Author/Artist: tigersilver Betas: megyaland lonerofthepack Glomp For: echo_of_dusk Title: 'For nearly all of his life, from when they were children' Pairing(s): Harry/Draco (they should all include H/D obvs, but put any others, including implied pairings, secondary characters) Summary: Rating: NC-17 Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. Warning(s): UST, buckets of. Flangst, floods of. See Author's Notes, as well. Epilogue compliant? No, not. Word Count: 29,500 Author's/Artist's Notes: For the sake of this fic and this fic only, the Malfoy family prefers to use a more formal sort of 'fond family nickname' for young Ted Remus Lupin or 'Teddy', as we know him. 'Theo' and 'Theodore' are not, naturally, his proper names per canon, although 'Ted' is a shortened form of Theodore or Edward, both classic English given names. The boy was presumably christened 'Ted' in honour of his maternal grandfather, Ted Tonks. However, the Malfoys are ever the Malfoys and 'Ted' is such a very...normal...name for a family accustomed to dragging down the very constellations from the sky for use of their beloved children. Ergo, one arrives at a (slightly) logical compromise: the Malfoys address Ted with great loving-kindness as 'Theo' or even 'Theodore'. Do not mistake Narcissa and Draco's 'Theo' for that bloke Nott, please. As to why, well. This Malfoy-peculiar fancy was felt to add to the ambience, which it may indeed not do, but the Author still claims a certain prerogative to screw about with the facts as she sees fit when employing 'ambiance'. Apologies, in advance, then, for this possibly jarring alteration. The title is taken from the following quote: "Snape's patronus was a doe,' said Harry, 'the same as my mother's because he loved her for nearly all of his life, from when they were children." ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This Author adores her discerning Betas and thanks the lovely Prompter for the opportunity to write. This Author apologizes to the Mods for being a right wanker.

PART ONE/SIX

"Potter."

"Uncle Harry! Uncle Harry, Uncle Harry!"

"Draco—Teddy! What brings you two here today—Oi! My feet, Teddy! When did you become an erumpent?"

"…Harry, then." Malfoy inclined his head courteously in greeting, as he always did. "Good morning. Theo, mind where you're stepping."

"Of course Harry, Draco." Potter rolled his eyes at Draco. "Don't be such a berk. Come on, kiddo, up!" Harry swung Teddy up in his arms, shushing him as he squealed. "Ooof! You were practising a ruddy tap-dance on my poor toes, young man, and I only wanted to give you a simple cuddle. Best to contain you."

"No, Uncle Harry!" Teddy took this as a cue to shout and resist for all he was worth. "No cuddles! Cuddles are for babies! I want down!"

"Theodore, your manners." Draco frowned. "Mind them."

"Not a baby," Theo insisted grumpily, twisting eel-like to survey all about the busy room. "I want down now, Uncle Harry-down! You've hugged me enough already!"

"Never enough, Ted. It's good to see you." Potter sent Draco a shy sidelong glance. "Er, both of you."

"Likewise." Draco smiled, just slightly, bemused. Potter was not so tall that he could hold high one Theodore Lupin, an animated age seven, all that easily. He sent another quelling look towards his small cousin. "Theo? Do be careful with your antics; you'll damage Pot-ah. Erm. Harry."

"Yes, do. And hang on there, little man," Potter chided, shifting about to contain the bundle of energy he'd captured. "I'm losing you." Theo squealed, loud enough to turn heads.

"Ow! You're pinching! Put me down, Uncle Harry—please?"

Potter huffed. "Fine, fine, fine. Half a sec, Ted. Well, Draco?"

"Appointment," Draco vouchsafed instantly under Potter's enquiring eye, watching whilst Potter carefully eased his charge down the shorter length of his person, settling him on the jut of a cocked hip with a conciliatory pat to the small of his little back. The boy grumbled at the liberties taken but under his breath, hanging onto Potter's neck with the crook of one elbow; Draco resolutely kept his answering stare bland and unalarming and focused solely on Potter's face. Any area below chin-level was strictly off-limits. "Routine, too. Nothing to fret over, Healer, before you even ask."

"That's good to know, thanks," Potter murmured happily, curiousity appeased sufficient to grin at Draco. He turned his attention to his godson, missing completely his old schoolmate's sudden bout of rapid blinking. "Hey, hey, it's the Human Slide, Teddy Bear, remember? Come on, you used to love that," he argued winningly, pleasant despite the boisterous boy's heavy-browed scowl and dismissively pouting lower lip. "Fine, fine. See how I'm letting you go now. See? Almost away, Ted."

"I can't reach! Why can't I reach?" Teddy's feet kicked away uselessly, a scant inch off the floor. Potter had twisted agilely enough and managed to get a grip under his armpits. "No! I'm too big for you now, Uncle Harry."

"No, you won't, not till I allow it. You aren't, Teddy. I'll still give you cuddles when you're my age, see if I don't."

"Yes, I will!" growled the boy. "'Sides, I'll smash you to bits if you keep teasing me, Unc Harry. Let me go faster, please! There's toys over there and—and there's all the other children! I want to play with them, not you."

"Theodore," Draco said sharply. "Theo, that's not"

"No, you shan't, little man," Potter cut him off smoothly, taking it all in stride. "I do believe I'm still the larger one of the two of us." He tilted his chin so as to keep Draco in view, obviously still curious. "Though not by too much anymore, eh? And maybe it's more fun for you when your other uncle does the Slide for you, eh? As he's a giant amongst Wizards. So amazingly tall, I bet you can slide for leagues and leagues."

"Not leagues, Uncle Harry," Teddy giggled, his sulk forgotten. "Uncle Draco's not that big; don't be a silly head!"

"Eh?" Draco gasped, startled. "I'm not, Potter!"

"You are, you definitely are, Draco." Potter nodded wisely. "There's Giant blood in you, I can tell. Aren't you lucky? You can reach things off high shelves, no problem."

"Potter!"

"A Giant? Uncle Draco is?" Teddy went on and on with his cascade of delighted giggles, kicking his small feet in the air in time, turning pink. Draco turned the uncertain little curl of his upper lip and his affronted eyebrows into a decided smirk, twigging at last that Potter was teasing him. It gave him a warm feeling in his gut, Potter doing that. "Uncle Draco's not a Giant, Uncle Harry!" Theo banged Potter on his godfather's chest. "He's a—he's an Uncle!"

"Nope, not just an Uncle," Potter chuckled, "but an upsize one. A super-Uncle."

"Not hardly, Po-Harry," Draco muttered softly, stung into his own self-defence. "You're exaggerating now. I'm only a little above average height. It's you who's the shrimpy sort. Foreshortened."

"Not that short, thanks—and, ah? Kidding, Draco," Potter muttered out of the corner of his mouth. "Though you do seem to have stretched, sometimes. It's a little." He flushed, ducking his chin. "Odd. Er."

"Um, no." Draco blinked, unsettled. He wasn't so tall that he couldn't fantasize about comfortably hauling Potter up against his person, maybe even scooping him up in his arms. Carrying him away, maybe, to somewhere private, and—ah!

"Ahem!" He reset his expression into the familiar lines of a courteous interest, mostly to disguise the sudden nervous tic of his left eyelid. "I don't believe so, Potter. Same as I ever was."

"Uncle Harry! Uncle Harry!"

"It's that you're chopped off at the knees, Potter." Teasing Potter, now that was something Draco could do, and happily. He roused, scenting the opportunity to maybe make Potter grin again. His way. "Someone came along and pruned you, I bet."

"UNCLE. HARRY!"

"Pruned? Right, right," Potter nodded. "Sorry, Draco, no offense meant about your height; whatever. What, Tedster? You're interrupting, you know that? What's so urgent now?"

"So it's your perspective is all skewed, being height-challenged," Draco carried on casually, "always looking up, and I am the more normal one here, Potter. Cheers, what?"

"Hush! Ted, what were you saying to me?"

"Uncle Harry!" Theo was squirming in earnest and instantly all of Potter's attention was necessary in order not to be elbowed or kneed in the privates. Potter promptly set him down, which resulted in a series of roundabouts scurries and indiscriminate tugging of both Wizard's robes and hands. "Uncle Harry! Don't forget me! What did I ask you?"

"Theo, don't bowl your wee little uncle over altogether, please. We'll lose track of him in this crowd if he goes down." Draco was on a roll; was feeling much more at ease teasing, and enjoying the flashing green glances Potter was handing him left and right, and the twinkle that lurked behind Potter's lenses. "And that would be a pity."

"Uncle Harreeee..." Theodore, sadly ignored, whined nasally, head-butting Potter's hip. "Unnnnnck Harrreeeee..."

"Jeez, too much at once. Not short, I tell you." Potter huffed at them both, eyes darting from one mischievous miscreant to the other. "Okay, okay, Teddy, do settle. This isn't a play yard. And Draco? Stuff it." Potter shrugged off the point of obvious height disparity between them, not pursuing it in favour of coping with the bouncy boy scrambling about their legs like a small dervish. "It's ...whatever, you're just so…Oh! Um, something I actually meant to ask you, Draco. What about yours? Your appointment? I know you're due also, aren't you? How've you been holding up? It's been ages since I've seen you to talk to."

"Mm. Yes." Draco stilled, lips tightening, all interest in playful badinage with Potter dying an instant death.

Draco's rambunctious little cousin, meanwhile, was stuck fast on his new fascination with the Waiting Room's offerings and was eagerly yanking at Potter's cuff.

"Uncle Harry—Uncle Harry—Uncle Harry, I wanna go!"

"Shhh!" Potter turned a hairy eyeball fully upon the little boy, jouncing about, humming loudly and off-key between bouts of chanting 'Uncle Harry'. "Hush, Ted! There's sick children here," he scolded gently. "And you're not quite eight, my little Teddy Bear boy. Not so old as I can't steal a cuddle from my favourite godson without a fuss. Do pipe down, this is a waiting room. Some of the other children here are not feeling well and you need to respect that."

"But, Uncle Har-!"

"Theodore," Draco stepped up, eyes stern, and laid a weighty hand on the little boy's collar. "Ted Remus Lupin, don't force me to be the one to carry you out of here when you can't control yourself. This appointment with Healer Lovegood can be rescheduled, you know. We can come another time, when you care to remember your proper manners."

"Aww, Draco," Potter sent an elbow out to nudge Draco's ribs. "Relax, man. He's only a little excited, is all. Let it go."

"Still…" Draco glowered meaningfully at both his crestfallen nephew and Potter, knowing they'd assume he'd not hesitate to remove the nuisance if it—er, he, as in Theo-didn't comport himself promptly. "Still." He waved a hand. "And so."

"No!" Teddy protested, making a strategic break for it, apparently unfazed by scold or glare. He slipped free of Draco's hand and danced away, unrepentant. "No, you can't catch me, Uncle Harry, Uncle Draco! Nasty mean old Uncle Draco! And don't call me a Teddy Bear, Uncle Harry—I'm not one! I'm a boy!"

"Theo–" Draco growled. "Theodore."

"Ah…Teddy, my lad." Potter sighed heavily, crossing his arms over his chest and watching his godson cavort just a few frustrating inches beyond their collective reach, dizzily celebrating his regained freedom. "Yes, you are, at that. And all boy, Ted, all boy. Got away from me again, didn't you, little scamp? Too agile for your poor old Uncle Harry; be the death of me yet. Now, what is it you want now, young sir? What's on your mind?"

"Can't catch me!" Teddy went off into a spate of triumphant hiccoughs. He sidled farther away, edging toward the crowded centre area, which they all stood a little apart from. "Don't even try, silly Uncle Harry! I'm just going over to the toys, alright?" He pointed them out, spinning as he did. "I want to play with them. And—and I'll be very good, I promise." The last was cast out carelessly, with a teasing glance back at his Uncle Draco. "I can, Uncle Draco. I can be very good when I try."

"I should hope so, Theo. You'd better," Draco admonished sternly. "Or I'll—"

"Oh, I'm sure he will, Draco," Potter smiled at him sweetly. "He just needs a diversion, that's all. Likely hates the waiting; don't we all? Go on now, Ted. Carry on. You may play with them. That's what they're here for, isn't it?"

Teddy made a beeline for a set aside area laden with divertissements, situated across the capacious space of populated chairs and sofas. Draco pursed his lips as his eyes followed their young relative, reluctant to confirm Potter's sapient guess about his own appointment and then be forced to discuss in detail his own personal reasons for stopping at St. Mungo's. His blasted symptoms, the ones that never really went away. Really, he hated that Potter knew so much about his latent condition but Potter was a Healer, a brilliant one, and the only one in the family. And Potter knew all about him...to a certain point.

"So," Potter prompted, all piercing stares. "You and him, both, today? Or just him?"

"Both, actually," Draco allowed grudgingly. "Theo's to have his usual monthly exam and I'm for my usual injection."

"Hmm-mm."

Draco grimaced. Didn't mention that he was a month or more behind on his scheduled doses, as that wasn't important. What Potter didn't know wouldn't hurt him. "It's Lovegood this time, I think. For Theodore," he added, hoping to distract Potter completely.

"Ah," Potter nodded wisely, gaze sharpening. "I see." He blinked, disingenuously. "Well, good show. Come have tea with me after, then. I'm only in for two consults this morning, otherwise I'm free. Should be wrapped up by eleven, so…pop by."

"Oh, no." Draco immediately plastered on a 'sincerely regretful' look. "Thank you, Po—Harry, but I don't believe we'll have the time for—"

"No, Uncle Draco!" Teddy was returned unexpectedly; must've been following along even as he darted aimlessly about the bustling receiving room. He popped up like a tiny jack-in-the-box between them and tossed in his two knuts, "I want to take tea with Uncle Harry. I want to—so, so much, Uncle Draco. Please let me?"

"Theo."

"May we?" The boy pulled out all stops, wheedling, his little boy dimples out in full force. Draco swallowed. He absolutely hated to deny Theo a single thing, though it often fell to his lot to do so, being the responsible Malfoy. "Please, please, please? I'll be ever so well mannered, I promise." Huge wide eyes had gone totally grey and entreatingly honest; his hair was changed to black and curly, falling in tendrils across an unscarred brow. He was the very image of a possible Potter-Malfoy offspring...if ever such an unlikely thing should occur. Draco frowned. That wasn't on, no. Nor were the odds ever likely to alter. "I won't even jiggle my feet or anything, Uncle Draco, and I promise I'll take all my vitamin potions like big boy and not spit them out, just like you said I must. Please, please? I so want to."

"…Well," Draco hesitated, torn. "I don't th—"

"Draco?" Potter edged closer, bumping Draco's shoulder encouragingly. "It'd be lovely."

"Please, Uncle Draco?" The boy jittered peripatetically about them both, his small face screwed up with stubborn determination as he sensed Draco's uncertainty, his hair flashing puce to aubergine to magenta as he pleaded. "Please, pretty please, Bott's on top?"

"Hmm. If—and only if, Theo—I agree to this, we'll not be able to stay long," Draco interjected, gaze darting toward Potter. Lovely Potter, waiting there so patiently for them to settle the matter, gorgeous lips curled up at the corners in that quirky way Draco always fell fathoms for, despite all his better intentions. "I, er, we, that is. We are on a strict schedule today, Theo. Remember?"

"I know!" Teddy jumped in to assure him, ever so eagerly. "But I so miss taking tea in Uncle Harry's rooms. We've not been in ages and he's the very best toys in there. Not like these boring old ones." His wildly flung out fingers indicated that the usual motley collection to be found in St Mungo's Paediatrics Unit was stodgily pedestrian, at best. "I hate all these fuddy-duddy old Magic-y ones, Uncle Draco, you know that. I want to play with Uncle Harry's toys. His are all Muggle and new. I like Muggle!"

"Hmm…" Draco caught himself fidgeting with his wand holster and promptly put a stop to it, instead clasping his hands primly behind his back. "Hmm. Well. Perhaps, just for a short while. Maybe."

"Er, Draco?" Draco resolutely did not look Potter's way. That way lay ruinous seduction; he knew better. "If I could, um?"

"Long enough for a real tea, though, right, Uncle Draco?" Teddy was absolutely a hard case, not to be appeased by any scant flying visit. He redoubled his begging accordingly. "Uncle Harry, tell him he has to, won't you?"

He spun to paw pleadingly at Harry's white robes and fiddle with his name badge, caught on a long lanyard: 'Doctor Potter, Head Paediatrics Division' it read, and Draco absentlyminded zeroed in on the grinning magically pixellated image of Potter, St. Mungo's most favourite doctor. "I love your office, Uncle Harry, I love it best of all!" Teddy carried on, hopping from one leg to another to demonstrate the level of his enthusiasm. "I want to go there and drink tea with you, Uncle Harry, and eat all those little cakes you hide in your desk drawers, the Jaffa ones, and the Frogs you think I don't know about—I want to! Tell Uncle Draco we must!"

"Ah..." Potter flushed pink and shifted uncomfortably. "Ted, I'm not about to inconvenience your, er. If he's not willing, and all. I can't just say at him. It wouldn't be fair."

"Theo!" Draco was just as put out, but on Potter's behalf. "You mustn't press your godfather like that, not for small favours. He's a busy man, Theo; a Healer. Have a care."

"He's never too busy for me, Uncle Draco." The boy flashed emerald eyes at them both; in retaliation, perhaps, his hair gone again Malfoy-coloured. "Is he? Pretty please? Tea—tea—tea?"

"Oh...well. Busy?" His godfather snorted, lips quirked up. "Not so much today, thank Merlin." He bumped into Draco's side again, disregarding Draco's own barely stifled snort. "You know, though? He's totally right about the one thing, at least—all our bloody busyness. It's been absolute ages since I've seen you do anything more than nod at me on your way by, Draco. Do come, won't you? We can really catch each other up for once. And I want to see you. Today's a perfect chance."

A faint red flush began to creep up Draco's neck. "I, uh...hmmm."

Potter? Potter wanted to see him? Mercy!

He nearly caved then and there and only because yes, indeed, Potter did have the very best amusements cluttering up his St. Mungo's private office. Plus, he knew full well Theodore looked forward to the chance to fiddle with them as a reward for visiting Healer so often, far more so than other children his age were required. All of the amusements Potter kept for his small patients were Muggle in origin, as well, a novel quality which apparently utterly fascinated ill little Wizards and Witches, brightening their spirits when Potter poked and prodded at them. Of course, Potter did believe a child who was happy to visit their Paediatric Healer was a child one step further along the path to good health. Terribly forward-thinking, that, but Draco found he approved. And then there was this one game…Mousetrap™, was it? No, Operation™. Both of those were quite loads of fun when he, Potter, his mum and Aunty Drom had played them at home with Potter to amuse Theo—ah.

"Draco?"

He'd been drifting, for a moment, and he'd been then cannily cornered, mentally; Potter and the boy were awaiting his yea or nay with more and less patience, respectively.

"Um," Draco hummed, stalling. On the one hand, Potter. On the other hand, it wouldn't be a very smart idea, whiling time away with Potter. Not for him, specifically. "Er."

"Really, Draco?" Potter was as fidgety as Theo, one dark brow raised sceptically, hands clasped behind his back in an sort of subconscious mirroring of Draco's stance. "Come on, Draco. Don't faff about, just say yes. I won't keep you long if you've something on after, I promise."

"Er…" Draco sidled away a pace; Potter did things to him—bad things. Too, too brilliant things, if one thought about it from his other perspective. Really, he was the one who must take particular care to behave in public, not little Theo. "Um."

"Draco, really now! Stop waffling. When I become such an ogre?"

"Uncle Draco? Do you...do you not want to? Did you and Uncle Harry have a tiff?"

"No! Gods, no, Theo; nothing like that."

"Hmph!" Potter snickered amiably beside him. "I should hope not."

Oh! Draco groaned internally, torn. This was horrible, wanting what he couldn't have. Even now Potter's heady pheromones were a major overload for his system, even so soon after imbibing his suppressant. Bloody fuck, but he was incredibly enticing, was Potter, as Draco had learnt to rue the hard way. He always needed all his resources to cope. But then... Theodore.

"Fine, yes, all right, we will. But only for a short while." Draco cast a harried, slant-eyed glance at his nephew. "You know both your Aunt Cissy and your grandmother want you at home again by one on the dot, Theo. The tutor's calling in today; you've lessons later. And I have work."

"Okay! Okay, okay, okay!" Their nephew sing-songed joyfully, promptly skittering off to peer curiously at one of the other children messing about the waiting room, a cute wee blonde girl of about his age. He wasn't shy at all, was Teddy Lupin, and he took every opportunity he could grab with both to meet new people, especially kids. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're the best, Uncle Draco—the very bestest! See you soon, Uncle Harry!" he flung over his small shoulder, fast disappearing. "Laters!"

"Off you go again, then." Potter sent a nod and a grin after Theo and then fixed Draco with an assessing professional stare. "You all right there, Draco? You've not been pushing it, have you?"

"What? No!" Draco shot back, bridling. "Of course not, P-Harry. I am perfectly, amazingly healthy, thanks. Never been better."

"You look knackered, though." Potter wrinkled his scar up at him, peering professionally. Adorably, too. Curses! "Peaky. Sleeping alright?"

"Well, I am fatigued, of course." Draco frowned away towards the crowd in some fine confusion. Potter was well aware of the exigencies of cursebreaking. "It's par for the course in my line of business, er-Harry. You know that. Takes a lot out of you."

"Yes, of course, but…still. And all." Potter shrugged. "It's you, Draco." As if that were reason enough.

Draco broke curses. Rather, Draco obliterated curses, as if they had never been. And he was Bill Weasley's right-hand Wizard, full junior partner just promoted in Weasley & Malfoy, Ltd., and responsible for all the night shifts and most weekends, so of course he was always tired. It came, as he said, with the territory. Curses did not keep to the quotidian schedule, after all.

"I'm very well," he repeated. "Really."

"Huh," Potter didn't look quite convinced. "So you say." He settled his robes into smooth lines down his hips and flanks, as they'd been rucked and wrinkled from having an active boy flail against them, and took another of those friendly steps sideways and closer to Draco. Draco flinched ever so slightly and then froze. "Well, don't push yourself too hard, mate. And don't forget to come and knock me up when Ted's through here. I'll be in my office."

"Yes, alright." Draco nodded, gliding away from Potter as fast and furtively as possible and looking absently about him for his absent nephew. Well, 'cousin', technically, but who was keeping tabs? Theo was the closest thing he'd ever have to a real live nevvie, him being an only child, never likely to marry, so… "Damn, where'd he run off to now, the little scamp? I can't find him. And it's almost time, now; right on ten."

"He's over there. See?" Potter was once right up by Draco's side, pointing a neatly trimmed and meticulously clean fingernail. "Chatting up that little girl, the horribly frilly one in pink. Must like brunettes, Teddy. He's gone all nut-brown now, hasn't he?"

"Ah…our neo-nascent little charmer. How politic." Draco managed to sound only dryly amused and not verging on the suddenly breathless, which he was. Potter was much too close upon him, physically, and he couldn't inhale. Or exhale. His pulse was pounding.

"Hah!" Potter chuckled quietly. "Never too soon to start, Draco. P'raps he'll have better luck than I ever did, if he's already having a go at this age."

"Y-Yes." Draco hated when it happened like this, when he wasn't minding his immediate physiological reactions and Potter's magnetic draw snuck up on him. Of course, the potion's job was to do that for him, covering up for his weakness. Keep him staidly in check. That, or he'd never have survived this long else. "Flirting like a champ already, I see, and so young."

"Must be a Malfoy thing, that," Potter snickered right at his elbow. "Your trademark, my Prince. You're all about the charm."

"Ahem." Draco coughed quietly. "Yes, er. Right, maybe so. Maybe not, too." Charm? Talk about charm. Potter was the one who had started early, no matter what he might claim otherwise. Draco remembered the incident on the Express and very well, thanks, not to mention Madam Malkin's. Potter, damn the man, was attractive right now, this moment, even when being a prat and especially at close quarters: white robes and green eyes and black hair, all so vivid, so enthralling. And that cologne, all 'Eu de Potter'—and that mouth, lush and sly. Talk about 'come-ons', talk about 'pulling', talk about 'wank fantasies' and idiot Potter didn't even realize he was one, walking, the git!

"Merlin. Save me."

"Hmm?"

"Pah." Draco snorted under his breath. "Nothing, nothing at all." Clearly, he'd had been none too soon in keeping his own appointment, though the brand-new dose of potion felt as though it wasn't even present, not at all racing through his bloodstream, saving him from his hideous, beastly urges. Protecting them both.

"Draco?" Potter elbowed him swiftly, nose wrinkling up in quick concern. "Where'd you just go, mate? Don't you have to fetch Ted now? I think you're maybe late."

"Okay." Draco exhaled a tight breath, beleaguered on all fronts. "Ah, shit, really? Damn! Right, sorry; let me extract him. He's on the book for Lovegood, so...you know," Draco shrugged. "Best foot forward, yes? First time visit with her, been a while. Like to make a good impression. Theo!"

"Uh-huh."

"Teddy! Teddy Lupin, attend to me, please!" Draco stepped forward, raising his voice to carry over a welter of heads and hats. "Over here, young man! This minute!"

"Cheers, then," Potter nodded. "I'll leave you to it. And Luna's great, don't fret. Marvellous with the Creature kids, won't give a jot if you're a few minutes. Must dash, as I've got an appointment of my own now. Catch you both later, yeah? And best of luck, mate, corralling him. Hope he behaves for you."

"Yes. Fine," Draco gritted, unhappy but determined to keep his 'company face' intact. "Thanks, Potter. Go away now, shoo."

Potter walked away with a smile on his face, chuckling, not bothered at all by being summarily sent off. Draco cast a covetous eye on the rear view, and fought down his instincts.

Fuck, but running into Potter unexpectedly at St. Mungo's was always such a trial and sometimes excessively awkward, as well. He'd not forgotten that singular moment of two years ago, at the onset of his condition—not for one moment had he forgotten. The wonder of it was that Potter always seemed so unfazed whenever they stumbled into each other's paths outside the Manor. He was so friendly, so casual. Even here, on the scene of the crime, as it were. It had been almost exactly where they were standing, just now, after all…and Potter had been so gorgeous, so beautifully mussed up and eyes hazy.

Draco blinked away the bothersome memory determinedly, hot as it made him under the collar of his tailored business robes.

Swinging on a heel, he affixed a chilly eye upon his recalcitrant charge. And there was Potter again, on the other side, whisking neatly through a discreetly beige door. "Theo! Theodore Lupin, come along now! Attend to me, please. You're keeping Healer waiting on you, you scamp. And me."

Nothing doing; Theo didn't even look up. The little brunette must be a real charmer. Like Potter, then.

"Theo!" Draco blinked and made his way through the maze of seating, excusing himself left and right, hastily bashing back the urgent command thrumming through his bloodstream: that terrible urge to follow hard on Potter's heels, to manhandle him against a wall or across one of the long sofas crammed with anxious parents and restless children and have his way with him. Fuck him silly, snog him stupid. Here, now. Never, ever let him go. "Theo, don't make me come over there to collect you, Theo."

Gods, yes. Snog him and feel him and shag him and never, ever let him—argh!

"Uncle Draco?" His nephew's voice piped up at his elbow, nearly startling him straight out of his skin. "I'm here, sorry. I didn't hear you at first."

"Augh! Merlin!"

"No, really, I'm right here, Uncle Draco." Guileless eyes blinked up at him. "Er? Uncle Draco, are you feeling well? You look awfully funny."

"Fuck," Draco muttered under his breath. "Fuck. Stupid Veela. Idiot Veela." His gaze happened to land square on his nephew. "Oh, there you are, Theodore. Finally. Come along now, we're tardy. You know how I very much dislike being tardy, Theodore. It's not done."

"Eeee! You! You!" Theo squeaked, instantly diverted from his uncle's pale face and perspiring brow. Also the twitchy manner in which Draco grasped at his nephew's shoulder and steered him off to the Healers private office's corridor with alacrity. "Uncle Draco, you said a swear—I heard you!" His gap-toothed grin was unholy with glee, his hair and eyes aquamarine with a dithery excitement. "I heard you, I heard you! Auntie Cissy's going to make you pay a galleon to the Swear Jar, Uncle Draco—no! Ten galleons, I bet, when I tell her—"

"You'll not be telling her, then, will you?" Draco demanded acidly, nudging his little charge along. "Or there'll be no taking tea with your other uncle after, I can promise you that. Don't push me, Theo."

"Awwww! Uncle Draco! Gran'ma'll—"

"Auntie doesn't need know, either, Theo, if I swear now and again. I'm a grown man. Don't tattle."

"M'not tattling!" Ted was as theatrically affronted as only a little boy can be. "Wouldn't tattle, but it's true!" He curled his upper lip at the great injustice being done him and flailed his arms wildly. "You said a bad word, I heard you! Doesn't matter if you're bigger than me, that's still bad, Uncle Draco! Bad, bad, bad; worser even than me, when I do it!"

"Even so." Draco glared straight ahead, grateful to catch sight of Lovegood's nameplate. "Makes no matter, Theo."

"I don't see why?" A small hand tightened on Draco's larger one, tugging impatiently, drawing him to a halt before the entry. "How come you can you say bad words and I can't? Oh!" Theo stomped a foot in hasty temper when his uncle frowned. "It's not fair! Not fair at all. You're soooo mean, Uncle Draco." He glanced up mutinously at his grim-eyed elder cousin. "And you're a mean, mean grown-up man, Uncle Draco. You're a bully. I hate you!"

"Yes, exactly so, a bully," Draco huffed. He grinned evilly down at his much-loved bother of a nephew. "And so you should, Theo. Never forget how very mean I can be, my dear darling brat. Now, go," he gestured the little boy forward. "Off with you. And do behave. Healer Luna's been very eager to meet you, little man. Make me proud."