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10 July 2011 @ 06:59 pm
Fathers, the end!  
If you're here for meaningful posts about politics or loopy posts about ukuleles, this is not the post for you!

If you're here for the occasional attack of fanfiction, it is!

Part 1 is here
Part 2, Part 3a, Part 3b, Part 3c and Part 3d can all be found by clicking where appropriate
And the AS/S prequel is here

Title
Fathers, Who Could Do With a Spot of Sinning,
Part 3e of 3e (The age of miracles is not past!) (Though this is in two parts because LJ hates me)
Author blamebrampton
Characters Harry/Draco, Ron and Hermione, Narcissa, the next-gen crew and sundries.
Rating PG
Words  64890 total, 10,983 this part
Summary After their sons fall in large amounts of teenaged love at school, Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter decide it's finally time to talk like adults about their own ties to each other. If only they could. Meanwhile, events of national importance conspire to distract them.
Notes Absolutely nothing to do with Jo Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic or any other media titans. But affectionately nicked from all of the above.
My undying gratitude to jadzialove  who manages to do a wonderful job of beta-ing while I do an appalling job of meeting any deadlines, and then go and introduce errors afterwards. All the ghastly things should be blamed on me entirely, as my mentis has not been compos for years.
Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me along the way, but in particular to libby_drew  who kicked this all off, norton_gale , who is also responsible, and raitala  and everyone else who nagged cheerfully. Special thanks to treacle_tartlet  for additional beta-ing and general arse-booting, to leaf_light  for making me laugh at the same time as making me feel v guilty for my tardiness, and to goddessriss  for being consistently lovely – Happy late birthday! As always, all errors are mine and concrit and typo mentions are quite welcome.



Helene wakes him twice through the night to check on him, as per healer McLeary’s instructions. Maggie herself pops by mid-Sunday morning, allegedly to drop off a copy of the committee minutes and agenda to Narcissa, but she takes the time to check Draco thoroughly.

“Marvellous. No Apparating or flying above two metres for another two days, rest as you feel the need, otherwise, you should be fine.”

Helene holds to her plan of visiting Ron and Hermione and returns home late in the day brimming with stories and laden down with boxes of cakes, “Which Hermione told me I was to tell you she made as a gift for you, but actually, she said it was probably better if you know they came from Molly Weasley, but were made for Ron, so they won’t be poisoned, and they will taste excellent.”

She continues to share stories of her day as she bullies him back into his bedroom, Summons plates and cutlery and slices baked goods. “She and I are going to learn to bake properly, though, because it is important not to lose traditional skills. They said that you had to get well quickly so you can come and visit them and Ron can laugh at you and Hermione can be sympathetic.”

The cakes are, indeed, excellent, and Helene’s chatter improves a day that has been spent mostly in the company of his mother and son, with a great deal of resting and a deliberate absence of the name Potter. Draco does think that Harry could have sent a message to check on his health, though he supposes Maggie might have been asked to pass details back to the Auror Office.

The one moment of interest has been an owl from Fotherington asking for a copy of one of Draco’s new finding spells. Its arrival at 3pm has caused Draco to hope that Fotherington had a long and successful previous evening.

He tells Helene about it when she has finished with her tales. They spend an amusing ten minutes imagining how Fotherington will have described what he does for a living and end up torn between him pretending to be a research scientist and an information specialist for a top-secret government organisation.

“Probably the latter,” Draco concedes. “It being all-but true.”

“You told me you were a fashion designer when we met,” Helene reminds him.

“I did no such thing,” Draco protests. Then, because he is mostly honest, adds, “You saw straight through me, and it was only because you were outside that boutique.”

Helene laughs. “It is what young people do. I pity Hermione, she never had any mysteries with her Ron.”

“Ron is possibly the least mysterious person we know,” Draco reminds her.

“Yes, though it must be nice, understanding someone else so thoroughly, having known them for years, seen them in their worst hours, being able to see through their moments of foolishness …”

“I still don’t want to talk about it.”

Helene pats his hand. “Has he written today?”

“No.”

She puts her head to one side and peers at him. “You didn’t fall asleep immediately after an intimate interlude, did you? Because that always irritated me.”

“No!”

Draco shakes his head in mock-despair. “And I only did that once, and I was very tired.”

Once,” Helene mutters, not quite under her breath.

“Why are we friends?” Draco asks. “Most divorced wives hate their ex-husbands and don’t pop up daily to make their lives miserable.”

“They lack foresight!” Helene declares. “How’s your head?”

“Much better. You’re a terrible person and I am sure you only visit because you take pleasure in my discomfort.”

“But of course. And you keep an excellent kitchen and cellar. Plus, sometimes there are handsome men.”

“Yes, Scorpius and I were both impressed that you didn’t turn your attentions on young Lester.”

“Lester?” she laughs. “He is a child, and he is too big – like a bear. I prefer men with cheekbones. At the fundraiser, we will invite many men with cheekbones, and you will have some reason to call me a terrible person, but it will all be in the name of charity.”

“I kissed him,” Draco confesses.

“And?”

“It went quite well, at the time. But I did it because I couldn’t bear for him not to know if things went badly.”

“Ah. And afterwards?”

“I may have … encouraged him to believe …”

“That it was just the moment?”

Draco nods.

“Poor darling.” Helene brushes his hair back from his eyes. “And now you regret it?”

“It was probably the right thing to do,” he says.

“Yes, probably.” She smiles at him.

“I had a whole list of reasons. They were very good. Do you think I’m an idiot?”

“I think you’re a dear man. Would you like me to stay tonight? Just so you’re not alone?”

Draco grins. “Why Helene de Dreux, are you trying to seduce me?”

“I am not that lacking in handsome men with cheekbones.”

“Will you read to me?”

“Yes. That novel is very good, you will like the end.”

Draco wakes curled against her the next morning. Scorpius is standing at the door, staring in surprise. Draco sits up quickly.

Scorpius attempts to look nonchalant. “So, are you two …?”

“I am wearing pyjamas,” Helene points out.

“Yes, but they’re Dad’s.”

“If I was planning a torrid affair with your father, I would not be wearing his pyjamas. And I would have locked the door.”

“Sleepover,” Draco says. “You young people have them all the time, looked like fun.”

Scorpius regards them suspiciously. “Right. Well, I have an owl from Albus, he wants to come over for lunch. Can he?”

“Of course,” says Helene.

“I thought he was with his mother,” says Draco.

“She wasn’t expecting them until this afternoon, so Miss Lovegood and her son are over at her place, too, and they’ve all been there all weekend. He says it’s a bit chaotic. Mrs Potter says that it is fine for him to come and free up a bit of space.”

“Yes, of course,” says Helene. “Get him out of her hair. You may as well ask him to stay the night.”

Draco pinches her under the sheets, but she ignores him and smiles graciously as Scorpius declares her to be the best, then runs off to send an owl.

“So much for Potter-free days. You know what they’ll get up to,” Draco sighs, once he can no longer hear footsteps.

“They’re young, let them enjoy it.” Helene rolls onto her side and regards her ex-husband. “You know, he’ll be off making grand plans for Albus for at least two hours. And since he’s already assuming, we could …” She raises her eyebrow suggestively.

Draco’s face desperately searches for a polite response.

Helene is laughing loudly before he manages it.

He pinches her again. “You really are the most dreadful person I know.”

“It was worth it!” she gasps. “Your panicked little face!” Peals of laughter ring out again, and a few moments pass before she can compose herself.

“It’s all right, dear,” she says. “I know that I don’t come with some of the things you are looking for in a lover at the moment.”

Draco gapes.

“I meant glasses.”

He snaps his mouth closed. “Of course you did.”

They are both up and dressed well before Albus arrives for lunch. Helene and Narcissa have set up a table in the garden and provided a buffet so that the young people can wander about and eat at leisure while they all keep an eye on Draco.

“I’m perfectly fine today,” he mutters as they watch the boys wander off towards the maze, nearly making it to the privacy of the hedges before Albus’s hand reaches out to catch Scorpius’s and draw him close.

“You haven’t received an all-clear from a Healer,” Narcissa reminds him.

“Maggie said I was fine yesterday, I just had to take it easy until tomorrow. And you will note, I am taking it easy! I will take it easy all day and then tomorrow the two of you can stop treating me like a small child.”

“Oh, Draco,” says Helene, amused.

“Shh. Be kind and let it go.”

Narcissa waves her wand lazily, fixing all of them cold drinks and sending a glass to hover beside each chair, along with a plate of cakes.

“Eat up,” she encourages. “We don’t want to be here when those two appear adjusting their clothes.”

In perfect synchronicity, Helene and Draco reach for their drinks. Draco is very sad to find that his contains no alcohol whatsoever.

The afternoon passes quietly. Although Draco assures everyone that he is perfectly recovered, he still feels tired. He has just put his feet up on the library’s comfiest ottoman for a pre-dinner nap when there is a knock.

“Albus?”

“Hello, Mr Malfoy, I hope you don’t mind, I just wanted to have a quick word. Check that you’re really all right.”

Draco sits up properly. “I’m fine. How are you? I hear your mother’s house is a bit over-run.”

“She sends her best. Asked me to speak with you, actually. Says thanks for keeping Dad alive. That’s what I wanted to talk about, too.”

Albus swallows, then quickly goes on speaking, “To say thank you, that is. I know that Dad meant to, but then you were hurt and he probably forgot. He thinks the world of you, he’s just not very good at dealing with things when people close to him are hurt. Lily fell off my broom the first holiday I came home from school, and I thought he was going to have a heart attack. She was fine, but he didn’t talk to me for three days.”

Draco is glad his son loves this young man. “Thank you Albus. I really am fine. Your father has a lot on his mind at the moment. Do you know if he’s caught Byford yet?”

Albus looks at his feet. “I haven’t really seen him since yesterday. We’re at Mum’s, and he’s been working.”

“He really does have a lot on.”

Albus looks up at Draco. “When you said that you were just worried about us, that wasn’t really …”

Draco interrupts. “Albus, we’re meant to worry about you, not the other way around.”

“Yes, Mr Malfoy, but …”

“It will be fine, Albus.”

“Really?”

Draco thinks for a moment. “I think so.” He smiles. “Harry was saying just the other day that our friendship would survive anything. I think that sometimes people just need a rest.”

Albus does not look entirely convinced, but he echoes Draco’s smile. “Well, rest quickly, Mr Malfoy.”

“I will, Albus. In fact, I was about to have a short nap when you appeared.”

“Sorry. I’ll let you get back to that.”

Albus stops at the door, but doesn’t turn around. “Just … don’t be stubborn. Dad can be pretty stupid when he’s stubborn, and it wouldn’t be good if both of you were.”

“I won’t be stubborn, Albus,” Draco promises, and receives a nod in reply before Albus continues off.

And Draco tells himself that he will honour that promise. Even if he would prefer to honour it by graciously listening to an overture from Harry.

The nap turns out to be a mistake. He is tired and befuddled over dinner. Albus and Scorpius seem to be quietly arguing, and when Draco hears: “Well, have a word with him!” hissed by Albus, he is afraid he knows what their topic is.

An owl arrives for him just as they finish their pudding, it is from Lester. Hannah has asked Lester to pass on the news they tracked Byford to Dieppe, but he managed to evade the French police, and they are yet to run him to ground. She sends her love, according to Lester, who somehow manages to simultaneously and between the lines convey both his doubts that she is being serious and his astonishment that Draco has managed to secure any of Hannah’s affections.

Lester himself says that he is off to France, but would like to come by on Wednesday in the middle of the day, partly to see Scorpius at last and partly to fill Draco in on the events that have occurred since Friday night. Draco writes back immediately that Lester would be welcome, and then tells Albus he had better come for lunch on Wednesday.

“I’m sure Mum will be fine with that,” says Albus. “Rose and Hugo were going to drop over, and the house will be bursting at the seams.”

“Do you have any more letters to write before you put your quill away?” Helene asks.

Draco gives her A Look, and hopes that will be the end of that.

“I am sure that you do,” she continues undaunted.

“Don’t let us disturb you,” adds Narcissa. “We can all go and take a turn around the gardens.”

“Your idea of a turn always ends up with a peacock having one, Mother,” Draco says, not quite patiently. “I’ve finished my correspondence for the day.”

He spots Albus looking at him and clearly thinking the word ‘stubborn’, even if he is too polite to say it. Draco relents a little.

“I’m too tired to manage anything else today. Tomorrow, when I am thinking more clearly.”

Albus exchanges a glance with Narcissa, which confirms Draco’s worst suspicions. He decides that this is an excellent night for going to bed early.

Although Draco is up before six the next morning, he is only just in time to say goodbye to Albus.

“Lily Owled last night,” Scorpius explains when he returns from his private farewells. “She and James were at each other’s throats, so she asked Albus to get home as soon as he could before Ginny grounded both of them.”

Draco can’t help smiling.

“He’ll be back for lunch tomorrow,” Scorpius goes on. “And he said I could come over and stay for a bit soon, if that’s all right with you?”

“Of course,” says Draco.

Scorpius sits down to join Draco for breakfast and manages to make it through two slices of toast and almost an entire cup of tea before he succumbs to the sulks.

Draco waits until he has finished his kedgeree and the Prophet before he tosses a brioche at his son’s head. “It’s Tuesday,” he says. “I’m ungrounded, and I feel like flying. You in?”

“Seriously?” Scorpius’s eyes widen.

“Absolutely. Broom or bird? Professor McGonagall said you should practise over the holidays.”

Scorpius hesitates. “Broom,” he decides. “Can chat with you. And fly rings around you.”

“Cheek! Right, upstairs into something warmer. And tread quietly, your mother and grandmother are still asleep.”

“Is Mum in your room again?”

This time it is Draco who hesitates. “Yes, but only because she popped in to chat about you and her feet were getting cold. Don’t get any ideas in your head, it’s like you sharing a bed with … James. Yes. Like that.”

“Except without the half-hour of casual mentions that he is happily heterosexual,” Scorpius mutters.

Draco smothers a laugh. “Really?”

“I assume. We’ve never had to share a bed, so it’s just been the occasional offhand comment.”

“I’m guessing he believes he’s so handsome no-one can resist. I imagine you’ve never had any problems, though.”

“None.”

“Probably best you never mention this, I’m not sure his fragile ego could stand it.”

“I’m not sure his fat head would hear it.”

“Accuracy is no excuse for rudeness, Scorpius,” Draco says, not bothering to smother his laughter any longer. “Go and get a jumper. I’ll change and meet you at the broom room in ten minutes.”

Helene does not even stir as Draco pulls out his flying gear. She has stolen his favourite pillow and most of the bed space; he ended up last night chased into a corner by her questing cold feet. Draco smiles. It reminds him of being thirteen, and Pansy and Blaise piling into his bed on cold winter afternoons while they sent Greg and Vince out to find snacks. They would gossip and gorge on sweets and end up in a pile of napping before the prefects came through shouting at everyone to get dressed for dinner.

He resolves not to tell Helene that she reminds him of his schoolmates, buckles up his flying trousers, pulls on his gloves and sets off to meet with his son.

Scorpius is already sorting through the broom collection. Draco has kept every one that he has ever owned, bolstered by the spares from his brief period as a would-be pro player after his return to England, plus the set he bought for weekend games with friends. Scorpius has added not a few to the number over the years. And then there is the shiny Firebolt 30, its classic lines reminiscent of the original Firebolt – much loved by the man who owns this one. The man who had tossed it to him less than a week ago when they raced to save London from flooding. Ron’s is beside it, both stashed here in the chaos of that day.

“I thought Harry had taken that home,” Draco says, aware that Scorpius has noticed him staring.

“Must have forgotten.”

“Probably,” Draco agrees, reaching past it for the red Volare Alto, an Italian sportsbroom he bought himself for his fortieth birthday in a moment of mild mid-life crisis.

“Are you going to take it back to him?” Scorpius affects disinterest.

“I’ll see him at work next week,” Draco says matter-of-factly. “He’ll let me know if he needs it before then. Come on, people will be up and about if we leave things much longer.”

The Manor is in a quiet part of Wiltshire, and aside from a few farmers concentrating on tractors and finishing the milking, there is no-one to see or hear the two figures who cut through the sky, laughing riotously. They resemble happy ravens, bent on morning mischief, which, coincidentally, is what one of those farmers would see were they to look up, thanks to a small Disillusionment.

Draco delights in the sun seeping through the seams of his jacket and warming him even against the still-cold air that rushes in through the gap about his neck. Although the sun has only been on the fields of unripe barley beneath them for an hour or so, already the grain’s full, slightly beery fragrance is lifting up, contrasting with the bright green scent of the grassfield beyond. The stiffness and stillness of the last few days leaves his body, and he leans forward to urge his broom level with his son’s.

For his part, Scorpius is not showing his father any favours. “Come on, old man!” he urges over his shoulder, easing right into a languid barrel roll.

Draco describes a loop about his son’s trajectory, touching Scorpius’s hair as he flies past.

“Show off,” Scorpius says, laughing.

“Make up your mind.”

They fly alongside each other, slower, taking in the landscape.

“You’ll see Albus again tomorrow,” Draco says.

Scorpius looks at him, surprised. “How did you …?”

“I’m your father.”

Scorpius grins. “I just get used to him being there every day at school. I miss him.”

“Your mother lived in France when we were first seeing each other,” Draco says. “I’d find excuses to go and visit her. Your grandmother feigned an addiction to macarons and insisted I acquire a regular supply.”

“So that’s how that steady stream of pale-green boxes began ...”

“After the first box, she wasn’t feigning any longer,” Draco confessed.

“You and Mum really aren’t …?”

Draco shakes his head. “No, and we won’t. We stopped working as a couple years ago. If we’d tried to stay together we would have ended up hating each other. And I am far too fond of your mother to want that. We make excellent friends, and that’s how we should stay.”

Scorpius nods. “I just had to check.”

They fly a little more before Scorpius adds, “You should go and visit Mr Potter, he must be lonely with all the children away.”

Draco sighs at the turnaround in the conversation. “He’s busy, tracking down Byford.”

“You could give him back his broom.”

“Scorpius …”

“I’m just saying, it would be all right. I was … I was upset the other night. Really, it would be all right.”

And Draco half-hopes he will go on, and explain what would be all right and exactly how all right he would be with it, but Scorpius chooses that moment to wheel about and declare that he will race Draco home.

The Volare has excellent straight-line speed, but Scorpius has chosen a winding path back to the Manor, and so they reach the cypress hedge that marks the boundary to the gardens at the same time. Draco would complain about the brief moments of cheating that have littered the chase, but he is laughing too much.

“You’re not a bad flyer for someone so old,” Scorpius teases him.

“Behave, or I’ll confiscate all your brooms,” Draco teases back.

“Makes no difference to me!”

And Draco can see what his son is thinking and so nods, and drops his own broom into a sweep, allowing him to catch Scorpius’s, as the boy wheels away on wings that were arms half a second ago.

That will always be astonishing, Draco thinks. And he wonders how it must feel. Scorpius has suggested he could learn the skill, but Draco knows his own limitations, knows that this particular genius is something beyond him. Though he would dearly love to fly like that.

Instead, he flies as he has always done, with mundane grace, and lands, stowing both brooms beside the kitchen door and ambling out to watch his son transcribe a broad-winged arc, before the silhouette angles sharply and Scorpius dives down towards him, slowing and pulling up a few feet from the ground, then changing suddenly back into a boy, who runs a few steps as his feet reconnect with the earth.

Draco lets go of the breath he has been holding. He knows that he should say something cautionary, but instead … “That was extraordinary.”

“I’ve been practising,” Scorpius says, only a little proud. “Professor McGonagall says that the more seamless my transitions are, the better chance I’ll have if I ever need to Transfigure in an emergency.”

Draco wraps his arms around Scorpius, who is still a little shorter, a little slighter, and kisses the top of his head while he can still reach it. “You are my brilliant boy.”

Scorpius hugs him back for a moment, and then he is nearly 17 again and far too old to be hugging his father. He stands back, and looks embarrassed, except … “I learned everything about transformation from you.”

Draco is surprised. “I was never that good … That’s a metaphor, isn’t it?”

Scorpius pats Draco’s shoulder. “I love you Dad. Stop worrying about everything. You’re pretty good, really. Just … be happy.”

“That’s practically un-British,” Draco teases.

“If we can’t manage a little happiness, what’s the point of all the hard work?”

Right then, Draco has never been more profoundly and simply glad for the differences between his son and himself at that age.

He hears women’s voices coming from inside, and the door opens to let his mother and ex-wife tumble, laughing, out into the sunlight. A cloud of smoke follows, and a voice that Draco thinks must be Larky’s can be heard declaring that the Mistresses can call for assistance with cooking at any time, any time at all.

Helene grins at him, and Narcissa tells him he is looking well now that he has his colour back, and that he may want to avoid the kitchen for perhaps ten minutes or so, and did he know that pain perdu could be flambéed, just not very well?

And Draco is happy. Nearly perfectly so.


***************************

At a quarter past four, a parliament of owls arrive outside Draco’s small study. The first message is from Hannah Abbott, and the message simply: Got him!

Draco unties the remainder of the letters quickly and distributes Owl Treats liberally. The longest letter comes – unsurprisingly – from Lester and gives a more detailed account of the reports that have reached him at the Ministry. The team, led by Harry and Hannah, has cornered Byford in Fife, after a tip Floo-ed in by a retired Auror who spotted someone squatting in one of the old cottages at the bottom of his pear orchard.

After a short exchange of hexes, a somewhat singed Byford has been taken into custody and is expected back at the Ministry for interview at any moment. Because Lester has been very helpful, Savage has promised that he can sit in on the interviews. Lester asks if there are any charges that Draco would like to bring personally, and assures him that there are already illegal detention and threat to the lives of Ministry staff items on the list.

Draco keeps flicking through the post. One from Savage, a little more detailed than Hannah’s. One from Fawcett, giving a clear account of the capture and asking if Draco wants to attend the interviews, closing with an offer to Side-along Apparate him there and home if he is still feeling unwell. Draco worries about Fawcett.

The ninth letter is the one that Draco does not want to admit he has been looking for. He recognises the swooping D on the front of the envelope, and wishes the fold of paper was thicker. He runs a thumbnail under the sealing wax, and then hesitates before opening it.

And he knows that it is stupid to be this worried. Harry himself has said that they are on exactly the same terms as last week … which was after there was flirting and talk, but before snogging, so perhaps he means the week before? Or a few years ago, when he shifted from being a respected colleague to being a genuine friend over the course of an horrendous fortnight?

Anywhere within that time frame, and Draco can live with it. After then, too. That would be fine, if he’s being honest. Just not before. Not the professional courtesy of their first years working alongside each other.

Stop, he tells himself, and opens the letter.

Hannah tells me she has already written to you, it says. You were missed on the op, though there weren’t any near-death incidents in your absence. Will talk you through it when you’re back at work.

At the bottom, there is a familiar H.

Draco reads it again to be certain.

There is a quiet knock on the door.

“Is there news?” Helene asks. “I was in the garden, and I saw all the owls.”

“They’ve caught Byford,” Draco says.

“Excellent!” She kisses his cheek warmly. “Was anyone hurt?”

“Byford, a little. He resisted being caught.”

“His own fault, then.”

She sits in the reading chair by the window and picks up a few of the Owls that he has dropped onto the table there.

“I see that Lester is determined to be involved until the bitter end. And Fawcett really is keen on you. We should invite him to my party, it will be amusing. For me, if not for you.”

Draco shakes his head, but cannot hide his smile.

“Is that from Harry?” She points to the letter in his hand.

“Yes.”

“What does it say?”

Draco hands the page over. Helene reads it carefully.

“It’s short,” she says, “but encouraging, I think.”

“We’re still talking,” Draco points out.

“You were missed,” Helene replies with a grin.

“Do you think that’s his main meaning?”

“I think he’s saying that the next move is yours.”

Draco nods agreement.

“Ah,” Helene continues. “And you want the next move to be his.”

Draco looks out the window.

“He did give up far too easily,” Helene says, loyally. “Listening to you in that state – ridiculous! Though, my dear, silly Draco, did you think that perhaps he might be feeling as awful as you are?”

“I should bloody well hope so.”

“You could just go back to work.”

“I will. Soon. I’m just not sure …”

“Not sure what you want?”

“Oh Helene, I absolutely know what I want. I’m just not sure what’s the best thing to do.”

“Poor darling.” She stands behind him and wraps her arms around his waist. “You make everything so hard for yourself.”

“It’s not just about me, he’s public property.”

“When has he ever cared what people thought?”

He holds her slim, capable hands. “What if he starts?”

“Darling, I know the editor of the Prophet, Harry has threatened to hex him so often that the man routinely edits out any mention of a Potter that doesn’t come attached to a Saves Wizarding World or Discovers Magical Puffin story. It will be fine.”

“And if it’s not?”

“Then Scorpius and Albus will rope Lester into a political counter-move, with Lily and Rose handling the media. James may even involve himself, though hoping Hugo will be any help is probably a step too far. Your mother and I will be cuttingly sarcastic and destroy the social seasons of any enemies you obtain.”

Draco laughs. He turns and kisses the top of Helene’s head.

“Is that all the encouragement you need?” she asks.

“Nearly.”

“I would tell you to stop being afraid, but it is perfectly logical to be unsure and worried. So be brave instead. You’re good at that.”

He kisses the top of her head again, smiling at the scent of soapwort and apples. “Scorpius asked me if we were getting back together today,” he tells her.

“Dreadful boy, he knows I can do much better.”

“You certainly can. But you’ll stay my best friend, yes?”

“Of course, silly.” Helene smiles up at him. “Who else can I tease so profitably?”


***************************


Wednesday morning sees the Malfoy household somewhat disarranged. Helene has conferred with Narcissa the night before and decided to cheer Draco up with a soiree in the conservatory, which devolved into a family Cakefest, followed by star watching and ghost storytelling, which only drew to a close when Great-great-great-Uncle Theophilus Malfoy declared he was tired of telling tales of his time as young Queen Victoria’s Wizarding Advisor and retreated to his nether realm.

Narcissa concluded the evening by conjuring up divans, and the family camped out, inside the house. They are woken late by house-elves with trays of steaming pastries and chocolate, thanks to Scorpius organising breakfast.

They have barely had time enough to dress before Albus arrives, citing ten as a perfectly reasonable hour for a luncheon appointment. Draco suspects that he has designs on some personal time with Scorpius, which are neatly torpedoed by the similarly early arrival of Lester Biggs.

Draco is happy to see Lester. He is a week behind on Ministry gossip, and after the rush of information yesterday, no-one has updated him on the progression of the Martin Byford case.

“I’m afraid that’s because it’s tedious, Mr Malfoy,” Lester informs him. “Byford has decided to go with an insanity defence and is declaring that he was pushed over the edge in the Second Wizarding War, which led to every subsequent disaster.”

“I’d happily demonstrate what being pushed over the edge actually feels like,” mutters Draco, but he is forced to concede that Byford is due his fortnight’s examination at St Mungo’s. “I have to confess, I hope they stamp him sane and he’s in the Wizengamot before the holidays finish.

“Still,” he says, brightly. “Gives me a chance to catch up with you before lunch, Lester.”

“Ah,” says Lester. “Actually, I’d hoped to kidnap Scorp and Al and take them up to town. We’ve been planning a day out for as long as I can remember and it’s always thwarted by one crisis or another.”

“Right. Yes, of course. Splendid idea. I have a number of things I was hoping to discuss with Helene and Mother today, so that will work out well for me, timing-wise.”

Draco leaves the young people to organise their adventures and goes in search of his mother.

She is tying a large straw hat over her carefully arranged hair.

“Garden party, darling,” she reminds him. “At the Albrechtsen’s. You declared you had something Terribly Vital on and so I’m taking Helene.”

“It’s nice weather for it,” Draco allows, looking out the window at the bright blue sky. Under which he can see three youthful figures walking across the lawn, before they Apparate out of sight.

“They’re ghastly people, but there will be dancing, and they do an excellent lunch spread. You don’t mind, do you? You won’t be lonely?”

“Mother, I’m not a child. Go off and have some fun. Helene has spent all week cheering up sick people, she deserves a treat.”

After Helene and Narcissa head out, the house is alarmingly empty. Draco busies himself in the library by reorganising his wizarding biographies bookshelves according to author, then realises he will never find anything again, so reverts to subject, and alphabetically by author within each set. He briefly contemplates spelling the whole library into coordinating sets by cover colour, but realises that then everyone will be able to see the insanity that has come with his loneliness and boredom. When the owl knocks at the window a little after midday, he nearly knocks over a side table in his hurry to open it.

While the owl helps itself to the tray of treats kept on hand, Draco reads his letter: an invitation to lunch if he is free, from Ron and Hermione, who find themselves unencumbered by children and would like some adult conversation. No reply necessary if you’re coming, it says, just turn up, and if you have any spare cake sitting around, it would not go astray.

Draco bellows for a house-elf as he runs to change clothes into something suitable for company.

Hermione greets him at her front door, a streak of flour down the front of her top. “Hello,” she says cheerily. “I went mad and decided to make the pastry from scratch. Things aren’t as bad as they seem.”

“You look lovely.” Draco kisses her cheek and follows her in. “I brought apple spice cake, everything else met with a tragic end last night, but it has a lovely thick icing, so it’s suitably evil.”

“Good man. I have pies in the oven, a nice cold dish done, and just need to get the veg sorted. Would you like a drink?”

“I’m fine for the moment.”

“In that case, keep going through, Ron’s in the back garden getting some sun. I’ll be out shortly.”

“Anything I can do to help?” Draco offers, adding his cake to the assembly on the table.

“Just entertain Ron, it’ll take me less time to do what’s left than explain it to you.”

Ron is lazing in the shade of a tulip tree, which is still covered in a ridiculous number of flowers. The walking sticks propped against his footstool and the wheelchair nearby are the only clues that he is injured, all the colour has returned to his face, and his eyes, when they open at Draco’s footsteps, are bright and amused.

“You came!”

“I heard you were bored, so I left behind very important matters and very important people.”

Ron laughs, but peers at Draco closely. “How’s your head?”

“Fine, all better. How are your legs?”

“Getting there. A few more weeks, but steady improvement.”

“Good. It’s not right seeing you lazing about, you’re meant to be loping off somewhere.”

“Sit down.” Ron waves his hand at the chair near his. “It’s unnatural looking up at you.”

Draco plonks himself down and looks around. “The garden’s looking good. I think it’s improved since I was last here, and that was only a week or so ago.”

“Hermione works wonders. Between you and me, I think she’s bored out of her mind and dying to get back to work. But in the meantime, she’s going to have this household running at peak efficiency.”

“You married a brilliant woman, Ron.”

“I did. And gorgeous.”

“It’s as though you knew I was here,” Hermione says, appearing behind them with a tea tray.

“Hello, Darling,” Ron says, while Draco gets up and moves the garden table forward for her.

“Lunch is slightly delayed, so I made you tea. By the time you finish this, I should have won my battle with the oven. Should we eat out here?”

“Sounds lovely,” Ron says. “I’ll enlarge the table.”

“See you shortly,” says Hermione, heading back inside.

Draco watches her walk away. “Did I not send you a house-elf to help until you’re back on your feet?”

Ron nods. “Yep. Blentyn, and he’s a treasure. She gave him the day off.”

Draco shakes his head.

“I think he’s hiding in the barn polishing boots,” Ron admits. “But this baking thing has made her happy all day.”

“She’s worried about you,” Draco points out. “You gave us all a scare. It’s amazing to see how well you’ve recovered.”

“You’ve been in St Mungo’s, too,” Ron replies.

“For a bump on the head. Hardly the same thing. Now, milk? I’ll pour.”

“White and two,” says Ron, holding out a hand for the teacup Draco passes him.

Draco pours one for himself and adds a slice of lemon. He takes a sip and relaxes in the warm shade.

“So what's happening with you and Harry?” Ron asks.

Draco chokes on his tea.

Ron continues, “I ask because I have few opportunities for comedy in my current state, and you two were providing dozens before the weekend. Was there a fight while you were trapped? Did he insult your complicated fashion sense? Because I think you can still carry off those high-necked tops, regardless of what others say. Or did the two of you finally shag and it was awful?”

Draco has wisely put his teacup down, which is the only reason he does not spill it all over himself at that last comment. “No we have not been … Oh Merlin, I cannot believe you asked that. There’s nothing happening. It's … it's a complex situation, which I think would not be wise to push at the moment.”

Ron gives him a dubious look. “Draco, mate, I say this with love, but you and Harry are anything but complex people.”

“Hilarious. Look, I don’t know what he’s told you …”

“Nothing. I have eyes. Observant eyes that work, though Blind Freddy would have noticed the two of you ages ago. So don’t tell me nothing’s happening, because that’s obviously untrue.”

Draco opens and closes his mouth. He engages his brain and then tries again. “There was a moment of confusion, out of which a misunderstanding arose, which is in the process of being sorted out. And going back to normal. And don’t give me that look, going back to normal is probably the best option all round. Think of the reaction at work. And in the media. And Scorpius and Albus probably wouldn't welcome us … well … anyway …” Draco’s brain gives it up as a bad job.

Ron nods. “I admit that Fawcett would be devastated, but I’m not sure that his feelings ought to be considered in the matter. Anyway, have you asked them?”

“Asked whom?”

“Scorpius and Albus.”

Draco blinks.

Ron continues: “Because they're very bright young men and far more able than you seem to think. From what Al was saying yesterday, I think both the lads were rather hoping that you and Harry might actually sort yourselves out.”

“Albus said what?”

“Apparently he was against the idea at first, and then Scorpius was, and then they both decided that they were being ridiculous. I had the impression one of them was going to say something to you. But anyway, they’re a terrible reason for you entering into this spirit of monastic denial.”

“I can't believe I am having this conversation with you …” Draco mutters.

You're surprised,” Ron counters with a laugh. “But someone has to talk sense to you, and out of all your friends I'm the only one who is still in possession of and on excellent terms with his family, wife, children, friends and workmates.”

Draco gapes. He realises this and snaps his mouth shut, before swallowing his own laugh. “Oh Merlin, it's true. You're actually the most successful adult of all of us when it comes to relationships. What a horrible thing to realise!”

“To be fair, Hermione did boot me into usefulness in the marriage department, though I worked out the family and friends bits myself.”

Draco does laugh now – at himself more than anything else. “It’s just … hard,” he admits after a little while.

“It’s meant to be hard,” Ron says. “But you’re good at it. Do you remember how you and I became friends?”

“Through the kids,” Draco answers quickly, still embarrassed at his early treatment of all people Weasley.

“Yeah, but not the way you think. I still thought you were a prat for a long time after we started working together, and even after Scorpius started hanging around with Rose and Al.”

Draco smiles, he remembers.

“But the more I saw your son, and saw what you were like with your son, the more I liked you. And you decided that you had to get on with me, because you were friends with Harry, and because Rose would have been hell-bent on correcting you otherwise, and you worked at it. And much as my younger self would be horrified, I quite like having you around now. That’s the thing about relationships, you’re meant to have to work at them. But you’re good at that, just look at you and me. ”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Ron, but it’s not quite the same.”

“Which I put down to your abominable taste in men and my excellent taste in wives.”

“Exactly.” Draco grins.

“But still, it’s not totally different.” Ron looks at a tree some distance to Draco’s right, and his cheeks turn pink, but he ploughs on. “At the risk of sounding like Rose, it all boils down to something very simple. Do you love him?”

Draco stares at the back of Ron’s neck in horror. “I’m not going to … talk with you about … Oh, bugger it. Yes.”

Ron nods, then turns back. “Then stop worrying. It won’t be easy, the two of you will obviously cock things up many times and there may be a mild spot of hexing, but Hermione and I made it through that period in our relationship and survived, I’m sure the two of you can manage it.”

“What if we can’t?” Draco asks. “What if it all goes horribly, horribly wrong?”

"Is it going to be any worse than how the two of you are right now? Because from the outside, you're behaving like two people who've broken up. And you didn't actually get the relationship first. Which seems a stupid way to do it. Now I have to say that the thought of the two of you together is not something I want to imagine in detail, and I will probably just pretend it’s not happening a lot of the time, and for Merlin’s sake you can never share any of the actual details with me on fear of extreme hexing, but you make each other happy, and stranger things have happened."

“You and Hermione.”

“Exactly.” Ron waves a cane in a particularly geriatric fashion. “I know whereof I speak, young Malfoy! I wasted years because I was afraid to try anything and fail. And then we both realised that failing wasn’t the worst thing that could happen – not trying was.”

“You’re secretly very wise,” Draco says with a fond smile.

“People overlook it due to the extreme handsomeness.”

“It’s your curse.”

“So, just be brave, Draco. Go and see him.”

“You’re the second man to talk to me about feelings in the last 48 hours. It’s tremendously disconcerting.”

Ron grins. A bowl of salad floats past him.

“Ah, lunch, excellent. Pick up your tea, Draco, I’m just going to push the table out.”

Draco takes his cup and saucer, and Ron casts a quick Engorgio, tripling the size of the garden table. He is just in time. Hermione appears, surrounded by a flock of plates, pies, glasses, cake, bread and cutlery. A tablecloth rushes past and throws itself across the table, the lunch items settle into place on top. Hermione adds the large jug of iced water that she has been carrying and sits down, smiling at both of them.

“Did you have the talk?” Hermione asks.

Draco does snort tea at that, but thankfully there is a napkin to hand. He coughs until his nose is free of beverage, then tries to look serious. “Why is it that all my friends are so interfering?” he asks.

“Because you and Harry are dim, dear,” Hermione tells him. “Lovely and brave and very pretty, but oh-so dim.”

“How is it that you never became friends with Pansy?”

“There are limits, Draco.”

“I talked with him,” Ron says. “He’s going to sort it all out.”

“But after lunch, yes? I’m quite proud of that pastry, it turns out all you need is to make sure the ingredients are very cold.”

“After lunch,” Draco agrees. “But if everything goes completely wrong, I’m hiding in your barn until it all blows over.”

“Absolutely. I’ll tell Helene and she can ship some creature comforts across for you. Ron will deny all knowledge of your whereabouts and I’ll lay in a large supply of cake and firewhisky. But it’s not going to come to that.”

Draco bows a thank you at her. “Now can we change the subject before I die of embarrassment?”

Hermione pats his knee, and passes him a slice of very good pie. Ron talks nonsense about Quidditch and, for ninety minutes, Draco relaxes happily.

At last, he stands up, offers to help with the dishes, and thanks his hosts when the offer is declined.

“Off to the Ministry?” asks Ron.

“I’ll have Blentyn let you know if I find myself in the barn,” Draco replies.


***************************


Draco steps out of the lift on the second level of the Ministry and follows a familiar path. The door to Harry’s office is open, and he can see the back of a head-full of black hair. But the figure beneath is wrong.

“Albus?”

“Mr Malfoy,” Albus jumps a little in surprise. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

“I thought you were out with Lester and Scorpius.”

“I am, but Dad asked me to stop in and pick up a few papers for him.”

“Ah.”

“Were you looking for him?”

Draco is unable to come up with an alternative explanation for his presence there. “Harry was going to fill me in on the Byford arrest,” he settles on.

“He’s taken the day off. I thought you weren’t coming back to work until next week.”

“I’m not, I was just … in the vicinity.”

Albus nods. “He’s at home. Alone.” Albus smiles with not entirely convincing innocence and holds out a sheaf of parchment. “You could take these to him and then we wouldn’t need to go back there tonight at all.”

Draco doesn’t move.

Albus’s certainty wavers. “I thought Scorpius had a talk with you.”

Draco takes a breath. “We did have a discussion, but he was extremely cryptic. He could have been encouraging me to go and see your father, or he could have been angling for a new racing broom. It can be hard to tell.”

“It was …”

“Yes, thank you, Albus, I think I can guess. You go back to lunch. I’ll … I’ll take those papers for you.”

Albus smiles widely. “Thanks, Mr Malfoy. I’ll see you soon.”

He starts to leave, then pauses. When he turns around, his cheeks are reddening. “Mr Malfoy, if you and Dad do … do you know about … because it’s not like …”

Draco freezes, horrified at what Albus could possibly want to share that would make him blush.

“That is to say …” Albus stammers to a stop, looks at Draco’s face and clearly decides that discretion is the better part of valour.

“You’re a research wizard, it will be fine,” he says, and all but runs from the office.

Draco stands, blinking, for a moment, before he decides it will probably be best all round if he pretends that never happened.

He heads to the lift, parchments tucked under one arm. It arrives after a few seconds and he steps in, noting the other occupant.

“Hannah, good to see you.”

“You’re looking well, Malfoy,” Hannah Abbot says with a smile. “I didn’t know you were back. Do you have a few minutes? I can tell you all about capturing Byford. I used particularly sticky hexes, just for you.”

Draco grins. “You’re a true friend, Hannah. I owe you a drink.”

“I’ve got time now.”

Draco hesitates. It’s a perfectly valid excuse, after all … “No, thanks. I’m headed over to Harry’s.”

“Ah. That’s fine. We’ll catch up later.”

The lift doors close and it starts its journey towards the atrium. “So are you two shagging?” Hannah asks conversationally.

“Is there anyone left who doesn’t think we are?” Draco sighs.

“People who haven’t seen you in the last few weeks, a few witches and a few wizards who are convinced one or the other of you is habouring secret desires for them, and Keating in Accounting – I’m not sure he realises that genitals have recreational purposes.”

“I love you, Hannah,” Draco says.

“Of course you do, in a pure and spiritual way. So?”

“Off to go and find out,” Draco replies, as the lift bings and the doors open.

“Good luck!”

And because the day can’t get any weirder, Draco kisses her cheek lightly and sets off, humming to himself.


***************************




Part 3eii
 
 
Current Location: Sofa
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Ukulele!
 
 
 
This Girl: Flailsthisgirl_is on July 10th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
I am partly utterly gleeful, and partly in despair. I have no idea what went on in the beginning of this fic, so I'm going to have to read the lot. Plus it turns out that the enormous mpreg that everyone was reccing was written by Femme and Noe, which means I have to read that, too. SO MUCH READING TO DO. SO MUCH ELSE TO DO. I AM CONFLICTED.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Be not in despair, nor conflicted, darling woman! It will be up when you have time! There is no rush!

BTW, I wore the possum hat this week, and thought of you every time. I am v happy to have a tangible thing that makes me think of you day to day!
This Girlthisgirl_is on July 10th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
Too late. I have mostly done one of the things, and read all but the next bit of Fathers. Whoops.

I'm not sure how I feel about being inextricably associated with something soft and warm and fuzzy. Perhaps I should send you a very sharp letter opener, or some such...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
Possums are also clever and ferocious, and very adaptable! I think that all fits!
calanthe_fics on July 10th, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
Well done!

I need to reread the whole thing from start to finish. Dare I mention that it's been so long that I've forgotten things?

Anyway, time for a lazy shower while the tiddler and daddy are out. See you soon!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)
Cal, my love, I had to reread the whole thing from the beginning, too! (And spotted one glaring error in the prequel that fingers crossed no one else had noticed, or that everyone was too polite to mention ...)

And that sounds like a great day! I am watching the announcement of our new Carbon Tax, which I am v optimistic about, though the conservative opposition leader has declared we will all be rooned! (NB he was in favour of exactly the same sort of tax a few years ago. Wanker.)
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)
I would like to pretend that it is not possible for THAT many things to have happened ... but it has been quite a long time, hasn't it?

And yet, still not the slowest-progressing of my WiPs. I am amazingly tardy!

(But improving daily on the ukulele!)
leaf_lightleaf_light on July 10th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
I adore you. I got no sleep last night and I'm supposed to be out of the house in fifteen minutes and I'm not even dressed, but yes, I officially adore you. I shall now go and have the fastest get ready in history so that I can read the next part before I go out.

The above are reasons why I'm not going into the detail of how much I love this. And I really do. As usual - brilliant.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 09:22 am (UTC)
Mornings like that are why I am convinced the West is wrong in largely frowning on the burqa! Just think of how much time we would save of a morning if it were an acceptable option!

The affection is mutual :-)
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on July 10th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Ooo, what a lovely treat! I'm going to settle right down and read it now.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 10:37 am (UTC)
I hope you feel the same by the end!
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on July 11th, 2011 12:57 pm (UTC)
I do! Though I did have to go back and read the whole of what came before. (No, don't throw me into that briar patch!)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 12th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
I had to do the same thing, and I made myself laugh once, which was happy making ;-) Thank you so much for the encouragement -- I am as prone to writerly attacks of 'OH GOD AM USELESS!' as the next person*, so it is wonderful to have friends who say 'Not entirely crap!'

(*Albeit better at covering them up with rants, ukulele and hair-dyeing ...)
Loyaulte Me Lie: Rupert Believesshocolate on July 10th, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
It's probably appropriate to wildly fangirl your Ron here, as the final part will be in HD!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 10:36 am (UTC)
The very best thing about meeting you was being able to introduce to you tomatoe and make the world a better place. The SECOND best thing was that I was suddenly far less alone in my love for Ron!
Loyaulte Me Lie: Hary/Ron/Dracoshocolate on July 10th, 2011 10:39 am (UTC)
We are so happy with the Dan article...

And I stand in awe of your concistantly Ronnoid Ron in a HD world!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 10th, 2011 10:44 am (UTC)
Ron could cope with most changes in his friends' lives, I believe, provided he still had Hermione and no one expected him to take an active interest in some of their pursuits!
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on July 11th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC)
YAAAAAY!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 12th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
Cheers, dear!
grrrreg on July 11th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
Well Done!
This is just terrific, and worth the wait. I should tell you that I come by here now and then to look for more 'fathers' and when I saw the 3eii link I excitedly clicked thru and read it, thinking that it was the long awaited conclusion. Kudos on your selection of the 'point of separation' because most of the events of 3ei are readily discernible from the conversation in 3eii (I do admit to thinking that it was a bit short, what with all that waiting). I came back later to comment and was delighted to find 3ei, and am now well and truly sated. Thanks for all the effort.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 12th, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Well Done!
You made me laugh to think that I could ever write a chapter of less than 5000 words ;-) If brevity is the soul of wit, I am going to have to plead atheism, I'm afraid.

So glad that you enjoyed things even backwards and thank you so much for sticking with me through the journey and taking the time to let me know!
son_of_herneson_of_herne on July 16th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
oh, wow.
I've been waiting for this for *ages*. Thanks ever so for finishing it. (Now, excuse me as I race off to read it.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2011 04:38 pm (UTC)
Re: oh, wow.
Thanks, and sorry it took so long, life left chaotic behind some time ago and appears to be trying to impersonate one of those branches of physics that only people who work at CERN can understand.

Fingers crossed you like it after all that (if you don't, that's OK, too!)
jolinar_rosha: moogie approvedjolinar_rosha on July 17th, 2011 07:59 am (UTC)
Ron. I love Ron. I will always love Ron.

also. ' “That is to say …” Albus stammers to a stop, looks at Draco’s face and clearly decides that discretion is the better part of valour.

“You’re a research wizard, it will be fine,” he says, and all but runs from the office. '

practically rolled around the couch laughing.

All in all, made of awesome (as you are). Have to wait till tonight to read the end, tho, dammit!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 17th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
*Gives you massive hug for liking that bit!*

And I am completely with you in the Ron-love :-)
xhihi0x on January 17th, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)
God this fic is so awesome in so many ways.


And Albus - attempting to explain ... that part-- utterly cracked me up.

Best. Thing. IN. A . Fic. Ever.

I am very glad Albus didn't manage to explain. XDDDDD
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 17th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
I am SO glad you liked that bit. Thank you!
frnklymrshnklyfrnklymrshnkly on September 21st, 2015 11:01 am (UTC)
This is so lovely! The transition of focus to the older generation is so smooth, and I don't know how you manage to make every single character so real and likeable. Helene is definitely one of the greatest ocs I've ever encountered. I love her penchant for good cheekbones.