Title: 'Fantastic Creatures—Or, Babies & Potters, Proper Care of.'
Prompt: #52: When Potter shows up at his door applying for the job and snuggling a baby in his arms, Draco knew he was in trouble. Special Request(s): Bright and cheery Harry who brings a new joy (and torture) to Draco's life. Squicks: Rape, overlygirly!boys, infidelity, and sad endings. Maximum Rating: NC-17 Anything else: Happy ending and a snarky Draco! :D
Prompt submitted by: brinimc*
Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Epilogue compliant? No.
Word Count: 10, 800
Author's Notes: None, except a deep and humble bow to my beta, blueboyfey*, without whom I could not have accomplished this at all nor so quickly. Thank you!
Summary: Prompt #52, as best I possibly could, and at a trotting pace. Hope it pleases!
It was the bloody cooing that alerted Draco Malfoy that he was likely deep in hot water and about to make proper suds of it.
Who'd have thought bleeding, tetchy, always-ready-for-a-scrap Potter could issue a noise such as that?
It was the small person to whom he directed that enthralling sound who represented the major stranger danger: Draco didn't do babies. Oh, no, no, no—impossible!
Preposterous and strange and yet, there it was. Or rather, there Potter was, with a baby in tow. Undeniably in Draco's house and likely to remain for some time to come.
For when Father and Mother repaired to somewhere exclusive and Continental to 'take the waters', it was left to Draco to restore the Manor, post-war. Oh, there were house elves a'plenty and even Wizards-for-hire firms available but there were certain 'hot' spots which required specialists. The Library was one of them.
Who knew that the most highly recommended individual available for setting a collection of books, folios, scrolls and ephemera to rights would be Potter?
"So, that's alright, then? Having him with me?" Potter was asking, his expression cautious, as he twitched the lemon-yellow, duckling-embroidered blanket back across the restless and frightfully small hand of the mysterious baby. "Because that's super, Malfoy; I really appreciate it."
Potter grinned shyly; Draco bridled. The insulting implication that there was such a thing as a dangerous draught in his incredibly well-constructed home—well, that was as bloody preposterous as the infant! The Manor had never, ever been draughty! No such thing, but…well, clearly Potter was completely over the top, entirely wrapped up in the care for this inexplicable boy child he was toting about.
In truth, he'd been remarkably protective of it from the moment he'd showed up upon Draco's doorstep, waving his Ministry-stamped letter of introduction and sheaf of impeccable credentials under Draco's disbelieving nose.
"It was all those years of exposure to Hermione," was how he explained the inexplicable, chuckling. "Practically forced to live in the Library at Hogwarts when I wasn't busy with Quidditch—and then I found libraries were a most excellent refuge over the summers when I was with the Dursleys. Grew to love books, rather, after a bit. Learnt to handle them, at least. And they seem to like me, too, for that matter. Dunno why, but there it is."
And there he was, in Draco's house. With a baby.
Draco had boggled at first. Clearly Potter had lost his marbles when he'd gained custody of the infant: he was smiling at Draco—smiling freely! Sweetly! What the act did to the contours of his lean mobile features should be outlawed.
"Yes, well, about that," Draco replied, calmly enough, albeit concluding quietly they'd both run mad. Potter was daft—and so was he, to allow Potter and the infant to take up residence. But…well. It was incredibly difficult to say no to that smile. And he truly was in need of a competent magical librarian. "It's fine, Potter. 'Sides, the actual job shouldn't take all that long. Two weeks, a month on the outside. Do it myself, but I find I do need some assistance with the various four-handed bits—the Dark texts in particular. They're fiddly. Still, shouldn't be all that onerous a task, Potter. Only just time-consuming…and exacting. You'll get your work-out, I imagine."
"Okay," Potter smiled. And smiled.
"Erm," Draco swallowed uncomfortably. "I'll make arrangements to have an elf available to you, Potter, to help care for"—he gestured warily at the contents of the rush-woven basket—"that."
'That' gurgled ever so jauntily, blowing bubbles and flailing miniature fists. Then it yawned wildly, all gums and gurgles. Draco quailed but manfully held his ground. He'd not be unsettled by a mere infant!
"He's not a that, Malfoy!" Potter subjected him to a strongly reproving stare, which still—mysteriously—seemed oddly…matey…and strangely full of a species of mischievous amusement, as well. It was as if Potter comprehended Draco's deep-seated perturbation on several levels and was laughing at him. But not maliciously, no. Perhaps he found Draco's natural aversion to children both abhorrent and amusing? Perhaps even, as a fellow wizard, he could find it within him to relate to Draco's trepidation…and feel a modicum of sympathy? "He's a Teddy, and so you should properly address him—Cousin Draco."
"Er? Eh?" Draco started inelegantly, appalled gaze swiveling back to the drowsing infant. He blinked at it, bemused, as it practically fell asleep before his very eyes. "Cousin? This—this child, Potter? Well, that's not on. I was unaware I possessed any additional living relatives, at least on this side of the Channel. Unlikely."
The twinkle in Potter's eyes turned swiftly to puzzlement.
"You didn't know?" He glanced down at the child resting peacefully between his feet, swaddled about in a sickening array of juvenile poultry. "Really, Malfoy? But, I thought you Purebloods were all about family ties and trees? Don't you have a tapestry or something? A genealogy map?"
"What family, Potter?" Draco waved a hand in exasperation. "There's only my parents and myself left. I don't know what you're talking about."
Potter sighed, all traces of lurking smile vanishing, his eyes searching Draco's impatient ones intently for some response undefined. Draco felt somehow lacking, though of course there was no valid reason for that feeling. Not his fault he'd not been kept up on who married whom and what issue—was it?
"He's your cousin Nymphadora's child, Malfoy. Your mother's sister's daughter. Surely you've heard of her?"
Draco went very still and stiff, his spine so rigidly straight one could use it to lay out mason's angles and never doubt they were true to square.
"We do not speak of them," he sniffed coldly, his chin elevated abruptly. "It is not done."
"Oh. Oh!" Potter blinked at him. "I am sorry for you then, Malfoy. That's too bad."
"Sorry? Whatever for, Potter?" Draco asked, rising smoothly to his feet to usher Potter on his way to the job of hire. "I don't know what you mean."
"No! Now, come along, do. We're wasting time here blabbering and you'll be wishing to start as soon as possible, I'm sure. I know I'd like that. Better over with, right? There's a great deal to accomplish; over fifty thousand volumes, you know?"
Potter hesitated, fumbling about gathering up the quaint little rush basket in which the infant lay—mercifully—dozing.
It seemed infants tired easily; Draco hoped it would nap for the majority of its stay at Malfoy Manor. Potter, he noted, held its hand-woven reed container very carefully within the cradle of his folded arms, as if it were infinitely precious to him. A giant bag was also hauled up by its straps and lashed over one of the git's drooping shoulders; clearly babies were accompanied by a great deal of residual paraphernalia. Which Potter should've have thought to Shrink and Lighten.
Draco bit back a pitying sneer, but only by forcefully recalling his innate excellent manners. His parents were always gracious to company, as behooved a Malfoy. And mostly so was he…now.
So he commandeered Potter's baby bag nimbly, never disturbing Potter's other burden. Kept well clear of that.
"Come on, then," he chivvied. "Library's waiting."
"If you're really, truly certain, Malfoy?" Potter asked of him again as he trotted hastily after, eyes wide as malachite pie pans. His black slashes of eyebrow were raised up so very high upon his pale forehead he seemed quite defenseless as an infant himself; not at all the conquering young hero. "It won't be a problem, having Teddy here?"
The idiot clutched the basket even more tightly to his chest, rolling his eyes at Draco as if Draco might snatch it away. Draco scowled when he glanced behind him; he was hardly a threat to Potter at this late date.
"I really don't wish to be a bother," Potter added earnestly. "I mean, I know you're still recuperating yoursel—"
Potter sounded breathless; he'd been bustling to keep up as Draco marched determinedly down hallways and up stairwells at a rapid clip.
"I am not recuperating, Potter!" Draco hissed, furious, the bag swinging on his shoulder as he turned to usher Potter & Co. forward to his unkempt Library. "I am perfectly well; you can see for yourself! Now, if you'll please just come through, we'll get this crup-and-pony show underway, shall we?"
"M'kay, Malfoy," Harry shrugged carefully, so as not to disturb the infant. "Was just checking."
Draco stared at him frostily, a hand hesitating on the charmed door latch.
"Right. Let's agree to this one thing, Potter, up front and this very moment," he snapped. "If I should experience any problems at all with your, er…companion, I'll be sure to speak with you first, alright? Make my issues known—if I have any, that is." He sneered, grey eyes travelling in a leisurely stroll over Potter and his napping burden. "In the meantime, Potter, don't try my patience asking me the same idiot questions over and over. Your time is my Galleons, don't forget."
"Right, right," Potter smiled his quick understanding. "Super." And smiled ever wider, his green eyes sparkling behind the new—and fetching—wire rims of his spectacles, as if Draco's fifty thousand touchy tomes were a great and much anticipated treat. "Lead on then, Malfoy. Lead on. I'm all yours for the duration."
Draco only barely disguised the instinctive shudder.
One week later, he ruefully admitted he did have a problem—but only to himself.
First off, Potter had handed him his old wand with a grin and a cheery 'Thanks, mate'! No fuss, no bother, no argument.
Then they'd spent a solid seven days or so, he and Potter, working as an ad hoc team for an intensive eight hours every day, paging through every tome and folio, every bound and unbound piece of text and illustration in the capacious Malfoy Library for Dark Magic. Disarming them, as necessary—and then assiduously re-cataloguing and re-shelving them.
Some needed repair, being old and worn and tattered. Others were downright dangerous and had to be contained with intricately woven wards or spell shields the instant they were handled. Some were horribly valuable and terribly rare—one such volume, Potter claimed, was the only one of its issue in the world still extant. He'd been excessively impressed that the Malfoys laid claim to such a treasure, Draco reflected, glowing with his own sense of inner satisfaction. And pride, of course, in his illustrious ancestry. Kudos to his perspicacious forebears, what, for picking only the best of the best to collect, yeah?
But other volumes were merely a sickle a dozen, cheap and common, or in too awful a condition to be reclaimed—or, and this was the worst-case scenario—simply far too inherently malevolent to remain in the possession of a private wizarding library, even a Malfoy's.
Those instances were when the Aurors were called upon. They came tromping through his polished hallways in their dirty, obnoxiously loud and squeaky boots, making a hellacious racket and waking the baby. And then the baby—who seemed utterly unable to be comforted by any other than Potter himself—screamed himself hoarse and cried himself sick for hours on end after.
Seemed uniforms frightened him, the tetchy little mite, and so did wands, waving about and meaning business.
It was unbearable, Draco concluded privately, after witnessing all that concentrated misery unleashed upon poor Potter when the rude louts had gone off with their confiscated books. Far too much responsibility for one bloke to have handed to him when he was only barely nineteen and fairly fresh from a brutal battle. 'Course, he'd gleaned the little lump of waving miniaturized fists, smelly nappies, and vibrating glottis was an orphan due to that exact same war; Potter was his godfather. The tyke was pretty much alone in the world, much the same as Potter was, as it turned out. Well, Potter still had some blood relatives breathing but they were Muggles and filthily behaved ones, too, according to him, so…effectively, then, he was just the same as Draco, alone and adrift in his temporarily parentless state.
He'd not thought he and Potter would have even that much in common; seems they did, though. That didn't explain his continual attempts to pry additional information out of Potter concerning his past…and his present, baby Teddy included But…Draco was naturally curious, and bored, just a bit. It had been really very quiet for entirely too long a time. His interest was only to be expected, really. Slytherins were always interested and curious, weren't they? Besides, the baby wasn't the usual sort.
In the absence of his disapproving Mum and Father, Draco had to admit a certain small amount of curiosity for this tiny person Potter so clearly doted upon. 'Teddy', he was—or, more properly, 'Theodore'. That wretched Professor Lupin's spawn by Draco's girl cousin Tonks, then. Likely they were even cousins across multiple lines of family, for when the child wasn't turning all colours of the rainbow, his hair was naturally the distinctive Malfoy white-blonde and his eyes the same grey colour as his great auntie Narcissa's. Bit of a dead giveaway, there.
Though sometimes the little nuisance blew bubbles on Potter's determined chin and went all emerald-eyed and black-haired—possibly out of infantile spite. This seemed to happen only when Draco stared too long at it, out of the very corner of his surreptitious eye. Potter would go off into peals of manly giggles when it happened and kiss the thing all about its cranky little face, making far too much of it—er, him. It was…abominably soppy of Potter; Draco felt for him, really he did, being stuck in such a humiliating position.
He was a Metamorphagus, or so Potter claimed; a quite gifted one. Potter offered that tidbit up with an air of great pride, as if being physiologically mutable were an enormous accomplishment in one so young. Draco had sniffed, refusing to join in Potter's bout of almost fatherly gushing. So what if the kid was like that? Who cared? Many Pureblooded children were similarly blessed at birth with an excess of Wild Magic. Draco, for instance, had been one of those sorts, but that likely wouldn't be of interest to Potter. Potter was all about the wee stinky-panted unit, who screamed for absolutely no good reason and made messes with his milk.
Draco did have to admit it was a bit of unlooked for pleasure, watching the two of them interact, Potter and the infant.
And so what if baby Teddy wasn't so bad when he wasn't shrieking his tiny little head off like a junior banshee? Because he did emit the most amazing noises—little 'meeps' and purrs and 'urps!' and such like…and he smiled. Just like Potter did.
Oh, doubting Potter tried denying it—said the infant was too young for it, the rampant disbeliever, but Draco had been privy to several undeniable smiles. Once, the baby had fixed his wide-eyed gaze—a lovely shade of lavender at the time, matching exactly his peach fuzz of a hairdo—directly upon Draco's and grinned right at his startled face, all the while innocently blowing those bloody milk-scented bubbles, tinted purple.
That had been pleasantly shocking. Draco found himself unable to resist a matching—
though furtive—grin in reply. Very briefly—he'd not wanted eagle-eyed Potter to notice his dreadful lapse.
Little Teddy was also just that: quite little. Itty-bitty all over, like a living doll. Draco had never before been exposed to an infant at close quarters: Teddy's very size was a revelation. A hand almost smaller than his own thumb? A button nose that had just begun to show signs of being pure Black, like Draco's Mum's, but twenty times reduced in scale? And his Mum's own exact toes, but only the same size as seed pearls? Amazing!
Draco squinted sideways at Potter and his charge, peering intently.
At that exact moment an enterprising Teddy masterfully divested himself of his wee socks and thoroughly thumped his godfather's cleft chin with flailing feet the size of dried apricots. His patient godfather was watching over the effects of a Gutenberg Charm like a bloody hawk—Gutenberg being a nice spot of specialized academic charmwork that basically did the majority of his work for him, barring complications—and rocking the wriggly infant through his mid-morning feed.
Draco sat at a careful distance from them both, enjoying a picnic luncheon of sorts. The elves routinely brought them sandwiches, tea and the like at noonday and he was frankly famished, his throat full of the dustmites of magical ages. But…great amounts of progress had been made over the previous week; he estimated his Library would completely sorted out in very short order.
"Some pumpkin juice, Potter?" he offered politely at last, mindful that their luncheon break was nearly ended. Teddy boasted a full tummy but not Potter—and Potter night be a naturally scrawny chap but he still required some sort of sustenance…if for no other reason than to perform his hired task. "A bit of this cheese on a biscuit? You must be starved."
"Oh, no, thank you." Potter sent him a quick glancing grin before his gaze snapped back to the gurgling infant. Books danced before his toad-green eyes, flapping open for a brief moment to reveal their frontispieces and then carrying on to their appropriate places as per Potter's internationally approved shelving system, at his nod. "I'm alright till dinner, I think. Doesn't take much energy, this. Go on ahead, though. Don't mind me."
Draco scowled down at his artfully arrayed assortment of pickles and chutney, his slices of rare beef and his sumptuous provision of cheeses.
Wouldn't do to have Potter expire on him from lack of basic nutrition…but Potter always seemed far more concerned over the requirements of young Teddy than his own comfort. Mealtimes were all about bottles and burping; Draco wasn't sure how many nights he'd passed quietly by Potter's suite of rooms at quite a late hour, restless and pacing, only to notice light still seeping faintly from beneath the door, indicating Potter wasn't deep in the sleep of the just, either.
Draco was experiencing a bit of difficulty—at night, alone in his bed. He lay awake there, evening after dull evening, staring balefully at his charmed canopy, and even warmed milk and assiduous sheep-counting weren't much help. It wasn't young Theodore's pre-bed fussing and bawling routine, though, that kept him awake—Potter was quite adept with the Silencio and Muffilato. It was only that he wasn't entirely used to hosting company, or so he told himself whilst lying prone and dispirited—grey eyes wide open and unblinking—at some sinfully early hour of the morning.
The Mansion was generally very quiet. Elves were nearly silent as a species; there were no visitors—ever, at all. His parents were abroad indefinitely and owled Draco only rarely. All his more fortunate friends and acquaintances had fled to more salubrious climes post-haste after the war and the endless round of trials, pardons, and sentencing. The Manor's agent never stopped by uninvited; almost all estate business was conducted by owl or at Gringott's. Thus, there was no one but him rattling about the acres of marble and polished woodwork—and now Potter. And the child.
Best not to forget the child. Who could possibly, after all? The boy was all Potter thought about, obviously. Well, that and his job of assigned work—Draco couldn't fault him there. Potter really was very skilled at what he did.
He'd not be staying at the Manor for very much longer, Draco assumed—Potter. His contracted task was nearly complete. It was only a matter of days, really.
"What about his grandmother?" Draco demanded abruptly of his employee, irritated for no reason at all. Well, the pseudo-companionable little silence in the room had stretched on a moment too long; someone should say something, if only for common courtesy's sake. "Andromeda, was it? Andromeda Black Tonks. I went and looked it up, like you mentioned, Potter."
"What about her, Malfoy?" Potter glanced at him, blinking curiously. Teddy gurgled and burped up a gout of formula, happy as a bivalve. "She's well enough, if that's what you're asking."
"Why hasn't she come to see him, then?" Draco's question was strained as he flapped a careless hand at the child; he hoped Potter wouldn't notice. "Isn't that what grandmothers do—bustle about their grandspawn, fussing?"
"I don't know, actually," Potter grinned amiably, deftly juggling baby, bottle and a passing text on Dark Household Charms. "But I'd suppose so, yes."
"Well," Draco grumped, "why hasn't she, then? Where is she? Why is it all up to you, Potter?"
"Aunt Andy's not been feeling at all well recently, Malfoy," Potter replied gently. He touched fingertips to his temple in the briefest of motions as the book carried on away to its assigned shelf. "In her head, I mean. She's a bit…forgetful." Under Draco's severely enquiring stare he humped a shoulder; a reflexive little motion that had his unbuttoned collar gaping wide. Draco swallowed hard at the sight of a lovely throat and collarbone and promptly shifted his eyes firmly back to his plate. "Losing Tonks near killed her, you know? So I said I'd take him—and who's my little baby boy, then?" He swiveled his attention back to young Teddy, babbling. "Who's my darling precious, eh? Little dumpling, aren't you? Sweetie!"
Teddy kicked his heels, delighted, again accidentally smiting Potter on his much-abused and quite damp chin. Teddy had a fixation for Potter's chin; Draco tried desperately hard not to notice the bit of darkened stubble where the git's shaving charm hadn't quite reached.
"Oh, er," he sputtered, feeling mildly bilious—with himself, with his unmet Aunt and with the world in general. "But surely—aren't there any Tonks relatives that might take him? Lupins still alive and kicking? It can't all be dumped on your lap, Potter. That's hardly reasonable."
Potter shook his head, smiling that smile.
"I don't mind," the stupidly heroic git replied, his eyes very soft indeed as he settled young Theodore into a burping session, tucking him over a nappy-draped shoulder and patting his little back. Draco noted that soft gaze even from across the room and blinked at it, absurdly curious, not understanding at all.
How could one—admittedly physically small—individual totally consume the attention of another?
"He's really no trouble—are you, my darling?" Potter pulled Teddy back again to face him, nuzzling his nose to the snubby baby one. Both of them made that odd cooing noise, the one that astounded Draco on a regular basis. "Oh, no, you're not!—and besides, he really needs me, Malfoy," Potter continued seriously, tucking the tyke up tight against his neck for additional patting. "He's been through enough nasty changes recently. I'm not having him shipped off to strangers."
Draco considered. He, himself, was possessed of an enormous amount of distant relatives who were utter strangers to him, almost all of them French Malfoy blood. No doubt if his parents had passed away before he reached his majority he'd have been shipped off by the Goblin lawyers with nary a qualm to be raised by one of them. Likely have been sent to Beauxbatons if he'd been school age or even—Merlin forbid—Durmstrang. Far removed from his home and his childhood friends, such as they were. He'd not have continued at Hogwarts, certainly. Not met Potter.
No, likely not.
All of this feeble chitchat, however, was not accomplishing Draco's real goal, which was to induce Potter to inhale some sustenance so he could finish his paying job. Stubborn arse that Potter was, when there were heaps of luncheon available, and he blandly working on through!
Draco sighed, frustrated; he'd have to make a small sacrifice to that end, apparently. In the name of decent host-ly behaviour, of course. Couldn't let a guest's needs go unmet.
"Yes, very well, but you still have to eat something, Potter." Draco took up his cause with a peremptorily cocked brow and an impatient growl. "Hand the greedy little grub over when you're finished with him, then, basket and all. I'll take him while you bolt a sandwich."
Potter snapped his head up to stare at Draco, his eyes huge indeed behind the silvery rims. He looked to be intensely startled but very pleased, withal.
"And snap up the pace, please. I think he's been patted enough, Potter."
Draco had no idea whom or what had commandeered his tongue to make such an offer. But Potter did need to introduce sustenance to fatten up that too-trim waist of his…and the infant wasn't too terribly horrid, in mercifully short doses. He'd been accompanying them in the Library every single day, for that matter, and been remarkable well behaved throughout. Or so Draco believed him to be, having little experience with children to refer to. The shrieking had been quite minimal, if piercing. Of course, Potter was always there with him, by his side. Teddy never lacked for ready attention.
"Really? You'll take him, Draco?"
Gods, but those eyes of Potter's were just so…very…green. A disingenuous green.
No, baby Teddy had only screamed a little, really, Draco mused, nodding absentmindedly under Potter's wondering look. And mostly because he was hungry or tired or his nappy was filthy. Very understandable. Draco was also reduced to a high dudgeon when he was hungry or tired, though his time in nappies wasn't even a memory.
"Thank you, Malfoy," Potter beamed at him. "I—well, thank you." Draco blinked; Potter's frequent matey grins were dazzling at any distance; this one transcended those by miles. "That's so kind of you."
"Not," Draco cleared his throat, which had developed a sudden blockage. "Not kind, Potter—not at all. Merely effective. Forward-thinking, even. You can't do your job if you pass out because your grazing habits are abysmal."
"Oh, okay," Potter nodded, still grinning. "That explains it, yes—but still—thanks, Malfoy. Much appreciate the thoughtfulness."
"Look, is he not ready for me yet?" Draco demanded, flushing faintly and flinging down the last of his own ploughman's luncheon. He shoved his plate away, along with Potter's unwanted thanks. "Because we're wasting time, Potter. Can't have that, you know. We've a lot to do, yet. Give him over."
"Huh. Of course." Potter dimpled at him. "Can't have that, can we? Wasting time."
Draco swallowed air, mentally manning up. He'd not provide Potter the satisfaction of showing a reaction of any sort to this battery of pleasantness, no matter what havoc it might cause in his chest—or his groin—he wouldn't!
"Well, it is! And we are." Draco scowled, having had the final word.
But Potter only continued to smile at him in that very soft, doe-eyed manner, that brilliant way—just as he had with Draco's tiny cousin. Shifting uncomfortably beneath it, Draco occupied himself with placing his juice goblet precisely so upon the table's surface, so it wouldn't make the smallest of sounds nor leave a mark on the cloth. It seemed exquisitely important that he not meet Potter's eyes right then. He rather feared what might be revealed, if he did. Potter, for all that he was an ex-Gryff, was no slouch, mentally.
"Very true, Malfoy," Potter snorted after entirely too long a pause, half-laughing, half rueful. "But one more moment, alright? Need to finish burp him first. He'll likely spew, otherwise."
"Right, certainly," Draco nodded abruptly, staring intently at the cutlery and not at Potter or the baby. "Can't have the little beast sicking up on my robes, can we? Not nice, Potter. Not nice at all. Take the fee for cleaning out of your wages."
Potter giggled; Draco stayed firmly planted in his seat, not at all willing to rise up and pace as he very much wished to so—and thus give Potter an unobstructed view of his bits, which were twitching with interest.
He was bored, that was all—and obviously gagging for a shag…and perhaps a smidgeon in need of the company of his peers. All there was to it, really. End story. He'd ignore the shagging aspect—Potter wasn't a candidate.
Soon enough, Draco found himself gingerly balancing a lapful of smiling, well-fed baby and Potter, seated opposite them, was finally consuming a decent meal. Potter, the yob, didn't seem to ever notice little Teddy's frequent smiles, though. He always seemed to look Draco's way when the baby's face was screwed up in a fleeting frown.
Likely gas, that, Draco nodded to himself tentatively, jiggling the baby gently, having taken it right back out of its rushy restraint the instant Potter handed it over. He bent his head over it, making funny faces when Potter was occupied with chomping, chewing, or glugging. Draco had noted that young Teddy always seemed to respond to distractions when he was overly tired and on the verge of fussing.
How's that, then, pumpkin-face? he enquired of Teddy silently, twitching his mobile eyebrows up and down like the silliest prat. He wrinkled his nose when the infant wrinkled his and blinked inquiringly. Better now?
Teddy's gummy grin rewarded him and Draco ducked his chin almost level with the café table's edge so Potter wouldn't possibly note his pleased reaction. Draco had discovered, much to his inner dismay, he was learning a wee bit about the trials of dealing with infants, rather by osmosis. And how one should go about it…if one had the chance. Potter was quite a capable tutor, even if he never actually went so far as request help from Draco with the continual Teddy-minding.
He didn't ask much, Potter. Draco had rather believed he'd be more demanding, being Saint Potter and all, but he wasn't. More the opposite. If he'd not made the effort to treat Potter as a guest as well an employee, Draco was pretty sure Potter would've done his level best to fade into the expensive woodwork. Like an elf, perhaps. Or a ghost.
He was near as thin as. Draco scowled, ceasing instantly when the infant on his lap squeaked unhappily.
Do the scrawny little git good to eat decently,, Draco thought, casting a sideways glance at the gobbling Potter. Wouldn't do a'tall to have the bloody Saviour starve to death at the Malfoy table, now would it? 'Specially when there was a tonne of food stored in his pantry, more than enough to keep a weedy hero-boy in excellent stead.
Does he forget or something? Draco wondered, peeping. Maybe so. Can't have that. Won't!
Must set Bodley to keep a watch over the twit; make sure he doesn't skip..
It wouldn't do Draco's vitals any good, either, allowing such lapses on his watch. Shameful, that's what. Malfoys were trained up from birth in the ways and means of treating a guest properly—even a not particularly expected guest, who was technically more of an employee at the moment…and his tiny dependent.
Because of course Potter was only at the Manor whilst the Library was being put to rights. He wouldn't be staying on after. He'd not be wanting to, naturally. Likely there were any number of Weasleys hankering after him, even at this very moment. Probably they resented Draco, too, for keeping Potter captive and working him to death. Oddly, there'd been no owls to that effect. Not even a howler from that Molly Weasley.
Who was also a cousin, but Malfoys didn't discuss that connection either, as a rule.
Draco had pondered the lack now and again—of enquiring owls, not distant cousins. If he were in charge of tracking Potter he'd likely be checking in frequently, wanting news. Weren't there still Death Eaters at large? One would think the Ministry would take precautions even if the bloody Weasel lot seemed totally uncaring as to Potter's welfare.
Yet another problem loomed, niggling away at Draco's good conscious as a host. Likely Potter was also lonely. Trapped in a remote location in Wilts and really having no free time to himself. Of course, that was all the tyke's fault; Draco certainly wasn't making any additional demands on Potter beyond the work in the Library.
He'd not dream of imposing further. Potter was free to take off whenever he wished, provided action in the Library moved apace, as contracted. He simply never chose to take advantage.
But it wasn't young Theodore's demands (nor Potter's imaginary but still bollixed-up social schedule) that were the true issue, not for Draco. It was that Theodore the Very Small Cousin claimed all of Potter's attention. Well...nearly all. And Draco, the recipient of such surprisingly golden coin when Teddy was asleep or otherwise occupied, was mildly peeved over it. Was rather nice to have a reliable dining companion; a surprisingly erudite someone he could chat with when the mood struck. He had to admit he enjoyed their occasional leisurely strolls through the grounds, excused always by Teddy's need for a spot of fresh air and sunshine.
He even enjoyed the evenings spent companionably listening to the wireless or sharing tidbits of articles from the Daily Prophet. Potter always had some smart-arse comment to make and a quarter of them were actually quite amusing. And Teddy was generally having his postprandial early evening lie-down then, safely stowed in his magical basket and with a Silencio cast about him for good measure, so Draco was free to make noise if he wished. Laugh aloud and even shout, upon rare occasion. Why, he and Potter had gotten quite excited over a closely-called Quidditch match one evening—Portree and Ballycastle, 170 to 160, at the final. Been a Seeker's game, that.
But of course it wouldn't last.