Title: Old Dogs and New Tricks
Pairings: Sirius Black/Draco Malfoy, past Sirius/Remus.
Word Count: 14,044
Warnings: Cross-gen (about 20/42), cousin incest
Summary: Draco isn't gay, he just appreciates a good looking man when he sees one. Honest! And Sirius Black is a good looking man.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Author's Notes: Thanks so much to dracogotgame for agreeing to do a beta read on short notice for me. Any remaining mistakes are my own. Originally written for interhouse_fest 2013 on livejournal.
Old Dogs and New Tricks
Mother began behaving strangely shortly after Father was sentenced to twenty years in Azkaban. I know what you're picturing – the grieved wife, floating around the Manor like a ghost and crying. But it wasn't anything like that.
It started with the house-elves. Mother read some ridiculous op-ed piece in the Daily Prophet about house-elves being abused by their bigoted pureblood masters and the next thing I knew, she was offering the Malfoy family house-elves their freedom. After the elves finished banging their faces against various bits of crockery, Mother relented and withdrew her offer. But she insisted on paying them. Of course I was the one who had to find a way to pay thirteen house-elves from the ever diminishing family coffers.
Next, Mother unceremoniously dumped most of her friends. I noticed it when she rudely ignored Emma Goyle's invitation to tea for about the five-thousandth time. I stood in the garden waving the invitation in her face while she calmly fanned herself and fed the peacocks.
"Draco dear," she said. "You must consider the times we're living in. It would hardly do for me to seen with former Death Eaters' wives."
My jaw must have hit the ground when she said that. I didn't point out that she was a former Death Eater's wife or that she had a former Death Eater for a son. I didn't point out that if she ignored all the former Death Eaters and their wives then she wouldn't have any friends left. I didn't point these things out because at that moment a peacock bit me on the arse. They're nasty little fuckers, those peacocks. I'll never understand why Father was so enamored of them.
However, Mother's latest foible was her obsession with reconnecting with her family as she called it. I mean, I understand why she wanted to start visiting Aunt Andromeda again. Mother and I visited Aunt Andromeda and her husband whom my mother always referred to as that man throughout my childhood. I was always under strict instructions to not tell Father about it—which I have to admit, was rather confusing to me as a child.
Still, I'd rather enjoyed these childhood visits. Aunt Andromeda used to buy me a lot of gifts and what child wouldn't like receiving gifts? And my cousin Dora used to change her face into different shapes to make me laugh. And okay, even Aunt Andromeda's husband wasn't that bad, although I was always intensely aware that he wasn't the right sort of person because he was a Muggle-born. And of course I felt bad for Aunt Andromeda after the war because she'd lost her husband and daughter. I mean, Merlin, I'm not a monster. Aunt Andromeda is always unfailingly polite to Mother and me—unlike some members of wizarding society that I can name. And her grandson, Teddy, is adorable even if he probably has latent werewolf tendencies that are going to cause him to kill us all in our sleep one day.
It wasn't so much Mother's insistence that we go to Aunt Andromeda's house for tea twice a week that bothered me; it was the way Mother insisted on consorting with all manner of Half-bloods and blood traitors while she was there. I mean, of course I understand that occasionally one has to talk to witches and wizards who aren't exactly our sort of people.
Even Father would have admitted as much. But instead of conveying a healthy condescension, Mother was actually nice to the sorts of people Aunt Andromeda had over to tea. She was even nice to Harry Potter. And the strange thing is that Potter was nice to Mother as well!
But really, I drew the line at Sirius Black.
The first time I met Sirius Black, he was sitting in Aunt Andromeda's parlor sipping a cup of tea and working on a crossword puzzle. He was newly back from the dead or whatever. His miraculous return to the land of the living had been documented extensively in the Daily Prophet – not that I read such drivel, mind you. I didn't recognize him at first, so I must admit that I took a moment to admire the graceful way his fine robes fell over his long legs, the curl of his lips into a half smile, the way his dark hair which was peppered with only a little grey fell across his forehead. I can appreciate those types of details in a man. Well, don't look at me that way! If you'd seen him, you'd have appreciated him as well.
But Mother said: "Sirius, sweetheart!" Then she hugged him. This seemed to alarm Sirius as much as it alarmed me and he stiffened in her arms. "How are you?" Mother said, pulling back and looking him over with a particularly maternal air as if he were a wayward five-year-old and not a fully grown man who had done time in Azkaban.
Sirius looked for all the world as if the Dark Lord himself had just asked for a cuddle. Finally, he simply said: "I'm well. How are you, Cissy?"
Mother sighed. "As well as can be expected under the circumstances. But I don't believe that you've met my son, Draco."
Sirius looked me up and down and smirked. I got the impression that he wasn't terribly impressed with me. "I don't believe I have," he said. "Draco." He offered me his hand and I took it, attempting to look down my nose at him. This was rather difficult because he was as tall as I was.
Mother seemed to think this a good time to reminisce about her childhood and she soon had Sirius laughing over a series of incidents from their younger days, most of which seemed to involve a very young Sirius putting increasingly disgusting things in Mother's food. At first Sirius held himself stiffly, but as the conversation progressed he seemed to relax, his face becoming animated. I must admit that I found it rather fascinating. I had seen pictures of Sirius Black of course, but the man sitting in front of me didn't remind me much of either the leather-clad teenager from Aunt Andromeda's photo album or the gaunt faced prisoner who had adorned Wanted posters throughout much of my time at Hogwarts.
This Sirius Black was elegant and collected. His dress robes were impeccably cut and tailored and looked like they'd come from France, but when I looked closely, I noticed trainers peeking out from under them. This Sirius Black was handsome, but no longer pretty with his chiseled features and his prominent Black cheekbones. This Sirius Black definitely noticed that I was staring at him way too often and shot me a knowing smirk. I pretended not to notice even as heat flew to my cheeks.
Just as things were about to get really awkward, a small voice shrieked: "Sirius!"
Teddy barreled into the room and threw himself into Sirius' lap. "Hello, Teddy, mate," Sirius said, laughing as Teddy began riffling through the pockets of his robes. I was confused about this until I saw Teddy triumphantly pull a chocolate frog out of Sirius' pocket.
"Bribing a three-year-old?" I drawled as Teddy unwrapped his frog.
Sirius shrugged. "We can't all have your winning personality, Cousin Draco," he said, his eyes twinkling. I bristled at the slight. My personality was very winning, thank you very much. But it's not as if Sirius would know this seeing as how this was our first meeting. And Teddy was usually quite happy to see Mother and I – it wasn't my fault that Sirius was able to lure him away with pockets full of chocolate.
"I got Harry," Teddy said, holding up his chocolate frog card. I saw that Potter's scar-headed mug was indeed scowling at me from the card. Harry Potter had replaced Albus Dumbledore as the most popular chocolate frog card character – which was pretty well when I stopped purchasing chocolate frogs.
But Sirius laughed and the fond gleam in his eye increased tenfold. I remembered at that precise moment that he was Harry Potter's godfather. "So it is," he said. "You'll have to add it to your others."
Aunt Andromeda entered the room, carrying a tray of biscuits. "He must have a dozen Harry Potters," she said as Teddy began chasing his chocolate frog around her sofa. "Well," she continued, looking back and forth between Sirius and Mother. "I see that you two have found each other. And no hexes thrown. Bravo."
Mother crossed her arms. "Honestly, Andi, I'm insulted. Of course we wouldn't hex one another in your parlor. And we wouldn't hex one another at any rate. It's been far too long since I had a chance to catch up with Sirius."
Sirius raised his eyebrows. "Over twenty years, in fact." He looked as if he would have liked to have said more, but Aunt Andromeda gave him a withering glance and he thought better of it.
The three of them continued to chat about their childhoods, Sirius looking slightly bemused by the whole situation. Eventually, Teddy fell asleep in Aunt Andromeda's lap. I sympathized with the child – I was fast becoming bored and even my careful scrutiny of Sirius Black couldn't entertain me forever.
After some time, I excused myself and went out the garden. Aunt Andromeda's garden wasn't nearly as grand as ours, but I had to admit that it had a certain charm. Her roses were particularly fine and many of them were currently in bloom. I sat down on a bench near a small fountain and watched some birds twitter around her large birdbath. At least I didn't have to worry about peacocks here.
I was only in the garden a few minutes before I noticed that Sirius was standing behind me, leaning against my bench and taking up way too much of my personal space.
"Cousin Sirius," I said, discreetly scooting away from him.
"Cousin Draco," he answered, his tone every inch as haughty as mine, though I got the distinct feeling that he was making fun of me. Anyway, he should have known that it's only appropriate to refer to much older relative with a "Cousin" or "Uncle" in front of their names.
He took out a cigarette – a Muggle cigarette, of all things – and lit it with his wand. He then closed his eyes, took a long draw on the cigarette and made a noise that suggested that he got some sort of sensual pleasure from smoking the thing.
"So kid," he said, after a long while. "Is your mum a nutter?"
I stiffened. "Excuse me?"
"It's just that I noticed that her behavior was a bit ... well, different and I was wondering if she'd gone insane."
I blinked at him, forgetting that I'd been wondering about Mother's state of mind only earlier that day. "How the hell would you know she was acting different? You just said that you hadn't seen her in twenty years."
Sirius shrugged. "True enough." He took another draw on his cigarette and then looked at me again. "You needn't take my comment personally, you know. All the Blacks go insane eventually. It's more a question of when rather than if. And you have to admit that your Mother suddenly wanting to see Andi several times a week and speaking civilly to me is a big change."
"I – yes, yes I suppose it is. But Mother isn't insane, she's just trying to mend bridges. The war is over and Mother thinks it will be to our advantage to seek out different friendships."
"Ah," Sirius said, triumphantly. "So it's a scheme."
He looked suddenly intense. "You and your mum came out on the wrong side of the war, you both barely avoided Azkaban, your dad did end up in Azkaban. So now your mum's crawling back to Andi."
I felt my cheeks flush, even as I acknowledged to myself the truth in his statement. "Malfoys do not crawl," I said.
"Really? I heard that you all spent a great deal of time crawling at Voldemort's feet."
I reached into the pocket of my robe and clutched my wand, but Sirius laughed at me. "Don't take your wand out, kid."
I loosened my grip. I don't really like dueling anymore – particularly with people who are stronger than me. And I suspected that Sirius Black might be stronger than me.
Sirius was silent for a long time before he said: "Teddy's fond of you."
"Obviously not as fond as he is of you," I said, dismayed at the note of jealousy that crept into my voice.
Sirius laughed. "Obviously. But he's fond of you, nonetheless. He talks about you sometimes."
"Really?" I had never stopped to consider how Teddy might feel about me. I did play games with him sometimes as an alternative to talking with Mother and Aunt Andromeda. Don't look at me like that! He may be just three years old but he's vastly superior in intelligence and charm to most kids that age. Mother says it's the Black blood coming out in him.
"Really," Sirius said. "But you're not actually fond of him, are you?" His voice had lost all its teasing edge and now sounded hard.
This comment took me by surprise. I'd never really thought of it before, but I suppose I was quite fond of little Teddy with his colorful hair that was just like his mother's. "I'll have you know that I like Teddy very much -"
"Really," Sirius said again. "A Half-blood with a known werewolf for a father?"
I tried not to think about those things. "He's not a Half-blood."
Sirius arched one of his fine eyebrows. "Do you subscribe to the reformed version of blood politics then, dear Cousin Draco? Because my father always said that two Half-bloods can't make a pureblood."
My father always said the same thing. I was honestly growing weary of all the theories about the various gradations of Half-bloods and Muggle-borns, though. My blood was pure and I didn't see the need to spend all my valuable time in the minutiae of ranking lesser blooded wizards. Pedantic swots seem to love to argue about this type of thing, though. I once witnessed two older wizards almost come to blows over the issue of whether a single Muggle great-grandparent renders a child Half-blooded.
Still, I opened my mouth to argue the point with Sirius, but he went on speaking. "But that doesn't matter anyway," he said. "Because we both know that the werewolf blood is enough to keep Teddy out of your type of social circles, don't we?"
I had no idea why Sirius was acting as if he knew anything about me – he didn't. "He's my fucking three-year-old cousin," I said, dropping all pretense of the social nicety that Mother had so intensely drilled into me over the last months. "I wasn't planning on parading him around pureblood balls. Not that he couldn't get way more social invitations than me with Harry fucking Potter as his godfather."
Sirius laughed. His laugh wasn't like other people's laughs – it seemed to come from somewhere deep inside of him. He'd throw back his head, close his eyes and just laugh with wild abandon. I couldn't decide if it was attractive or not. "Yes, I imagine you and your mother don't get invited anywhere these days," Sirius said. "So maybe your mum thought it would be a good idea to be seen with Andi again and have people think that she's changed her ways or that she wasn't really on Voldemort's side to begin with. And then when you've repaired your social standing in the wizarding community you and your mum can go back to ignoring Andi and Teddy just like you've always ignored Andi and Dora -"
"That's not true," I snapped. "Mother always maintained a relationship with Aunt Andromeda."
"So? Mother couldn't exactly bring Aunt Andromeda to meet all her friends, not with Aunt Andromeda married to a Muggle-born."
Sirius laughed, but it wasn't a very nice sound. "It must have been really wonderful for Dora, having an aunt and a cousin who wouldn't acknowledge her existence in public."
"I -" I stopped short. To be honest, I had never really thought about what it would have been like for Dora. I can remember seeing Dora or Aunt Andromeda around Diagon Alley a few times when I was younger and we always mutually pretended not to know one another. It just seemed natural, I suppose. I blinked at Sirius. Why did Muggle sympathizers always have to twist everything around? It wasn't my fault that Aunt Andromeda married a Muggle-born – she made that choice before I was even born. Of course Mother and I couldn't be seen with her once it happened. It wouldn't have been social suicide.
"You see, kid," Sirius said, his voice now much gentler than it had been earlier. "I really do understand this family. I've been a part of it for far longer than you."
"What do you want?"
Sirius shrugged and then stamped out his cigarette on the ground. "I asked Harry about you when Teddy brought up your name. He reckons you were a real prat in school."
I groaned. I'd never even met the Sirius Black and he was running around getting character references on me from Harry bloody Potter of all people. No one ever gives me a chance these days – they just judge me based on my parents, or the Dark Mark I was forced to take when I was sixteen, or on what Harry bloody Potter says about me. I'm positively oppressed, I tell you. Oppressed!
"But he also said that you're not all bad."
Well, that was a surprise.
"So I guess I'm asking for you to refrain from involving a fucking three-year-old in whatever Slytherin scheme you and Narcissa have cooked up to improve your social standing. And I guess I'm telling you that if you hurt Teddy, then you'll have me to deal with."
I sniffed. That sounded a lot like a threat. I knew that my father never would have put up with someone like Sirius Black speaking to him in such a manner – wands would have been drawn long ago. The small part of me that still wanted to be just like my father screamed at me to put Sirius in his place. I ignored it.
"I don't have any Slytherin schemes involving Teddy."
"Oh, you're right," I snapped, standing up. "You've found me out. I'm just a wicked, wicked Death Eater. It may look like I'm just admiring Aunt Andromeda's roses, but really I'm cooking up an elaborate scheme to make a small child cry. And why shouldn't I? I sup on the tears of half-werewolf babies, after all."
Sirius smiled grimly. "Just stay away from Teddy."
"Why do you care?"
He just shrugged and sort of stared off into the distance. "I care."
I'll admit it – I whined about Sirius to Mother the next day. We were eating breakfast, she daintily spooning oatmeal into her mouth and me silently lamenting that the house-elves had undercooked my eggs. I wondered if it would be worth the tears and hand-ironing that would inevitably result if I corrected Nibby about the quality of the eggs. I decided that it wouldn't be.
"Mother, Cousin Sirius was very rude to me in the garden yesterday," I said, instead.
"Really dear?" she asked in a distracted sort of manner. "Well, you mustn't take it personally – that's just his way. He was raised with impeccable manners but he seems to think it a point of honor to flout all the social niceties. That's why I keep telling you to always maintain a cool head, my dear – you don't want to end up like Sirius, do you?"
I sighed. This was getting rather off-topic. "He kept talking to me about Teddy. Apparently you and I are just using the kid for our own nefarious purposes."
Mother looked up and arched an elegant eyebrow. "Well, you and I know the truth."
"Do we?" I had to admit that as angry as Sirius had made me, he had also made me question Mother's motives. Mother was a born Slytherin and I suppose that it should have occurred to me before then that family ties weren't the only reason for her sudden enthusiastic interest in her sister. "Are we using Aunt Andormeda for our own nefarious purposes?"
Mother sighed. "Well of course we're using her, sweetheart. We need all the help we can get and Andi is very popular these days. Our Dora is considered a war hero, you know." Mother stopped to dab her eyes with a handkerchief the way she always did when talking about Dora. "But that doesn't mean we don't love her. You can use people and still love them as all good Slytherins know."
I sniffed. "Whatever you say, Mother."
"Besides," she said. "Andromeda knows what we're doing. She's a Slytherin herself – she's not stupid."
"Cousin Sirius seems rabidly protective of Teddy," I said, sipping my pumpkin juice. It was beginning to get warm.
"Well that's only to be expected, dear," Mother said.
My brow scrunched up in confusion. "Why is that to be expected?" I asked. "It seemed strange to me. I thought he hadn't seen Aunt Andromeda for years and he can't have even known Dora that well with all the time he spent in Azkaban."
"I meant because of the werewolf," Mother said, vaguely, pushing away her oatmeal. Mother had always had a light appetite and it certainly hadn't improved since the War and Father going to Azkaban.
"Lupin? What about him?"
"Well. You know," Mother said.
I waited. Mother had the rather annoying habit of thinking that everyone knew the things that she knew.
Mother sighed again when she saw that I wasn't getting it. "Sirius was Lupin's boyfriend – lover –whatever it is those people call one another. Before Sirius was captured by a curtain or whatever it was that happened to him, I mean."
I choked, spurting pumpkin juice all over the table.
"Honestly, Draco, table manners," Mother chided me. "This shouldn't come as a surprise to you – everyone knows it. The wretched werewolf announced it on that war program – what was it? Oh yes, Potterwatch. He was using a pseudonym, of course, but everyone knew it was him. As if he hadn't brought enough shame on the family by getting Dora pregnant."
"You mean Cousin Sirius is … gay." I could barely get the word out. Father always said that one didn't talk about Those Things and yet here was Mother, glibly sharing this tidbit of gossip as if it weren't even of much interest.
"Yes, I believe that's what people with those inclinations are calling themselves these days. Honestly, you need to start paying attention to something other than your own affairs, Draco. A good Slytherin knows things about people. Besides, everyone in the family has known it for ages. Sirius used to parade the werewolf around something awful before he went to Azkaban. Broke Aunt Walburga's heart." She looked regretfully at the table. "Ah, well."
"But – I mean – he was with Remus Lupin?" Remus Lupin as I'd known him from my school days had been a sickly Half-blood with prematurely graying hair who looked as if he got his clothes from a refuse bin. And he was a werewolf. If I were gay – and I'm not or anything, I can just appreciate a nice looking wizard – then I would certainly choose someone better to be gay with than Remus Lupin. I mean, Cousin Sirius was so handsome.
"I know what you're thinking," Mother said.
"You do?" I asked, sharply.
"Yes. About Dora, of course."
"Oh, yes," I hadn't been thinking of that at all, but now that Mother brought it up the fact that Lupin was married to Dora did add a strange slant to the story. "How did that work then? Wasn't Lupin gay after all?"
Mother snorted. "He told Andi he was – what's the word for when people are attracted to both sexes?"
"Bisexual. Not that he'd ever called himself that before. Anyway, you can imagine how awkward it was. Andi used to have Sirius and Lupin around for tea all the time when they were young."
"Aunt Andromeda didn't like Lupin much then?" I asked, idly pushing my plate aside. I didn't really see what there was to like about Remus Lupin, although a lot of folks seem eager to sing his praises these days – maybe it has something to do with him being one of the few passable Defense teachers ever to grace Hogwarts.
"Well, she didn't like him as a son-in-law. I mean, he was a middle-aged, unemployed, ex-gay werewolf. I know our Dora was a Half-blood, but she could have made a hundred better matches."
"I suppose so." I still couldn't get the idea of Sirius being gay out of my mind – in particular I couldn't get the idea of Sirius with men out of my mind. I imagined what he'd look like, his mouth pressed to another man's mouth, the other man's hands unfastening his robes.
"And speaking of better matches," Mother went on, "I notice that you haven't had Astoria Greengrass over in quite some time."
I rolled my eyes. "Mother, the Greengrasses are unscrupulous leeches who are after our money."
"I realize that," Mother said. "But your options are limited. And really, the girl is perfectly lovely. It's not her fault that her parents are rather odious."
"She's still at Hogwarts, Mother," I said, exasperated. I couldn't find much bad to say about Astoria Greengrass – but I couldn't find much good to say about her either. She was just Astoria Greengrass – quiet, average looks, average intelligence, from a fine old pureblood family, but rather poor. A perfect match for a disgraced Death Eater, apparently.
"Well, I wasn't suggesting that you marry her before she finished school. No one does that these days. But an engagement would be perfectly appropriate and would prevent her from being swept away from you by some boy in her year at Hogwarts. I was engaged to your father my final year at Hogwarts, you know." She reached down, almost convulsively, and twisted her engagement band around on her ring finger.
"But you loved Father," I said, softly.
She looked at me sharply. "I liked him," she said. "But it takes time for love to come into a relationship, Draco. Don't you like Astoria?"
I shrugged. "She's alright. But wouldn't it be better if I waited a few years to get married. I'm barely twenty." This seemed the most politically astute option to me – once we succeeded in restoring some of the family honor, I would have far more and better options available in my choice of wife.
"We need the connections now," Mother said. "The Greengrasses managed to keep out of the unpleasantness during the war. They're still accepted into decent pureblood society, but they're also accepted by the pro-Muggle sorts."
"I suppose so," I said. Privately, I began rehearsing the excuses I would use to dissuade Mother the next time she asked about Astoria. I certainly didn't want to marry the girl. Don't look at me like that! I'm still young and I see no reason to tie myself down at the present moment, thank you very much.
The next time Mother and I went to Aunt Andromeda's house, Sirius Black was thankfully absent. However, Harry fucking Potter was there with his Weasley girlfriend. No, fiancé, I corrected myself, seeing the gaudy diamond glittering on her finger. Honestly, is everyone getting engaged these days?
Potter was helping Teddy mount one of those toy brooms that flies a few feet off the ground – right in the middle of Aunt Andromeda's living room. This seemed like a particularly bad idea to me because Teddy wasn't exactly the most graceful of children. Sure enough, he flew about two feet before tumbling onto the carpet. He dusted himself off and laughed as his broom went careening into Aunt Andromeda's sofa.
"Mr. Potter," Mother said brightly beside me. "Hello." I rolled my eyes. Mother and Harry Potter had come to some sort of accord and were now apparently the best of friends. Or something. I didn't understand it at all.
"Oh, er, hi Mrs. Malfoy," Potter said. "Malfoy."
"Potter," I said.
Weasley elbowed Potter in the ribs none-too-discreetly. "Oh," Potter said. Really, he wasn't exactly the picture of eloquence. "Mrs. Malfoy, have you met my fiancé, Ginny Weasley?"
"I don't believe I've had the pleasure," Mother said and introduced herself, Ginny Weasley looking at her like she wanted to kill her the whole time.
"Potter, are you sure you should be letting the child do that?" I asked, interrupting what was sure to be a lot of painful chitchat, to gesture at Teddy who was trying to mount his broom again. "I mean, I know you were raised by savages, but most people don't ride their brooms indoors."
Weasley's face went bright red and she opened her mouth, no doubt to bray at me and cast a bat-bogey hex, but Aunt Andromeda, coming into the room interrupted her. "You're right, Draco," she said, calmly. "Brooms are for outdoors which I think Teddy knows." She glanced at her grandson who hid his broom behind his back and giggled. "But I know your Mother raised you better than to insult someone else's upbringing."
"That's right, I did," Mother said, sticking her nose in the air.
I sighed. "Sorry, Potter," I muttered under my breath. I had to apologize! Aunt Andromeda is scary when she arches her eyebrow in a particular way. She looks almost like Aunt Bellatrix.
"Good job ruining the kid's fun, Malfoy," Weasley said. Honestly, was she seven years old?
"That's okay," Teddy said. "Draco's always a scardey-cat."
This elicited smiles from all the adults in the room. Even Mother! I considered storming out in huff, but I didn't want to confuse Teddy. "He'd be having much less fun if he broke his neck," I said.
"Excellent point," Aunt Andromeda cut in before Weasley could reply. "Why don't you young folks take Teddy out to the garden and let him play with his new broom?"
"What?" I asked. Weasley's mouth practically hit the floor.
"You heard me," Aunt Andromeda said, arching that eyebrow again. "I believe all three of you played Quidditch in school, yes? Take him outside and help him with his flying."
"Yeah," Teddy said. "I want to go play outside!" He started bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.
"Oh, yes, please do," Mother said. "It will give Andi and me the opportunity to talk about horrid old lady things that would likely be of no interest to you youngsters."
"Don't be ridiculous, Mother," I ground out from behind clinched teeth.
"Draco, you're being rude," she snapped.
"Fine," I said, wanting to avoid an argument in front of Potter and Weasley.
Weasley looked murderous, but Potter simply shrugged. "Fine by me. Teddy?"
He held out his hand to Teddy, but Teddy grabbed my hand instead. I smirked at Potter, but he just grinned as I allowed myself to be led into the garden. But when the time came to help the kid get on his broom, I hung back, allowing Weasley and Potter to hover over him as mounted his broom awkwardly and proceeded to fly about three feet before tumbling onto the ground. Teaching him to fly was going to be a long road.
After a few minutes, Potter actually left his Weasel and came over to stand beside me. "Malfoy," he said, awkwardly.
"Potter," I replied, crossing my arms over my chest.
"Er … Sirius said that he spoke with you the last time you were here."
I looked over to see Potter standing with his hands in his pockets to guard against the late autumn chill. No one could look awkward like Harry Potter – although I must say that he looked just a tad less gangly than our school days, having filled out in the shoulders.
"Did he? Did he tell you that he accused me of evil Death Eater designs on Teddy?"
"Er, yeah," Potter said.
"Really?" I asked, surprised.
"Yeah, he gets really protective of Teddy sometimes."
Just then a large black dog seemed to come out of nowhere and started barking and running around Teddy. Potter didn't bat an eyelash. "Snuffles, stop!" Teddy said, but he was giggling as the dog licked his face.
I stood up. "Shoo!" I said, walking toward the animal. What did one say to make stray dogs go away? We certainly never had stray dogs at the Manor – the peacocks would have scared them away. "Get! Go home!"
The creature stopped licking Teddy and started barking at me. "It's alright, Malfoy," Potter said behind me. "Snuffles is sort of a pet."
"Sort of a pet?" I asked. "It's a filthy stray, Potter! It's probably got all sorts of diseases."
The dog barked at me some more. "Don't be scared, Draco," Teddy said. "Snuffles is my friend."
Potter snickered. The dog stopped barking and looked at me smugly. I got the distinct impression that it was laughing as well.
"It's fine, Malfoy," Weasley said. "C'mon Teddy, let's try that broom again. Snuffles, go sit on the porch." The creature, quite obediently, trotted up the porch and sat down near the steps.
After a moment Potter came back over to stand beside me. He was sort of being a pest, if you want to know the truth. "Like I was saying," he said. "Sirius feels bad about what he said to you the other day. Teddy is very special to him."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Mother told me about his big, gay love affair with Remus Lupin."
Potter looked at me sharply. "Don't say it like that."
"Like there's something wrong with it. They both loved each other for a long time and there's nothing wrong with that."
"I know -"
"Malfoy," Potter gave me a hard look. "There's nothing wrong with it."
"I know there's nothing wrong with it!" I said. "Why do you assume that I'm going to be a bigot, anyway?"
Potter raised his eyebrows and I flushed. Okay, so there was that whole Death Eater thing.
"But I don't really get his connection with Teddy," I said. "I mean if my gay lover went and had a kid with my cousin two seconds after I supposedly died, then the last thing I would want is to hang around the kid all the time. If I had a gay lover. Which I don't. Because I'm straight."
"Sirius has got a big heart," Potter said, glancing in the direction of the porch. "Even if he doesn't always show it. Besides, I think he feels a little guilty that he wasn't around for me when I was little – he's my godfather, you know."
"The whole world knows that, Potter."
Teddy fell off his broom once again. "He's never going to be a Seeker, is he?" Potter said with a laugh.
"Not unless he develops a hell of lot more talent than he's showing today. I could already sit astride a child's broom perfectly at his age."
Potter snorted as if doubting my abilities. "I'm sure."
Teddy managed to stay on his broom for longer than a few seconds. He looked in our direction and smiled, his hands shaking on the broom handle. "Good job!" Potter said. He then walked toward Teddy and gripped the handle of the toy broom pulling it across the garden. Teddy shrieked with delight as Potter pulled him in circles. Weasley watched the two of them, smiling. She was probably thinking about something disgusting like breeding with Potter.
I went back to porch and after a moment's hesitance, I sat down beside the dog – Snuffles. He looked up at me with large, soulful eyes. I scratched the back of his head, noticing how silky his fur was for the first time.
"I always wanted a dog, you know," I said softly so that Potter and Weasley wouldn't hear. I had wanted a dog when I was a boy. I had been rather obsessed with the idea for several years – dogs were supposed to be intelligent, loving, loyal animals and there was something about their lively ways that appealed to me as a child, I suppose. A dog would certainly be better than a flock of magical, demon-possessed peacocks that pecked the fuck out of anyone who dared to get close.
But Father would never allow it. He claimed that a dog would just chase the peacocks if we kept it outside and chase the house-elves if we kept it inside. He was probably right. The dog licked my hand. I quickly drew my arm back. Was this a normal dog thing to do? It seemed rather messy.
The dog made a whining noise in the back of its throat and I petted him again. He seemed to relax as his eyes followed Potter playing with Teddy. "You're not so bad," I said, scratching behind his ears.
After about half an hour, Aunt Andromeda stepped onto the porch. "Teddy getting any better?" she asked me.
"Not much," I said, watching as he clutched the broom with shaky hands.
Aunt Andromeda laughed. "Well, your mother says you're staying for dinner, Draco. And I could use some help in the kitchen."
It took me a moment to realize that she meant I should help her in the kitchen. I certainly never helped in the kitchen at the Manor – that was what house-elves were for. "I'll be right in," I said finally.
"Good," she said. "And I don't allow animals at the dinner table." She looked pointedly at Snuffles as if she were talking to him rather than me. She tapped her heel against the porch and arched her eyebrow, waiting.
The dog's form seemed to shimmer briefly and then he was stretching, growing until Sirius Black sat before me. He grinned up at her. "Sorry Andi," he said. "I'll be in to help you with dinner."
She gave us a considering glance. "You'd both better be. Cissy couldn't boil water if her life depended on it."
I was still staring at Sirius, my mouth hanging open. Now that I'd seen him transform I vaguely remembered Father saying something about Sirius Black's Animagus form being a black dog back when I was in school. I may have taunted Potter about it at some point – I try not to dwell on such childish indiscretions.
Aunt Andromeda went inside. Sirius shifted uncomfortably. I was still trying to find a way to express my rage that he had tricked me with his Animagus form. "Don't know why she thinks you and I will be any better at the cooking than Cissy," Sirius muttered. "You've obviously never cooked anything in your life and I've never got past beans and toast."
"You – you -" I sputtered. "You bastard. You just sat there and let me think -"
Sirius threw his head back and laughed. "Now, now Cousin Draco," he said. "Snuffles just wanted to be petted."
I crossed my arms over my chest, feeling violated. "Oh yes, I'm sure you enjoyed that, didn't you?" I hissed. "What, with your proclivities and all."
Sirius shrugged and grinned again. "I can't complain."
"You – you keep your shirt-lifting hands away from me," I said, furiously. I stood up to put more space between us.
"You were the one putting your hands on me," he said. "But don't worry. I don't prefer snotty little purebloods."
Without another word, Sirius stood and walked into the house. I stood there gaping for about a minute, looking briefly back to where Potter and Weasley were still helping Teddy on his little broom. They didn't seem to have noticed anything. Obviously, they must have both realized about Sirius' Animagus form as well. Arseholes.
After a few minutes, I went into the kitchen to find Mother trying to rein in a chopping spell that she'd cast on one of Aunt Andromeda's knives. The knife was making a mess of Aunt Andromeda's wooden counter tops, but was missing the carrot it was supposed to be chopping altogether. Finite Incantatum didn't seem to be working on it either.
Sirius was smirking and gingerly stirring a pot on the stove by hand. Aunt Andromeda handed me a stack of plates. "Here, dear. Go set the table," she said, looking distractedly at Mother. "Cissy, let me get that before you kill someone!"
I smiled and headed into the adjoining dining room. Unfortunately, I didn't know any housekeeping spells so I had to set the table by hand like some sort of Muggle. It was most taxing. After a minute or so, Sirius came in with the silverware and some cloth napkins. The silverware he put out by hand just as I had the plates, but when he came to napkins he muttered a spell and they began to fold themselves into elaborate shapes.
I goggled. "How did you do that?" I asked.
"It's called magic," Sirius said.
I rolled my eyes. "I thought you said that you didn't know any housekeeping spells."
"No," Sirius said. "I said that I didn't know many cooking spells."
"But you know how to fold napkins into … cranes?"
Sirius shrugged. "Must be a queer thing."
It seemed odd to me that he didn't even try to deny it – I knew some wizards who I suspected preferred men, but most of them didn't just go around announcing it to the world. "What?" I quipped. "You angry that I called you a shirt-lifter, Cousin Sirius?"
"Not particularly," Sirius said, levitating a perfectly folded napkin to the table. "It is true, after all. And I figure that since you're one as well that you must be insecure about it or something."
"That's — I'm – I am not gay!" I said a bit too loudly. I looked uneasily into the kitchen, but Mother and Aunt Andromeda were talking away as if they hadn't heard. Mother was now chopping onions by hand – I briefly feared for her fingers before turning back to Sirius. "There's no need to project your abnormality on other people," I said, favoring him with my best sneer.
Sirius levitated another napkin to the table. "I have a sense about these things," he said, shrugging. "And you can take your eyes off Harry, by the way. He's as hopelessly straight as his father." Sirius' eyes took on an oddly distant look.
This kept getting worse and worse. "I did not have my eyes on Potter," I said.
"Please. I thought you were going to rip his shirt off and start feeling his muscles in the garden just now."
"Keep your fantasies to yourself, Cousin Sirius." So I had noticed Potter's muscles? So what? I'd have to be blind not to notice, especially considering that Potter used to be such a scrawny little thing.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I don't have fantasies involving my godson, kid," he said.
"And I don't have fantasies about men at all," I said. "In fact, I have a girlfriend." I supposed one could call Astoria Greengrass a girlfriend. We were courting, at any rate. "And she's very beautiful. And still at Hogwarts. So there."
"How convenient," Sirius said. "A girlfriend who's away at school most of the year. I assume your Mummy set you up?"
I flushed. Mother had been the one who started inviting Astoria over to the Manor. But that didn't mean anything.
"That's how civilized people meet marriageable mates," I said. "Surely you haven't forgotten your upbringing that much."
Sirius wrinkled his nose at the mention of his upbringing. Mother had told me that he never got on with his parents. "The Horny Hippogriff," he said.
"It's a club," Sirius said, not looking at me. "One of three gay wizarding clubs in Britain. It's in Muggle London and it's where most of the younger wizards and witches go. There's also The Rainbow Dragon in Knockturn Alley – most of the men there will be older than you, kid, but it also cultivates a more pureblooded clientele if that sort of thing matters to you." Sirius' expression of distaste showed me exactly what he thought of the idea of that sort of thing mattering to someone.
"And?" I asked when he didn't go on. I was strangely fascinated – I had no idea that there were clubs just for homosexuals.
"The Two Broomsticks in Hogsmeade," Sirius said. "It's smaller than the other two. Sometimes kids from Hogwarts sneak down there. I thought perhaps you might have tried it when you were at school."
"No!" I said, horrified. "I told you. I'm not gay."
Sirius smiled and it seemed gentler than his usual insufferable grin. "You certainly seem interested in gay clubs for someone who's not gay, Cousin Draco."
I looked away so as to seem less interested. It's not as though I would have had time to do something as ridiculous as sneak into gay clubs in Hogsmeade during my last two years at Hogwarts – those were the war years. Not that I would have wanted to go to gay clubs anyway, mind you.
A scream from the kitchen interrupted our conversation. Aunt Andormeda had burned the roast. "Oh dear," she was saying as Sirius and I entered the kitchen. "I never was much of a cook."
"Yes," I said. "Your husband used to do all the cooking, didn't he?"
Silence descended on the little kitchen. We never talked about Aunt Andromeda's dead husband. We'd been on different sides during the war and our side had killed the man for being Muggle-born. Don't look at me like that! I didn't want to really kill any Muggle-borns, especially not him. I never wanted to kill anyone at all. Just ask any Death Eater and they'll tell you that I didn't have any guts.
"Draco!" Mother said.
"Sorry," I muttered immediately.
"No, it's fine," Aunt Andromeda said with a tense smile. "Ted did do the cooking. It was a deal we made when we first got married – he'd do the cooking and the dishes and I'd do most of the rest of the housework."
This surprised me. I'd always assumed that Aunt Andromeda's husband did all the cooking because he was a Muggle-born and he'd just naturally understood that it was his job as a Muggle-born to serve us. I mean, obviously if they'd had a house-elf, then it would have been the house-elf's job to cook and clean, but I guess they couldn't afford one. Some people (like my father) had problems with eating food cooked by Muggle-borns, but Mother had always pointed out that most restaurants employed Muggle-born chefs and it was no use getting picky. I could remember Aunt Andromeda's husband cooking dinner for us on many occasions – sometimes Dora helped. I even had a vague memory of helping them both make biscuits when I was about five years old. Kids like that type of stuff, I guess.
Mother hugged Aunt Andromeda who held her chin up high.
"Andi," Sirius said after a long silence. "Why don't I walk down the street and pick up some Chinese for dinner?"
"You mean Muggle food?" I asked. I didn't think there were any wizarding restaurants in this neighborhood.
Sirius glared at me. "Yes."
"That would be lovely, Sirius," Aunt Andromeda said. "Thank you."
Sirius smiled at her and then looked at me. "Come along, Cousin Draco," he said. "I can't carry it all myself."
I didn't particularly want to go with Sirius, but Mother looked at me and mouthed. "Go on," before turning back to Aunt Andromeda. I sighed and followed Sirius outside.
It was starting to get dark and I thought, idly, that Potter and Weasley had better bring Teddy back inside before he caught a cold. "Why don't we just apparate?" I asked Sirius.
"Into a Muggle establishment?" Sirius asked with a laugh. "You need to learn to appreciate the pleasures of a nice walk, Cousin Draco. Try it after being locked in Azkaban for twelve years."
I almost was put in Azkaban and Father was there now serving a twenty year sentence. No one came out after twenty years with his sanity intact. I usually tried not the think of such things.
Aunt Andromeda's neighborhood was mostly Muggles and I suppose it wasn't completely horrible. I mean, it was obvious that the people who lived there didn't have real money, but it wasn't the hellish den of poverty that the papers claimed many Muggle areas were. Most of the houses had nicely trimmed lawns and freshly painted fences. I wondered how they kept up with the yard work with no house-elves and not even any magic to help them along.
I walked along the sidewalk with Sirius Black, trying not to act too frightened whenever one of those Muggle automobile contraptions roared by us on the street. Sirius didn't seem fazed at all – but he was a Gryffindor, I suppose.
"There are Muggle clubs as well," he said in a low voice after we'd been walking for a few minutes. "There are lots more of them than the wizarding clubs. But I don't suppose you're interested in that sort of thing."
"I – no. I've never interacted much with Muggles." I should have been telling him that I wasn't interested in going to any gay club, of course, but I wanted to hear what he'd say next. Annoyingly, he stopped speaking. "I've never been to a club," I said, after a minute. "I mean, any sort of club, not just a gay club."
Sirius' eyebrows shot up. "Really?" he said, with a huff of laughter. "What do you do with your friends?"
I crossed my arms over my chest to keep away the cold. "My friends aren't really the club-going type." I didn't tell him that I didn't really have friends anymore. Everyone hated the Malfoys. Even Astoria only came over when my mother and her parents arranged it.
He looked at me. "It's not a big deal," he said, looking me over. "Most of the young ones wear Muggle attire."
I only owned two Muggle shirts and one Muggle set of trousers which I mostly wore to Aunt Andromeda's house because she lived in a Muggle neighborhood. I wasn't wearing them today – I had worn my robes because I hadn't planned on leaving the house. Sirius was wearing robes as well and for the first time, I wondered how we'd look going into a Muggle restaurant.
"I'd see people I know, if I went there," I said.
Sirius shrugged. "Yeah. The wizarding community is a small one. But most people won't spread it around that you were there, if you don't want it known. They're mostly there because they're gay too, you know."
"I'm not gay," I said. "And I wasn't thinking of that." I grasped my arm. The Dark Mark had nearly faded away by now, but people would never forget. I could barely go to the store without people making snide comments, there was no way I could go somewhere like a club without encountering serious trouble.
To my surprise, Sirius stopped walking. We were still about half a block from the Chinese restaurant – I could see its yellow sign flapping in the wind. "Let me see it," Sirius said, gesturing to my arm.
"Kid," Sirius took my hand in his own and suddenly all other thoughts flew out of my mind. "Let me see it."
I lifted back the sleeve of my robe to reveal the ugly lines of the Dark Mark on my arm. It had faded to gray over the years and I hoped that someday it would fade entirely. I expected Sirius to insult me then – I already knew that he could lob a mean insult when he wanted to – but he didn't.
"Why did you do it?" he asked.
I shrugged almost involuntarily. I didn't usually talk about it and people didn't usually ask.
"It's just – I've known a lot of people who were Death Eaters and I could never figure out why," he said. "Did you hate Muggles that much?"
"Not really," I said, looking at the ground. "When he came back, I always knew I was going to join someday. I always thought it would be after I got out of school. But then my father mucked things up at the Department of Mysteries and I had to join when I was sixteen. I guess I didn't even mind that much at the time. But it wasn't like I thought it would be."
"Did you think it would glamorous?" Sirius asked.
"Sort of. Father always made it sound that way when he talked about the old days." I can't really say what Father was thinking of, making it sound so exciting. It wasn't exciting at all – it was murder, and death, and torture, and living every day in fear that the psychopathic maniac we called the Dark Lord would kill me or my family.
"My brother was a Death Eater," Sirius said. "He was almost as young as you were when he took the Mark."
"Yes, I know," I said. Pretty much everyone knew about Regulus Black – Potter had blabbed on about him to the papers when he'd talked about collecting the Dark Lord's soul pieces or something. "But he turned on Voldemort."
Sirius smiled, wryly. "I didn't know that until a few months ago." He pressed a folded piece of parchment into my hand. I opened it and saw that he had written an address in London on it. I stared at it for several seconds before realizing it was the address to one of his gay clubs.
I crumpled the piece of paper in my hand. "I told you a hundred times I'm not gay," I said.
"I'm not saying you are," Sirius said. "Just … keep it. Just in case you want to check it out."
I looked down at the crumpled piece of paper in my hand for about a minute before sticking it in my pocket. Sirius grinned at me.
By the time we'd brought the Chinese food back, it was nearly dark. Potter and Weasley were helping Aunt Andromeda clean the kitchen – she should have got them to help to begin with. I'll bet that Weasley, at least, knows how to cook. Her parents are poor. Teddy sat at the kitchen table flipping through a picture book. "Hi, Sirius. Hi, Draco," he said. "Guess what? I flew!"
"Really?" I asked, arching an eyebrow.
"He circled the garden," Weasley said. "We'll make a flyer out of him yet."
"Oh, now I'm sad," Sirius said, making a pouting face. "I didn't get to see you fly."
"You can see next time," Teddy said. "But Snuffles has to be a good doggie. No barking at me on my broom."
This prompted laughter from the rest of the room. "Snuffles would do no such thing," Sirius said, airily.
"Snuffles was doing exactly that less than two hours ago in the garden," Potter said with a smile.
"Snuffles has the food," Sirius said holding up the bags. "So you'd better be nice to him."
"I want all the chopsticks!" Teddy said, apparently recognizing the elaborate lettering on the bags.
I gave Potter a questioning look but he just shrugged. "Malfoy would give me some of his food," he said, to my astonishment.
"Oh, I would not, Potter!"
Teddy ran up to Sirius and tugged on his robes. "Chopsticks!" he said, holding out his hand. Sirius rummaged around in the bag until he found the dratted things and handed them to the child. Teddy brought them back to the table and began lining them up, smiling.
"That kid is way too easily amused, Andi," Sirius said. "Are you sure he has enough toys?"
Aunt Andromeda rolled her eyes. "He has a whole room full," she said. "Thanks to you and Harry, mostly."
"Don't just stand there with the food, Draco," Mother said, coming in from the setting room. "We're all starving."
So I unpacked the food. Dinner was … not bad. Granted, I spent half of it wondering if I was going to be poisoned by the Muggle food and the other half wincing at Potter's atrocious table manners (honestly, Teddy is three and he already has better table manners) but it was a nice change from the endless dinners at the Manor with just Mother for company. I kept reaching in my pocket to grip the scrap of parchment with Sirius' writing on it. Why hadn't I thrown it away?