Law & Order: Wizarding Style
Pairing: Draco Malfoy/James Sirius Potter
Canon: post-DH, Epilogue Compliant
Other characters: Scorpius, Albus, Lucy, Narcissa, Lucius, Teddy, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Padma Patil, other OCs
Summary: Draco is hired to defend James from a charge of homicide, but a series of events leads them to working together and eventually becoming a couple.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its characters are copyrighted to J.K. Rowling and her licensees, and their trademark belongs to The WB. No copyright and/or trademark infringement is intended.
Wizengamot Offices - Ministry
Monday, 4th of November, 2024
There was no knock on the door of his office, no appointment, nothing that could prepare Draco for the thick file that dropped on his desk that cold morning of November. He raised his eyes and met Potter's. "This is a surprise. You usually corner me in the hallways."
Potter was one of the constant in his life, but that didn't mean he liked it. Potter joined (or was asked to join as the press reminded everyone) the Auror division when Draco had joined the Wizengamot office. They both rose through the ranks in their own fields, and now Potter was the Head Auror and Draco was one of the most renowned members the Wizengamot, taking cases as both a defender and an interrogator, which meant they still butted head, but at a professional level.
"This is different," Potter said in a tense manner.
"You mean that this isn't a case where I got my client off based on your Aurors' shabby work; that would certainly be different," he answered.
"It's James' file."
The brief answer was more than enough to get Draco's attention. The Potter case had become the talk of the Ministry. Everyone wanted to discuss it, even though there was little public information. For once, the Aurors had done a good job at keeping things out of the press. However, the announcement that the Chief Warlock would be the Inquisitor on the case had started another round of articles, and more gossip, but again, no real information.
"Do you know that it's highly irregular to show a file to any member of the Wizengamot prior to the trial?" Of course the man knew. He had worked to push many of the rules that now were binding on the Wizengamot and the Aurors. "What exactly are you doing here?"
"It's not illegal to show it to his Defender, is it?" Potter answered.
Draco stared, because he couldn't have heard right. That was just impossible. "Excuse me?"
"I want you to be James' Defender," Potter answered as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Draco put down the quill he'd been playing with, and leaned back. "You hate my work, you've called me all sorts of names, and you don't particular like me. Why would you want me to do it?"
"Because you're the best," Potter hissed, and Draco knew that the admission was painful for Potter. Draco loved it.
"That is true; I am the best," Draco answered with a smirk. "However, I hate your work, I've called you all sorts of names and I don't particularly like you. Why should I do it?"
Potter put his hands on the desk and leaned forward. "Because this is my son, and you owe me a life debt, and it's time to repay it. I want you to defend him."
Just like that, their professional banter turned personal and Draco wanted to hex Potter on the spot. He knew that he owed Potter, but he hadn't expected the other man to call him on it. He also knew that he had no choice unless he could convince Potter that this was a stupid idea, which it really was, but proving it to Potter was a different story.
He picked up the file, but didn't open it. "Potter, this is ridiculous. The trial is next Monday. That's a week. How am I supposed to prepare a case in a week? This is a murder case with the Chief Warlock as the Inquisitor. I can't just improvise. You should have had someone working on it from the moment he was arrested."
Draco watched as Potter sank into a chair as if the fight went out of him and left him looking miserable. "You know I'm right, Potter."
The man nodded. "He didn't want a Defender. He refused one. No matter what I said, he told me 'no'. Ginny only managed to convince him last night, and now I'm here. Please, you are our best option. If you can't help him, no one else can. I need you to do it."
Draco finally opened the file without really looking at the papers; he wasn't ready to give in. He might not have had a choice, not with the life debt, but he never took cases he didn't believe in. Could he really defend Potter's son? He finally looked at the papers and the first thing he saw was the boy's location. "He's in Azkaban! Are you mad?"
"No reason to keep him here. He didn't want a Defender," Potter answered, the tension and fight back in every part of his body.
"Oh please, you've kept others here, but you couldn't show nepotism so you fucked him over," Draco said, already in Defender mode. "I want him in the holding cells here at my disposal until the trial. You tell the Hit Wizards that they have two hours to bring him back, and then I'll start calling the press, showing the mistreatment he's suffering at the hand of the MLE; you know I will, and please stop grinning like the town's idiot." He spread the file in front of him, concentrating on the comments of the Auror in charge, but when he didn't hear any noises, he looked up at Potter. "Why are you still here? This is confidential work, and I'm not sharing it with you, even if you are his father."
Potter stood up and stretched his arm, holding it there until Draco finally shook his hand. "Thank you. Ginny and I will always be grateful for this." As Potter left, Draco thought that this was a sign of the apocalypse, but the thought disappeared easily as he went back to the file.
A few hours later, Draco reached the tenth level of the Ministry. The interviewing rooms on the lowest level were only accessible through the stairs from the department of Mystery. Draco always felt like he was suffocating when he walked down here, with the dark and dingy hallways crowding him with every step he took. The layers of magic were almost palpable, pressing against him in a physical sense. It was a feeling that he hated and one that lasted well after he left the level.
He waited for the Hit Wizard to open the door for him, and stepped inside. James was sitting in one of the two chairs, leaning against the desk. There was nothing else in the room, except for the torches on the wall casting shadows over the young man's face. Draco studied him for a moment. He'd seen James at trials and his picture had been in the papers often enough. He always looked cocky and on top of the world. Now, he looked tired and subdued.
"It's good to see you," Draco said.
"Too bad none of it is true," James answered.
Draco sat down and stared. "Aurors don't arrest other Aurors, and they especially don't arrest the son of Harry Potter, unless they have very good reasons and evidence, which they do." He pushed the file towards James. "You're an Auror, this is your job. Look at that, and tell me how we attack it."
James opened the file, and Draco could see the tension in his jaw, the absent look in his eyes. James wasn't really looking at the words on the parchment. "There's nothing you can do. I know what's in there, and I've told my father that there is no defence."
Draco studied James. He didn't believe in instinct, not the way Gryffindors did, however he knew how to read people. James was hiding something, although he didn't think that James was a killer. His family, his job and his history pointed out to the fact that if James had to kill, it would be sudden and impulsive. He would not plan a murder. "There's always a defence. We just need to find it," he said, trying to find a way to get the truth. "Let's start with the basics. They say you were in Hogsmeade. There's no witnesses, but magical evidence puts you there. They claim you were there until two in the morning."
The answer was immediate and truthful. Draco raised an eyebrow in answer. "What's the next question I'll ask?"
James' eyes flashed, but they both knew that James knew the question as well as Draco. "Where was I? The answer is that I can't tell you."
Draco snorted. "That's the first thing you need to tell me . If we can place you somewhere else, then they have nothing, and the entire case falls apart. So again, where were you?"
James stared Draco down, eyes not wavering. "I won't tell you. Is that better?"
"Only if you've lost your mind," Draco replied. However, he'd dealt with Potter (the father) long enough to know that he couldn't push Potter (the son) into talking, but he needed to find a way. "Look, anything you tell me if confidential, and I can't repeat it to anyone, but if I know where you were, I can find some other evidence that points away from Hogsmeade. We won't know until you tell me."
Draco waited. It was a game, one that he knew how to play. You couldn't go too fast or people closed up, but you had to keep reasoning with them until they saw your point of view. He knew he had won the game when James sighed.
"And you won't tell anyone." There was hesitation in his voice, but that was to be expected.
"You know the rules as well as me. If I do, I can be kicked out of the Wizengamot, and I like my job very much." It was the truth, but then there were ways around the truth, including wearing James down. "Why don't you start with telling me where you were?"
James looked down at his hands, peeling off the cuticles of his thumb, until he was bleeding. "I was with Ted," he muttered.
Draco frowned, because he didn't see the problem. In fact, an alibi would destroy the circumstantial case the Aurors had against James. "All right, so we get this Ted person to testify with you, offer Pensieve evidence-"
f "No." James' head snapped up and he looked terrified. "You can't tell anyone; you promised. No one can know I was with Teddy, do you understand me?"
Draco nodded, but he really didn't understand, and then something finally clicked. "Teddy... Lupin. Fuck." It might not have been the most professional response, but he was starting to piece things together. Teddy Lupin, early October 12th, that had been the day of Lupin and Victoire Weasley's wedding. "Tell me you were at a stag party." He doubted from James' reaction, but it would have solved his problem.
James shook his head, looking like a kicked puppy. "There was one, but it was early. We left at ten. That's how they got the evidence, I think. We went to the Three Broomsticks. Everyone left before us, and then we went to his place. I spent the night there."
Running his fingers through his hair, Draco started to think about the new information. If the Aurors looked into this, they'd find plenty of witnesses that would put James in Hogsmeade at a much earlier time. Even if Draco could prove that James had left, which was questionable, there was still no way to prove that he hadn't come back. . In the end, it would be a question of whether the members of the Wizengamot would believe James' story, and Draco would not leave this to chance. "James, I know that the truth would have repercussions, but this is a murder case. You can spend the rest of your life in Azkaban. You could receive the kiss for something you didn't do. You need to tell the truth."
"No, I'm not saying a word, and neither will you. I'm not ruining Teddy's life," James said.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, the man cheats on his wife with her cousin and you want to go to Azkaban to protect him." Draco would never understand these Gryffindors. "What's wrong with you? Are you as much of a martyr as your father?"
"Leave him out," James hissed.
"Really? And how do you think that's going to work when his eldest son ends up in Azkaban for life?" Children, they were all the same. Infuriating, stubborn, and short-sighted. At least Scorpius knew when it was time to shut up, but James didn't seem the type to listen to reason. Deciding that pushing the issue would get him nowhere, Draco decided to change tactic and return to the question of the alibi later on. "Fine, if you don't want to say anything, then we need to go for plan B. If you can't attack the evidence, then you attack the people collecting the evidence."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me? Are you really trying to get yourself to Azkaban?"
"I've seen your plan B. You destroy good men's careers," James said.
"No, I just point out horrible mistakes that these so-called good men make, and if I weren't there to point them out, innocent people would be in jail." Draco rested his arms on the table and leaned forward. "We've got nothing, James. If I can't use the truth to get you out, I have to prove that they did a lousy job with the case. It's either or. We have no other choice."
James stared at him, eyes not wavering. "I know, but we won't do either, and I understand that you can't help me with what I'm telling you, but that's how it's going to be. I already told my parents that no one can help me. Tell them you talk to me and there's no case, and you're not taking my defence. I appreciate it if you'd wait a day or two, though. I... I'd rather stay here instead of Azkaban."
There was the slightest hesitation, enough to tell Draco that James knew exactly how terrible things would be. Draco wasn't sure if he should be impressed by his nobility or if he should pity James for his stupidity. He decided for the later, while resolving to fight the case.
"You can stay here until the trial." There was a soft sigh of relief, and Draco smiled at the young man. "I'll find something. I promise."
James shook his head. "Don't make promises you can't keep. I've looked at that file. I know I'm not supposed to, but Aurors... they left the file around, gave me a chance in case I saw something that could get me off. There's enough there to find me guilty. Just... keep me here until the end of the trial. That's more than I expected."
Right, definitely the Potter martyr complex. Draco picked up the file and stood up. He stepped around the little table and stood next to James' chair. "I'll get you home." He squeezed James' shoulder, and then left. He had work to do.
Ted Lupin's Residence - Cornwall
Sunday, 10th of November, 2024
Draco had tried everything, looked at every decree, every precedent, studied similar cases, but it all led to one conclusion: James would be found guilty. However, there was one person that could get him off.
After the war, his mother had started speaking to her sister again. Slowly the two family had grown closer, but he wasn't as close to Teddy as the Potters were. He hoped that this detachment would help, or at least he was telling himself that.
He Apparated to the coast where Victoire and Teddy had moved after the wedding, choosing to live near her parents. He knew that people talked about how gorgeous the area was and how they could hear the sea, but to Draco is was small and lonely, and he wouldn't have been caught dead in a place like this, and yet here he was, walking toward their house and a few moments later, he was knocking on the door.
"Mr. Malfoy," Victoire said surprised as she opened the door. "What... did anything happen to Andromeda?"
Draco smiled and shook his head. "No, she's fine. I needed to have a word with Teddy. Is he here?" He knew very well that he was since he had waited around until he had seen the young man go home, but it didn't seem wise to say so.
Victoire stepped aside and let him inside. 'Teddy, honey, Mr. Malfoy is here," she yelled, before Teddy appeared from what Draco presumed was the bedroom.
"Draco?" Teddy frowned and his purple hair seemed to dim as he eyed Draco.
"I need to speak with you in private if you don't mind." Draco smiled at Victoire. "Family business. I hope you understand."
Victoire took her cloak from the peg next to the door. "I have to go and speak to maman, anyway. I just made tea and there's scones in the cupboard." She smiled at Draco. "Don't let him eat too many."
Someone else would feel bad about what he was about to do, but Draco was a Defender above all, and he would do anything to help his client, even hurt this clueless young woman. "I won't."
She went to her husband and kissed his cheek, before saying goodbye and leaving them alone. Only then Teddy seemed to be able to move again. "This is about Jamie, isn't it?
Draco nodded. "James' trial will start tomorrow, and as it stands, he's going to Azkaban for life."
"He didn't do it," Teddy said.
"I know," Draco answered, "but I have no way of proving it. The Aurors have built a great case, there only problem is that the they have no one to place James at Hogsmeade at two in the morning. Of course, with all the magical evidence and his lack of alibi, it really won't be a problem."
"I... You'll find something," Teddy said.
Draco snorted. "And here I thought that Hufflepufs were loyal. Let me know how you'll look at Potter in the eye knowing that you let his son go to Azkaban to protect you."
"That's not fair. I told James that I'd tell them," Teddy snapped back, hair turning brown. "He refused; he told me not to say anything."
"You didn't try hard enough," Draco said. "I can't say anything, because he won't let me, and I'm bound by his wishes. You are not."
"You can," Draco snapped back, cutting him off. "He's twenty-two and ready to spend the rest of his life in Azkaban because of you." He shook his head. "You make aunt Bella look like a true altruist. Your parents must be rolling in their graves." He knew that he wasn't playing fair, but there was a young man's life on the balance, and he would do anything to win his case. "I hope you can live with yourself." With those parting words, Draco opened the doors and Disapparated. Hopefully, his words would make a difference.
Wizengamot Courtroom Four - Ministry
Monday, 11th of November, 2024
The courtroom was packed with relatives and onlookers. The press has been kept outside, but everyone knew that the vultures were out there, waiting to hear and report all the sordid details of the trial of the decade.
At nine o'clock sharp, James was brought inside the courtroom by two burly Hit Wizards, who pushed him down onto the chair, and the chains wrapped around his arms. James didn't say a word or look at anyone.
Draco moved closer and smiled at the man, something he rarely did. "Are you all right?"
James nodded. "Thanks... I know this is going to ruin your record, but... thank you for keeping me here, and visiting me."
"We were building up a case," Draco answered. Although they had done very little of that, Draco had met with James daily and spent hours with him, going over testimony and evidence, but mostly keeping him company.
"I bet you never spent a whole week building such a shitty case," James said, cracking a smile.
"Ye of little faith." Of course, James was right, they both knew it. Draco squeezed James' shoulder as the members of the Wizengamot came in and sat down.
When the room finally quieted down, the Chief Warlock spoke up. "Trial of the eleventh of November, 2024 into an offence committed under the Decree for the Safety of Wizards and the Decree Against the Use of Magical Means To Harm a Wizard by James Sirius Potter, resident at number eight, Red Lion Street, Godric's Hollow, West Country. Interrogator: Bartholomew Mark Williamson, Chief Warlock. Defender: Draco Malfoy. Court Scribe: Alanna Finnegan. "
He took out a parchment and began reading. "The charges against the accused are as follows: That he did knowingly, deliberately and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, caused the magical death of Thomas Coldwall, on the twelveth of October at thirty-seven minutes past one in the morning, which constitutes an offence under Paragraph D of the Decree for the Safety of Wizards of 1834, and also under Paragraph A, Section 3 of the Decree Against the Use of Magical Means To Harm a Wizard of 1745." Williamson looked up. "Let's begin, shall we?"
Thus the longest day of Draco's career began. Hour after hour, the Aurors answered question about the case. Each answer added to the previous one to build a perfect case based on the false premise that James Sirius had been in Hogsmeade that night.
Draco tried to poke holes in their case, but he was restricted by James' wishes. He asked about the Aurors' opinion of James and what a good Auror he was, but that wasn't enough to rebut the evidence of guilt presented thus far and James stubbornly refused to let him go after the Aurors on a more personal level.
When Williamson started to question James, he answered with yes and no, but he refused to give an information about his whereabouts that night. By the end of the day, Draco felt the same desperation that he could see in Potter's face.
"Mr. Malfoy, do you have any witnesses?" Williamson asked after wrapping up his case.
The courtroom was silent, and all eyes were on Draco. This was when he would start his defence and would strike the coup de grace, but he had nothing. He looked at the spectators. Teddy was sitting there with his wife, holding her hand. Draco had hoped, but nothings was happening. He finally looked at James, who was sitting tall in the magical chair. Their eyes met, and James must have seen the question in Draco's face, because he shook his head slightly.
Draco looked up at the Chief Warlock. "We do not."
"You can't," James hissed.
"Mr. Malfoy, if this is some last minute attempt-"
"It isn't. Mr. Lupin has material evidence on the case," he answered, straightening up. "In fact, he is aware of Mr. Potter's whereabouts at the time of the murder and his testimony will prove Mr. Potter's innocence."
Williamson looked at the new witness from above the rim of his glasses. Teddy was standing there, looking uncomfortable and ready to bolt. "Is that so, Mr. Lupin?"
Teddy's hair turned as red as his face as he nodded. "Yes, Sir."
"Why didn't you come forward before? Aren't you friends with Mr. Potter?" Williamson pressed on.
Teddy nodded again, flushing even more. "We are, but I was hoping... I mean, I didn't think it'd be necessary, because Jamie would never hurt anyone, and I thought people would know that, and-" He turned his head to look at James. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have let you go through this."
"Mr. Lupin, you haven't told us what you know," William said. "How do you know that Mr. Potter didn't do it?"
Slowly, Teddy's gaze moved from James and he looked over his shoulder at his wife, and smiled at her. "I love you," he murmured, before turning to face the Wizengamot. "I know because Jamie was with me that night. It was the night before my wedding, and we had a stag party. We went to Hogsmeade that night, at the three Broomsticks, and when everyone left, we went to my house... my old house, not where I live with my wife."
"And how can you be sure that Mr. Potter didn't leave in the middle of the night?" another member of the Wizengamot asked.
Teddy shook his head. "I would have known."
"Are you telling us that after a stag party you were sober enough to hear someone Disapparating from your house?" a third member asked, laughing.
"You can't Disapparate from the house. There are anti-Disapparition jinx at my house," Teddy answered.
"Still," a witch said with a kind voice. "You can hardly tell us that you could have noticed him getting up and leaving your house."
"That's exactly what I'm telling you," Teddy said stubbornly.
"Why are we wasting time?" a wizard with a dark, long beard. "They are friends and he's trying to help him. It's obvious. Let's get this to a vote and let's get it over."
"If I may," Draco interrupted, stepping closer to the stand. "I believe I can clarify this point." He turned toward his witness. "Mr. Lupin, you seem pretty adamant about what you just told us. Can you clarify for the Wizengamot how you could know if Mr. Potter left the house?"
Teddy looked down. "Because when we sleep, I always put my arm around him. If he left the bed, I'd know," he said softly. Whatever else he might have said was drowned by the noises inside the courtroom.
"It's another attempt to protect him," another member of the Wizengamot called out.
"No!" Teddy stepped closer as well, staring at Williamson. "I didn't want to testify, I didn't want to risk my marriage, but I'm telling you the truth. Jamie and I ... we were lovers for years, and that... that was our last night together. Neither of us wanted to come out, and I love my wife, so we knew it was never going anywhere, but we couldn't stay away from each other, but then the wedding- We both think marriage is sacred and we didn't want to betray my wife, so that was the last night, and I would have known if he had left, but he didn't. He spend the whole night with me, which means he couldn't have killed whatever his name was. Jamie couldn't kill anyone, and he certainly couldn't have done it that night."
A sudden silence fell upon the courtroom, and then there was a rustle from the stands, with Victorie getting up and pushing through the crowd, trying to get out. "No, honey, please," Teddy started, but she didn't seem to listen to him. "Victoria, honey, you need to listen to me." When the second appeal led to the same result, Teddy turned to James. "I'm sorry, but-"
"Go after her," James said. "Tell her... tell her how much you love her, and tell her I'm sorry, too. Good luck."
Teddy nodded. "To you, too." He didn't look at the Wizengamot nor did he wait for them to say that they were finished with the questions, but he ran outside the courtroom, following his wife.
Inside the courtroom, the witch with the kind voice cleared her throat. "I believe Mr. Malfoy was about to ask us to vote."
Draco didn't want to. He liked his cases to be airtight. "I understand that this is highly uncommon, but I was restrained by my client's wishes in presenting this evidence. I would ask for an adjournment to obtain other testimony proving that Mr. Potter was indeed at Mr. Lupin's residence that night."
"Your request is denied, Mr. Malfoy," Williamson ruled. "Anything else?"
"Sir, members of the Wizengamot, you've heard Mr. Lupin's testimony. He had no interest in fabricating an alibi that would hurt him so much. In light of this and the fact that the Aurors' case is circumstantial and based on the premise that Mr. Potter was in Hogsmade, which he wasn't, I submit that client should be cleared of all charges."
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy. We know how you'd like us to rule," Williamson said, before he cast a spell and their voices were shielded from public hearing.
People in the seats stood up, some left (probably to sell their stories to the press), most stayed and looked at James as if he'd just destroyed civilisation as they knew it. Draco stepped closer again and cast his own privacy spell. "It's going to be okay."
James looked up. His eyes were shiny, but his expression was determined. "Even if I'm cleared, nothing will be okay."
"Trust me. There are worse crimes than fucking someone. If you ever doubt it, go back to the history books and see what I've done, but I'm here now. It might take time, but it will be okay." He smiled softly at James. "You'll be okay."
"I doubt it," he said, and then nodded toward the dais. "I think they are ready. Here goes nothing," he muttered.
"You'll be cleared," Draco said with a conviction that he didn't feel, but he kept a hand on James' shoulder as he took the privacy spell and turned to face the members of the Wizengamot.
"The Wizengamot hereby finds Mr. James Sirius Potter not guilty. " Williamson waved his wand and the restraints around James' wrists opened them up. "Mr. Potter, you've been cleared of all charges for not having committed the offence; you're free to go."
James looked startled, raising his eyes to meet Draco's. "I'm free."
"I told you. I'm the best," Draco answered, with a smirk.
"You're an arse," James said, still sounding shaken.
"True, but the two aren't mutually exclusive." Draco leaned down. "You should get up now," he whispered as he watched Potter come their way. "Remember, you'll be fine."
James frowned, trying to understand what Draco was saying, but he stood up, and then tensed.
"Thank you, Malfoy," Potter said, but he kept his eyes on his son.
"You had a lousy case based on nothing. I only did my job," he answered haughtily. "Now, do yours and get this courtroom cleaned up. I'm sure those jackals of the press are standing outside. I'll get James out from the Wizengamot's private entrance. Keep them occupied them with your ugly face until we can get to the Atrium and out of this building. Potter, are you even listening to me?"
"Mmm, what?" Potter answered as his eyes finally settled on Draco.
"Keep the press occupied until I get your son out." He pointed to the doors at the far end of the dais. "I'll use the private corridors to get him to the Atrium. Talk to them for a ten, fifteen minutes."
Potter nodded. "Fine." He looked at James again. "We'll talk at home."
"Yes, you can have your father/son bonding moment later." He put a hand on James' back. "Let's go, James," he said as he pushed the young man toward the private exit. As he led the Potter heir through the building and out of the Ministry, Draco decided that he never wanted to have anything to do with the Potter family again.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Friday, 15th of November, 2024
"Master Draco." The house elf stood, trembling in the middle of Draco's room. "Be very sorry to be waking the Master, but-" The house elf began banging his head against the wall.
"Oh for Merlin's sake, stop that ruckus and tell me why you woke me up," Draco said imperiously, although it was hard to keep the tone when he could barely keep his eyes open, but rules were to be followed and if he were kind, the house elf was likely to inflict more damage upon himself.
"Mr. Potter be here. He be screaming and very drunk. He won't be leaving." The trembling increased. "Do I be calling Aurors?"
Draco signed. "No, don't call them. He's a bloody Auror," he added under his breath. "I'll take care of this." His robe flew his way as he stood up thanks to the house elf and he put it on his naked form. "Where is he?"
"I be trapped him in the drawing room. He cannot leave," the house elf answered.
Draco snorted. "I'm sure he'll love that one." He made his way to the drawing room, already picturing all the ways he could use this against Potter, but when he got there, all his project vanished, because this wasn't Potter, but James, who was currently lying on the couch, muttering to himself. "Are you all right?'
"All right? All fucking right?" He sat up, but the alcohol made him sway. Draco moved closer and put an arm around him.
"You're going to fall off of my couch, and then I'd have to explain to the Healers why I have a young and very drunk James Potter in my house," he said, smiling. "It's really not good for my reputation."
"What about mine?" James answered, dragging the words.
"Yours will be just fine," he said, wincing his noise at the smell of alcohol. "However, we're going to have this discussion in the morning, when you aren't going to fall off the couch."
"I don't want to go to bed. I have to go home," he said.
Was he pouting? Draco swore that the boy was pouting at him. He should kick him out and now, but instead he found himself holding James closer. "You can stay here. We have plenty of rooms. You can get some sleep and tomorrow everything will be fine."
"You already said that," James said as he rested his head against Draco's shoulder. "It's not okay; it's shitty."
Draco sighed. "We'll worry about it tomorrow. Now, let's get up and moving."
"I can't move."
Draco snorted. "That's the first true thing you've said. Fides," he called the house elf, knowing that he'd be delighted to help after waking him up. "Fides, Apparate Mr. Potter to the red room. He'll be spending the night here."
The house elf's eyes opened wide, but he didn't say anything. "Yes, Master Draco." He took James' hand. "Goodnight, Master Draco."
"Goodnight, Fides," he said without thinking, and when the house elf Disapparated with James in tow, he got up and went to his room. Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Friday, 15th of November, 2024
James woke up with the mother of all hangovers. He couldn't remember anything and the total darkness didn't help, although it proved that it wasn't in his flat. There was always light in his bedroom. With very slow and controlled movements, he got up, hands in front of him trying to find his wand while watching out for objects, but it wasn't good enough and he hit his foot against something. "Fuck."
The torches lit at once, making him shut his eyes. "Mr. Potter be awake. Master be waiting for breakfast."
"Who the fuck are you and how long have you been here?" God, he truly hated house elves. They were sneaky bastards. He'd learnt that from Kreacher.
"I be Fides. Master Draco be waiting in his sitting room for his meal," the house elf informed him.
James knew house elves lingo enough to understand that somehow the house elf had woken him up for some unknown reason, but when the second part of the statement made it past his muddled brain, he cursed again. "Fuck, fuck, fuck... what the hell did I do?"
"You be coming here drunk," the house elf supplied helpfully, although James wanted to throttle him. "Master Draco be waiting for breakfast. He be late for work, soon."
James snorted. Of course, even the bloody Malfoy house elf worried about work. More than that he was annoyed with James, proven by the fact that the little creature practically forced the robe on him (and when the hell had he got naked? Oh Merlin, he couldn't have). However, he decided that complying would be easier than fighting, and eventually he followed the house elf to Draco's sitting room, which ended up being only a few doors down.
When he stepped in, he saw Draco wearing a night robe in dark, green velvet, covering him and spilling down the chair. He looked like a king of ancient times, sitting on his throne, all intent on reading the Daily Prophet. There was a ruffle of paper as Draco folded the Prophet and then the blond looked up.
"Look who the cat dragged in. Thank you, Fides." Draco tossed the paper on the table, and James' picture fighting with a group of wizard took most of the front page. "You had an eventful night. Do you remember any of it?"
James shook his head and then winced. "Fuck-"
Draco bit his lip, trying not to laugh. He'd seen his son discover the joys and sorrows of alcohol, and this was nothing out of the ordinary. "That vial is for your hangover. Drink it and then we can have breakfast. We can also discuss what happened. I have not defended you so you can get arrested on assault and battery."
James glared at the blond, but took the vial and drank the despicable potion in one go. "Couldn't you send the potion with the bloody house elf?"
"And miss the chance to watch you suffer," Draco answered with a smirk. "Besides, I always tell Scorpius that if you're stupid enough to drink without taking precautions, then you deserves what's coming to you. Perhaps this will make you think twice about doing it again."
"You're not my father," James snapped out, not sure why he was arguing. Draco didn't owe him anything. If anything, he owed the man his freedom, and now for this, whatever this was, since he still had no recollection of the previous night.
"Thank Merlin for small favours. My parents would have a fit if they saw my son on the front page of the Daily Prophet, brawling like a commoner," he answered, and then wave his hand, pushing the chair closest to him out. "Sit, James, and stop acting like your father. I really don't like him."
James was ready to defend his father, but then closed his mouth. In the week preceding the trial, he had learnt that it was easier to avoid talking about his father, because Draco could rant for hours, and would not stop until you gave up. His head was pounding too much to waste so much time fighting a losing battle.
He sat down, and brought the chair near the table. He reached for tea and toast, but skipped the paper. "I never touched them, and they can't arrest me for calling them pricks," he said, studying the marmalade with undo interest. "They stopped me, never met them before, called me every name you can think. I was accused of killing a man and I got fan letters; I like cock and they want to hang me. What the fuck is wrong with these people?"
The touch was unexpected, although it shouldn't have been. Draco had clapped his back, squeezed his shoulder, rubbed his arm, he'd done all of these things while he was facing a life sentence in Azkaban. James did not expect the hand on his back while at Malfoy manor. Still he looked at the other man and smiled. "Is it so wrong?"
Draco shook his head. "It's not wrong at all, James, but you scare them. It's one thing if some bloke hides in the shadows of Knockturn Alley to suck cock. You are the son of Harry Potter, most wanted bachelor, newest star of the wizarding world. You're supposed to represent those wholesome plebeian values the average wizard wants in life, and if you like cock, then what about their husband, boyfriends, sons?"
"But you aren't afraid," James said. He'd wondered about Draco since he had taken on the case. His father had said that it was a life debt and Draco had no choice, but the life debt hadn't forced him to work day and night for him. It hadn't compelled Draco to be nice and understanding. James hadn't questioned it while in a prison cell, but now his confusion showed in his face. "Why?"
Draco laughed as he pulled back. "I said the average wizard and wholesome plebeian values. Can you really apply those words to me? I'll let you in on a secret or two. One, most rich purebloods do not limit themselves by gender. They do what feels good when it feels good. We do understand the value of secrecy though. Two, Teddy is hardly an exceptional case in our family. Most Black men and a few women are bisexual."
"Are you?" Merlin, he was such an idiot, blurting out questions without thinking. There had been so many stories about Draco and what the press called a sham of a marriage, even more than what they had written about James and Ted. James had always thought that they had to be true. They were in the paper and Draco was an ex-Death Eater and a Slytherin. He had never questioned if they were accurate or even relevant. "You don't have to tell me. I'm sorry."
"You don't have to apologise. It's a logical question, and a fair one considering all that you told me." Draco didn't look at him while speaking, but instead he was staring into thin air. "I consider myself gay... mostly."
"So your marriage was really a sham-"
James didn't even finish the sentence that he felt the pull of magic rip him from his chair. He flew across the room, his back banging against the wall. He could feel the moulding pressed against his body, pressing hard against his flesh and he knew that he'd be feeling this for days, but he had no time to complain because Draco was standing inches away from him.
"Do not talk about my marriage like that."
Each word was hissed, a thread onto itself, and James knew that he'd said too much. "I'm sorry, okay? I just thought- Urgh." He fell onto the floor with a loud thud, his head threatening to explode and his stomach fighting to keep the morsel of toast down.
"I loved my wife, and I will not have you speak like that of her inside my house- our house." Draco turned around and went back to table.
James saw the struggle to collect himself and he took his time to return to his seat, giving Draco the time he needed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean... you said... and the papers... Fuck, I should go."
Draco sighed. "The papers say a lot of things. They used to say that you were fucking a different witch each week. You, better than anyone, should know how many lies get printed daily." For the first time since they started talking about this, their eyes met. "I loved her. We were friends, we were lovers, we were husband and wife. She knew I preferred men by in large, but it didn't matter, because I loved her and I was faithful to her."
James listened, and he could see how difficult talking about her was for Draco. "You really don't have to tell me any of that. Really. I shouldn't have assumed."
"No, no you shouldn't have, but I'll tell you anyway. Maybe you'll stop pining after Teddy."
"I'm not pining," James objected.
Draco picked up the paper, and began reading. "Mr. Potter allegedly made a pass on one of the wizard, calling him Teddy. You started a fight in a bar because of him, and he doesn't deserve it. The fact that you're bi isn't an excuse to cheat. I never ever cheated on Astoria. She was sick, which is known, but she was sick for decades. She was hit while leaving Hogwarts during the last battle. No one but my family knows this, and if anyone finds out, I will hex your bollocks off myself," he warned.
"We knew that we would never grow old together, knew that she wouldn't see Scorpius finish school, we were lucky that she saw him start school, but it didn't matter. I loved her too much not to marry her, not to have a child with her, and not to raise that child after she passed away. Six years she's been dead and there isn't a day that I don't think of her. So whatever the Daily Prophet says, they can sod off, and whatever Ted tells you, he's lying. He didn't make a noble choice by leaving you, when he shouldn't have started in the first place, and sooner or later, he'll cheat on her, coming up with some excuse on why he should."
"Why do you care? Aren't you supposed to appreciate exception and going around the rules?" James asked, not understanding why Draco was telling any of this.
"I believe in marriage and family," Draco said after a moment. "I've always done what was required of me to protect my family. Sometimes, I've made the wrong choices, but they were all done for them. I would die for them; I could have died. I don't like it when people make a mock of it, especially when those people are relatives." He reached over and covered James' hand with his. "Be careful, James."
James nodded. "I will, but it's over. I told Teddy." Perhaps that should make him suspicious, because it had never been Teddy's idea to end it, but his. He'd been the one to insist, because he didn't want to hurt Victoire. He should wonder about Teddy, but he couldn't. They had grown up together, and Teddy wouldn't hurt him. He couldn't. Teddy wouldn't betray him like that. "I'll be fine." He smiled a little. "Draco Malfoy worries about James Sirius Potter, I bet the Daily Prophet would never write that, because no one would believe it."
Draco chuckled. "No one thought that they'd see a Potter testifying on behalf of three Malfoys, or a Malfoy defending a Potter. Stranger things have happened. Life is full of surprises. Now, stop talking about irrelevant things and headlines, and let's finish breakfast. I'm going to be late for work and so will you."
"You just want me out of your house," James said, laughing.
Draco snorted. "There might be some truth to that. I don't think my father can take another Potter around. He's still getting used to Albus."
"But I'm much better looking," James answered, pleased when Draco laughed.
"Maybe, but I'm still getting you out, and no more visit without invitation." Draco should have known that those words would come to bite him in the arse.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Sunday, 22th of December, 2024
"Dad, can I have a word with you?"
Draco steadied himself for whatever was coming, because he knew that tone too well. This was Scorpius' tone for when he wanted the moon and the sun and possibly yesterday, but he'd pretend to be nice and patient. This was the tone that had Draco moving heaven and earth to get Scorpius what he wanted. So his son was spoilt, but he was a Malfoy and Draco wouldn't apologise for giving his only son whatever he wanted.
"Of course, Scorpius, but do sit down. I won't get a crick in my neck because you find it necessary to stand there like you're trying to smash the marble into submission," he said. He had to admit that this hesitancy was new. Maybe Scorpius really wanted the moon and the sun. "So what is it that you want?"
"Well... you know how Albus has Christmas Eve dinner with us-"
Draco waited patiently for something, but after ninety seconds of silence marked by the pendulum in the corner, he spoke up. "Yes, and he's been doing that since you were in your second year." He stopped, because Scorpius couldn't be saying what he was thinking. "You will have dinner with us. I don't care what you two have planned, you will have dinner with us."
Scorpius shook his head so hard that Draco thought it would unscrew from his body. "No, that's not it. Albus is coming, and he's spending the night as usual. We're going to leave after presents and brunch and have dinner at his grandmother."
"Again, you've been doing this since second year, when I had to take you to the Burrow, so I'm not sure why you're telling me all of this," Draco answered, mind racing to predict and prepare for whatever was coming.
"I was hoping that James could come too," Scorpius blurted out.
That was not something he had expected, not as bad as wanting the moon, but a lot more suspicious. "Why? You aren't friends with him. In fact, I distinctly remember listening to too many complains about what an arrogant git he was, and how he hated all Slytherins, and how you never wanted to see him." Draco blanched when his own mind began spinning all sorts of scenarios, all bringing him to one conclusion. "Do you... have you... do you like him?" he finally asked, afraid of the answer, because that would be rather distasteful. It wasn't that Draco was in love with James, or even cared for him, but it was impossible not to notice James' good looks, even during those long day spent in a prison cell, even with the danger of spending the rest of his life in jail. James also had a quiet dignity that Draco didn't often associate with Gryffindor. So if he had jerked off once or twice picturing his cock inside James' very fine arse, there was nothing wrong. However, the fact that he and his son were lusting after the same man was ghastly.
"Ewww, Dad, he's such a Gryffindor."
The ultimate insult coming from Scorpius' lips had Draco breathing again. He smiled at his son now that the knot in his stomach was gone. "I didn't mean to insult you, but you don't exactly like him. I thought that an invitation meant-"
"That a want to shag him? That's gross, Dad. Besides, I'm sort of-" Scorpius blushed.
Draco could see the redness start under his robe and go all the way to his scalp. He really would need to learn to control himself better, he thought off-handedly. "You sort of?"
"I'm seeing Albus' cousin," he murmured.
"Oh God, don't tell me it's Granger's daughter," he said, because James was starting to look like a better option. A halfblood in the family. It was unheard of.
"Oy, Dad, you're giving yourself a heart attack. It's not the half-blood Weasley, or the black Weasley, or the Veela Weasley," Scorpius said.
Draco chuckled. "You've been listening to your grandfather again I see, and that only leaves Percy Weasley. That's not so bad. Audrey comes from an old family, no scandals about their daughters. Please tell me it's Lucy and not Molly."
Scorpius smiled. "It is Lucy, and you really shouldn't worry that much. It's not like we're getting married, or anything. We're only eighteen."
There it was, the blush again. Draco had always known about Scorpius' girlfriends, but the blush was definitely new. Maybe they weren't getting married, yet, but he could see it was more. "All right, I won't mention her again." At least for now. "Back to James, why would he want to spend Christmas Eve with us? He has plenty of family and friends."
"They aren't talking to him. Lucy told me, and then I asked Albus, and he said that James made him promise not to tell me, but since I knew, he told me the entire story, and it seems that they've stopped talking to him, all of them... well mostly all of them... okay, some of them. Albus and Lily still talk to him, but his parents are being weird, and he's not invite-."
"Slow down, Scorpius. You're making no sense. Potter is a pain in the arse, but he loves his children. Why would he do that?" he asked.
"I don't know, Al was being all strange when talking about it, but something about Victoire being pregnant, and Ted promising never to do it again, and he really loves her and he's straight, it was all James' fault-"
Draco snorted at that.
"Exactly! That's what I said. Unless James put him under the Imperius, it's not just James' fault, but Mr. And Mrs. Potter don't want to take sides between James and Teddy. James is taking the blame, saying that it was indeed him," Scorpius said, stopping barely enough to take a breath. "The rest of the family - well most of the family - is taking Victorie's side and they don't want her uncomfortable, so James isn't invited for the Christmas holiday, neither Christmas Eve or Christmas. He was going to spend it alone at his flat and... andisortofinvitedhim," he finished with a sigh. "Please, Dad. I know Grandfather doesn't like them, but it is Christmas, and he's alone. Al was going to go and be with him, and that's not right, because Al always spends Christmas Eve with us, and it's just the five of us, because aunt Andromeda is going to the Potters, so one more person isn't going to matter."
Draco sighed. "I will let your grandparents know that we have an extra guest for that night."
"Thank you, Dad." Scorpius flew off the couch and hugged him, which he hadn't done in years.
"All of this for Albus?" Draco asked with a raised eyebrow.
The blush was back. "Lucy thinks that they aren't treating James right, and didn't want him alone."
"And if Lucy thinks it-" Draco laughed, but nodded. "All right, tell James that he's officially invited."
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Tuesday, 24th of December, 2024
Dinner had been a strange affair. They were all used to having Albus there, and he and Scorpius did their best to keep the discussion going, but one too many times his father had made some pointed remark about the Potters, the Weasleys or James personally.
Draco had to admit that James had been the picture of grace, answering all of Lucius' insults without raising to bait, staying calm. Draco also noticed that James wasn't truly defending his family, but saying what was expected of him. In short, he was behaving like the heir to one of the most famous families in their world. Potter should have been proud, if he valued these things, but Draco was sure that the uncouth idiot had no idea.
However, the after dinner was downright excruciating. Even Draco, who had witnessed his far share of verbal wars, found this painful. His father had mentioned aunt Andromeda or Teddy every other sentence, and with each new veiled reference to the affair, the air became tenser.
"Father, I believe you've made of point," Draco said, finally.
"And what point would that be, Draco?" Lucius asked.
"That a member of Mother's family cheated on his fiancée," he answered calmly. "James has been very polite in not assigning blame and insulting Mother, albeit indirectly. Perhaps we should avoid the subject and discuss something more pleasant. It is Christmas Eve after all."
"Perhaps, I should go," James said, quietly as he stood up from the spot on the floor he was sharing with Scorpius and Albus.
Draco never understood these youngsters' need to sit on the floor when there were perfectly serviceable couches, but he had given up trying to convince Scorpius of that fact when Scorpius was about fourteen. However, when James got up, he stood up as well. "Please, James, sit. We'd like for you to stay." He put a hand on James' back and nodded toward the couch he was previously occupying, but before he could say more, he heard his mother's voice.
"Yes, James, stay. My husband and I were just going to bed anyway, and I'm sure your brother and Scorpius would love the company." Narcissa stood up holding her hand out for her husband. Draco knew that pose all too well, and a heartbeat later his father stood up and put out his arm, while her hand gracefully landed on it. "Good night. We'll see everyone in the morning."
"Yes, good night," Lucius echoed, but glaring at James as he escorted his wife out of the room.
"Oh God, that was horrible," Scorpius said as soon as the doors closed behind Lucius and Narcissa.
"Scorpius, do not criticise your grandparents," Draco said, before turning to James. Only then, he realised that his hand was still on James' back, and he pulled back. "I do apologise for some of those comments. You took the brunt of animosities that go back decades, and were caused by different generations." He didn't add that his father still resented the fact that Potter had testified in their favour, living under the delusion that they would have been cleared despite his testimony. Draco might not like Potter, but he knew better.
James shook his head. "You don't have to apologise. You didn't say anything. You stood up for me. You do that a lot. You don't think I know about Teddy and how they turned down your family's invitation. I went to talk to them and Victoire told me, right before telling me that she never wanted to see either one of us."
Draco shrugged. "They usually would be here, but this year they decided not to come. It's not the end of the world and I don't care, James. It was the right thing to do. They had a lousy case and you shouldn't have spent your life in Azkaban because someone didn't have the courage to tell the truth, and now it's time for me to retire as well."
He looked at the two boys and smiled. "You two don't stay up too later or you won't get up in the morning. Good night, everyone."
"Good night, Mr. Malfoy," came from Al just as Scorpius said, "Good night, Dad." James only nodded in his direction.
Draco reached the door before hearing his name. "Yes, James?"
"Thank you for tonight... for everything. I appreciated it." He smiled brightly, those smiles that had photographers and readers melting. Draco liked that smiled, especially when it was directed at him. "Good night, Draco."
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Wednesday, 25th of December, 2024
"Draco, are you sure you won't come to your aunt's?"
"Yes, Mother," he answered with a sigh. This was the fifth time that they'd had this discussion today. Fortunately, this time she had waited until they were alone. "You know she'll mention Ted and Victoire, and I don't want to start an argument with her. I did my job, James wasn't the one engaged, and if they want to blame someone, they need to blame Teddy. So unless you want an altercation over Christmas dinner, it's best for me to stay here."
"You'll be all alone."
Draco shrugged. "The house elves have made dinner. We've opened the presents. I'll be fine."
"You're doing this for that boy," Narcissa said, tensing up.
"I have no idea what you mean, Mother," Draco replied calmly.
"Draco Malfoy, don't try that with me. I've seen you work yourself silly for him, you've stood up to your father for him, and I've seen the way you look at him." Narcissa patted Draco's cheek, before putting her gloves on. "He's Harry Potter's son, Draco. He's off limits, and you'll only hurt yourself."
He shook his head. "There's nothing to worry about it. Now go, Mother. Father is waiting for you, and you know how he gets."
She waved her hand. "Rubbish, you know he doesn't mind. You're just trying to get rid of me."
"I'd never. I love you too much," he answered with a grin.
Narcissa smiled and then kissed his cheek. "Fine, make sure to eat, but if you change your mind, join us."
"Yes, Mother." His mother had a way to make him feel like he was fifteen again and still oblivious to real life. However, as he returned to the drawing room, her words haunted him. Was he really this obvious? He'd spent a week with James, he couldn't possibly care. He never allowed himself to care about his clients. No, his mother was seeing things, or maybe it was just lust. It'd been too long since he'd got laid. That was it; it had to be.
"Dad, are you paying attention?"
"What?" Draco looked up and found himself in front of his son and Albus. They always made him do a double take. Scorpius looked so much like him and Albus was the spitting image of his own father. Draco always expected them to start hexing each other. "Ready to go?"
Scorpius nodded. "We're leaving. James just went back to the guest room to pick up his things, but...we're sort of late, so can you tell him we left?"
The blush was back and Draco simply smiled and nodded, because this lateness had something to do with this Lucy girl and he had promised not to bring her up yet. "You enjoy your day, and do give your family my best."
"I will, Mr. Malfoy, and Happy Christmas," Albus said, cheerfully, before the two of them walked out of the room, whispering things that Draco tried very hard not to hear, because those two scared him. It was just not right that a Potter and a Malfoy were such great friends.
"Penny for your thought?" James asked as he stepped inside with a bag in hand.
"I was thinking how scary your brother and my son's discussions are," he said, chuckling.
"Especially when they include my cousin," James muttered.
"So you know. He does look quite smitten, though," he answered.
"You know that with my family, he'll end up married in two years."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Will they know? It took Teddy and Victoire a lot longer." He gestured toward the armchair. "And sit down. You have nowhere to go and I'm all alone. You might as well stay here and have dinner. Unless you have plans."
James put the bag down, but instead of the armchair, he sat on the couch, next to Draco. "Teddy kept pushing it off... because of us."
"That's what he said," Draco pointed out. "It doesn't mean it's true. Maybe he was pushing it off, because he wasn't ready, or maybe he doesn't love her."
"It doesn't matter now," he said with a shrug.
"Merlin, you have a bigger martyr streak than your father and that is not a compliment. I thought you were a Gryffindor, brave, rushing in where angels fear to enter, and all of that. What's wrong with you?" Draco asked, leaning forward. "You're letting your family turn its back on you when you've done wrong."
"How can you say that? I slept with my cousin's fiancé. That's wrong, and I knew it, and I didn't stop."
"He was the one with a fiancée; he's the one with the reason to stop," Draco reasoned. "And now he claims that it's your fault, that you seduced him? Worse than that, you're letting him get away with the lies. How is lying to Victoire any better? He's going to do it again; it's just a matter of time."
"It won't be with me," he said, jaw set in a way that reminded Draco of Potter's determination before a fight, and knew that it was useless to argue.
"Besides, why do you care? I'm nothing to you and he's your cousin."
There was the million galleon question. Why did he care? Draco honestly couldn't come up with an answer. He didn't think 'you have a nice arse' was a valid reason, and besides, he'd met plenty of people with nice arses and he'd never tried to help them. "I guess ... I like you, and I'm a father and I think what they've done is wrong." Despicable was more like it, but you never insulted someone's family (unless speaking to the Weasel, because he couldn't help himself when talking to Ron Weasley). "How bad are things with your family?"
James ran his fingers through his hair. "Bad, really bad. Albus doesn't even know all of it." He turned his head to face Draco. "You can't tell Scorpius or Al."
"I think he knows," he said, softly. Draco scooted over and rubbed James' back. "You've been invited to Malfoy manor for Christmas. They know it's bad, James."
"Yeah, I guess. Lucy would know from uncle Percy, which means they know." James sighed. "I don't know what to do. I love them. I've done everything I was expected to do. Great grades, Quidditch, head boy, Auror, everything, and then they won't even talk to me. Grandmother called me a degenerate, corrupting a good boy like Teddy. Aunt Fleur called me an aberration of nature, a freak."
"You're neither," Draco said gently. "You're a man who likes other men. Nothing wrong with that, and if your family lives in the middle ages, letting old morals dictate their lives, then they are wrong, not you."
"There's nothing wrong with what they believe in. They think you should get married and have children, but I-"
"You are who you are," Draco said. "You can't turn straight for them, and they shouldn't blame you."
"Stop blaming Teddy," James said, annoyed. "You don't understand."
He didn't say that he wasn't blaming anyone at the moment, because he was sure that Teddy was dealing with his own battles. Instead, he turned to James and spoke softly. "Then explain it to me."
James hesitated for a moment, biting his lip. "This isn't just my secret, and you can't tell anyone for any reason, okay?"
Draco nodded, trying to understand why a smart man like James was so obstinate in his defence of a cheating man who'd been happy to let him take all the blame.
"Teddy is gay. Sure, he says that he loves Victoire, but not really, not completely, you know? But he also doesn't want to disappoint them. He needs people to like him, and he wants his grandmother and my dad to be proud of him and that includes a wife and children. I knew it when we started shagging, and I knew that it would end. I also knew that Teddy would never be the one to end it, because then I wouldn't like him or something. That's just the way he is, always been like that.
"When he started dating Victoire, I should have end it, but I kept telling myself one more time, just one more night, and then there was the engagement, and I knew it couldn't continue, not with a marriage." James sighed. "He's never going to be happy in that marriage, but he'll make Victoire happy. I think that's punishment enough, and if he does cheat... well, it won't be with me
"I know it sounds stupid, but I know what it means living with everyone's expectations. Just look at my names, and the legacy I had to carry, but at least I had parents. Teddy had to live with dead parents and a need to do what they would have wanted or what other people told him they would have wanted. He's not a bad man, Draco," he said, softly. "And I'll always care for him, but I also know that he needs to grow up and maybe he will or maybe he won't, but this way I'll give him the chance."
"What about you, James? You're younger than he is, and you're breaking off with your entire family."
"Not my entire family. Albus and Lils still talk to me. My parents are civil, I suppose. Aunt Hermione and uncle Ron have been amazing, though. Their entire family, really. They invite me for dinner, talk to me at the office."
"Granger always had a special affinity for lost causes," Draco answered. Granger and the Weasel were suddenly his favourite Weasleys, and that was just weird.
"Uncle Percy and aunt Audrey are okay. They are more worried about the political backslash than anything else. Not surprisingly. Aunt Audrey and grandma don't really get along," he admitted. "And you've seen Lucy. Molly, her sister, is the same. So it's just some people in the family, mostly grandma, but no one wants to fight her on this."
"Still, she's giving Teddy a chance. What about your chance?" Draco asked.
James smiled brightly. "You gave me my chance, and I'll always be grateful for that."
Draco was still admiring that smile when he felt chopped lips softly press against his. He froze, not sure how they had gone from Teddy to smiling to kissing. "James..."
"I'm... I'm sorry, I should go," he answered, standing up.
"You can stay." Draco seemed to say that a lot around James.
"No, I'm not going to jump from Teddy's bed to yours."
Draco snorted, because while the idea had entered his mind, he wasn't about to shag the twenty-two year old son of Harry Potter. "Bed? You move fast, don't you? I'm not twenty-two, James, and I hardly jump in bed with people no matter what you can read. I was talking about dinner and maybe a game of chest, or we can always go fly," he said with a smirk. "I'm sure that I can still beat a Potter, even at my age."
James laughed. "You never beat Dad."
"I made him win," Draco said with a smirk.
"Sure you did, because you liked him so much," James answered, still grinning. "All right, flying first, and dinner later."
Draco got up as well. "Let's fly."
When they were in the air, turning and diving, the thought hit Draco: he hadn't been this happy since Astoria's death. Another thought followed: he was in so much trouble.
New Year's Eve Ministry Party - London,
Tuesday, 31st of December, 2024
Draco groaned the moment he heard Potter's voice. The Ministry party was a dreadful affair that no one wanted to miss. It was the place to be so you could see people, make connections, get Wizengamot votes for whatever you wanted. In short, it was a work event for which you weren't paid, one that you couldn't avoid even though the rest of world was having fun. A conversation with Harry Potter at the Ministry party was the ultimate torture as far as Draco was concerned. However, the man was still the Head Auror, and their children were friends. Draco put his most diplomatic smile on his face as he turned to face the man. "Potter."
"I wanted to talk to you about James."
Draco raised an eyebrow. He had no idea what this was, but he wasn't going to make it easy on Potter, not after the man had kicked his oldest son out in favour of some misguided loyalty to a dead couple and their child.
"He wants to quit," Potter said with a sigh.
"What a shock?" Draco said. "And you want to talk to me... why exactly?"
"You've been asking for an Auror to help you investigate cases."
"And you've been finding excuses why you can't even spare one for the Wizengamot independent investigations, because you know that this way you keep all the power," Draco pointed out. "If your cases were prepared half as well as you claim them to be you wouldn't be terrified to give me an Auror."
"Give the Wizengamot," Potter hissed out. "Not you, and besides, there are no rules that says that we have to give you one."
"Then why are we discussing this?" Draco asked.
"James says he'll stay on if I transfer him to the Wizengamot, but I won't if you're going to make his life miserable."
Draco snorted. "Me?" He stepped closer while he kept smiling for anyone that might be watching, because when he and Potter got near each other, people were always watching. "I'm not the one making his life miserable. That would be you and that's why he wants to be transferred."
"How would you know what I do?"
Draco could feel the anger pouring off from Potter, and he knew that it wasn't towards him but a situation beyond Potter's control and Potter hated what he couldn't control. Suddenly, Draco was enjoying the conversation. "I know that you kicked him out of the house for Christmas Eve so you could have my aunt and her family over. I know that you didn't stick up for him when your murdering mother-in-law refused to invite him for Christmas dinner. I know that he thinks his family hates him. I know that he's a much better man that you will ever be."
"And how do you know all of that?" Potter spat out.
Draco smirked, because he couldn't have asked for a better opening. "Because he spent the holidays with my family. My parents were very happy to open our home to him; after all, we aren't ruled by such prejudices."
Draco's Office - Ministry of Magic,
Monday, 6th of January, 2025
"What are you doing here?" Draco said as he opened the door of his office. "This is my office and that's my desk and my chair. Get up before I hex you."
James snorted. "Some posh set up you have here, not getting in before nine o'clock. I should have moved here sooner," he said as he got up from the chair.
"It's not my fault that you preferred a job with the commoners, starting their shifts at seven o'clock with no set ending time," he said with a tiny smile. Draco went to his desk and put down his bag before looking up at the other man. They were standing with a chair between them, but James didn't move away. "About time you used some of your intelligence."
The laugh pleased him, not that he would have admitted, but he smiled at James. "Speak with my secretary. Sarah will find you an office, better than that cubicle they give you across the hall. Technically, you work for the Wizengamot, but no one really does independent investigations, so you're pretty much stuck with me."
"That's why I volunteered. No one else would put up with you," James answered, grinning.
It was Draco's turn to snort. "That's because I've made them all look like fools at one time or another. It's not really my fault that they are incompetent idiots."
"You have gone after good men to make a case," James pointed out.
Draco shrugged. "It's my job to give my clients the best defence possible." He pushed the chair backward and took a step forwards. James, acting like a Potter, stood his ground, bringing them so close that Draco could smell the mint toothpaste and coffee. "Are you ready to do what it takes?"
"I'm here to conduct investigations. I do what you tell me. What you do with the information is up to you," James answered.
Draco smiled. "Why don't I believe that?"
James cracked a smile. "I might remind you if you go overboard."
"God, what did I get myself into? Maybe I should have said no to your transfer," he said, laughing, but he stopped when he saw James tensed.
"My father asked you?" he said through grinded teeth.
"Your father doesn't ask anyone. Your father threatened me and explained all the reasons why he shouldn't have approved the transfer," Draco said. "I didn't tell him all the reasons I'm lucky to have you here. You're smart, smarter than he is, you're also more fluid in your thinking. You're a Gryffindor, but you're also good at seeing the other side of the coin. You understand the way the Aurors work, and you also know how important the press is. I know that you won't say anything in front of them, and if pushed, you know how to handle yourself. No one else in that division can give me all that you can. So you're here not because of your trial or your father. You're here, because I think you can help. Now, get out of my office and get settled in. We have work to do."
James grinned and nodded. "Yes, Sir."
As soon as the door closed, Draco slummed down his chair. Merlin, if James didn't learn the concept of personal space, Draco was going to go mad. Trying to will his body to stop reacting to James and his proximity, Draco reached for the first folder and started to work.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Tuesday, 11th of February, 2025
James was spread on Draco's bed, arms over his head. His hair was sticking to his forehead, eyes were closed, lips parted, and he was the most beautiful thing Draco had seen in a long time. Young, vibrant, full of life and when he opened those eyes, he looked up at Draco like nothing else mattered.
"You're gorgeous," Draco whispered, as he rocked his hips, pushing his cock deeper into the tight body.
"Stop talking, and make me come," James answered with a growl.
Draco let out a breathy laughter, not surprised one bit. James wasn't the most patient man. His hand moved between their bodies and his fingers closed around James' prick, stroking him faster and faster, in rhythm with his thrusts. His heart beat sped, their breathing became harsh in the silent room. So close. His hand moved faster, needing just one more push and then-
Draco woke up, his hand, still wrapped around his cock, was covered in semen. "Fuck! He hadn't done this since he was a teenager, and now he was coming in his sleep and all for a bloody Potter. God, he really hated that entire family. Now, he just had to convince his brain that he didn't find James attractive and everything would go back to normal.
He cleaned himself up with a spell, and then settled back down. When he closed his eyes again, his first thought was of James. Not attractive! He snorted, because even in his head it sounded ridiculous. He'd never convince himself of that. Instead, he would be obsessed with a Potter. Now, that was definitely normal for him.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Friday, 14th of February, 2025
"You should be out, having fun," Draco said as he closed yet another file and rubbed his temple. How long had they been doing this? He looked at the watch and sighed. Hours, it seemed.
"Yes, because my social calendar is so full." James rubbed his neck, before looking up from his spot on the floor. "I haven't shagged since the trial. People avoid me like the plague. I could ruin their reputation simply by being the same room."
"Breathing the same air obviously can make you catch a bout of homosexuality," he said dryly. "So what do you think? Am I crazy or is there really someone planting evidence?"
James shrugged. "I don't know. I mean we've got six cases over four years. I don't think it's enough even to bring it to my father. I think we should keep going, look at more cases, even ones you haven't defended, and if we find more, then we talk to Dad for a full investigation. If you go to him now, he'll say that you're try to tarnish the Aurors' reputation and there's nothing here to prove that it's premeditated. It could be simple mistake."
Draco sighed. "Why can't you tell me differently?"
James laughed. "Because it would be a lie, and you know it. You wouldn't even have asked me if you thought you had enough."
"I hate you," Draco murmured, but James was right. He knew that Potter wouldn't do anything with the information they had. "So we keep going and find more, but not tonight."
James pulled himself up and sat on the couch. "Yeah, because my eyes can't take it anymore. Muggle lights are so much better than torches."
"What would you know about Muggle anything? Didn't you grow up at Godric's Hollow?"
James nodded. "But I visit aunt Hermione and uncle Ron. They got a Muggle house, and some things are brilliant, like the telly and the refrigerator."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, but there will be no Muggle things inside the manor. There's too much magic for that elektricical to work here."
"Electricity, and I know and it's a shame. Some things are pretty awesome, even if I prefer magic."
"I hope your cousin likes magic, too," Draco answered.
James smirked. "You owe me ten galleons. I told you they'd get engaged in less than a year. So when's the date?"
Draco reached over and cuffed the back of James' head. "I owe you nothing, and they aren't engaged... yet. They do spend a lot of time here, though. The two of them, Albus and Violet. I swear they are all going to move in here." Their time had the manor had given Draco the chance to observe Scorpius and Lucy together, and he was sure that the engagement would happen sooner rather than later. However, he wasn't ready to admit that James had been right. "And besides Lucy isn't pregnant, which means they can wait. It must be a first for your family."
James smacked Draco's thigh. "Oy, stop being nasty. Just because Victoire was pregnant, it doesn't mean that everyone in my family got married pregnant."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Really? When were your parents married?"
"The second of September, 2001," James said with a frown.
"And when were you born?"
"25th of April, 2002...." James' eyes went wide. "Oh, I never thought about it."
"Not good at math, are you?" Draco teased.
James blushed, but smacked Draco's leg again. "I don't spend my time thinking about my parents having sex. Any more of my relatives were pregnant when they got married?"
"I don't think so, but I don't keep track of all of them. You'd better tell your brother not to get Violet pregnant or he'll have to deal with me. If Pansy doesn't hex him first," Draco said.
James snorted. "I can't believe he's dating Violet Nott. I wish I'd seen Dad's face when he discovered that sweet Violet's parents were Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott. I swear, I think he hates her more than he hates you."
"Pansy can be a true bitch, and she doesn't owe him anything, which makes her able to act like a bigger bitch. She's wonderful," he said, smirking.
"You Slytherins are all insane, you know that, right?"
"And yet, you're here, talking to me."
"I like it... do you mind? I mean I know we're spending so much time together, but if you want me to buzz off, I can, because I don't want to ruin your life. You deserve better than to be stuck with me."
Draco listened to James talk, not really paying attention after the first words. The sudden insecurity was a complete deviation of his usual cockiness. It was rare that James looked less than polished, less than the son of the great Harry Potter. The fact that he was the one to break through the cultivated mask was too much to resist and he leaned in for a kiss, but after a moment, he felt a hand on his chest, pushing him away and he drew his head back, confused.
"I can't... I told you that I'm not jumping from one bed to another."
"That's exactly what it is, Draco. You were married, you have a son, you have a position. I'd be a shag, or maybe something to keep secret. I've done that, and I'm not doing it again." He shook his head. "I like you, I find you interesting and funny, and I'd love to, but I can't. I'm sorry."
"Don't. You don't need to apologise when you're right. This is highly improper." He had gone to school with Potter, could be James' father, they worked together, and as James said, they could never be more than a secret. James deserved more than that. "Go home, James, and I'll see you on Monday."
Draco saw the confusion (and was that hurt?) on James' face, but there was nothing more to do and say. This had to be a professional relationship, and being this close knowing that he could never have James was going to drive hi
m crazy; he needed needed some time. "I'll see you Monday," he repeated, but in a softer tone. This time, James nodded and stood up. "I'm sorry I can't be what you want."
Draco watched him go and smiled sadly. "You're exactly what I want." And that was the real problem.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Saturday, 1st of February, 2025
"Dad, do you have a minute?"
Draco looked up from the files he had in front of him. They had been working at this for weeks and they had found new cases that had been mishandled by the division. They weren't cases Draco had covered, some minor ones not required the full Wizengamot and that was why he hadn't seen them before.
Most of the work was done at the manor, away from indiscrete eyes, and that meant that despite his best resolve, he was spending more time with James. It was driving him crazy to have him around most of his waking time, and knowing that there could never be anything between them.
"Dad, are you listening?"
Draco blinked. "I'm sorry, Scorpius. I was thinking about work. What can I do for you?"
"I said that I wanted to talk to you about Lucy."
"Oh God, she's not pregnant, is she?"
Scorpius frowned. "What? Why would you even-? No, of course, she's not pregnant. I think I know how to make sure I don't get anyone pregnant. You taught me when I was fourteen, made me cast those spells until I was blue in the face."
"No, I remember very clearly that you were red in the face," Draco said, smirking.
"I was fourteen."
"And you learnt," Draco said, "since she's not pregnant. So now, what do you want to talk about?"
"I...." Scorpius tapped his fingers on the table, looking down.
"She's not pregnant, so how bad can it be?"
"I asked her to marry me," Scorpius blurted out.
"Oh God, I owe James ten Galleons."
Scorpius snorted. "I tell you I'm getting married and you're worried about a bet. Merlin, Dad, I know you only have eyes for him, but way to make me feel important."
Draco got up and went around his desk. He cupped his son's face with tenderness. He wasn't one for touches. Astoria had been the one to hug and hold Scorpius, but after her death he had tried, showing his son that he was loved and wanted. "You are important. You are the most important person on this planet, Scorpius, and I want you happy. I want you to have everything you want."
"Even if it's a Weasley."
Draco chuckled. "At least it's the pureblood Weasley."
"One of them. They aren't interchangeable."
"Yes, I'm well aware of that. She belongs to one with political aspiration and a mother with a better pedigree than the father. Percy and Audrey Weasley are hardly your typical Weasleys."
"So... are you okay with this? Really okay?"
Draco hugged him briefly, before pulling back. "Scorpius, I would have been okay if you were marrying Granger's daughter. I would have been okay no matter who you chose. I told you, your happiness is what matters to me, and I am extremely happy that you have chosen such well spoken, poised young woman. Your mother would have liked her."
Scorpius' grin was more than he could have hoped for. "Thank you, Dad," he said as he ran toward the door
"Where are you going in such a rush?" Draco rolled his eyes when his son opened the door and grabbed Lucy's hand. Scorpius practically dragged her all the way inside.
Lucy looked at Scorpius, smiling. "We weren't sure... and we wanted to tell you before we tell my parents, and we know it's not exactly traditional, but this meant a lot to Scorpius. Thank you, Mr. Malfoy."
"Mr. Malfoy is my father. Call me Draco." He took her hands and brought them to his lips, before letting her go. "Welcome to the family, darling."
"So when are you planning to get married?"
There was another one of those furtive exchanges and then the smiles again. "Actually," Lucy started, "we thought we'd get married in late June. Scorpius suggested the gardens, and it's so beautiful here. I hope your parents wouldn't mind."
"You'll talk to Grandfather, right? Explain that he can't hex the guests."
Draco nodded. "I'm sure your grandfather understands that hexing guests at your wedding would be highly inappropriate, and I assure your grandparents will be happy to host the ceremony here. Lucy, you need to speak with Mother. I'm sure she'll be happy to assist you with whatever you need. Also, let me know when your parents would like to come for dinner. It's only proper that we all spend time together."
Lucy nodded. "We'll tell them tonight and then we'll let you know. Thank you again."
"Yes, thanks, Dad. We- we should-"
"Yes, go, have fun. We can discuss the details some other time."
St. Mungo's - London,
Tuesday, 18th of March, 2025
Running in a very unbecoming way through the halls of St. Mungo's, Draco didn't stop until he was finally in the right ward. It took a moment to find someone, and when a mediwitch came out of a room, he ran toward her. "I'm here to see Healer Patil."
The mediwitch looked at him for a few moments, as if used to dealing with people demanding things and trying to decide if the request was a valid one. "Healer Patil is dealing with a critical case.
"Yes, I know." Thank Merlin for Potter's paranoia. People at St. Mungo's knew better than to release the names of any Auror injured, especially when they were Potters. "I was firecalled about five minutes ago about it. I'm the emergency contact for the patient."
The mediwitch's expression turned sour, but Draco couldn't care less about what she might be thinking. James had changed the emergency contact information a week after he'd been transferred. He had briefly considered Albus, but James had been afraid that his brother would have been pressured by their family.
"Healer Patil," Draco repeated, glaring at the mediwitch.
She finally seemed to make up her mind. "I'll let them know you're here." She walked away and entered another room. It took another ten minutes for her to came out with a mediwizard in tow.
"Hello, Mr. Malfoy. I'm Mark Dearborn, and I'm assisting Healer Patil. If you could come with me," he said, gesturing toward a door.
Draco followed him without complaining. He'd dealt with St. Mungo's in the past and he knew how to pick his battles. The mediwizard led him into an office. The name on the desk was that of Padma Patil. The office was elegant and classy, everything was well organised. A good sign in his book "Where is she?"
"She was unable to come and talk to you. Mr. Potter was hit by several hexes and there is extensive damage. She hopes that you understand that her time is better spent with Mr. Potter. She'll be with you as soon as possible." He nodded toward the fireplace. "You can use it to call anyone who needs to be informed. Now, I must go back."
He stood there, nodding blankly. Several hexes. Extensive damage. He knew what that meant. James could be dying. Someone had got close enough to James to hex him not once, but multiple time. He was going to find the bastard and send him to Azkaban for life. No, not even, he'd get the kiss, but first there was James to worry about. Who should he talk to? No one, not until Patil told him what was going on. Everyone else could wait. No one deserved to know, except that James wouldn't have wanted that. Draco knew the man well enough that he still cared for his family.
Sighing, he went to the fireplace. Where to start? The manor, of course. He called and ordered the house elf to get Scorpius. Draco had to wait a few minutes before his son's head appeared.
"Hey, Dad. What's going on?"
"I'm at St. Mungo's."
"Are you all right, Dad?"
Draco could see the flare of panic in his son's face, and he smiled reassuringly. "I'm fine, but James... he's badly hurt, Scorpius. Let Albus know, and Lucy, perhaps she can tell her parents and sister."
Scorpius nodded. "They are both here, Violet too. I'll let them know and then we're coming over."
"All right, I'll see you soon." He closed the connection before calling one more house. There were no house elves this time. "Granger."
"Malfoy?" the witch asked with a frown. "What can I do for you?"
Draco had to admit that she was reacting pretty well considering that the last time they had spoken there was a war, and other than that, they had barely nodded at each other at random events. "I'm at St. Mungo's, because James has been hurt. He's in critical condition, and I know that you've been close to him. I thought you'd want to know."
"Oh God, is he-"
"The Healer is with him," he said, cutting her off. "Extensive damage, that's the best I could get from the mediwizard. Patil has been working on him."
"We'll be there in a few moments," she said, closing the connection on him. A small part of Draco's brain told him that he should be incensed about her dismissal, but right now he had other things to worry about, or another person: James. Running his fingers through his hair, he took a moment to compose himself before stepping out of the room. People would arrive soon and it was much easier to stop them before they created chaos and diverted the attention from where it belonged. He had expected Scorpius to be the first, but instead it was Granger and her husband and their oldest daughter, Rose.
"We spoke five minutes ago. What news do you expect me to have?" he asked with a sneer.
"Why don't you sod off, Malfoy?" the Weasel asked.
"Because James wanted me here, and if it weren't for me, you wouldn't even know that he was sick," Draco answered with a satisfied smiled.
Granger put a hand on her husband's arm. "We're grateful that you called us. James has told us that you spent a lot of time together. We just didn't know that you had got this close.
"That's the problem," the Weasel muttered.
"We're friends, not that it's any of your business, and-" Draco turned when he heard his son's voice. The smile reserved for Scorpius died out when he saw that besides Lucy, Albus and Violet, there were also the Potters with him.
Scorpius followed Draco's gaze and then sighed. "Albus insisted."
Draco nodded. "Don't worry. James would like it," he reassured his son. "Albus, ladies." He was surprised when his future daughter in law stepped closer and hugged him. How long had it been since he'd hugged anyone other than Scorpius? Since Astoria's funeral, his mind supplied, but muscle memory was at work and he slowly closed his arms around her.
"Is he all right?" she asked, softly.
"The Healer is doing everything possible," he answered gently.
"I'm so sorry, Draco."
He frowned, not sure what she meant. She couldn't think that they- no, that was ridiculous. They could be spending a lot of time together, but James had made it clear that he wasn't interested, and his dreams were just that: dreams. "It's not your fault," he said, not knowing how else to answer that.
Lucy looked at him in that way that women did when they thought you were an idiot. His mother was amazing at it, and Astoria had come a close second. It seemed that Lucy would fit right in, especially because like a true Malfoy she didn't voice the thought, but instead pulled away and took Scorpius' hand. "We'll wait with you."
Potter decided to speak up for the first time. "There's no need for him to stay now that we're here."
"There's every need, and you can stop arguing with me, Potter. I'm his emergency contact. I'm staying here until he's awake," Draco answered. "You play nice and I'll let you stay."
"You, son of a bitch, you've convinced him to this."
"Me? What about you, you hypocritical bastard? You and your wife there have turned your backs on him; you have no idea what's going on with him."
"You leave my wife alone-"
"Enough." Albus stepped between the two. "You're acting like you're in school, how can you? Mr. Malfoy, I know you're upset about Jamie, but please, we are family, and we're here for him. And Dad? Stop being an arse, okay? You haven't talked to Jamie in weeks, so you don't get to set rules. Let it go."
"Albus is right," Granger said. "If Jamie wanted him here, then we can't say anything. We should all sit down and not disturb the other patients."
"Before they kick us out," Lucy added.
"I'll hex them if they tell me to leave," the Weaslette finally said.
Draco wasn't paying any attention to her, though. He was more interested in finding out what his son and his friends thought of his relationship with James. They'd have to talk as soon as James was better, and Draco had to believe that he would, because he had lost Astoria to a hex and he didn't think he could go through that again. They might not be a couple, they might not be lovers, but somewhere between an eggnog and a case, James had become part of his life and Draco needed him more than he could say.
St. Mungo's - London,
Tuesday, 18th of March, 2025
Draco jumped from the chair he had requisitioned and walked toward the beautiful woman dressed in a Healer robe, ignoring all the people that were following him. "Please, call me, Draco. How is he?"
"He's alive and awake, but he's very weak. He was hit by three separate hexes. The first one hit his lungs, making it difficult to breathe. We've reversed the process, but it'll a few days before the lungs are at full capacity again," she said in that reassuring voice that Healers used, but Draco had heard it too many times with Astoria to be reassured.
"What else?" he asked. "It wouldn't have taken you this long just for that."
"The second hex was a cutting hex. There are multiple cuts over his body and face, the hex prevented them to close. What complicated things was the third hex, which prevented his blood to coagulate. There was a great blood loss and that put a strain to his heart. He stopped breathing a few time."
"He died." His mind supplied the translation from the medical lingo without having to think about it. "But he's awake now?" He hated sounding so uncertain, but this was like déjà vu, and he had to fight to stay calm.
"Yes, he's awake. He needs to stay calm. His heart wouldn't take much stress now, but with treatment and rest, he'll be fine. The scars are a different thing. We've healed what we can, but these are magical scars, and extremely difficult to cure," she said.
"Who can?" Draco asked.
"There's one specialist," Padma answered. "He's Romanian, but he hardly leaves his country. He does consultations by owl, but it's not part of the treatment we offer at St. Mungo's or what the Aurors would authorise."
Draco against translated what she was saying and before anyone could say anything he spoke up. "I'll personally pay for any expense incurred by St. Mungo's."
"We'll pay anything there's to pay," Potter said. "You know us, Padma, whatever he needs."
Draco rolled his eyes, but didn't argue. "Someone will pay. St. Mungo's won't incur any expenses. Get a message ready for him and I'll have my house elf deliver it in person. It's much faster that way."
Padma nodded "All right, I'll go write to him. In the meantime, if you'd like to see James-"
"Of course, we're going," Potter said.
"I'm sorry, Harry, but James asked for Draco. He insisted that it be Draco alone."
"He doesn't know what he's saying," the Weasel said.
Draco snorted. "Or maybe he does exactly what he's saying."
"Dad?" Scorpius turned his head to look at Albus who was standing near Violet, before looking at his father. "Maybe after you talk to him?
"He shouldn't have that many visitors," Padma said.
That was perfect. Draco had a valid excuse to keep them all out, but again, he knew that James would have wanted to see them. "I'll personally kick them out if they upset him."
"All right, but only a few minutes," she said.
Draco was pretty sure that anyone else would have gotten a different answer, but they all knew how stubborn the Potters and the Weasleys were. He wasn't even surprised when they started arguing about needing more than a few minutes, but he left them there while he went into James' room. Draco closed the door behind him and moved slowly toward the bed. God, he truly hated this place, hated seeing people in those bed.
"I'm alive," James said with a smile.
"I can see that," Draco said finally reaching the bed.
"You were right."
"Always," Draco answered with a smile. "Care to narrow it down?"
James laced their fingers together. "Cast a privacy spell? I can't do magic, healer's orders."
Draco's heart sped a little quicker, making him feel like a teenager again, but the reminder about James' health brought him back down to earth. He cast the spell and turned his attention to the younger man. "So, why am I so brilliant?"
James smiled a little. "Just because, but that's not it. I was on the ground, dying-"
"You're not. You'll be fine."
"Draco, shut up for a moment and let me talk, okay?"
Draco could see how painful it was for James to talk and he simply nodded in reply.
"Good. I was thinking of you, that I didn't want to leave you. I thought you just wanted an easy shag at the start, but then ... then I knew that it was more, and I didn't want to get hurt again. I know that we can't go public, that we'll have to be careful now that the press knows about me. I don't want to ruin your reputation, and if these scars... I mean if you aren't interested anymore, I'd understand-"
Draco leaned down and kissed James gently, cutting off the stream of insecurities. "I'm interested, and we'll fix those scars, so you'll be the handsome man you always were, and I can glare at anyone lusting after you."
James chuckled and then winced. "People have stopped lusting after me."
"Not everyone, James." Draco squeezed his hand. "People still care about you. Your family is out there. They want to see you."
James tensed and there was a look of panic in his face, but it was momentary. "All right, but first, there was something else, all those cases were really piloted. I was following a hunch, and this has to be from within the Auror division. Someone there is steering cases a certain way. I can't see a pattern, but there is something."
"Enough. I'll worry about that. You worry about getting better. I'll stay with you tonight, but we'll see what we can do about moving you to the manor in the morning. You're too exposed here. Now, let me get the zoo that's outside or they'll try to break the door down." He leaned down and kissed him again. "The Healer wants you to stay calm. If it gets too much, just look at me, and I'll take care of the rest.
Draco laughed. "No, that's your father's nickname. Let him have it." His fingers ghosted over one of the scars that covered James' face, before he went to open the door. He let everyone in, before taking a spot on the side where James could easily see him.
"James... oh God." Ginny Potter was the first to reach the bed, kissing her son's forehead. Draco couldn't help glaring at her and then at Potter. They had put their son through hell because they wouldn't want to stand up to Molly Weasley, and now they waltzed in here like nothing had happened, but then James smiled at her and Draco knew that he'd made the right choice.
"I'm fine, Mum," he answered.
"You scared us. You can retire now. Really, go do something else. I'm sure they'll pay you to model or something," Potter answered, trying to sound normal, but Draco could hear the tension there. Well good for them. They should have been scared. They also should have been there for their son.
"Not with these scars," James answered, grinning.
"Oh, Mr. Malfoy is getting you some fancy Romanian healer to fix them," Albus said. "Aren't you lucky?"
James locked eyes with Draco and nodded. "Yeah, I'm lucky all right." He turned to his brother. "I mean who wouldn't want to be cut up, right?"
"Leave it to you to start a new trend," Lucy said.
Granger was saying something as well, but Draco got distracted as Potter came closer. He didn't say anything when the privacy spell went up, but he kept his eyes on James.
"What the hell is going on, Malfoy?"
"It's related to an investigation," he answered, because there was no point lying. "I got everything at the house. We haven't kept anything at the office, and yet someone must have found out." He forced himself to look away from James and focus on Potter. "As soon as James is ready to go home, come to the manor. You and Weasley. You can look at the evidence we've gathered, and then you can decide where to go from there."
"I can't wait until then. Someone, an Auror, was attacked with hexes that we haven't seen in decades, and you're telling me to just wait and see, are you insane?"
"Someone just tried to kill your son and you're worried about a bloody case," Draco snapped back.
Both he and Potter turned when James called him. Draco heard Potter end the privacy spell and he smiled, reminding himself that he could lie. He was a Slytherin, and could keep a straight face when needed. "Everything is fine, James. Your father and I were discussing security. He volunteered to stay here tonight. We'll both make sure that you're all right, and tomorrow we'll see what we can do to move you to the manor."
He looked at his son. "Scorpius, it's time to go. Please tell your grandmother to have the room next to mine ready for James. Albus, you're free to stay over. I'm sure the house elves already think of Scorpius' guest room as yours, anyways. You can see him in the morning; now he needs to get some rest. Weasley, if you could stay for a moment."
There was some murmured conversation with Potter and his wife, but after a moment, everyone was leaving, and there were only four people left in the room. It was Draco's turn to put the privacy spell up. "When I took James' case, I noticed that there were too many cases being built on circumstantial evidence. That's not strange in and of itself, but these were cases where evidence should have been found."
"Don't you think that the Aurors can't do anything right?" Weasley spat out.
"Well, yes, but even the people in your division have more brain than this," Draco answered with a smile. "The point is that there were too many with too many problems."
"But the proof used was the type we would look for," James said. "If anyone other than Draco had got the case, no one would have never noticed."
"Draco is that special, right?" Potter asked.
"I am, or you wouldn't have used a life debt to get me to defend your son," Draco answered. "More than that, I do my own investigations. Everyone else relies on what you give them. If I hadn't done that, I never would have seen it. However, I did, and I started to look around at cases I didn't defend. We've come up with fifteen cases in the past four years. I know it doesn't sound like a lot-"
"I thought he was crazy," James said, "but then I started looking at the evidence and it didn't feel right, call it a gut feeling."
"Or call it analysis. It was all about the details, like you'd have perfectly good evidence to link a suspect in a street where hundreds of people walk, or a pristine cloak in the middle of Knockturn Alley when you know it wouldn't have lasted ten minutes," Draco said.
"And then I found evidence of tempered memories in critical witnesses," James said. "All the spells, all the evidence, they are all done according to the Auror handbook. It's someone inside the division."
"It's why I've kept everything at the house. At first we didn't have enough evidence to take it to anyone... Well, if it weren't for this attack, we still wouldn't have enough evidence, and I'd love to go after the bastard myself, but I'm not going to risk James' life."
"You're not. I'm doing my job," James answered. "I was transferred to investigate cases."
"You weren't transferred to investigate Aurors," Potter said. "You're off the case."
"You can't tell me that, Dad."
"I'm your boss. Bloody hell, James, I'm not having you take this on."
"You're a bloody hypocrite. You haven't given a shit about me, and now all of a sudden you're worried because I'm investigating an-"
Draco blanched as he saw James gasp for air and touch his chest. He closed the gap to the bed and put an arm around James, holding him to his chest. He was supposed to do something, but his brain couldn't seem to function. "James... god, you can't do this to me."
"Ron, get Padma, now." Potter pulled his wand out and started to cast spells, while his friend ran out, coming back with Patil and the mediwizard in tow only moments later.
"Harry, move out of the say," she said and then she began work. The mediwizard seemed to know exactly what she was doing, handing her vials before she even asked for them. It took ten minutes before James was finally breathing normally again. "You can put him down, Draco. James, I've given you a sleeping potion as well, nothing strong, but it'll help you sleep, and in the morning, we'll administer the potions for the scars. Now, Ron, your wife is waiting for you outside. You, two, stop upsetting him or I will kick both of you out." She stared at the two men, before pushing Ron out of the room.
The click of the door was like a waking signal, and he realised that he was still holding James in more than a friendly hug. He avoided Potter's eyes as he eased James down, and then got up. "Get some sleep, James. We'll be right here."
"That's what I'm worried about," James said, voice strained with the stress of the attack, but he was smiling.
"Don't worry. Your father and I have survived six years in the same school. We'll do fine for a night here."
"Not strong my arse," James said with a yawn. He closed his eyes. "She lied... can't keep my eyes open."
Draco made a mental note to thank Patil for this, because after a few more minutes James' breathing slowed down and he was asleep.
"What's going on, Malfoy?"
"Didn't we just do this? Or are you too thick to understand that someone in your office is piloting investigations for some unknown reason."
"Not that. You and James, what's going on? Is this why he asked the transfer?"
Draco snorted. "Leave it to you to shift the blame, but no, this isn't why he asked the transfer, that was all you, and there's nothing going on." He swirled around to find a chair and sat down. "You can choose to believe me or not, but I've never touched him."
"But you want to. No, it's more than that. The way you look at him... you care for him."
Draco's eyes went to James, and then back to Potter. "Your son has your power and courage, his mother's feistiness, but he's also has a pose, manners, savoir faire. He's-"
"He's gay and you were married," Potter said.
"And if you say anything about my wife and marriage, I will hurt you," Draco warned him.
"I don't get it."
Draco snorted. "How could you with your middle class mentality and closed minded ideas of sexuality? That's why you're losing your son, because you don't understand and you're more willing to listen to your mother-in-law than to your own flesh and blood."
"No, he did nothing of the sort. He wasn't the one with the girlfriend; Teddy was, but you wouldn't be the Saviour if you got upset with the poor orphan, even though it's his fault. Instead, you act like an arse with your own son. I expected better from you. You spend your life talking about equality and all of that rot that you Gryffindors like and when it's your son, then it's different. You are more prejudiced than my father. How does it feel to be worse than Lucius Malfoy?"
"You don't understand," Potter said dejectedly.
"Really?" Draco asked with a raised eyebrow. "You've pushed your son away because he's gay. If that's not it, I'd like to hear it."
"It's..." Potter ran his fingers through his hair, the way James did, but Draco didn't find him sexy, just annoying. "Molly and Arthur are very traditional, and Victoire is the oldest, they had been waiting for so long, and when this came out, they couldn't understand, but also they wouldn't let Victoire get a divorce, not with her pregnant, and Teddy promised not to have anything to do with James, and then at Christmas, Molly said that she wouldn't have Jamie there, and there was no changing her mind. After that... I don't know, things got worse ... we started talking less, and he wasn't invited at family affairs to keep the peace."
"So you don't object to him being gay but you're pushing him away to keep the peace. What kind of coward are you?" Draco asked with a frown.
"If you say that I don't understand, I will stick your wand up your arse." Draco stood up. "I understand that my mother looked at the Dark Lord in the eyes and lied to protect me. I understand that a parent is supposed to do anything for his child. I understand that you are hurting him for no reason. I understand that you're Harry bloody Potter and you're failing at your most important job: being a father."
Potter brushed James' hair and sighed. "I love him. He's my first son, my baby. I've watched him grow into an amazing Auror and a good person. He has learnt to deal with the press, never losing his patience with them, always smiling and being friendly. I was looking forward to meeting his wife, spoil his child."
"So you are punishing him because he's not living up to your expectations?"
"No, that's not... maybe it is in part, but Molly is like a mother to me. I didn't want to upset her."
"Easier to hurt your son instead."
"Fuck, Malfoy, lay off, okay? I get it. I fucked up, and you're still avoiding my questions. What are you planning to do with my son?"
Draco smirked. "You really don't want to know that."
Potter groaned and then rolled his eyes. "You sound like Albus and he's eighteen."
"He is a Slytherin."
"And attached to the hip of Parkinson and Nott's daughter."
Draco smiled. "He is rather fond of my goddaughter, although I don't think it's her hip he wants."
Potter groaned. "He should have never sorted into Slytherin."
"And for once, we agree. My son is marrying a Weasley because of Albus." His eyes stopped on James' still form and sighed. "But maybe it's time for things to change. You're right, I care about him, but I have no idea what happens next, Potter. He's young, handsome, and with time, there will be some other scandal and people will stop caring that he's gay. With my wife, it was easy. We met, we loved each other, we got married, we had Scorpius."
"That's how things are supposed to work," Potter said.
"I've never known you to do what you were supposed to."
"And you always did what you were supposed to."
"Maybe we have both changed," Draco said. "Or maybe James is worth it."
"He is," Potter said.
"Then stop being an arse and tell him."
"I'll make things right, but if you hurt him-"
"I'm shaking in my boots," Draco answered with a snort. "Now, cast those Auror spells of yours and make sure no one gets in. We should both get some rest, because once we start investigating this case. We won't be getting any sleep."
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Wednesday, 19th of March, 2025
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" James asked as Draco eased him into one of the sumptuous beds at Malfoy manor.
"The Healers will not release you unless you have someone around. Staying there is too dangerous, and I'm not moving into a flat with one bedroom. So you are stuck in a house with plenty of rooms and servants. How very horrible for you," Draco commented dryly.
James chuckled. "That's not what I meant and you know it."
"I assure you that after spending a night with your father, I know very little other than the fact that I want to throttle him with my bare hand, a feeling that is very familiar," he added with a smirk. "It brought me back to much younger days."
"You two sounds about fifteen whenever come near each other," James commented as he leaned back against the fluffy pillows and closed his eyes. "You should limit yourself to nodding politely and make people believe you're adults."
"And you sound too much like an adult at times."
"Beauty of being Harry Potter's son. You learn quickly to handle the press."
Draco snorted. "Too bad your father still hasn't learnt."
"You just don't like him."
Draco nodded. "Very true, but it doesn't negate what I'm saying."
James patted the bed. "Stop talking for a moment and sit with me. Dad will be here soon."
"You invited him and uncle Ron."
Draco got into bed next to James. "We can't do this by ourselves. I'm not an Auror. I can hex people, but I'm not trained, and you can't do it alone."
"I can't even get up for a few days," James answered with a snort.
"Which is why we let your father do the dirty work, and you can rest."
"Now, you're starting to sound like my father."
Draco leaned closer and brushed their lips together. When he pulled back, he was smiling. "Your father and I have very different ideas when it comes to you."
"You convinced him to talk to me."
"No, knowing you could die convinced him." He smirked. "Knowing that you named me as emergency contact might have had something to do with it. He really doesn't like me in case you didn't know."
"He seemed okay with you this morning."
Draco nodded. "We've finally found something that we both value and that led us to an agreement. He kills me if I hurt you; I kill him if he hurts you."
James snorted. "That's very civil of you two." He rolled to his side, closing his eyes again. "I think I'm going to sleep again. Wake me up when they get here."
"Of course." Draco stayed long enough to see James fall asleep and then went to meet Potter while James could rest.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Wednesday, 19th of March, 2025
As soon as Fides informed him that James was awake, Draco went to his room. The accusation in James' eyes was clear, but he didn't really care. He had done what was best.
"You didn't wake me up."
"You need to rest," Draco answered, standing at the side of the bed. "Your father and uncle didn't stay long, enough to make copies of all of our notes and ask me a few questions. I assure we were all happy about the length of their visit. They have questionable memories of this house and I'd rather not have them start something with Father. They did say that they will be back to see you when you are more rested."
"You should have waken me up; you said you would."
"I lied," Draco answered. "There was no need for you to be there and your health comes first."
"Stop babying me, Draco. I work for you, I'm the one on the field, and I'm the one likely to be in danger. You can treat me like I'm a bloody child."
Draco snorted. "Is that what you think I'm doing? If you were my child, you wouldn't have applied for the Aurors in the first place. There's a reason why Scorpius has a very safe job in an office at the Ministry."
"He works for a Muggleborn. I'd think you'd hate it," James said with a frown.
"Clearwater is very smart and she hired him. If he can get a job with someone who's not likely to care about his last name, then it's because he is able to do the job and not because he's my son," Draco answered. "Having said that, he would have never got a job with the Division, even if I had to personally bribe your father. So no, I'm not treating you like a bloody child, because my feelings for you are hardly that noble."
James smirked. "Is that a blush on your face, Mr. Malfoy?"
"It's most certainly not. That is a very serious admission about a very important subject. Unlike your generation, we hardly go around discussing such private matter."
James groaned in response. "You're going all proper on me, and you've been weird all morning. You usually can talk to me, granted you sound like a dictionary, but you're not this stiff. What's wrong?"
Draco's temper flared at the question. "Silly, idiotic, naive children, that's what you all are. What's wrong? You could have died. Maybe people have forgot about the pain of death, but I haven't. I have lived with it since I was a student; then I watched my wife, my beautiful wife waste away while Healers told me that they would do what they could; now I watched you going through the same thing, not knowing if you'd survive. You're still weak, your heart is still under stress, and if you aren't careful, you could-" He stopped abruptly, the angry tirade ending in complete silence.
"I won't die," James said softly. "I'm sorry I scared you, but I won't die. I'll be careful and I won't overdo it. You were right, there wasn't any reason for me to wake up and talk to Dad." He patted the mattress. "Come, sit with me. We can talk for a while."
"I thought that's what we've been doing. Talking, I mean," he said, but he still sat down on the bed, but raised an eyebrow when James slid closer and leaned against him. "Is this another form of talking that I'm not aware of?"
James shook his head. "No, this is me making sure that you won't bolt. I get that you are scared, but this isn't the same thing. I'm not your wife and my injuries will go away, but it's more than that. You... you've been more distant since I told you that I want to give this a go. Have you changed your mind?"
"I should. You are- you work for me-"
"With you. I work for the Aurors, remember?" James said with a grin.
"Yes, and you are half my age. You could be my son. I went to school with your father. Hell, I tried to kill your father," he said, snorting.
"You protect him as well. When he was here; he told me that," James said.
"Yes, either way, there's a long history with your family, but more than that, we are so different."
"Now, you're just being an idiot," James said, making a face. "I've had a secret relationship with my cousin's husband. I might be young, but I know all about secrecy and propriety. My family doesn't have to know anything unless we want to tell them, in fact, I'd rather keep it a secret. Draco, this is private for me, too, and I don't care that you're as old as my father. It was hardly a surprise. You're just- You're scared, and that's fine, because I understand that you have more to lose than me, and if you don't want to risk your reputation, that's fine, too."
Draco turned his head to look at the other man. He wasn't surprised at all by the statement, since it was the right blend of nobility and martyrdom that he'd come to associate with James. "I really shouldn't like you. You're all that I dislike in Gryffindors."
"Then why do you?"
"Because-" Draco frowned, because he couldn't tell. There wasn't one specific thing that he liked about James, but he liked the whole package, the good and the bad. "Because you are you," he said, not masking the surprise from his voice.
"Does this mean that you haven't changed your mind?" James asked, stretching up, lips brushing against Draco's.
"It means that I have every intention of courting you."
James laughed. "You're so old fashioned, but you can court me, and you can shag me too."
"When you get better," Draco promised.
James answered with a kiss.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Saturday, 28th of March, 2025
The Great Hall at the manor was adorned to perfection. Intricate flower arrangements were spread through the room. Birds made of ice came alive with magic and flew through the room. Music filled the air. Lucius and Narcissa were holding court as if it were the most natural thing to have so many Weasleys in the house. However, it was a special night and concession had to be made.
Draco saw his son walking around with his fiancée. Scorpius looked so happy and Lucy was radiant with her green robe. She might be a Weasley, but she was fitting right in, and his mother loved her, which was more than he had hoped for.
The whisper was a surprise. Fides knew better than appear or talk in public unless there was a very good reason. "What is it?"
"Sir James be arguing right outside the Great Hall. People be seeing them," the house elf said. "His parents, his grandmother and Mrs. Andromeda."
Draco Disapparated without warning, and appeared right outside the room. "I think we should take this somewhere else."
"We can talk right here," Molly Weasley said.
Draco's smile didn't falter, but his eyes were cold. "Let me rephrase this; we will take this somewhere else or I will have you thrown out."
"Draco, this is nothing to do with you," Andromeda said.
"This is my house and my son's engagement party. It has everything to do with me. Your choices are to move next door or leave. There are no other choices."
"Malfoy is right; we shouldn't discuss this here. Mum, let's go somewhere more private," Ginny Potter said, putting a hand on her mother's arm, and then looked up. "Why don't you show us where we can go?"
"Follow me." Draco's hand rested on James' back for a moment. "In the music room," he said softly, before walking toward the other room. He opened the door and got in first.
"Malfoy, you should really go," Potter said as he closed the door after everyone had entered the room.
"I'm not going anywhere," draco answered. "Since it seems that I haven't mae myself clear, let me restate it. My house, my son, my son's engagement party, my guests. If anyone has a problem with James' presence here tonight, he or she is free to leave. I assure you that no one will shed any tears."
"This is my granddaughter-"
"And James is your grandson, Madam, who is my colleague, friend an welcomed guest," Draco answered.
Molly snorted. "It figures. Friend you of all people."
"And what exactly is that supposed to mean?"
James put a hand on Draco's shoulder. "Let it go. It's not worth it. I can just leave."
Draco turned his head to look at James. "It is worth it, and you aren't going anywhere, but I still want to know what she's implying."
"That you're both morally corrupt," Molly said.
"Are we now?" Draco asked with deceptive calm. "And why is that exactly?"
"Mum, please, stop it," Ginny said.
"Why?" Molly asked her. "Your son hurt Victoire, he... he did unspeakable things, and Malfoy- Harry might have forgiven him, but we all know what he did."
"He didn't do anything wrong. He wasn't the one engaged to Victoire. If you want to blame someone, you can blame Saint Ted. He's the one who was supposed to keep it in his pants, not James. As for what I've done-" He stopped closer to the older woman. "I might have done a great many things, but I am not a self-righteous murderer, who should have been given the kiss for killing my aunt. You used your family ties to Potter to justify an Unforgivable when you could have cast a less lethal spell. You cast judgement, but you are corrupt to the core, and you aren't worthy of licking your grandson's boots. I should throw you out, but I know James well enough to know that he would feel bad if I did. In light of this, I will allow you to stay, but if you say anything else against James, myself or my family, or if you upset Scorpius an Lucy in any way, I will have you kicked out. Now, get out of my sight."
"How dare you! You're nothing, but a little-"
Ginny stepped between Draco and her mother and looked at her mother. "Please, let's not do this tonight. Lucy wants both of you here and it's a big room. You don't have to speak to James. Why don't you and Andromeda go to the Great Hall."
"That's a great idea," Andromeda said. "Come on, Molly, let's go find Victoire and Teddy." She smiled at Molly and put a hand on her elbow, nudging her toward the door.
Molly glared at Draco. "This isn't over."
"Feel free to skip the wedding," Draco said with a fake smile, all too ready to have her removed from the house. Unfortunately, Andromeda was able to get her outside before any further outbursts.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Ginny asked her husband, backhanding his arm.
"Because Malfoy is right?" Potter said, almost apologetic. "Look, this is his house and we... we've indulged your mother long enough. She killed someone; James had sex. He might have made a stupid decision, but it hardly compares. She had no room to talk. You know she's like a mother to me, but James is our son, and I'm tired of trying to keep everyone's happy at his expenses. I'm sorry, but everyone needs to shoulder his part of the blame, even Ted." Potter turned to James. "I'm sorry. The whole gay thing... I guess it blindsided us. It was easier to forgive Ted since he's in a normal relationship-"
"Stop talking, Potter," Draco cut in. "You were doing so well, and now your prejudicial stupidity is showing."
"That's fancy coming from you," Potter answered.
"I was a teenager," Draco snapped back. "You're an adult, talking about his oldest son."
"Can you two not start?" James said. "Dad, I'm sorry if you don't approve, but it's not like I decided to be gay, just like aunt Hermione didn't decide to be a Muggleborn. I've pretended to date girls, made sure the papers had their pictures. I've done everything I could so you wouldn't have any bad publicity, and I would have continued to lie to protect you, but I'm not attracted to them, I- I'm gay."
"If you hadn't lied, if you had told us the truth, things would have been different," Ginny said. "You are in this mess because you lied. We never cared about the publicity. We could have worked this out, tried to understand. I can't say I do, but-."
"But you're disappointed," James said with a sad smile.
"That's not- We aren't disappointed, we just- we don't understand," Potter said. "You never gave us the chance, and then we had to find out like that."
"You weren't meant to find out. I told Draco not to say anything," James insisted.
"I did not say anything," Draco pointed out.
"You would have let him rot in Akzaban, then?" Potter asked, his tone going from understanding to angry. "What kind of defender are you? I trusted you."
"I did my job, and my job means that I can't go against my client's wishes," Draco said coldly.
James snorted. "Except you totally did, didn't you? You think I don't know that you spoke to Teddy?"
Draco shrugged. "That isn't going against your wishes. You said I couldn't make it public. Talking to him was hardly making public since he already knew. If I convinced him to do the right thing, then I've done my job."
James smiled at him. "I know you did. I still didn't want people to know." He turned to his parents. "I would have lied forever, but now you know and if you don't want me to come to the house anymore or be at parties, that's fine. I won't cause any trouble."
Draco made a face. "Would you stop it? They should be ashamed of themselves, and you shouldn't try to make things easier for them. Do you even know where he lives?" he asked Potter and his wife.
"Draco, can you stop this?" James said. "I'm perfectly able to decide what I want without your help. I don't want my family to fight, and I don't want anyone pretending if they don't want me around."
"No, Malfoy's right, and you'll never hear me say those words against after tonight," Potter said. "We... we have failed as parents. You should have been our first priority regardless of what we learnt." He took Ginny's hand and squeezed it. "We messed up, and we can't fix everything, but maybe you can come to dinner, spend time with us."
Ginny nodded. "We do want to understand, and we want to be part of your life. We want to know where you live, and maybe meet your ... your boyfriend if you have one."
Father and son tensed at the same time. "That's not a good idea, love," Potter said.
"Yes, Dad is right."
Ginny frowned and looked at the two of them. "What are you two hiding? Harry, you're a lousy liar, so you might as well tell me now. I'll find out anyway."
Potter looked terrified, and it would be funny if Draco weren't involved in this. "It's James' life and he should decided if he should tell us."
"You mean tell me since you obviously know, and I'd like to remind you that we're having so many problems because he kept secrets," she said. "You're not seeing another married man, are you?"
"What?" James looked at her, horrified. "No, nothing of the sort. It's just... it's new and he's a private man."
"I didn't think you were getting married," she answered, sarcastically. "Really, James, what's wrong now? Why would he object to your parents knowing?"
Draco could see the panic setting in. James was a good Auror, even a good politician when he needed to be, but obviously he was hopeless when it came to his family. No wonder he had hid for years. James had wanted to keep this secret, but now he was looked at Draco with something akin to terror in his eyes.
Draco stepped forward and laced his fingers with James'. "We'd be delighted to come to dinner," he said, hoping that he was interpreting things correctly, and the sigh of relief from James was all that he needed.
Ginny looked between the two. "What? Why are you- Oh my God, it can't-" Her head snapped in Potter's direction. "And you knew about this?"
Potter shrugged. "I didn't know, but I saw them at St. Mungo's, and I came to my own conclusions."
Partly true, and Draco was impressed that Potter could be evasive at times. "If you'd rather not, I'll understand."
Ginny opened her mouth, and closed it again. Silence reined in the room for a few moments and then she sighed. "No, you should come to dinner. We need to fix this with James, try to understand, and if you're part of this, then you should be there too, but that can be another night. Now, we should go back to the party."
"Mum, can you... not tell uncle Ron? They'd been brilliant, and I don't think he cares who I shag, but he and Draco-"
Ginny snorted. "Oh darling, that's something you'll have to do."
"Let me worry about her," Ginny said with a sigh. "Just... stay out of her way for now, and aunt Fleur, too." She gripped his arms, but didn't get close. "We'll figure this out, James, but not tonight. This isn't the time or place. We'll do it at home, and soon." Her smile was tight but it was there nonetheless. "Malfoy, thank you, and now, we'll leave you alone."
Draco bowed his head, and then watched them go. He cast a spell to ensure that no one else would enter the room without his permission. "Are you all right?"
James thought about that for a moment and then nodded. "Yeah, I guess I am. I still can't believe you did that. Are you mad?"
"No, just used to watching your parents' blood pressure raise because of me," he deadpanned.
"Thank you, though. They are probably talking to me just to prove you wrong, you understand that right?"
Draco chuckled. "I love having that power over them." He stepped closer and his fingers curled around James' hips. "You listen to me. I don't like them; in fact, I've never like them. I'm not one to say nice things about them, but up until now, they've acted like idiots. Your father has this nasty habit of doing what people want, but if you discount his stupidity, he's a decent man, and in the end he does the right thing. Your mother is not a complete loss either."
"Careful, you sound like you like them," James teased.
"No, I still don't like them, but I can respect them. On occasion." He leaned closer and pressed his lips against James' in a chaste kiss. "We'd better go."
Potter's Residence - Godric's Hollow,
Friday, 10th of April, 2025
Draco Apparated with James to the Potters' home. He couldn't believe that he was voluntarily going there, but he had said that he would and James had been on pins and needles since the party.
"We could just go in," James said.
"Or we could knock," Draco answered, doing just that and smiling like he would for the press. "Potter," he said as the door opened.
"Malfoy, James. Come on in. Ginny is in the kitchen, but she said to sit in the living room since it'll be a bit before dinner is ready," Potter told them as he let them in and walked toward the living room.
Draco looked around. He had never been to the house, although everyone in the wizarding world knew that Potter had rebuilt his parents' house. Draco had expected something grand, not as beautiful as the manor naturally, but at least as big. Instead, this was a normal house, something where the Weasleys would have felt at home.
"It's not the manor," James whispered, as if reading his thoughts. It was something that he was starting to do more often and it should be getting annoying, but instead Draco found it charming.
"Please, sit. Would you like something to drink?" Potter asked.
Draco shook his head. "I'm fine, thank you."
"Malfoy, Jamie, how are you?" Ginny asked with exaggerated warmth as she stepped into the room. "It's good to have you here. Dinner will be ready soon."
"So Potter said." Draco sat down, leaving James to be hugged and kissed by his mother. He took the moment to stare at them. Both Potter and his wife were tense, but it showed in different ways. He became distant and aloof; she was all touches and kisses. He briefly wondered which one was worse, but when they all sat down, his question was answered.
"Have you two... been having sex for long?"
"What? I've seen you two together, and I had no idea. You don't touch, you don't kiss, you don't even sound affectionate, and it's not like a normal relationship, so what exactly am I supposed to ask?" she answered.
"I've not seen you touch, kiss or be affectionate with your husband," Draco said. "Doesn't that mean that I should ask if you are engaging in sexual relations? Our relation is no different than any other. The only difference is that we chose to keep it private. However, even if we hadn't, I'm a private person and I would hardly show off."
"That's not what I remember," Potter mumbled.
"I was fourteen and Pansy loves attention," Draco answered with a tiny smile. "You've met her and her daughter; you should know that they can't be stopped."
"You and your wife-" Ginny stopped. "That's- I still don't- You were married, and Scorpius used to talk when they were little, he'd tell us how much you loved each other, and the things you did together. That's-"
"Please don't say normal again," Draco cut in.
"But it is," Ginny said. "This-" She looked at her husband and then back at Draco again. "In a real relationship, you find someone, you date, you get engaged, you get married, you have children, and you grow old together. With two men, there's... nothing. You are together now, but there are no other steps in the relationship. I guess that's what I don't understand, is it just sex?"
"Would you stop asking that, Mum? What we do isn't any of your business," James said.
Draco put a hand on James' thigh and squeezed gently. "It's all right, James, and she's not asking for details here. You're right, we can never do what I did with Astoria, or what you and Potter did, but you should know that a marriage is not just about sex or children. It's about respect, friendship, love, common interests. With time those things grow or the relationship dies. We might not be out, and society might not recognise homosexual relationships, but the feelings and journey are the same." He looked at James and smiled. "This is a new relationship for both of us. Neither can tell you where it's going, but we're both willing to see it through."
"And this is why you're in the Wizangamot and I'm an Auror. I'd have said, because we want to," James said, cracking a smile.
"You're as eloquent as your father. Now, does that answer your questions or are there more?"
"You hurt him-"
Draco snorted. "Potter, you're so predictable. I hurt him; you hex me. Thanks for the warning; I'll keep it under advisement." He turned when he heard the door open. "Albus, Violet, I didn't know you were here."
"Oh no, we're going to the manor to have a... sleeping party. Scorpius and Lucy are waiting," Violet said, grinning.
"Aren't you a little too old?" Potter asked with a frown.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Do be careful, darling. If you get pregnant at my house, your mother will kill me. Or worse, she'll complain until I kill myself."
"Please, I've known how not to since you taught Scorpius back in third year. He told everyone in the common room," she said with a cheeky smile.
"Third year? What's wrong with you?" James asked Draco.
"Nothing. I knew he wouldn't have sex, and I reckon that made him that most popular boy in Slytherin. Not that he needed that." He looked at Albus. "Did you learn too?"
"Only if that's the answer you want to hear," he said, laughing.
"Albus," Ginny said. "You shouldn't. You-"
"If you say we aren't married, I know," Albus said.
"Mum did say that I shouldn't mention sex with Gryffindors. They get so upset." Violet looked at the Potters. "Really, Mr. And Mrs. Potter, it's all right. I don't mind and neither do my parents as long as we're discreet. The only rule is that we can't have sex in my house, which is why we go to uncle Draco." She leaned down and kissed his cheek. "We'll see you in the morning. You and James have a fun sleeping party, too."
James growled. "Wouldn't you stop it?"
"Uncle Draco, he's not being nice to me," Violet said with a pout.
"James leave her alone, and Albus, do take her to the manor."
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy."
"You really need to stop calling him that. He's shagging your brother." Violet grinned at the many groans from around the room.
Draco shook his head, but when she looked at her, he smiled affectionately. "Violet is right. Call me 'Draco, just as long as you take her away from here."
Albus laughed. "I can do that." He grabbed her and picked her. "Time to go."
"Put me down," she said, hitting his arm, but Albus kept walking, laughing as they left the room. Soon Violet joined him, and then the front door open and closed.
"I'm so sorry," Ginny said. "She- they-"
Draco started to laugh. "You aren't really going to apologise for her behaviour, are you? I've known her all my life, and her mother is my best friend."
"She needs to learn to shut up," James said.
"She knows when to shut up," Draco said. "You've never heard her or Pansy say anything in public, have you? If she's talking so much, it's because she feels comfortable with you, all of you."
"Oh Merlin, another marriage," James said, resting his forehead on Draco's shoulder. "Spare me another one."
Draco patted James' head and chuckled. "I can't. We would have to be there. She's like a daughter to me and he's your brother." He turned his head and found Potter and his wife staring at him. "What?"
Potter shook his head. "Nothing, it's just- It's the first time you-"
"You looked like a couple," Ginny finished.
"That's because we are one," James said, raising his head and smiling at Draco. "Even if no one but us knows it."
"Not exactly just you," Potter said. "Your brother and Violet know. Us."
"My son and Lucy," Draco said. "Mother," he added with a shiver.
"What? Why didn't you tell me?" James said.
"I didn't think of it. She found out- well, before I did, back at Christmas. She's always been quite observant and she won't say anything to Father, thankfully. Besides, it's not like it really matters. She'll never bring it up with you unless we say something."
"Yes, like I'll ever be able to look at her and not think that she knows," James said sarcastically. "Can we talk about something other than your mother?"
"Yes, Potter, how is the investigation going?" Draco asked.
"You know I can't discuss an open investigation with a member of the Wizengamot," Potter answered with his brand of a smirk.
"That's really pathetic, Potter," he said, grinning. "Now, let's pretend that you didn't say something so stupid since we gave you the file."
Potter rolled his eyes. "I'm still not telling you, because I want you to be the Interrogator for this case."
"How careful do I need to be?" James asked.
"Real careful, but only for a few more days. We're close to make an arrest."
"Enough with work. We didn't invite you here to talk about work," Ginny said. "Come on, let's have dinner."
Daily Prophet, 15 April, 2025
Earlier this morning, the Auror division arrested Benjy Flickerster. Mr. Flickerster joined the division as a trainee in 2014, and became a full Auror in 2017. In a press statement, Harry Potter, Head of the Auror division, said that Mr. Flickersters has methodically altered the course of past investigations to get revenge against the descendents of members of the former Order of the Phoenix, who he claims were responsible for the death of his grandmother.
The investigation showed that Mr. Flickerster's grandmother was indeed killed during the first war. However, evidence suggests that she was killed by Death Eaters because her husband failed to comply with Voldemort's wishes. Her body was discovered and reported by James Potter and Sirius Black, who were two members of the Order of the Phoenix. The Aurors can't explain why Mr. Flickerster thought that the two men were responsible for her death, however, there is initial evidence of mental instability.
Mr. Potter stated that they have uncovered twenty-two cases, including the murder case of Thomas Caldwell, which led to the arrest and subsequent acquittal of James Sirius Potter. All twenty-two cases will be reviewed, and new investigations will be conducted. The people convicted will be released until the new investigations are concluded and new trials can be scheduled.
Draco put the paper on his night stand and turned to James. "One less person to worry about."
James groaned. "Why do you get up so early? The Prophet will still be there in an hour."
"Yes, but I like to read in peace, and I like to have breakfast, shower, get ready for work."
"And that's really what takes you so much time. You really don't need to fuss with your hair for thirty minutes. You're worse than a bloody girl," James mumbled.
"It takes time to look perfect, especially when I'm getting older. Forty-five in less than two months."
James opened his eyes and looked at Draco. "You're a gorgeous man. Your wrinkles, your scars, they all make you who you are." He sat up and kissed Draco's chest, licking the hair thin scars that covered the otherwise immaculate skin. Draco never said how he'd got them, and James had stopped asking, but it didn't change how he felt about his lover. "Fuck your hair. I have a better way to spend the next thirty minutes."
Draco slid down, pulling James with him. They kissed languidly for a few moments, before things started to heat up. He could worry about his hair later, for now he'd fuck James instead.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Satuday, 25st of April, 2025
Draco's hand moved over James' cock as his young lover rode him. The first few times, Draco had kept wondering why in Merlin's name Jamie would do this with him, someone as old as his father, but by now, he had stopped questioning and enjoyed what they did.
"You're thinking," James said, moaning.
"Only about you," Draco answered as he arched up, driving his cock deeper into James. "Gorgeous... I want to see you come." He cupped the back of James' neck and pulled him down for a kiss. "Come on, James...Jamie."
"Fuck... oh Merlin." James kept moving, pushing down on his cock and then driving into Draco's fist, moving faster, until he was coming, triggering Draco's orgasm.
Draco closed his arms around James' body when he leaned down. "Happy Birthday."
James snorted. "Is this my birthday present, then?"
"Then it'd be your second birthday today," Draco answered, with a snort. "You'll be the death of me."
"I think you can survive shagging twice a day," James said, smiling.
"Only on the weekends and on bank holidays," he answered, chuckling. "Now that we've reached our goal, you need to move and get us clean so I can give you your real present."
"Not yet." He nipped Draco's lip. "I like it when you call me Jamie."
"So you've said in the past."
"Then why can't you used it more?" James asked, sighing.
"Because it would be too easy to call you that in public and then we'd have to explain why I call you in such a familiar way," Draco answered. "You're James Potter, and that's how it needs to stay."
James sighed. "Yes, I know, but I still like it."
Draco brushed James' hair. "Jamie... I can use it in bed if that's better. I can hardly get confused with when we're working. Now, will you get up, Jamie?"
"If I must." James moved, and summoned his wand to clean both of them, before lying down next to Draco. "I still can't believe you're throwing me a party."
"It's just family." Draco rolled to his side and threw an arm across James' body, fingers curling around James' hips. "It's a small affair."
"Still, it's a party for a Potter at Malfoy manor. Don't tell me that it's normal," James said, smiling.
"Nothing about this is normal. I knew it when we started. I should have run away when your father asked me to defend you. I came into that cell and the way you behaved, the dignity with which you faced everything." He kissed James' shoulder. "I knew it immediately that you were trouble."
"Really? From that moment?" James tilted his head to he could rest it against Draco's forehead. "I thought... I figured that you'd be horrified by me and Ted. I really thought that you wouldn't come back, but you promised and you promised that you would keep me there instead of going back to Azkaban, and you kept your promise. God, I hated that place."
"You're not there anymore and you'll never have to go back." He kissed James' cheek. "You're safe now."
James nodded. "I know, but sometimes I think about it, and-"
"You have nightmares; I know. They'll stop with time," Draco said. "I'll be here until then. Now, your present. I was thinking about what your mother asked us, about steps and progression, and she thinks she's right, but she's not." He opened the drawer of his night stand and took out a box. "Here, open this."
James raised an eyebrow. "Too big for a ring," he teased as he took the box. It was long, almost like the box for a bracelet. When he opened it, his confusion grew at the sight of an old fashioned key. "What exactly is this?"
"The key to the gate. It is rather symbolic since I've asked father to allow you to Apparate inside the house, and let me tell you that was a really unpleasant conversation, so I hope that you won't say no."
"Say no to what? Draco, you're making no sense at all," James answered. "Why would I need a key to the gate when it's open? And why would I want to Apparate inside your house?"
"Because I'm asking you to move into the manor," Draco said. "I thought that the key would have made it obvious."
"You? The Manor? You asked your father?" James blinked. "You keep saying that you want to keep this secret and you want me to move in with you, are you insane?"
"No one would know, would they? This is a manor, and there is a long standing tradition of having guests here," Draco explained. "Your brother practically lives here as well. Besides, you're living in a hole in the middle of Muggle London. Your entire flat consists of a room plus the bathroom, and you're never there. It would raise less suspicion if you were to move in than seeing you walk down the walkway at all hours of the day and night."
"So you're really doing this for practical reasons and not because you want me here," James said with a smirk.
"Don't be daft. Of course I want you here; I ... I care for you a great deal."
"Can I ask you something?" James waited for Draco's nod before going forward. "How did you know that you loved your wife?"
Draco took a deep breath. "I guess... It's a lot of things and not one thing at the same time. I knew that I'd be hurt if I married her, but wanted to do it anyway. I knew that she wasn't perfect, and I didn't care. I trusted her, even though it's safer not to trust anyone. I knew that I'd rather have some time with her and suffer than not have her at all. Why do you ask?"
James shrugged. "I was thinking about me and Teddy, and... I don't think I ever loved him, not like that. When we ended it, it hurt, but not really, and I've always known that I couldn't trust him." He ran his fingers over the fine lines on Draco's chest, looking at his lover. "Do you trust me?"
"You're an impossible brat," Draco said with a sigh. "I haven't told you not because it's a secret, but because I was trying to protect you. Your father caused them, long ago, in a bathroom at Hogwarts when we would have gladly killed each other. However when it really counted, he saved me. They are part of a very complicated history I share with your father. Is that what you really want to know? Because if that's your subtle way to ask me if I love you...." He leaned closer and kissed James softly. "I wouldn't have spoken to your parents or mine nor would I have asked you to move in if I cared about imperfections. If that's too subtle for you, then... I love you."
James grinned. "I'm not a brat, and I was only asking about the scars, but the rest... that's so much better, because I hadn't... I didn't... I wasn't...." He shook his head. "I obviously can't speak, but what I mean is that I love you, too, and I want to move in with you, and that's really perfect, because this is something we should celebrate, but you had the unfortunate idea of inviting people over for a party, so we'll have to wait until later."
Draco laughed. "You're never happy. You really will be the death of me." All things considered, there were worse ways to die than sex. "Now, let's get ready for that party of yours."
Potter's Residence - Godric's Hollow,
Wednesday, 13th of May, 2025
"Jamie! What a nice surprise," Ginny said as her son entered their drawing room. "Come, sit down. Would you like some tea? Something to eat?"
He shook his head, before he kissed her mother's cheek and then sat down. "I'm fine. We just finished dinner, but thanks."
"We?" Potter asked. "Should your presence here be indicative that something is wrong with that 'we'?"
James snorted. "Now, you sound like Draco, Dad, but no, nothing is wrong. There was something that I wanted to tell you both."
"Oh God, Dad, stop it. You really sound like Draco, down to the suspicion. It's rather creepy," James said. "It's not anything bad. In fact, it's very good. I moved in with Draco."
"That's...." Ginny frowned. "I thought you were going to keep it secret."
James nodded. "Something about the manor, having plenty of room, traditions of having guests."
"The last time they had guests, they were housing the headquarters for Voldemort," Potter said. "So when did this happen?"
"Right after my birthday. He asked me then, and it took me a few days to get things done."
"Why did you wait so long to tell us?" Ginny asked. "I know we didn't react like we should have, but I meant it when I said that we want to understand, but you need to talk to us or we never will."
"It's not that, Mum. I just wasn't sure, not about Draco," he rushed to say. "That I know, but Lucius was less than welcoming at the start, and I didn't know if I could feel comfortable, but... they have been good. Narcissa is wonderful, not that I think she likes me, but she'd do anything for Draco. If he asked for the moon, she'd try to get it for him. Instead he asked for me," he finished with a snort.
"But other than his parents, things are okay with you and Draco?" Ginny asked. "And Merlin help me, but the fact that my son's boyfriend's parents are Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy is even weirder than you and Ted. Couldn't you find someone more normal?"
"But he is, Mum. Ted was hardly the only person I've been with. There are plenty of gay wizards; they just aren't forced to come out like I did. Most of them have girlfriends or wives; everything is secret and they are all fixated with my family," James explained. "Draco doesn't care about any of you. If anything, that's the one reason he didn't want to get involved. He doesn't look at me and think if I'm as good as Dad; he doesn't compare me with everyone in the family. He doesn't have a wife or a girlfriend, and while we aren't out, he's not afraid to be seen with me. If anything, this is the most normal relationship I've ever had."
"But moving in? With the Malfoys?" Potter asked. "Isn't that a little too soon?"
"Maybe. Possibly. I don't know, Dad. I wish I could tell you that it's not, but I know that it's crazy. When we started getting close, I was the one saying no, that I didn't want to have another relationship like with Ted, but with time I realised that I love him. I know he thinks that because I'm young, I'll get bored and that I can't possibly know that-"
"I feel in love with your father when I was ten," Ginny said with a smile. "We went through a lot, but that never changed. I don't think you're too young, as long as you're sure."
"Yes, I am, Mum. I want to be with him forever, even if there is no ring or marriage or children. We don't need all of that. I want him."
Potter groaned. "Draco Malfoy is effectively our son in law. I'm not sure if I should be amused or run away."
"I wouldn't call him that, Dad," James said, laughing. "You two might want to use first names, though. You've known each other for a long time."
"Too long, if you ask me."
"I'm sure the feeling is mutual. If it helps, he never says anything bad about you. If anything, he's always tried to find reasons why you wouldn't... you know, for before, not that you were right, but- Oh bollocks, I'm saying this wrong. He's always supported me, but he didn't want me to give up on you. That's what I mean."
"Then we are very grateful to him," Ginny said. "We were wrong, and I'm glad you had someone helping you out through this."
"I did, and something really good came out of this mess, so I'm glad, but now I have to go." He grinned, wickedly. "He promised me that we could do whatever I want tonight. I can't wait to see his face when we go to the cinema."
Potter laughed. "I want photos of that."
"He'd kill him and he's so good that you'd never prove it," James answered. "I got to go. I'll see you soon, though." Kissing his mother again, he walked to the front door and Disapparated.
Malfoy Manor - Wiltshire,
Satuday, 21st of June, 2025
The garden had been transformed into a fairy tale. Flowers of all sorts floated in the air. There were sculptures made of plants and flower, animated to act like the animals they represented: swans made of white lilies, dragons of ivy and red carnations for their fire, doves of white roses. There was plenty of food and drinks, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.
"Ginny says that this is amazing," Potter said as he approached Draco.
"Did she make you come here to tell me just that?"
Potter nodded. "I'm supposed to be nice to my son-in-law."
Draco snorted. "Don't say that again; we both might puke. James keeps insisting that I should call you 'Harry'. I'm not sure what's wrong with Potter."
Potter shrugged. "Ginny says I'm supposed to call you 'Draco'. Malfoy is just fine. Too much history to change now. It wasn't all bad either."
"Yes, I remember kicking you," Draco said with a smirk.
"I remember you lying to protect me," Potter answered. "We both made it out alive in the end. That's what's important." He sighed. "I'm sorry for your scars. He mentioned that you told him."
"Only because he asked me and I didn't want to lie to him. He doesn't know any of the details; he doesn't need to know how vicious we were and how much we hated each other." Draco smiled. "He thinks we hate each other now, but he has no idea how things worked back then. I don't think any of them do. Scorpius and Al, Scorpius and Lucy, Al and Violet, none of that would have happened."
"You've been protecting him since I asked you to defend him. Not just the case, but us, public opinion. I thought you were plotting when you said yes to the transfer, but that was another way to protect him. Away from me, away from the other Aurors, away from the press. I kept watching you, trying to predict when the attack would come and it never did." Potter sighed. "You're right, things have changed, but it's easier to believe that Scorpius loves my niece than you and Jamie. It's that history again. I don't want that history to hurt him, though. I've done enough damage, with him and Ted. Maybe I pushed too hard with both of them. Both boys have tried so hard to live up to their legacies and somewhere along the way, they forgot to be boys. I can't fix the past, but I want things to be better."
"What are you saying, Potter?"
Their eyes met and then Potter shrugged. "I don't even know. I do know that you make Jamie happy, and I want to thank you for that."
"It's not a hard thing to do. He's...." Draco shook his head, smiling softly. "He's special. You raised a good man. I'm sure you made mistakes, all parents do, but you shouldn't be so hard on yourself." He stopped and frowned. "Are we actually being nice to each other? I don't think I'm ready for this. Go ahead, insult me; that should make everything better."
Potter laughed. "It's weird, I can tell you that, but I'm not going to insult you. I think we'll just have to get used to being cordial with each other, especially since I'm sure that we'll have the press constantly watching us."
"Don't they always?" Draco said, but he knew that Potter was right. "I still can't believe that I'm coming out for that little brat."
"Oh don't you even. James said that it was your idea," Potter answered.
Draco smiled. "Maybe. He really hates living a lie, and if my reputation could survive being a Death Eater, it'll survive this. Shacklebolt can't fire me without losing the support of the more liberal members, who are the ones who want him to stay as Minister, and the members from the older family can't wait to have him kicked out, and my firing would give them that opening. Of course, things would be even easier if there was a comment from certain prominent figures within the Ministry. Granger has already agreed to give a quote or ten for the press. What about you?"
"I can't believe you're discussing politics at your son's wedding," Potter said, rolling his eyes, "but I shouldn't be surprised, should I? You wouldn't have just come out without thinking. You plan. You've got better at planning."
"I'm not a child anymore," Draco said. "So is that a yes or a no?"
"You know it's a yes. Jamie has my full support, and so do you. Like it or not, our families are intertwined now. You are family."
"Oh, don't push it, Potter."
Potter laughed. "Whatever you say, Draco."
"Piss off, Harry," he answered, smiling.
"Gladly. Enjoy the rest of the weeding."
Draco nodded, and watched Potter walk away. This would get some getting used to, but James was worth it.