Burning Astoria
by lucianwolf

Pairing: Draco Malfoy/Scorpius Malfoy
Incest, AD (42/17)
Word Count: ~20,000

Genre(s): Angst, Dark, Drama
Epilogue Compliant Through DH
Other characters:
Poppy Pomfrey, Minerva McGonagall, Astoria Greengrass, multiple OMCs

Even before Astoria left, Malfoy Manor was built on a foundation of loneliness. The cracks have begun to show and when Scorpius shows signs of slipping into one of the black chasms, Draco is determined to break the cycle of solitude. In the battle for Scorpius' heart, Draco is about to discover that loneliness expands with each generation. He just didn't realize how big it could grow.

Author's Notes: Thank you, hartsbane. Thank you, brknhalo241.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

1. New Year

As predicted, Draco's headache blossoms with the magnificence of Guy Fawkes Day fireworks the moment the first Auror clambers through the fireplace. Draco's wand is immediately confiscated. He is not surprised in the least.

He calmly takes a bottle of scotch and a glass down from the sideboard and deliberately relaxes into his favourite chair. He'll be damned if he's not going to be comfortable while the Aurors take such pleasure in violating his privacy.

"Bit early to be drinking, isn't it, Mister Malfoy?"

A man with a strong jaw and sharp eyes settles into the chair across from him and props a stack of parchment and a recording quill on the armrest. Draco raises an eyebrow and pours every last bit of superiority he has into it. "I expect I can begin drinking whenever I like on the day my wife goes missing, especially as my home is now infested with Aurors who despise me for crimes the Wizengamot cleared me of, based on Harry fucking Potter's defence. And as I don't believe you're here to investigate my drinking habits, I don't see how it's any of your concern."

The sound of quill on parchment is ludicrously loud. Draco wonders if the inspector has cast a sound-intensifying charm on it just to put him on edge. "All of your habits are my concern right now, Mister Malfoy, as any one of them could hold the key as to why she left and where she went. For instance, she could be trying to escape a husband who is abusive when he's drunk."

Draco wonders how it would feel to wipe the smirk off the inspector's face with the judicious application of the scotch bottle. Instead, he tosses back the glass and revels in the burn as it claws its way into his stomach. He pours another drink, sinks deeper into the chair and closes his eyes.

The detective doesn't waste time. "Did you find a ransom note?"

"You would think that, had I found one, I might have mentioned it when I called you."

"Did you and Astoria have an argument?"


"How often do you argue?"

"We don't."

"Are you angry with her?"


"Do you love your wife?"


"Do you hate her?"


"I find that hard to believe."

Draco gives the inspector a flat look, drains his glass, and pours again. "It's the truth."

"Were you angry with her?"

"I am now."

"Why is that?"

"Because I have to talk to you."

There's a pause, and Draco raises a challenging eyebrow.

"Are you on speaking terms with her?"

"You could call it that."

"Was she happy?"

"I truly doubt it."


"Because, Inspector - she simply didn't wish to be."

The quill stills for a long moment. Draco leans back and closes his eyes.

"Has she ever left before?"



"We decided we didn't want to be together."

"But you didn't get divorced."


"And she moved back."




"What about him?"

"She discovered she was pregnant."

"Did she take Scorpius with her?"


"Where is he?"

"I assume he's in his room."

"Did she tell you she was leaving?"


"Did she say or do anything that would make you suspect she might leave?"


"Did she tell you where she was going?"


"Do you know where she might have gone?" the inspector asks, a hint of irritation in his voice.

Draco grits his teeth against a sudden spike of pain behind his right eye. "If she isn't at any of our other properties, then I don't know."

"Mister Malfoy, have you ever hit your wife?"


"Did you ever use the threat of violence to coerce her to stay with you?"

Draco shakes his head tiredly. "Why would I have have expended that much energy for something I didn't care about one way or the other?"

"Did she take anything with her?"

"I don't know."

"Have you noticed anything missing?" the inspector clarifies condescendingly.

"Not from my rooms, the hallway, the staircase, or the study," Draco snaps. "I haven't been anywhere else."

"So Astoria has rooms separate from yours."


"Did you check them before you called us?"


"Would you be able to tell us if she took anything from them?"


"Why not?"

"I never go into her rooms."

"Were you and Astoria having martial relations?"

Draco grits his teeth and glares. His patience is beginning to wear, and he knows that this interrogation is only just beginning. "Not that it's any of your bloody business, Inspector, but no."

"When was the last time you did?"

"The day Scorpius was conceived."

"Do you think Astoria might have been having an affair?"

"I have no idea. I wouldn't care if she was."

"Did Astoria have a separate Gringott's account?"

"I don't know."

"Did she withdraw any money from the Malfoy account before disappearing?"

"I don't know."

"Did she withdraw any money in the weeks prior?"

"I don't know."

"I think you've had enough alcohol, Mister Malfoy," the inspector says as Draco fills his glass for the third time.

"I think you can't tell me to stop drinking in my own home," Draco growls.

The morning deteriorates after that.

* * * * *

"Well, that was entertaining."

Draco cracks an eye open. Scorpius is leaning against the door of the study, arms crossed tightly. His hair is mussed and he's in his pyjamas: bare feet peeking out of too-long trouser legs; a tight and fraying t-shirt hugging his chest.

"So: Mother disappeared sometime last night and they desperately want to arrest you for murder but can't find any evidence of foul play."

Draco smiles tiredly. "Brilliantly deduced."

"Of course it was. They said she left a note but refused to tell me what it said. What did it say?"

Draco sighs and presses the cool glass to his throbbing temple. "It said, 'He's old enough'. "

"'He's old enough'? That's it?"

"That's it. "

"I'm old enough ... what, for her to leave? Why?"

"I don't know, Scorpius."

Scorpius stands there for a long moment: brow furrowed and lip between his teeth as he studies the floor. "And she never said anything."

"Not to me." Draco knows there are things he should be saying: offering comfort, offering anything, but he does not know what to say or where to begin, and so says nothing.

"Yeah. Okay, then. Well, if there's nothing else, I'm going back to bed."

The sound of the door slamming echoes through the room. Draco takes another drink.

"Happy New Year, Scorpius."

2. Spring

Draco finishes buttoning his shirt and puts on his cuff-links. There's something about the daily ritual of dressing: the details bind.

He makes his way downstairs, sets the kettle boiling, and leans against the counter to wait. His eyes rest on the floor before him, but he doesn't see it: he doesn't see anything anymore. He takes the kettle off the heat just before the sound becomes unpleasant. He pours a cup, sits at the kitchen table, and tries to forget that it's spring break and Scorpius is supposed to be home.

He sits with his hands wrapped around the cup. The heat of it sinks into him until the cup is empty and his mind is blank.

He does not remember the walk to study. He never does.

It is after dark when he hears an urgent tapping at the window. It's a Hogwarts owl.

* * * * *

"Scorpius is stable, Mister Malfoy," Headmistress McGonagall says as they walk through the halls to the infirmary. She is just as intimidating now as she was when Draco was in school. "Poppy has given him a sleeping draught and restoratives. He's exhausted and malnourished. Diagnostics show he's been overdosing on Pepper-Up. I've spoken to the professors who stayed the break while waiting for your arrival, and they say he has been growing more easily agitated, argumentative, and distracted since the students returned from Christmas. He's been involved in more confrontations in the last three months than in the last six and a half years, although with no clear proof of any harassment - "

"Was he attacked?"

"No. There were no residual hexes, curses, or potions in his system."

"And what do you mean, 'no clear proof of harassment'?" Draco growls, anxious to be at Scorpius' side.

The headmistress purses her lips. "Professors always investigate a suspicion of unrest, but all they've ever found is a dissipating crowd and Scorpius holding tightly to his wand, refusing to talk. We know there's something going on, but we can't prove anything and Scorpius won't help. He has been invited to report the students that are harassing him, but he refuses. There's little we can do when we rarely see the confrontations themselves."

"Why wasn't I informed?"

"A suspicion that a student is being harassed isn't reason enough to inform the parents, especially if the student won't offer information." She stops, a hand on the infirmary door. "How is he handling his mother's disappearance?"

It's all Draco can do to contain his terrified fury. "You're in a much better position to tell me how he has been handling it. By the sound of things, I'd say not very well." Draco pushes past McGonagall and stalks through the infirmary toward the only occupied bed, trying to slow his pounding heart.

Scorpius seems small and fragile in the white expanse of the infirmary bed. He has dark circles under his eyes and he is nearly as pale as the sheets. Trembling, uncertain, Draco reaches out and touches Scorpius' hand. It's cold and dry.

"He's okay." Draco says, making it a statement and not a question.

"He's fine, Mister Malfoy. He just hasn't been eating or sleeping."

"Astoria disappears and everyone believes I killed her regardless of the lack of any evidence. Now they're taking out generations of hate and anger on Scorpius because his father is obviously still a murdering Death Eater and he must be, too." Draco squeezes his eyes shut and presses his fingertips against the beginning of what will most certainly be a blinding headache. "That's why he stayed here. I couldn't figure it out. Bloody fucking hell."

"Scorpius should wake up in a few hours," McGonagall says softly. "Feel free to make yourself comfortable. I'll be in my office if you need anything." Draco nods absently, not taking his eyes off of Scorpius. The infirmary door creaks softly as she leaves.

* * * * *

The sun is spilling through the windows when Scorpius finally wakes. His brow furrows as he looks around.

"You're in the infirmary," Draco offers, squeezing his hand lightly. "How are you feeling?"

Scorpius abruptly pulls his hand out of Draco's grasp. "What are you doing here?"

"You collapsed because you haven't eaten or slept in weeks. Where else would I be?"

Scorpius snorts, his eyes glittering with anger. "Locked inside your study?" Scorpius' lip curls into an condescending sneer, and he looks so much like Lucius at the height of his cruelty that Draco's heart skips a beat. "You never speak to me; you ignore me every chance you get; you never, ever write to me. It's obvious you don't care about me, so I will ask you one more time: what the fuck are you doing here?"

Draco wakes in the infirmary. It is the middle of the night. The Last Battle is over.

His body aches. He is alive, but he does not want to be. He knows that no one will believe he took the Mark so his father would love him; no one will believe he let the Death Eaters into the school to keep Voldemort from torturing his mother to death. It is inhumane of them to have saved his life just so it can be Kissed away.

He is broken, terrified, and completely alone, and in that moment he decides that if the truth isn't enough to defend him, he will not grovel. He is viciously cruel when the mediwitch comes to see to him, and she leaves without tending to the gash across his stomach.

It is two weeks before he wakes from an infection-induced coma.

It's himself Draco sees on the bed: lost and alone in a world he no longer recognises and more afraid than he will ever admit. He is blindsided by the fury that boils out of him.

"For years I listened to you laugh through closed doors, my ear pressed to the wood so I could hear the sound of your happiness because it was never allowed to include me. The first time I heard you laugh, I ran to see you, to see your joy, and she stopped playing with you. She fucking stopped playing with you so I would have nothing to watch and I would go away. And then you began to cry. I tried a handful of times, and every time she would stop playing with you and stop touching you, and you would start to cry. Every time I walked in the room, you began to cry. I couldn't stand it, so I stopped trying. I would creep to the door, though, to listen to you laugh. I imagined your blond curls and your sparkling eyes and I could only imagine you laughing for me.

"That's how she punished me for being excited about you. I didn't resent your existence, and she resented me for it. I fucking pampered her, Scorpius. I did everything in my power to make her happy and make her comfortable. I did everything I could to show her how much I appreciated what she was going through and what she would go through. How much I honoured her for what she was giving. I did nothing but give to her. I did nothing but offer her everything I had. I offered her friendship - I thought we could at least be battle-brothers in a war we didn't choose and didn't want to fight. I didn't ask her for anything. I never did anything but try to make her life easier, try to give her somewhere safe to be. But after years of trying and being completely ignored, I couldn't keep it up.

"I stopped caring after a while - a few years. Then I stopped coming to listen to you because my heart would break and I couldn't handle it anymore. So I drank. I heard you laugh and yes, I locked myself in the fucking study and drank until I couldn't hear you laughing any more. I locked myself in the study and cried, Scorpius - more nights than I can count.

"She drove me away and made herself your castle. When she crumbled into the sea, you were left alone on a mountaintop and I was nowhere to be found.

"I'm so sorry, Scorpius. I am so sorry."

The silence is deafening.

"You're a fucking idiot." Scorpius' voice echoes in the empty infirmary. His eyes are glistening and he is gripping the blanket so hard that his knuckles are white.

"I could have handled it if you two had never been in the same room! I could have handled it if you had hated each other! I just wanted my father, you fucking arsehole! All I ever wanted was for you to love me! I would have given anything for you to hug me, to talk to me, to be proud of me - "

His father's hand reaches out in a quick handshake to congratulate him for getting on the team. His eyes are distracted as he says "Well done, Draco", and that was almost it: almost pride, almost love. Six years of excellent marks and brilliance on the fields, and it was only after humiliating himself before the Dark Lord, screaming and vomiting from the pain as the Dark Mark was seared into his body and carved into his mind that his father finally looked at him with pride and love: folded him against his chest and hugged him for the first time Draco could ever recall.

Draco reaches out his hand. Scorpius grips it with surprising strength.

"I'm so alone," Scorpius whispers, and the tears begin to fall. "I am so fucking alone."

3. Marionette

Draco has been married for twenty-three years on the day he realises he hates his wife.

It is sometime between midnight and dawn when he is finally able to put a name to the seething mess of oil-slick blackness in his chest that swells and roils every time he thinks of Scorpius in the infirmary bed: terrified and broken and desperately, desperately alone.

He hates Astoria for blaming him; he hates her for keeping Scorpius away; he hates her for destroying her life and taking him and Scorpius with her. He hates her with a blinding passion and the feeling is a living, breathing thing: the jagged bits and pieces from twenty-three years of emptiness and enforced solitude congeal into one suffocating, putrid mass beneath his skin.

Bottle of scotch in hand, he makes his way unsteadily through the silent hallways to Astoria's suite. It's been seventeen years since he has been in this room. It smells like her: faintly floral with a musky undertone that he suspects is seething resentment.

The room is pristine, as though it were an unused guestroom. There are silver-inlaid brushes lined up across the vanity with military precision; sparkling phials of perfume arranged by size in the corner. He picks up a familiar-looking bottle and realises it was his mother's: a heady, dark scent that he distinctly remembers Astoria wearing. Or did she? Is it only his mother he remembers? Two slender, blond women with ice-cold eyes that he can't tell apart. His heart begins to pound.

Draco Malfoy is nineteen years old when he marries Astoria Greengrass. It is a warm day in June when he stands across from her and speaks vows passed down for hundreds of years. He speaks clearly and certainly, his voice never wavering even though he is trembling with cold under layers of formal-wear and a midday summer sun. Astoria's eyes are clear as she responds in kind, and Draco imagines his mother saying these exact words: her and her mother before her and her mother before that, as far back as there are records. He feels small in this moment: he is just another thread in an endless tapestry; his unquestioning adherence to ritual and tradition binding him more tightly to his past and future than simple wedding vows ever could.

He throws open the wardrobe. A red evening gown evokes nothing but a vague sense of familiarity; a green summer dress only brings up hazy memories of pale skin and blond curls. He tears out velvet and lace and brocade in an increasing panic but he doesn't remember anything, he doesn't feel anything - it's just a closet full of perfect, meaningless costumes for whatever woman is unlucky enough to play the lifetime role of Lady Malfoy.

He suddenly can't breathe and stumbles desperately backward until he falls to his hands and knees in the middle of the room.

It's just a wardrobe full of meaningless costumes for interchangeable actors that overlap every twenty years or so - just like him. Just like him and his father before him and his grandfather before that.

What he does, what he wants, what he dreams, who he is - none of it matters. The only thing that has ever mattered is his willingness to expand the Malfoy fortune and sire a son who will do the same in twenty years; a son who will never question his place or his duty and who will demand the same of his own children. He's just an empty marionette, his strings held by every Malfoy that came before him for every Malfoy that will come after.

His entire life is meaningless.

The devouring despair turns to defiant fury in the space of a heartbeat. Draco lunges forward and tears everything out of the wardrobe; tears down the curtains and the paintings and the tapestries. He throws expensive bottles of perfume against the wall and smashes photographs of her family against the bedside table.

Once he can find nothing else to destroy, he drags her vanity chair to the centre of the room and drops into it; his scotch-hand slung over the laddered back. He takes a drink straight from the bottle, points his wand at the vanity, and pours every ounce of hate he feels into a snarled blasting curse. The mirror erupts into a fountain of glass. He casts a shielding charm around himself and points his wand at the pile of clothing.

"Incendio," he growls, and flames devour it. The rugs catch quickly and the fire slithers across the room, crawling easily up antique furniture that burns beautifully. Smoke fills the room with sickly, writhing darkness.

Draco watches with brutal delight as the meaningless props around him burn. The fire roars when the windows shatter. Draco laughs: the room is seething with his fury.

The heat is so high that his shield charm is trembling, and Draco briefly toys with the idea of snapping his wand and letting the fire consume him. He would scream as he burned, but the endless days would come to a screeching halt and he would finally feel as he lay dying, feel something more than regret and despair and carefully maintained emptiness. He would scream in pain and relief as he burned away, as the whole Malfoy charade burned away, as he erased the tainted past in an alcohol-induced burst of courage.

He looks for a long moment at his wand and discovers that he isn't angry anymore. Twenty-three years of meaningless emptiness is burning before him and he unexpectedly finds himself a centre of hopeful calm in a raging firestorm.

He puts the fire out, locks the doors, and walks away.

4. Summer

Draco is at the stove with a pan in one hand and a spatula in the other when he hears Scorpius pad in. It is the first day of summer break.

"Don't we have house-elves? When did you learn to cook?" Scorpius asks with guarded confusion.

Draco smiles at the pan. "I thought it was something I should know how to do. Breakfast, anyway. I don't think I'll be up to tackling duck a l'orange any time soon." Draco slides eggs and toast onto plates and sits down at the table. Scorpius is looking at him suspiciously. "I didn't make it just so you could look at it. If you want something besides tea, you can make it yourself."

Scorpius shakes his head and bites into his eggs, giving Draco the occasional strange look as he eats.

There is so much he doesn't know and all he wants to do is ask questions until his throat is sore, but he has the distinct feeling that Scorpius would shut down completely if he did.

He opens the Daily Prophet and absently stirs his tea.

* * * * *

"What are your favourite classes?" It's an awkward question, but it has been a silent dinner - a silent weekend - and Draco is grasping at straws.

Scorpius looks at him warily. "What kind of a question is that?"

"I don't know anything about you. I'd like to get to know you."

Scorpius crossed his arms. "Why didn't you ask me before?"

"Because I'm an idiot, remember?" Scorpius presses his lips into a thin line, but not before Draco catches the hint of smile.

"Quid pro quo," Draco offers. "Ask me whatever you like."

A smirk curls Scorpius' lips. "What's your favourite thing about me?"

"I asked first."

Scorpius gives him a coldly calculating look. For a moment he looks unnervingly like Lucius. "Fine. Arithmancy, Potions, and Transfigurations."


"Quid pro quo."

"Fine." It's Draco's turn to smirk. "You're not a whiny, self-important little arse like I was at your age."

Scorpius valiantly tries to hold back wide-eyed laughter.

Draco smiles slyly. "So, why are those your favourite classes?"

Scorpius tries to school his face to blankness, but doesn't quite succeed. "Arithmancy, because it's challenging and because I might like to be a cursebreaker, as unlikely as it is that Gringott's will hire a Malfoy. Potions, because it's meditative, challenging, and I'm exceptionally good at it. Transfigurations because - well, mostly because I have a flair for it. Doesn't hurt to like something because you're good at it."

Draco smiles. "No, it doesn't. So tell me - what else are you good at?"

Scorpius raises an eyebrow, but he's interested.

* * * * *

"Come fly with me." Scorpius is leaning against the doorway. His arms are folded tightly against his chest; his storm-grey eyes uncertain. He is biting his lip.

Scorpius is so vulnerable in this simple moment that Draco's heart feels like it's going to burst. How in all these years did he not notice that Scorpius never had a shred of the Malfoy arrogance, cruelty, ambition, self-preservation? How could he not have seen this precious fragility? How could he have been so bloody blind?

"Never mind," Scorpius whispers as he turns away, and Draco almost misses his trembling lip.

"Scorpius - I'm coming."

He summons his broom and rises into the sky behind Scorpius, chasing him through the sunset and the clouds. Scorpius drops and dives; Draco allows himself a moment to be impressed by Scorpius' natural skill before kicking up the speed until he can reach out and touch Scorpius. He feels like he's back in school in a match against Gryffindor and Scorpius is not his broken heart but a ruthless teammate. They are defying gravity and the laws of physics, flying like suicidal eagles: free from memories, obligations, expectations, rules. There is no pain, no brokenness, no regret, no fear; just a pounding heart and searing cold air and the joy of diving and chasing and being chased. There is nothing but this moment: streaking through the clouds with Scorpius haloed by the moon. This is being alive. He does not remember the last time he felt anything at all, and he is heady with it.

They finally land on a cliff overhanging the ocean. Scorpius flops back onto the grass and looks at Draco with a challenge in his eyes. Draco locks eyes with him and drops to the ground, feeling the salty ocean dampness stain his expensive silk trousers. It's somehow exhilarating. Scorpius smiles fractionally, rests his head on his arms, and looks at the stars.

This is the moment Draco has brokenly, hopelessly dreamt about for the last seventeen years, and now that it is here, he doesn't know where to begin.

"I don't know you, Scorpius," he finally says, and it feels like moving a mountain. "Your mother kept you so close for all those years, and then you went off to Hogwarts and then - then there wasn't anything, and you were just gone. Like you had never existed. And now you're here and I don't know anything about you. You hardly even look like I remember.

"I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to be a father. I don't know if I can ever get you back, but you're the only thing I've ever really wanted."

A cloud passes completely across the moon before Scorpius speaks.

"What if I need to find out who you are; compare you to the stories I hear at school? Are you going to tell me? Are you going to answer my questions? Are you going to treat me like you trust me - like you love me? Is this about both of us or is this just about you proving to yourself that you really could have been a good father if you had felt like it?"

It's a sucker-punch but Draco knows he deserves it. Scorpius is in so much pain Draco is surprised he hasn't been more cruel. He glances over to see Scorpius looking at him with glassy eyes: they look like mercury in the moonlight.

"Everything I have is yours, Scorpius. It always has been."

* * * * *

Stories spill out of both of them as though a dam has broken. The somber, aloof Scorpius melts away and Draco is startled to discover that Scorpius is incredibly animated when he is not afraid. Draco watches intently while he talks: memorising every facial expression, every gesture, every curve of his lips. His eyes are bright when he stops mid-story to ask Draco so many rapid-fire questions that Draco can't remember any of them, and Draco laughs until tears stream down his face.

Scorpius' smile is brilliant as he blushes.

* * * * *

Scorpius is silent as always: a ghost drifting through the Manor. His feet never make a sound.

He trails a finger along the elegantly crafted lettering on a stack of vellum envelopes on the edge of Draco's desk. He looks at Draco for a long moment before drifting to the windows, running his hand slowly down the heavy drapes.

"I don't want to have Christmas this year."

Draco stills.

"It always feels like a lonely parody; like we're trying to recreate someone else's Christmas from faded, blurry photographs. Every year is the same: we dress for dinner as if we'll be entertaining guests. I talk about school; you talk about business; Mother talks about her endless social events. We have pudding beside a tree that's been decorated by an overpaid interior designer and we all politely pretend he wasn't a schizophrenic art-school dropout. We listen to baroque Christmas music that's mind-numbingly perfect and it feels like my life is - " Scorpius closes his eyes and grips the drapes tightly, his knuckles white with the strain.

Draco stands and walks slowly to the window. Scorpius turns around. His eyes are glistening.

"An endless performance put on for people who don't care until you make a mistake," Draco finishes softly. He brushes Scorpius' hair out of his eyes and Scorpius bites his lip. "You and me: a goose, some wine, and pudding. Not even a table - we can eat on the floor in front of the fire."

Scorpius gives a half-smile. "No interior decorators?"

"No interior decorators. And none of that shite music, either. I've always hated it."

Scorpius laughs.

* * * * *

"I should have been the one to teach you to fly," Draco murmurs into the darkness. "I should have taught you how to fly, how to apparate, how to - bloody fuck. I missed so fucking much because of her."

Scorpius offers him the flask and takes a drag of the cigarette. Draco doesn't know why they share when they could each have their own, but he doesn't ask and Scorpius doesn't offer. He likes it that way.

"I fly to get away from her," Scorpius says, and then corrects himself. "I flew to get away from her. She was so clingy, so needy - so bloody suffocating. Of course I loved her, but ... I always knew there was something wrong with her, something dark and destructive. She frightened me, just a little.

"But she was all I had. She was as mad as a hatter, but she was all I had."

Draco feels as empty as the sky. "I'd give anything if I could go back and change it."

"I don't blame you. Okay, I do, but not as much as before. Not nearly as much." Scorpius looks at him and smiles. "You weren't a bastard, just an idiot."

Draco offers a broken smile and Scorpius elbows him in the ribs. "It's okay. You aren't the first person to fuck up your life, and you certainly won't be the last."

* * * * *

It is long past midnight by the time they return to the manor. Draco is exhausted; he has been sleeping incredibly well since Scorpius has started chasing him through the sky almost every night.

Draco is opening the door to his room when Scorpius grabs his wrist. His eyes are wide as he bites his lip hesitantly, then throws his arms around Draco. "Thank you," he whispers, and his breath is hot against Draco's neck.

Scorpius' warmth is liberating and terrifying and Draco cannot breathe. He carefully puts his arms around Scorpius and ignores the way his skin feels like it's burning; ignores the tremors that wash through his body and the way his heart is trying to claw out of his chest.

Scorpius slowly lets go, smiles softly at him, and disappears down the dark hallway.

Draco wards the door to the study, pours himself a particularly large drink and swallows half of it at once: desperately needing the violent, grounding burn that tears through him. The closest he's had to affection and love since the night with Astoria have been one night stands in discreet sex clubs, but to equate quick fucks in the dark with love is so pathetic that it doesn't bear thinking about.

He swallows the other half down fast, slamming the glass to the table with the pain of it. He's confused and frustrated and angry at his body for reacting this way to Scorpius' innocent touch. He needs to fuck someone and get this out of his system before he has to deal with Scorpius again, to remind his body of the difference between familial affection and sex.

After apparating, it's half a mile to the bar. He feels old, but he can't look older than thirty-three, thirty-five at the most, and that isn't too old for a young thing who wants a daddy for the night.

The thought stops him so fast he stumbles and has to catch himself against a wall. That's not what he's here for. That's not - that's not anything. He just wants to fuck someone wanton and wild and willing, but he damn well knows that the big, muscular men who will hold him against the wall and fuck him until he screams don't frequent this place. He almost turns back, but then he's inside and at the bar, slamming shots faster than he can think.

He might feel old, but he is still a bastion of Malfoy beauty. He raises an eyebrow and puts on a condescending smile as he leans languidly against the bar.

The kid is definitely not legal, no matter what he says. Draco shakes his head and glances away, but the kid saunters closer: tight leather trousers, wild blond hair, big eyes lined in kohl. He leans up against Draco and looks up at him through dark lashes. He reminds Draco of Scorpius, if Scorpius had ever learnt how to smile; how to laugh; how to pursue recklessly. He desperately doesn't want anything to do with this kid but he can't look away. He shakes his head again because he can't form the words to refuse, but the kid bites a pouty lip, grabs a fistful of shirt, and cups Draco's hard cock through his jeans. Draco lets out a desperate sound and crushes their mouths together.

It's only a few moments before they're in the back room and the blond boy is sliding down his body like water and pooling around Draco's feet. He presses his mouth against the fabric of Draco's trousers and slips his devious tongue inside as the zip slides slowly down. He devours Draco in long, desperate swallows; devastates him with sultry looks and decadent moans that leave him wide-eyed and breathless.

It doesn't take long. He runs his fingers through the blond curls and the boy's eyes flutter open. He's wanking himself furiously between Draco's knees, and the sight sends Draco over the edge. The boy whimpers as he swallows, and then he's coming, too; his cry muted by Draco's cock.

He zips up and kisses Draco on the corner of the mouth with a sly grin. “Thanks, Daddy,” he whispers, and slips out the door.

Draco locks himself in his study for three days.

* * * * *

Draco is sitting in the grass with his arms around his knees. Scorpius lies back and lights a cigarette with a whispered Incendio. He raises an eyebrow defiantly, daring Draco to say something. Draco presses his lips together disapprovingly and snatches the cigarette away, takes a deep drag, and sighs contentedly. Scorpius throws his head back and laughs.

Scorpius pulls out a flask, takes a swallow and hands it over with a sly smile. It's a cheap firewhiskey that burns as Draco swallows, and it's all he can do not to choke on it. He grins at Scorpius with watery eyes, and Scorpius laughs again.

Draco would be happy to spend the rest of his life making Scorpius laugh.

* * * * *

Sprawled inelegantly in the grass, Draco catches his breath, the breeze drying the sweat on his face and arms. He feels exactly the way he always did after a match: like he's broken free of something; worked out pain and frustration and fear. He feels soothed and clear-headed. It's nearly catharsis.

Scorpius is lying next to him. The stars are brilliant. Draco's breathing slows.

"Why didn't you ever try out for the team?" he murmurs into the night sky.

Scorpius snorts and lights a cigarette. "They barely talk to me. I could have been the best Seeker the wizarding world has ever seen, and they still wouldn't have let me on."

"You could have talked to the Headmistress."

"Yeah, so they could accuse me of having my father buy me a place on the team? I don't think so. I didn't want the trouble. It wouldn't have been worth it." He pauses and then adds quietly, "It's not worth it."

Scorpius looks at the sky as he lets the smoke out slowly. The air is warm and still and the smoke swirls sluggishly around him, like something alive.

"They've hated me ever since I started school," Scorpius says softly. "I couldn't convince anyone that I wasn't a Death Eater, and even if I could, I was still a Death Eater's son - forget that you were cleared by the Wizengamot, forget that Grandfather was Kissed and Grandmother died in Azkaban. No matter how hard I tried to be the nicest boy in school, they all accused me of trying to curry favour, trying to rebuild Malfoy influence. So I gave up on nice and focused on my studies, but the better my marks, the more they accused me of cheating and having the clout to do so without punishment. No matter what I did, my name tarnished everything."

The regret Draco holds cannot be contained within a single person. Some days he doesn't know how he can get out of bed in the morning.

"When I fly, I can pretend none of this exists," Scorpius whispers as he looks up at the stars slowly spilling into the violet sky. "I can forget Hogwarts; I can forget my name. I can believe, just for a minute, that I can fly wherever I like, to somewhere where no one will know I'm a Malfoy just by looking at me. As long as I am in the sky I can believe that when I touch the ground, none of this will be here. It will have all been a dream I am glad to wake from."

* * * * *

"I got an owl from the inspector today," Draco says. Scorpius cocks his head the way he does when he is cataloguing information. It's a quirk Draco finds endearing. "They found your mother. She was in Sweden."

Scorpius stills. "In Sweden."


Scorpius lights a cigarette. His face is bland as smoke drifts from his mouth. "I hope the bitch burns there."

Clouds drift across the moon. They share the cigarette in alternating drags. Scorpius doesn't look at him.

"She wasn't always like that," Draco says softly to the sky. "Once, she was ... strong. We both were. Strong enough to marry when we didn't want to, and strong enough to end it once we realised there there was nothing actually stopping us. I think that was the first time I thought I could love her - the night we finally talked. We talked and cried and laughed and made love because for the first time in our adult lives, we were choosing to do what we wanted to do, instead of submitting to a life that had been chosen for us years ago.

"She wasn't the same after she came back. I don't know what happened. I don't know why she came back. I don't know why she stayed. I mentioned it to her once, that she could leave. I wasn't forcing her to stay. In fact, I wouldn't even tell anyone. I'd set her up with a house in London like before, and we could share time with you - or not at all, if she didn't want to have anything to do with you. She just - "

Draco lets out a long, slow breath. "She was kind once, and strong. She married a Death Eater, after all."

* * * * *

"They never talk to me," Scorpius murmurs into the sky. Smoke drifts from his mouth in languid curls. "Not ever; not even in muggle bars. I always wonder if even they know what the Malfoys did in the war; if they recognise my hair, my eyes. They look at me from across the room, across the bar, and they won't talk to me. Not even fucking muggles will talk to me. It's no wonder she left." Scorpius stares hollowly at the sky, his breathing slow. He doesn't even look hurt, he just looks empty.

"You honestly have no idea," Draco murmurs.

Scorpius doesn't bother to look at him; he just watches the stillness of the moon. "About what?"

"Scorpius, you're ... they might not be able to see it at Hogwarts because all they see is your name, but maybe even ... " Draco has no idea how to proceed. "Scorpius, look at me."

Scorpius gazes up at Draco with quicksilver eyes that frighten him some days. Right now they stop his heart.

Draco watches the path of his fingers as they trail down Scorpius' soft cheekbone, his jaw; watches so he doesn't have to look at those eyes. Scorpius is sharp, just as Draco had been all through school: sharp and angular, his eyes intense and thoughtful, distant even when he is involved. When he is forced out of his thoughts, he can be vicious: his eyes angry, his words razor-sharp. He is genius on the edge of madness, and Draco is in awe. His words come out in a strange rush.

"You're brilliant and talented, you have a razor-sharp wit and you're breathtakingly beautiful. They don't talk to you because they don't think they have a chance."

Scorpius looks at him, distrustful for the first time in weeks: a flicker of hope is quickly smothered by a lifetime of rejection. Tears are in his eyes. "That's not true," he says, his voice strange. "I'm not any of those things. They all know I'm awkward and afraid and alone. It's a fucking neon sign across my chest," he whispers. "No matter how tall I stand, no matter how confident I appear, everyone knows even my own mother couldn't love me."

Fury burns through Draco, pure and bright and clarifying.

"Scorpius, your mother was a petty, self-centred bitch. She refused to be happy at every opportunity - she chose to wallow in resentment when she could have done anything she wanted with her life. I never limited her; having you never limited her. She decided she would rather destroy herself and everything around her rather than just accepting that life wasn't quite what she had dreamt and making the best of it."

Scorpius' hair is white in the moonlight, and Draco runs his fingers through it. "You are the most amazing person I have ever met, Scorpius. She never deserved you."

Scorpius looks at him, and his eyes are large and liquid. "She never deserved you, either."

* * * * *

Draco lies in the grass and watches the night-black trees sway across the moon. Scorpius is beside him. They are holding hands.

He was unnerved when Scorpius' cold, dry fingers slid between his, but only for a heartbeat. Scorpius sighed: a long, deep sound of relaxation and contentment, and Draco's uncertainty melted away.

Draco is trembling. He is trembling because he is exhilarated and he is terrified. He has shared everything with Scorpius - every failure, every shame, every broken thing he's kept locked inside for twenty-three years - and Scorpius pressed his hands over the jagged edges until they couldn't cut him anymore; until his gentle understanding stopped the internal hemorrhaging. The small hand linked with his means that everything he has said, every story he has told, everything he has admitted has been accepted and embraced: not as worthlessness, but as a part of trying and learning and living.

Scorpius has unexpected insight into everything; startling insight from someone who has seen so little of the world.

But he's seen enough, Draco realises. He knows about rejection, about loss, about unending solitude; about living up to - or not - expectations from everyone around him, living and dead. He knows about suffering for sins that aren't his own; about paying for mistakes he never made. He understands far more deeply than Draco could ever imagine; understands far more than he should. He understands more than anyone else ever has, and Draco is unsettled because he shouldn't and unsettled because he is so grateful that Scorpius does.

He's the only person who has ever seen Draco for who he is, not for his name or his father or his mistakes.

Scorpius holds his hand and says nothing. Draco closes his eyes.

5. Autumn

Draco writes to Scorpius once a week. He often finds himself writing long, drawn out letters about himself and about Astoria, about the war and Potter and his father and Voldemort, but he never sends them: he guiltily remembers how easy it is to steal letters and use them for blackmail, so he folds them up and puts them in a box for when Scorpius comes home. It doesn't leave much to talk about - nothing, if he's honest with himself - but he sends a letter faithfully every Saturday: he drinks his morning tea and writes to Scorpius before he opens the paper.

The box is getting full.

* * * * *

Draco is in his study re-reading Scorpius' letters on the night he gets an unexpected owl. The parchment is rumpled and splattered with ink; the writing uneven. The letter is from Scorpius.

Scorpius' letters have always been meandering. Little makes sense at first glance: there are coherent bursts and phrases here and there, but none of it seems to have anything to do with anything else. He thinks in spirals and tangents, and sometimes it takes more than one reading for Draco to realise what any part of it has to do with any other part. When he finds it, it's brilliant and subtle; Scorpius clearly has a deep mind for philosophy and theory. What he writes about has been getting progressively esoteric and Draco has been finding it harder and harder to understand.

This letter, however, is not meandering so much as arbitrarily apparating from subject to subject: mid-thought, mid-discussion, mid-memory. Some of his letters have been unbelievably hard to decipher, but this has no key he can see, nothing even remotely similar by any stretch of the imagination.

Scorpius' handwriting has always changed from one letter to the next, but this one seems to have them all: each paragraph different from the last, some words in the middle different from everything else altogether.

His words are panicked and desperate for something he can't seem to say, but Draco understands: Scorpius is breaking apart at the seams.

Heart pounding, Draco sends an owl ahead, apparates to the gates, and begins the long hike to the castle. McGonagall is waiting for him at the doors.

* * * * *

They find Scorpius curled up on the floor of the owlery, books and parchment surrounding him, a pot of ink spilled across some of the sheets. He is whispering to a small owl who is sleeping on the edge of one of the books.

"Scorpius," the headmistress calls softly until Scorpius looks up slowly. He is pale and drawn. He blinks a few times before he notices Draco.

"Scorpius, what are you doing?"

Scorpius takes a breath and looks around himself, seeming to notice everything for the first time. He shakes his head, looking embarrassed. "Sleepwalking," Scorpius says softly. He nods slowly, resignedly.

"Sleepwalking?" McGonagall asks. "With your books?"

"I wake up in places, doing things..." he trails off as he stares at Draco, his eyes unnervingly intense. A manic smile slowly blooms on his face, and it isn't reassuring.

Draco's hand curls around the letter in his pocket. "Have you ever written letters when you're been sleepwalking?"

"It's possible," Scorpius says slowly, unblinking. "I've done a lot of things. Brewed a potion once."

McGonagall looks alarmed. "Why didn't you tell anyone?"

"What was I going to say? 'I wake up in strange places doing homework?' I got a Charms essay done that way, once. One of my better essays."

The headmistress and Draco look at Scorpius for a long moment and he shrugs gracefully, his too-wide eyes never leaving Draco's.

* * * * *

Draco is once again in the infirmary watching Scorpius sleep. He does not know what to do. Draco squeezes Scorpius' hand, and Scorpius squeezes back.

"Are you okay?" Draco asks as Scorpius' eyes slowly open.

"I'm - yes." Scorpius runs a hand through his hair and takes a breath before smiling. The tension from the owlery is gone. "I'm fine."

Draco raises an eyebrow.

Scorpius blushes and looks away. "Just ... studying. So much studying. I kept forgetting to eat."

"And sleep."

Scorpius looks sheepish. "And sleep."

"I thought you were doing fine in all your classes."

Scorpius smirks. "I do that by studying."

Draco can't help but laugh.

"I didn't mean to frighten you," Scorpius murmurs, holding tightly to Draco's hand. "It gets lonely here sometimes. I feel so trapped... at Hogwarts, inside my head... " Scorpius runs his thumb lightly over Draco's knuckles. "I'm glad you're here."

"I'll always be here, Scorpius."

Scorpius looks at him for a long moment, and a hint of that manic smile appears. "Yes. Yes, I do believe you will be."

6. Christmas

They've decimated a goose, two pies, three bottles of wine, and are now sprawled inelegantly across the couch because it's more comfortable than the floor. Scorpius leans against Draco's shoulder and expertly uncorks another bottle.

They watch the fire for a long time, passing the bottle back and forth. Draco kicks a leg up on the couch and Scorpius nestles under his arm. The wine makes everything warm and soft around the edges.

Draco smiles. He doesn't think he has ever been so happy.

Scorpius nuzzles into his shoulder and begins to trace idly along Draco's side. Draco runs his fingers through the slight curls of Scorpius' hair. Scorpius' fingers wander across Draco's stomach, gently following the edge of his ribs and tracing mindless patterns on the silk-covered steel of his sternum. The feeling is soothing, warm, and safe. Draco lets out a content sigh, luxuriating in simply being touched.

Draco shifts down further into the cushions and brings his other leg onto the comfort of the couch. Scorpius whines in protest and re-arranges himself, lazily throwing one leg across Draco's.

Draco absently runs his hand down Scorpius' shoulder and down his arm; Scorpius twines their fingers together and trails his thumb in delicate, intricate patterns across Draco's palm. Some part of Draco knows that this is a little too affectionate, that sons don't touch their fathers this way, but he has a hard time caring. He can't remember when the last time was that anyone touched him like he was more than just a cock or a hole or a pathetic mess of a man.

Something in him breaks. He wonders if Scorpius can feel the jagged edges through his skin.

Draco's eyes fly open when his cock is cupped by a firm hand. Scorpius is looking up at him with gunmetal-grey eyes: sharp and sparkling in the firelight. Draco's breath catches in his throat.

"Scorpius - " Draco begins, but Scorpius leans forward, presses his mouth against Draco's and licks the protest off his tongue. The hand cupping him is sure and demanding and Draco cannot help the way he thrusts up into the pressure or the desperate sounds that claw out of his throat.

Scorpius straddles Draco as he pulls his t-shirt over his head; grinds their trouser-trapped erections together as he unbuttons Draco's shirt. Draco is panting as he looks up into Scorpius' glittering, predatory eyes, and for a brief moment he wonders if Scorpius is really as drunk as he seemed to be.

Scorpius drags his nails down Draco's chest and the tender skin of his stomach as he slides down Draco's body; Draco hisses and thrusts helplessly against him. Scorpius looks at him, silver eyes shimmering as he licks his lips slowly, decadently, and within the space of a heartbeat Draco's zip is down and his cock is engulfed in liquid heat. Draco throws back his head and lets out a desperate cry.

He lets out a shaky breath as he watches his cock slide in and out of Scorpius' glistening, red mouth - out of his son's glistening, red, wet, wickedly talented mouth - and then Scorpius swallows Draco's cock deep, deep, impossibly deep, until his nose is buried in Draco's curls and Scorpius is his breath and his heartbeat and the blood in his veins. Scorpius swallows, and for a moment Draco can see infinity.

Scorpius pulls away with a leisurely lick, kicks off his trousers, and draws his hot, wet, open mouth along Draco's stomach as he slides up his body, arching back as their bare cocks touch. Draco watches the sharp muscles play in Scorpius' stomach as he reaches between them and pulls their shafts tightly together in a slick hand. The sound that escapes Draco's throat is almost a sob.

"Scorpius, we - " But Scorpius swallows the rest of Draco's words: soft lips and perfect teeth nip at Draco's mouth, at his tongue, and Draco's cannot help but respond; he cannot help that he is kissing back, that his arms have twined around Scorpius and are holding him tightly as Scorpius sucks away his breath, his thoughts, his tenuous grasp of morality.

Scorpius shifts forward and wraps his hand around Draco's cock, steadying it as he presses down, and Scorpius is watching him with brilliant eyes when the resistance becomes slick, furnace-hot tightness that constricts Draco's throat and stops his heart. Scorpius slams himself the rest of the way down and cries out, throwing his head back as Draco fills him completely.

"Oh my god," Scorpius whispers, looking at him with wide eyes. An unnamed fear starts to bloom in Draco's chest, but Scorpius grabs two fistfuls of his hair and devours his mouth until Draco can't think about anything other than the beautiful body above him and the tight heat that surrounds him. Draco rocks slowly into Scorpius' body until Scorpius is whimpering.

"Fuck me hard - oh god - fuck me hard! " Scorpius cries, and Draco doesn't think, just grips Scorpius' hips hard enough to bruise and slams brutally into him until Scorpius' whimpers become an endless, keening cry and he is bucking back as hard and fast as Draco is thrusting. Scorpius arches as he grinds against Draco, whispering words of nonsense to the ceiling as sweat trails down his chest. He starts to fist himself, but Draco pushes his hand away and wraps his own around the soft steel of Scorpius' cock. Scorpius looks at him with stunned and wild eyes.

"Oh god, I'm going to - please come in me, come in me - oh god, please!" Scorpius cries as he thrusts violently into Draco's fist and comes with a cry.

Draco's world implodes softly, silently; the world focuses down to just Scorpius' face as it slowly tips back down to look at him: eyes half-closed, lips bruised and full and open, hair wild as Draco's strokes slow on his slick and glistening cock. Scorpius is glassy-eyed; his mouth open, body trembling. His head drops down and he catches himself against Draco's chest. He runs his fingertips through the slickness there and then across his mouth, making his lips glitter in the firelight.

Draco grabs his slender wrists and pulls him down hard, licking at Scorpius' lips as Scorpius chants, "Fuck me, Daddy; fuck me, Daddy; fuck me, Daddy", and it's in the violent admission of Scorpius being completely aware that he's fucking his own father that Draco's world snaps inside out in a nauseating spin: his malleable ideas of right and wrong turn to ash and blow away as he comes.

Scorpius is looking at him from somewhere high above. His lips are swollen; his eyes are wide and wet. He is smiling softly. He kisses Draco sweetly and Draco feels it as he breaks: somewhere between the look of adoration and the press of warm lips, Draco feels loved for the first time. It shatters him.

"I love you, Daddy," Scorpius whispers, and Draco lets the swimming pull of too much alcohol draw him under.

* * * * *

This is not the first time Draco has slept in the library, but it is the first time he's woken with vivid images of fucking his son. He stumbles up off the couch and tears panicked, desperate fingers through his hair. His eyes are wide as he stares blindly at the room, his breathing fast and ragged.

Draco's body is shaking uncontrollably in the aftershocks of pain. His arm hurts so badly that he is absently wondering if it would hurt any more to cut it off entirely. His robes are soaked with his own blood and vomit; his throat is raw from screaming. It is all he can do to climb to his knees before the Dark Lord and kiss the hem of his robes, hoping with everything he is that Voldemort is satisfied.

He staggers to his feet when the Dark Lord commands him to rise. He is presented to the assembled Death Eaters who have watched him scream and writhe and spill his bowels in agonising submission; he would be humiliated beyond what he could bear if he wasn't in so much pain.

His father steps forward, wraps his arms around Draco, and murmurs something Draco almost doesn't hear. He is sixteen years old, and it is the first time his father has ever said "I love you".

After the torture he has just endured for it, Draco believes him.

Draco sinks slowly to the ground. "No. No, no, no - Scorpius, no! Oh, please don't tell me - please, Scorpius - I loved you, Scorpius - I love you, Scorpius! You didn't have to - please tell me you didn't - Scorpius, please," he whispers, and the world starts to spin.

Time passes in fits and starts: he is fascinated by the way dust plays in the light streaming through the windows, then it's gone - the light and the dust - because the drapes are closed and he doesn't remember closing them. Panic devours him and he finds himself taking the stairs two at a time to the kitchen because he's late, it's late, it's far past breakfast time but he has to fix this, he has to make this normal, make this right; he doesn't understand what happened last night and he can't bear to think about it and Scorpius is still in bed, thank god.

As he reaches for the eggs, he realises he's still in last night's rumpled clothes: his shirt is still open; his chest is tacky and smells like sweat and sex and Scorpius. He fights quickly-rising nausea as he rushes for his rooms, throws himself in the shower, and turns on the water as cold as he can stand it. The sound of sodden clothes hitting the porcelain is shockingly loud. He whimpers when, after the third try, he finally manages to conjure a stiff-bristled brush and scrubs himself viciously until his hands are too numb to hold the brush any longer.

He collapses as he stumbles out of the shower and pulls himself into a tight and trembling ball on the marble floor.

The images are bright in his head: Scorpius writhing and moaning and gasping above him, his head thrown back; whimpering and begging and crying Fuck me, Daddy.

Draco watches the moments play in an endless loop with the same detached fascination as he did the day he witnessed Professor Burbage die: seeing a mudblood swallowed by a snake while eating dinner seemed completely normal when he was surrounded by his father and Voldemort and Aunt Bellatrix. Fucking his son made perfect sense when he was drunk and wrapped in warm, soft, loving arms and Scorpius kept saying please.

Now he's lying naked on a cold floor with his cock hard against his stomach and he can still see Scorpius sucking and thrusting and coming on him and he doesn't want to stop watching; he doesn't ever want to forget fucking his own son. A wave of self-loathing washes over him as he realises that it wasn't just alcohol and stupidity; it wasn't just a drunken one-night stand where he was too pissed to think straight: he knowingly, deliberately fucked his damaged, broken son who desperately needed to be loved but didn't know the difference between love and sex, and Draco turned that pure, new, sacred love into something filthy and vile and twisted.

The relationship he should have had all these years with Scorpius - that bond that would have made Scorpius strong and self-assured, the loss of which drove Draco to drink himself into a stupor for seventeen years - is gone beyond any chance of repair. He has destroyed the only thing he ever truly wanted because he was so desperate for touch and too drunk to think and now he's ruined it all because he's just as selfish as his father was: just as much of a foul, manipulative, self-serving bastard.

He can't think straight, but the one thing he can do is face what he has done and stop cowering on the bathroom floor. Maybe, just maybe there is something to be salvaged. If there isn't, he has nothing left to live for.

Shaking with the cold, he manages to button up his shirt and trousers, and slowly laces his boots as his fingers thaw. He will be presentable if it kills him; he will not arrive a mess and wild, even if he can barely keep two thoughts together. His head is spinning as he makes his way down the stairs and to the kitchen.

Eggs and a pan and something else - other things - what the fuck does he need to make eggs? He cracks the eggs into the pan with trembling hands and has to make them scrambled because he didn't remember to grease the pan first: they're dry by the time he scrapes them out because the flame was too high and he lost track of time inside his spinning, whirling head and Scorpius is usually downstairs by now but Draco doesn't know what to say even if he were here and wasn't there usually toast with eggs? And tea? Or did Scorpius like coffee? He can't fucking remember and he howls as he flings handfuls of hot, ruined eggs across the room and falls weakly to his knees.

There is nothing salvageable here.

* * * * *

Evening comes in excruciatingly slow moments.

Draco counts his steps as he crosses the study. His slippers make soft sounds on the wood. At some point he curls up on the floor in a beam of light and sleeps. When he wakes, the light is no longer touching him.

He doesn't get up.

He cannot find an answer, if an answer was what he was looking for. He cannot find reasons, either. Explanations he has in abundance: alcohol, loneliness, desperation, fear. But they are the why, not the how. Or perhaps they are they how, not the why. Draco isn't sure, and he snickers as the words spin and tangle in his head.

He fucked his own son. On Christmas Day.

He stares unseeing at the ceiling. There's just not enough explanation in the world to excuse fucking his son. There's none at all for how much he enjoyed it.

He rolls onto his stomach, painfully and ruthlessly crushing his hardening cock into the floor.

The floor smells like waxed wood. He can't stop laughing and for a moment he wonders if he will die laughing hysterically. The fit passes and he breathes slowly as he stretches out.

The clock chimes. It's time for dinner. He briefly considers staying in the study for the rest of his life, but if he was able to kneel before Voldemort to accept Cruciatus, he can face his own son over the dinner table.

It's alcohol that got him into this mess, but he can't think coherently and he can't face Scorpius with his head spinning. Maybe a drink will slow it down just enough for him to make any kind of sense of his thoughts, enough so he can hold himself together over dinner. Two shots and he waits for the burn: he straightens his hair, tucks in his shirt, unrolls the sleeves. He feels warmer than he has all day; his thoughts a little slower. He takes a deep breath before opening the door; no plan in mind for what he'll say to Scorpius.

He doesn't remember taking the stairs. He doesn't remember when he changed his mind or how he ended up on the opposite side of the manor, but Scorpius' door is open and light is spilling into the hallway.

He's packing.

Draco closes his eyes and holds tightly to the doorframe. He expected nothing less, but the world is trembling. He should just walk away and let Scorpius leave without having to face him, but the words are past his lips before he realises he's said them aloud.

"You're leaving," he whispers, hopeful and despairing. Scorpius turns to him with a brilliant smile that holds no pain, no malice, no anger. The unpredictability of the world is nauseating Draco. He grips the doorframe a little harder.

"Yes; I have a potions project I have to finish. Didn't I tell you I was leaving today?"

Draco shakes his head slowly.

"Through Christmas, but I couldn't stay for the New Year. I didn't tell you?" Scorpius' face is open and sincere, his brow furrowed with uncertainty that turns into concern as he looks at Draco.

The words begin to spill before Draco has a chance to stop them. "Scorpius, last night - "

Scorpius rolls his eyes and holds up a hand, smiling affectionately. "Don't. People do stupid things when they're drunk."

Draco runs his hands through his hair desperately. "Nobody - " He can't even say the words: Nobody gets drunk enough to fuck his own son.

Scorpius steps closer and Draco suddenly can't breathe: Scorpius is too close and the room is too hot and spinning too fast and Draco can't decide if he wants to shove Scorpius away or hold him until he stops breaking. Scorpius puts his hand on Draco's shoulder and it's all Draco can do not to scream.

"I'm sorry I forgot to tell you." Draco doesn't know how Scorpius can smile as though the entire world isn't crumbling to dust. "Maybe I thought I told you when I was sleepwalking. It's sometimes hard to tell if I actually did something or just dreamt I did."

Scorpius reaches up and brushes the hair out of Draco's face. "You don't look well," Scorpius murmurs, and Draco closes his eyes against the threatening tears. Scorpius slides his arm around Draco's waist.

"Let's get you to bed."

Time acts strangely again: he remembers a few stairs, the suit of armour on the second floor landing, the way Scorpius smells. Laughter echoes through the air, but he's not sure if Scorpius actually laughed or if he's just remembering it. Then Scorpius is kneeling on the floor before him and untying his shoes, and Draco doesn't remember how he got to his room or when he sat down.

"There's a spell for that," he whispers. Scorpius smiles and sets the shoes aside. Then Scorpius is humming something soothing while he strokes Draco's hair, and Draco buries himself deeper into blankets he doesn't remember getting under.

And then there's nothing at all.

* * * * *

It's three days later when Draco wakes to sunlight streaming through his window. He's still spinning, but time has begun passing predictably during the odd hours he's been awake, and he's been thinking somewhat more clearly. He decides to attempt a short shower.

He can't decide if it's a good or a bad thing that it passes without missing memory or wild hysterics. He snickers at the absurdity of his ambivalence.

He intends to avoid Scorpius' rooms altogether; intends to try and get his life back into its familiar pattern: have his morning tea and spend the entire day drowning in paperwork, projects, and ludicrous amounts of alcohol.

He doesn't know how the kitchen turned into Scorpius' bedroom, or why he's standing beside Scorpius' bed, or where the hell everything went so devastatingly wrong. Draco slides to his knees as the grief overwhelms him. He grips Scorpius' bed to try to stay upright, but he simply collapses in slow motion, Scorpius's blankets held tight in his white knuckled fists. He buries himself in them, surrounded by the smell of his only son, and screams until his voice is hoarse; cries until his tears are dry and he falls asleep completely and utterly alone.

7. Winter

Draco wakes with a panicked cry. He sucks in gasping breaths as he forces himself to remember where he is, clinging so tightly to the blankets that his knuckles are white. The nightmare is still brilliantly vivid.

Scorpius is naked and shaking on a stone-cold floor, his tiny body bruised and bloody. Draco kneels beside him. He takes Scorpius's chin in his hand and runs his thumb along Scorpius' trembling lower lip. "I'll only love you if you let me fuck you," Draco whispers, and Scorpius whimpers wetly as he turns his head away and pulls his knees apart, tears streaming down his face.

Draco stumbles to the bathroom and falls to his knees in front of the toilet, dry-heaving until he screams.

He wipes his face with the back of his hand and goes back into his room, reaching for the scotch that has taken up permanent residence on his nightstand. He swallows as much as he can before he chokes on the burn.

He almost hopes Scorpius will tell someone - fuck it, let him tell everyone: let him take out an ad in the Daily fucking Prophet so everyone will know that Draco is a monster and Scorpius can be admired for being a survivor and then Draco can slit his own throat and take the shame of the Malfoy name with him.

He takes a long drink and buries his head in his hands.

* * * * *

Scorpius is hanging by his wrists from the ceiling, dry blood crusted between his thighs. He is crying into the crook of his arm. Draco laughs, a throaty sound: humourless and malicious. "That's not enough blood to ease my way," he whispers, and presses a knife between Scorpius' legs. Scorpius shrieks. Draco laughs.

Draco wakes screaming.

When he's finished throwing up on the duvet and finally catches his breath, he goes to his study in bare feet and pyjamas, lights the fire, hangs a cauldron over it, and quickly collects the ingredients for Dreamless Sleep.

He times his chopping with repeated phrases of self-loathing; keeps his rhythm with epithets of disgust. He hates himself for being such a coward that he's running away from nightmares he has earned a thousand times over. He throws the ingredients violently into the cauldron and stirs carefully with the last thread of restraint he has.

He paces as it cools, and if anyone were watching, he would look like a madman: for an hour he gestures violently, weeps and curses, screams and strikes the rough stone wall until his hands bleed.

Even with the little silver funnel, he spills as he decants: he can't stop shaking. He stoppers each phial with trembling hands and places them in wavering lines across the table.

He doesn't deserve to sleep. He deserves the nightmares, he deserves to be exhausted, he deserves to be devoured by self-loathing and hatred. He deserves all of it and more, and he's not going to let himself get out of it yet again; he's not going to refuse to take responsibility for what he has done; he's not going to blame his father or his name. He is going to accept his failure and he is going to let it soak into every cell of his body, every breath he inhales, every beat of his heart until his blood runs thick with the guilt he should have been drowning in since Potter set him free.

Draco looks at the little bottles in bright rows: thirty days of peaceful sleep laid out before him in glittering, absinthe-coloured phials. He sweeps them all to the floor with a broken scream.

He sinks to the ground and summons a bottle of whiskey because he's out of scotch.

* * * * *

He's had too much to drink - as he has every night for the past three months - but he can't stop seeing Scorpius above him, below him: sucking him, fucking him, moaning and begging for more. He's just sober enough to grab his jacket and apparate to London without splinching himself.

He saunters into the bar and orders another scotch, tossing a wad of muggle money on the counter. The boy from before is nearly in his lap by the time Draco sees him; the one who looks like Scorpius. He tells himself no, tells himself to find anyone else - everyone else if he has to - but there might as well be no one else here for as easily as he can draw his eyes away. The kid tosses back Draco's scotch and kisses him ravenously.

They stumble to the nearest hotel where Draco spends the night fucking him into the mattress, against the wall, over the desk. Three times that night: the kid's mouth is wet and swollen, his ribs bruised; his steps are ginger as he leaves in the early morning hours. Draco locks the door behind him, sits on the floor of the shower, and lets the water run over him until it turns cold.

It was still Scorpius, every time he buried his face into golden hair - every desperate moan, every breathless, panted plea. It was still Scorpius whispering please; it was still Scorpius crying fuck me, Daddy. It was Scorpius he drove his cock into when he realised he couldn't keep lying to himself; it was Scorpius he came inside time and time again.

It was Scorpius, always Scorpius, and Draco hopes he gets pneumonia and dies in this filthy muggle bathtub.

8. Spring

Draco starts the first morning of spring break as he did every day during the summer: he showers, dresses, goes downstairs, starts tea. He puts on the apron he bought in a muggle culinary shop. He pulls out eggs and bread and butter and cheese; a pan and a spatula. He does everything he can not to think, because if he does, he will panic and his thoughts will spin until he locks himself in the study to drink until he willingly forgets he even has a son.

He hears the squeak of a chair behind him as Scorpius sits down. His heart catches in his throat. His stomach turns over.

He butters the toast.

"Morning," Scorpius murmurs sleepily.

"Good morning," he responds out of habit, surprised he can get the words out of a mouth turned to ash. He scoops the eggs onto plates; stacks toast; pours tea. He sets the plates on the table directly across from each other, just like every summer morning.

"Thank you," Scorpius murmurs.

"You're welcome." He opens his paper to block Scorpius away and drinks tea that is far too hot and bitter. His eyes run aimlessly over the page. The words blur into meaninglessness.

Scorpius breaks the silence. "I want to go travelling after I leave school."

It takes a moment for Draco to put the words in context, but when he does, he doesn't know what he's supposed to say. He simply cannot think. He finally says the first words that string themselves into a coherent sentence.

"That's an excellent idea." Scorpius doesn't say anything more, so Draco uselessly turns a page.

Scorpius thanks Draco for breakfast, stretching and yawning as he pads out of the kitchen. His tight nightshirt stretches up over the low rise of his pyjama bottoms to showcase a vast expanse of smooth, pale skin: all curving hips and tapered waist.

It's all Draco can do not to send his mug crashing into the wall in the same place he's shattered a dozen in the last four months. He grips it with bone-breaking force and makes his way stiffly, carefully, into the study to pour two shots of scotch into his tea.

It's ten o-clock in the morning. He closes his eyes and swallows it down.

* * * * *

Draco has promised himself that he won't lock himself in the study to drink, but he's seriously reconsidering the decision: there's no point in making himself available for someone who doesn't want to see him. And though he knows he's just rationalising a way to escape the pain of seeing Scorpius, he takes the out and heads for the study.

Scorpius is there, curled up on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea.

"What are you doing in here?" Draco asks breathlessly.

Scorpius looks up from his book with peaceful eyes. "Waiting for you."


Scorpius smiles softly, slowly. "Because I knew you were too ashamed and too damaged to take the risk of waiting for me when you believed I would not come."

Draco stares at him for a very long moment. "How can you possibly know that?"

"No one ever looks at me, so I have all the time in the world to look at them." He smiles, and it's like sunrise and fireflies and shooting stars all contained in the graceful curve of his lips. "Now, are you just going to stand in the doorway all night or are you going to come read with me?"

Draco's thoughts are spinning too quickly to make any sense of them, so he picks up the first book he sees and sits down hesitantly beside Scorpius. Scorpius leans against Draco's shoulder, takes a slow drink of tea, and starts reading.

It's half an hour before Draco's thoughts have slowed enough for him to do the same.

* * * * *

Scorpius is waiting for him in the library.

Draco leans against the doorframe. "How did you know I wouldn't go to the study?"

Scorpius gives him a secretive smile. "Because you're not a coward, no matter what you believe."

A tangle of emotions rise thick in his throat, but before he can decipher any of them, Scorpius says, "Read to me."

Draco nearly drops his scotch. "What?"

"Read to me. You were never allowed to read to me when I was growing up; now is your chance. Read to me."

Draco stands uncertainly in the doorway.

"The bookcase to your left; bottom shelf; third book from the right. It was my favourite book when I was a child. Read it to me. Please?" Scorpius is curled up on the couch under his favourite blanket, and despite everything Draco has seen of him, he looks like a perfectly innocent child.

Draco pulls out the book and sits beside him. Scorpius stretches out across the couch and puts his head on Draco's lap.

"Can you do the voices?"

9. Atonement

The nightmares return with a vengeance the night that Scorpius returns to Hogwarts. Draco had nearly forgotten about them in the past week: Scorpius made breakfast for him every morning; smiled brilliantly and talked and laughed until Draco' walls crumbled. They read to each other in the evenings: children's books, philosophy, potion theory, history, poetry. Draco slept and rested and breathed and smiled as he had not been able to for months.

And now he wakes screaming, screaming and screaming - an explosion of accidental magic lighting every torch and lamp in the manor. He has dragged himself across the floor through his own vomit in a half-conscious attempt to get away from the horror of his dreams. He is gasping on the floor and shaking as though he will never still.

The images fade slowly. He does not remember crying, but he wipes wetness from his face. His throat is raw.

He is crushed by the realisation that this perfect week is something he will never have, something he can never get back. It has been a sick parody that he let himself believe; a comfort that he allowed himself before he was thrust back into hell, and hell will have its vengeance for the days that were stolen from it. It was a perfect reminder of why his punishment cannot end: that he still hopes and dreams for good things that he does not and never will deserve.

He curls up on the floor in his vomit and sweat-soaked clothes, summons a bottle of scotch, and drinks until he throws up.

* * * * *

His shirt is half-unbuttoned, the sleeves rolled up. He watches for a while, drinking whiskey to try and unwind the knot in his stomach as he looks for the right one. It doesn't take long. He's big and tall, muscles enough to break Draco apart from across the room. He has the air of entitlement that only the poor have: the poor that believe they should have been born with a silver spoon, not the cultured arrogance of old money. Put simply: he's an arsehole, and one that Draco would have surreptitiously hexed all night any other time just for the fun of it. But not tonight. Draco slams the rest of his drink and makes his way across the room. He drops his shoulders, bites his lip, and sways as he walks. If only Scorpius could see him now.

"I've been watching you all night."

His friends smirk patronisingly at Draco and the man turns to give him a condescending sneer. "You're a fucking pussy twink. I only fuck men. Fuck off."

Draco is only momentarily taken aback. He might not have anticipated this reaction, but he is a Malfoy and adept at getting his way by whatever means necessary. His words are effortless.

"Think I can't take you? Think I can't take the pounding you'll give me, the bruises you'll leave?" Draco takes a quick breath before barrelling on. "You think I mind a bit of blood? Well then, I guess I asked the wrong 'man'." Draco turns to leave, his heart in his throat, when the burly man grabs his arm hard enough to bruise and spins him around. Draco almost throws up. The man drags him through groups of bystanders and observers to a back room and shoves him against the wall; Draco cries out when his head connects and he sees stars. He yanks down Draco's trousers and Draco sucks in lungfuls of air to keep from throwing up or running away. He hears a liquid sound and then the man shoves inside him.

Draco screams.

A strong hand crushes Draco's face against the roughness of the wall as the man thrusts hard and fast. Draco can't stop howling. It burns like fire, like he's tearing, and he desperately tries not to think of blood or torn flesh, tries not to think of how much damage the man is doing even as he begs for it, demands it; he knows it will never be enough, not if he comes here every day for the rest of his life and lets an endless line of strangers fuck him until blood spills down his legs.

The man changes angle and Draco screams as the pain amplifies; he takes Draco by the hair and cracks his face against the wall. Blinding pain explodes from his nose, and he feels liquid heat spilling over his mouth and chin.

It will never be enough.

The man curses as he comes and pulls out abruptly, and it's absolutely everything Draco can do to stay upright, holding desperately to the wall. The man grabs his arm and spins him around, sneering as Draco stumbles over the trousers still tangled around his ankles. "Fucking. Pansy. Faggot," he hisses, and spits on Draco. It slides down his face and through the blood; slow and hot like the liquid seeping between his thighs. He doesn't want to know if there is blood there, too.

Draco pulls up his trousers, stumbles out of the club, and apparates home.

* * * * *

He washes gingerly; the bruises on his arms and hips are livid. He lets the hot water sluice away most of the blood on his face. His nose is swollen and excruciatingly tender. He leans against the cool shower wall as the water slides down his back and between his buttocks. He touches as little as he can, as lightly as he can, washing the red-tinged slickness from between his legs.

He doesn't heal any of it. He curls up on his bed on his side - nose throbbing, arse burning - and stares at the wall. He feels empty, violated, broken. He feels sick.

He feels better.

10. Leaving

It takes Draco an hour after he feels Scorpius cross the wards to gather the courage to see him.

Scorpius is kneeling on a pillow in front of his trunk: school robes and books are stacked to one side but he doesn't appear to be taking anything more out. He leans up stiffly and presses his hands to the small of his back before running his hands through his hair.


Scorpius jumps just a bit, but then gives Draco a strained and tired smile. "Father."

Scorpius hasn't called him Father in over a year. The familiar pounding begins behind his eyes. "You - are you ... leaving?"

"Travelling, remember?" Scorpius gives him a half-smile and yawns, stretching his hands over his head. "Just taking out my robes and books and adding a few things I might need."

Draco takes a breath. "I thought ... you would stay through the summer."

Scorpius gives a lazy roll of his shoulders. "I want to get as much exploring done as I can before winter - you know I don't like the cold that much." Scorpius rises like an old man; stiff and awkward, bracing himself carefully against the trunk and the bedpost as he rises.

"What's wrong?" Draco asks, brow furrowing. Scorpius usually rises as easily as smoke. A flicker of something unidentifiable crosses Scorpius face before he gives a sheepish smile.

"Nothing. Just - been on the floor too long is all." Scorpius sits down on the bed slowly and kicks his legs out, crossing his ankles. He folds his arms over his chest and makes a small sound of contentment as he leans back against the pillows and kicks off his shoes.

"Do you have plans?"

Scorpius refocuses on him, and Draco sees a flash of tension cross his face. "I'm ... " Scorpius drags a hand through his hair. "I'm going to Romania. There's a dragon reserve there. And then maybe St. Petersburg. And Chernobyl. I always thought it would be neat to explore an abandoned city. And ... and I don't know. Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore. I'll make it up as I go along. But I thought I'd start in Rome. I have a reservation there tonight."

Draco is lost. He doesn't know how he has managed to utterly waste the last eighteen years. Scorpius is grown and gone and Draco has destroyed everything they could have ever had. He knows that leaving is the best thing for Scorpius, but he'd give anything if he could do it all over again. The world sways dangerously and Draco grips the doorframe. He is reminded of the last time he was in this exact same place.

"I just - I didn't - you said not through the summer, but I didn't think ... today. That you would leave today."

Scorpius looks at him for a moment, clearly confused, and then shakes his head ruefully. "I forgot to tell you that, too, didn't I? Damn it. I'm sorry; I've been so forgetful lately, what with finals and all. Yes - I was just coming home to drop off my school things and then I'm leaving." Scorpius drags a hand roughly through his hair. "Shite. I'm sorry." Scorpius shakes his head and winces, pressing his fingers into his temples in a way Draco is only too familiar with.

"I'm exhausted. I think I'd like to take a nap before I go. Will you excuse me?"

Draco nods slowly as Scorpius' eyes flutter shut. He shuts the door behind him and closes his eyes, pressing the heels of his hands into his own blooming headache.

* * * * *

Scorpius does not come down to dinner. When Draco checks his rooms, Scorpius and his trunk are gone.

Draco locks himself in the study and drinks himself to sleep.

11. Endless Days

Draco fills his days until he doesn't have a moment to eat, to sleep, to think. He crawls into bed exhausted, too tired to think before he falls asleep, hoping that exhaustion will keep the nightmares at bay. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

Mostly it doesn't.

Draco pours himself a drink and throws it back, pressing the cool glass to his forehead as another postcard flutters to his desk.

The postcards come every Sunday evening like clockwork: lighthearted notes on pictures of white sand beaches, mountain chalets, cafe-lined streets. Draco reads them once before banishing them to the charred remains of Astoria's suite.

Draco sits in the study and drinks in the darkness. He wonders if Scorpius is flooding himself with new cocks every night to scour away the memory of his father's. He hopes with all his heart that Scorpius will stay away until he forgets his father ever existed; hopes that Scorpius will fuck every boy in Spain and Portugal and France, all the men in Romania and Siberia and Singapore, every tanned island boy in the Caribbean - as many as it takes to erase that night from his memory, as many as it takes for him to be whole again: clean and hopeful and new.

Draco takes his cock out, imagining Parisian boys falling all over themselves at the way French slips off Scorpius' tongue like wine, imagines Scorpius riding dark men and light men and swarthy olive-skinned princes until he comes in waves of self-loathing.

* * * * *

The night air is warm and the moon is bright as he rises into the sky. It's the first time he's flown in over a year. He feels Scorpius' absence acutely.

He sets a brutal pace with no destination in mind. He flies hard and fast, taking risks that could kill him; disappointed when his calculations are as perfect as they were when he was a Seeker. He flies desperately, ruthlessly; flies so hard and so long that he is too exhausted to return.

He falls to the ground gracelessly; his descent more of a barely-controlled fall than an elegant landing. He stands on shaking legs and finds himself at the edge of a tall cliff overlooking the sea.

This is where they came that first night. Here was where they started over; here was where he had begun to hope again.

He lets his broom fall; takes his wand out of his boot and throws it on the ground. He stands on the edge of nothingness, knowing full well that the wind will grow fierce and he will be dragged over the edge with no way to stop it. He will fall to his death and there will not be a damned thing he will be able to do as he plummets: nothing but panic and scream and struggle, nothing other than fight uselessly against inevitable death.

And maybe that's exactly what he wants: to fall over the edge and be forced to accept that he can change nothing, not with all the screaming, wishing, and regret in the world. He will still hit the ground and he will be dead and the world will go on. Everything will go on, just as it always has. Scorpius will take the manor and find someone to settle down with, or he'll sell it and start life somewhere else. Life will go on, with him or without him, and no one will care one way or the other. Draco is absolutely meaningless in this world, utterly meaningless, and nothing he has done or will do will ever have any real effect on anything.

A gust of wind hits, and he is not afraid. He does not wish for anything: not more time, not forgiveness. He accepts the wind and his death and the world as it is. He accepts everything.

He does not fall. And for the first time in his life, Draco Malfoy is truly free.

* * * * *

It is a morning in early September when Draco wakes without the lingering taste of sour dreams. For the first time in months, he does not feel sick and desperate and self-destructive; he is able to think of Scorpius with bittersweet fondness and not self-loathing.

He thinks of the night that he has been punishing himself for ever since, and with a slow breath he admits to himself that it was the most amazing night of his life and all the self-hatred in the world won't change that. There is nothing he can do to erase it, for himself or Scorpius, and maybe that's okay.

He breathes and accepts his mistakes, accepts his failures, accepts his inability to do anything about any of it, and finally, finally, lets it all go.

He puts on a robe and slowly makes his way to Astoria's suite. He has been imprecise in his banishings; the postcards are everywhere.

"Scourgify," he whispers, over and over, until he holds a little stack of brilliant postcards all covered with Scorpius's delightfully wild script. He smiles a bit sadly, but he can hold them without hating himself.

He goes back to the study, pours a cup of tea, and spreads the postcards out in front of the fire: Spain and Portugal and France, Siberia and the Caribbean and Singapore. He smiles as he imagines Scorpius' wind-blown hair as he walks on pristine beaches: his pale skin dark and sun-kissed. He imagines Scorpius confident and happy, living his life far away from his name, this house, this world: far away from Draco. He imagines Scorpius' laughter, full and rich and happy. He imagines Scorpius with a life far away: if he never comes back, then Draco will be glad for him.

He carefully arranges the postcards by date along the mantel and wraps himself in Scorpius' blanket as he settles in front of the fire with a book and a cup of tea.

His struggle has stopped. There is nothing to fight; nothing to strive for. There is nothing he can do about anything. Life is what it has become, and he cannot change the past. He cannot force the future, either.

12. Circles

It is the first Saturday in September, and Draco is sitting in the library with a glass of wine and a book he can't focus on.

They should be in Diagon Alley right now. They should be at Flourish and Blott's picking up new books and at Slug and Jiggers for new dragonhide gloves and at the cafe where Draco would always sit against the wall so Scorpius wouldn't have to see the dark looks shot at them. They should be in front of the quidditch shop where they would have a quiet discussion as to why once again Scorpius didn't want a new broom and in Twilfit and Tatting's where Scorpius would never complain about how long it took for everything to be properly fitted but would stalk straight to Fortescue's afterward with his jaw clenched and fingers digging into the small of his back.

They should be sitting in the stiff-backed chairs of the ice-cream parlour where Draco would be trying not to watch the way Scorpius' eyes fluttered closed at the first bite of ice cream; where he would be trying not to hear the decadent sounds Scorpius made as he leaned back in his chair and relaxed for the first time that day.

But he isn't doing any of those things because Scorpius grew up when Draco was too broken to notice and now he's anywhere - everywhere - but home. Draco takes a long drink and rests his head against the chair.

An explosion of sound rattles the windows and stops his heart. He is standing, wand in hand, before his glass shatters on the floor.

"Help me! Father, please! " Scorpius' terrified voice howls through the room, so loud that Draco thinks he might be sick from the way it courses through his body. "I'm in the dungeons! Please! Hurry! Father, please!"

Draco tears through the house, takes the stairs three at a time and stumbles into dungeons that he has not entered since the night they caught Potter. The screaming is coming from the last cell on the left, and Draco thinks his heart will burst with fear as he crashes through the door.

His vision greys as the world falls silent.

Scorpius is on a stripped-down bed, knees apart, blood and fluid soaking the sheets. His abdomen is grossly distended. Draco's heart stops. He knows precisely what has happened.

The silence shatters as Scorpius screams again and reaches out to Draco with trembling hands, tears streaking his face. "Please - I think something's wrong! I can't do this alone!"

Astoria is sleeping in the next room. The mediwitch has finally gone.

Draco picks up his infant son with trembling hands; tucks him close to his body and holds his head as carefully as he would a Fabergé egg.

Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy looks up at him with solemn, unfocused eyes and lets out a whimper. The world fades away until there is nothing but the tiny body in his hands, and Draco knows in this moment that there is nothing in this world he would not do for his son: there is nothing he would not sacrifice, no city he would not burn, no Dark Lord he would not follow to the end of his days.

The walk to the dungeon fireplace is surreal; the world is soft at the edges.

"No! Please, Father - don't go! Please don't go! Please don't leave me, Daddy - please don't leave me! " Scorpius screams behind him, and something trembles in Draco's frozen chest, but he cannot acknowledge it or he will shatter. His voice is clear and unwavering as he specifies the Hogwarts infirmary and walks through with unnatural calm. It only takes an ice-cold whisper of please before Madame Pomfrey grabs her bag and follows him through.

"Oh, thank god!" Scorpius cries as Draco enters the cell. His face is wet with tears. "I thought - I thought you'd left me here to die! " Draco wants to say I'd never leave you to die; not ever, not for anything, but speaking the words will allow his brittle control to crumble. He presses his lips tightly together and looks away.

Madame Pomfrey's voice is low in his ear. "Male pregnancy and childbirth are essentially theoretical, Draco. It was barely more than mentioned in my training. I would feel much better if we took him to St. Mungo's."

"No," Draco growls, trying to keep Scorpius from hearing them. "Not unless he's close to dying."

"Dying? Father, am I dying?" Scorpius whispers.

Apparently he hadn't been quiet enough. "No, Scorpius, you're fine. Madame Pomfrey just wanted to take you to St. Mungo's."

Scorpius' eyes are wide and panicked. "No, please! Please don't leave me! I'm so afraid! I'm so alone!"

Draco looks at Madame Pomfrey with ruthless determination. "We're staying here with or without you. I'd rather be here with you."

Madame Pomfrey looks at him for a long moment and gives a sharp nod. "How has the pregnancy been proceeding, Mister Malfoy?" she asks as she casts a cleaning charm on the sheets. She is brusque and businesslike; soothing in her professionalism. Draco's shoulders sag with relief.

"I don't know," Draco says from the doorway, and Scorpius screams through gritted teeth. "I found him. Then I came for you."

"I was talking to Scorpius, Draco," Madame Pomfrey says softly. "Would you mind giving us a few minutes? Scorpius, how long have you been in labour?"

"A while! Maybe - " Scorpius takes a deep breath and screams for all he's worth. "I don't fucking know! It's kinda hard to judge time when I'm in this much fucking pain!"

The world begins to tremble as Draco walks slowly out into the dungeon. There is nothing he can do to stop the screaming. There is nothing he can do to stop the pain.

The dungeons are cool, as they always were during the endless summers he spent studying and brewing to get ahead of that mudblood know-it-all. While the potions cooled, he would trail his fingers along the rough edges of the manacles hanging from the wall and imagine Potter dangling from them, screaming and begging and finally admitting his inferiority and worthlessness. He imagined the blood trickling from Potter's wrists as he writhed against the sharp metal, trying desperately to get away from the knife Draco dragged across his chest.

But it wasn't him when it finally happened; it was Aunt Bella, and she laughed while Potter screamed, while Potter begged, while Potter cried, and Draco threw up in the corner.

That was the last time he'd been in the dungeons, twenty-six years ago. The manacles are still there. So is the screaming. He turns away from the rack and the whips and the hooks and tries to forget.

The long, battered table in the middle of the room was where he set his supplies, chopped ingredients, and studied until his mother summoned him to dinner. Scorpius' things are there now: cauldrons and books and rows upon rows of phials. Scorpius' handwriting is different on each: Anti-Nausea, Pepper-Up, Nutritional Supplement. One row is simply marked Daily.

On the end of the table is a stack of parchment beside a few blank postcards. One has a striking city line at night; New York loops in neon lettering across the bottom. He picks it up; a light-hearted note is scrawled on the back.

Something inside of him breaks.

He walks unsteadily to the cell, the postcard clutched in his hands. Scorpius is on his side, facing away from the door, and Madame Pomfrey is massaging his lower back. He is muttering things Draco can't hear, interspersed with hissing and loud cursing. His legs are moving restlessly. Draco wants to run fast and far away from this nightmare, but he refuses to be a coward. More than anything, he refuses to be his father; constantly dodging responsibility and guilt. He wonders if his father ever felt anything other than a bone-deep sense of entitlement.

He folds his arms tightly against his body and leans against the doorframe.

Madame Pomfrey asks Scorpius how much he knows about male pregnancy as her fingers press into his flushed skin. Scorpius speaks clinically and precisely, using words like embryo and fśtus and conflicting theories on the possibility of successful male childbearing due to the unreliability of anecdotal evidence. He outlines the mostly interior physical changes caused by the preparatory potion regimen, the number and type of potions necessary to ensure conception after insemination, and the range of precisely-timed daily potions necessary to keep the male body capable of carrying to term.

Madame Pomfrey's hands have slowly stopped. "Scorpius, what you have done here is a doctorate-level course of nearly-theoretical study. I'd be happy to recommend you for a potions apprenticeship at St. Mungo's."

Scorpius snorts. "I'll think about it when I'm done with the lab practical." Madame Pomfrey laughs. If Draco could feel anything other than fear and brokenness, he would be incredibly proud of Scorpius.

He fingers the postcard.

"I told you I loved you," he whispers, and his voice cracks as his control begins to falter. "I told you I would always be here for you. You didn't have to do this."

Scorpius struggles on to his back and looks at him with red, pained eyes. He shakes his head sadly. "You made me believe you loved me. Made me believe it just like she did, but she left - she left. She said she loved me and then she left. You would have done the same," Scorpius says softly, and twists the sheets in his fists until his knuckles are white and his hands shaking.

"She left because I wasn't good enough. I wasn't fucking good enough for her to visit or firecall or even fucking owl!" Scorpius lets out a scream and turns on Draco with wild eyes, his mouth twisted in anger and pain. "Nothing I could do was ever good enough! Nothing I could say was ever good enough! Nothing I could be was ever good enough! Not even for my own mother! I always thought I could make it, I could survive anything as long as she loved me, and then - and then she didn't love me anymore; she never loved me to begin with!"

He screams again and tears spill down his face as he writhes on the bed, gasping in great lungfuls of air. Madame Pomfrey brushes sweat-slicked hair out of his eyes.

"I couldn't bear to lose you," he whimpers as he slowly catches his breath. "I'm so sick of being alone. You're all I have left."

Draco can't stand to hear another word: he's afraid his knees will buckle and he will hit the ground and cry until he screams; he will beg and cry and plead and none of it will turn back time. He stalks out into the dungeon and paces from the rack to the fireplace and back again until the tremors start to fade; until his mind stops spinning violently; until the nausea subsides. He can't see into the cells from here, but he can hear Scorpius crying and whimpering; he can hear Madame Pomfrey telling him everything will be okay. He feels like he's in another of the nightmares where Scorpius lies broken and bleeding and begging, but Draco isn't laughing now.

"Father - Draco, please come back! Please don't leave me!" Scorpius cries, breaking his train of thought, and Draco takes a deep, ragged breath before returning. Scorpius is writhing on the bed: his heels digging in, his hands gripping the sheets tightly.

"I'm in so much pain! I'm so afraid!" Scorpius grits out, his face red and wet with tears. He reaches a trembling hand toward Draco. "Please stay with me. Please?"

Draco doesn't know how he's supposed to give comfort when he's the one that ruined everything in the first place. He feels helpless and filthy and worthless, but his son is reaching out for him, begging for the one person who destroyed his life, and the room starts to spin. Draco is lost and alone and afraid and nothing makes sense anymore; nothing is predictable; nothing is familiar. There is nothing to cling to in the tidal insanity crashing down around him, so Draco reaches out for the only thing he recognises: Scorpius's hand in a bone-breaking grasp. Draco's world shrinks to something more manageable: shocking pain blooms through his hand and enough of the fog clears to hear Madame Pomfrey encouraging Scorpius to breathe.

Scorpius cries between contractions, whispering things that Draco doesn't understand, but he's too overwhelmed to ask; he doesn't know how he is still alive with the way his heart is shattering.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Draco whispers, and he doesn't care that Madame Pomfrey is hearing this - he has to get it out. "I took advantage of you and I destroyed you. I got you drunk and I fucked you and I ruined everything we could have had, everything we should have been. I destroyed your life, and I'd give anything to take it back."

Scorpius rolls his eyes and slams the hand Draco isn't holding into the mattress. "I don't regret that night! I have never felt more loved in my life! Oh my god - you are such a bloody self-centred arsehole!" Scorpius yells. "You've never let yourself remember that I started it, have you? You never remembered that I kept refilling your glass, that I kept you so overwhelmed with sensation that you couldn't form the words to protest! It never fucking occurred to you that I took advantage of you, did it?"

"No!" Draco cries. "You didn't - "

"Yes! I did! I got you drunk and I fucked you! On purpose, you fucking arse! You're just so bloody self-centred, such a fucking martyr that you refused to remember that I started it! How much pain have you gone through because you wouldn't let yourself remember, because you wouldn't let yourself blame me?"

"If it wasn't for - "

"What?" Scorpius snarls. "If it wasn't for what? For your father abusing you, neglecting you, sacrificing you to Voldemort? If it wasn't for your desperate and understandable need to be loved by somebody, anybody, no matter what the cost? If it wasn't for your Gryffindorish sense of honour that kept you chained to that harpy of a wife? If it wasn't for your driving need to prove that you aren't your father and you aren't the terrified child you were during the war?"

Scorpius looks at him with a softness no one else ever has. "You've paid for your mistakes in the war. You've paid for your father's mistakes. Your reaction to Mother's manipulative insanity is more than understandable. Why are you so unwilling to forgive yourself?"

"Because I lost you twice," Draco whispers. "You promised me you were fine and then you couldn't even say goodbye. I thought you were just hiding how damaged you were; how much you hated me. I'd lost you; I'd completely lost you, and the only thing I couldn't bear to lose was you."

"I couldn't!" Scorpius grits out, and then sucks in a breath before screaming. "I couldn't! The glamour shattered just after you left. It flickered back and forth, but I couldn't keep it. I counted back, and it was the third trimester." Draco looks at him blankly. Scorpius shakes his head as though to clear it; drums his fingers against his thigh. "My magic had become violently unstable. The books warned it might happen. I couldn't keep up the glamour no matter how hard I tried, and I couldn't let you see."

"You said you had planned to go to Rome; that you had a reservation that you forgot to tell me about because you were sleepwalking!"

"I was never fucking sleepwalking!" he howls, gripping Draco's hand hard enough to break.

"But the letter - "

"I was never sleepwalking! I fucking lost my mind that night and it was the only way I could hide it when you found me! I didn't want to be dragged off to St. Mungo's; crazy or not, I knew that much. If I was crazy, you'd send me away - you'd send me away and I'd lose you because you couldn't love me if I'd lost my mind!"

Draco drags his hand desperately through his hair. The situation is falling further and further outside of any definition of sane.

"The night you left ... you were curt and cold and - "

"I was six bloody months pregnant and I'd just finished a week of non-stop NEWTs! I was fucking exhausted! It wasn't about you!"

"But if - if you didn't hate me, why didn't you let me pick you up at the train station?"

"Because I didn't want you to wonder why I couldn't walk through the crowds! You bloody well know glamours don't change the physical nature of things. A glamour doesn't mean no one's going to run into me and wonder what the hell they hit! Do you know how fucking hard it's been spending the last five months surreptitiously keeping my distance from everything?" he snarls, before giving in to another scream.

Draco holds Scorpius' hand tightly as Madame Pomfrey casts a diagnostic spell.

"Scorpius, it's time."

* * * * *

Scorpius screams and begs for the pain to stop, begs for potions or spells or anything, if only it will stop hurting.

Madame Pomfrey brushes the sweat-damp hair out of his eyes. "We can't, Scorpius. Anything we could do will interact negatively with everything you've done. It would likely kill you both."

"Please - I can't, I can't, I can't! I can't do this anymore! I can't; please, I can't! Daddy, make it stop! "

Draco looks at Madame Pomfrey: eyes tight, jaw tight, fear filling him as it hasn't since the last time he faced Voldemort.

"It's always rough the first time," she says, her eyes softening just enough to be reassuring. She runs a cool cloth over Scorpius' forehead and frowns. "With women, that is; I have to assume it would be the same with men."

Scorpius sobs as he writhes on the bed: one hand twisted in the sheets, the other holding to Draco with a bone-breaking grip.

"You were the only one left," he whispers. "You were the only one who said you loved me. No one loved me, not ever - not even her. She said it all the time, but she said it with wild eyes and clinging hands and that was need, not love. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew; I knew. You can't love someone and ignore them, can you? You can't love someone and ignore everything they ever said, every dream they ever had. You listened, to me, Daddy - Draco. You heard me. You heard everything I said, everything I wanted. You listened, and no one else ever did. It might have taken you years, but you heard me after all.

"I always loved you - all I ever wanted was for you to love me, too - oh god - please! Please make it stop! "

"Scorpius! Push!"

Scorpius screams, and Draco feels like his heart is being ripped out piece by piece.

"Please, Daddy - I had to! I had to keep you! I had to keep you close so you'd never leave!" Scorpius screams. "I couldn't live another day all alone, all alone and she never writes; her owls all come back and Mother didn't love me after all and you didn't, either - you didn't, you didn't; you couldn't have! - and you promised but so did she and she left me, she left me, she left me! And you would have too!" Scorpius brings Draco's hand to his chest, over his heart.

"And now you won't leave, I know you won't - you're such a good man - you'll see I'm worth loving, I'm worth it! I'm worth loving, Daddy - I am, if you'll just give me a chance, but no one ever did, all they saw was you ... I'm smart and I'm strong and I can make potions - I'm brilliant at it, Father - Daddy - Draco," he whispers. "What do I call you now? I don't even know..."

"He sounds like he's losing his mind," Draco growls at Madame Pomfrey, his fear only barely contained.

She shakes her head; her eyes hard. Draco needs that now. "Childbirth is incredibly traumatic, not to mention agonisingly painful. Imagine Crucio, localised to your genitals. He's not supposed to be going through this at all: the male body and psyche were not designed to handle childbirth. It's hard enough to do this as a woman, but to magically rearrange the male body and hormones - Scorpius must be an incredibly strong man for the pregnancy to have progressed as far as it has. I expect that this experience is putting him through the range of physical stress and mental and physical exhaustion of the Last Battle in one day. Not surprisingly, he has lost some lucidity. If all goes well, he will be fine after he's had some rest."

"If?" he asks as Scorpius screams again, and Draco is fairly certain he feels something in his hand crack. "What do you fucking mean, 'If"?"

Madame Pomfrey's mouth is a hard line, her jaw set in steel. "Scorpius has been taking daily potions that have magically and hormonally restructured his body - and that includes his mind. After such a long time of precarious balance between his body's natural state and the severe unnatural state he has forced it into, something as physically and psychologically stressful as childbirth could trigger a psychotic break."

"Could trigger?" Draco whispers as Scorpius babbles something he doesn't want to hear. "I think we're far too late for that."

* * * * *

"One more push, Scorpius - just one more and we'll be done." Scorpius' face is red and wet as he gasps for breath. "One deep breath and push."

Scorpius screams, his voice hoarse; there is a wet, sucking sound and a thin wail fills the room. "Congratulations, Mister Malfoy," Madame Pomfrey murmurs as she carefully places the wet infant on Scorpius' chest. Scorpius lets out a gasping sob as he looks down in exhausted wonder. "You have a son."

Scorpius clings to the infant as tears spill down his face, and they aren't from pain or anger or grief any more. He looks at Draco. "Now you won't ever leave me," he whispers, the smile on his face as brilliant as the sunrise. "Now you'll always be here, just like you promised."

Draco Malfoy stares at his son - his sons - and wonders at the complete mess he's made of his life.


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