Essential Author's Notes: This story is a sequel to Sins of the Fathers (Scorpius Malfoy/Albus Potter), and will make more sense if read after that story.
It was begun in 2007, at a time when Draco's wife had no name, Scorpius Malfoy had no surname, and I had the mad belief I had time to write fanfic. Many things have changed since those days.
Optional Author's Notes: In these post-reform days, the Aurors wear black coats instead of the red robes of book canon, because it's ridiculous trying to sneak up on the bad guy if you are wearing red when everyone else is wearing black.
If you have never heard of the Thames Barrier, it may help you to look it up for story purposes. Also because it is a gorgeous and brilliant piece of engineering that everyone should know about.
The title started as a joke, and by the time I had a more serious one, had stuck. This will teach me to make jokes when fanfic is serious business.
Many, many thanks to the wonderful jadzialove for her beta skills (I have doubtless left a few typos in just to spite her over the years.) Thanks, too, to raitala, norton_gale, libby_drew, treacle-tartlet, goddessriss and pingrid for epic amounts of encouragement when it looked as though I would never finish!
Fathers Who Could Do With A Spot of Sinning
Harry Potter closes the door and leans back against it for a long moment, looking down at the rug, a smile glimmering at the edges of his mouth.
Draco is perched on Harry's oak desk; it is the furthest point of the room from the door that he can reach without being obvious. He does rather wish he could sit behind it, though. Half a tree is the minimum he would like to have between himself and Harry if this conversation is to have a hope of staying neutral. Harry opens his mouth, as though to speak, so Draco waits. Harry closes his mouth again.
Harry continues to smile. It's an attractive smile. And bloody annoying.
Draco busies his mind by giving it a stern talking to about the tingling it is still attributing to his shoulder. Grown men do not come over all flustered at a brush of fingertips through fabric – and if they do, it's certainly not the case for brushes of shoulders.
Draco gives up on waiting. "I like being your friend," he says.
Harry glances up at him, surprised. "And?"
Draco shrugs. "That's it. I like being your friend. We worked hard to get here and I don't want to risk it for the sake of one kiss twenty-five years ago."
Harry is smiling again, but now he looks at Draco. "Two kisses," he says, "And a spot of hands-down-pants action."
Draco rolls his eyes. "The point, Harry, the essential and to my mind quite meaningful point, is that it was twenty-five years ago."
"I like being your friend, too," Harry confides. "You're fun to work with and you're entertaining to be around."
"Exactly," Draco grins. "So let's just accept that our sons are far better at the schoolboy relationship thing than we ever were, be supportive, and move on with being friends ourselves. We can consume beverages and argue Ministry politics in pubs."
Harry frowns. "We don't argue Ministry politics, we are Ministry politics." Draco pointedly ignores him.
A happier thought follows. "Our boys are going out!" Harry laughs brightly. "Can you imagine what your dad would have said?"
Draco laughs, too, somewhat more darkly. "Absolutely. He'd have said: 'Well done, Scorpius! There's a political alliance worth having! Make sure you have access to the drinks cabinet in case we need to poison somebody.'"
Harry rolls his eyes at him, but accepts that this is true. "Sirius would have kidnapped Al and spent a weekend checking him for Imperius or other curses. And when he found nothing, he'd have spent about a year looking at you and Scorpius intently, then occasionally shrugging and saying: 'I suppose they do have that Black magnetism, it's the only explanation.'"
Draco does not reply to this immediately, because he can't talk with his lips pursed together to hold back gales of laughter. After a few minutes his shoulders stop shaking and he flicks his hair back from his face. "This is true," he deadpans. "Black magnetism has made recent generations of Malfoys pretty much irresistible."
"I know." Harry is smiling that enigmatic smile again.
Draco throws a block of Post-Its at him, which Harry catches with ease. "You are an enormous pain, you know that, don't you, Potter?"
"This opinion has been advanced in the past, yes. Usually by you."
"Exactly," Draco says. "And, since I have a signed letter of thanks from you, as head of your department, commenting on my intelligence, resourcefulness and reliability, I think that we should give that opinion the weight it deserves."
"Back to the kissing, I remember it perfectly," Harry says, grinning.
Draco shuts his eyes. "I am not looking at you until you start to act like a reasonable adult."
"I am!" He hears the laughter in Harry's voice. "It's entirely reasonable that, as an adult, I point out that I have never forgotten the fact that I was quite prepared to shag you senseless back at school."
Draco opens his eyes, and they are cooler now. "A quarter of a century ago. In the interim, we've both married and had kids. I am fairly convinced that your marriage, like mine, was very real at the time."
Harry's face is serious now, too. "It was," he agrees. "We just grew apart, and it didn't seem fair to the kids to keep pretending."
"No," Draco says. "It's not. And they were old enough to understand." This last reassurance is spoken partly to himself.
"They were," Harry agrees again.
After a minute he adds, "Ginny was jealous of you."
Draco is genuinely shocked. "You told Ginny? As if she needed more reason to hate me!"
"Of course I didn't tell her, don't be ridiculous." Harry rolls his eyes at Draco again. "It was just that you were always there, always such a focus …"
Draco shakes his head. "That doesn't make any sense. I saw you during the war proper for a grand total of six hours. And prior to that we spent six years hating each other."
"Hating each other with vigour and devotion," Harry agrees, nodding.
Draco begins to laugh. "Oh no you don't. You do not get to rewrite that as some kind of subtextual longing. You thought I was a Death Eater and I thought you were a self-righteous prig."
Harry laughs, too. "Yeah, but I thought you were a fanciable Death Eater."
Draco threatens to throw Harry's stapler at him. "Six years of hating, then six hours of terrifying near death over the course of a year," he reminds him.
"That last year was so strange," Harry goes on. " I had such a lot of time to think, and I kept worrying that you'd do something stupid and get yourself killed, or do something really stupid and turn into a fully fledged Voldemort supporter."
Draco grimaces slightly. "Always my Father's dream more than mine, no matter how cheerfully I bought into some of his prejudices at the time." He pauses. "You were thinking of me? Why?"
Harry shrugs. "Was stuck in a tent. With Hermione, who was in a foul mood about Ron most of the time. You were a pleasant option." He smiles at the face Draco pulls. "That's the thing, I should have been thinking about Ginny, and I did, but I always knew where she was and what she was doing. I could never work out what you were on about in those days."
"Have you worked it out now?" Draco raises an eyebrow, amused.
"Of course!" Harry laughs. "You're the most like me of all my friends."
Draco is so surprised to hear this that he forgets to make the joke that has sprung to his mind.
"That's why you used to make me so furious. I couldn't work out how you could believe the crap you did, and then, during the war, I realised that you didn't. But when we were all at the Manor, I couldn't see any way to get you out of there, and I realised that I was just as capable of making bad decisions for the sake of the people I loved as you were."
Draco is frowning now. He tries not to think of that day. Harry doesn't appear to notice. "And so I thought of you again in the weeks that followed. I worried more, because I knew, then, that you were in danger. And then all of a sudden you were there at Hogwarts."
"Being ineffective, Harry," Draco reminds him. "I think the best I was hoping for was that I could keep Greg and Vince from killing themselves. So, one out of two ..." Draco's voice is low and dark, Harry ignores him.
"And then there you were, trying to save me again," Harry continues.
"As I recall it, you were the one who flew me from certain death in a burning room …"
"And your arms were the most solidly human thing I'd felt in months. And you were crying for Crabbe, and Ron and Hermione ran off, and …" Harry's voice is thick with remembered emotion.
Draco's is crisp. "And we both thought we were going to die and wanted to feel alive one last time before we did. That's all, Harry. And a few hours later you were back to hating me again. And after the hell my family put you through, I can't say I blame you. But you were always decent to me at work, and the last few years have been great. Really great. I don't want to lose any of that."
"Draco …" Harry shakes his head. "We won't lose that, we can't lose that."
"Pott-ter…" Draco drawls in an exaggerated fashion. "Have you seen your relationship history? It's abysmal. Poor Cho Chang spent years wondering what happened, and your wife appears to have run off with Luna Lovegood."
"They're just friends," Harry answers automatically.
There is a moment of silence and shared looks, then both men explode in laughter. They laugh so loudly that it takes a few minutes for them to hear the voice calling their names.
Harry opens the study door, Ron Weasley is in the garden, looking about. Harry calls to him and Ron waves, meeting up with them in the sun room. "Rose sent me to check that no one needed rescuing," he says.
Harry and Draco exchange grins. "She told you about the boys?" Harry asks.
"No need," Ron replies, rolling his eyes. "Seriously, why do you all overlook the fact that I am astute and observant?"
Draco pats him on the shoulder. "Sorry, Weasley, no matter how great an Auror you are, I always see the boy who didn't notice the girl he hung out with every day at school fancied him. Six years of thickness made quite the impression."
"I swear, it's worse than Aberforth and his goat …" Ron mutters. Glancing at the table, he cheers up. "Is anyone eating this lunch?"
Harry passes plates to his friends and the three men sit about scoffing sandwiches for a comfortable while.
"So Rose was really worried?" Draco asks.
Ron laughs. "She had me clean out the barn in case Al and Scorp needed it. I told her she was being overly dramatic, but she's been reading a lot of Muggle literature lately. Hermione says too much E.M. Forster can turn anyone's brain. Anyway, I told her I'd pop by, and Hermione thought I might need an afternoon of sanity before I'm clobbered by four kids this evening."
Draco smiles. "Tell Rose I knew," he says.
Harry looks at him. "You knew they were both serious about each other and didn't tell me?"
"Not my fault you're thick," Draco replies, taking the second-last eclair from the lunch spread and tossing the last to Ron.
"D'ye think he might be thicker than me?" Ron asks, trying very hard to keep his face straight.
"It's close," Draco concedes. "But when it comes to people, yes, he may just be."
"I can't believe I feed you two …" Harry mutters.
"You love us," Ron tells him, around a large bite of cake.
"You do," Draco agrees. "You think we're great. We make you look good at work, and because he's so ginger and I'm so pale, it adds to your whole dark brooding effect. If you stopped talking to us, you'd immediately seem less interesting."
Draco is pleased to see that Ron is nodding as earnestly at Harry as he is. The sight of their combined alleged sincerity is too much for Harry. He walks out of the sun room in search of cold butterbeers, so they chat in his absence.
"How's your mum coping?" Draco asks. "It's still a Malfoy and one of her precious grandkids."
"Haven't mentioned it to her, yet. She didn't seem too fussed about Scorp going out with Rose – at least not after her first bout of apoplexy – but then we hardly saw him for most of that time, due to your lot being under protection, and when we did he always treated her so delicately."
Draco smiles knowingly. "That's how you worked it out, isn't it?"
Ron grins at him. "That and Hermione spending a week saying 'Rose and Scorpius. Are you sure? Not James? Not Scorp and Al?'"
Draco laughs. "She can't have been any more startled than he was, I think. Your daughter is a force to be reckoned with." He and Ron exchange smiles. "I was a little sad when they broke up," Draco confesses. "I hope she still comes to visit the Manor, she's clever and witty."
"She is indeed. But she gets her Quidditch skills from me." Ron knows a good straight line when he is fed it.
Harry returns and hands out chilled bottles. "I don't know why I am doomed to have such appalling friends," he sighs.
"Neville's nice," Ron reassures him.
"So's Dean, don't forget Dean," Draco adds.
"I plan to Owl them immediately the two of you leave and arrange to have you replaced," Harry vows, attempting to look serious.
Ron shakes his head. "Won't work. Dean's darker and handsomer than you, and Neville is a bigger hit with the ladies."
"There's a terrifying thought …" Draco is finding it very hard not to laugh again.
Harry gives up. "I'll have to keep you both on, clearly no one else would put up with you."
"You're soft, Potter," Draco says. "At the very least you should consider Imperiusing us so that we're nicer."
"Alas, not enough magic in all the world for that …" Harry sighs.
"Too true," Ron agrees, and stands, stretching out his long legs. "And on that note, I'm headed home to reassure my beloved daughter that she can stop her plans for a sensitive wizards refuge in the garden. Harry, Draco, say goodnight to the boys for me, I'll send your other horrors home in the morning." He addresses this last to Harry.
"Bugger that, I'll send Al and Scorpius over, you and Hermione should come and hide here." Both men exchange grins at the prospect of teenager-free homes.
"They could all come and stay at the Manor for a week," Draco offers. "It's big enough to house an army and we have house-elves, who, you can assure your lovely wife, are all paid at union rates and with conditions."
Ron and Harry exchange a quick look. "That'd be great, Draco, cheers. We could do with some adult time, and Harry could hang around and practise brooding and looking enigmatic."
"Ignore him," Harry says quickly. "He's been reading The Quibbler again."
"Britain's Sexiest Wizard yet again, what lies in store for the single saviour?" Ron quotes.
Harry looks pained. "I'd say wait till Luna gets back, but I'm starting to think that this is her idea of an elaborate joke."
Draco grins. "I think it started that way, then she saw the increased circulation figures. It's your own fault, for as long as you prat about in knee-high leather boots and tight trousers, photo spreads of you will sell."
Ron indicates his own Auror-standard apparel with a look of disbelief. "Tell me, in all seriousness, how they can be weak at the knees over Stumpy McScarface there, while ignoring the perfection that is?"
Draco nods soberly. "I know, Ron, it beggars belief. If it's any consolation, I think the hoi polloi are terrified of your wife."
Ron laughs. "As well they ought to be. And I am really going home to her, right now. See you soon, I'll let you know about the kids on Monday, yeah? I'll sort it with Hermione and Mum."
"Sounds good, bye."
Harry walks with Ron outside, where they exchange goodbyes before Ron Apparates away. Draco is always amused to see how Ron hunches just that little bit so his height advantage over Harry - and over Draco, too, if truth be told - is minimised. For a moment Draco imagines the look on his mother's face when he mentions to her that he has invited the whole Potter-Weasley clan, then he consoles himself with the knowledge that she can always escape to one of her many friends' homes, probably taking Helene with her. Draco considers that as long he pays Lily Potter well, she should be able to control the worst of it.
The afternoon sun fills Harry's black hair with red as he turns to come back inside. Draco frowns as he realises that he is, again, thinking things like this, and forces himself to recall last week's Quidditch scores. Because it would not end well. And he doesn't think Luna Lovegood likes him that much.
Harry grins at him as he walks back in the door. "Another thing," he says, as though Ron had never interrupted. "When you were blown up, you called out my name. Despite the fact you know I'm useless at healing charms. I heard you. And it led me to suspect in a vaguely optimistic fashion ..."
"That I wanted my last words to be 'Harry you bloody idiot, I thought you were on top of the protection part of this plan'? Yes, quite right, I did." Draco's grin is back.
"You're no help," Harry shakes his head. "And no fun."
"I'm going home," Draco tells him. "Before you propose and I have to stop your son from dying of parental embarrassment."
"It'll toughen him up." Harry's tone is as light as Draco's, but his eyes are hopeful.
Draco reaches up and pushes Harry's hair back from his face, shaking his head gently. "It's a bad idea. Albus may actually kill us, and I think he and Scorpius were both planning on having fathers who were focused on them this summer. Besides, when you cast me aside, I'll have to compete with Ginny for Luna Lovegood's attentions, and at least one of them would hex me."
"So that's a no." Harry's smile doesn't fade.
"It's a no," Draco agrees.
"Fine, back to pub lunches, death-defying adventures and the odd Quidditch game. And we should definitely organise for you to take all the kids, because it's ridiculous that they only visit you for cake. You should have to scream at them to go to bed and shut up, too."
Draco smiles at Harry. "And this is the other reason. I want to believe that you've really been my friend for these five years, and not that you were just trying to get into my pants. I want to believe that you want me to tell your kids to shut up and come round to water your flowers when you're on holidays. Because while we both have a natural genius for the death defying dramas, I want to believe that we both honestly think it's worth working hard to just be each other's friend."
"Never doubt that," Harry answers, all seriousness.
"I have to go."
Draco touches Harry's hand lightly as he walks past him, and keeps walking into the garden, not looking back.
It is late in the evening when Harry's owl appears. Draco is sitting out on his balcony with what he would tell anyone is a glass of finest brandy, but is actually a mug of cocoa because he likes the taste.
He is smiling at his recollection of Helene's greeting when he arrived home this afternoon. Kissing his cheek fondly she had nodded at Narcissa. "She knows, I of course already knew, and we both know that you know. Did they tell Harry?" She had been happy when he had filled her in on parts of the afternoon's events - but not all of them, because although he strongly suspected that she suspected, he was not prepared to indulge Helene's belief in her own omniscience.
And now there is that owl. Tawny and large, it drops a parcel into Draco's lap and then sits on the balcony railing, waiting.
Draco blinks. There is a folded sheet of parchment under the string tied around the parcel. He opens it, and is not surprised to see Harry's handwriting.
I was planning to give you this when I saw you at the station, then over lunch, but the moment never really seemed appropriate. Happy Birthday, D, I know it's late again, but I'm useless with dates. All the best, H.
Laughing quietly to himself, Draco unwraps his present. It is a paper knife, silver, with a finely wrought handle in which an M twines amid foliate fripperies. Solidly Muggle and a wholly lovely thing. A strip of parchment is tucked into the bottom of the box.
- I do have excellent taste.
Laughing more, Draco shakes his head. He steps back into his room and quickly dashes off a note.
Excellent taste, appalling timing. Thank you, it's a marvellous gift. See you Monday.
He takes a handful of nuts out to Harry's owl, and is still laughing long after it has flown off with his message.
Monday begins with Draco running late for work, clutching the handful of Owls that have arrived over the weekend. Ginny Weasley, giving in to the Owled pleas of her three children, is staying on North Rona to investigate rumours of magical puffins with Luna. Her letter is full of lists:
Do buy in fish fingers for Lily.
Do see if you can convince them to do something cultural, even if it's the cinema.
Do convince James that vegetables won't kill him.
Do convince Rose that sleeping with James might see her father kill him.
Do keep an eye on Lily and make sure she doesn't kill anyone.
Do believe Albus's version if they all give different stories.
Don't feel you need to fill me in on the specifics of any of the relationship details of the older four. I'm very happy for them but am frantically picturing them all as eleven and twelve year olds.
Don't listen to James or Lily when they tell you we regularly eat caviar and pheasant. Or drink vintage wine.
Don't mention your father.
Don't start any international incidents.
Don't forget that I'll hex you even if Harry won't.
Thanks very much, see you in ten days!
Hermione Granger-Weasley's Owl is much shorter:
Just make sure they both come back in the same condition they arrive.
Harry's four Owls are a list of every food his children eat, then a list of every food they don't eat, an exhaustive list of things they've packed to bring, and then a note apologising for hovering and asking Draco if he's reconsidered the possibility of more snogging.
See you at three. Cheers, R.
Draco is growing to like Ron a great deal.
The morning is spent terrifying as many underlings as possible since Draco plans to take much of the next week off. By eleven o'clock he has rejected three proposals and sent two trainees scurrying; he suspects one may now be hiding in the toilets.
Harry Potter appears at his office door, knocking on the jamb.
Draco looks up at him. "Is this work or chatting?"
Harry wears a look of hurt innocence. "Work, of course. Do you have five minutes?"
"Come in." Draco refuses to acknowledge the manic grin of wickedness that Harry plasters over his face as he closes the door.
Harry sits down. "Anything on your scans?"
"Why do you ask?"
"I have a source who says he's been hearing noises about an imminent attack. No details, no real information, but he says it's persistent gossip."
Draco thinks carefully. "No, not as of twenty minutes ago, but if you can wait ten minutes I can check you out."
For the very briefest of seconds he hopes that Harry didn't hear that. Harry's explosion of laughter removes any doubt.
Draco shakes his head. "Check it out. IT." He rolls his eyes and threatens Harry with his diary.
Harry laughs even harder. He manages to gasp out, between laughs: "I've decided that airborne stationery is your idea of flirting."
Draco drops his head onto the desk for a moment and wonders if anyone would notice that the head of Magical Law Enforcement had been turned into a hatstand.
"Where are you going?" Harry asks as Draco stands quickly and moves towards the door.
"To see if there's anything on the scanners."
"But we were having a conversation!" Harry chuckles as Draco opens the door.
"It was doomed from the start," Draco says, loudly enough to be heard as he strides through his assistant's office without looking back.
He is halfway to the Room of Futures by the time Harry catches up with him. Draco is relieved that it takes Harry this long, since he has only just wiped the grin from his own face. He knows it's ridiculous, but that doesn't stop it being funny.
They walk in silence until Draco opens the door to the room and ushers Harry in ahead of him. Thirty Unspeakables are bowed over sundry scrying devices. In the far corner of the barn-sized room is a small area that is surrounded by glowing wards. Two witches and four wizards are frantically working over small silver objects there.
"What's that?" Harry nods his head over in the direction of the warded area.
Draco's smile is slightly smug. "We warded that area against magic. They're keeping an eye on all the Muggle sources."
"Computers?" Harry is astonished. "You warded against magic? That's both brilliant and crazed."
Draco nods happily. "It was Fotherington's idea, although I did the spellwork. He had to leave his laptop at home when he went to Hogwarts and he never got over it."
All thirty-six Unspeakables are staring at them expectantly. Draco smiles at them approvingly. "Anything astray? Potter says there are rumours afoot."
Thirty-five of them shake their heads, but one tall and pale wizard from behind the wards looks at him with a frown. "I don't know if it's really important," he says. "But the weather is odder than usual."
Draco waves him over. "Potter, meet Fotherington, our Muggle tech specialist. Fotherington, this is Harry Potter, Head of MLE." Harry nods and smiles at the young man.
Fotherington looks at Draco as though he is having a senior moment. "Yes, sir, I know. There are portraits."
Draco ignores Harry's sudden coughing. "Tell us about this odd weather. Is it the Gulf Stream?"
Fotherington's frown deepens. "I can't really say, sir. Despite our best efforts and the Muggles' best models, the climate is all gone to hell these days. There's a cyclone in South Australia that came out of nowhere, and the tides around Greenland are completely erratic. The Muggles are tying it all into the Gulf Stream's temperature changes, and they could well be right. But it's astray, as you say."
"Good work. Keep an eye on it and see if a pattern develops. If you need to borrow anyone, feel free. All of you, eyes peeled, let me know sooner rather than later if you see anything that could be something."
Draco and Harry leave together. Once the door closes, Harry lets the laughter he has been holding in out, though quietly. Draco takes him by the elbow and drags him down the hallway. "Hush," he says. "Fotherington does a good job even if his mind and body inhabit different spheres."
"I'm laughing at you, too," Harry informs him. "Anything that could be something is now my new motto."
"Harry, that's been your motto for years," Draco says with a smile.
They reach the circular room and wait while the doors spin about. Unerringly, Draco selects the door that leads to the lifts and walks Harry through. "I'll let you know if I hear anything more. Are you bringing the kids over this afternoon? I should be home by half-past two."
Harry shakes his head apologetically. "Too much on at the moment. Ron will bring them all. You still on for lunch?"
"I'll pop in, have Ron order me something, he remembers what I like."
"Will do," Harry answers as the lift doors open and he steps in. "Keep up the checking." He winks.
"Go." Draco waits until the lift doors close before he adds an affectionate, "You goose."