Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter and assorted paraphernalia.
Summary: Harry likes to think of Scorpius as his own child, but no amount of heroism can alleviate the effects the war had on the boy and on his father.
Warnings: implied slash, het, an 'open' relationship, abuse, PTSD, major mind-fuck
A/N: Thanks for inspiration to Loveless and Sara Holmes on ffnet. Style still affected heavily by Lynn Flewelling. Hope you don't mind. It's… different.
I got a little drunk. This is the result. Enjoy.
xJoys of Ownership
Harry isn't entirely sure how it happened that he and Draco Malfoy have met again.
Well, obviously, they've met every once in a while since the grandiosely named Final Battle, but those were casual meetings, at the Ministry, sitting individually for their N.E.W.T.s (which, obviously, they did at the same time, because Fate just liked screwing with Harry that way), then looking for jobs (both efforts failed, for very different reasons), and attending some public functions. All of those meetings were civil, even polite, but cool, because what do you say to a man whom you've hated for years and then just stopped hating? You say hello, and that's it.
What Harry's thinking about now is different. They both have children now – their sons are in the same year at Hogwarts, and appear to be the very epitome of frenemies – and Harry feels that maybe Malfoy is somewhat annoyed that Harry has another son and a daughter, also, as if that upsets some kind of weir symmetry, but he's not jealous. He can't be jealous, because sometime he looks like he'd rather not even had that one child. Way to prove how childish he is despite his age.
And they are both young, very young by wizard reckoning – forty-two is just entering adulthood, for them – but seeing their kids behaving more mature than themselves is an uncomfortable wake-up for Harry.
"Sir?" a soft voice asks from the doorway, and Harry looks up from the book he hasn't really been reading. Scorpius looks not quite as pale as he really is in the candlelight, but there is a fragility to him that Harry's been scared of since the first time Albus introduced them officially.
Harry is so frightened that Scorpius would fall apart if handled too roughly. He doesn't want to have to explain that to the boy's father, but that comes secondary to how much he hates the idea of the child himself being hurt. Too late, though. Scorpius is sixteen now, and not so much a child. Also, he's been hurt so badly that sometimes Harry just wants to hug him, and make him a member of the family and never let him go.
"Come in," Harry says, trying to smile and reassure the boy, but the effort is vain. Scorpius grew up around false smiles, and he can tell when someone is lying to him, however white the lie may be. "Take a seat."
"Thank you, sir," the boy replies, and gracefully lowers himself into a leather armchair. He seems to fold unto himself, small, ashen, and much more child-like than he should be at his age.
Harry loves him ridiculously much. This is his fourth child, even though the Ministry would never allow him to adopt Scorpius, because neither of his parents would give up their rights to him. Speaking of his parents, Scorpius is the perfect amalgam of them.
"We're happy to have you for Christmas," Harry says when it looks like Scorpius might bolt, struggling with himself over whether he can speak out loud what he wants to tell Harry. It must have taken a lot for him to come this far.
"I am honoured that you have invited me," Scorpius answers. It's formal and formulaic, but Harry can tell that he means it. A fragile heart, this one, and so starved for love.
Just like his father.
Harry has to wonder, had his own parents been alive, would Draco Malfoy have been a guest at their house? Probably not, what with Lucius trying so hard to shape him into his own replacement. It wasn't that Lucius had not cared for his son, but that man's priorities had been so messed up.
Messed up by growing up under Abraxas' thumb, no doubt. It used to be hereditary with Malfoys, so Abraxas had probably received the same treatment from Thanatos, and Thanatos from Hagar, and he from Augustus. Harry could go on, up that line, since he had learnt so much about the Malfoys lately, but he doesn't care to. He cares about the worried, insecure child swallowed by the armchair in front of him.
"Aside from being Albus' best friend," Harry says, "both my wife and I are fond of you. You are always welcome here and you know that."
At Harry's somewhat stern look Scorpius impossibly blanches further and quickly nods.
"Good," Harry confirms. "Whatever you may need, whatever concerns you have, you just have to tell someone. Alright?"
Scorpius nods again, just as hastily as before. His hands are folded in his lap. He wears a traditional robe, as he always does, but this one is plain grey, without any trappings of the riches and status of his family. He is mousy, as if he were washed out.
Harry is scared that he will never manage to teach Scorpius how to accept being loved, as Arthur and Molly had once upon a time taught him.
"There…" Scorpius speaks so quietly that Harry barely makes out the word. "There is… a girl." His eyes are fixed to his hands in his lap.
Harry exerts some effort to quell his wild grin and smiles. "You like her?" he asks.
Scorpius hesitates and then, realising that he has practically admitted as much already, he nods.
"Have you asked her out?" Harry prods.
Scorpius shakes his head.
"Because…" the boy hesitates again. Then, fisting his hands, he presses out: "I have been under the impression that you wish for an alliance between our families, sir, and I am much too grateful for your patronage to somehow sabotage your intentions."
Harry swallows to get rid of the lump in his throat. Merlin's mercy, has he come across as such a schemer? No wonder, though, if Scorpius can only think in terms of advantages and alliances.
A hand, cold like Death's, grips Harry's shoulder.
"Scorpius," Harry implores, ignoring the icy hand and the boy's flinch, "there are no conditions imposed on our affection. You know that. You don't have to worry. If you like this girl – ask her out. See how you get along. Ginny and I will support you, and I know for a fact that your Farther won't mind." The cold touch from his shoulder disappears, and Harry suppresses a sigh, because Scorpius would have thought it was about him.
"Thank you…" the boy replies, finally glancing up. There is hope in his face, and it is all Harry can do not to cry.
"You're welcome," Harry says gruffly. "You're… always welcome."
Scorpius gives him a small but bright smile. "I… I think I know that. It's just… sometimes… It's not like I forget. It just seems so improbable to me. And everyone says…"
Harry doesn't scowl, for much the same reason as he hasn't sighed before, and asks: "What do they say?"
"They say you hated Father, sir."
Always 'sir' with that boy, Harry muses, and Ginny's always 'ma'am'. The kid can't shed the formality he's been practically breathing since he's been born. Harry would much rather be called by his first name, but with Scorpius that is a lost battle.
"Your Father and I were rivals when we were younger than you," Harry recounts, lying just a little to paint the whole debacle of his teenage years a little less gruesome. "I suppose, to those around us back then, it seemed like we hated one another. But it wasn't real hate. And once we were a bit older, we've learnt to get along, haven't we?" He smiles now, even though he regrets that there is no cold touch this time.
Scorpius thoughtfully nods. "Yes, of course, sir. I meant no offense. You do not mind then, if I…"
He leaves the rest implied, but Harry happily nods anyway. "Write to me during the next term, will you? We want to know how you're doing – academically and personally." Harry is a little proud of himself. His association with Malfoys has made him that much more acute.
"Yes, sir," the boy says, shyly grinning. He stands, instinctively recognising that the conversation has run its natural course, and there is little more to say. "Thank you for taking me into your confidence," he adds, once again formal, formulaic, and heartbreakingly earnest.
"You're welcome," Harry repeats himself for the umpteenth time.
He watches without a word as Scorpius stands, affects the slightest – and entirely unwanted – bow, and takes his leave, silent, dignified beyond what any sixteen-year-old has any right to be, and a little less forlorn than he was coming in.
Harry leans back into his armchair and watches the dancing flame of the candle as it consumes the wick. A drop of wax trickles down the side of the pale column and solidifies a mere inch from the candlestick, leaving behind a relief as a trace of its path.
The lock on the door makes a quiet snick, and activates the Silencing ward on Harry's study.
Harry scowls. "Take it off," he orders, his voice harsh and uncompromising even to his own ears. "Now."
There is a shuffle, and a moment later the air to his left shimmers. His Invisibility Cloak ripples and becomes visible at the same time as its former wearer.
Draco Malfoy has aged, and not very well. There is something about his family that makes them predisposed to early deaths, and it's not entirely the propensity of their heirs to be willing to go to extraordinary lengths to inherit as soon as possible. Lucius has died an exile some fifteen years ago. Abraxas caught dragon pox when Draco was but a baby. And so on, and so forth. At forty-two, Draco should be looking about twenty-five, in muggle reckoning. He's, to Harry's eyes, well past thirty, with stress-lines on his face, thinning hair and intermittent apathy in his eyes, which encompasses the despair he feels on daily basis.
"He's smart enough not to let himself be forced into anything he doesn't truly want," Harry reassures the man, forgoing the question of whether Draco agrees with him about Scorpius being free to date whomever he wants. Draco has stopped trusting himself, so instead he trusts Harry now.
"My clever boy," Draco whispers. He absently sets the folded Invisibility Cloak down onto an empty patch on a shelf, and unabashedly looks Harry in the eye. "I love my son," he implores.
Harry nods. "I know you do." Lucius loved Draco, too, for all the good it had done to either of them. "I have never doubted it, either."
"You'll save him," Draco repeats for about the hundredth time, but it's finally stopped being a question. He doesn't doubt Harry any more than Harry doubts him.
"Anytime he needs it," Harry reassures the man. He lets his head falls back, closes his eyes and sighs. It's been a short Christmas holidays, and he wishes there was another week yet before Albus, Scorpius and Lily would have to leave. And least James still intermittently appears home, although they see little of him, since he's usually gone with his team. In winter they move to Greece to train, since the weather is that much milder there.
"Thank you," Draco says helplessly, drawing the tips of his fingers down the side of the bookcase.
Harry hates seeing him like that, robbed of the pride by the realisation that he's failed in the only important task he's ever set himself.
"I shudder to think what would have happened without you."
Harry doesn't have the heart to tell him that he knows exactly what would have happened, and that both Scorpius and Draco would have been dead by now, by their own hands. He still remembers Albus' chalk-white, tear-stained face during that fateful fire-call, half through his third year, telling Harry that 'Scorp's tried to kill himself' and asking 'What am I s'posed to do?'
And Harry didn't know. Merlin damn him, he was shocked out of his mind, and he didn't know what to say, so in the end he said just: 'Bring him home for Christmas…?' and that was the beginning of it.
"Why doesn't he hate me?" Draco asks plaintively, hiding his face in his palms. He looks almost as vulnerable as his son, ravaged by years of no comfort to be found and his demons hounding him. The dark circles under his eyes tell of nightmares, and the gut-twistingly thin wrists of depression. He's lost too much of himself, and he's had no one to rely on for years and years, until he's heard of his son's attempted suicide and tried to follow him, with just as much success.
"Because he knows you did your best," Harry says. It is cold comfort. Astoria's been less of a mother to Scorpius than Draco's been a father, but Harry doesn't blame either of them. They had both been hurt very badly during the war, and had met misfortunes afterwards – children lost in miscarriages, attempted (and successful) cursings in public venues, and humiliations practically daily, as a passive-aggressive revenge from the masses for their families' roles in the war.
Scorpius suffered for it more than anyone. Harry can't begin to describe how much that makes his blood boil and his bile rise, but the best he can do is give Scorpius the kind of home-base every kid needs so they are confident enough to spread their wings and fly.
Draco scoffs. "He should."
"We'll never agree on that," Harry retorts, shaking his head. Then he shifts in the armchair and extends his arms.
Draco comes into his lap like a kitten, crouching, not saying a word but begging to be cuddled and comforted. He's never aged past seventeen, Harry figures, and is painfully reminded of Sirius. It's as though Draco has carried a dementor around with himself since the war, even though he's escaped Azkaban.
Harry holds him, cards his hands through the blond, thinning hair, and thinks solemnly about how long Draco will last. He dares believe twenty years yet, with the proper care and seeing his son happy. It is an optimistic estimation, but Harry doesn't want to let go anytime soon. He's so scared.
Also, he's so glad that James, Albus, Scorpius and Lily don't know anything about the true horrors of wizarding wars. They've learned about the wars from textbooks and grumble about guessing years incorrectly at exams, never mind that Harry remembers the last war in its entirety and revisits it in dreams bi-daily. They're lucky kids, and they make him belatedly understand why so many wizards and witches stayed safely at home when he fought Voldemort. There was no need for them to be involved, and if there had been one, they wouldn't have understood it. They wouldn't understand why. He could just image James' and Lily's bewilderment. Their Dad's solved that all, after all, hasn't he?
Harry hates pitying himself, so he stops. He feels the slow, calm beats of Draco's heart against his sternum, and the study becomes a little too hot to be comfortable. He doesn't protest, though. He winds his arm around Draco's back, just below his shoulder-blades, and holds him as close as he can. Draco's pointy chin digs into his shoulder, and he doesn't mind that either.
"There's nothing wrong about you," Harry mutters, trying to offer comfort, even though he's long since known that Draco wouldn't accept it. "I know how you feel. I get that you can't express it, and I will do it for you," he whispers, holding Draco in his arms and grimly aware that the man is dryly sobbing into his neck. "That's fine, love. It's alright. It's going to be alright. I'll take care of Scorpius – and of you."
"But…" Draco tried to argue.
"But nothing," Harry snaps resolutely. "You're mine, both of you. And I'll bloody take care of you."
He accepts a brief kiss from Draco, and doesn't protest when Draco starts unbuttoning his robe. He's tried to object in the beginning, but Draco literally can't compute receiving kindness without paying for it, and this isn't hurting anyone.
Ginny was the first to figure out that Harry's regard for Draco was less than platonic, but she just shrugged her shoulders and said: 'As long as you don't leave us.' Meaning herself and their children. Harry would never have done that.
Having Draco offer him sexual favours was unexpected, but he's learned to balance it out with everything else, and nowadays he's even glad for it. It's a more perfect cover than he could have imagined. Not even the Daily Prophet knows of his bisexuality. Draco has found something that keeps him mostly sane while Astoria's sequestered herself in her own wing of the Malfoy Manor. Ginny's happier in an unofficially open relationship than she ever could have been in a rigidly faithful marriage like her parents'.
Harry can't help but wonder if it was Fate that's brought them together. There's so much sheer love to get around, and people selfishly keep it all to themselves. He'll never understand it. He'll never be able to confine his feelings for those he cares for, and he'll never completely eschew anyone's affection for him. He's been hated too much for that. There's nothing more precious in the world.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you…" Draco mumbles, like a broken litany to some unnamed god. To Harry. Because, crazy as it sounds, he regards Harry as a deity. He worships Harry, kisses not only his lips, but every part of him he can get at, desperate to prove his loyalty, as if Harry's ever asked for it.
Harry's never understood the word before he came to know Draco so well. He is grimly aware that he, basically, owns a slave, that Draco's sold himself to him for the promise of Scorpius' future, and that his refusal to accept the bargain would mean ruin for both father and son. Harry's never wanted this, but the gravity of the offer was obvious when it came in the wake of two attempted suicides, and Harry has never been able to refuse anyone who's come to him for help.
So he has a slave, and what? He's a good master. Draco would attest to that. And Draco needs a master. He's said so much in the past.
"Hey…" Harry tries to protest when Draco slides to his knees between the desk and the armchair, but Draco has none of it. His fingers tremble ever so slightly as he opens Harry's muggle jeans and reaches or his cock, but there is no hesitation and no resentment. When he looks up, his face is filled with wonder and gratefulness, and Harry knows better than to refuse.
"Thank you," Draco says one last time. His hands gently force Harry's legs to part further and then he focuses on pleasuring Harry, in thanks for the freedoms Harry's granted to his son. It's depraved, this way of thinking, and it's certainly not what Lucius – oh, but that feels good – would have wished for his heir.
Harry understands too much. He would like to have remained oblivious, but not at the cost of Draco and Scorpius, who have both become precious to him.
There's no therapy in the wizarding world, he's learned. There are no psychologists. No comprehension of PTSD. Those who've survived a war are incarcerated or left to fend for themselves. Like Draco.
Merlin, but his tongue never stops feeling blissful.
"You're welcome," Harry says to Draco as he's said to his son, and cards his hand through the blond hair as Draco takes his cock deep into his throat. There's always a bargain – pleasure for kindness – and it's a comfort to Draco. Harry would have done the same with none of the rewards, but he can't, because Draco wouldn't have accepted it otherwise. So it's Harry who accepts it. Accepts this.
He comes in no time at all. Draco knows him well – he's done this many times before – and he knows just where to touch and how to make it as pleasurable as imaginable. Harry's come to like being worshipped in this way, and he isn't ashamed of it anymore.
"Harry," Draco breathes, as if the name was an illicit privilege, even though Harry's told him uncountable times that he's to use it. Draco's sitting on his haunches, cheek rested on Harry's knee, looking upwards and seeking approval.
Harry blinks to chase away the urge to cry for him, too, and then smiles. "You're wonderful," he says earnestly.
Draco's lips, stained with a droplet of Harry's come, stretch in a smile. "You're wonderful."
Harry pushes the armchair away and crouches down, grimly aware that his spent cock is hanging out of his trousers, takes Draco's face in his hands, and kissed the adoration off his face.
He doesn't want to tell Draco that he may have destroyed his own son, but Draco knows it anyway. The Malfoys become frailer and less prone to cruelty with every generation. Scorpius could cast a worrisome Cruciatus, but he'd be more likely to kill himself than let a Dark Lord use him. He is that much less strong than his father. It's not entirely a good thing, but Harry's satisfied in his certainty that Scorpius is, and will always be, a good man.
"I…" Draco tilts his head to the side, glances down, then at Harry's soft, flaccid cock, and finally to the side at nothing in particular.
"You're sorry, I know," Harry fills in, predicting whatever Draco may tell him. "I'm sorry too, and you won't accept it – I know that, too," he adds, feeling much too old. "I love you. I love Scorpius like my own son. You won't accept that, either." Harry clenches his teeth, loathe to let any darker emotions loose at this moment, since he is prone to venting those at the nearest victim, and Draco offers himself so readily.
"Scorpius loves you like a father," Draco responds, choking on envy and hurt and the agony of utter failure. "I…"
Harry sighs. "Why won't you let me?" he asks. "I would… I would do damn near anything to make you happy."
"I don't deserve it," Draco brushes him off, even with his cheek pressed to Harry's thigh, and their closeness undeniable. "I'll never deserve it. You do too much for me as it is. When my son graduates-"
"Don't even fucking think about it!" Harry yells, surprising himself with the profanity. "You're not taking the easy way out! You're mine, understand? Mine!"
He would never dare claim the ownership of another human being – normally. But Draco doesn't understand affection. He doesn't understand love, either, except for his willingness to do literally anything for the wellbeing of his son.
"Yes, my Lord," Draco replies, toneless, like a damn doll with no will of its own.
"I love you," Harry repeats.
Draco says nothing. He can't compute that such a statement may be true, so he disregards it completely.
"I love you."
Nothing. Draco looks up and smiles. He fixes Harry's jeans for him and stands, clad in an expensive, fashionable robe, beautiful, envy-worthy to anyone looking in from the outside. He appears at the Ministry like this, and he is quite capable of bullying the people he pays into doing his bidding, but nothing shields him from the weight of true care, and he is helpless against Harry. It's like Malfoys have never expected that anyone could truly love them. They aren't prepared to deal with it.
Draco lets himself be pulled to sit on Harry's left thigh, pliable and biddable, blithely certain that nothing could hurt him in Harry's presence.
There is a perfunctory knock on the door. Harry holds Draco closer to his chest and closes his eyes. He relaxes his hold on the Imperturbability to let Ginny in.
She grins as she steps in, and closes the door behind herself. "What's been eating him?" she asks, as if Scorpius was her own son.
"He's interested in a schoolmate, and worried we're expecting him to court one of our kids," Harry tells her, laconic and earnest.
Ginny reaches out card her fingers trough Harry's hair, and then meets Draco's eyes. "We just want him to be happy!" she claims. "You know that."
Draco nods, lying to Ginny as easily as he can only when he's certain that Harry will support him.
"He's delightful," Ginny tells Scorpius' father. "We're always happy to have him, and we're happy to have you. I don't get why he can't know that you're here, too."
"It is not appropriate," Draco replies, trying to pull away from Harry so that he can infuse the answer with as much pureblood bullshit as he can, but Harry has none of it. He holds onto Draco tight, feels the slightest movement of Draco's ribs and the surrender, although there is little satisfaction in it.
"Pish-posh," Ginny retorts and laughs. She kisses Harry's temple and pats Draco's forehead. "I take it you won't make it to the Master bedchamber tonight?"
Harry shrugs. Draco says nothing, with his eyes glues to the periodically pulsing vein in Harry's neck.
"Tomorrow, then," Ginny concludes easily. "Draco, you're welcome to stay for as long as you'd like to."
Ginny and Harry both know that Draco will make himself scarce as soon as he can, as he always does.
Harry regrets it. He misses Draco when the man's gone, but nothing he's said or done so far has managed to change Draco's mind and made him stay at Grimmauld Place when Scorpius wasn't there and there was no 'debt to be settled'. It's grating on Harry. It's driving Ginny up the wall, too, Harry can tell, but Ginny's wiser than all her siblings put together (with the possible exception of Bill) and she is the one who's forced Draco to send weekly updates on his wellbeing even while he's gone.
"Thank you, Ginevra," Draco drawls formally, with his head lowered.
"Think nothing of it," Ginny insists. "I've had Scruff ready the First Guest Bedroom for you, as always. See you tomorrow at breakfast."
"Good night, Gin," Harry tells her as she leaves.
"You can never win," Draco mutters into the sinews of Harry's throat when Ginny's gone to bed.
Harry takes a deep, ragged breath. "What do you mean?"
"You love too easy," Draco tells him. "You love me, and I'm just a willing body for you. You love my son – and he's nothing as of yet. You love your wife, and she's been after you forever, for your fame and your wealth."
Harry's had years of practice to take that in the spirit in which it's meant. Draco adores him and thinks that Harry's just too good for the people surrounding him – but if Harry behaved like that, he wouldn't be worthy to be in their presence, so that is a paradox. He'd much rather be who he is than that hypothetical politically adept Chosen One who was too far above anyone else to have a wife, a catamite and four children. He'd like to call Draco a lover, he really would. But he can't.
Not now, not when Draco acts this way.
"Do you care about me?" Harry asks, feeling a little malicious. It's not like he needs to know.
Draco laughs, throwing his head back, baring his throat. He nearly propels himself from Harry's embrace, but fortunately Harry's hold on him is too fast for that.
"Care?" Draco mocks. "My life is yours for the asking, Potter! What more do you want? I'm you bitch, and you know it."
Harry bites his lip – a vice he's not managed to get rid of since his boyhood days. "I'd like you to care for me," he admits.
"Then I shall love you, Master," Draco replies with utter guilelessness.
Harry shudders. He briefly contemplates unrequited love, and wonders if it's easier when that person would refuse his advances for not being wanted or accept them despite not being wanted for an ulterior reason.
He honestly has no idea.