Title: Of Daisies and Stars
Genre: Parent/Child, Romance
Word Count: 2,489
Summary: Sometimes, this boy reminded him too much of too many people. Post-DH, EWE?
Author's Note: Much thanks to my lovely beta terrayn!
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
He meant to swipe the offending insect away, but the cherubim in his arms, whose cheeks were glowing under the warm and soothing sunlight, had reached out to grab it instead.
"You don't grab it," he said, sternly. "It will sting you."
The cheeky toddler merely beamed brilliantly and declared, "I luff bees."
Draco Malfoy resisted the urge to snort in mirth and struggled to keep his expression disapproving as the child spread out his chubby arms in a bid to illustrate how expansive his love for bees could be. He reached out to stroke the golden strands on the boy's head, wryly noting the brown streaks criss-crossed within. Streaks of impurity, he thought, yet such perfection.
"Bees are sweeeet!"
Draco rolled his eyes. "The honey they make is sweet, not the bee. You don't eat bees." Children nowadays!
The toddler stuck out his tongue in response. "Sweeet."
Like the smell of her. That sweet scent of daisy she was always sheathed in.
The buzzing sound near his ears shook him out of his reverie. He could feel a couple of those (damned) bees resting against his fingers, just millimetres away from his son's back. Exasperated, he drew out his wand with his free hand and flicked casually, creating a shield around them both.
"What ditch you do?" The child looked curiously at a bee hovering above him, unable to move any farther. He raised a tentative finger towards the insect, but Draco interrupted his attempt by walking on wordlessly.
As he walked, he could feel the little head against him turning and twisting in every direction. A smile ghosted over Draco's lips. That familiar inquisitive gesture never failed to make his heart leap slightly. No matter how many times he had seen it, it still thrilled him like a sudden burst of flowers blooming, the spontaneous illumination of dawn sky or the electrifying touch of her soft lips. He stopped abruptly, closing his eyes to savour the memory.
Do you know how much you surprise me?
She was always complaining that he had everything he could possibly want. She could never surprise him, because his Seeker reflexes had him pre-empting her at every turn and corner, even within her mind. He had kissed away her fears every single night she brought it up, pushing aside those soft brown curls and whispering in her ear that no one could ever bring him gift-wrapped joy the way she did - bare and honest.
Just like the child she had gifted him; a diary of scents, sights and sounds. What else could be more unique and more beautiful?
Draco's eyes flew open.
"What's you doin'?"
"Thinking." He cracked a little smile.
"Where's we goin'?"
"Stop asking questions." Draco sighed, suppressing a little exasperated chuckle, as he trudged through the tall grass. Of all the traits you could've handed down to our son...
Eventually, when he reached his spot - or perhaps, their spot, his son turned to face the beautiful meadow of purple daisy flowers, his little eyes brimming with wonder. Grey almond-shaped eyes - a startling amalgamation that made Draco's eyebrows furrow together in thought whenever he looked into them.
"Daisy!" blurted the young fellow, gazing at the lavender-coloured field framed by a light blue sky.
"Why not 'flower'?" Draco murmured, pressing his lips against the soft golden hair.
"Purpur daisy," came the earnest reply. "Tis preddy." The little child's eyes sparkled silver before the edges dissolved into little crinkles. His mouth hung half-open, thoroughly inhaling the floral fragrance.
Draco stared at him. The desire to chuckle had faded, replaced by a familiar bittersweet. The silver pools of light that reflected back at him had a tinge of blue aura. Not the brown of the child's mother, who had always teased that those eyes reflected the appearance of Draco's million other flings, except hers. But she probably did know, as did Draco, that the soft blue was the very same one that had watched over him every night when he was young. Those blue eyes used to crinkle at the sides just like his little son's, though gradually, they'd disappeared into the darkness, often shrouded with fear and anxiety.
He felt his cheek muscles tighten, and his teeth scraped against his bottom lip. If only - if only his mother could see what a cherished grandson she had. If only she could watch over him the way she had done for Draco. Memories of his final years in Hogwarts flooded back, and he had to cringe to stop the onslaught.
A sudden movement; the young 'un was struggling a little in his arms.
Draco opened his eyes to let the warm sunrays wash away the dark memories. He knelt down amidst the tall grass and flowers, while his son struggled out of his arms and stumbled over to the nearest stalk. With two pudgy fists, the boy wrenched the purple flower off its roots, only to tumble backwards from the force. He looked rather bewildered, staring up at his father, waving his limbs about wildly. An amused look crossed Draco's face, and his arms stretched out, only to withdraw them almost instantly.
The boy had to learn, learn that sometimes, he had to stand up on his own.
Just like he was taught. Every time when he'd found himself on aching knees before the ominous desk in his father's study room, there had been nobody but himself to teach him to crawl to the desk legs and pull himself up. There was nobody to soothe the pains threading fire through his veins and nobody to support him as he stumbled back to his room, barely seeing, barely breathing. And when night flew past and dawn broke, it was another day he had to stand up to face, alone.
What he would have given for just the knowledge that there was a pair of arms reaching out for him. Even if he fell. Just that knowledge alone would have made him see that dawn was something worth looking forward to, instead of being a patterned image he had grown to abhor. Just that knowledge alone would have made him stare up at the portrait of his father's unrelenting face in the Manor with a lot more reverence, rather than swelling bitterness.
It was hard to shut them out from his mind. He didn't know them anymore. When the Ministry officials came to capture them one day, he didn't even know what had happened. His mother had whispered goodbye with tears streaming down her face, but his father remained defiant and cocky. It was only later that he found out that they had been convicted of practicing a very ancient, banned Dark Magic in the hopes of summoning Voldemort's soul. They knew the consequences, yet they still went ahead. Draco wondered if he'd ever figured in their cost and benefit analysis.
Bitterness, for him, was not just heartbreak. It was the fact that he didn't even know how it had broken in the first place. It seemed to have been shattered from the very start, and he was spending the rest of his life piecing it back.
Today, just like every other anniversary of their death, he would make excuses to leave the house. But then, she would always make him carry their son out. "Take him out for a walk," she said, firmly, and he couldn't protest against two pairs of pleading, cherubic eyes.
Sometimes, this boy reminded him too much of too many people.
And she knew it.
The fair child eventually propped himself up on his fat little arms. Draco's arms had unconsciously stretched out again, and he tucked them back in as he lay back on the grass, closing his eyes to bask in the sun. He had grown to desire sunlight very much, for the cloaking warmth made him feel more alive than the blood in his body.
Something tickled Draco's nose, and he scrunched up his face in response, opening one eye to see a bright ball of sun - no, it was the daisy, a yellow core surrounded by a mass of purple. He reached out to remove the offending article, only to see his son beam brightly, clasping his hands together in a most angelic pose. He smirked at the innocence (pseudo or not) and inevitably found himself drawn back to the delicate stalk in his grasp. A pinch harder and it would flop over like a stringless marionette.
Macabre, that image, but it was the exact one that haunted him for years. It would have been ridiculous, in the past, to ever suggest that Draco Malfoy was afraid of anything. It was the rest of his cohort who had to fear him - if not for his family heritage, then for the fact that he would inevitably be recruited into the army of the Dark Lord.
But the truth was, every night he would crawl back into his bed in the Slytherin dormitory and draw the covers over his head, so that no one could see the shivering figure beneath, who couldn't stop the tears from streaking down the sides of his face. There was nothing, nothing that gave him strength but the fact that he had to put on a mask to the rest of the world.
Till he met her.
Draco smoothed the daisy petals down, with a faint twitch of his mouth, as he recalled the way she smoothed down her own purple dress in summer, her face brightened with a sunshine smile, a strange and unfamiliar sight that had made him squirm to be witnessing. He had wanted to disappear from the stifling place, crowd, idea that he was attending Potter and Weaselette's wedding, and that he had been invited! To be a wallflower, no less, he had thought spitefully. Everyone present had given him the fish-eye, and he almost wilted with shame that he was there only as a token gesture by Potter. It was about the time he'd planned to make his escape when he saw her sitting in the summerhouse looking like a freshly-bloomed daisy.
He had been afraid, once again, a coward through and through. He had left her writhing in agony in the basement of his house, and now, her beauty and being alive was a wretched sight.
But she had called out to him. He should have run, but his legs refused to move. His eyes inexplicably fell on hers, and it was the first time he realised that her eyes were such a lovely shade of chestnut brown. He had always imagined it to be a dirty, muddy colour.
He hadn't even realised he had spoken it aloud till she replied softly,
"There are many things you have yet to learn, Malfoy."
Watching his son run about joyfully, basking in the glow of innocence and youth, Draco secretly wondered if she had seen this scenario in her head when she had spoken those words. It was the two of them, who had given him the lessons he never learnt in his childhood. And she, in particular, had taught him many hard ones and taken the tests along with him.
That triggered a memory that always made Draco smirk. When she was all riled up, there was no stopping the Granger Express. But he had managed to shut her up for days after this.
"Ow, what was that for?!" he had demanded, furiously, when she slapped him hard, eyes burning with anger and disappointment.
"You promised me you wouldn't get all worked up! What'd you go and hex him for?!"
"I was being honest, woman, what did you want me to say?" he said with a sneer, voice brittle and cold. " 'Thank you, Rodolphus Lestrange, for pulling my parents down into the same abyss you were stuck in and couldn't get your fat arse out of?' "
"I know you were angry, but there was absolutely no need to pull out your wand. You were just supposed to interrogate him and find out facts! Now look what you've done! The Ministry has banned you from employment!"
"I don't need the bloody Ministry to give me a job!"
"Oh, you selfish prick! What did you say when you asked for forgiveness? All that talk about getting your life back together again. You don't want to live off your inheritance, you don't want to get a decent job, what is it that you want?!"
"I only want a family, is that so hard?! Damn it, Granger, I only want a family with you!"
Draco put the daisy stalk down and looked back up at the sky. It was now tinged with faint streaks of orange and pink. His smirk faded into sombreness. Despite the beautiful colours, it was a grim reminder that he had been an escapee for at least more than half the day. Even when he had become a father, he was still such a coward. He stared at the boy, who was sniffing at a daisy cluster.
Would he take after me?
He sincerely hoped not.
The brilliant hues streaking fire above faded quickly as the sun set, and a blanket of indigo crept up to envelop the field in shadows. Slightly frightened, the toddler came waddling back into his father's open arms to seek sanctuary. Draco reached out with one hand to smooth the frizzled strands, smirking once again while picturing the scene of his wife the previous morning with her hair sticking out in all directions thanks to a foiled attempt at frying pancakes. She had tossed the burnt item onto his lap when he had laughed, and it hadn't been pretty. Thinking about it made Draco chuckle.
Draco closed his eyes. It had been her idea to make their son call him that, instead of the aristocratic title of 'Father'. A surge of warmth always overcame him when he heard the little voice call him.
"Tell me where my star is again."
Draco put two fingers to his eyes to scan for the twinkling novas. When he located it, he took the small hand in his and uncurled a finger to point upwards and trace the imaginary figure.
"Look," he whispered. "There's Scorpius."
There was a brief silence, and Draco watched as the wondrous little eyes followed the outline.
"'Tis preddy. Where's your star again, Daddy?"
Draco smiled and redirected the hand. "There."
Another short pause.
Draco was slightly taken aback. He had taken it for granted, after all the times his son had asked him only two questions, that the young boy had already been educated that there was no such star named 'Hermione'.
There was a giggle. "I know," said the cheeky little voice.
Draco raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"'Tis you, Daddy. Mummy said so." And the young fellow nestled deeply in Draco's embrace, oblivious to the shining silver of his father's eyes.
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