forward to the day; Hogwarts supplies letters went out the previous week, so the rush had begun, filling his shop with eager first years, all wanting to find their wands. He remembered the feeling, that something was just for him. The wand chooses the wizard, Ollivander had said, and that something that perfect was made just for him... Even now, the thought of it caused a lightness to bubble up in his chest. Bringing that joy, seeing that joy, made the early mornings and late nights in August worth it.
Harry reached his shop just as Egbert Bonniecastle wheeled his cart into place before the empty storefront beside Ollivander's.
"Morning Mr. Potter! Can I interest ya in a pasty this morning?"
Harry inhaled deeply, smiling at the familiar scent of beef and onions, before shaking his head with a twinge of regret. "Not this morning, I'm running late and need to get the shop set up. But I'll poke my head out when I get a tick."
"You do that, Mr. Potter. I'll keep 'em hot for ya."
"Cheers." He gave Egbert a salute before pushing the door open and flicking his wand to light the shop. He sighed at the shelves of boxes and the smell of wood, magic, and dust that permeated the shop. Hermione always said that bookshops all had a similar smell: leather and paper and knowledge and home, but he'd never really understood what she meant until he began working for Ollivander after the war.
For all Hogwarts would always be his first home, this was his second, and a truer one. He'd spent more time here than Hogwarts for one, but more importantly this shop represented his choices. Hogwarts was wonderful, but it would always be tied in his head to decisions being made about him and for him. He loved every brick, but it also represented a place where he did what was expected, without real thought.
Making wands was nothing anyone had expected of him, it was nothing he'd ever expected of himself, which made everything about it feel more like his. It was the life he claimed in the aftermath of the war and his half-hearted attempt at Auror training. And it was done entirely without the input of anyone, except Hermione's 'Honestly, Harry, you need to get off the couch and do something' which given the number of things Hermione had said that to him about, he considered a wash.
Which isn't to say that breaking from expectations had gone well. Kingsley had driven himself to distraction trying to keep Harry in training. Ron had given him sad looks (even though he'd only lasted two years on the force himself, before moving on to work at Wheezes), and the Prophet had had a field day. By the time he'd wandered into Ollivander's shop, following nothing more than a 'who the fuck cares' attitude and a Help Wanted sign, he was ready to sweep floors just to get everyone off his back.
And here, nearly twenty years later, he owned it.
He smiled, staring out the window at the slowly increasing flow of shoppers in the alley, and took a deep breath. He turned his sign to 'Open' and prepared to face the day.
Draco was used to the feeling of scrambling, though not necessarily this early in the morning. He and Scorpius usually spent their mornings fairly leisurely, with breakfast and reading and quiet time before the more serious task of Scorpius' studies in the afternoons. But trying to go anywhere with a child required organization and a seat-of-your-pants panic, regardless of the time. So Draco was prepared when Scorpius put up a fuss after breakfast, wanting to finish his book before going to Diagon, and then managed to misplace his glasses somewhere between his bedroom and the foyer.
Draco closed his eyes and breathed. He'd hoped to arrive in the Alley before it properly opened, to finish Scorpius' shopping before most of the crowds and rush, but the possibility was fading as each minute ticked by. Finally, with an exasperated Accio that sent the glasses flying out from under a chair, and he wasn't going to ask how they got there, he herded Scorpius into the Floo and to the Leaky.
When they arrived, the jostling of the crowds caused Scorpius to press tightly against him. He breathed a sigh of relief when they made it through the entry to Diagon Alley proper without the hexing he'd half anticipated; two pairs of white-blond Malfoy heads being a distinct target. But everyone seemed focused on their own shopping and families and he mentally thanked Merlin as he consulted the list.
"Would you prefer the Apothecary or Madame Malkin to be fitted for your robes first?"
"Can't we go to the bookshop, Papa?"
He raised an eyebrow at Scorpius' earnest expression. "We'll visit the bookshop last, because I know we'll never get you out in time to finish our shopping otherwise."
Scorpius heaved a sigh, and Draco mentally prayed for patience as he was bumped by a large family. "We can go to Madame Malkin's, I guess. But I want the newest issue of Martin Miggs."
"Very well, but you'll need to stay close and not wander off." Scorpius rolled his eyes, and Draco grasped his arm. "I mean it. We stick together or I Owl Order the rest of your supplies."
Draco eyed him a moment, and then nodded, before turning in the direction of Madame Malkin's shop. Mentally, he planned the trip: Uniform, then wand, then the rest down the line as they could be ordered if needed.
The exterior of Ollivander's shop filled Draco with dread. He'd not seen Ollivander since the War, but had ignored his mother's entreaty that he go to Helsinki and get Scorpius a wand from Kuikkonen. He'd refused, not wanting to explain to Scorpius that he was still afraid to face those most directly affected by his actions in the War.
Though he was. He felt overwhelmed by guilt when thought of Ollivander, or Lovegood, or Thomas. So he usually tried to not. But now, facing the shopfront, he could feel it eating away at his belly.
"Pasty, sir? Best in the Alley!"
Draco started in surprise, looking over at the food cart he'd not even noticed. The man behind was short, with curly white hair sticking straight out from his head, and a large smile on his ruddy face. Scorpius had already approached the cart, examining the halfmoon pastries.
The old man's smile turned avaricious as he eyed Scorpius. "Best pasties in the Alley. Only the finest ingredients, and tasty enough to make yer tongue sing like an angel."
Draco's lips twitched in spite of himself at the blatant hard sell, but he approached the cart. It was a welcome distraction, and a good procrastination from entering the shop. And they did smell tasty. "How much?"
"Three sickles per."
He passed six over, and took one carefully in hand, as they were piping hot under the Stasis Charm. The old man passed another to Scorpius, who took an injudicious mouthful, sucking in air to cool his burning tongue. "'Sgood!"
"Of course, best in the Alley I told ya!" The old man grinned, belying his scandalized tone. "Gettin' yer wand? Ya better eat up, you don't want dirty fingers messing with yer match."
Scorpius nodded, taking another large bite. Draco nibbled his more carefully. The meat and spices blended perfectly, reminding him of the meals served at Hogwarts, and twisting in a complicated blend of nostalgia and guilt. "It's very good, thank you."
He received a large smile and a nod in reply, and he watched as Scorpius inhaled the pasty. "Okay, done, can I go in?"
He hadn't the heart to say no in the face of Scorpius' excitement, so he wrapped the remains of his suddenly tasteless pasty in his handkerchief and cast another Stasis Charm before pocketing it. He didn't think Ollivander was the type to blame Scorpius for the sins of his father; but he wasn't going to let him go in there alone, just in case.
His shop being tucked away at one end of the Alley meant that his customers were usually a slow trickle until closer to lunch. That meant when his door chimed, it was empty of customers when a boy entered dragging his father behind him. He needed to do a double-take; the hair was a dead giveaway, but the boy was otherwise an almost precise copy of Draco Malfoy at eleven, with points softened by babyfat and delicate silver spectacles resting on his nose.
"Potter...?" The voice was familiar, though the tone of surprise was not. He blinked from the boy to his father, and sure enough, Draco Malfoy was standing in his shop, older, but still unmistakable.
He steeled himself. He hadn't seen Malfoy since the trial, though he knew through Ginny he'd married a Quidditch player for the Harriers who'd died some years ago. He felt flat-footed and uncertain how to react. "Good morning. Wand for Hogwarts?"
"What are you doing here?"
And Malfoy looked so surprised, Harry swallowed the desire to snark at him and answered. "This is my shop. Garrick retired five years ago."
"I... Oh. I didn't..."
Harry smiled kindly. "I could tell. No offense taken." He turned his attention to the boy, who was watching the exchange with an inscrutable expression. "First year of Hogwarts? What's your name?"
"Scorpius, sir. You're Harry Potter, aren't you?"
He could feel his smile become somewhat stiff, as he mentally cringed in anticipation of what a little Malfoy would have to say about that. "Yes."
"Cool. You make wands now?"
"They say the wand chooses the wizard." And Harry was, oddly, back on familiar ground. Scorpius' expression mirrored the face of every other firstie coming in for his first wand, a familiar combination of excitement and fear, and his smile slipped once again into something genuine.
"It does. Why don't you tell me a little about yourself and we'll get started."
It was surprisingly easy to listen to Scorpius chatter about Sherlock Holmes and biscuits and zoos, to think of him as nothing more or less than an eleven year old here for his wand. And if he had to ignore the quivering tension of his father in the background, well he could do that. A lot of parents were more concerned about the initial wand purchase than their children.
He could ignore the oddness that it was a Malfoy.
The search didn't go well.
At first, Harry attributed it to the normal issues with Pureblood (and Halfblood) children. Growing up in magical households meant that their parents' or older siblings wands were often snagged, and magical flexibility being what it was in the young, that their immature pathways had been nudged in one direction or another.
But when Harry had Scorpius try Draco's wand, Maple and Unicorn, and surprisingly swishy, it let out nothing more than a single bubble which popped almost immediately.
He took notes as they tried wands; he found writing tended to help him see the patterns Ollivander had been so good at connecting in his head when matching wands. Stiffer wands tended to work better, and Scorpius couldn't get Dragon Heartstring to work at all. He was entertained by the challenge, though he could see that worry had overtaken Scorpius' earlier excitement, and Malfoy was again quivering with tension. Harry was actually surprised Malfoy'd kept his mouth shut all this time.
He glanced up from his notes as Teddy wandered into the shop, munching on one of Egbert's pasties. His hair was magenta today, and Harry sighed at the torn jeans and scuffed leather boots. "Hey, Ted. I thought we'd agreed no holes during business hours."
"Where's the fun with that? Heya, squirt." Teddy bonked Scorpius on the head in passing; casual in the way he always managed, and Scorpius gave him a miserable smile in return. Harry couldn't help eyeing Malfoy at that, he didn't seem the casual type, though kids all seemed to love Teddy.
Sure enough, Teddy's entrance seemed to break Malfoy from his tense silence, and he approached the counter. "You have some idea of the problem, I hope?" His hand lifted automatically, a quick brush to the back of Scorpius' head, before dropping down to his side again to clench tightly.
Harry nodded, tapping his notes. "Not a problem really. I'm fairly certain I've narrowed the wand core and rigidity, but we're just not finding the right wood for him here."
"What does that mean?" Scorpius' voice was high with strain, and Harry smiled, resisting the urge to follow Teddy's example and ruffle the fine blond hair.
"Means I need to find the right wood. Don't worry, we'll find you a wand to choose you."
"Hey, squirt, wanna come see where Harry makes the wands?"
Teddy beckoned Scorpius toward the back room, grinning, and Harry turned to Malfoy as soon as they were out of sight, grateful for Teddy's always-quick reading of tense situations. "Most of the wands here are woods favored by Garrick, just because those are what I'm most familiar with. They are by no means the only woods used in wandmaking, nor even some of the more common, internationally speaking. It could be something as simple as the fact that Scorpius was born in... Germany, was it?" At Malfoy's sharp nod, he continued. "It could be that he needs a wand from a tree more common in that area, or that doesn't grow here. It's a simple enough process to get a few sample branches. It does mean you'll need to come back, however. Say, in three days?"
Malfoy grimaced. "We can return in three days."
Harry smiled, reaching out to grasp Malfoy's shoulder. He tried to not think about their past, to treat Malfoy as he would any other father faced with their child having trouble finding a wand. "We'll have Scorpius with a wand by September 1. I promise."
Malfoy nodded, seeming to droop under Harry's hand. "Thank you."
"No problem, it's my job."
Malfoy's gaze flickered up, briefly meeting Harry's before lowering again. "Wednesday morning then?"
"Yeah, should be time for me to Owl in a decent-sized order."
"Right. Thank you. Scorpius!"
Harry watched as Scorpius followed Malfoy out of the shop, chattering nineteen to the dozen, and heaved a sigh. "That's Malfoy, right? Draco?" Teddy leaned against the counter beside him, watching the two pass the window and continue down the street.
Harry nodded. "And Scorpius. Who the hell names their kid Scorpius?" He shook his head, bumping shoulders with Teddy. "Send an Owl to Barrett's, let them know I need a Central European Assortment by tomorrow afternoon."
Teddy nodded. "Will do. He scare off all your other customers? It's pretty dead this morning."
"No, first Monday after letters go out is usually slow until lunch. This is just the first time I've got you here when I actually need you."
"First time I'm old enough to be on the clock, you mean. Oh, Egbert said my pasty's on your tab."
"Should be paying me to let you sit around here and eat pasties." Harry bumped into Teddy again. "When does your apprenticeship start, again?"
"Ugh. Bill's taking me to Egypt in November. That's summer and I'm gonna be stuck there three months. I'll probably miss Christmas."
"Shouldn't have let him catch you snogging Vic in her bedroom, then."
"Hey! You're supposed to be on my side!" Teddy clutched his chest, giving Harry a dramatically hurt look.
"I am. I let you eat consolation pasties on my tab. Now shut it and clean up the mess I'm certain you made while showing off my workroom."
"Aye, Cap'n!" Teddy shot him a jaunty salute and backed toward the doorway. "Oh, looks like the rush is starting."
Harry turned to look just as the bell at the door jingled, and saw a half-dozen people through the window. He put on his best professional face and put the problem of Scorpius Malfoy out of his head for now.
When they finally arrived home, Draco was a mess. He followed Scorpius out of the Floo, dropping the shrunken packages on the floor for Nipsy to sort out, and thought longingly of the firewhisky decanter in his study. Scorpius was already through the door and pounding up the stairs by the time he drew a deep enough breath to re-center himself.
"None of the candy! Nipsy will have supper ready in an hour!" Draco waited for Scorpius' shout of assent before making his way to the study and collapsing in the chair before the fireplace. He closed his eyes tightly, letting the sound of the fire calm his racing thoughts.
The trip had been both easier and harder than he'd expected. It was really the first time he'd been to Diagon for more than a quick Apparation directly to and from Gringotts since shortly after the War. He grimaced remembering the shouting, the hexing, the running that had accompanied that trip.
This trip was almost normal. Several of the shopkeepers had frowned, unwilling to interact beyond the barest minimum, but the general public had mostly not seemed to notice anything beyond their own busy lives.
Except Potter. Who'd treated him... exactly as he would have expected Potter to treat anyone coming into his shop for a wand. Had he ever thought to expect Potter to be a wandmaker, which he hadn't. The last he'd heard, which granted was over a decade ago, Potter had continued being the Ministry's Golden Boy and joined Auror training with Weasley and Longbottom.
He grimaced again; for all the outward normalcy of his trip to Ollivander's, it was the thing that left him the most off-balance.
"Papa?" He blinked at Scorpius, standing beside his chair and staring at him concernedly.
"I'm sorry, I was just..." He shook his head, "I'm sorry, Scorpius. What's wrong?"
"Did you need two trips to get your wand?"
Draco winced. "No, I didn't. But Mr. Potter didn't seem worried, did he?"
Scorpius shook his head. "No. But isn't that kinda his job?"
Draco's lips twitched. "As a shopkeeper, it is indeed his job to appear confident to inspire confidence in his product, yes. But I think if he can save the Wizarding World, finding you the right wand should be no trouble."
Scorpius grinned at that. "Did you know Teddy is a... Metamorphmagus? He can make his hair change color and his nose change shape and everything!"
And the name coupled with the rather rare ability caused something to ping in his mind, and he realized who the boy in the shop must have been. Harry's godson, the child of Professor Lupin and the cousin he'd never met and only barely heard of. It wasn't a discussion he felt capable of having at that moment, so instead he just replied, "No, I didn't."
"It was amazing. I'd read about the ability, but it's really rare! I didn't think I'd ever meet anyone who could actually do it. And that's why he made his hair pink! I asked him why, and he said it was just because he could."
"Hmm. Seems as good a reason as any, I suppose. And before you ask, no. It's much harder to turn your hair back."
"Ew, Papa. I don't want pink hair!" Scorpius' scandalized expression was belied by his giggles, and Draco couldn't help but smile back, feeling much more relaxed than he'd thought himself capable of fifteen minutes ago.
"Masters! Nipsy be serving supper now!"
"Yeah!" Scorpius turned and raced out of the room like a boy who hadn't just snacked his way through the afternoon. Draco thought about chiding him, reminding him to walk in the house, but it seemed like too much effort. Scorpius' energy made him feel tired, but it was a familiar tired, and entirely unlike the rest of the day.
Except we get to go back to Diagon on Wednesday. He wouldn't think about that now. He would focus on Scorpius, and these last weeks before he would be left alone to rattle around the Manor with no one but Nipsy for company.
Wednesday arrived too quickly. Scorpius had spent much of Tuesday camping out in various locations with an open book on his lap, and Draco wouldn't be surprised if he read all his textbooks cover to cover before arriving at Hogwarts.
He knew Scorpius was worried, he could tell by the fidgeting. Scorpius adjusted and readjusted his glasses and his sleeves all through their early breakfast, but almost dug in his heels when it came time to Floo to the Leaky.
"What if we can't find one?"
"We will. Mr. Potter promised, did he not?"
He tried to not think about the oddness of Potter being reassuring, and instead focused on the softening of Scorpius' expression. Needs must.
They arrived at Ollivander's – or rather Potter's, though Draco had no idea why he hadn't changed the name – shop early enough that they reached the door in time to see the pasty cart wheeling down the Alley in their direction. The old man pushing it gave them a wave as Draco pushed open the door and nudged Scorpius inside.
"Morning! The owl was late yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to sort this yet." Potter smiled at them as he shuffled through a large pile of sticks, each untrimmed and unsanded, showing every knot and whorl. Potter's expression was full of glee, and he looked like a third year facing Honeydukes for the first time. It was the first time Draco really thought of him as a Wandmaker, as opposed to simply someone who made wands. He was left completely flat-footed at that.
Scorpius eyed the pile with trepidation, and Draco ached for him. "Teddy should be here any time to help keep an eye but we can get started." Draco blinked at Potter, surprised by the sympathetic smile he was giving Scorpius. "Why don't you come and take a look at this pile now, let me know if anything speaks to you."
"What if it doesn't?" Scorpius' voice was small, and Draco's jaw tightened in response.
"Then we keep looking. There's hundreds of woods used for wands in the world, and including this, the shop only has maybe fifty." Potter grinned, but Scorpius' eyes went wide in panic. Potter seemed to realize he'd blundered, because he quickly continued. "But I'm certain we'll narrow it down with this batch, even if we need a different branch. You'll have your wand by the time you need to go to Kings Cross, I promise."
Scorpius gave the pile a skeptical look, but he did shuffle forward deeper into the shop.
Harry heaved a silent sigh of relief when Scorpius came forward to poke through the pile of branches. He could only hope Teddy arrived quickly, he had no idea how to deal with Malfoy and mini-Malfoy alone in his shop, and the urge to toss mud or something just to break the tension was high.
The entire situation was strange, and part of him wanted to curse that of course it would be a Malfoy who couldn't find a wand first trip this year. It was one of the first things he'd learned when he'd stopped sweeping and started his official apprenticeship; that every year there'd be at least one who needed a wand special made. That no matter how well stocked, they would need a different wood or flexibility or length.
And his luck being what it was, it had to be a Malfoy.
"Would you like to sit?" He eyed Malfoy, still standing rigid near the door. He seemed unusually tense, more than a simple problem finding a wand would explain. "I promise, this sort of thing is pretty common. It happens every year. We'll get Scorpius sorted."
Malfoy didn't loosen at all, but he did nod and cross to the comfortable chair. Harry turned his attention to Scorpius, poking through the wood with a defeated expression. "Hey. This happens every year. Promise."
Scorpius looked at him, his chin wobbling slightly. "None of these do anything. I'm sorry."
He didn't need to look up to know Malfoy had stood again at that, and he held up a hand. "Of course they don't. They don't have cores. We're looking for what feels good in your hand. Which you most like the look of. Which you feel in your gut is your favorite."
Scorpius turned back to the pile and the bell over the door jangled as Teddy walked in, yawning. "Oh, hey. G'morning. You're here early."
Scorpius beamed at Teddy, and Harry was taken aback by how open and joyful the expression was. "Good morning!"
He glanced at Malfoy as Teddy ambled over to Scorpius, surprised to see him sitting again, watching Teddy with an expression softened to curiosity. It was the most relaxed he'd seen him, and he let his gaze travel over his features. Malfoy's face was still all angles; sharp chin and nose, and cheekbones that could cut glass. What surprised Harry was how well they seemed to fit, each creating a balance in a face that was surprisingly appealing.
And if he was standing in his shop thinking Draco Malfoy of all people was attractive, he didn't know what to think.
"Mr. Potter? I think I like this one."
He dragged his attention back to Scorpius and took the branch. He rolled it in his fingers, surprised.
"What is it?" He blinked up at Malfoy, surprised to hear his voice for the first time that morning. "You seem... Is there a problem?"
"Oh, no. No problem. Not at all." He smiled at Scorpius, who hand leaned slightly in towards Teddy when Malfoy spoke. "This is Silver Birch. It's used fairly often in potions and of course broommaking, but it's fairly unusual as a wandwood."
"Is that bad?"
"Of course not, squirt." Teddy grinned at him. "Being used in potions and brooms just means it's extra magical."
Malfoy's eyebrow twitched at that, and Harry had to suppress a smile, but Scorpius seemed convinced.
"It also means that we'll be able to find you the right branch fairly easy. It grows here, so we don't need to Owl it in from overseas. I just haven't worked with it before. It'll be an adventure for both of us, hey?"
"Does that mean we come back?"
Something in Malfoy's expression caused Harry to hesitate. "Well, I'll need to make some sample wands. As I said, I'm almost certain I've length, rigidity and core set, but just in case, I'd like to craft a few. But Scorpius will need to try the finished product to make certain it's the right fit."
Malfoy nodded, but Scorpius broke in, "Papa doesn't like coming to Diagon Alley."
"You don't! We only go to Muggle London, or the Wizarding District in Zurich and Germany. You don't like being here because of what happened after the war."
"Scorpius, that's enough. It's fine. How long do you need, Potter?"
Harry glanced between the two, at Scorpius' stubborn expression and Malfoy's blotchy flush. "Or I could bring them to you?" He ignored Teddy's surprised expression, focusing on Malfoy. "It's really no trouble," he continued, lying through his teeth. "I can bring them Friday next?"
Malfoy seemed caught between his offer and Scorpius' unwillingness to give. He'd never seen Malfoy looking that stubborn, and he suppressed a smile. "It's really no problem."
"I... The Manor is under Fidelius after... You'd need to contact Blaise Zabini for the address. He's our Solicitor."
Harry grinned. Seeing Malfoy flat-footed was worth it. "I'll do that."
He arrived for dinner at Rolf and Luna's shortly after the Nargle Shoo'ing. Luna was still wearing a large leaf as a hat, and Lorcan and Lysander (thankfully both, no one younger than Teddy was able to tell the two apart, which Hermione found a personal insult and George found amusing as hell) were covered in green paint and leaves. He could smell the curry Rolf was making in the kitchen and his stomach growled appreciatively.
"Evening, Harry! You're right on time!"
"Just me tonight?"
"Mmm." Luna nodded, pulling the leaf off her head. "I thought Ginny might make it, but the Harpies ended up calling her in. She Floo'd me a couple hours ago." She gave Harry a firm hug and a soft kiss on the cheek, and he sighed at the familiarity of the embrace. They'd been lovers after the war, and he was thankful that they were able to keep their friendship with no interruption after she met Rolf.
"Harry! Sit down; dinner's almost ready. I just need to plate the rice."
Harry stuck his head in the kitchen, grinning at the numerous pots and spoons, with Rolf Scamander directing them with the power of Molly Weasley. "Anything I can help with?"
"You can get the kids clean. Use the green soap, they're in a green phase."
"I thought that was part of the Nargle thing."
"That's the leaves." Luna brushed past him and leaned into Rolf's side. "They've decided that Wednesdays are Green Days."
It was over dinner that talk of Nargles turned to the approaching year at Hogwarts. "And you'll never guess who walked into my shop on Monday morning."
"Draco Malfoy." Luna blinked at his open-mouthed expression. "Oh, was I not supposed to guess? I'm sorry. I just thought about the people who had children of age to go to Hogwarts this year who you'd otherwise be unlikely to see, and that pretty much just leaves Draco."
Rolf glanced over at them from where he'd been pulling Lorcan's (or was it Lysander's?) hand out of the raita. "He's pretty much a hermit, though he visits Muggle London and the Wizarding communities on the continent."
Luna nodded. "I'm honestly surprised. Narcissa was certain he'd take Scorpius to Finland and avoid Diagon Alley entirely."
Harry blinked again. "Narcissa?"
Luna turned her wide eyes on him. "Draco's mother. She lives in Zurich. They moved a few months after the war."
"You call her Narcissa?"
"She insisted after the twins were born." Luna smiled at the two who had begun eating exclusively off the others' plates.
"You're in contact with Narcissa Malfoy."
"Yes, Harry. We all are. We've stayed there when we've had Portkey layovers to Madagascar and Tibet."
Rolf nodded as well. "Haven't seen Draco or Scorpius as much, he'd moved to Germany by the first time we were there. But a few times we've all been in Zurich together. Gracious host, but very reserved, especially after his wife died."
"I'm just hung up on the fact that you're in contact with the Malfoys..." Harry shook his head.
"Of course. Draco and Narcissa both reached out after the war to apologize. I believe they did so with Dean and Garrick as well. Griphook, too."
"Yeah, but I don't hear about Dean spending time in Zurich..."
Luna shrugged. "It is his choice how he accepts apologies, or even if he accepts them. Accepting gained me friends and made it easier to move on, since I didn't have to think about the bad parts of our past. I could make new memories and choose which ones I wanted to keep."
"And Narcissa has never treated our presence like a burden or a duty. She seems to genuinely enjoy our visits." Rolf grinned. "And that's a rare enough thing to have in a friend."
Harry's lips twitched. "Does she do the Nargle dance?"
Lysander (or was it Lorcan?) looked up at that. "No, Nargles don't live in there. Zurich is land-locked."
Both Rolf and Luna beamed at that and Harry wisely took a large mouthful of curry.
"Scorpius is my problem wand case this year, it seems. I had to get a special shipment of Central European woodstock in, and I've still only narrowed it to type."
"That's too bad. It was me for Ollivander." Rolf shook his head slightly. "I was a wreck. I finally got mine the last day of August."
"I'm supposed to contact Malfoy's solicitor for his address and bring a choice of wands by the Manor next Friday."
Luna nodded. "Probably for the best."
"What do you mean?"
"It's hard to lose your best friend, and he didn't want to move back to Wiltshire. The Ministry, you know. So the timing was bad all around." Luna took another bite of curry as if she had explained anything. "He did become quite fit, however."
Rolf nodded and Harry dropped his fork. "Please tell me we're not talking about how fit Draco Malfoy is? Please?"
"Of course, Harry. How is Lee? I didn't see him Monday."
"He's finally snagged that intern he's been going on about. Randall-something."
"Oh, that's nice. Once he's pried him out of the bedroom, Lee should bring him along to someone's dinner night. We've heard so much about him, it's like we practically know him already."
Rolf's grin was wicked and Harry laughed. "I'll pass that along."
Making wands was Harry's favorite part of his craft. The ways cores and woods interacted, the change a half-inch could make, it was endlessly fascinating. And he wished he could go out to the groves and find the branches, but in the August rush, it just wasn't feasible.
Which made Scorpius Malfoy more of a challenge. Silver Birch was a great many things, but primarily it was bendy. He shook his head at the first delivery of Silver Birch to his shop. The stiffest branch sent was swishy at best, and after Scorpius' initial tests, Harry was certain it would not work at all.
He penned another Owl to Barrett's, this time both underlining and capitalizing his request that the Silver Birch include primarily rigid, stiff, or firm branches. He wondered if he would need to spend his half free day Sunday morning in one of the groves anyway.
He set aside the swishy branch just in case and shrunk the rest of the lot to put in his "do something with later maybe" drawer. He slammed the drawer and cursed quietly. Thoughts of Scorpius led to thoughts of the previous night's dinner, which led to thoughts of Luna commenting on how fit Malfoy was. Which was a pointless train of thought because he was still Malfoy and still straight.
He started in surprise and turned to see Teddy leaning against the door to the shop. "Fuck, Teddy. Make some noise, will you? You almost gave me a heart attack."
"I did. The bell rang and everything. You're just getting old—your hearing's shot." Teddy grinned. "Seriously, though. You okay?"
"Just this wand thing. Barrett's sent me a useless batch. Most of it would only be good for broom tails. So either they get their act together and get me something good by Saturday or I have to spend Sunday morning finding branches myself."
"Hold on, I got this." And he watched as Teddy ducked back out the door, bells jingling, and spoke to Egbert outside. He came back in with a couple pasties and held one out to Harry. "Here, eat something."
He took the pasty and sighed. "Thanks."
"Anything I can do?"
"Nah. It's fine. I shouldn't be this frustrated, it's just..." He let his words trail off, because he wasn't sure why this was getting to him. "Habit, maybe."
Teddy's eyebrows shot up. "Habit? I thought you only had one or two problem cases a year."
"No. I mean." Harry sighed. "Malfoy and I didn't get on in Hogwarts. I guess I don't know how to... not act like Hogwarts."
Teddy snorted a laugh. "What would you tell me?"
Teddy's face morphed quickly into a younger version of itself and he turned puppy eyes at Harry. "I don't know what to do. Someone was mean to me and now we have to work together on a project and it's not fair." Then he morphed again as he broke into laughter.
"Oh ha-bloody-ha. Thanks a lot."
"S'what you sound like! And you'd tell me to suck it up and deal. And Hermione would tell me 'maybe you'll end up with a friend' and Luna would tell me something about Blibbering Humdingers and..."
"Alright, alright. You're right, oh wise one. Now get sweeping before the crowd starts."
Draco wasn't expecting his Floo to turn green Saturday evening, but when he waved his wand and saw Blaise's head floating there, he smiled.
"Draco! I'm assuming you've given the okay for Mr. Potter to have your address."
"Yes. Scorpius is having a small issue with his wand."
"Right, right. I'll pass it along and send him through."
"Wait—what?" Blaise's head disappeared and he found himself kneeling at an empty Floo. A moment later, Harry Potter stumbled out, directly into him.
"Shite, sorry Malfoy." He blinked into Potter's (close, very close) face. "I thought you knew I was coming through."
"I, er... I didn't realize Blaise meant right now." He cursed the heat crawling up the back of his neck as Potter took a hasty step away from him. He took a breath and attempted to regather himself, standing quickly. "I apologize. Would you like some tea?"
"Thanks. Yeah, thanks." He took some relief in the fact that Potter was flushed and uncomfortable as well. "I just wanted to check something with Scorpius. My usual wood source is being a bit of a problem, so I want to do a quick check to see if I need to go to the groves myself in the morning."
Draco nodded, relieved to fall back into being host. "Nipsy!" When the small elf popped in, he asked. "Tea, please. And please tell Scorpius that Mr. Potter is here to see him."
He glanced back to where Potter was standing awkwardly, glancing around the room. "Sit, please. It will just be a moment." He gestured to a comfortable wingback, sitting in another chair nearby, and smiled politely while he mentally scrambled for conversation. "You said there was a problem with the supplier?"
Potter sat, placing a small bundle Draco hadn't noticed on the end table beside him. "Not a large problem. It's a British supplier, so most of the birch they keep on hand isn't really wand quality, since I don't use it normally. They sent a couple that might work, but I really need to see Scorpius with them to know for sure."
Draco nodded, and remembering Teddy's words, allowed a smile to form. "I see. Being commonly used for brooms and potions doesn't make it inherently more magical then?"
Potter barked a laugh, relaxing back in the seat. "No. No more or less than any other, really. I really don't know why I've not done anything with birch before. Garrick didn't use it, so I just... never got started. But I know it's common elsewhere. Kuikkonen uses them quite frequently, I know. Birch is practically her signature wandwood."
Draco sighed, shaking his head. "Mother insisted I go to Helsinki, but..."
"Why didn't you? I mean... you obviously aren't out much. I never see you in Diagon Alley or anywhere else, and you had no idea I owned Ollivander's."
Draco shifted in his chair, avoiding Potter's gaze. "Because I felt I needed to." At the expectant silence, he continued, the words dragged from him by Potter's attention. "I wanted to make sure that Scorpius... I don't go to Diagon Alley. But I don't want Scorpius facing that. He will have a hard enough time with the name and being obviously my son, but... I don't need to saddle him with my issues as well."
He was grateful when Scorpius pushed the door open, saving him from further uncomfortable conversation. "Mr. Potter!"
Potter grinned. "Hey. I was wondering if I could get you to wave some more sticks around for me."
Scorpius' brow furrowed behind his glasses, but he came into the room just as Nipsy popped in with the tea tray.
"Nipsy brings the tea and biscuits!"
Scorpius flopped onto a chair in time to take the cup Nipsy floated to him. "I can try. I don't know what you will see though. You said wands wouldn't do anything without the cores."
Potter just grinned, sipping his tea.
Potter stayed through a surprisingly civil late tea and pudding before handing Scorpius the bundle and watching and 'hmmm'ing when Scorpius waved the sticks about. His expression gave nothing of his thoughts away; he simply thanked them for the evening before taking the Floo back to his shop.
That night, after sending Scorpius off to bed (where he would doubtless read for another four hours before finally collapsing), Draco dreamed. He was in the club in Berlin he'd often visited before he and Adelina had decided they were their own best options for marriage. It was dark and close, smelling of cigarettes and sweat and skin, and filled with music so loud he could feel it echoing in his chest.
He was dancing, eyes closed in the bump of bodies against his, hands wandering across his chest and arse, when suddenly everything changed. The music was drowned out by a loud roar, and the smoke changed to the smell of fire. He opened his eyes and looked around as the club filled with Fiendfyre.
"Malfoy! Take my hand!" And Potter was hovering just above him on his broom. It wasn't the ragged and dirty Potter of his youth, but the one who had spent the evening in his study; complete with hair just starting to speckle to grey at the temples and wearing a well-fitting shirt and trousers. He watched the panicked expression grow on Potter's face as he continued dancing in the crowd. "Draco!"
There was another roar behind him, and he could feel the heat of the approaching Fiendfyre. He had a moment to freeze in panic, to hear the screams around him, before Potter leaned further, stretching towards him. "Grab my hand! Now!"
He was helpless in the face of the demand, so reached up, hand slipping on sweat, before twining his fingers with Potter's. Potter heaved, pulling up on his broom and they went up, up, higher than the ceiling of the club could possibly allow. He'd managed to scramble up behind Potter, clinging tight. He awoke torn between memory and dream, the feeling of Potter's muscles warm under his hands and chest, the smell of ash and under it the trace of his skin.
He was painfully hard and breathless, and he reached down to grab his cock before he fully realized what he was doing, giving it two tugs before erupting across his hand.
It was only once he'd caught his breath that he realized he'd wanked to Harry Potter. Fuck, he needed to get laid.
Harry had been hoping to sleep in on Sunday, but watching Scorpius with the birch branches convinced him he'd need to find something sturdier. He grabbed a coffee and pastry from the Muggle cafe near his flat and then Apparated to one of the dozen Magical Groves dotting the countryside.
He took a breath, relieved that the weather was lovely, and wandered further into the grove. The smell of late summer – grass and leaves and sunshine – filled his lungs and he found himself taking deeper breaths of it. It was almost like flying, which he didn't get to do enough of this time of year, and promised himself to take more walks in the wood groves when time allowed it, just to have that feeling.
The birch stand was small, both in that the trees were dwarfed in size by their taller neighbors, and there was only a half dozen of them present. The trees seemed comparatively young, though he wasn't entirely certain if that was just due to the natural delicacy of their trunk and branches.
He sighed, poking around the first tree looking for an appropriate branch.
He remembered what Ollivander once told him: that wands used to be made from only fallen branches. Like Unicorn hair and horns, careless theft of branches caused inferior wands due to the unhappiness of the wood. So a wands' length originally was determined by what was found on the ground. Of course, over time the range of lengths narrowed, as wandmakers determined both what woods and cores were most effective at which lengths, as well as how to properly judge when a branch was ready to be a wand.
He gently tapped the trunk of the tree before him with his wand, listening to the branches shiver like a tuning fork, releasing a quiet hum. He shook his head; the sparkle of branches ready to be plucked was limited to a scarce handful, none wider than a Muggle biro. He could tell without even giving a closer look that they wouldn't be nearly stiff enough.
He moved on to the next trunk as he thought about the possible meanings behind Scorpius Malfoy and his particular wand requirements. Charms would be a specialty, most definitely. For all that Teddy had been teasing with his comment about the magical properties of birch wands, it was true that woods with more magical uses tended to lend themselves more to Charms, and sometimes Transfiguration. The stiffness of the wand spoke to a meticulous personality, and perhaps an inflexibility of opinion.
Harry wasn't entirely certain what to make of needing a stiff wand from a traditionally bendy tree, however. Trees which made wands of multiple flexibilities were usually traditionally stiff themselves, giving off a few young and more flexible branches with a standard pruning. Softer trees really only gave soft wands.
He let his wand tap this trunk as well, listening to the hum that thrummed in his very bones. He stared up through the leaves, eyes unfocussed as he watched for the sparkle of branches. The tree gave none, so he moved on.
Usually a wandwood going counter to its normal state meant the reverse. He shook his head as he stepped to the next tree. Likely less inflexible than he appeared, then. He tapped the tree, noting a likely-looking branch. Malfoys seemed to exist to surprise him, at least in the past week. He aimed his wand at the branch that was still faintly sparkling and cast a gentle Diffindo. It fell to the ground and he raised it to eye-level, testing it's rigidity.
He sighed and placed the branch in his satchel, and then continued to the next. The branch he cut was better than any he'd seen so far, but still more flexible than anything Scorpius seemed to have an affinity to in the shop. His mood fell further when the next tree gave no sparks again.
He rarely was this affected by his problem cases. He hoped he would have grown out of Hogwarts rivalries by now; and the last name Malfoy was the only thing he could pin down as being the source of his problem.
Well, that and Luna's comment about how fit Malfoy had become, and stumbling into him the previous evening. Harry closed his eyes, trying to will away the image of Malfoy's face; pink lips half-open in surprise, pale eyelashes catching the firelight, and the feeling of lean muscle under his hands.
Buggering fuck, he did not have time to deal with a crush on a former rival. A straight former rival. No matter that he was fit. He just needed to get laid.
Monday wasn't a normal pulling night. That suited Draco just fine; the club was claustrophobic enough without dealing with the larger weekend crowds. He pushed his way to the bar, signaling the bartender with a raised finger. As a pint was pushed toward him, he nodded his thanks, tossing down a few bills.
The music was deafening, and he grimaced at the taste of the beer. He really was too old for this; more than a decade out from when he did this with any regularity. The grind of men half his age on the dance floor was nice to watch, but mainly made him feel old.
He grimaced, already regretting allowing Scorpius to spend a final week before going to Hogwarts in Zurich with his grandmothers. The dream he'd had must have clouded his judgment and now that he was in the club, he kept scenting the memory of smoke.
He gulped the rest of his beer down and scanned the club, sprawling intentionally against the bar. He'd find someone quickly, maybe for a suck in the toilet, and get out. He knew he didn't look young, he couldn't count on his good looks to pull anymore, but he looked rich which worked well enough.
Then he saw Potter.
Potter was dancing (better than at the Yule ball, but bouncing and grinding against one's partner didn't require much more than basic coordination) in the middle of a Muggle gay club early on a Monday night. The one saving grace was that Potter hadn't seemed to notice Draco.
He caught himself staring; Potter looked good. His face was flushed, he was smiling, a breathless smile that brought to mind other things.
And that just wasn't on. He shook his head, straightening. He'd no idea Potter was even gay, much less that he frequented this club. He placed his glass on the bar and turned to leave, which of course was when Potter saw him as well. He cursed quietly when Potter's eyes widened, and he stopped dancing, before pushing through the crowd in Draco's direction.
He briefly pondered leaving anyway, but quickly dismissed the idea. Potter was making Scorpius' wand, and they would see each other at least once more. It would be exponentially more awkward if Draco fled the club, so he focused on at least appearing relaxed.
"Malfoy? What the hell are you doing here?"
Potter was standing entirely too close, almost shouting to be heard over the pounding music, and something in his expression caused Draco's shoulders to tighten again, and he frowned. "I rather thought that would be obvious. I didn't know you would be here, if that's what you're implying."
He was relieved when Potter flushed, but then he shook his head. "I just... I didn't mean... You're straight."
It was Draco's turn to gape before he shut his mouth with a snap. "Obviously not."
"But..." Potter shoved a hand through his messy hair and sighed. "You know what, I'm just going to shut up now before I stick my foot any further in. Hello, Malfoy. Fancy seeing you here." Then he stuck his hand out for Draco to shake.
Draco reached forward hesitantly, feeling the heat and dampness of Potter's hand against his. "Potter. Good evening."
"Well. This is awkward, isn't it?"
"Terribly." Draco sighed. "I apologize. I don't... do this often and I didn't realize you'd be here."
"I don't either. Where's Scorpius?"
"Being spoiled by his grandmothers one last time before he's off to school."
Potter nodded, eyeing Draco closely. "You know what? I think neither one of us is going to end up pulling tonight. Let's go get some coffee and talk and maybe get this awkwardness out of the way before we do ourselves damage with it."
Draco nodded, allowing Potter to tug him out of the crowded club.
Harry glanced around on leaving the club and saw the telltale green and white sign of a Starbucks down the street. He gave Malfoy's arm a tug, "C'mon." He dodged the trio of men standing outside the club, ignoring their commentary, and hurried to pull the Starbucks door open.
Once they were inside and seated, coffees steaming between them, Harry cursed the urge to squirm. He was a grown man, not a boy on his first date. And this wasn't a date, because he was with Malfoy. Malfoy, who seemed to be waiting for him to break the uncomfortable silence.
"So, um. Go there often?" And then he winced, because Malfoy had already said he didn't. "No, nevermind. Uh."
Malfoy's lips twitched, and he laughed. "Terribly awkward." He sighed. "I suppose I should admit I didn't know you were gay, either. I suppose I thought you'd be married and making babies by now."
Harry smiled. "Not gay. But no, no babies."
Malfoy nodded slowly. "I imagine it's not easy to find a serious relationship in a Muggle club?"
Harry snorted, his mouth twisting in what he knew was a bitter smile. "And for the Boy Who Lived."
Malfoy's expression slipped, and he gave what was an obviously sympathetic glance. "No, I imagine not." He blew on his coffee, taking a sip. "Have you tried the Continent?"
Harry laughed in spite of himself. "No. I have friends. And if my friends aren't available, there's Muggle clubs. I'm okay."
Malfoy nodded. "It's good to have friends."
"You and your wife?" Malfoy grimaced slightly, and he scrambled to apologize. "I'm sorry. Is it painful to speak of it?"
Malfoy shook his head, but his voice was quiet when he responded. "She was my best friend. Our mothers were close. We had a lot in common."
"She didn't mind...?"
"Mind what?" Malfoy frowned slightly at him, and he became aware it was the first time he'd made eye contact since they arrived.
"Er, well. Having a gay husband."
Malfoy smiled faintly, looking back down at his cup. "As I said, we had a lot in common."
He rocked back in his seat, unable to keep the surprise from showing on his face. "You mean...?"
"We were best friends, loved each other, we each had a duty to carry on the next generation, and we each were understanding that we could never be what the other wanted on a sexual level... It was perfect."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to drag up painful memories."
"It's alright." Malfoy smiled at him. "It's been five years. Mother and my mother in law both treat me like I'll break if they so much a mention her name. And no one here knew her." He shrugged lightly. "Somewhat a relief, actually. Scorpius only barely remembers her, and he was there."
Harry blinked. "You mean when she died?"
Malfoy nodded, turning to stare out the window. "We went to all her games. He has that memory of her, along with all the others." He grimaced. "I wanted him Obliviated, but the mind healers strongly advised against it. He's terrified of flying."
Harry winced. "How is he going to handle Hogwarts?"
"The Headmistress is aware of the situation. He's not excused from lessons, but..." Malfoy sighed. "He'll probably never follow Quidditch, and that's alright. He knows objectively that he needs to learn to sit a broom. I'm hoping that's enough."
The silence grew, both sipping their coffee, before Harry tried to break it again. "So, another Slytherin?"
Malfoy laughed. "He would live in the library if Madame Pince allowed it. He'll sort Ravenclaw, I'm certain."
Harry grinned. "He looks just like you at that age. Set me back to Hogwarts myself when I saw him walk into the shop."
Malfoy's smile softened, but he didn't respond directly. "His wand... Everything is going well?"
Harry nodded. "Yep. I've a couple that will be ready for him to try on Friday. If that doesn't work, you really should go to Kuikkonen. You've proven your point, and I know you hate Diagon Alley. I just don't know that I'm going to pull in the right piece of birch doing it piecemeal like I am."
Malfoy sighed. "That is your professional opinion, then?" At Harry's nod, he grimaced. "I suppose I shouldn't have promised Scorpius you'd be able to find him the right wand."
Harry ran a hand through his hair with a grimace of his own. "Well, you're not the only one who promised him. And I can keep trying, and one of these two might work. I just thought it would be better for his peace of mind."
Malfoy shook his head. "I know Scorpius. Going to Kuikkonen now would be... bad. Worse than you needing to keep trying. Because if you gave up..."
Harry sighed, taking a sip of his coffee and grimacing at finding it lukewarm. "Okay. Well. I'll be by on Friday then."
Malfoy nodded, giving him a faint smile. "Thank you."
His week passed in a blur of nervous firsties and too many pasties from Egbert's cart. Most of the year, he spent his days in the workroom, shop nominally open, but primarily him in the back and listening for the bell. He would get a few customers; people looking for secondary or replacement wands, needing their current wands repaired, and a few children newly turned eleven getting their wands early.
August made up for that, with long hours spent at the counter, dealing with anxious kids and testy parents. And he still needed to finish crafting the two branches for Scorpius. He thought that with being inadvertently cockblocked by Malfoy on Monday, he would be feeling the stress more than he was.
But he wasn't. For all he was grumpy and frustrated with the Malfoys the week before, something about spending two evenings in Malfoy's company, and enjoying it, seemed to have smoothed things out. He was stressed, but he found himself looking forward to the hour after closing the shop, when Teddy cleaned and he sanded, drilled, and finally fitted each branch with a single strand of Unicorn tailhair.
And more surprisingly, he found himself looking forward to Friday, and to Scorpius trying out the wands he'd made. At first, he thought it was simply the challenge; these wands were entirely new for him, birch not being a wood he'd worked with before and that always caused some measure of excitement. Then he thought it was simply for the joy that finally having a wand would bring to Scorpius. But after several nights of dreaming about Malfoy, imagining him dancing in the club, he came to the conclusion that he was simply looking forward to seeing the pair of them again.
And wasn't that the last thing he needed: a bloody crush on Draco bloody Malfoy. He banged his head on his workdesk and startled at Teddy's, "What's up?"
"I'm going to tie a bell to you, I swear I am."
Teddy shook his head. "Good morning to you, too. I'm hurt by your continuing ability to ignore me. Who knew August was so bad for your attention span?" Then he grinned. "Besides Hermione, I mean."
"Ha ha. Remember who's paying you. And who's the only one likely to make sure Bill brings you home for Christmas. Andi doesn't want you in Vic's bedroom any more than Bill does."
"Blackmail is illegal last I checked."
"Blackmail and bribery aren't crimes when it's to your kids."
"I'm not a kid." Teddy grinned. "Graduated Hogwarts and passed my NEWTs and everything. Just because you're getting senile in addition to your hearing loss..."
Harry tossed the dirty oilcloth on his workbench at him, and was rewarded by the sound of Teddy's laughter headed back into the main part of the shop.
And tonight he was going back to the Manor. Something in his gut that he told himself was not butterflies squirmed in anticipation. He was so fucked.
Draco tried very hard to not think about Harry Potter.
Sometimes it was easy. Scorpius was in Zurich, but Owled daily telling Draco about what he'd done, or what his grandmothers had given him. He took the opportunity to direct Nipsy in a cleanout of the East Wing, which had simply been closed up after the rounds of Auror raids following the war.
Irritable portraits and cursed-but-not-technically-dark objects were thankfully very distracting.
Nevertheless, his thoughts wandered. The dream followed by the wank followed by seeing Potter in the club left Draco off guard. And then the talking after, telling Potter things he'd not really spoken of to anyone; people already knew or it was none of their business.
The entire situation was just... odd. And his mind kept rolling it around whenever he let himself become distracted.
So it was a relief when Scorpius arrived via International Portkey just after lunch on Friday. He dropped his bag and threw his arms around Draco, and Draco could only hold him back, a hot lump rising in his throat.
"When is Harry coming?"
Draco's lips twitched slightly, but he let Scorpius squirm out of his grip and dig into his bag. "I imagine like Saturday, he'll arrive sometime shortly after closing up shop."
Scorpius nodded, pulling out a book and holding it out to Draco. "We got this from the Magische Zoo. They had an entire exhibit on Tadfoals, and Grandmother told me how much you loved Hippocampi."
Draco reached out and took the book, gently running his fingers across the cover. The Hippocampus snorted and shot off behind a leaf of some sort of sea-plant as he brushed across it, a dozen thumbnail-sized Tadfoals scattering in its wake. He smiled, breathing through the prickle in his eyes. "Thank you. Yes, I did... When I was younger, I had a seafloor mural in my bedroom." He grinned at Scorpius. "I was quite insistent I was going to be a Hippocampus trainer when I grew up."
Scorpius laughed, as Draco had intended. "I'm gonna find Nipsy and make biscuits then. Did she put my new books in my room?"
Draco nodded. "Though where she found the space with all your schoolbooks plus the others you got two weeks ago on Diagon Alley on top of what was already there, I don't even know."
"Nipsy can do anything."
"Hmm. Perhaps. Take your bag up to your room before you go down to the kitchen." He ruffled Scorpius' hair, smiling again at the long-suffering sigh he got in return.
"Fine." Scorpius hefted his bag and dashed out the door, already yelling "Nipsy! I'm home! We're making biscuits!"
Draco looked down again at the book. The Hippocampus on the cover had left the leaves and was nosing around the rocks. He'd almost forgotten the mural, it being painted over when he turned six. It was a horrible thing for his mother to do, reminding him of happier times, and as such completely expected.
He sighed, settling into a chair and began flipping through the book.
Scorpius squirmed through supper, filled with a twitchy nervous energy that made Draco ache for him. Scorpius refused to ask again about Potter's arrival, however, wavering between periods of silence and distracted chatter about the book he'd been reading that afternoon while the biscuits baked.
His expression of open relief when Nipsy announced Potter at the Floo as they finished their pudding caused the nerves to tighten in Draco's stomach. He knew Potter wasn't confident about the wands he was bringing this evening, and he could only hope this went as well as Scorpius hoped.
As it was, he followed Scorpius' dash out of the dining room at a slower pace, entering the study to see Potter grinning down at his son, his expression seeming torn between nerves and hope as well.
At a loss for anything to do, but needing to do something, Draco called "Nipsy! Bring tea, please."
Scorpius looked disappointed, and Potter pulled out a roll of soft-looking leather. "I've got two in here for you to try." Scorpius' hands twitched toward the roll, and Potter held it out to him. "I just want you to know that if these don't work, it just means we keep looking, yeah?"
Scorpius paused, hand still stretched between them before pulling back in on himself. "You think it won't work?"
Potter lowered the satchel. "I'm not going to promise because I can't know until you try them. I think either has a chance of working. And if they don't, I don't have any doubt at all that we'll find you a wand that does. My friend Rolf says that Ollivander didn't find his wand until he was practically boarding the Express on September 1. This happens, and I know it's hard when it's you, but it's never an insurmountable obstacle."
Whether it was at his words or the smile on his face, Scorpius took a deep breath and reached again for the package. Potter handed it to him, and Scorpius unrolled it carefully. Inside were two wands, nearly identical in length, of a surprisingly pale honey gold color. He hesitated a moment before he picked up the first and gave it a firm swish.
Nothing happened, and Scorpius seemed to deflate before Draco's eyes. He put the wand back and Nipsy popped in with the tea. She glanced around the room, eyes lingering on Scorpius, before floating the tray to the table and disappearing again.
Draco crossed to the table and poured quickly, not watching as Scorpius picked up the second wand. He didn't need to, the sigh and Potter's "Don't worry," told him that it had also not been the one.
He sent a cup to Scorpius, bringing him the plate of lemon biscuits directly. Scorpius was rolling the leather back around the wands, not looking at Potter's sympathetic face, and he took a biscuit without comment, biting it sharply. He ruffled Scorpius' hair, unsurprised when he grimaced and pulled away from the touch. "I'm going to go to bed. Thanks for bringing them by, Mr. Potter."
When the sound of Scorpius' footsteps on the stairs had faded, Potter turned to smile faintly at him. "At least he didn't slam the door?"
Draco sighed, offering the plate to Potter. "No, he wouldn't. He's never been the type to slam doors. He'll lock himself in his room with his books for the weekend, and will start to re-emerge on Monday."
"Ah, a brooder. Teddy was the same at that age."
"Is Teddy...?" Draco trailed off, uncertain how to continue the question. A Werewolf? Highly unlikely, he was fairly certain they'd been in Potter's shop the day after a full moon. His cousin? Obviously, and he knew that already.
Potter smiled at him, taking a biscuit from the plate. "Yeah, he is. He's my godson, too, so I guess that kinda makes us oddly related."
"I didn't tell Scorpius. I didn't make the connection that he could be related until much later. I know Mother wrote to Andromeda after the war, but the scars were still too new, and I don't believe anything came of it."
Potter nodded, taking a bite of the biscuit, and then coughing with wide-eyes. "Wha—?"
Draco blinked, and then shook his head, smothering a chuckle. "Sorry, I wasn't thinking. Those are the Malfoy family signature biscuit. Scorpius baked them this afternoon."
"They're—" Potter looked pained, and Draco offered the plate for Potter to drop the remaining half of the biscuit.
"Yes, quite. They do grow on you, though it can take years. Adelina wasn't allowed much sugar during the season, and, well, she started eating these before we'd even met."
Potter took a cup of tea and sipped it with an expression of relief. "They're actually not so bad if you follow them up with tea right after."
Draco chuckled, setting the plate down and taking a sip of his own tea. "I wish someone had told me that the first time she made me eat them."
Potter grinned and picked up the roll. "Back to work for me, then."
"Thank you. For this, I mean." Draco could feel the heat climbing his neck at Potter's attention. "You've been wonderful to Scorpius, I do appreciate all the extra work you've been doing."
Potter grinned, shaking his head. "It's fun working with something new. I just know it's got to suck for Scorpius. I'm going to Owl Laina Kuikkonen tomorrow to see if she has any branches I can trade off her. I can Owl or Floo you when I know?"
He smiled, firmly ignoring the fluttering in his stomach, and nodded. "That would be wonderful. Thank you."
Potter's lips twitched again. "You're welcome. Thank you for the tea. Not for the biscuit, though."
Harry hadn't expected to hear from Kuikkonen for several days when he Owled her Saturday morning. But when he arrived at his shop Monday morning, it was to find a grumpy Eagle Owl perched on the sign and glaring down at him. He unlocked the door, and the owl followed him inside, perching on the counter.
"What've you got, then?"
The owl held its leg out, tail twitching irritably, and took off once Harry had taken the pouch it was carrying.
He shrugged and opened the pouch, pulling out a roll of parchment and several shrunken birch branches. He quickly waved his wand, cancelling the spell and examined the lengths. Each was approximately a foot long, so would need to be trimmed for Scorpius, but more importantly, the bendiest of the four was still quite stiff, and one was completely inflexible. "Perfect."
Unrolling the parchment, he squinted at the scrawl.
These are the four stiffest birch branches I have that are not already made into wands. I hope one will help. Stiff birch is very unusual. You will pair with Unicorn Hair. Stiff birch always pairs best with Unicorn Hair. You tell the child good for charms, especially strong Patronus charm.
His eyebrows twitched at the final note, but if anyone knew the properties of birch wands, it was Kuikkonen. He took another look at the branches, already picturing in his mind the final wands they would make, and smiled.
Of course, it being the last full week before September 1, his shop was overrun from the moment he flipped his sign to the moment he turned off the lights. Finding time to trim, sand, and core the four birch branches was hard. Even Teddy seemed surprised by the flood of people. "Are there even this many seats open on the Express?" he asked on Thursday after shooing the last family out of the shop.
"It's the families that throw you off. Some of these kids'll go to Beauxbatons or Durmstrang, but half the ones coming in with their families are a year or two out either way. They just add to the ambient chaos." He grinned. "Also, we're still within the 'war's over, let's shag like bunnies' window, since their parents were in Hogwarts during the worst of things. You remember the year after yours had over twice your number."
Teddy grimaced. "And they all need to get their wands at the same time?"
"Yep!" He patted Teddy on the back. "Go on home. You look beat. I'll finish up here, I've still got wands to make."
"For the Malfoys?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, I'd like to get them done by Saturday so I can take them over and still have Sunday morning free."
"So I'll tell Ginny and Oliver you won't be going tonight? They were complaining to Aunt Hermione that you'd not been by in a month. And that you still haven't met Lee's hot new thing."
Harry smiled. "Everyone forgets they never see me in August. And you just happened to be at Aunt Hermione's? Was Vic babysitting again?"
Teddy blushed, but ignored the question. "Everyone forgets including you."
He laughed. "Including me. I think I've only seen Luna and Rolf since the rush started."
"So you'll go tonight?"
"Nope. I want my Sunday morning lie-in remember? And after next week, I'll be back bored and underfoot again."
Teddy snorted at that, but pushed himself off the wall where he'd been leaning and started for the door. He paused before pulling it open and his hair briefly rippled to brown before returning to the turquoise it had been earlier. "I spoke to Gran."
"About the Malfoys."
Harry paused, focused on Teddy and noting the hints of nerves. "It's a difficult subject for her, I'm sure."
"She about bit my head off. But I heard her crying later."
Harry nodded slowly, leaning against the counter. "Malfoy told me his mother wrote to Andromeda right after the war, it apparently didn't go well."
Teddy shifted, rocking on his heels briefly. "Why didn't he say anything to me?"
Harry sighed. "He didn't know. Your mother was almost ten years older than we were, and Andromeda was disowned before Narcissa even married. He'd never met anyone in your grandmother's family, and only heard mention after the war. He asked me if you were related to the Blacks last time I went to the Manor. Said he hadn't made the connection until Scorpius mentioned you were a Metamorphmagus sometime after the trip, but he didn't know well enough to be certain." At Teddy's slow nod, he continued. "Things were... difficult for the Malfoys after the war. He may have also felt you'd rather not acknowledge it."
"But we're family."
"Family is what you make of it, squirt. And your Gran and his mum had a break that has never been fixed. And he's not going to put pressure on you to fix it when it's something that could cause issues with your Gran."
"I'm not a kid."
Harry crossed to Teddy, wrapping him in a hug. "He doesn't know you, Ted. So he can't know that."
"I like Scorpius."
"So do I."
"And Mr. Malfoy seems kinda tense, but he loves Scorpius. So that counts for something."
He laughed. "Yeah."
"I'm gonna Owl them."
He gave Teddy another squeeze. "I think that's a great idea."
The following week caused Draco's heart to break repeatedly. Scorpius did as expected, hiding out in his room and offering nothing but monosyllabic response at mealtimes, slowly emerging to the Library on Monday. He wasn't interested in Draco's attempts to lure him out, suggestions of favorite restaurants and museums were brushed off without a thought.
He almost regretted telling Potter that it was better they not go to Kuikkonen, and even Potter's note asking to come by on Saturday with a selection he was certain of couldn't raise Scorpius' mood.
So it was with some surprise that he regarded the small barn owl blinking at him over the breakfast table. It held a scroll in its claws, though it refused to give it to Draco or Nipsy. "For Scorpius, then? That's his chair, there. You're welcome to wait."
So the owl was sitting on the back of Scorpius' chair when he entered the dining room still blinking sleep from his eyes. Scorpius didn't seem to notice it until he was reaching to pull out his chair, and he startled when it hooted softly and stuck out its foot.
"He's been waiting for you since I got down here. Nipsy said he arrived as soon as the bacon was done."
Scorpius cracked a grin at that, taking the roll of parchment and reading it quickly. Then he frowned up at Draco. "Teddy from Mr. Potter's shop is my cousin?"
Draco blinked, leaning back in his chair. "Is that who the letter is from?"
Scorpius nodded. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Draco winced, hating the wounded tone. "I didn't know. Not until Potter was here Saturday. We haven't spoken much since then." He sighed. "I wondered when you mentioned he was a Metamorphmagus. I know it is something that is in the Black line, and that Mother's older sister had a grandchild."
Scorpius flopped into his chair at that, clutching the scroll. The owl flapped its wings to keep steady, but remained perched on the seat. Draco took a sip of tea to stall for time. "I'm sorry, I should have said something when I first suspected. But... Mother and Andromeda do not... communicate at all. There are many hard feelings there. I didn't want to say something that could... jeopardize Teddy's relationship with his grandmother."
"This has something to do with the War and Grandfather, right?"
"In part. Andromeda is your grandmother's older sister. She was disowned for marrying a Muggle while Mother was still in Hogwarts. She had a daughter who apparently was a Metamorphmagus as well. She was an Auror, I believe. She and her husband both died in the Battle of Hogwarts."
"And Grandfather was a Death Eater."
"So was I, Scorpius."
Scorpius stared down at the scroll in his hand. "Yeah, but..."
"So was I, Scorpius. Whatever regrets I have now, or had then, doesn't change the fact that at one point I wanted it. I thought it was a good idea. And Andromeda knows that."
"She blames Grandmother for her daughter's death."
"I don't know. If not directly, then tangentially. It is an understandable perspective."
"It isn't fair!"
He sighed. "I know. But it is understandable, and that is something."
Scorpius stared at the scroll a moment longer before asking quietly, "People still blame us for the war... Hogwarts is going to be hard, isn't it?"
Draco blinked away the burning in his eyes and took a slow breath. "Some will. Some won't. Your Professors will not hold you responsible for the things your grandfather or I did. And no one who treats you poorly based on your family name is worth your time or worry."
Scorpius nodded, still frowning at the scroll and Draco continued, unable to leave it at that. "You'll have your studies to worry about, everyone will." When Scorpius didn't respond, he tried again. "Unless you've finished reading all your texts already."
Scorpius finally cracked a small smile. "I haven't read them all, yet. Potions is hard without the practical component. Otherwise it's just lists of ingredients."
Draco scoffed. "I was reading Potions Quarterly by the time I was ten. You're simply not trying hard enough."
Scorpius picked up a piece of toast and nibbled at it, so Draco returned to his own breakfast. He was surprised when Scorpius spoke again. "You do regret it. You don't need to keep feeling guilty. And if I shouldn't worry about the people who blame me for stuff, you shouldn't either."
Draco blinked at Scorpius, who was staring fixedly at his plate. He tried to smile. "Haven't you learned yet that it's rude to turn advice on the people who are giving it to you?"
"You should go to Diagon Alley again. I know it bothers you. But it will keep bothering you as long as you don't go." Scorpius fixed him with a determined glare. "You're going to be all alone when I'm at Hogwarts and I'm worried about you."
"Oh, Scorpius. Worrying is my job."
"So don't make me do it! Promise me when I'm at Hogwarts you'll do stuff that's not make Nipsy clean out the closed off parts of the Manor."
He fidgeted a moment with his own toast. "I'll do that."
Scorpius' worry didn't seem to have abated, and he dragged Draco into Muggle London and the British Museum shortly after breakfast, and they wandered the Classical Greek and Roman Galleries until Draco was certain that one more sculpture or mosaic would cause his eyes to fall out of his head.
He finally lured Scorpius away well after noon with the promise of the Cream Tea from the Great Court Restaurant, and he sighed when he was finally able to sit with a steaming cup of tea in his hands.
"And I want to go to the Library tomorrow."
Draco's eyes shot open, and he wondered if he'd actually dozed off in his seat to be jerked awake by that statement. "The Library? You must be joking."
Scorpius shook his head. "They've an exhibition. From Moriarty to Miss Marple: British Mysteries from the 1850s to 1950s."
"Oh, Merlin," Draco sighed.
"And it will be my last chance to go. Besides, it will be nice to get out of the house until Mr. Potter arrives." Scorpius fidgeted with his tea and Draco grimaced, knowing he had lost.
"Alright. But we won't be leaving right after breakfast again. I do have some paperwork I need to sign for Blaise in the morning. "
Scorpius waved a hand. "Fine. But definitely before lunch."
"Why before lunch? You don't like the Library's cafe."
"Because it's Saturday. We'll need to get in early to beat the rush."
"The last-Saturday-in-August rush? If it's not raining, the only rush we'll see is for the parks." At Scorpius' glare, he held up his hands in defeat. "Fine, fine. I'll tell Nipsy to prepare us a late breakfast and I'll do my work before."
Scorpius nodded. "I need to get some things sorted as well."
"You only get one school trunk. You can't take all your books. I can Owl you any you find you desperately must have later, but remember Hogwarts has an extensive library as well."
"I know. But no Muggle fiction!"
"You've read all your mysteries, and your favorite authors have all been dead fifty years at least. You could probably quote them by now."
"Doesn't mean I don't want to read them again."
"So be sparing. Bring no more than a handful of your most favorites. Send them back to me as you reread them, and tell me what to send in their place. You have all your supplies you need to fit in your trunk as well, don't forget."
Scorpius nodded and stuffed the rest of his scone in his mouth.
Harry was feeling more than ready to close up shop when the door chimed over the sound of Teddy's broom. He didn't even look up from where he was crouched behind the counter before he said, "Closing up. I'm sorry you'll need to come back tomorrow."
"Hey, Scorpius!" Teddy's voice caused him to rocket up in shock. Scorpius was already striding across the shop, eyes glued to Teddy and a huge grin on his face. Malfoy, on the other hand, was lingering in the doorway, looking worn and strained.
"I didn't expect to see you two. I was just getting put together to go to the Manor."
Malfoy gave a faint smile. "Scorpius was dragging me around London all day and got me into the Leaky before I quite realized what he'd done. He wanted to see Teddy."
"Ah." Harry glanced over to where Teddy was leaning on his broom, smiling and nodding as Scorpius chattered away. "I guess we could do this here, then. Maybe get some dinner after so they can spend a bit more time together. You look beat."
Malfoy's cheeks pinked slightly, but he nodded. "That would be... nice." He stood a moment, watching Scorpius beam at Teddy. "Give them a chance to get to know each other before Scorpius leaves on Friday."
Harry sighed. "It's rough, yeah. I remember when Teddy left, I was a wreck. And I've been watching Weasleys almost as long."
Malfoy glanced over at him, eyebrow raised slightly. "I hesitate to ask how many..."
He chuckled and counted off his fingers. "Well Vic's a seventh year now, but there's her sister Dom. Then Percy's eldest, Molly and Fred-2. And then Roxy, Rosie and Lucy are all starting this year. Next year, Louis, and Hugo the year after. So that's nine." He couldn't help but smile at Malfoy's pained expression. "And doesn't count honorary Weasleys, like Ted there and the Lovegoods."
"Those two will be in Slytherin, without a doubt."
"Luna says the same." They shared a grin at that, and he startled with how comfortable it was. Turning to Scorpius, he called. "Hey! I've got some wands for you to try!"
Scorpius turned with obvious reluctance, and only stepped forward when Teddy nudged him. Harry spread the four new wands on the counter and smiled at him. "Give them a try."
Scorpius reached for the left-most and gave it a flick, his expression tightening when nothing happened. "Go on..." Teddy came to stand behind him, and he bumped Scorpius gently when he simply stared at the wand he was holding. "Put it down, try the next." Scorpius put it down gently and reached for the next, and Harry noticed even Malfoy had made it to the counter to watch.
Harry knew the wand Scorpius was now holding. Its stain had taken just a little lighter; it was neither the bendiest nor the stiffest of the bunch from Kuikkonen, but something about it had just told Harry it would be the one. "Go on..." He was surprised when his words came out a whisper, and Scorpius closed his eyes and flicked the wand.
He felt as if a weight lifted off his chest as a stream of golden sparks shot out of the tip. Teddy whooped and Draco reached an arm around Scorpius, pulling him into a tight hug. Scorpius opened his eyes, blinking in amazement at the lingering sparks. "Birch and Unicorn Hair, ten inches exactly, and surprisingly rigid. Perfect for charms."
"Excellent! Flitwick will love you, then." Teddy ruffled Scorpius' hair as Malfoy released him and stepped back.
"Mr. Potter has suggested supper. I think finding the wand calls for a celebration, as well as a thank you for Mr. Potter's work. What would you like, Scorpius?"
"Can we go to the Tea Room?"
Malfoy sighed. "I'm fairly certain it's closed. It's a bit late for tea."
"Fortescues?" Teddy grinned at them. "Ice cream for dinner?"
"I've never been to Fortescues..."
"Oh then we have to go! C'mon!" With that, Teddy grabbed Scorpius at the arm and dragged him out the door.
Malfoy sighed, his good cheer fading back to the strain of earlier. "Still seven Galleons?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Sorry about Teddy."
Malfoy shrugged slightly, giving him a weak smile and sliding the Galleons across the counter. "Scorpius made me promise to get out more. And... Teddy's right, he should go to Fortescues. You should as well. Come on."
Harry nodded, flipping the sign and following Malfoy out of the shop.
By the time they arrived, Teddy had already loaded Scorpius down with a massive sundae with at least four scoops of ice cream and two kinds of syrup over the top. The girl at the counter was giving him doe eyes, which he didn't notice, focused entirely on Scorpius.
"There's Draco! He's paying!" Malfoy said nothing in response to Teddy's shout, merely approaching the counter and pulling out his pouch again.
Frowning at being ignored by Teddy, the clerk snapped "Twelve Sickles."
"And for you, Ted?" Harry asked, following Malfoy and eyeing the cartons.
"A double of Cherry Chocolate Surprise and Pumpkin Marmalade."
Harry grimaced at Teddy's order and turned when Malfoy asked, "Potter?"
"Chocolate Frog, please. Single."
"And you?" The clerk looked at Malfoy, her wand flicking about as she built the other orders.
"Strawberries and Cream, single."
"A Galleon and fifteen Sickles, then."
Malfoy counted out the money, passing it across the counter and Harry waved his wand to levitate the ice cream to the table Teddy and Scorpius had claimed. Scorpius had already made a hefty dent in his, and Harry laughed as Teddy snatched his dish out of the air before Harry even pulled out his chair. He flopped down, sliding the pink dish to the seat beside him and he leaned back, enjoying the cushioning charms and the feeling of not being on his feet.
"It's been years since I had ice cream for supper." Malfoy's voice was quiet beside him, and unnoticed by the two boys, but Harry glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "Too hard explaining to a child that he can't if you're doing it."
"Special occasion." Harry turned to grin at Malfoy, feeling the expression shift to sympathy. Malfoy's face was completely open in that moment, staring avidly at Scorpius as if he'd never see him again. He leaned over and nudged Malfoy gently. "I know it doesn't help, but it's just a few months. He'll be back for Christmas."
"I know. It's just... it's been the two of us for years. Merlin, I can't even leave the Manor for more than a week at a time without special dispensation by the Ministry."
Harry frowned at that. "Is this something to do with your father being in Azkaban?"
"Not directly. Only in as much as Azkaban isn't considered residency in Great Britain. And as the Manor is entailed with the title, it requires the owner or heir be in residence."
"So that's why you moved back from Germany..."
"It's Scorpius'. When he comes of age, he can decide what to do with it. But I want him to have the choice. And that means not giving the Ministry any excuses. Seven days seems to be the limit they'll allow without requiring an affidavit signed by at least three members of the Wizengamot, and then only a couple times a year."
Harry sighed, scooping a bite of the chocolate into his mouth and sighing. "The Ministry is full of bureaucratic arseholes."
Malfoy let out a surprised laugh that caught Teddy and Scorpius' attention. "I suppose that describes them as well as anything else."
"Mr. Potter?" Scorpius shoved his glasses up his nose and took another bite of his ice cream, continuing before he'd swallowed. "What I don't understand is why the shop's still called Ollivander's. Is he still the owner?"
"Garrick moved to Singapore about five years ago now. And it's called Ollivander's because that's my name."
The sound of Malfoy's spoon hitting the glass of his dish was loud, and Harry risked a glance at him. "What do you mean it's your name?"
"He adopted me to keep the business in the family. My name is Harry James Ollivander Potter."
Malfoy and Scorpius wore identical blank looks at that. Harry regarded them both solemnly, only losing his composure when Teddy started laughing as well. "Oh Merlin, your faces. Harry can't lie worth shit, and you both ate it up."
"Sorry, but Teddy's right..." Harry wiped amused tears from his face and took another bite of ice cream. "I can't usually lie worth shit. I've been waiting to use that story on someone for years." He glanced to where Scorpius was looking between Malfoy and himself, still chuckling. "Really, I like the tradition. Everything I know, I learned from Garrick. I feel it is still the family business, even without the family. It's a way of remembering my roots."
"Surprisingly deep of you, Potter." Malfoy's voice was hoarse, his face lightly flushed. Harry knew it was likely due to embarrassment, but his cock twitched, reminded of other things. He shifted uncomfortably, watching Malfoy spoon ice cream into his mouth before turning his attention back to his own dish before he was caught staring.
"Also some level of out of sight, out of mind as well. I can be Harry at Ollivander's instead of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived to Eat Weetabix for Breakfast. Or ice cream for dinner, I suppose."
Scorpius laughed at that, turning back to Teddy, and Harry took a breath, spreading his legs to try and discreetly adjust himself. His knee accidentally bumped into Malfoy's, solid and hot beside him. He let it linger a moment before pulling away, surprised when he felt Malfoy's knee sway into his a moment later.
Finishing his ice cream was a challenge, as his entire being seemed focused on the heat of Malfoy's knee against his. Teddy and Scorpius were oblivious, and he took advantage to edge his foot closer until he was pressing firmly against Malfoy's leg from knee to ankle. The action was deliberate, and impossible to mistake as an accident. After a moment, he looped his foot behind Malfoy's, twining their legs together.
Malfoy laid his spoon carefully in his bowl and folded his hands on the table, fingers wrapped tightly together. Harry could see the returning flush to his cheeks. "We do need to get home soon, Scorpius."
"I can bring Teddy by some evening next week, if you'd like."
Draco's face, when he turned to Harry, looked panicked for a moment but he nodded at Scorpius' "Please Papa!"
"Alright, if Mr. Potter doesn't mind. We can have a late supper next week."
"Not at all. Ted?"
"That sounds great! I'll bring by some stuff for you to take with you to Hogwarts."
Harry leaned in, murmuring "By stuff, he means Wheezes, as a warning."
Malfoy shivered, but only replied, "I'll keep that in mind." Pushing up from the table, "Scorpius? We should go. Mr. Potter looks exhausted, he worked very hard for you."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter." Scorpius' smile was broad, and he waved at Teddy as he followed his father out of the parlour.
"So. Mr. Malfoy, huh?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You're a shite liar. Uncle Ron will have kittens."
"What do you mean?" Harry turned to frown at Teddy, who was looking entirely too pleased with himself.
"He bet Aunt Hermione and Luna 10 Galleons you weren't going to try to shag Mr. Malfoy."
Harry choked, but at Teddy's laughter, sighed. "He should know better than bet against Hermione and Luna."
Draco wondered what the hell he'd been thinking at Fortescues. Potter had bumped him by accident, and he'd nudged back, for some Merlin-forsaken reason. He'd been tired, stressed, filled with entirely too much sugar and relief for Scorpius' sake, but it was no excuse for playing footsie with fucking Potter like a stupid third year.
But he had. And Potter had done it back. And they'd sat just across the table from Scorpius and Teddy Lupin the entire time.
Potter had always had a knack for making him stupid, but this was a new variation. One he wasn't certain he wanted or not.
He still hadn't decided on Tuesday, when he received Potter's owl requesting dinner that evening. Scorpius seemed to feel that running him ragged Friday and Saturday was enough out of the house-ness before Hogwarts.
Though it was just as likely Scorpius wanted to be home with his books and Nipsy.
Scorpius and Nipsy seemed happy about the dinner that evening, at least. Draco kept that thought at the forefront when he wanted nothing more than to say no to Potter so he could think. And yet, every moment his mind circled around Potter, he felt guilty because Scorpius was leaving in just a few days.
Needless to say, when the Floo flared green shortly before eight on Tuesday, Draco was in a foul mood and had a pounding headache. He schooled his expression to careful neutrality when first Teddy and then Potter stepped through. "Good evening, Scorpius will be right down, would you come with me, please?"
He didn't wait for an answer, merely turned from the study to lead the way to the dining room.
"Teddy!" Sorpius' footsteps thundered down the stairs, and he skidded to a stop as they reached the dining room. "You came! Hello, Mr. Potter!"
Teddy ruffled Scorpius' hair as Potter greeted him warmly. Draco herded them all around the table and resisted the urge to flop in his seat the way Teddy and Scorpius both did.
When Nipsy brought in the dinner, and popped out again, Draco let the conversation wash over him, listening to the cadence of Scorpius' happy voice without worrying about the content. He knew he was being a bad host, but he didn't care. His pounding head and racing thoughts overwhelmed his concerns about propriety.
It was the silence that dragged his attention from the chicken on his plate. He looked up, frowning when he saw three sets of eyes and concerned expressions watching him. "I'm sorry, what?"
"Teddy needs to go soon, so I asked if we could be excused. I want to show him my room."
Draco sighed. "I'm sorry, Scorpius. Yes, you may be excused." Scorpius shot up from his seat and dashed for the door, Teddy following closely behind him. Leaving Draco alone with Potter. Wonderful.
"He's really wonderful with Scorpius."
Potter beamed, the happy expression stealing Draco's breath. "He's pretty wonderful in general."
Draco nodded as the silence stretched. "Nipsy!" He smiled apologetically when she popped in. "Tea please. And for Mr. Potter. Send Scorpius and Teddy's pudding up to Scorpius' room as well, please."
Once Nipsy had nodded and popped away, Draco took a deep breath and turned to Potter. "What are you doing?"
Potter blinked owlishly and replied, "Well I thought I'd brought Ted over for dinner, but I suppose you mean more than that?"
Draco nodded, sighing when the tea tray popped onto the table between them, the comforting smell of Draco's PG Tips emerging from the pot. Fortunately, there were no tags; clever elf.
Potter leaned slowly back in his seat, though his tapping fingers betrayed his tension. "I'm... getting to know you, I suppose."
"You've known me since we were both eleven," Draco retorted, knowing he sounded peevish, but not caring. Potter shot him a look and he sighed. "Alright, alright. Neither of us knew each other terribly well at eleven."
Potter grinned, "Or any time over the next several years, no." Draco could feel the heat of Potter's gaze as it slid over him, and he reached for the teapot for something to do. "Do you want my final answer?"
Draco slid a cup across and nodded. "I did ask."
Potter took a sip and raised his eyebrow at Draco, but only replied. "You've changed, or at least you've changed what you show me. You're a good father. You're damned fit. You seem like someone I'd like to get to know better. Maybe much better."
Draco cursed the heat rising painfully to his cheeks. "That's rather blunt."
"I'm not a fifth year. I find life goes more smoothly if I'm not afraid to say what I want without beating around the bush. Less room for confusion."
Draco took a sip of his tea, nodding slowly. "How much better are you referring to?"
"That rather depends on you, doesn't it?"
Draco shifted slightly in his seat. "You're... looking for a friend?"
"I think I'd like that." Potter's voice had darkened, deepened, and Draco swallowed around the lump that built in his throat. "I think I'd like more than that, as well, if I'm being fully honest."
"A relationship? I... I haven't been in a relationship since I was married." Draco shifted again, dragging his eyes away from Potter. "And we both know that wasn't really the type of relationship one has with..."
"With someone they actually want to shag?" Potter's smile was tangible in his voice, and Draco glanced up at him. "I'm not so great at those, either. I have friends who usually help me... scratch the itch." Something in Draco's stomach fell at that, but before he could speak, Potter continued. "I think I might want to try for more than that, however."
"Oh." Draco felt caught by Potter's attention, and he took another sip of tea to cover his speechlessness. "I would... That would..."
"Say yes, Draco?"
"I... yes. But Scorpius leaves in three days." Potter's—Harry's—brow furrowed, and Draco continued in a rush. "He leaves in three days. I don't want to... to start anything in my last days with him."
Harry's smile gentled at that, softening to something that stole Draco's breath for another reason. "Of course. I go to the Platform with the Weasleys, anyway. Why don't you come with us?"
Draco could feel the blood leaving his face, painful after the earlier blush, and Harry laughed. "Alright, we'll work up to that. After? Dinner?"
Harry nodded. "Most definitely."
Draco nodded, which was immediately followed by a loud whoop from the doorway. Teddy was standing, grinning with Scorpius, "And there's my ten Galleons from Uncle Ron!"
Friday morning was filled with the hazy sort of sunlight that looked like the air was full of honey, and Draco stared out the window of the Manor, savoring the sounds of Scorpius stomping around behind him. When he heard the pop of Nipsy depositing Scorpius' trunk and owl beside the Floo, he turned, eyes and heart filled with the nervous excitement on Scorpius' face.
"Are you ready?"
Scorpius nodded, straightening his glasses, and clutching his wand tightly in his hand. "Mr. Potter and Teddy will be there. You don't need to worry, Papa."
Draco smiled. "I'm not. I'm really not, I promise."
Scorpius smiled, leaning in to hug Draco tightly. "I'll miss you. But I'm not scared for you anymore. I even wrote to Grandmother to say you'd be alright."
Draco sighed. "You're a horror."
Scorpius grinned unrepentantly. "She said she's going to talk to you next week."
"Merlin save me." Draco grinned, ruffing Scorpius' hair. "You'll be fine. Write me when you get Sorted, and let me know all about Ravenclaw Tower."
"What if I'm in Slytherin?"
"Then tell me all about the view out into the lake. It's been years, and I'm sure the merfolk have made many changes."
Scorpius beamed at him and he grinned back, waving his wand to levitate Scorpius' trunk. "We'll take the cab from the Leaky Cauldron, but we need to leave now to make it to the Platform in time."
Scorpius took a deep breath, nodding firmly. "I'm good."
Draco grinned. "We both are."