Title: Family Tradition
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Fluff, epilogue-compliant, characters as portraits, present tense
Pairings: Harry/Draco, past Harry/Ginny and Draco/Astoria, Albus/Scorpius
Summary: Whoever thought of painting both separate portraits of their dads and one where they could appear together was kind of an arsehole, as far as Albus Potter is concerned.
Author's Notes: Written for dawnraptor, for a late Advent request. Her prompt was
They are long dead and in a painting. Their sons have to cover and silencing their painting cause they get intimate in the worst moments.
Whoever thought of painting both separate portraits of their dads and one where they could appear together was kind of an arsehole, as far as Albus Potter is concerned.
And at the moment, Al can see far more of his dad's arsehole than he's comfortable with. Even if it is only painted.
"Malfoy," he says, putting one hand up in front of his face and looking between his fingers only, so that he'll see a harmless corner of a table, or maybe the bed, but as long as he doesn't see what's on the bed itself, he's fine. "Put that away."
"It would involve more time than taking it out did, at this point," says Draco Malfoy. Al has been around both members of Draco's family since the first uneasy evening when both he and Scorpius were Sorted into Slytherin, and Al knows that's Malfoy-speak for "No."
"Listen, the girls are coming over in an hour to spend some time here," Al snaps, still looking down. The floor's dusty, he notices. He'll have to clean it. That's the sort of thing Rose always notices, and she's loud about it, too. "It's the first time we've been able to talk to both of them this month. Will you please wait?"
"No," Malfoy says, and Al hears the yowl that means he's—
Al's not even going to think about it.
He casts the charm easily, through long experience, that will hang a dark curtain in front of the painting and Silence the sounds coming through it, and then stalks off to seek that padded wall in his bathroom that he uses to bang his head against when Scorpius or his dad is acting particularly Malfoy.
It stunned Harry, the first time he woke up in his portrait and discovered that there was a doorway painted in the wall behind him.
Well, everything stunned him then, really. There was thickness around him, as if he was clad in velvet and moving through water, but he was more alive than he had ever expected a portrait to be. Then, he had interacted mostly with Lucius Malfoy and Dumbledore as portraits, and neither ever seemed anything but shadows of their former selves.
He turned around and around, looking down at his robes. He didn't remember the exact moment of his death, of course, since his portrait was painted earlier. But he remembered enough to snort in wonder.
Then he looked at the doorway again, and his curiosity rose. He didn't remember giving instructions to the painter to put in something like this. He had assumed he'd be able to move between frames easily if he wanted, and he'd been more concerned about making sure there was proper entertainment in the room, like lots of books on magical creatures. (He hadn't wanted Quidditch books because he thought that would only make him more frustrated if he couldn't get out into proper sky, but the painter had put in a Firebolt, looking it up from historical references).
Because there seemed nothing else to be done, and no one in front of the frame waiting for him, Harry walked across the room and opened the door.
He found a long corridor that had windows with glimpses of blue sky beyond them. Harry wandered down it until the corridor ended in a large, iron-banded oak portal. He opened that one more doubtingly. It seemed unlikely that he would have the key to such a formidable door.
But then it did open, and Harry felt as keen a thrill of joy as though he was alive when he realized that he stood in a bedroom with a four-poster like the one where he and Draco used to like to shag, and sitting on the bed was Draco.
Draco looking the way he had when he was alive, his blond hair gleaming with highlights of silver, but his face still alive with the keen intelligence, sometimes cruel, that has always attracted Harry to him.
Draco turned and looked at him that first time, and then said, "Get on the bed."
Harry never complied with more joy.
And since that time, when they want to shag or talk or be together, they meet in this portrait, hung on the wall near the front door of the house that Al and Scorpius share. When they want to be alone, they go back to their own portraits. Harry's frame is in a handsome corner, ornamented by tapestries and photographs, of Al's study. Draco makes his home—well, some of the time—in a silver-framed picture of his old study that, for some reason, he has asked Scorpius to put in the upper library of the house.
Harry doesn't know why Draco wants to be in the library, which only sees visitors when someone's choosing a book, instead of the rooms his son frequents more often. Then again, when he and Draco are in the mood, they're often together, and when Draco isn't, it's always been more than it's worth for Harry to ask what goes through his head.
And honestly, these days, they're more often together than apart. Portraits don't have all the memories of the original, their perspective is limited and their senses are muffled, but on the other hand, there are disadvantages that the living possess and they don't.
Like aching joints. And refractory periods.
"They're at it again?" Scorpius gives the picture a dark look. Al knows he'll talk to his father later. They visit in fleeting glimpses, most of the time, rather than the constant conversations Al has with his dad, now that they mostly share one room. But it seems to work as far as keeping up the relationship between Scorpius and Mr. Malfoy.
That doesn't mean Malfoy agrees to abate anything when it comes to Al's dad, though.
"Yeah," says Al, and sighs. "I don't—they weren't like this when they were alive." It's as close as either of them comes to admitting when goes on regularly behind the curtain. "They didn't even get together until after they divorced Mum and Lady Malfoy. Why do they have to sleep together so much when they're dead?"
Scorpius snorts. "You know portraits change when they become portraits—"
"But no one ever said anything about an endless libido!" Al snaps, and then flushes a little at the look Scorpius gives him. His blond hair is greying now, instead of acquiring threads of white and silver like his dad's, but that look still brings back his childhood when he said something Scorpius thought was stupid but Scorpius didn't want to waste breath letting him know it.
"I know," Scorpius says. "But from hints that Dad's dropped, sometimes portraits go mad. Without someone to talk to, you know, or without enough to do. They can talk to other portraits, but they're not always painted in a way that allows them access to each other."
Al narrows his eyes a little. His dad once, right after awakening, told him thank you for the door painted into his picture, which led him straight to what right now is the scene of his and Mr. Malfoy's embarrassing activities. Al just mumbled something, because he never ordered that door painted any more than he ordered the other portrait, of the bedroom, painted and hung on the wall.
He's always assumed that it was someone acting on Mr. Malfoy's instructions before he died. It would be like him to sneak a door into Dad's painting the way that he sneaked (Al presumes) some Dark Arts books onto the shelves of his own portrait.
Now he has a guess at a new culprit.
But Rose and Lily are coming over to visit, and Merlin forbid that the floor be uncleaned by the time they get here. Or look as if it's been cleaned by house-elf magic, either.
"You think it's a good idea for them to fuck eternity away?" Al asks, not seeing why he should be more delicate.
Scorpius flushes for the first time, but says, "Look at the time! We need to start dinner, and clean the floor, and make sure the glasses don't have any of that disgusting grime left in them from last dinner, and…"
Al lets it go, because Scorpius is right, and Rose in a cold sarcastic whimsy is worse than Scorpius at his angriest.
But they're going to have a talk about this later.
There are times that Harry still wonders how it happened.
He can trace every shape in his mind, every moment. While a portrait doesn't have all the original's memories, he has enough. And these memories are years old, anyway. It's more recent memories that a portrait tends to lack, as well as the subtle nuances of conversations and the like.
But none of his memories with Malfoy, with Draco, have many nuances, honestly. Most of them are as big and bright and unsubtle as fireworks.
There's the moment they nodded to each other at the train station. There's the meeting they had at Hogwarts when Al and Scorpius got in their first, spectacular fight, and the Headmistress indicated clearly that it would stop, as would any encouragement they happened to be getting in the matter from their fathers. There's the hesitant, grudging visits they made to each other's houses, bringing over Al and Scorpius when they were still too young to Apparate and neither of them wanted to trust his son to a Floo under control of the other. There's the unexpectedly long conversation they had about willows and flowers in Draco's garden, with Draco turning red as a Gryffindor scarf when he realized how many minutes he'd been talking civilly to a Potter.
There's the long, spiraling movements of their acquaintance, almost accidental, as their sons drifted closer together and then Harry discovered, through a quiet note left on his pillow one night, that Ginny wanted a divorce. She said he wasn't really there for her, and that was probably true, but Harry had at least expected a confrontation from the fiery woman he'd married, not this silence. Draco happened to be the first adult he saw after that, or at least the first one he could safely tell. So that was what happened.
And Draco confessed, months later, the cracks in his own marriage, how he and Astoria had thought they could ignore each other once they realized how little they had in common besides Scorpius, and how that hadn't happened. He could offer Harry a kind of sympathy that no one else could, because Harry didn't know anyone else who was divorced, or even less than blissfully happy in their marriage.
The sandstorm of the divorce passed over their heads and was Harry's life for almost a year—but it had passed. The arctic storm of Draco's divorce, colder and quieter, left them both free to seek someone else.
By then, quietly itself, in confidences and conversations and candle-flickers of moments and evenings, there was only one real choice for both of them.
And that's survived everything: disapproval, Al and Scorpius protesting because they didn't want to feel like brothers (for reasons that soon became obvious), James's rage, Lily's resigned acceptance, the practical enfolding of Scorpius into the Weasley family as he became Al's lover and even a cousin of sorts to Rose and Hugo.
Even their own deaths.
There are much worse people Harry could have chosen to spend eternity with, and he knows it.
"They were at it again?"
Al sighs as he accepts Lily's kiss on his cheek—she's never decided that at some point you grow too old to kiss adults you're related to—and wonders if everyone is going to ask him the same question today. "Yes. And they won't listen, and unless you want to see a whole lot more, then you won't take the curtain down."
Rose has been lifting her hand towards the curtain. She pulls it back and peeks at him out of the corner of one eye as though she's innocent. "The curtain is dirty."
"It's spell-conjured, it can't be dirty," says Scorpius, coming out of the kitchen with a plate of baked apples in his hand. It's the same dish he served the last time Rose visited, and she opens her mouth as if to comment on that, but Scorpius's glare is still the only one that can freeze her in place. "Now. Are we going to eat or are we going to eat?"
Lily is the one who laughs and reveals the covered dish contained in the bag on her shoulder, a straw bag that was a present from Dad and which she carries everywhere. The plate covers a whole pie quivering with so much sugar and so many berries that Al can feel his arteries tremble in response. "Let's. And maybe it can be a quiet dinner aside from the sounds of chewing." She looks at the curtain, and then at Al. "Because you put the Silencing Charms up, right?"
Al smiles. She won't refer to the other reason it'll be quiet at their table, the real reason they're the four who gather like this the most often. Alone among all the Weasleys and honorary Weasleys of their generation, they've chosen not to have children: Al and Scorpius because they're devoted to each other and never felt the need, Rose because she's selfish enough to want her privacy and brave enough to announce that to Grandmother before she died, and Lily because she says she wants the whole world, not a small part of it.
"I did," he says, and then takes them in to dinner, refraining from saying something else that's too embarrassing to discuss: it only takes hearing your dad groan from a tongue up his arse in the middle of one meal to make you remember the Silencing Charms forever and forever.
Sometimes Draco wants to go sulking, off by himself. Harry could probably technically find a way to Draco's portrait frame, if he wanted to. The portraits at Hogwarts seemed to visit each other all the time, and there weren't painted doors that Harry saw in most of them.
But he doesn't want to invade Draco's privacy. They function pretty much like they did while alive, with Harry as the more social of them, but also able to go off and enjoy the company of his children and ride his Firebolt into a painting he knows Al was the one to set up, one that consists of nothing except blue sky.
He's happy. Of course, perhaps he wouldn't know if he wasn't. Perhaps he's lost awareness of things that mattered a lot to him when he was alive. But since he doesn't know it, he is.
On the other hand, there are plenty of times when Draco wants his company, and he always asks Harry to come to the bedroom. At such times, the door in Harry's painting opens by itself, and Harry rushes gladly down the corridor and into the room where a soft fire always burns, not crackling, but filling the room with a steady mixture of light and shadows that sometimes rotates to new angles. They sit on the bed and hold hands and talk, and Draco tells him things about Scorpius and Al that throw Harry into fits of laughter, things Draco spied out and would never reveal to them that he knew.
And a lot of the time, still, Draco reaches out and puts a hand on Harry's face and just looks at him, and Harry melts to the heat of the touch like wax.
It's magic. It always will be.
"You were the one who arranged for that door in the painting, aren't you?"
Scorpius pauses and looks over his shoulder at Al. He's been in the middle of pulling his shirt over his head, but he sits down now on the bed and smiles at Al. His hair and his jawline make him look a lot like his father, until he smiles. Al never realized that until he had to share the house with a sulky or amorous portrait all the time.
"I'm honestly surprised it took you this long to notice."
Al shakes his head and sighs, sitting down on the bed next to him. He can feel Scorpius's breath brushing along the side of his face, and he wonders for a second whether any analogue of that situation exists for his Dad and Scorpius's dad. It would be…lonely, never to feel it again.
Al's not sure he wants to be painted into a portrait before he dies.
"It's not that I mind," Al says. "Or I wouldn't mind if we could find stronger spells."
Scorpius shrugs. He looks uncaring. "Ever since Dad told me why he wanted it, I haven't cared what others think."
Yes, you say that now, but you wouldn't say it in front of Rose, Al thinks darkly, but he does ask, "What did he say to you?"
Scorpius pauses and looks down at his shirt. Al waits. Scorpius has his own secrets. All the years they've been together, and there are still some Al doesn't know. On the other hand, nothing he could ever explain has been sufficient to make Scorpius understand what it was like growing up in the shadow of the Chosen One, so in a certain respect, they're equal.
"He told me," Scorpius says, his voice hovering on the edge of a breath, "that he spent so much of his life giving up what he wanted. He had to become a Death Eater to save Grandfather and Grandmother. He took the wife they told him to take. He got brooms and new toys, but not always the brooms and new toys he wanted, did you know that? Grandfather would sometimes buy him something different. Dad thinks it's just to demonstrate that his taste was superior to Dad's."
Al listens, and says nothing. Yes, he can accept that in certain respects, a Malfoy's childhood might have been deprived, odd though it would sound to some.
"He only really got what he wanted and had it most of the time when he started dating Mr. Potter." All these years, too, and Scorpius has never given up the habit of formality. Al wonders sometimes whether Dad awes Scorpius as he sometimes awes Al, but it's not the sort of thing he can easily ask. Scorpius looks up, and his eyes are soft. "And he told me that after he was dead, he wasn't going to care what anyone thought, so he would go on having it all the time."
Al nods slowly. Yes, he understands. And he would never want to take away the portrait or condemn their dads to spending all their time apart. Not really.
"We just need to find some stronger spells," he says, and Scorpius sighs agreement and leans in to take his mouth.
Perhaps the sensations of portraits are muffled. Well, Harry knows they are. He knew the theory when he was alive, and those are memories that have remained with him in death—in painting, Draco would insist he say. Factual information is the sort least likely to fade.
But when he has Draco rocking into his arse, it doesn't feel like it. Perhaps he's forgotten what the warmth was like in real life, and the grunts of ecstasy that come out of his mouth, and the way that Draco braces himself on his arms and then thrusts and comes. Perhaps those feelings were all more intense when they were alive.
But surely nothing is more intense than the feeling he gets now when he holds Draco in his arms and absorbs the endless heat of him, the warmth that that doesn't diminish, the emotions even a portrait can feel. Because no one has ever said that portraits can't be happy, or in love.