Draco did not want to be here.

In fact, at the moment he couldn't think of a single place he wanted to be at less than he wanted to be here, in his aunt's living room, perched uncomfortably on an embroidered chair, with his mother, all three of them staring at a different patch of wallpaper so they didn't have to meet each other's eyes. Finally, his mother spoke.

"Andromeda… I know you probably don't want me here--"

"Of course not! I mean, of course I do, I mean-- it's-- it's good to see you, Narcissa." Andromeda was fumbling for words, looking earnestly at a spot of wallpaper just about her sister's shoulder.

"But it shouldn't be," Narcissa insisted, leaning forward. "You should be sick and tired of me, I should have been visiting constantly these past few years. Oh, Andy--"

And suddenly, his mother wasn't perched delicately on the edge of an armchair, she was on her knees in front of Andromeda with tears in her eyes.

"No one's called me Andy in years," Andromeda whispered, and then, just as suddenly, both women were sobbing, on their knees, hugging each other.

Draco did not want to be here.

He muttered something about finding a bathroom, very quietly, because if they heard him they might remember that he was in the room.

As soon as he was out of the room, Draco sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. He knew he was only here because his mother was too nervous to ask her husband to come. He also knew that the only reason his mother wanted someone else to visit was because she was afraid that her sister would reject her, and she wanted someone to be on her side. Now, there was absolutely no point.

Bored, he decided to wander the house until the older women came to their senses. Most of the rooms on the first floor were entirely uninteresting. There was a dining room, and a kitchen that he didn't dare enter; knives and heavy dishes were flying around the room, making lunch. He hadn't had much experience with magical cooking, but Draco knew it took a very confident (or a very foolish) witch to not even supervise her spells. There was also a study that looked like it hadn't been used in months, and a closed door. Well… who ever said Slytherins weren't curious?

Draco opened the door and backed away instantly. A full year of living in various buildings infested with Death Eaters had left him with some unpleasant memories and a few new instincts.

The room was dark, but nothing jumped out or moaned in pain. Hesitantly, Draco stepped in and flicked his wand at the window. The curtains opened, and a streak of afternoon sunlight fell into the room. He looked around curiously. There was a chest of drawers covered in nappies and baby things, and stuffed animals and toy Quidditch balls were tossed all over the floor. A framed piece of calligraphy with the name Teddy was hanging on the wall.

It wasn't until something in the room made a noise that Draco noticed the crib in the corner.

I'm talking about your niece, Bellatrix, and yours, Lucius and Narcissa. She has just married the werewolf, Remus Lupin… What say you, Draco? Will you babysit the cubs?

It was with some trepidation that Draco approached the crib. He was not good with kids. He didn't know many kids, to be honest. He stepped close, resting his hand on the bars, and looked over the side.

The baby was a bit bigger than he expected, and Draco was surprised to see that his hair was bright red. There were lots of pictures in Andromeda's house, but none of them featured anyone with red hair. The baby was holding out his hands in front of him, looking fascinated. As Draco watched, he squealed with delight and clapped them together, missing by several inches. It was so ridiculously stupid--the word cute even sprang to mind--that Draco chuckled.

The baby looked around at the sound, and grinned a wide, toothless smile.

"Hello," Draco said quietly, feeling more than a bit stupid. "You must be Teddy."

Teddy gurgled happily, trying to clap his hands again. Before Draco's eyes, his hair started to-- to melt, almost, until the red color had drained away entirely, leaving a white-blonde very similar to his own.

"How'd you do that?" he asked, fascinated. "Oh… right. You can't talk yet, can you?"

Teddy hummed placidly. For a moment, they just stared at each other in silence, and then Teddy started rocking from side to side.

"What are you doing?" Draco asked nervously. Was this normal baby behavior, or was he having some kind of seizure? "Teddy?"

Triumphantly, Teddy rolled onto his stomach and, with tremendous difficulty, lifted himself onto his arms. Draco was relived, but Teddy wasn't done. His tongue poked between his lips as he focused, and got up on his knees. With a huff, he shoved himself up so he was kneeling for a brief moment. Absurdly, Draco felt like cheering--but then Teddy fell down. He cooed disappointedly.

"That was good," Draco said. "Are you going to try again?"

But Teddy was rolling again, and he seemed very content to stay on his back.

"Oh," Draco sighed, a little disappointed. "Well, that was good. I can help next time… we're cousins, you know, so we should stick together. Don't you think?" Teddy was bored. He looked away from Draco, looking over the room. "I think so, anyway. Because that's what cousins are for. Teach you how to sit up, play Quidditch… hex kids you don't like…"

At that moment, Teddy stuck a hand out of the crib and giggled. Draco wasn't sure if it was because he liked the suggestion or if he was entertained by the stuffed Quaffle the size of a beach ball that he was reaching for. Just in case, he picked up the Quaffle and dropped it in the crib. It landed on the baby's stomach and he slapped at it happily. Draco leaned against the crib, grinning at his cousin.

"Not that I would know," he added suddenly. Teddy looked up quizzically. "About family. I never really had any cousins. Except for your mum, I suppose--but I never met her." The smile slid off of his face as Teddy lifted both hands. Draco reached into the crib and Teddy managed to wrap his hand around two fingers.

"My mum wanted to go to her funeral. Your mum's. My dad talked her out of it, though. He thought it would be odd, because we wouldn't know anyone there… well, we weren't friends with anyone there. Although I think the Auror who arrested him once had gone, since they were in that Order thing together." Teddy played with Draco's fingers without hearing a word, and it suddenly struck him that this child was much too young to be an orphan.

"I guess that's one thing I can't do, huh? Tell you about your parents. Sorry about that… for what's it's worth, your dad was a good teacher." Except for the werewolf thing, and the fact that he never even attempted to make himself look presentable, and the fact that Dark creatures were absolute rubbish next to the stuff Moody (Crouch) taught them a year later… "Compared to the idiots we had before, he was excellent."

Teddy yanked on his fingers and Draco winced. He was surprisingly strong, for such a small kid.

"Potter can tell you about that, though," Draco frowned. "Assuming he's not busy saving the whole bloody world, that is. Oops," he added apologetically. "I haven't had much practice talking to children before. Sorry, I'll try to be a good influence. Or at least less of a bad influence."

Teddy grabbed onto Draco's fingers with both hands and spread them apart, mesmerized. Draco watched with a small smile on his face, until Teddy bit down on his forefinger. He didn't have teeth yet, but it still hurt.


Teddy grinned, unrepentant.

"You're just an ungrateful little brat, aren't you?" Draco said sternly, but a smile tugged on the corner of his mouth.

Apparently Teddy didn't see the smile, but he heard the sternness. His face screwed up and turned red, and his hair was suddenly black. The smile disappeared from Draco's face.

"No, no--no, I didn't mean it!" A small wail burst from Teddy's mouth. "Oh no--sh, please, Teddy, I was just kidding--no, please be quiet!" he pleaded. If anything, Teddy got louder.

"Goodness--I forgot about Teddy!" Andromeda said, calling to be heard over the baby's insistent crying. "He must have woken up ages ago, I'm surprised he hasn't cried before now--Oh!"

Andromeda looked surprised to see Draco there, and he jumped away from the crib hastily.

"I don't know what happened," he blurted out quickly. "I was ta-- watching him, and he started crying, and--"

"It's all right," Andromeda brushed him off, picking up Teddy and cradling him. The baby quieted instantly, and Draco actually felt jealous. How did she do that so quickly? "He's always a little fussy when he wakes up. Oh--I nearly forgot--could you hold him for a moment while I fix lunch?"

"Er--I don't know, can I?"

"Oh, it's simple," Andromeda said, and she practically dropped Teddy into his arms. "Just keep one arm here around his back and the other there--yes, that's good, now just don't drop him for about ten minutes and we'll be fine."

"All right."

Andromeda bustled out of the room, and Teddy whimpered.

"So… this is new," Draco said, a little nervously. Teddy felt much more delicate than he had looked in the crib, and he was still fussing. "I guess I'm not very good at this yet," he sighed miserably, bouncing Teddy a little bit. The whimpers escalated to a quiet cry, so he stopped that. Instead, Draco tried something that usually calmed him down--pacing. After two turns around the room, Teddy quieted and giggled contentedly, and Draco relaxed.

"See, I'm getting better already," he said proudly. "Does this mean I can be your favorite cousin?"

Teddy gave a little squeal that turned into a laugh, and buried his face in Draco's shoulder. Draco's smile flickered as a little voice hissed in his ear again: what say you, Draco? Will you--

It was interrupted by Teddy's quiet, soothing humming. Draco smiled.

"I'll even babysit, if you want."