In Harry Potter's opinion, the years after the war found Draco Malfoy acting rather...odd.
From the pompous prat of first year to the withdrawn, sickly young man Harry had stalked during sixth year to the quietly confident man standing before the Wizengamot today, Draco Malfoy had certainly changed.
He stood tall and straight, easily a couple of inches taller than Harry's own not-quite-six-foot frame. His hair looked a little shorter than it had in school. At least it seemed that way in its artful untidiness. But that was the only part of him that appeared to be out of place. His black business robes and matching dress shirt were immaculate.
"Probably had the house elves do it," Harry snarkily muttered under his breath. "No way the new Lord Malfoy would deign to touch something as common as an iron."
It was his turn to stand before the Wizengamot next, and he may have been a little more nervous than he was willing to admit to himself. He felt a little better after making fun of Malfoy, though, even if no one else was around to hear it.
A flash of colour in the corner of his eye drew his attention, and he turned to look in Teddy's direction. The toddler was sitting at his own table, not far from where Harry was seated. An escort from the Department of Wizarding Children's Services sat behind the boy, making sure he stayed out of trouble for the duration of the hearing.
Though Teddy was being quiet, Harry could tell his mind was racing a mile a minute. His hair was normally turquoise, but it was flashing from the black of Harry's own unruly mop to the white-blond of Draco's then through the rainbow of colours that showed his mixed emotions - fear, excitement, sadness, boredom, and much more - before repeating the cycle yet again. Occasionally the toddler's hair would take on the shape and colour of whoever was speaking within the ranks of the Wizengamot before returning to its ever-changing whirlwind of colours.
Harry grimaced, suddenly remembering to feel concerned for the boy and all the stress he had been under the past few months. Andromeda's health had taken a turn for the worse during the previous winter, and she had only lasted a couple months before she passed on to join her husband and daughter. Teddy had been passed back and forth between the Malfoys, Teddy's only close living relatives, and Harry, his godfather. Both parties had known that the setup was only temporary since DWCS had come to inform them of the upcoming custody hearing that would determine who was to be granted permanent physical custody.
"Mr Potter!" The call of his name startled Harry from his thoughts, and he turned back towards Kingsley and the Wizengamot. "We're ready for you!"
Malfoy smirked as he came to sit next to the seat that Harry had just vacated. Swallowing his nerves, he climbed the steps to the appointed seat and readied himself for the line of inquiry that would determine whether Teddy would be placed in his custody or Malfoy's.
The thought of sending the little boy home to Malfoy Manor turned Harry's stomach, and he vowed, Over my dead body.
He kept an eye on his godson as he answered the litany of questions. "Yes, Teddy already has a bedroom of his own"..."No, there are no other family members or friends currently living with me"..."Yes, I am fully aware of Teddy's Metamorphmagus capabilities and how to help him manage them in the company of Muggles"..."Yes, I have gone through the DWCS home study and passed all required background checks."
And finally, "Yes, I hope to maintain full legal custody of my godson. I love him. He's the closest thing to family that I have, and I would do anything for him." Harry smiled at Teddy as he was thanked by the Chief Warlock and released from the witness chair.
The courtroom buzzed with the murmuring voices of the Wizengamot as they came to their decision. It only took them a few minutes to decide Teddy's fate, but the seconds slid by slower than Harry could bear.
Finally, Kingsley retook his seat and motioned for the two men, so opposite in so many ways - black hair, emerald eyes, and broad strength versus fair hair, silver eyes, and slender height - to stand and hear the Wizengamot's decision.
"It has hereby been decided that full legal custody of Edward Remus Lupin has been given to Draco Lucius Malfoy," Harry's heart fell, "and Harry James Potter. He shall reside at Mr Potter's residence, one of the homes of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black since that is the home he is most familiar with out of the two available. Mr Potter and Lord Malfoy," Harry choked back a scoff, "will both reside at Mr Potter's residence with their young charge. Any alterations to this decree will go through the Department of Wizarding Children's Services and, if necessary, this court. Court adjourned."
And with a final smack of his gavel, Kingsley dismissed the matter. Harry couldn't believe the turn of events and was frankly shocked by how little Kingsley seemed bothered by the ruling. Yes, Draco had helped the Order in the end and avoided the lifetime in Azkaban his father was currently serving, but Harry didn't wish to live with the git!
He mulled the matter over for a bit before finally deciding to give it a shot for Teddy's sake. The boy deserved to have the people who cared about him close by. Harry would have wanted all his favourite people around him if he'd had the opportunity to be raised by people who might not have been his parents but still loved him. He couldn't begrudge Teddy that opportunity.
Harry turned to the silent man beside him.. "Sounds like we're going to be housemates, for the time being, Malfoy."
Silver eyes stared down at him, and he felt off-kilter when he saw the intensity of Malfoy's gaze. Snape would have been proud of the sneer Malfoy offered as he said, "Indeed."
Harry expected more, perhaps a taunt about Harry's blood status, blood traitor and mudblood friends, the shabby shape of his dress robes - something. Instead, Malfoy simply stretched out his hand for Harry to shake.
Hoping that accepting this peace offering was in Teddy's best interest, Harry took Malfoy's hand and shook it. He was surprised by the softness of Malfoy's skin and the strength of his long, slender fingers, but he didn't dwell on it. Pulling his wand from his pocket, he conjured a scrap of parchment, an inkwell, and a quill. Traipsing over to the table where Teddy sat, Harry bent to write on the parchment. Draco followed him, patting Teddy on the shoulder as he waited to see what Harry was up to.
Finally, Harry handed Draco the parchment with the address for his home. "I will have to apparate you there, but it's been under the Fidelius Charm for ages. You can't get in unless the secret keeper has told you where it is." He smiled, feeling a bit proud of the old, shabby home that Sirius had bequeathed to him and the layers of magic that protected it.
Draco simply nodded and read the address. Harry scooped Teddy up from his chair. He held the boy as they silently made their way to the lifts and out into the atrium. When they reached the apparition point, he crooked his elbow for the other man to take. "Ready when you are."
Harry tried not to cringe when Draco took his arm, feeling just a little too close to his childhood nemesis for comfort, and took them all home.
Hermione Granger hated being alone. She lasted about an hour before she started flicking her wand in all directions, shrinking every little thing in her apartment to a size that would fit in her old beaded bag. I knew I held onto it for a reason, she thought. Plates, bowls, and wine glasses gently separated before wrapping themselves in spare towels and linens, soaring through the air as odd-shaped packages that gently came to rest in a transfigured wooden chest with all the other breakables, ready to be shrunk down and added to the seemingly infinite depths of the little bag. Clothing flew into her old Hogwarts trunk. Toiletries and other small items floated into the bag with a sense of graceful chaos.
Turning in a circle, Hermione realised that she was already finished packing. Well, except for the fridge. She figured she'd leave whatever was left in there for Ron to deal with since he seemed to love food more than talking to her these days.
Suddenly feeling as empty as their little flat looked, she plopped down in the middle of the front room and pulled her knees towards her to rest her forehead on them. Crookshanks crept up to rub against her back, offering comfort the only way he knew how. Hermione picked him up and cuddled him close, finally letting the tears fall.
They'd had their differences, but she'd never expected things with Ron to end like this. He'd cheated. Cheated. And then he'd had the gall to leave her over the ensuing row. Somehow he'd managed to turn his own infidelities and issues back on her, claiming that he wouldn't have strayed if she'd spent less time at school and work, cooked more, and been more fun in bed.
She snorted through the tears, thinking of just how boring Ron himself was in that department. Not that she'd ever told him. She'd thought that part of loving a person was being okay with their faults and shortcomings. It hadn't mattered all that much to her. Ron had made her laugh, helped her not feel so alone when she hadn't been able to give her parents' memories back, and respected her drive and desire to do more than just be a little housewife. Or, at least, that's what she'd thought. She wasn't really sure about anything anymore.
She let herself cry quietly for a good long while before she stood up, grabbed her little bag with every item she possessed inside, and turned to leave.
As she put her hand on the doorknob, the glint of her engagement ring caught her eye. Letting out a shaky breath, she slid the ring off her finger and retreated back into the kitchen. She transfigured an extra hair tie into a piece of string and tied it around the ring before sticking it under a magnet, hanging as a sad excuse for a last goodbye. She scooped up her beloved pet and left without a backward glance.
When Harry took Draco and Teddy side-along to Grimmauld Place, they landed in a heap. Confused as to what went wrong, Harry glanced around, looking for a reason for the way he now sat in a tangle of arms, legs, claws, and a bushy mane of… Ah. Hermione.
They slowly disentangled themselves, Crookshanks the first to break free and make his escape, and Harry was relieved to see that no one seemed to have been splinched in the midst of their awkward arrival. He'd never tried to Apparate to the same place as another person at the same time before. He was about to greet Hermione, but she spoke first.
Yelled might be a more accurate description
"MALFOY?! What the bloody hell are you doing here with Malfoy, Harry?"
"Bloody hell!" Teddy mimicked.
"Language!" Hermione scolded on reflex before she whipped around to see the toddler standing behind her. "Teddy! I didn't realise you were here." Momentarily distracted from her Malfoy-related rampage, she gave the little boy a hug. "Your hearing was today, right? How did it go?" She glanced from him to Harry, eyebrows raised in question.
Harry rubbed at the back of his neck, unsure of how to answer the question. "We didn't get quite the result we expected -"
"I get to live here now with Uncle Harry!" Teddy interrupted. "That big man with the funny skin and the cool earring said so!"
"Kingsley," Harry mouthed when Hermione turned to him with confusion written across her features.
She nodded and turned back to talk to Teddy. "Well, that's brilliant! Though it still doesn't explain -"
Teddy interrupted her this time. "Uncle Draco gets to live here now, too!"
The man in question was standing as far as he could from the other three without tumbling off the front step to land outside the reach of the Muggle-repelling charm and other wards. His pristine clothing somehow hadn't been rumpled when he fell, and he stood with his hands locked behind his back, head cocked to the side as he watched the spectacle in front of him unfold. Finally, he broke his pose and inclined his head. "Granger," he muttered.
Feeling full of emotions and empty of words, Hermione simply returned the gesture and said, "Malfoy."
Seeing the animosity brewing in Hermione's gaze, Harry decided to nip the impending catastrophe in the bud. "Who's hungry? It's been quite a day. What should we have for dinner?" he asked, turning to Teddy when the other adults crammed onto the narrow front step looked at him as if he'd grown a third eye.
"Pancakes!" the little boy exclaimed. It was what he always picked when he stayed at Harry's, whether it was for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The boy could put away chocolate chip pancakes like nobody's business. His hair turned brilliant turquoise with the prospect of his favourite food on the horizon, and Harry couldn't help but laugh.
"Pancakes it is," he agreed, ushering all three of them through the door and heading towards the kitchen.
It only took a few minutes to whip up his usual pancake recipe, and he lifted Teddy up onto the counter to help sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the pancakes as they cooked.
Feeling like the only one who seemed to realise how long and awkward the silence was becoming, aside from Teddy's excited chatter about moving in permanently and how much he loved pancakes, Harry decided to try to get his best friend and new housemate speaking again.
A growling sound came from Hermione's stomach, and he took that as fate's way of giving him the perfect conversation starter. "Did you forget to eat again, 'Mione?" He slid a plate of food in front of her, looking over her head to explain to Draco, "She forgets to eat when she's too wrapped up with work."
Draco scoffed. "Well, isn't that adorable. Congratulations, Granger. You've moved up in the world. You are now Potter's pet Mudblood."
The tip of Hermione's wand was pressed against his stomach before he even realised what was happening. "What the bloody -" he began.
Hermione cut him off. "If you value your ability to have children, Malfoy…" her wand dragged slowly down until it rested on his important bits… "you'd best learn to behave. I have a rather hefty arsenal of defensive spells under my belt after my little love affair with wizarding university, and I would be all too happy to use them. Wouldn't want to remove your ability to carry on the high and mighty Malfoy line, now, would we?"
Draco swallowed. He honestly couldn't decide if he was scared shitless or turned on, and that terrified him even more. Deep breaths, Draco, he thought. Don't do anything to embarrass yourself or further infuriate Medusa over there.
Coming to his senses, he carefully said, "My apologies. That joke was in bad taste." His tactics must have been working because her wand was slowly lowering back to her side. "You are as much a guest here as I am and should be treated as such." He bowed gracefully, surprising even himself as he caught her hand and kissed the back of it. What the bloody hell was that about?
Feeling a bit defensive after his show of stupidity...and misplaced affection...he cleared his throat and went back to business. "Potter! Would you mind showing me to the room I'll be staying in while we figure out the custody arrangement?"
Harry shook his head a bit and ran a hand through his hair, dispelling the odd daze that had overtaken him as he watched Draco acting so strangely. "Kreacher!" he called.
The elf appeared a moment later and wasted no time in bowing low to the scion of the House of Malfoy. "Kreacher lives to serve young Master Malfoy."
Draco smirked at the elf's words, realising that Kreacher was dismissing Harry as his favourite master by ignoring the Black heir's presence in favour of Draco's. Potter is probably oblivious to the ways of house elves and their masters, just like he is about everything else, Malfoy mused. Aloud, he said, "Excellent. I would like to see my quarters." Hermione gave him an elbow to the ribs, and he uttered, "Please."
Hermione nodded, looking smugly pleased with herself. Draco decided to ignore her and instead followed the elf up the stairs to his new accommodations.
A/N I hope you enjoy this new story as much as I am! Beta love to ombreerhinestone and Gemini Sister, my amazing Brit-picker.
Edit: People have reached out through PMs and reviews with concerns over the way I had Teddy describe Kingsley. I feel the need to explain myself. This was intentional but I didn't mean to offend anyone or come across as racist. My reasons: 1. Teddy is a toddler. He is three (almost four). I have a four-year-old at my house, and Teddy's thoughts here actually reflect a similar conversation I had with her not long ago. Both toddlers probably see people of color once in a while, but not often enough that Kingsley's looks would go unnoticed or seem "normal." Toddlers can be adorably (inappropriately) blunt. 2. Most parents would have told Teddy that he hadn't described Kingsley very politely. The fact that his stand-in parents did not shows how shaken up they were by arriving all piled on top of each other at Grimmauld Place. They're not perfect parents, but they're working on it. :) I'm sorry if I unintentionally offended anyone. I hope you can still enjoy the story. :)