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An Indefinite Amount of Forever

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“Good luck,” Scorpius murmured as he hugged his father goodbye.

“Merlin, don’t tell me you think I actually need it.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Hardly. She’ll say yes.”

Draco gave a small smile as he focused his eyes on the curly-haired brunette witch trying to convince Potter that he couldn’t just ‘homeschool’ his daughter Lily.

Scorpius smiled as he watched his father watch Professor Granger. “Don’t forget to owl me after with the good news.”

Draco nodded as he diverted his attention back to his son. He couldn’t believe how much the boy had changed in the past year. He might have been a late bloomer, but Scorpius had certainly come into his inheritance of Malfoy arrogance since he had started dating Rose Weasley. “What are you smirking about?”

Scorpius shrugged. “I’m a Malfoy. We smirk.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “If this is what I look like most of the time, it’s a wonder I don’t routinely get punched in the face.”

Scorpius’ smirk deepened. “I feel I have to point out that between the two of us, I was the one who noticed her first.”

Draco scoffed. “Alright, you little twit. Am I going to have to tell you to behave yourself this year and not put the moves on your future stepmother?”

Scorpius raised his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. “No need to Hulk out, old man. I already have a girlfriend. Just couldn’t resist taking the piss a bit and reminding you that I have superior taste in all things.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “One: I don’t know how to ‘Hulk out’ or even what that bloody-well means. Two: You hardly have better taste than me in all things. That tripe you and Albus listen to doesn’t even qualify as music, much less good music.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Aaaand…you’re old.”

“What do I always say?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m lucky to have your genetics.”

“I pulled that,” he said, pointing to Hermione. “Which you tried and failed to do. So maybe remember that the next time you refer to me as ‘old.’”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “I’m getting on the bloody train now. Just enjoy your weekend away and don’t come back without a fiancée.”

__________________________________

 

Draco finally tore his eyes from the Hogwarts Express as it disappeared into the distance. He turned and smiled at the petite witch whose hand he was holding. “Are you all packed?”

“I am.” Hermione held up the small beaded bag she always carried with her on trips. “Although you could have given me more information about where we are going.”

“I told you. There’s a beach. Just pack bikini bottoms.”

She rolled her eyes. “Lech.”

He smirked as he planted a kiss on her cheek. “Don’t pretend for a second you don’t like that about me.”

She pursed her lips, holding back a grin. “I admit nothing.”

He nipped along her jaw. “You can hardly blame me for wanting to keep my beautiful girlfriend naked as often as possible.”

She giggled. “Oi. You two are revolting,” Ron Weasley said, scowling at the pair. Though he had resigned himself to the fact that Hermione and Draco were an item, he still wasn’t comfortable watching them flirt so openly with one another, which they seemed to do all the time.

Draco rolled his eyes as he detached his lips from Hermione’s skin. Normally he wasn’t one for such blatant PDA, but he was drunk off the anticipation and excitement this weekend held in store, and he couldn’t care less that they were in public right now, surrounded by The Golden Gits who had also just sent their children off to Hogwarts.

“The only thing ‘revolting’ around here, Weasley, is that tie. Merlin, it’s like you get dressed in the dark.”

Hermione nudged him in the ribs and mouthed, Be nice.

“Don’t you two have a Portkey to catch?” Harry asked.

“Yes, thank you Harry, for reminding us,” Hermione said. “We really should be off.”

Draco interrupted his dagger-staring contest with Weasley and kissed Hermione on the temple. He could vaguely hear Weasley intone, “Puke,” as he did so. “Alright. Let’s get out of here.”

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Ginny called out to Hermione.

Hermione scoffed. “Well that leaves nothing.”

“PUKE,” Weasley droned loudly.

His wife, Susan Weasley (formerly Bones), rolled her eyes and pinched him on the side.

Merlin, Suz.” Ron grimaced. “Keep your bloody Hulk claws to yourself.”

“Okay, seriously. What the bloody fuck is a ‘Hulk’?” Draco demanded.

“Draco. Leaving. Portkey. Now.” Hermione said.

Draco smirked. “My, my. Someone’s anxious to get me alone, aren’t you my love?”

“PUKE,” Weasley repeated.

You two. Get the fuck out of here before Susan gets carted away to Azkaban for dismembering her husband,” Harry said in his best imperious Auror voice.

__________________________

 

Albus grimaced as he watched Scorpius and Rose fawn and paw over each other. Rose was sitting on Scorpius’s lap cooing at him disgustingly and stroking his face while he played with her hair and rubbed his nose against hers.

“I missed you,” Scorpius said, kissing her lightly on the lips.

“I missed you more,” she answered, running her hands through his impeccably styled hair.

Blech,” Albus mumbled as he stood up to leave the compartment.

“Mate, where’re you going?” Scorpius asked.

“I can’t watch this. Not without a permission slip from my mum.”

Scorpius scowled. “As if you and Mon are any better.”

“Mon’s not my girlfriend. She’s my snog buddy.”

“She’s your girlfriend.”

“I refuse to be limited by the suffocating labels of the English language. What Mon and I have is pure and beautiful and absolutely nothing like the parade of indignities the two of you have forced upon the world since you got together. I will not deign to even equate it to this by calling her the same thing you call Rose.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “She’s your girlfriend.”

“yap, ghargh je jul-haired loDnI’wI’! qal SoH pong mul, qul-nach be’ ‘ei DaH legh SoH lions Hol neH,” Albus responded. It roughly translated to, ‘Enough my sun-haired snake brother! You have been corrupted by your stubborn, fire-headed woman and you now argue in the language of the lions.

“How many times do I have to tell you that you can’t just slip into Klingon to avoid talking about something uncomfortable?”

“Was I doing it again?”

Rose scoffed. “Please. You obviously like Flint. I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about. But I guess a lot of guys like her.”

Albus raised an eyebrow. “A lot of guys?”

She ignored him. Scorpius was trailing a finger over her jaw, commanding her full attention. “She’s got nothing on you, love,” he said.

Albus suppressed the urge to vomit. “Um…Rose. What other guys?”

Rose beamed at her Slytherin beau and leaned in to kiss him. “No one has anything on you,” she murmured against his mouth.

What. Other. Guys?! You absolute prat and pratess!” Albus all but stomped his foot.

Rose rolled her eyes as she reluctantly pulled away from Scorpius’ lips. “I just heard a few guys in my house talking about her. Nothing major. Just the usual bro-prattle.”

“Who?”

“For fuck’s sake, Al. If you’re worried about a little competition, just tell her you want to be exclusive,”

Scorpius said. “But Mon and I don’t talk.”

“What do you mean you don’t talk?”

“I mean we literally do not talk. We shoot each other a look. We find a secluded corner. We snog. You can’t talk with someone else’s tongue in your mouth.”

Rose narrowed her eyes. “That’s it?”

Albus nodded, smirking. “I know what you’re thinking. How did he get such a bloody brilliant arrangement?”

Rose scoffed. “No. I’m thinking that sounds awful.”

“Well, ta ever so for your assessment, Rose. But at least Mon and I don’t make a spectacle of ourselves. Now,” he paused to straighten his posture, “if you’ll both excuse me, I’m going to get as far the hell away from both of you as possible and then maybe, if your sickening demonstration of young love hasn’t completely destroyed my libido, I’m going to find my snog buddy.” With a dramatic turn of his foot, Albus left the compartment.

Rose rolled her eyes. “We are not that bad.”

Scorpius nodded, rubbing his fingers up her spine. He didn’t really care what sort of scene they made if it meant he could be alone with her. As much as he enjoyed hanging out with his best friend, Albus wasn’t nearly as pretty as Rose, nor did he smell as good. And there was the small matter that Albus didn’t allow him to grope his breasts sometimes over his jumper. In these respects, Rose had him beat. He kissed a line up her neck. “Forget about that.”

She giggled. “Scorpius. We can’t be snogging in a train compartment. Anyone could just walk in.”

He continued in his ministrations to her throat. “You’re a witch.” He captured her lips in a fierce kiss. “Lock it.”

_________________________________

 

Albus walked down the car of the train looking for an empty compartment. What exactly did Rose mean when she said ‘a lot of guys’ like Monica? Not that he cared, but it would be nice to know if she was snogging other blokes.

He totally didn’t care.

His self-delusional reverie was interrupted when Simon Jenkins, a fellow Slytherin friend of Albus and Scorpius, nearly ran into him.

“H-oooly shit, Simon. What happened to you?”

“Well, hello to you too, arsehole.” Simon was sporting an angry-looking sunburn. “Just got back from holiday with Mum and Dad.”

“Where the fuck did you go? The surface of the sun?”

“Hertfordshire.”

Albus raised an eyebrow. “Snazzy.”

“My parents are members of this stupid Caravan Club. Two weeks in a motor home parked in a field with my Mum and Dad, some old DVDs and a game of Scrabble. Trust me. The sunburn was the most exciting thing that happened to me.”

Albus was immediately interested. One of the things that initially drew him to Simon was his heritage.

Simon was Muggle-born. The first Muggle-born Slytherin since…well…the data was not available on that, which indicated that it might not exist.

“A caravan? What exactly was that like? Did it have a kitchen? How did you guys—”

“I’m going to stop you right there, mate. It was fucking dull. It rained for the first week and a half and when the sun finally came out, this happened to me within a few hours. My holiday was shite. I’m glad to be back.”

Albus shrugged. “Did you at least give your mum my sponge recipe?”

Simon sighed. “Yeah, I did. But I think you misunderstand her. Just because she’s a Muggle doesn’t mean she knows how to use an oven. We get our pudding from a tin.”

Albus cringed at the thought. “If you’re looking for a compartment, I’d avoid the one at the end. Scorpius and Rose are probably snogging each other raw by now.”

Simon grimaced. “Should we try to find our own then?”

Albus shrugged. “I guess.”

A bit further down, Albus recognized the familiar black hair and lace up boots of one Monica Flint leaning against the open door of a compartment.

“I don’t know, Padraig. I don’t really do Hogsmeade.”

Albus stilled. Are you fucking kidding me? He tried to recall that name. Padraig. Padraig. Obviously some Irish goat-fucker who thought it’d be a good idea to move in on Albus’s gir—um…snog buddy.

He tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention. She turned around and smirked mischievously at him.

“Hey, Al.” Ever the cool girl.

“Aren’t you Potter’s brother?” asked the stupid, Irish-brogued, fifth year Gryffindor. Albus recognized him as one of the gormless arse-lickers who hero-worshipped his older brother, James, who was in his sixth year now.

“You know, in the right circles, I’m Potter.”

“Yeah, whatever. So anyway, Flint, you should reconsider. I promise you that you’ll like coming with me. I’ll make it fun for you.”

Albus didn’t miss the double entendre. He reflexively cracked his knuckles. To his relief, Monica didn’t seem moved.

“No thanks.”

Albus couldn’t fight the self-important smirk that graced his face. “Well, you heard the lady. Mon, Simon and I were going to find a compartment. You should come with us.”

“Yeah, alright. See you, Padraig,” she waived to the scowling, zit-faced bastard whom Albus had just decided he loathed entirely.

Honestly, Albus really didn’t care about other blokes liking Mon.

Not a bit.

__________________________________

 

“Holy shit this place is gorgeous,” Hermione said, gaping at the picturesque villa overlooking the Mediterranean. The view from the window revealed aquamarine waters, rocky cliffs, and a sliver of private beach they would have all to themselves. From the looks of it, they appeared to be on the Amalfi Coast. “This is yours?”

Draco smiled. It was charming that even after dating him for nearly a year, she still hadn’t quite gotten used to the shock of being bombarded with real wealth. “This is actually one of the smaller homes I own.”

“Smaller? Circe, Draco this place is twice the size of my parents’ house. And my parents aren’t exactly poor.”

“When are you going to learn, Hermione? Being with me means you’ll only get the best of everything.”

She rolled her eyes. “I do not need to be bought with fancy villas and holidays to Italy.”

He narrowed his eyes challengingly. “Buuuut…you’ll let me try anyway, right?”

She giggled as she gazed out the window. “Alright, Casanavoa. Let’s go to the beach.”

“Already? You don’t even want to see the rest of the house?”

“Mini-break, love. Operative word being ‘mini.’ We need to act fast if we want to get the most out of this weekend,” she said as she stripped down to her skivvies right there in front of the fireplace.

“Hmmm,” Draco responded, his eyes lecherously glazing over while he watched her replace her underwear and bra with a white bikini. He was probably drooling but how could he care about that right now with a mostly naked Hermione dangled in front of him so tantalizingly? He made a grab for her.

She dodged him. “Nah-ah-ah. Beach.”

He sighed. “Are you going to be an insufferable tease all weekend?”

“Probably. Come on, you lazy arse. Let’s go!”

Before he could catch her, she ran out the door and down the path leading to the beach.

_____________________________________

 

He couldn’t stop smiling. He knew he looked like an idiot, but he couldn’t help it. Hermione looked so perfect lounging on her beach towel reading an Italo Calvino novel. The sea breeze caught her long, curly hair so she looked like a mermaid. And she had this air of serenity hovering over her. He couldn’t help imagining what she would look like lounging in bed at the Manor, maybe reading a bedtime story to a little blond, curly-haired toddler, his ring sparkling on her left hand as she turned the pages. He sighed.

She raised her eyes to look at him. “Alright there?”

He nodded. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about his accidental declaration back at the station.

“If we ever have a daughter, I will not be like that.”

He basically admitted to her that he wanted her to have his babies. She said they’d discuss it later, but would it hurt to set the stage for the question he dearly wanted to ask her?

“I was just thinking…back at the station I said that thing about us having a child together.”

She shifted uncomfortably. Although she found his Freudian-slip adorable, she wasn’t entirely comfortable with the notion of discussing potential future baby-making. “I remember,” she said, not looking up from her book.

He was grateful to have a view of the sea readily available, giving him an excuse to avoid looking her in the eye. “Well, what do you think about that?”

“About what?”

He rolled his eyes. Her intelligence was curiously selective at times. “Would you ever want to have one with me?”

She closed her book. “I’ve never really thought about it.”

That brought him back. “Never? You’re a teacher. You’re around children all day.”

“Yeah.”

“So you mean to tell me that you’ve never thought about having one of your own?”

She shrugged. “I can’t say I have. You can’t make a baby without a man, and before you, I had never been in a serious relationship.”

He bit his lip nervously. “Well what about now? We’re together. Things are going well. Right?”

She smiled. “They are.”

“Well, then think about it. Would you ever want to have a baby with me?”

Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. “Like…right now?”

He rolled his eyes. “Honestly, and you call me a prat. Eventually.”

She bit her lip contemplatively. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Maybe. What does that mean?” He could feel his frustration flaring up. Honestly, would it kill her to elaborate?

“It means maybe. What is this, Draco? Are you trying to ask me to have a baby with you?”

He grit his teeth. Why was she being so difficult? He was trying to talk about their future and she was being the super cool, chill girlfriend who was too hip to think about things like that. “I’m trying to ask you to marry me, you daft cow!”

Whaaaat? No, no, no. This wasn’t right. He was supposed to do this tonight over wine and a romantic candle-lit dinner overlooking the sea. He was supposed to be wearing an Armani suit and get down on one knee. He wasn’t supposed to be wearing his swimming trunks and sulking in the sand.

Hermione’s jaw dropped. “What?” She started breathing heavily. “You want to marry me?”

Draco sighed as he Accio’d the engagement ring from the desk drawer up in their bedroom. “I wanted to do this right. But you just looked so beautiful sitting there and I couldn’t…” He opened the box to reveal the ring.

Hermione’s eyes widened. “Oh my god.”

He edged closer to her, licking his lips nervously. “Marry me.”

Hermione, rendered slack-jawed, alternated her speechless gaping between the flashy ring which must have cost a king’s ransom and the devastatingly handsome man who had just proposed to her.

What. The fuck?

She must have been a goddamned saint in another life to have deserved this. For a mousy, bushy-haired, buck-toothed girl who preferred books to people, to have found herself here on an Italian beach with this Adonis-of-a-man who might actually be made of wet dreams, looking at her like she was the sky, presenting her with a ring so fucking big it probably needed its own zip code, and asking her to marry him—

What. The actual fuck?

Draco licked his lips and swallowed loudly. When he rehearsed this in the mirror (yes, he actually did that), he didn’t anticipate that she would just go silent. Throw her arms around his neck in joyous abandon and make feverish love to him on the spot, yes, but silence…no. He scowled. “For fuck’s sake, Granger, say something!”

She shook herself, not realizing how long it had been since she said anything. “Yes. Yes, of course I’ll marry you, you stupid prat.”

The smile he gave her was blindingly beautiful, but it only lasted a minute before he took her face in his hands and kissed her breathless. She was vaguely aware that he slid the ring on her finger at some point during their heated snog, but her mind was too hazy to focus. All she could think about was the warm lips of her…

Fiancé. She had one. She was one.

It seemed like something out of a novel—something she was merely reading about rather than experiencing. That’s the thing about books. Read enough of them and the most absurd realities of your own life read like literature.

Draco panted against her neck. Yes. She said yes. He was getting married. To Hermione Granger.

Holy shit. He was getting married to Hermione Granger.

He laughed as he cupped her face and kissed her again. “The future Mrs. Malfoy,” he murmured.

She frowned a bit. “We can talk about that later,” she said before kissing him deeply again.

He laughed against her lips. Honestly, he didn’t give a shit if she took his name or not. The fact that she agreed to marry him was more than enough.

She peppered his neck with kisses. “What did my dad say when you asked him?”

His smile melted.

Oh, fuck.

Draco didn’t ask Edward Granger for his daughter’s hand because Edward Granger intimidated the shit out of him. It had never been discussed between the two of them, never admitted out loud, but Draco knew without a shadow of a doubt that Hermione’s father hated his guts. He wasn’t sure why. He was rich, charming, crazy in love with his daughter. Jean positively adored him. But try as he might, Draco was never able to win over Edward Granger.

Eh, fuck it. Better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission, right?

“Can we…not talk about your father right now?” Draco asked breathlessly. He kissed her deeply to prevent further questions. Between kisses he whispered, “I think we should consummate this engagement, don’t you?”

She giggled. “I’ve never had sex on the beach before,” she said as she reached her hand into his swim trunks and pumped his hardened member.

“Fuck, Hermione.” He spurted unintelligible consonants and vowels while Hermione’s small, sure hand continued to pet him while her lips sucked and nipped his collarbone. “Oh, fucking hell.”

She moaned against him as her lips travelled further south, scraping his nipples on the way down, earning her a hiss. When she reached her destination, she smirked up at him just before her lips wrapped themselves tightly around his cock. “Aahhh-ggghhaa,” he moaned.

Her soft, hot, dexterous tongue stroked and licked his length as she sucked him. Draco’s nails dug into his palms so deep he drew blood. As much as he wanted to bury his hands in her hair, he didn’t trust that he wouldn’t push himself even deeper down her throat. It probably wouldn’t be the best start to their engagement to have her choking on his dick mere minutes after he popped the question.

Of course, that didn’t mean he couldn’t go a little alpha on her.

“That’s right, Hermione. Suck me,” he commanded.

She moaned around his cock, shooting vibrations of pleasure through him.

“Mmmm. I love you so much, darling. I can’t wait to marry you.” She moaned again, even louder. Draco’s eyes rolled to the back of his head at the feel of it. Knowing that he wasn’t going to last if she kept going, he put his hand on her shoulder, signaling for her to stop.

Hermione slowly ran her mouth up to the head of Draco’s cock, taking care to drag her tongue over the slit at the end so she could gather the pearl that had formed there and slurp it up. Draco’s whole body spasmed slightly when she did that.

“I can’t believe I get to spend the rest of my life with you and that glorious mouth,” he gasped. “Your turn, love.”

“Wait.” Hermione quickly transfigured her beach towel into a blanket, big enough for two. “I don’t fancy fishing sand out of myself for the next few days.”

Draco laughed as he crawled towards her, hooking his thumbs over her bikini bottoms and tugging. He licked up the side of her right thigh. He could taste the sea and the sun on her skin. He groaned as he reached her wet and willing core. He loved doing this for her. She completely lost herself every time he put his mouth on her. Once, when she wrapped her legs around his head, she nearly broke his neck when she came. Sweet Salazar, it was worth it, though!

His lips hit home and locked around her clit. She immediately started writhing, almost fighting him to get off of her. The pleasure was so exquisite, it bordered on unbearable. But he knew what she liked. If he licked there, and kissed there, he’d have her coming apart in minutes.

“Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck,” she chanted.

Gods, he fucking loved that. That smart mouth, so prim and proper in school, spouting historical facts and immaculate grammar—it all turned to utter filth every time he got his hands on her. Or in this case, his mouth. He was so hard he was nearly bursting just listening to her. Add to the mix the tangy-sweet taste of her—it only urged him to make her come faster so he could have her properly.

He moaned as he laved her sensitive folds, knowing that this was the point where those particular nerve endings would come out to play. If he just hit the very edge of them…

Ohhhhh, shit!” An almighty orgasm ripped through her body. When the last shudder rippled through her, she sighed and relaxed her legs from their hold around Draco’s upper body.

“Oh, gaawd,” she gasped, too spent to elaborate.

Draco smirked appreciatively. Should he give her a minute to recover or should he take advantage of her heightened sensitivity and take her now?

He crawled up her body and kissed her deeply, thrusting his tongue into her mouth, forcing her to taste herself. “What do you want, love?” he whispered roughly against her lips.

She whimpered and rubbed her lips and thighs together. Draco took his extremely erect cock in hand and ran it against her wetness. She gasped, thrusting her hips up to meet him, begging him with her body to do it again.

Oh, yeah. She’s definitely ready for me.

“You want my cock?” he asked, running it against her folds again.

She bit her lip. “Yes, please,” she whimpered.

He hissed in response. He couldn’t handle her begging. The little minx knew that, too. “You got it,” he growled as he entered her in one deep thrust.

She was snug, warm, wet perfection around him. He moaned as he thrust into her again. Her legs wrapped tightly around his hips and she rode him from below. He thought he could die a happy man watching her take everything she needed from him, pushing herself further on his cock, driving him to go deeper and harder. She was so earnest it might have been sweet if it hadn’t been so fucking hot.

He dipped his head to take one of her nipples into his mouth. He felt like such a perv sometimes when it came to her breasts. He’d catch himself staring at them, especially when she wore a form-fitting jumper which outlined them so teasingly. Sometimes she’d be the one catching him staring and she’d snort and roll her eyes. And as much as he liked to look, he liked to touch, and squeeze, and lick, and kiss, and taste even more. Maybe he was just some leering arsehole who liked his girlfriend’s—strike that—fiancée’s rack, but he really believed they were made to be loved by him. It’d be a shame to let them go to waste and be unappreciated and unadored.

He switched angles until he found the one that drove her barmy every time.

“Ahh-hh, that’s it,” she moaned.

Draco saw stars as he drove into her, hitting that magic spot. He dimly registered the plethora of sensations on his body that this carnal act inspired: a single drop of sweat trailing from his scalp down his neck; Hermione’s nails digging into his back, leaving small, crescent-shaped indentions in their wake; the sea breeze hitting his sensitive, flushed skin and sending shivers up his spine.

Then, of course, there was his dick—the ground zero of his erogenous zones—which felt pretty fucking brilliant right now. Couldn’t forget about that one. Especially since the tightness in his balls threatened to break any moment now.

“Need…come,” he gasped as he pounded into her. It wasn’t very articulate, but it was the best he could do at that moment.

“I’m so close,” she breathed.

Draco went to his not-so-happy place to keep from shooting off before she came again. He had collected a reel of less-than-appealing images in his mind’s eye to use for this very occasion.

Great Auntie Lucretia pinching his cheeks and reeking of stale sherry. That time he accidentally walked in on Goyle going at it with Millicent Bulstrode. Pickling bat spleens during detention with Filch. Weasley eating a burrito.

“I’m coming!” she cried. As his sweet witch pulsated beneath him and he joined her on her journey over the edge, he felt a surge of affection, warmth, and masculine pride well up within him.

When it was over he dropped like a ton of bricks next to her on the blanket. He was fucking knackered.

“Merlin, Salazar, and sweet Circe’s tits, Hermione. I should propose more often.”

Chapter Text

Draco cringed as an abrupt brightness assaulted his slumber. He instinctively grabbed a pillow and covered his face, muffling the series of grumbles and grunts that he made in protest of the morning light.

“Wake up, sleepyhead,” a bright, energetic Hermione said, pulling the covers back.

Draco glared bloody murder at his perky fiancée. “After we’re married, we’re going to set some ground rules regarding your sleeping habits.”

“Woof. You’re in a right snit this morning,” she said, teasingly.

“Come back to beeed,” he whined. “We’re on holiday. There is no need for you to be up so early.”

“You never complain when I wake you for sex.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Is that why you’re waking me now?”

“No.”

“Then sidle your pretty arse back over here and let’s sleep for another hour.”

She rolled her eyes. “If you want to doze this beautiful weekend away, that’s your prerogative. I, on the other hand, am going into town to find a signal for my mobile. Mum will be ecstatic when I tell her the news. She’s probably been waiting by the phone since yesterday.”

Draco blinked rapidly and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. “Yeah, um…funny thing,” he said, clearing his throat. “Your mum doesn’t know because…I didn’t ask them.”

Hermione raised her eyebrows. “You didn’t?”

“No. Is that a problem?”

She released a surprised laugh. “Well, I don’t care. But it seems rather out of character for a proper little pure-blood prince such as yourself not to follow protocol in matters such as this.”

He sighed. “I know. And normally, I absolutely would have spoken to your father first. But extenuating circumstances made that an impossibility.”

She narrowed her eyes. “What ‘extenuating circumstances’?”

“The fact that your father utterly abhors me.”

Hermione laughed loudly. “He does not.”

Draco sighed. “Hermione. I know you’re ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ and you can’t possibly imagine that your father is anything other than a harmless, oversized teddy bear, but believe me when I say that he does not come across that way to the rest of us. To me, he’s just a regular bear. A really big, scary, growling, mean, famished bear that would love nothing more than to rip my throat out if I so much as put my hand on your knee in his presence. That man has had it out for me from the first moment we met.”

She rolled her eyes. “You’re being dramatic.”

“Oh yeah? I can assure you, Hermione, if my father were alive, he wouldn’t want to cross your dad.”

She put her hands on her hips and shot him a look. “You know he’s going to be even worse now that you didn’t ask him first? He’s a traditionalist, my father.”

“I’m aware, but I’d rather tell him that we’re getting married when you’re there so I can use you as a buffer, than ask his permission when we’re alone with no witnesses.”

“He wouldn’t have said no. Honestly, you can be such a baby,” she teased.

“Hermione, I know just how that conversation would have gone. ‘Dr. Granger,’” he paused and looked at Hermione, “you know, because he won’t let me call him ‘Edward’. ‘Dr. Granger, I very much would like to marry your daughter.’ Then he’d pull out his sword from his days in the Royal Navy, which he loves reminding me about by the way, slice my bollocks off and tell me that he’d use my guts as garters before he ever gave me his blessing to marry his sweet little girl.”

Hermione’s face remained impassive throughout Draco’s hypothetical. Slowly, she began to break and she melted into a fit of laughter. She doubled over on the bed and wiped the tears that had formed in the corners of her eyes.

“Lovely. No please, your concern is too much,” Draco intoned, as his fiancée continued not taking him seriously.

“No—it’s just,” she managed between laughs, “The idea that a big, bad, ex-Death Eater would be frightened of a Muggle dentist is just…” She barreled over in a second fit of laughter, clutching her side.

Draco rolled his eyes. “I’m glad this is so amusing to you. It makes me feel much better about my plan to use you as a human shield for the rest of my life anytime I’m in a room with him.”

She finally got her laughter under control. “Alright, alright. I’ll ring them once we get back to England and we’ll go over to theirs next weekend for dinner. We’ll tell them together. How does that sound?”

“Peachy.”

“Did you owl Scorpius?”

“Last night before dinner. I figured I waited two months to tell him we were dating. Two hours to tell him we were engaged felt only fair.”

The smirk she gave him filled him with pride. Gods, she’s going to make one hell of a Malfoy.

“Good. Now that we’ve settled all that, will you please get out of bed so we can enjoy the day? There’s this really amazing hike that I’d like to—”

He interrupted her with a guttural growl. “Hermione, love. Exercise is not really something I seek out even in my everyday life. Why would I do it on holiday?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You have, like, seventeen abs. How can it be possible that you don’t exercise?”

Draco shrugged. “Good genes.”

“Yes well, I don’t have genetics like that, so I have to exercise if you like my arse the shape it is.”

Draco grinned stupidly. “I do. I really do.”

“Good. Then you can come with me.” Hermione waved her wand and vanished the covers on the bed to expedite the process.

Draco blew a raspberry at her. “Is this what it’s going to be like for the next fifty to sixty years of my life?”

“Most likely,” she said as she threw his trousers at his head.

He chuckled. I can’t fucking wait to marry that bossy chit. 

___________________________________

 

Monday in class, Hermione couldn’t stop smiling as several of her female students accosted her throughout the day, demanding to see her engagement ring so they could express their admiration. After her double class with Slytherins and Gryffindors, she was delighted to see Rose and Scorpius make their way to her desk.

“Congratulations, Professor Granger,” Scorpius said, smiling brightly.

Hermione laughed. “You know I am going to be your stepmother, Scorpius. You can call me ‘Hermione.’”

He shrugged. “I like to do things properly.”

She sighed. Why would she ever need to have a child of her own when Scorpius was already the perfect kid?

“Well, I don’t care about that, so please Aunt Hermione, tell us everything about the proposal!” Rose said, bouncing in place.

Scorpius snorted. “She probably can’t tell us everything.”

That earned him a smack on the arm from Rose and an exasperated “Scorpius” from Hermione.

Scorpius chuckled. “Look at that, you’re already step-mothering,” he said fondly.

Hermione laughed and proceeded to tell the story of the botched proposal, sans the sex-parts. Awkward though it may have been, it could not have been more perfect to Hermione. It was so perfectly them. Rose’s eyes widened and moistened slightly at the mention of the Italian beach as the romantic location for the proposal. Scorpius rolled his eyes and laughed at the mention of Draco’s word vomit proposal—particularly the ‘daft cow’ part. Hermione practically glowed as she left the classroom with her goddaughter and future stepson, throwing in tidbits of details from the weekend (still sans the sex-stuff) at Rose’s insistence.

“So have you two set a date yet?” she asked.

“We only just got engaged on Friday, Rose.”

“You haven’t thought about venues, or anything like that?”

Hermione’s head reeled. It shouldn’t have surprised her really. This was the sort of planning that people like herself and her goddaughter lived for. But while Hermione’s lesson-plans were meticulously color-coded and scheduled in perfect detail…the idea of planning a wedding…

Weddings. Marriage. White dress. Flower arrangements. Seating Draco’s Auntie Lucretia as far the hell away from her parents as humanly possible. These were things Hermione had never in her life associated with anything that could happen to her. As a young girl she could have re-organized the entire Hogwarts library in flawless glory, but ask her how she imagined her future wedding and she would have just cocked her head and shot you a scathing look. She suddenly felt light-headed. She should really talk to Filch about the temperature in this place. Was it possible for stomachs to sweat?

“Aunt Hermione? Are you alright?” Rose asked, her face full of doe-eyed concern.

“Yes, I’m fine. Just…I haven’t really thought about the details yet.” Hermione was abruptly assailed with an entire stream of details just waiting to be hashed out. Muggle ceremony or wizard? Or a mixture of both? And what relatives could she invite, since not everyone in her family knew she was a witch? How badly would she piss off her Aunt Evelyn if she didn’t include those bitchy cousins of hers in the bridal party?

“Oh good, there you two are.” Albus Potter arrived on the scene. “Fancy letting me take a look at your notes from DADA?” He suddenly noticed the ashen-faced professor standing nearby. “Sorry I missed class, Professor. I overslept.”

That snapped Hermione back to reality. “It’s a 3 p.m. class, Albus.”

“Yeah. So about those notes?” he asked, directing his attention back to Scorpius and Rose.

“Albus, Professor Granger and Scorpius’s dad are getting married! Isn’t that great?” Rose asked.

“No shit?” Albus asked, turning to Hermione.

She responded with a curt nod.

“Cool. Now,” he said, clapping Scorpius on the back. “There is still the matter of the notes.”

“Hermione! What the damn hell, you egg-headed bint? Why didn’t you owl me the second Ferret-Boy proposed?” Ginny Potter appeared, looking equal parts annoyed and infectiously excited, dragging her disgruntled husband by the hand. “Let me see the rock!” Ginny demanded as she strong-armed Hermione’s left hand to examine the ring. She let out a low, long whistle. “Bling, bling. Am I right? Harry, look at this.” Turning, she addressed the three children, “Hello, son of mine. Scorpius. Rose, sweetheart.”

Albus rolled his eyes at the sudden appearance of his nosy parents. “’Sup. So am I really not getting those notes?” Albus asked, turning his attention back to Scorpius.

Harry’s eyes widened. “For the love of Merlin, Hermione. I’m a bloke and I still kind of want to filch this off you. I’d never need to work again.”

Ginny sniggered. “Funny you should say that. Harry has some interesting news as well, Hermione.”

“Oh yeah?” Hermione said, looking at Harry.

Ginny nodded smugly. “Harry has decided the time has come to leave his post as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

Hermione and Albus’s eyes widened simultaneously.

Albus asked, “What—?

What?” Hermione gaped. “Are you serious? Harry, you worked so hard for this. Why now?”

“It’s bloody boring, Hermione. All I do is paperwork. Remember when we were Aurors and every day was filled with excitement and challenges and there’d be the occasional all-nighter with the lads where we’d get that really bad Chinese food from that shithole-in-the-wall down the street and shoot triple espressos every few hours?”

Hermione grimaced. “The crap Chinese takeaway and excessive caffeine intake aside, I remember it fondly.”

“Yeah, well that was what I loved. The energy. The adventure. The comradery. Head of the Department is basically a dead end unless you want to make a bid for Minister of Magic…and, I’d rather Crucio my bollocks than go for that job. Nowhere to go from here, and I’m hating every minute of it. So that’s why I’m leaving.” Ginny nudged him. “Well…that, and I lost a bet.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “What are you talking about? What bet?”

Ginny sniggered. “A long time ago, Harry made a bet. A foolish bet.”

“Okay, love. Do you really need to—?”

“--A bet he should have known better than to take. A bet with a woman so clever—”

“—Ginny bet me that if you and Malfoy got married, I’d have to quit my job.”

Silence.

“…Oookaaay. And if you had lost, what would Harry have won?”

“I’d have agreed to spit out another daughter for him.”

Deafening silence.

Hermione blinked rapidly, her jaw agape. “I just…wow. You basically bought two tickets to hell with that one, Gin.”

“Thanks,” Ginny preened.

“Um…Mum,” Albus spoke up. “What are we going to do for you know…money? I mean, now that Dad quit his very high-paying Ministry job?”

Ginny waved him off. “Don’t worry about that. I still have my job, and we’ve got plenty tucked away in savings and investments. We’re flush, babe. Now’s the time for your father to do what he wants. Explore his options.”

A slow, wicked grin spread across Harry’s face. The others might not have seen it, but it did not escape Hermione’s notice.

Albus scowled. “Great. Fucking great.”

“Language, bud,” Harry said, dully.

Albus ignored him. “I just want to put it on the record that I think this is a bloody terrible idea, and I’m one hundred percent against it.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Nice to have your support, son.”

“Dad, no offense, but what exactly are you qualified to do? Ever since I can remember you’ve been in law enforcement. First as an Auror, then as an administrator. What skills do you have beyond putting bad people in prison?”

Harry smirked that evil expression once more. “Well, my son,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “We shall see, won’t we?”

Ginny, Albus, and Hermione rolled their eyes while Scorpius and Rose looked on with bemused expressions.

After a long while, during which Harry continued to gaze maniacally into the distance, seemingly ignorant of his audience, Hermione spoke up. “While I’m thrilled that the two of you see fit to use my personal life as the backdrop for your sick little games, I’m still going to ask: In the future…could you fucking not? Pardon my language,” she said, addressing the three teenagers.

Ginny shrugged. “I make no promises.”

_______________________________

 

Albus, Scorpius, and Rose settled into the Slytherin table at the Great Hall, joining Simon who had been saving them seats.

“So I see you two are breaking bread with the snakes today?” Albus asked.

“Yeah, we decided to trade off this year. Yesterday we ate at the Gryffindor table, so today we’re at Slytherin. And so on, and so forth,” Scorpius answered.

“We realized how much time we wasted last year apart from each other at mealtimes,” Rose said. “It’s hard enough being in separate houses. And just think about all that time we spent at each other’s throats when we could have been together. Life’s too short for that.”

“Right,” Albus intoned. “You guys are fourteen now. And Rose, you’re not getting any younger. Two hundred years ago, you would have been married off by now and probably up the duff. You don’t have time to waste ‘being young’ and ‘exploring your options’ when you have a virile young male like Scorp here willing to just surrender his bollocks over to you.”

Both Scorpius and Rose rolled their eyes. “It’s very easy to be cynical about love, Albus,” Rose said.

“I’m not cynical. Who said anything about cynical? I’m just skeptical that at the ripe old age of fourteen we should be thinking about tying ourselves down. We’ve got plenty of time for that later.”

Scorpius took no offense. He had a sense he knew what was wrong with his friend. “How young is too young, Al? You know my parents got married when my Dad was nineteen and my Mum was eighteen.”

“Yeah, mate. And look how that turned out,” Simon said with a mouthful of food.

Scorpius narrowed his eyes. “My parents didn’t get divorced, Simon.”

“They didn’t?”

“No. My Mum died when I was three.”

Simon furrowed his brows in surprise. “Really?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Huh. I always thought you and your Mum just didn’t get on.”

“Well, you see we didn’t really get an opportunity to sour our relationship…because she died.”

“Who am I thinking of then?”

“While your pratness is inspiring as always Simon, we digress. My point is, that it’s preposterous to think that a bit of snogging in dark corners means you’re in love.” Albus sulked as he tucked into his shepherd’s pie.

Scorpius observed his friend with perceptive intensity. “Al. Did something happen with Monica?”

Albus snorted in an uncharacteristically uncool fashion. “Why would you think that?”

“You’re not always such a curmudgeon.”

Albus snorted again. “That’s preposterous. Of course I am.”

Scorpius and Simon exchanged glances. It was rare that they saw Albus in a snit like this. He hardly ever allowed anything to pierce his confident, logical exterior. He hadn’t been like this since first year when Leonard Nimoy died and he refused to leave his bed for a week. Albus’s momentary glance and dark scowl over at the entrance of the Great Hall did not go unnoticed by Scorpius. He followed Albus’s gaze to find the source of his best friend’s ire. Sure enough, Monica Flint was slouching precariously against the wall and talking to a tall, dark-haired fifth year Gryffindor. Monica didn’t seem quite as invested in the conversation as her companion, who was leaning in and smiling intently at her. While her neutral exterior did not suggest that she was interested in the Gryffindor, she still made no move to leave. She did, however, glance over to the Slytherin table at Albus. Upon finding him focused upon his dinner, she directed her attention back to her Gryffindor suitor.

Merlin, she’s even more opaque than Al, Scorpius noted. This, of course meant that the two were completely hopeless on their own, as they were each likely to pretend as though they didn’t really fancy each other. Their inherent poker faces would lead one another to believe that it was really true, thus encouraging this tiring cycle where Monica flirted with other guys to make Albus jealous, and Albus insisted that his feelings for Monica were purely physical. Honestly, it was a boring game they played with one another and Scorpius had no interest in seeing how it played out. Meddling in his best friend’s love life was the only option available to him. He just needed to be clever about it, as Albus would never accept the ham-fisted, Gryffindoresque style of direct interference.

“Why didn’t you show up to classes today?” Scorpius asked Albus.

“Slept in,” Albus answered with finality.

Scorpius didn’t give a shit about Albus’s attempt to put the matter to rest. He wanted a better answer and by Merlin, Albus was going to give it to him. “Why?”

“Because of the reasons, Scorp. Drop it.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “You woke me up in the middle of the night when you came back to the dorm. What were you doing into the early hours of the morning that merited sleeping until such an ungodly hour?”

Albus dropped his fork, letting the clang of the metal against the ceramic of the plate signal his annoyance at the question. “I was up all night snogging. That what you want to hear?”

“With Mon?”

Albus growled. “Yes with Mon, because I don’t juggle multiple birds at once to satisfy my needs.” He took a deep swig of his pumpkin juice, glaring at Monica and that fuckwit Padraig McSnogBuddyStealer, still deeply engrossed in conversation.

Scorpius released an internal Ahhh, in understanding. So Albus was up all night snogging the girl he claimed to have no interest in outside of snogging, and now she was consenting to being chatted up by some Gryffindor bloke. The loyal part of him couldn’t fight the thought, That bitch! But the logical part of his brain knew that Albus partly brought this on himself. If he would just swallow his stubborn pride and tell the Slytherin Ice-Queen that he liked her for more than just her lips, she’d be his without question.

Simon clapped his hand on Albus’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, mate. You were there first. Muggles have a saying, ‘The early bird gets the worm.’”

“Yeah, but the second mouse gets the cheese,” Albus said, downing his pumpkin juice. “So can we just talk about how my parents are arseholes and my dad’s about to become some rambling, unemployed bohemian all because they bet on whether or not your dad and Professor Granger would eventually get married?” Albus asked, changing the subject.

Scorpius sniggered. “I’d sure as hell never bet against your mum. You’d think your dad would know better by now.”

Albus rolled his eyes. “My dad is brave and good and selfless and blah-blah-blah. What he is not is very intelligent. And this is a fact that he fully admits to, by the way. He’s told me on multiple occasions that the only reason he’s even alive today is because all during his childhood Professor Granger bailed him and my Uncle Ron out of trouble.”

Rose grinned. “Dad says the same thing. Scorpius, you’re so lucky that you’re going to have her as a stepmother.”

“Yeah, Scorp,” Simon said leeringly. “You’re so lucky you’re going to have such a fit stepmother. Just think. Now we can rip on someone other than Al about the shaggability of their mum.”

Scorpius scowled. “We’ve all perved on Professor Granger enough over the years. Those days are over.”

Albus narrowed his eyes at Simon. “What about Rose? Her mum’s shaggable too. And I can say that, because she’s only my aunt by marriage.”

It was Rose’s turn to scowl. “Is that all you lot do? Perv on each other’s mums?”

Simon shrugged. “Pretty much. I mean, not my mum, because she’s a traditional, saggy-high-waisted-jeans-wearing mum with crow’s feet. She, unlike Al’s mum and Professor Granger, doesn’t walk around confusing everyone with perky tits and an arse that doesn’t quit. And Rose, I’ve seen your mum from afar, and I have to agree with Al on this. Her shaggability is without question.”

Rose narrowed her eyes. “I’ll thank you to leave your quips about shagging my mum to yourself.”

Simon leered at her. “Aw don’t be like that, Weasley. Just think. In twenty years, you’ll look like that and it’ll be our children talking about how shaggable you are.” Albus and Simon sniggered. Scorpius bit his lip, unable to deny the amusement in Simon’s comment, but unwilling to incite his girlfriend’s fury. When her ears turned red and she clenched her jaw like that, it only meant that she was a hair’s breadth from unleashing that hot temper of hers. He could either be on the receiving end of that temper, like Simon and Albus surely would be if they kept this up, or he could reap the residual benefits of her temper—namely, her willingness to snog him until he saw stars later that evening. There was no question which of those options was more appealing to him. So he mustered a scoff at his friends and muttered something about “immaturity,” taking care to make certain Rose noticed his performance.

“So wait,” Albus said, appearing to perk up at the sudden thought he had. “Professor Granger is Rose’s godmother. Rose is your girlfriend. Professor Granger is going to be your stepmother. Does that make the two of you…god-step-siblings?”

Scorpius and Rose both dropped their forks at the same moment and wore identical expressions of disgust at the implication. Scorpius could have throttled that self-important smirk off his best friend’s face if he didn’t know just how much Albus needed to feel clever and superior right now. You’re lucky you’re having girl problems, you fuck, Scorpius silently communicated to Albus with a hard glare, the way only the closest of friends can.

Albus folded his arms smugly and nonverbally answered back with a significant expression. See if you don’t think about that every time you go to kiss her now.

Albus continued to laugh as he allowed his gaze to stray over to Monica and the Gryffindor prat. Monica’s eyes locked with his in that moment and he felt a warmth in the pit of his stomach. His smile broadened and she returned the smile. Albus felt his cheeks flush.

Oh fuck, Albus realized.

Feelings.

Chapter Text

Draco threw back a nerve-calming potion, the equivalent of Muggle Valium, hissing at the bitter taste that burned as it trickled down his throat.

Good. It made him feel manly and brave, which was exactly the sort of outdated rot Hermione’s father valued. He hoped the low dosage would be enough to rally him for tonight. Shaking himself and slapping his face with both hands, he heard the distant whoosh of the Floo downstairs, signaling the arrival of his fiancée.

He ran his hands down the front of his simple gray dinner jacket, examining his appearance in the mirror. Nice, but not too nice. For some reason, it seemed to vex Edward even more when Draco dressed particularly well. Tonight was not about vanity. It was about preservation.

“Hermione and I are getting married,” he muttered, practicing as he examined his hair from all angles in the mirror. “Hope that’s alright. Sorry I didn’t ask beforehand, but you scare the living hell out of me, Dr. Granger.”

“Well, aren’t you adorable?” Hermione said, leaning against the doorframe. She was a knockout, dressed in a simple, smart navy sheath dress that hugged her lithe figure fantastically. The nude-colored, patent-leather, peep-toe pumps on her feet made her legs appear to go on for miles, petite though she was. She wore a cranberry-tinted stain on her lips that matched her manicure and pedicure.

“You look stunning,” he said, examining her with eyes full of admiration and more than a bit of lust. “How do I look?”

She rolled her eyes. “Bee-you-tee-full. Trying to look good for my dad, are you?”

He winced, pulling the sleeve of his shirt down a bit more. “Just trying to set the right tone. Nice, but understated, seems to work best with him.”

“You’re overthinking this. My parents will be thrilled that their little girl is finally getting married. I think they had resigned themselves to the idea that I was going to die alone, surrounded by feral cats.”

“Well, you’re the sexiest cat lady I’ve ever seen, love.”

“D’aww. You’re such a sweet-talker,” she said, straightening the collar of his shirt.

Draco chuckled and brought her hand up to his lips, kissing her palm. “Do me a favor, yeah? When they ask about the proposal, maybe leave out some parts.”

“What parts?”

“Pretty much all of it. I don’t think your father needs to hear about ‘daft cow’ and the subsequent beach sex.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “And the subsequent-subsequent living room floor sex?”

Draco smirked. “Not to mention the even more subsequent shower sex.”

She giggled. “What should I tell them, then?”

He smirked and circled around her back, shifting her hair to one side. “Give them the details of how it was supposed to go,” he said, nuzzling her neck.

“Mmmm,” she hummed, leaning into his touch. “And how exactly was that? You never told me how you had planned to do it.”

He nipped her ear. “The best chef in Capri was coming over to prepare a private dinner, which we would have had on the balcony overlooking the sea at sunset,” he said, tracing his lips up her neck. “There was a nearly priceless vintage of champagne I had stored in the cellars which would have paired beautifully with the most delicious tiramisu you’d ever tasted. And afterwards I would have gotten down on one knee, pulled out this ring,” he rubbed her left ring finger, bearing the stunning diamond, “and told you that you rekindled a part of me that I thought no longer existed. That I loved you beyond comprehension and that I couldn’t bear the thought of living the rest of my days without you as my wife.”

“Jesus,” Hermione muttered, feeling nearly light-headed. “I got ripped off.”

He pouted and blew a raspberry on her neck, causing her to laugh loudly.

“I’m only joking. You know I thought everything about it was perfect.”

He smirked. “I suppose it was alright that I had to cancel the dinner because you and I couldn’t be bothered getting out of bed.”

Hermione nearly blushed at the memory. “It was a…very busy rest of the day for us, if I recall.” Oh, she recalled. She recalled nearly every evening since then when she’d lay in bed, damning the fact that she had to sleep apart from Draco’s talented body, fingers, and mouth.

“Which is precisely why we should lie to your parents and tell them the sweet, romantic story instead of the snarky, sexy one.”

Hermione sighed. “You’re a rotten influence.”

“Yeah? Well you already agreed to marry me, so no backsies,” he said, tugging her by the hand, preparing to Apparate them.

“Wait,” Hermione said. She quickly cast a Glamour Charm on her ring. “Don’t want them to see it until we’re ready to tell them,” she explained.

Draco smiled and swiftly Apparated them to a block from the Granger household. They held hands as they walked leisurely towards her parents’ house. Draco always liked the street where Hermione grew up. It was quaint and had a subtle charm—an upper-middle-class neighborhood with large-ish houses spaced comfortably apart where nothing very bad could ever happen to anyone. Draco smiled to himself as he imagined Hermione as a child growing up here, riding one of those appalling death-traps Muggle children seemed so fond of (bye-sicks?), playing with a puppy, bossing around the other neighborhood children. If it wouldn’t invite his fiancée’s ire, he’d ask Jean to bust out the baby pictures.

“Ready?” Hermione asked, squeezing Draco’s hand as they approached the stoop of her parents’ house.

Draco nodded and rang the doorbell. He heard Jean’s muffled voice shouting, “EDWAAAARRDDD, they’re here!” Draco heard some unintelligible mutterings followed by, “--and you will be nice to that boy.”

Despite the fact that in that moment Edward was no doubt scowling at his wife and cursing Draco’s name, Draco felt a pang of sympathy for him. If he could hear Jean from outside the house, Merlin only knew what she sounded like on the other side of that wall. Jean had always been sweet to him, but he couldn’t deny that her shrillness at times rivaled that of Pansy Parkinson, circa third year.

He fixed a smile on his face as the door opened and he was greeted by an indifferent Edward Granger, whose eyes barely scraped over him before fixing his gaze on his darling little girl and breaking into a wide grin. “Princess, you look lovely,” he said, gathering her into his arms for a hug. Draco watched with interest as the stern-faced, mustachioed, 6’5” man held his petite daughter with the same care as a giant holding a bunny rabbit.

“You look good too, Daddy. You’ve been training?”

“Every morning.”

“How did your last triathlon go?”

“I beat my swim and run times from last year, but I’m a little rusty on the bicycle.”

Bicycle, Draco thought. That’s it. He should probably make flashcards to remember all these things.

Edward’s face went playfully stern. “And are you still keeping up with your training? What’s your deadlift weight now?”

Hermione smirked. “As of this morning, it was 300 pounds,” she replied, earning her a look of approval from her father. Draco, on the other hand, nearly choked at the information.

Your fiancée’s a beast. Your future father-in-law’s a monster. And you’re a pale little man-boy whose muscles are purely decorative, he thought, unable to help comparing himself to Hermione’s father, who could easily break him in half if he so wished.

“Your mum’s decided to get a bit creative, I’m afraid. On our holiday to Mexico we had this lovely prawn dish that she’s managed to find a recipe for.”

“Is it spicy?” Hermione asked.

Edward smiled fondly at his daughter. “Not spicy enough for you and I, Princess. But I bought that fire sauce that we both like.”

“That sounds lovely,” Hermione said, beaming.

“Speaking of your mum, she’s going to kill me if she finds out we’re still out here, so why don’t you and your friend go into the living room and make yourself a drink?”

Draco tried desperately not to scowl. Friend? After nearly a year of dating and loving his daughter, Draco was still just Hermione’s friend to that man. Her father’s strategic use of the word didn’t go unnoticed by Hermione. “Daddy, you know that Draco is more than just my friend,” she said, in a chastising voice that Draco suspected she used with her first-year students.

Edward waived it off. “You know what I mean, Princess,” he said, directing her inside the house. He pointedly ignored Draco and cut in front of him to follow Hermione inside.

Keep it up, old man. Doesn’t change the fact that tonight I’m going to take your daughter home and shag her rotten. This rare, unbidden thought of mild misogyny oddly made Draco feel slightly more confident as he entered the house behind Edward.

That’s right. Edward. You can’t keep me from calling you that in my head, you miserable old—

“Min! Drakey! Come over here and give me a kiss,” Jean said from the doorway of the kitchen. She was a small-framed, clever-faced, handsome woman in her mid-fifties who inexplicably gave the most back-breaking hugs of anyone Draco had ever met. She also had a penchant for bestowing stupid nicknames on anyone younger than her, but she was so good-natured Draco couldn’t hold it against her too much.

“How are you, Jean? You look wonderful,” Draco said as he bent down to kiss her on the cheek. “I brought that Côte-Rôtie Syrah that you liked from last time.”

Jean beamed. “You spoil an old lady, Drakey.”

“I don’t see an old lady here,” Draco responded with a grin.

Jean lightly smacked him on the arm. “That charm of yours must work wonders on my daughter.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Draco noticed Edward sneering at him. He chose to ignore him and remain focused on the one future in-law who actually liked him.

“Min, you look fantastic. What have you done differently?”

“Nothing, Mum.”

“No, it’s something. What did she do differently, Drakey?”

Draco raised his eyebrows. “She’s just as beautiful as always, Jean. Must be those fabulous genetics she inherited from you.”

Hermione, standing behind her mum’s back and looking at Draco, rolled her eyes and mimed puking into a bin at him. He playfully smirked at her.

Jean laughed. “You are too much. Min, why don’t you take Drakey into the living room and get yourselves something to drink. Your father and I brought back a fantastic mezcal from Oaxaca that you both simply must try.”

“Sounds great, Mum.” Hermione motioned for Draco to follow her into a spacious, tastefully decorated room, which seemed to be bursting at the seams with still photographs of Hermione in various stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Draco couldn’t fight the smile on his face as he examined one of his favorites—a photo of Hermione when she was about 3 or 4 standing atop a fortress made entirely of books that she had presumably built herself. She was wearing a little silver cape around her shoulders, a tiara, and had her hands on her hips in a triumphant pose. She looked every inch the little conqueror. His perusal of the photograph was interrupted when Hermione swiftly flipped the photograph onto its face.

“Hey, now, I wasn’t finished looking at that,” Draco said.

“Yes, you were,” Hermione said, with a stern pursing of her lips as she strolled over to the bar cart to pour them drinks.

“Hermione, I found this book on our trip that I thought might interest you,” said Edward, materializing from the back of the house, carrying a small, beige book.

The Labyrinth of Solitude,” Hermione read. “Oh my gosh, Daddy. Where did you find this? It’s signed by Octavio Paz!” Hermione gleefully examined the book and turned to Draco. “Daddy is a genius at book shopping. Everywhere he travels he manages to find something extraordinary.”

Edward preened at his daughter’s praise. “Now, Princess. I’m certain Draco has no interest in such things.”

Draco tried, for the thousandth time since meeting Edward Granger, not to scowl. To talk back, or not to talk back? That is the question. A literary reference that he was totally able to make because he was absolutely interested in literature, thank you very much.

“Actually, Draco’s quite a prolific reader himself,” Hermione said.

“Is that so, Draco?” Edward asked. Draco nodded. “Well what sort of things do you read? Who are your favorite authors?”

This was a test. A test which Draco had no idea how to gauge, seeing as he didn’t know what sort of things Edward himself enjoyed reading. He might as well answer honestly, but err on the side of impressive. “Victor Hugo is one of my favorites. As is Dumas.”

“Dumas? I believe I read him when I was a boy,” Edward said condescendingly.

Draco silently counted to three and continued. “I also just finished the sixth book of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle.”

Edward rolled his eyes. “I couldn’t get past the first book. It was deadly dull at its best moments, pretentious at its worst. It’s rather narcissistic to think that anyone would be interested to read a 3,600-page volume about their life. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

Draco said nothing. Don’t see what all the fuss is about? Well, he’s remastered the contemporary concept of the novel to what some might call Proustian levels, but whatever.

Hermione handed Draco a rocks glass containing a strong-smelling liquor that reminded him vaguely of dragon’s breath. “Thanks, love,” he said, ignoring Edward’s lips disappearing into a thin line at Draco’s endearment. He followed Hermione to the couch and sat next to her, cradling his strange drink which he suspected he wouldn’t like, but he’d be damned if he wouldn’t drink it anyway.

“So,” Edward said, settling into a chair opposite the couple. “Draco.” Draco gulped at the biting way he said his name. He never knew “Draco” could sound so hateful. He suddenly didn’t like it anymore. “How’s work treating you? What is it you do again?”

Another trick. “I own and run my family’s company,” Draco answered. This answer would have been enough to impress any other father on the planet. But Edward Granger wasn’t a normal man. He was a predator in the guise of a sweet, folksy dentist who just happened to be larger and more imposing than the average man.

“Oh that’s right. I forget. You don’t work, do you? You’re…independently wealthy.”

He made it sound like a capital offense. Oh, yes. I’m sooo sorry that I’m rich and I can afford to give your daughter the world and dote upon her the way she deserves. How fucking dare me?

“Draco does work, Daddy.”

“Really? Well then, explain it to me, Draco. I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what it is you do at that little company of yours.”

Draco recited Quidditch statistics in his head to calm himself. Little company? Little? “Well, sir. It’s not exactly a ‘little’ company. It’s the largest conglomerate in wizarding Europe.”

“So you…what? You just buy other companies on the cheap until their stock goes back up and you’re ready to sell?” Edward asked.

“It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, but—”

“—Oh, look, Mum’s here!” Hermione beamed at her mother as she entered the room.

“Now, Edward. Hopefully you’re not forcing Draco to engage in shop talk during a social call,” Jean said, with a charming little warning in her voice. Draco was grateful that she referred to him as ‘Draco’ when speaking to Edward rather than her preferred colloquial ‘Drakey.’

Edward smiled good-naturedly (deceptively so, in Draco’s opinion) at his wife. “Oh, Jean. He knows it’s all in good fun,” he shot a nasty look at Draco which suggested that it was the very opposite of ‘good fun.’ Needing a distraction, Draco took a large sip of his drink.

BUGGER-FUCK-SHIT-ARSE! What the bloody hell was that? It tasted even worse than it smelled—like it could easily remove the varnish off a polished oak table, or at the very least, give his colon a good cleaning.

Oh, yeah. I am going to throw up tonight. But he mustn’t make a face. Edward was watching for the slightest sign of weakness in him, the self-important old arse. Just for good measure, Draco looked him dead in the eye, held his breath, and took another swig of the devil-piss.

Don’t make a face, Draco. Do. Not. Make. A. Face.

“How’s that mezcal treating you, Draco?” Edward asked, eyes gleaming.

“Great, thanks,” Draco said, grunting at the loss of his taste buds.

Jean beamed at Draco. “I hope you like prawns. I made Camarones a la Diabla.”

“Sounds wonderful, Jean.”

Edward fixed a confused look on his face. “Do you know what that is, Draco?” Jean and Hermione both shot him a look. “I’m just asking. It’s quite spicy,” he answered innocently.

Draco tried not to sneer. “I quite like spicy food,” he lied. He had only had it once, last year at the disastrous movie night at the Potters when Hermione convinced him to try a chili in his Kung Pao chicken and he nearly had an aneurysm.

“Well, dinner’s ready. So if you’ll all follow me into the dining room,” Jean said, directing them all to follow her.

Draco desperately wished he had taken a higher dosage of nerve-calming potion. Already he had managed to mortally humiliate himself in front of Edward and he had barely even said or done anything. He swore Edward just cooked up the perfect context every time to make him as uncomfortable as possible.

“Glad you like spicy food, Draco,” Edward said, clapping his hand on Draco’s back so mightily, Draco feared he had dislocated his shoulder. “Camarones a la Diabla roughly translates to ‘Prawns of the Devil,’” he said with a delighted sneer.

“My favorite kind,” Draco replied tightly, putting his arm around Hermione. That’s right, old man. I’m still here. You’re not scaring me off with your acid drinks and your devil food and your judgment over my taste in literature.

“Drakey, dear. You sit right here between Min and I.” Jean gestured at the open spaces at the table. Draco could have kissed her, he was so relieved he didn’t have to sit by Edward.

“So, what have you kids been up to lately?” Jean asked, dishing a goodly amount of the dish onto Draco’s plate.

Hermione smiled bashfully. “Draco and I took a mini break last weekend.”

“Oh, how lovely. Where to?” Jean asked.

“To the Amalfi Coast,” Hermione answered, holding Draco’s hand under the table. “Draco has a house there.”

Edward rolled his eyes and Jean smiled brightly. “Do you really?”

Draco nodded, sitting up straight in his chair, like a big boy, preening under Jean’s approval of his choice in a destination to which to take her daughter. “I’d be happy to have both of you join us one weekend.”

“It takes more than a weekend to go to Italy,” Edward answered gruffly.

“Not with magic, Daddy. Draco and I were able to take a Portkey. It took us there instantly,” Hermione said.

“Yes, well. Jean and I would have to find someone to take over our appointments at the practice.”

Draco bit the inside of his cheek. Didn’t they just come back from a lengthy holiday to Mexico? Obviously travelling wasn’t that difficult for them.

“But of course we’d love to come, Drakey. Edward and I haven’t been to Italy in years,” Jean said.

“Jean, be certain to put some of that hot sauce Hermione and I like into Draco’s plate. Since he is so fond of spicy food,” Edward said, smirking slightly.

Draco groaned internally. He couldn’t say no, because that would mean Edward wins. And he fucking knew that too. Draco had to admit that Edward would have made a damn fine Slytherin.

“How’s your darling son?” Jean asked.

Finally, something Draco could talk about that Edward wouldn’t dare disrespect. All things considered, Edward seemed to like Scorpius. “He’s wonderful, thanks for asking. He just started fourth year at Hogwarts.”

“Oh, goodness. Those teenage years are the hardest,” Jean said.

“You’d think so, but Scorpius makes it easy for me,” Draco said, bursting with paternal pride.

“He’s a good boy, your son,” Edward said. “Polite, well-spoken. What he’s missing is sports,” Edward confidently declared, accepting a plate from Jean. “All young men should have a sport.”

“You know, Daddy, when Draco was in school he played Seeker on his House’s Quidditch team,” Hermione said, squeezing Draco’s thigh. Draco gave her a small smile. Arsehole father or not, he was beyond lucky to be marrying this woman.

“I don’t know what that is, but I can only assume it’s something to do with magic.”

Draco breathed in and out slowly. He wasn’t used to not being able to talk to other men about Quidditch. “It’s played on a broomstick,” he answered.

“A broomstick? So there’s no actual athleticism?” Edward asked.

“Actually, Dr. Granger, there’s quite a lot of athleticism involved,” Draco said, perhaps a bit snippier than he meant to. “It’s not an easy thing to stay on a broomstick when you’re playing a sport half a mile in the air.”

“I never managed it, Daddy. I was positively hopeless on a broomstick in school,” Hermione said.

“Nevertheless, I’m talking about a real sport,” Edward said dismissively. “Rugby. Now there’s a sport. Do you follow rugby, Draco?” Edward asked, knowing what his answer would be.

“I’m afraid I’m woefully unfamiliar with it,” Draco answered, spearing a prawn with his fork and bringing it to his mouth.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT! It was the devil peppers from the Kung Pao chicken all over again. What was wrong with these people? He felt like he was choking, but pride prevented him from dry heaving—so he opted instead to simply sit there and suffocate.

Goodbye, Hermione. It would have been nice to marry you, but your mother had to go and feed me fire for dinner.

Hermione seemed to sense that he was in danger. She held in a gasp at seeing his face redden and tears form at his eyes. Draco was so caught up in trying not to pass out that he barely heard Hermione whisper a wandless Cooling Charm under her breath. Sensation immediately returned to his taste buds. He felt his skin cool and his breathing halt to a normal pace. He squeezed her hand under the table in thanks.

“Taste it now,” Hermione whispered to him.

He reluctantly obeyed…and was pleasantly surprised. That little minx modified a Cooling Charm for his food. He smirked at his brilliant witch. “You’re an angel,” he whispered.

“How are the prawns, Draco,” Edward asked.

“Excellent,” Draco said cheekily, taking a particularly evil-looking prawn into his mouth. He was awarded a moment of triumph at seeing Edward raise a single eyebrow in confusion.

The rest of the dinner went easily enough. Draco spoke to Edward in short, direct sentences in answer to the many questions directed at demolishing his manhood. He came out the other end of the dinner only slightly convinced that he was a worthless nancy who would never be worthy of Hermione—so Draco was chalking it up as a win.

“Excellent as always, my dear,” Edward said to Jean.

Jean smiled graciously. “It wasn’t nearly as good as what we had in Tulum, I’m afraid.”

“It was delicious, Mum,” Hermione said. “Do you need some help washing up?”

“If you’re offering, I most certainly will not try to stop you,” Jean answered.

Draco watched hopelessly as Hermione disappeared into the kitchen behind Jean, leaving him alone with The Father. Draco waited for Edward to address him.

He didn’t.

It was down to Draco to make the first move. “It was very nice of you both to—”

“—Have I ever told you that I collect antique dentistry tools, Draco?”

Draco blinked. “Umm…no, I don’t believe you have, Dr. Granger.” He was pretty sure he would remember something as creepy and unusual as that.

“Fascinating subject, dentistry of antiquity,” Edward continued. “Did you know that in Elizabethan times, it was considered a standard of beauty to have blackened teeth, because it meant one could afford the finer things in life, such as sugar? People would even use cosmetics to make their teeth appear less white.”

Well, this conversation was taking a mildly disgusting turn. “No, I didn’t know that.” As if there was any other answer he could have possibly given.

“Interesting how people conflate something rotten with something good, don’t you think? To them, it was a status symbol, but in reality, their teeth were decaying out of their heads right before them.”

Draco blinked. O-kaaaay.

“A lesson for the ages, don’t you think, Draco?”

“I suppose so, sir,” Draco said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

“One can even say the same thing of today. Many people are easily fooled by status and believe that it equates to impressiveness. I, on the other hand, hold no such beliefs.”

Okay. Draco now understood where Edward was going with this. But being a Slytherin, he would refuse to appear insulted before forcing Edward to draw the poison out of the conversation and lose his decorum. “That’s very admirable of you, Dr. Granger.”

Edward stared evenly at Draco. “You always say the right things, don’t you? A born charmer?”

Draco knew this game. It was damn near a requirement in Slytherin socialization. “Well, my mother did raise me to be a gentleman.”

Edward laughed. “Is that so? A gentleman? What exactly does that mean, I wonder? Sweeping my daughter off her feet by taking her on flashy holidays to Italy? Complimenting my wife’s food which was clearly not to your taste?”

Draco breathed steadily. “Have I offended you in some way, sir?”

Edward shook his head. “We’re only having a little conversation, Draco. An interesting discussion on how easily people are taken in by wealth and charm when in reality there’s something rotten lurking under the surface.”

Draco stifled the urge to bite back. But aside from the fact that it would do no good to start a row with his future father-in-law, Edward was actually a worthy opponent in this particular brand of conversational tactics. Well…that, and he could probably rip Draco’s head off and not even blink.

Edward continued. “You see, what I do for a living, Draco…I don’t allow the decay to fester. I extract it. People might not like it initially, but they always thank me later.”

Draco’s breath hitched. Surely he wasn’t threatening him?

“Take Hermione for example. When she was a little girl, she never liked it when I had to fill a cavity for her. But I couldn’t very well allow something to hurt my little girl, now could I? And not just cavities. If anything has ever tried to hurt her, I’ve always been that ‘thing’s’ worst nightmare.”

Draco wondered if this was endearing or psychotic. On the one hand, he understood the compulsion to protect one’s child. On the other hand, he didn’t appreciate the implication that he’d ever bring harm to Hermione.

“Do you understand what I’m saying, Draco?”

Enough tactics. After sharing a bed with a Gryffindor for the past year, Draco had developed a lower tolerance for bullshit disguised as niceties. “No, actually. I don’t understand at all.”

“Hope you two saved room for a digestif,” Jean said, emerging from the kitchen with Hermione. “We should all head into the living room, Edward. Min says she has something she needs to talk with us about,” she said, barely concealing her excitement over what she rightfully assumed the topic of conversation would be.

Edward glanced stormily at Draco. “Certainly.”

The four made their way into the living room. Brandy was served. Simple compliments were paid to no one in particular about the quality of said brandy. Eye contact was avoided, at least from Draco’s end.

“Alright, Min,” Jean started. “What is it you wanted to talk to us about?”

A small smile graced Hermione’s face. “Well,” she said, taking Draco’s hand in hers. “Remember I said that Draco took me to Italy last weekend?”

“Vaguely,” Edward intoned.

“Well,” Hermione blushed, exchanging shy glances with Draco. “Draco asked me to marry him.”

Draco put his arm around Hermione and removed the Glamour Charm from her left hand. “And she said ‘yes’,” Draco said proudly, smiling at his fiancée. He knew the moment he looked up and met Edward’s gaze, the happy moment would go tits up. So he savored this moment with Hermione, stroking her shoulder with one hand and her left ring finger with the other.

“Min, that’s absolutely wonderful! Oh, I’m so happy for the two of you. Isn’t this wonderful, Edward?”

Draco bravely glanced up to face the stone-faced dentist, who managed a half-smile at the news. “Yes, wonderful,” he said, directing his comment to Hermione. Draco might have been a houseplant for all the attention he was receiving from the man, which was just fine with him. If anything, it was an improvement.

“Oh, Min! I knew when you said you had some news for us that it would be something like this.” Jean’s enthusiasm was infectious to everyone in the room except Edward.

Draco chanced a glance at his future father-in-law to find his suspicions regarding his lack of enthusiasm to be correct. Edward’s face was impassive, as he looked Draco square in the eyes and said, “Welcome to the family, Draco.”

Ouch! Never had that sentence sounded so fatal. Draco knew in that moment that he was most certainly not welcome.

__________________________

 

“That went well, don’t you think?” Hermione asked when they were back at the Manor.

Draco immediately bee-lined to the Firewhisky. “Other than nearly choking on your mother’s cooking and Edward’s thinly-veiled threats to ‘extract me’ if I ever hurt you, I think it went swimmingly.”

Hermione furrowed her brow. “My father did what?”

Draco rubbed his face with his hands. “If ever there was any doubt that your father hated me, I think tonight he cleared up all misconceptions.”

Hermione laughed. “That’s ridiculous. He shook your hand.”

“Crushed. He crushed my hand. There’s a difference.”

Hermione smirked as she came up behind him and put her arms around his middle. “Do I need to talk to him?”

Draco chuckled. “The last thing I want is for you to intervene. I’m sure he’ll come around once he processes the fact that I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know he’s a bit gruff, but he’s been like this with all my boyfriends. He was even like that with Ron in the beginning, but he eventually warmed to him.”

“How long did that take?”

Hermione laughed softly, pressing herself into Draco’s back. “I believe it was shortly after we broke up.”

Draco rolled his eyes and spun around, pulling her flush against his chest. “Well, that’s not going to happen with me. You and I are going to grow old together. So Dr. Granger had better get used to the idea.” He captured her lips in a soft kiss.

“So you still want to marry me?” she asked, smiling up at him.

He chuckled warmly. “So fucking much.” He kissed her again, long and slow, snaking a deft hand up to the top of her dress to drag the zipper down. “I love you, Hermione,” he said, stroking the soft skin of her back. “Nothing could ever change that.”

She swooned lightly at his words and began working her hands to help him out of his clothes, too. Their mouths never stopped moving feverishly, each trying to devour the other. Draco was barely aware of the fact that they were still in the living room as they stripped each other. He cupped her arse and pulled her tightly against him, grinding his hips into her so she could feel what she did to him.

She moaned at the contact, which only inspired him to lift her up to meet him at face level, so he could better snog the living daylights out of her. She squealed as she wrapped her legs around him, and didn’t even realize when he started moving them over to the couch.

He lay her down gently and continued his worship of her body. “You taste so good,” he murmured against her breasts as he licked and nipped at her skin. “You’re perfect, Hermione.”

She bit her lip and decided in that moment that she couldn’t handle the teasing for another second. With an intensity that shocked Draco, she flipped their positions so he was on his back and she was on top, straddling his hips. Draco’s eyes darkened as he looked up at her. He had absolutely no problem with her taking control in the bedroom. Not when she did it with such finesse. He rubbed his hands up her thighs until his fingertips met her swollen core.

Hermione hummed as he stroked that small bundle of nerves with his thumb, while sinking a finger through her folds and into her wet, silky heat. She began to bounce on top of him, taking all the pleasure she could from his talented, nimble fingers. “Draco,” she gasped. “Don’t tease me.”

He smirked up at her. “I see it’s not my fingers that you want.”

“Shut up,” she said, as she rocked her hips over his weeping cock, causing his breath to rattle.

“Now who’s teasing,” he asked with strangled breath.

“Good point,” she said, just before she gripped the base of his cock and positioned herself on top of him. As she sunk down on him they both released raspy moans. Draco threw his head back and gripped her by the hips. He rocked up into her as she rode him with the exquisite grace of an equestrian. He palmed her breasts, pinching her nipples and feeling nearly torn in half with the desire to lay back and enjoy watching his cock disappear repeatedly inside her, and the compulsion to flip them both over and pound into her mercilessly.

She doubled her efforts and began bouncing harder and faster. Draco could have wept, she felt so good wrapped around him. He knew she could keep this up for as long as she needed to. But that didn’t mean he should just lie there and not help. He curled an arm around her and began kneading her arse. With his other hand he rubbed along the side of her wet clit.

“Don’t stop,” she demanded. He met her thrust for thrust and pounded into her from below as she rode him from above, continuing his ministrations to her clit. It didn’t take long before he felt her flutter around him as she came with a high-pitched, feminine sigh. It was the sexiest fucking sound Draco had ever heard.

Her sated body slumped against him as he rolled them both over along the length of the couch cushions. He nipped at her collarbone while he pumped into her as hard as he could. She moaned so prettily beneath him he felt that if he hadn’t already been engaged to her he’d probably propose right now. Draco broke apart and came deeply inside of her with a roar.

After several moments of recovery, he turned to her with a lopsided smirk and pulled her boneless body against him. His fingers lightly caressed her cheek and he placed a sweet kiss on her lips. “Still want to marry me?”

She smiled. “I suppose you’ll do.” 

Chapter Text

Her mouth tasted like the cherry tart they had for pudding that evening, and she was especially frisky tonight. Albus wondered what had brought this on.

“Mmm-nnnn,” he said between pulls of lips. “Mon, can we stop for a second?”

She widened her already enormous green eyes at him. “What’s wrong?” she asked in a voice barely above a whisper.

Albus shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong. I just thought…you realize this is all we do?”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “You wanted to do something else?”

“Well, yeah, maybe,” he said, scratching the back of his neck. He wasn’t used to feeling this laid open. But Scorpius was right. If he didn’t like seeing her flirt with other blokes, he should bloody well talk to her about it.

Monica smirked. “I was hoping you’d say that,” she said, moving in to capture his lips again as she snuck a deft hand down to undo his belt buckle.

Somewhere in the depths of Albus’s big, beautiful brain, a circuit sparked. She was trying to touch him there! And if he let her, she would know just how much their snogging had affected him. He gripped her wrist to stop her movement and pulled back from her lips. “What are you doing?”

Although she stared at him with a neutral face, he could tell she was confused. “You said you wanted to do something else.”

Albus exhaled raggedly. “While I am certainly not opposed to letting you continue what you were about to do, that’s not exactly what I was talking about.”

“Did you want to do something to me?”

Duuuuhh…what were we talking about? The horny-boy part of his usually logical brain was taking over like a twin consuming its counterpart in the womb. He had been a fool to think only blokes were this stupidly single-minded when it came to sex.

Her impossibly verdant eyes softened. “It’s alright,” she whispered. “I’ve never done anything before, either,” she said in a timid, kind voice.

The sides of his lips quirked up at hearing that. Not that he was some sort of sexist brute, but he liked hearing that he was the only one. “We don’t have to.”

“I want to,” she said without hesitation. She quickly realized how eager she sounded and retracted slightly so as not to seem like such a hussy. “That is…if you want to.”

He smiled and kissed her lightly on the lips. “Of course I want to.”

She blushed, breaking her cool-girl veneer and betraying the inexperienced teen that she was. Biting her lip bashfully, she continued undoing his trousers.

__________________________________

 

Scorpius furrowed his brow in frustration as he stared at what he had written on the parchment. “Merlin, I sound like I should be doing marketing for Pepper-Up Potion in this essay. Listen to this shit, ‘Pepper-Up is among the most useful of potions that a wizard should store in his mental arsenal. Its uses include, but are not limited to, curing hangovers, headaches, nausea, and fatigue, as well as alleviating the effects of the Cruciatus Curse and recovery after proximity with Dementors.’ I should be on their fucking payroll,” he said with a smirk.

Albus didn’t respond, continuing to stare at the same paragraph he had been pretending to read in his Potions book for the past half hour.

“Al?”

Nothing.

Al!

“What?” he dumbly snapped to attention.

Scorpius shook his head at his friend. “What is with you today?”

Albus shrugged. “Nothing.”

Scorpius, who knew when his friend was lying, wasn’t having any of it. “Did you hear anything I just said?”

“Something about peppers,” Albus mumbled.

Scorpius gaped at him. “Are you fucking unwell?

Albus sighed. “I’m perfectly fine. Keep reading your thing. I swear I’m listening.” His expression over the past couple of days was hard to pin down. He seemed to regard the world with new eyes, taking extra time to chew his food and observe his environment. His eyes danced with almost newborn wonderment, but the rest of his face was fixed with its usual flavor of stoicism.

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “You really should get a start on Sluggy’s essay. You know he’s sobered up a bit this year so he actually pays atten—”

“Monica gave me a hand job,” Albus abruptly interrupted him.

Scorpius’s hand, which was currently scribbling on the parchment, stilled. “Mon did what now?”

“A hand job. I got one. From her.”

Scorpius’s jaw dropped. He didn’t move his hand from its spot on the parchment and a noticeable ink blob was beginning to form. “That’s…wow. That would certainly explain your lack of focus.”

Albus nodded. “I’m sort of still processing that it actually happened.”

“I don’t blame you.” The ink blob was roughly the size of a Galleon at this point. “So…how was it?”

Albus raised an eyebrow. “You know orgasms?”

Scorpius snorted. “I’m familiar.”

“Well, I had one of those, but instead of doing it myself, a pretty girl did it for me. How do you think it was?”

Scorpius released the sort of odd laugh people sometimes do when they don’t know how else to respond. “Congratulations?” The ink blob had now invaded the body of the text of Scorpius’s forgotten essay.

“Thanks.” Albus stared contemplatively at the paragraph in his Potions book which had become a sort of neutral territory for when he couldn’t make eye contact with anything else. “Am I an arsehole for telling you?”

Scorpius looked at his friend curiously. “No. Why would you be?”

Albus shrugged. “You never tell me about the stuff you do with Rose.”

Oh. That. The truth was, Rose and Scorpius hadn’t gone very far. Some heavy snogging and petting over the clothes was the current extent of their physical relationship. Scorpius was beyond ready for more, but he didn’t want to pressure her. “Honestly, there’s not really anything to tell, mate.”

Albus raised an eyebrow, allowing himself a luxurious moment of smugness. “So…that makes me the first of us to do something sexual. How did that happen?”

Scorpius grinned and rolled his eyes. “Don’t ask me. It’s not like I want to remain pure as the driven snow.”

Albus smirked and leaned back in his chair. “Well, well, well. I, Albus Severus Potter, am the first of my friends to have a bird touch his cock.”

It was downright disgraceful how much of that parchment the blob of ink had usurped. “Do you have to put it like that?”

“No, no, this is interesting,” Albus said, rubbing his chin. “Truth be told, I always assumed you’d be the first to do anything.”

Scorpius quirked an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Well, yeah. You’re rich and socially competent and you’ve kind of got a…” Albus made a circular motion with his hands at Scorpius’s visage, “…tragic fairy prince thing going on with the blond hair and the silver eyes and the pretty bone structure—”

“I’d hardly call it pretty—”

“—I mean, girls go for that, right?”

Scorpius shrugged. “One does. That’s enough for me.”

Albus smirked privately and returned his gaze to that incomprehensible paragraph in his Potions book. “She said I was the first she’d ever done anything with,” he said in a smallish voice.

Scorpius smiled. He knew that probably meant more to his friend than any sexual acts he and Monica committed together. “She likes you, Al. Any idiot can see that.”

At those words, Albus Potter blushed for the first time in his life. He felt temporarily taken aback by the warmth that flooded his face, not quite understanding what the sensation meant.

“And you like her too,” Scorpius said, observing his friend as he struggled through his first blush.

Albus knew Scorpius was right. He liked her. He’d have to do something about that if he wanted to keep mouth breathers like Padraig from getting their hands on her.

But he wasn’t ready to address that little gem just yet. Labels—girlfriend, boyfriend, monogamous relationships—they just weren’t natural or logical. Not when there was a whole sea of girls out there just waiting to be creeped out by Albus Severus Potter.

And yet here he was, feeling like a possessive caveman wanting to rip Padraig McPhearson’s face off because he was after a girl who he, Albus, saw as his own. It wasn’t logical…but there it was. And Albus would have to face the fact that, unusual and precocious though he may be, he was a human being, not a Vulcan. And humans were fucked up.

He shrugged. “Whatever, mate. By the way, your parchment is covered in ink.”

Scorpius’s eyes widened as he noticed the pool of ink that had expanded across much of his (now ruined) essay. “Bollocks!

As Albus watched Scorpius scramble for his wand in a vain attempt to salvage as much of his essay as he could, he grinned.

I’m coming for you, Monica Flint.

_______________________

 

At Ginny’s insistence, Hermione and Draco allowed her to throw them an informal get-together (Hermione was very adamant that the word ‘party’ not be used, as it came with the connotation that many people would be in attendance) at her and Harry’s house to celebrate the engagement. To prevent Draco from grumbling about having to hang out with what he called ‘more Gryffindors than should be allowed in a single room for health reasons,’ she even invited Blaise.

“You realize you owe me for this, right?” Draco asked.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Don’t even try to pretend that at this point they’re not your friends, too.”

Draco flinched. “I will concede that we are friendly, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them friends. Besides, just last night we had dinner with your parents. My weekend’s been perfectly tied up with attending dinners and parties for your people.” He stiffened haughtily beside the Floo. “A weekend which we could have spent doing far more enjoyable things.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Fine. What do you want?”

Draco pretended to consider her offer, although it was clear he already knew what he wanted. “Hmmm. I’m thinking a good smothering is called for. Yes. Yes, the more I think about it the more I think I’d like you to sit on my face for me when we get back.”

Hermione’s eyes flashed with lust. This here…this was why she loved this man. She pretended to be put out by his suggestion. “Again? Merlin, why do you constantly feel the need to pleasure me? It’s exhausting.”

He smirked. “I know. I’m a monster.”

_________________________

 

When they arrived through the Floo, they were immediately greeted by Ginny bearing a glass of wine for them each. “Thank Merlin you two are here! I feel like I’m about to crawl out of my skin with…never mind.” She poured herself some wine into a glass labelled ‘Mommy Medicine.’

“Where’s Harry?” Hermione asked.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “He’s in his ‘studio.’”

Hermione noted the way she highlighted the word with air quotes, barely managing not to spill her drink. “Dare I ask?”

Ginny snorted. “No need. Once he comes down he won’t shut up about his new ‘career’ anyway,” she said, once again nearly spilling her wine while using air quotes.

“Career?” Hermione asked brightly. “That was fast. What is he doing?”

“Creation. Breathing life into the mundane. What am I not doing?” an airy, pretentious voice said. It was Harry, standing precariously in the middle of the staircase, slouching slightly with one foot tucked behind the other, as if in a pose.

“Huh?” Hermione asked. She took in Harry’s appearance. His usually unmanageable hair was unrulier than ever, and it was evident that he had given up all attempts to comb it. While he typically dressed in neat, bland, professional-looking clothes (Ginny dubbed his style ‘Dad Chic’), he was now wearing a loose-fitting, breezy pair of white linen trousers that were clasped at the hip by a drawstring. His shirt appeared to be of the same breed of clothing. It was several sizes too big for him, and was in a purple color so garish Hermione was immediately reminded of Gilderoy Lockhart. To top off the look, he was barefoot.

“New clothes?” she asked, not missing Ginny’s face contort into a snarl at the sight of Harry’s new wardrobe.

“You like? It’s so much more comfortable to just create when you’re not encumbered by heavy fabrics.”

Draco scowled at the sight. “Where the bloody hell did you purchase that get-up, Potter? You look like a homeless fortune-teller.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re just jealous that you don’t have the confidence to pull this off yourself.”

Draco snorted. “One, don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’re actually pulling that off. Two, I am many things, but jealous is most certainly not one of them.” Draco drew himself up taller, tugging on the lapels of his expensive blazer.

Hermione’s eyes diverted from her fiancée to Harry. The two of them couldn’t possibly have looked more different. Somehow, standing next to the disheveled mess that was Harry, Draco looked even more impeccably cut. Hermione sighed internally. She wasn’t sure she’d ever get used to Draco’s modelish looks.

She turned her attention back to Harry, who was impervious to Draco’s biting critique of his new look. “So…you’re some sort of artist now? Is that what you’re doing?”

“Photography mostly. Although, I’m getting into painting. I find it so much more freeing than other media. The opportunities to create are just boundless.”

At this new revelation, Hermione noticed several areas on Harry’s trousers that were stained with various colors of paint. “That’s great.” Hermione had no idea what else to say. It was obvious Harry was smitten with his new pursuit and she had no wish to discourage him. On the other hand…those clothes…his newfound ability to inject the word “create” into any sentence…it was all pretty bizarre.

“So, you’re a bohemian now,” Draco said, with even-toned severity in a way similar to how one might say ‘So, you’ve decided to stop washing your armpits.’ He turned to Ginny, who was refilling her Mommy Medicine all the way up to the top of the glass. “How do you feel about this?”

She took a healthy swallow from her glass, releasing a grateful “Ahhh” to welcome the feel of alcohol entering her system. “Oh, I’m simply ecstatic that Harry’s doing what he loves. I mean I’m the one who bullied him into quitting his job. So really, this is all my faul—I mean my doing, right?”

Draco smirked at Ginny’s near admission. “Are you any good, Potter, or are you one of those ‘arteests’ who just closes his eyes and goes to town on a canvas?”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “I like to think of myself as a post-emotional expressionist artist who incorporates pre-modern elements into his work.”

Draco rolled his eyes, unimpressed. “Well, that’s a load of bollocks if ever I heard one.”

Hermione pinched Draco’s bum in retribution for his rudeness, ignoring the prissy “Owwww” that accompanied the action.

“We’d love to see your work, Harry.” She spoke to him in that voice she reserved for the slower first years.

Harry preened as he signaled for them to follow him up the stairs. They passed a door labeled ‘Do Not Enter. Life and Death Within.’

“My darkroom,” he said, casually.

Draco bit his lip to prevent himself from laughing at the pretentiousness of it all. Hermione pinched him on the bum again in warning. If she couldn’t laugh, no one could.

“And this is my studio,” Harry said, with the weight of a proud papa presenting his child to the world.

Hermione could hardly see her hands in front of her face through the incense fumes. She fought down a cough. The air was pure patchouli. Once her burning eyes adjusted, she found herself surrounded by terrifying, almost violent, riots of color contained within neat canvases. Upon closer inspection, Hermione could make out bodies—the sophistication level of which could only be described as ‘slightly more advanced than stick figures’—appearing in groups of three throughout most of the canvases. Upon even closer inspection, the pattern was unmistakable. In every canvas, the middle figure possessed an excess of black hair and a lightning scar, while the figure to his right was painted with orangey-red hair, and the one to his left…

“Bloody hell, Potter. Is this supposed to be Hermione?” Draco asked, indignant.

The figure to the left had a large amount of spiraled dark brown hair and a rather large set of breasts. Oddly enough, though the figures themselves were restrained to a primitive lack of detail, her breasts were drawn quite well.

“I don’t know how I feel about you drawing my fiancée’s breasts in every single one of your ‘paintings,’” Draco said, employing Ginny’s use of air quotes.

Harry waived off the comment. “It’s art, Malfoy. Don’t be so uptight about it. Hermione understands, don’t you?”

Draco turned to see Hermione’s reaction. He had never before seen her make the particular expression she had on her face right now. One of her eyes was significantly larger than the other, and her mouth was fixed in a sort of upside-down smirk. “So…you painted…us?

“In our school years. You see this one here,” he signaled to a ‘painting’ composed of uncontrollable black and green blobs of paint with a single dark green squiggle running through the middle with the figures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, standing atop the squiggle. Hermione’s breasts in this painting were much smaller. “This is us in the Chamber of Secrets second year. I know you were petrified for this particular part, Hermione, but you were there in spirit. None of it would have been possible without you. And this one,” he signaled to another painting of brown and yellow blobs of paint, with straight vertical lines of brown running through the canvas and the three figures standing in the middle under a large red triangle. Hermione’s breasts were significantly larger in this painting. “This is us in the Forest of Dean.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “For your information, Potter, you got the breasts all wrong. Her nipples are more center than that and they’re bigger than you’d thin—owww, what was that for?”

Hermione had pinched his bum again. Frankly, the least of Harry’s concerns with these paintings was the accuracy of her breasts.

Draco recovered from the minor injury and scowled as he gazed around the room. “You know the absolute most unbelievable thing about all of this is that these paintings will fucking sell. And they’ll sell for a ridiculous amount of money because the Famous Harry Potter painted them.”

Harry smiled serenely. “I’m not in this for the money, Malfoy. It’s enough that my work will appeal to people’s sensibilities.”

Draco’s eyes widened as he examined a painting depicting light blue versions of Harry and Hermione erupting out of what appeared to be a necklace, while the Ron-figure was thrown on the ground. The Hermione-figure’s breasts were painted with astonishing detail in this one. “Right. It’s their ‘sensibilities’ this will appeal to,” Draco drawled, pushing away all thoughts of some rich tosser purchasing the vile thing just so he could wank to the naked image of his fiancée.

Harry ignored Draco’s pointed tone. “I should go help Ginny in the dining room. You two, stay. Peruse. Explore. Enjoy.” He sauntered lightly out of the room.

Draco wasted no time in turning to Hermione with a disgusted expression on his face. “He cannot be serious.”

She sighed, her ability to laugh escaping her. “Don’t look at me. I certainly had no idea he harbored any…artistic inclinations.”

“He doesn’t harbor any artistic inclinations. He’s just bored and he’s making a bunch of rubbish to compensate for that fact. I mean look at this,” he said, pointing to the light blue Hermione and Harry painting in the Forest of Dean. Draco narrowed his eyes. “When you two were on your little camping trip seventh year…nothing ever happened between you two, did it?”

Hermione immediately grimaced. “Why would you ever suggest that? I’m not even fully convinced Harry has genitalia. He’s that much of a brother to me.”

“Then what’s with the tits all over the place?”

“He’s a guy, Draco. Believe me, I confiscate enough doodles to know that boys like drawing boobs.”

“I never went through that phase. I was too busy actually getting laid to draw imaginary boobs on everything.” Draco flinched, reflexively protecting his bum at the sight of Hermione’s eyes narrowing. “Joking. I was a virgin before I met you. You are the only woman who has ever existed. Everyone else are just blokes pretending to be women.”

Hermione smirked. “That’s what I thought you said.” She lightly draped her arms around Draco’s middle and kissed him chastely on the lips. Draco deepened the kiss, turning it into something naughty and full of dark promise. He brought his hands up to cup her breasts, flicking her nipples through the fabric of her dress. “Draco,” she said, pulling away. “What are you doing?”

“He said to explore and enjoy,” he said, peppering her throat with kisses.

“I doubt this is what he meant.” Although she admonished him, she was feeling a tad delirious at his attentions.

Draco responded by placing a sucking kiss under her ear. “You can’t expect me to spend any significant amount of time in a room full of images of your breasts—”

Terrible images.”

“Terrible and inaccurate images, but images nonetheless, and expect me to keep it in my pants.”

She giggled. “Draco,” she said breathily.

“Mmmm,” his hands snaked up the backs of her thighs as his lips left searing trails across her jawline. “Say my name again, but this time, with feeling.”

Behave yourself.”

Or, you could just misbehave with me.”

“YOU TWO HAVE BEEN UP THERE LONG ENOUGH! DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT SNEAKING A SHAG IN MY HOUSE, MALFOY!” Harry’s Sonorus-enhanced voice rang through the house. Draco sighed.

“Fine. But later tonight, I’m going to get you, Granger.”

She bit back a giggle, refusing to let him see how amused and giddy he made her feel. “Enjoy calling me ‘Granger’ while you can, Malfoy, because soon, I’ll be a Malfoy too.”

He growled, pulling her closer to him and burying his face in her hair. “So you’ve decided to take my name, then.” He nipped her ear.

“Maybe. I haven't decided for certain yet, but if I do, it will be my decision that I will make after much deliberation. Don’t think it means you own me,” she said, teasingly.

“Of course not,” he all but whispered in her ear, sending shivers up her spine. “But that doesn’t mean the idea of you having my name doesn’t make me want to take you—”

“I FUCKING MEAN IT, YOU TWO! GET OUT OF MY STUDIO BEFORE I SIC MY WIFE ON YOU.”

____________________________

 

Soon after Hermione convinced Draco to rejoin Harry and Ginny downstairs (the promise that they would exchange oral later that evening might have been involved), Ron and Susan joined them.

“Congratulations, you two,” Susan said, hugging them both. “I knew this would happen soon.”

Ron narrowed his eyes and stalked over to Draco. “Malfoy, I know you don’t need to hear this a hundredth time, but—”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. If I hurt her, you’ll get Potter to beat the shit out of me.”

“Just so long as we’re clear,” Ron mumbled, folding his arms. He bit his lip and looked around the room, trying to adopt an air of casual indifference. “So how’s that son of yours doing?”

Draco smirked. “You just want to know if he’s told me how far he’s gone with your daughter.”

Ron snarled. “My Rose is an angel, and your son is lucky to be with her! She’s far too young to be thinking of doing anything with boys.”

Draco casually inspected his fingernails. “Yes, of course. But, as you well remember, Weasel, fourteen-year-old boys are not too young to be thinking of doing anything with girls.”

Ron rounded on him. “What do you know?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Nothing, Ron. He’s just trying to get a rise out of you.” She pinched Draco’s bum again, sparking a girly-sounding yowl from the man. “Behave yourself, for the thousandth time.”

Ron narrowed his eyes. “You’re a walking personality disorder, Malfoy.”

“And you, Weasley, are the world’s largest single-celled organism.”

Hermione broke up the love fest between the two fully-grown adult men, by handing Draco another drink to shut him up. “Thanks, love.” Draco glanced at the Floo. “Blaise is late.”

Harry narrowed his eyes. “Typical Blaise.” Harry knew him from work, as Blaise’s company supplied the Aurors with gear. “He’s always doing this. I mentioned how annoying it was once, and he said something about ‘establishing power’ or some rot. Sounds like a way to justify being a dick.”

“You don’t like Blaise?” Hermione asked.

“I like him just fine,” Harry said. “But you can’t deny that he’s kind of an arsehole. I mean…he doesn’t bless people when they sneeze. Have you ever noticed that?”

“I’m not sure I even do that every time, Harry,” Hermione said.

“Sure, but he never does it. And I’m not saying I necessarily need that. But even a friendly ‘gesundheit’ would be appreciated.”

Draco rolled his eyes and sipped his overly acidic Beaujolais. He didn’t necessarily disagree with Harry. Blaise could, at times, be a bit of a douchebag. But he was his best mate, and, although he would never admit it, Blaise could out-loyal even the staunchest Hufflepuff. “By the way, Potter, I blame you indirectly for Scorpius’s language, which has grown rather crass of late. You need to watch how you talk around that sneaky son of yours,” Draco said.

Harry snorted. “Me? This from the guy who basically reinvented the word ‘fuck.’ If anything, you’re the one to blame for Albus’s language.”

“I’m hardly that bad.”

“Malfoy, you have actually referred to ‘fuck’ as the ‘tofu of words.’ So unbunch your knickers from your arse, will you?”

Draco smirked. “I knew this whole cool, easy-going, artsy thing you were doing was just a bit. You see how easy you are to rattle, Potter?”

“Shut the fuck up, Malfoy,” Harry said, sipping his beer.

The deep roar of the Floo announced the presence of Blaise Zabini and his much-too-young-for-him date—a wispy, dirty-blonde wearing a tight magenta dress that might not have looked out of place at a night club, but was entirely inappropriate for a low-key cocktail party.

Ginny fixed a plastic smile on her face and brought two glasses of wine over to them. “Blaise, so nice you could make it. And it’s a pleasure to meet you…?”

“Angela,” the girl answered, accepting the wine. “I work for Mr. Zab—I mean—Blaise.” She giggled. “Sorry. I’m just not used to calling him that.”

Ginny shot Blaise an ‘Are-You-Fucking-Kidding-Me-She’s-A-Child’ look. He responded with an ‘I-Know-It’s-Embarrassing-But-What-Can-I-Say-Women-My-Age-Don’t-Like-Me’ look.

Draco just rolled his eyes. He was used to Blaise’s empty-headed, half-his-age tarts. What worried him the most was the fact that this one worked for Blaise, which meant that his friend was probably too overworked to go out and meet new people. It was one thing to be dedicated to your career. It was another entirely to stop trying with the other parts of your life.

“Oh, my gosh! Professor Granger?” Angela shrieked.

Hermione nearly dropped her wine. “Oh. Bugger,” she muttered under her breathe, vaguely remembering the girl’s face from her first year of teaching.

“I doubt you’d remember me,” Angela said. “I didn’t get the grades to take your N.E.W.T. course, but two of my friends did. I remember you were like the hot new teacher all the boys wanted to bone.”

Draco narrowed his eyes and put an arm possessively around Hermione. He didn’t enjoy being reminded that his fiancée was constantly surrounded by a bunch of horny boys, many of them seventeen-year-old young men who would probably climb over each other to fuck a hot teacher.

Hermione’s face flushed. “You were in Hufflepuff, right?”

Yes! Oh, my god. I can’t believe you remember me! But you’re supposed to be, like, really smart, right?”

Blaise, Draco, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Susan all stifled their snorts. Angela remained oblivious to their amusement. “You know who you look like? You look like my friend, Lisa. Has anyone ever told you that you look like Lisa?”

This time, Ginny failed to suppress her snort. Hermione averted her eyes to the floor, praying for some sort of natural disaster to strike so she could end this conversation. “No, I’m afraid they haven’t.”

“Well, you do,” Angela said, handing her wine to Blaise. “Mrs. Potter, is it alright if I use your loo?”

Ginny, who did not enjoy being addressed as ‘Mrs. Potter’ by this teenaged person with whom she was forced to socialize, nodded her head curtly and motioned down the hall. Once Angela disappeared around the corner, Draco slapped Blaise on the back of the head.

“Hey, watch it, Draco. I’m holding two beverages here and if I spill them, the Potterette is coming after you.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “No, I’m coming after you. What the fuck, Zabini?”

“Yeah. What the fuck, Blaise,” Draco said.

“She’s nice,” Blaise said dully, realizing what a poor excuse this was.

“She’s your employee,” Draco said. “You can’t possibly be serious bringing her here. I mean, she was Hermione’s student, for fuck’s sake.”

“Technically, she wasn’t her student,” Blaise said.

“Only because she was too dense to get the requisite grade to take my class,” Hermione said.

Blaise shrugged. “I mean…she’s not so bad. She’s—”

“Nuh-uh. Nice try, but there’s not enough lipstick in the world to make this pig look enticing,” Ginny said.

Blaise sighed. “Okay, I’ll admit it. This one’s too young. I guess I just didn’t realize how young she was.”

“Look, mate,” Draco said, leaning in privately while the rest of the group carried on talking about other things. “Nobody really cares that you date young women. That’s your business. But as your friend, I have to ask…does it actually make you happy?”

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Not everyone’s like you, Draco. You accidentally reconnect with the girl you bullied in school and she turns out to be the woman of your dreams. I’m not that lucky. I have my work, and it keeps me occupied. I don’t have time to dedicate to serious relationships.”

“Fine,” Draco shrugged. “I won’t bring it up again. But you realize that I could count the number of years that this one is older than my son, on one hand, right?”

Blaise groaned. “Please don’t remind me how ridiculous I am right now.”

The Floo roared once again. “Oh my god, Luna?” Hermione said. “I haven’t seen you in ages!” She strolled over to her blonde friend to give her a hug.

“I heard you were marrying Draco Malfoy and I thought, ‘That makes sense.’”

Hermione smiled fondly at her friend. Only Luna would ever think ‘That makes sense’ at hearing that she and Draco were getting married. “Come on, I’ll introduce you,” she dragged her over to Draco.

Luna extended her hand. “Hello, Draco. I haven’t properly met you. Really, we haven’t been around each other at all except for that time your father kept me in your dungeons. You seem much happier now. That’s good. It’s wonderful to meet you.”

Draco had absolutely no idea how to respond to this. Should he laugh awkwardly, or was she being serious? He shook her hand. “Um…nice to meet you too.”

Luna turned to Blaise. “And you’re Blaise Zabini. I don’t know anything about you except that you were a Slytherin in school. You were rather quiet and didn’t draw much attention to yourself.” Her eyes flickered over to his blond friend. “Unlike Draco.”

Draco’s jaw dropped. He simply could not figure out this person at all. Did she hate him? Or were they already best friends and he just missed it?

To his great surprise, Blaise laughed.

It wasn’t often that Blaise Zabini laughed. When he found something funny, he usually just smirked and released a little puff of air that was meant to be a laugh. A true laugh, one that came from his body and not just his face…that was rare.

“Yes, I kept mostly to myself in school,” Blaise said, his eyes dancing with amusement. “And I remember you. You were the girl with the appalling fashion sense.”

Luna’s serene expression remained unbroken. “That’s what people said. Although I never understood it myself. I rather liked the way I looked.” Her eyes widened slightly as they fixed on Blaise’s hands. “Why are you holding two glasses of wine? Do you normally drink this much?”

Blaise realized he was holding his date’s drink. “Waiting for you, Lovegood,” he said, handing her one of the glasses.

“Thank you. And you don’t have to lie to me, Blaise. You didn’t know I was coming, so you couldn’t have been waiting for me. But thank you, anyway, for the drink,” she said, graciously accepting the wine.

Draco looked wide-eyed at Hermione, begging for some sort of translation of how to socialize with this woman. Hermione smirked and dragged him by the arm over to the rest of the group.

Ron craned his head over Draco’s shoulder to watch the scene. “Oi, is Blaise hitting on Luna?”

Draco scoffed. “Of course not. He’s just never met anyone like her before.”

“He’d better not toy with her,” Ron said darkly.

“You know, Weasel,” Draco said, swirling the mediocre wine around in his glass.,“believe it or not, you don’t need to protect all the women in your life from big, bad Slytherin boys. They can make their own decisions about who they want to flirt with, or date, or, in Hermione’s case, marry.”

Ron rolled his eyes. “You’re giving me advice on how to treat people? Do you remember the first words you ever spoke to me?”

“‘Don’t touch me, you’re poor’?”

“Exactly. And I’m pretty sure I’ve heard you make the noise, ‘muhahaha,’ unironically. You’re the arsehole. Not me.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You’re both lovely. And you know, Ron, he’s not wrong.”

Ron’s beer paused on its way to his mouth. “What?”

“With Rose. You don’t need to protect her from Scorpius. I see the two of them every day and I can say with absolute conviction that you couldn’t possibly hand-pick a better boyfriend for your daughter than him.”

Draco preened. He always loved receiving compliments on behalf of his son, but he loved getting them from Hermione even more. His heart fluttered at seeing this protective, maternal side of her.

“You sure you’re not biased because he’s going to be your stepson?” Ron asked.

Hermione shrugged. “Maybe a bit. But you really should just try to sit down and have a conversation with him, Ron. You’ll see for yourself what a lovely boy he is.”

Ron took a swig of his beer. “He’s a boy. I know what boys are like. I don’t need to have a conversation with him to know that.”

“Oi, that’s my kid you’re talking about,” Draco said.

Ron looked indignantly at Draco, as if daring him to state another obvious, yet inconsequential fact. “I know.”

Ginny sauntered over to them, visibly tipsy. “You two enjoying your ‘get-together’? Of course you’re not. Between Harry’s paintings, Blaise’s date, and Ron’s mouth, I am declaring this evening officially Tits Up.”

“Hush,” Hermione said, waiving off Ginny’s comment. “You always put together a fun party. And you got Luna to show up. How did you manage that?”

Ginny shrugged. “I honestly just found her wandering around Diagon Alley one day by herself. I think she was lost. We spent nearly six hours catching up.”

“Where was she this time?”

“Belarus. Apparently, there are these special ley lines that run through Minsk and only there can this specific type of fairy horse survive. Something about energies or vibrations or some shit.” Ginny took a healthy swig of her wine. Draco was quite sure she could be drinking boxed wine and it would taste the same to her as an 1865 Chateau Lafite.

“So how do you really feel about Potter’s new hobby?” Draco asked.

Ginny brought a finger to her lips in a frantic shushing gesture. “Do not let him hear you calling it a ‘hobby.’ I made that mistake one day and I had to listen to him rant for hours about how it was a serious pursuit for truth. And he takes pictures of everything. Every time I turn around, he’s just…there…with that fucking camera. I fall asleep—click. I do the dishes—click. I change my bra—click, click, click. It’s exhausting and he’s become an absolute tit the way he talks about himself now. Merlin, you’d think he invented the concept of art. And you’ve seen his paintings, right? They’re…how can I put this?”

“Shite? Crap? Utter fucking garbage?” Draco suggested helpfully.

Ginny nodded. “Yeah, yeah. All the above. But he’s convinced that he’s got some sort of calling to ‘create.’ What can I do? I made him quit his job. And now he’s here all the time! I never get a moment’s peace between that goddamned camera and him being all, ‘Ginny, can you come here and tell me if you think this needs more purple?’ ‘Ginny, can you be objective and tell me if you think this is derivative of de Kooning?’ ‘Ginny, could you take your blouse off and sit for me so I have a model for these breasts?”

Draco laughed. “So those were your tits on the canvas. I knew they didn’t look like Hermione’s.” Pinch to bum. “Ow, love. What’s with the pinching tonight? Yours are better, anyway.”

Ginny sniggered. “You know…you two are gonna make it.”

The forgotten Angela suddenly reappeared, looking a little worse for wear, her hair starting to frizz, her mascara bunching at the corners of her eyes. “Whew. I got lost. Your house is huge, Mrs. Potter,” she said. “Wait…who’s that?” She pointed to Luna, who seemed to be deep in conversation with Blaise, and who was happily drinking her wine.

“Sweetheart,” Ginny said, putting her hand on Angela’s shoulder. “Lesson one in navigating the grown-up world…know when to go home.”

Chapter Text

“You cannot possibly mean to do this to our family, Draco!”

The portrait of Lucius Malfoy was having a rather difficult day. Just this morning, that ridiculous house-elf with the frilly pillowcase decided to install some sort of contraption that rolls around the portrait hall eating dust. The damned thing made the most infernal noise and of course, was completely inadequate at dusting the portraits themselves. Then of course, his grandfather Marcus decided now was as good a time as any to take up opera, a hobby denied him when he was alive by the rigid rules of pureblood society. From the sound of it, Marcus had been better off taking up falconry instead. Now, to make matters worse, his son just informed him that he would be marrying that know-it-all Mudblood friend of Potter’s. Death had never been so unfair.

Draco smirked as he stood before the portraits of his father and mother, arms folded in defiance. “Oh, I absolutely intend to go through with this. In fact, she’s agreed to take my name.” It might not have been strictly true, as she had yet to come to a decision, but Draco knew it was sure to get a rise out of his father. 

As predicted, Lucius’s nostrils flared violently. What he wouldn’t give to hit that ungrateful little shit on the head with his cane.

Narcissa attempted to mediate between the two. “My dear boy, I think what your father means is, perhaps you’re being a bit hasty in your decision.”

Draco snorted. “Sweet of you to try and cover for him, Mother, but we both know that is not what he meant. And I find it interesting that you’d say I was being ‘hasty’ when I seem to remember you didn’t raise this same objection when I married Astoria, even though we’d only been together a few months. Hermione and I have known each other since we were children and we’ve been together a year. Neither of you can pretend you didn’t know this was coming. I love her and I will marry her.”

“I forbid it!” Lucius barked.

Draco’s smirk deepened. “You know, Father,” he said as he stalked dangerously over to the portrait. “I’m pretty sure I don’t take orders from you anymore.”

Lucius glared at his son. “I never thought I’d live to see the day my son, my own flesh and blood, stomped on the graves of his ancestors by planting a Mudblood in this house as Lady of the Manor.”

“Funny thing about that, Father,” he said, with pure venom in his voice. “You didn’t live to see it. Or have you forgotten that I am the master of this house now.”

Draco always avoided coming in this room, largely because his father often didn’t seem to remember that he was, in fact, dead. He’d still try to order the house-elves around, his voice rising when they’d ignore him. Even house-elves have enough dignity not to take orders from a portrait. Furthermore, Lucius attempted to micromanage his dealings with the company. Every time Draco decided to visit his parents, he’d storm out angry. Lucius would scream after him, and his mother would be left in hysterics. It simply wasn’t worth it, so he avoided it as long as possible until he inevitably succumbed to a bout of guilt.

“Is this some sort of rebellion? Because if that’s the case, you’ve already more than proven you’re no longer under my thumb by your mere insistence to consort with the girl. I admit when you told your mother and I that you had begun a relationship with a Mudblood—”

“Muggle-born,” Draco corrected.

Lucius’s eyes flashed dangerously before continuing. “That when you told us you had begun a relationship with a Muggle-born, we were shocked.”

Draco sneered, “Shocked? That’s funny. You threatened to come back as a ghost and haunt me until the day I die.”

Lucius haughtily shrugged. “I might admit that I employed a poor use of histrionics.”

“You also followed us around the house, invading portrait after portrait, until finally you interrupted us whilst we were shagging in the library.”

Lucius reddened. “A mistake which I never made again, if I remember correctly.”

Narcissa smiled through tight lips. “If my memory serves me correctly, Draco, you did that to your father on purpose, knowing he would invade your privacy. You might have taken the girl to your bedroom where you do not keep paintings for this very reason.”

“But then how would he have learned his lesson?” Draco asked, feigning innocence.

“The point is, Draco, your mother and I were shocked that you brought a Muggle-born into this house. But we made peace with it—”

Draco interrupted him with an impressive scoff.

“Or rather, we have made something resembling peace with it because we were convinced this was just a passing fancy. A curiosity, if you will. A desire to taste forbidden fruits, to play in the mud. But your decision to bring her into your life permanently does not just affect you. Have you thought about what this will do to your son? What sort of stepmother will she make for Scorpius?” Lucius asked.

“An excellent one,” Draco answered. “And I’ll try to ignore your insulting insinuations regarding my interest in Hermione because I realize you’re so bloody ignorant you really can’t help it. But seriously, Father, have you seen the majority of purebloods these days? That gene pool could have used a bit of chlorine a long time ago.”

Although Lucius did not understand what “clor-een” was, he assumed his son had made a smart-alecky remark and thusly fixed him with a glare. “You spit on the grave of your dead wife by bringing that Mudblood whore into this house.”

Draco saw red. He was so angry he couldn’t retort. There were no words good enough. So he simply made the decision to leave.

“No, darling, your father didn’t mean that!” Narcissa cried after him.

“Yes, he did,” Draco muttered darkly, turning to face his mother. “How can you defend him? I am happy with Hermione. We truly love each other, and still all he cares about is his fucking pureblood legacy!”

“Language, dear,” Narcissa said.

“You chide me for my choice of words when he’s the one who called my fiancée a whore and suggested that I was disrespecting Astoria’s memory.”

“I’m not condoning your father’s behavior. What he said was crass and utterly out of line. But you have to understand, Draco dear, that it is no small thing to bring someone of Ms. Granger’s pedigree into this family. You are breaking hundreds of years of protocol in doing so.”

“I don’t care.”

“I am not suggesting that you should break your engagement, Draco,” Narcissa said.

Both Lucius and Draco quirked cool, blond eyebrows at that statement and uttered simultaneously, “You’re not?”

“Of course not. Your happiness is more important to me than tradition, but I am simply trying to impress upon you that this decision is not a small one.”

“I agree, Mother. Which is why I put a lot more care into deciding who to spend the rest of my life with than can be said of almost any other Malfoy before me who just married whatever pureblooded bint came with the highest dowry. Hermione is special to me, Mother. And there’s not a witch alive who could be more of a credit to the Malfoy name than her.”

Narcissa nodded. “Well then, it seems that your father owes you an apology. Lucius, dear?”

“Narciiiissaa,” Lucius whined. “Do I have to?”

Draco smirked. It always amused him to watch his mother bust his father’s balls.

“Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, you will apologize to your son at once. He is obviously determined to marry this girl and nothing either of us can say will change his mind. Now stop being a child and tell your son that you’re happy for him.”

When she was alive, Narcissa Malfoy had a statuesque, cold beauty that terrified most men to their bones. As a portrait, this same quality was even more startling. Lucius Malfoy was no fool, and realized that if he were to coexist next to his formidable wife for the rest of eternity, he would need to do as he was told.

“I’m sorry,” Lucius grumbled in a quiet voice.

“I’m sorry, Father. What was that?” Draco asked, reveling with wicked glee over his father’s discomfort.

“I’m sorry, son. I hope you and your Mudbl—er, Ms. Granger will be very happy together.” The always pale Lucius Malfoy was now roughly the color of sour milk. He sounded as if he might choke on those words, so cloying were the flavor of them on his tongue.

“We will be.” Draco faced his mother with admiration. “Mother, as always, it’s been a pleasure watching you work.”

Narcissa tipped her head slightly in her son’s direction. “Please don’t hesitate to bring Ms. Granger into the portrait hall the next time she comes to visit. I’d be happy to give her some pointers.”

Draco smiled. “I doubt she needs them. I’m already a fool for her.”

_______________________

 

Hermione winced sympathetically as she marked a big, fat “T” on Brady Fitch’s essay, the subject of which was, “How to Not Die When Facing a Nundu.” His thesis: “Too bad. You will. Just close your eyes and think of England.” If Albus Potter had written it, it would have been a joke. But this was Brady Fitch’s handiwork. He was just a hopelessly dumb kid.

She sighed. “You’re killing me, Smalls.”

A series of tuts came from the doorway. “We can’t have that.”

She smiled. “I wasn’t expecting you,” she said, standing to greet Draco.

“Missed you,” he said as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply.

“You saw me just yesterday,” she said, not even bothering to fight her smile.

“Yes, but I’m a spoiled little brat who always needs to have the things he wants within arm’s reach. I require constant attention from my fiancée.”

“Well, lucky for you, I just finished grading essays for the day. I’m all yours,” she said, kissing him again.

His hands tightened around her waist. “Mmmm. All mine. I hope it doesn’t make me a chauvinist that I fucking love the sound of that.” He began kissing along her jaw. He then said in his sternest, deepest Malfoy voice, “Lock the door.”

She was absolutely powerless to fight the moan that escaped her. “Draco,” she said, her knees quaking as his hands began undoing the buttons on her shirt. “We’re in my classroom. There are children just outside.”

“And they’ll remain outside if we just lock the door,” he said, his hands dipping under the cups of her bra. He smirked at her breathy gasp as his thumb flicked her nipple. Although a significant amount of the blood that belonged to his brain had traveled south to rest in his groin, he was able to summon the requisite neurons to wave his wand and cast a charm to lock the door. “Now I believe you said something about being all mine?”

She smiled and bit her lip, nodding coquettishly. “What do you want to do to me?”

He groaned, his mind instantly filling with the sort of romantic--yet slightly creepy--things he should probably keep to himself. I want to jump inside your veins and swim into your soul. I want to burrow into the Earth with you and never come up. I want to die the same minute as you, with you wrapped up in my arms.

Everything,” he said.

_____________________

 

The pair emerged from her classroom an hour later wearing matching mischievous smirks and symptomatic sex hair. They grasped hands, walking through the corridor like sneaky children who had just broken into the kitchen to steal sweets. Hermione felt a near-Amazonian possessiveness towards Draco as she watched the teenage girls gaze at her fiancé with stars in their eyes, the Slytherins even taking the liberty to shoot him a wispy, “Hi, Mr. Malfoy,” even though they weren’t particularly good friends with Scorpius.

Hermione rolled her eyes. She hoped it didn’t make her a bad teacher that she was secretly pleased that most of the girls were already daft so she didn’t have to feel badly about pulverizing their grades.

Draco smirked sideways at her. “Have I told you how utterly shaggable you look when you’re jealous?”

Hermione blushed. “You’re insatiable.”

“I spoke to my parents’ portraits today about our engagement.”

Hermione stopped in her tracks. “Oh? How did that go?”

“They wish us all the happiness in the world.”

Hermione smirked. “Is that Malfoy for ‘Your father cursed us to fall into a bottomless pit of despair while your mother cried loudly into a handkerchief?’”

“There was also a bit of name-calling and ball-busting, but overall, you’ve got the picture,” Draco said brightly.

Hermione chuckled. She remembered how shortly after she and Draco started dating, she had accidentally wandered into the portrait gallery only to find herself face to frame with approximately 500 racist portraits of Malfoys from centuries back. Despite the slurs they shot her way, she was momentarily fascinated that they all immediately recognized her Muggle heritage. This was swiftly replaced with indignation, as she attempted a well-meaning, but naïve lecture on “Why Blood Purity is Rubbish.” She eventually got into a screaming match with Lucius and Abraxas Malfoy. When Draco popped his head in to save her, the two of them had a very uncomfortable conversation with his parents about why she was at Malfoy Manor. And his ancestors. Most girls are happy just to meet their boyfriend’s parents, but Hermione, lucky girl that she was, got to meet Draco’s fucking ancestors on top of it. And they all hated her.

“I think Lucius is starting to like me a little. Don’t you think?” Hermione asked.

Draco grinned. “You’re pretty.”

“Hey Mr. Malfoy!” Albus Potter approached the couple, avoiding eye contact, like he always did.

“Albus. How’s it going?” Draco asked.

“Fine, fine. Small talk, small talk. Look, I was wondering if I might have a word with you.”

Draco’s eyebrows raised. “With me?”

Albus nodded.

Draco looked at Hermione for guidance. She smirked at him, nodded, and mouthed Go. He allowed himself to be guided to a nearby bench.

“So…what is it you wanted to talk to me about?” Draco asked.

“You’re good with women.”

“What?” Draco asked.

“Women. They like you. I mean you got Professor Granger to marry you, and every other female you meet seems to fall instantly in love with you. You’re not part veela by chance, are you Mr. Malfoy?”

Draco’s head spun. Was he really having this conversation right now? “No. Just blond.”

“And a rather handsome chap, if you don’t mind me saying so, Mr. Malfoy. And you always seem to know exactly what to say to women.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “Not to be rude, Albus, but is there a particular reason you’re complimenting my ‘game’?”

“Of course, how rude of me. I apologize. I recently had a sexual encounter with a young woman whom I very much like, and now of course I—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there.” Draco rubbed his temples. “You’re having sex already?”

“No, Mr. Malfoy. I’m having sexual encounters. There’s a difference.”

“I realize that, Albus. I’m just trying to wrap my head around it. You’re having sexual encounters.” He stilled as a sudden realization assaulted his fatherly curiosity. “Is Scorpius having sexual encounters, too?”

Albus smirked. “You’re trying to get me to betray my friend. Very Slytherin of you, Mr. Malfoy. Respect. But no. He’s not. Just me. Currently. Which leads me to the dilemma at hand. You see, I—”

“Don’t you think you should talk to your own father about this?” '

Albus stilled, confused at the question. “You mean aside from the fact that he has recently undergone a transformation from the world’s biggest dweeb to an unemployed hippie? But no, you’re right, Mr. Malfoy. My father’s a total babe magnet. Why would I hire a master scholar when I could have a hungover student tutor for free?”

Draco’s eyes widened. “Wow. Albus, you are…and I say this with my deepest compliments…quite possibly one of the most ruthlessly uncontrived people I’ve ever met.”

“Thank you, sir. Now. Where were we?”

“You’re having sexual encounters.”

Sexual encounters! That’s right. Thank you for reminding me, Draco.” He paused. “May I call you Draco?”

Draco was floored. He rarely encountered this type of abrasive charisma in one so young. “Um…sure?”

“Good man. Now, Draco, I find myself unsure of how to proceed from here. You see this girl and I have been exclusive Snog Buddies for quite some time now.”

Draco noted the noncommittal term ‘Snog Buddy.’ He’d employed similar techniques as a youth to deter girls from getting too clingy.

Albus continued. “Understand, Draco, that before the sexual encounter, I found myself rather apprehensive about the idea that she could be snogging others as well. And afterwards I was forced to admit to myself…I don’t want her to be snogging other blokes.”

“Good for you, Albus.”

Thank you, Draco. But you see my problem, don’t you?”

“Not really.”

Albus raised an eyebrow. “Well, surely logical men such as ourselves can see that fourteen is much too young an age to consider monogamy.”

Draco shrugged. “It depends.”

Albus leaned in, interested. “Do tell.”

“It depends on the girl. Do you actually like her, or are you just feeling a bit territorial? If it’s the latter, then don’t waste her time. But if it’s the former…you might regret missing out on her more than you would missing out on snogging other girls.”

Albus’s easy confidence began to crack. “I do like her.”

“If you already know that, then why are you talking to me about this, Albus?”

“Perspective. You know things. When you were my age you didn’t have just one girlfriend did you?”

Draco sighed. “No. But you really shouldn’t use my teenage years as a metric stick on your love life or…well…anything, really. I was mean to girls, Albus. I was mean to everyone. And don’t think for a minute that the moment I found a girl worth keeping that I didn’t jump on it. Scorpius’s mother was my first actual girlfriend. And I might have met her sooner if I hadn’t been such a prat in school.”

Albus nodded. “So you’re saying that I should go for it.”

“I’m saying that you shouldn’t try to use logic to explain something as illogical as love…or whatever it is you’re feeling towards this girl.”

Albus nodded and clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you, Draco. Your friendship means a lot to me.”

Draco gaped after him as he walked away. “What the fuck just happened?”

“Hey Dad.”

Draco jumped in his seat. “Merlin, Scorp, you scared the shit out of me.”

Scorpius tutted him. “Now, Dad. Profanity is the crutch of inarticulate motherfuckers.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed. “Watch your mouth.”

Scorpius smirked. “Got a minute?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“It’s about…sex.”

Draco hung his head and sighed. “Of course it is.”

“I think I’m ready to start…you know…”

“Having sexual encounters?”

Yes, that’s the perfect way to say it. But I don’t know how to…you know…”

Draco raised an eyebrow. Was his son actually going to ask him how to pleasure a girl? He wasn’t sure his cool parent cred extended that far. “Scorp, I can honestly say that I have no idea what you’re about to say.”

“How do I bring it up with Rose?”

Draco grimaced. “You’re asking me for advice on how to get into Rose Weasley’s knickers? You do realize that Hermione would murder me in my sleep if she knew we were having this conversation?”

“So don’t tell her. I just needed to talk to you about it because you’re…you know. You’re good with women.”

Draco chuckled. “Was there some sort of meeting or a gathering of randy teenage boys where you all got together and voted me your leader?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind. Scorpius, if you want to move forward in your relationship with Rose, you really should be talking to her about this. Because this…this here,” he motioned a finger between the two of them. “It’s creepy. If you have questions about…the mechanics…I’ll explain things as best I can, but if you want advice on how to seduce her—”

Ugh! Dad, no. That’s not even remotely what I’m asking. I just want to know how to approach the subject.”

Draco sighed. He reminded himself that he loved that Scorpius appeared to be some sort of teenage anomaly compared to his peers who would only speak to their parents under extreme duress, answering questions with monosyllabic evasion. However, he was quite sure this conversation broke the paradigm of father/son relationships. As uncomfortable as he was at the prospect of giving his son pointers on navigating the sexual seas, it was far preferable to the alternative—pretending that it wasn’t normal for a boy his age to be sexually curious. He was one of the fortunate few of the world whose son felt comfortable enough with them to speak to them about such things. Honesty should be rewarded with honesty.

“I should probably tell you to hold off on this sort of thing, but we both know that’s useless. Telling a fourteen-year-old male that he shouldn’t be thinking about having sex is like telling a rabid werewolf that it should become a vegetarian. So I’ll just say that if you’re really going to...take the next step with Rose, you should be absolutely sure that you’re ready.”

“I’m ready,” Scorpius answered without an ounce of hesitation.

Draco smirked in spite of himself. “Maybe I’ll go to hell for this, but the next time you two are in a situation where you’re…you know…”

“Where we’re snogging?”

“Or whatever…I’d make a move that I normally wouldn’t make. It doesn’t need to be a big one. In fact, it shouldn’t be a big one. Just…something that suggests you’d like to do more.”

Scorpius bit his lip. “Like put my hand inside her jumper, or—”

“I really don’t need the details of what you two do together, Scorp. You’re a smart boy. You’ll figure it out. Just remember that the goal is not to get into her knickers.”

“It’s not?” asked the fourteen-year-old vat of hormone soup.

“No. You don’t want to push her. It needs to be her idea as much as yours. What you want is to communicate to her that you’re thinking about it. Remind her that the option is there should she choose to take you up on it. The goal is really to get her thinking about it as much as you are. And if she already is, make her feel like it’s okay to act on it.”

Scorpius stared at his father in wonderment. “Um…just out of curiosity…how old were you when you…?”

“Lost my virginity?”

Scorpius nodded.

Draco debated lying to him. But that wasn’t who they were. After last year’s debacle, he wouldn’t do that again, no matter how tempting the situation. He sighed. “I was fourteen.”

I’m fourteen.”

“Yes, and you’re a much more mature and responsible fourteen-year-old than I ever was. And you have a girlfriend who you really seem to respect and care for. Don’t compare yourself to me, Scorp. You’ll sell yourself short.”

Scorpius grinned. “Thanks, Dad.”

He smiled at his son, taking in the appearance of this person he helped make who looked so much like him. “Anytime.” His smile fell a bit as he allowed himself a moment to mourn the fact that Scorpius was emerging into adulthood, thinking seriously about having sex and leaving behind his innocence. “I know you will, but just make sure to respect her. Whatever the two of you decide to do together is your business, but the last thing you want is for her to regret it. This is her first time too, I’m assuming. You two are trusting each other with something big. Don’t take it lightly.”

Scorpius nodded. “I don’t take it lightly. I’m nervous, to be honest. But even if she doesn’t want to do anything, I’m just happy she wants to be my girlfriend.”

Draco smiled, marveling that he had something to do with this person. “Now,” he clapped a hand on Scorpius’s back. “I’m supposed to be having dinner with my fiancée.”

“Have fun,” Scorpius said. “Oooh! And would you ask her how I did on my essay on the Nundu? I’m not sure that I adequately described the origin. You see most people think that they only dwell in jungle settings but there have been sightings—”

Draco interrupted him with the world’s most exaggerated grumble. “You’re lucky you’re a handsome kid.”

___________________

Albus

 

 

Chapter Text

Scorpius crouched behind the greenhouse with his head in his hands, wishing he could sink into the ground. How had he gotten here? He had ruined everything and never been so humiliated. Rose was, of course, sweet and understanding, rubbing his back and assuring him, “It’s alright, Scorpius. Things like this happen.” But he was certain she would want nothing to do with him after this.

How could he have let himself lose control like that?

 

Fifteen minutes earlier…

It had been several days since Draco had reluctantly given Scorpius girl advice and Scorpius still hadn’t taken any initiative to further his and Rose’s physical relationship. He’d meant to, but every time he and Rose found themselves wrapped around one another in a cozy broom closet or alcove, he chickened out. Yesterday had been the closest he’d gotten, when he slipped a single thumb under her blouse. But the feel of previously forbidden skin making contact with any part of his body sent him into a state of shock and he nearly hyperventilated. No way would he be able to do anything more than snogging—he’d never make it.

Now he found himself pinned against a greenhouse wall, locked in an enticing embrace with his witch behind one of the Herbology greenhouses. It had been a nice day, so Rose suggested a walk. The two of them had been strolling hand-in-hand through the grounds, when Rose had suddenly pulled him behind a greenhouse and snogged him rotten.

Scorpius loved snogging. He could snog all day. Rose’s lips were soft and confident. She also smelled delicious, and she responded so brilliantly to Scorpius’s attentions. The two of them just worked together. No doubt about it. Snogging was Scorpius’s favorite thing to do.

Despite this fact, he was panting with how much he wanted to do more. But he was too nervous to initiate it.

That was why he nearly fainted when she rolled her hips into him. His face heated spectacularly, as there was no way she didn’t feel his very hard problem…down there. He summoned willpower of near Herculean proportions to slow the kiss down so he could collect his mental bearings.

But then she did it again. This time he groaned into her mouth and responded in kind, his lower half acting entirely of its own accord.

She smirked up at him. “What?” she asked coquettishly, knowing exactly why he was making that sound. She slipped a finger down between them and stroked the outline of him through his trousers. Scorpius banged his head on the greenhouse wall, he was so surprised.

“Is that because of me?” she asked, her voice laced with feminine pride.

He bit his lip and nodded, breathing heavily like a caged animal.

“Good,” she said before she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him into a hard kiss, grinding against him yet again.

Scorpius hissed through the kiss. Rose pulled back and took his hand in hers, guiding it from her hips to the hem of her skirt, leaving it there.

Scorpius’s eyes widened. “Um…you want me to…?”

She nodded smiling. “Only if you want to, of course.”

His heart pounded so hard in his chest he felt like he was going to pass out. He answered her by pulling her closer to him and kissing her deeply, stroking her thighs with his fingertips, moving them closer to his goal. When he finally reached her knickers, he felt a moist, hot dampness there.

He was…overwhelmed at the realization that he was finally touching his girlfriend, even if it was through her knickers. She moaned prettily into his mouth, and he was overcome with…just everything. The warmth of her, the sounds she was making, the way her lips were swollen with his kisses…it was everything he could have dreamed. He was euphoric. So euphoric, in fact…he felt…oh, Merlin he felt…

Oh. Fuck.

 

Present

“Scorpius, it’s alright,” Rose said, rubbing his back as they sat on the ground, him with his head in his hands. “This has been known to happen from time to time.”

Scorpius shook his head. He couldn’t believe what a spectacular tosser he was. He couldn’t even touch his girlfriend over her knickers without shooting off in his pants and ruining the moment. “I just…I don’t know what happened.” He sighed. “I’ve dreamt of this moment for so long. And I ruined it.”

She smiled at him. “You couldn’t ruin it.”

He was grateful to her for saying it, but there’s no way she was alright with this. He sighed. “How can you say that? This was supposed to be about you. I wanted to…to make you feel good, and I…what if I can’t…?”

Rose made reassuring shushing sounds. “Maybe it was just too much at once. You were excited.”

He snorted. “Yeah, I know that. And so do my trousers.”

She smiled. “It’s flattering.”

“For you, yes. For me…” he shook his head.

She kissed his cheek. “I think it’s sweet that you wanted to touch me so badly that you lost control. That’s so...”

“Pathetic. Repulsive. Completely inexcusable?”

She smirked. “I was going to say ‘hot’.”

Scorpius looked up at her to gauge her expression. Her jaw was set, and her eyes were full of fire. Merlin, she was serious.

A sudden revelation dawned on him. “I don’t deserve you.”

She smiled. “Maybe you’re just not ready right now.”

His eyes widened. “No, I am. Believe me, Rose. I want to be with you so bad. It’s all I think about.”

She giggled. “Okay, I get it. You’re ready.”

His expression blanked. “No, I don’t think you do get it. It is all I think about. Sometimes I can’t even focus in class with how much I think about you.”

Rose bit her lip. “I think we should wait a bit before we try anything else. I know you said you’re ready, but I don’t want there to be any pressure.”

Scorpius groaned. “But, Rose, you’re ready now and—”

She cut him off with a finger to his lips. “It doesn’t matter. This needs to be about what we both want.” She looked at him with eyes so open and honest. “I’m happy to wait for you. As long as you need.”

He grinned and cupped her cheek. “I…” love you, he almost said. “am so lucky you’re with me.”

She smiled and leaned in to kiss him. Scorpius smiled into the kiss, his embarrassment dissipating. At this moment, he was content to just kiss her.

This is enough for now. She’ll wait for me.

_______________________

 

Albus woke feeling brave, his suppressed Gryffindor genetics roaring with encouragement. Today he would do it. He would talk to Monica about the possibility that maybe he wanted their snogging to be exclusive. He was positive that she would be thrilled with the news.

He examined his hair in the mirror and nodded with approval. Unlike Scorpius, who could honest-to-Merlin waste an entire hour diddling with his hair, Albus scaled back his vanity to the very reasonable standard of combing it until it was semi-neat. Although it was brown, rather than black, he had inherited from his father the stubborn unruliness of his hair.

He entered the Great Hall with a feeling of invincibility. Honesty, candor, acceptance of one’s feelings—maybe he really was his parents’ child after all.

His smug expression melted as he approached Monica at the Slytherin table to find that she was not alone. Albus rolled his eyes as he walked over to Padraig McPhearson, who was leaning in a little too close to Monica for Albus’s liking, his eyes full of male interest. Albus tapped the intruder on the shoulder and shot him a smarmy grin as the oaf turned to face him, eyebrows furrowed in annoyance.

“Fuck off, please,” Albus said, grinning through tight lips, his expression anything but friendly. Monica observed him with her characteristic unreadable countenance.

Padraig snorted. “You know, I don’t think I will, Baby Potter.”

Albus’s expression darkened. “Are you aware of what happens to lonely lions who fall into the snake pit? I need a word with my friend here, and you’re in my way.”

“It’s fine, Padraig,” Monica chimed in.

Padraig glared unblinkingly at Albus. “Fine.” He turned to Monica. “We can talk later, Flint.”

Albus matched his glare and didn’t remove his eyes from him until he sat his unsightly arse back down with the Gryffindorks where it belonged.

“What the fuck was that?” Monica asked, breaking him from his murderous trance.

“You’re welcome,” Albus said, taking a seat next to her, ignoring her scoffs at his presumption that it was, in fact, vacant. “I removed an abscess in the form of a Gryffindor twat for you. You should be thanking me,” he smirked as he filched a piece of toast from her plate and bit into it.

Monica bit the inside of her cheek. “Thank you,” she said in a pinched, tight voice void of any signs of thankfulness.

Albus narrowed his eyes at her. “What’s the matter with you?”

She rounded on him. “Me? What’s the matter with you? You ignore me for the past week and decide you only want to talk to me when you see some other bloke chatting me up.”

Albus raised his eyebrows. A week? It hadn’t been that long, had it? “I wasn’t ignoring you. On the contrary, I’ve been thinking rather extensively about our…situation.”

“Oh you have, have you?”

“Yes, and I’ve determined that as illogical and possibly irreparably stupid as it may be…” he flashed her a smile that was meant to be charming, “I like you.”

Monica’s eyes flashed dangerously. She was silent for a while. Too long, really. “Lucky me,” she finally said, grabbing her book bag and standing to leave.

Albus put a hand on her arm to stop her. “Wait, Mon. Did I say something wrong?”

Monica released a humorless little laugh and bit her lip in wonderment, shaking her head. “You really don’t get it, do you?”

Albus scowled, the beginnings of his impatience with this conversation flaring up. “Well, I did ask you if I said something wrong. I’m not in a habit of asking stupid rhetorical questions, so if you could possibly just give me a straight answer—”

“Albus, I like you.” Her eyes darted to the floor, refusing to look him in the eye. “I know it’s not very lady-like or Slytherin of me to just say that, even after months of fooling around with you, but there it is. And when we…did that thing last week… I told you that you were the only one I’d…” she bit her lip in frustration before continuing“…and then you just disappeared for a week and refused to talk to me. And then you get all possessive and angry and turn away some guy who—yes, I’m aware he’s an idiot—but he likes me. And he doesn’t think it’s illogical or stupid to just admit that. And what the hell do you mean that you needed a week to think about whether you liked me or not? After everything we… how is that supposed to make me feel?” Monica’s cheeks had turned pink at some point during her speech.

Albus was rendered slack-jawed. He’d never heard her say so many words at once. It was only recently the two of them even spoke to each other more than was absolutely necessary to initiate a snog. Hearing her say that she felt he mistreated her in some way…it was a bit of a blow—one he neither anticipated nor understood. He swallowed loudly, unsure of exactly what to say. “Look, Mon, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I really didn’t think…” he sighed. “I wasn’t trying to ignore you. It’s just that I wasn’t sure how to proceed with…you know. Us.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You weren’t sure ‘how to proceed’?” She rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I forget how….” She sighed. “You’re weird. You know that, right?”

Albus nodded seriously. “I know.”

Her eyes softened. “Look, you hurt my feelings. So I’m not really in the mood to talk to you right now.”

His face fell. “Oh.”

“Just give me some time to chill. I’ll talk to you once I’ve had some time to ‘think’ about it,” she said, highlighting the word with air quotes.

Albus bit his lip. She was mocking him for having to think. He didn’t understand why thinking had suddenly become an offense, but he could see he didn’t have a choice but to accept it. “Is there anything I can do to expedite the process?”

She snickered in spite of herself. Damn it. Why is he so cute? She sighed. “No. But thanks anyway.”

As she walked away, Albus was left staring after her with a bemused, slightly grouchy look on his face.

“Hey, mate,” Scorpius said, sliding into the seat next to him. Albus showed no signs of awareness that his emotionally intelligent best friend had arrived just in time to provide insight into the inner workings of the typical human mind.

Scorpius examined his friend with curiosity as he helped himself to eggs, bacon, and an apple-nut scone. “Who pissed in your pumpkin juice this morning?”

Albus recognized this as a cue for him to speak. “Monica,” he answered darkly.

Scorpius raised an eyebrow. “I thought things were going well for you two.”

“I thought so, too, but she’s mad at me for some reason. I didn’t even mean to…” he shook his head. “Fuck. I think I might have fucked up. I’m just not sure how.”

Scorpius nodded, this being no great surprise to him. It was typical for Albus to require translation of other people’s thoughts and feelings. “What did you do?”

“She’s upset that I haven’t spoken to her since…you know.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “The hand job.”

Scorpius’s eyes widened. “That was a week ago.”

Albus nodded. “Apparently.”

“So, she probably thought you used her or something.”

Albus scoffed. “Why would she think that? I was very appreciative. I said 'thank you' and everything.”

Scorpius groaned. “Tell me you didn’t actually thank her.”

Albus shrugged. “Of course I did. Seemed polite. After all, it was a terribly nice thing for her to do for me.”

Scorpius smacked his forehead. It was times like this where he truly believed Albus should have a life coach follow him around on a leash to make sure he didn’t royally fuck up any social interactions, particularly ones which involve a girl he’s into. “Okay. So let’s just back up a bit,” he said, rubbing his face. “You didn’t talk to her for an entire week after she gave you a hand job.”

“Rrright. And that’s…bad?” Albus cocked a questioning eyebrow.

“Only if you don’t want her to feel like a cheap hook up.”

Albus sighed. “Okay, this is why I keep you around. So what should I have done?”

Scorpius put down his cutlery and carefully turned to his friend. He took a deep breath and assumed the voice Professor Granger used when speaking to kids like Brady Fitch. “Well. That depends Albus. What did you hope to get out of this?”

Albus narrowed his eyes. “Other than a repeat performance? I was kind of hoping to get a…” he sighed, hating himself for what he was about to say. “…a girlfriend out of it.”

Scorpius nodded slowly. “And do you understand what that means, Albus?”

Albus shrugged. “Sure. It means that she can’t snog other blokes and Padraig McPherson has to leave her the fuck alone unless he wants me to hex him into smithereens?”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “It also means that you have to be considerate of her feelings. You can’t go a week and not talk to her just because you’re in one of your moods.”

Albus sighed. “To be fair, mate. I didn’t even realize it had been that long since I talked to her.”

Scorpius nodded. “I believe it. You do that sometimes. Your mind will be fixated on something and you’ll mull it over and shut everything else out and before you know it, it’s Christmas and you won’t even realize any time had passed. And that’s totally fine. But Mon doesn’t know that. All she sees is that you ignored her for a week after she fooled around with you, and take it from me mate, girls really don’t like being ignored.”

Albus nodded. “I think I get it.” He tried. He really did. But this wasn’t the sort of thing he internally understood. “I really didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. I just needed to think about whether I could stomach the idea of having a girlfriend.”

Scorpius’s eyes widened. “Please tell me you didn’t say that to her.”

Albus snorted. “Of course not, mate. I’m weird. Not stupid.”

“Good,” Scorpius said, returning to his breakfast.

Albus took a sip of pumpkin juice. “I just told her that after a week of thinking about it, I finally decided that I like her.”

Scorpius’s cutlery clanged against his plate as he dropped it so he could face palm himself. After several moments of silence, he sighed. “You realize that you’re a wanker?”

“If you say so, it's probably true.”

Scorpius exhaled. “You owe her an apology, mate.”

Albus shrugged. “She says she needs space.”

Scorpius nodded. “Give it to her. And once she decides to forgive you, do yourself a favor and think about what you say before letting it fly out of your mouth. You’ve got to be careful how you talk to girls. Or, in your case, not talk to them.”

Albus nodded and took a swig of pumpkin juice. He really had lucked out in befriending such an emotionally precocious bloke as Scorpius. Albus took a moment to appreciate his friend’s personal growth. This time last year he was writing filthy letters to professors and pulling Rose Weasley’s pigtails, pretending he didn’t like her. Now look at him: doling out advice on how to deal with women and their bloody moods. “You know, mate. I don’t say this nearly enough.” He clapped his friend on the back. “But you’re a stud. A true paragon of manliness. And Rose is lucky to have you.”

Scorpius chuckled. “I’m definitely not a stud,” he mumbled, thinking about the accident in his pants from the other day. He wasn’t ready to regale Albus with the story, but something shifted that day between him and Rose. It felt big and he could barely contain it, much less keep it from his best friend. “I think I love Rose, though.”

Albus repressed his desire to roll his eyes. “Is that so?” While he was of the opinion that it was absolutely bat-shit insane to think that you were in love at fourteen, he knew Scorpius wouldn’t agree with him, being the romantic that he was. So he simply nodded and focused on his breakfast, deciding that now was one of those times it was more important to be a good friend than to be right. “Good for you, mate.”

___________________________

 

Blaise slid into the booth across from Draco with the easy grace of a cat landing on its owner’s lap to distract it.

“You’re late,” Draco intoned, barely looking up from his book.

“Sorry. I was tied up,” Blaise said, a breezy smile plastered across his face.

Draco didn’t miss the suggestive tone of his friend’s voice, insinuating he had been partaking in deeds of dubious moral impetus. He looked up from his book and searched Blaise’s eyes for validation of his suspicions. “What did you do?”

“What do you mean?” Blaise asked, with poorly-feigned innocence.

Draco narrowed his eyes and snapped his book shut. “You’re happy about something.”

Blaise shrugged, his smile refusing to falter. “It’s a beautiful day. I’m young, I’m healthy, my business is thriving. I’m having a drink with my best mate. Why shouldn’t I be happy?”

Draco’s mouth narrowed into a hard line as he snapped his book shut. “What did you do?” he repeated.

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Honestly, Draco. Did it ever occur to you that I’m just a happy person?”

Draco snorted. “No, you’re not. You’re a mildly sociopathic, borderline alcoholic wanker with a mummy complex and a permanent chip on your shoulder.”

Blaise shrugged, unable to refute his friend’s observations on his character. “So?”

“So, I fail to understand the basis of your sanguine mood,” he said, taking a sip of his Firewhisky.

Blaise sneered. “What if I told you I just had the best sex of my life with Luna Lovegood?”

Draco choked on his drink. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

Blaise smirked. “No, I bloody well am not. I’m telling you, Draco, she is the most—”

“I don’t want to hear any details, Blaise! I’d rather you hadn’t told me about it at all.” He threw back the contents of his glass and fixed Blaise with a hard glare. “Do you have any idea how this is going to bode for me with Hermione when you inevitably get bored with Lovegood and break up with her?”

Blaise chuckled. “Not going to happen, mate. Seriously, that woman is a freeeak. Have you ever used nipple clamps? I had not before today.”

Draco nearly dry heaved. “Blaise, as thrilled as I am that you’ve finally found someone as depraved as you, you have to understand the situation you’ve put me in. Luna Lovegood is one of Hermione’s oldest friends. Are you aware of how protective that witch is of her friends? If you do anything to hurt Lovegood, Hermione will bring hell down on my shoulders, I guarantee it.”

Blaise smirked. “You know what I’m going to say, Draco.”

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I’m pussy-whipped. And I don’t even care anymore. I’ve accepted it.” His dignity wasn’t worth sacrificing his sex life.

It was bad enough that Scorpius asked his advice on how to advance his physical relationship with Hermione’s goddaughter. The last thing he needed was Blaise fucking around with Hermione’s childhood friend. “You know what? Shag her. It makes no difference to me. But for fuck’s sake, Blaise, be discreet about it for once in your life. And you’d bloody well better be nice to her because if Hermione and I ever fight about this, I will personally ensure the Zabini bloodline ends with you.”

Blaise sniggered. “Ye of little faith.”

“I just know how you are, Blaise. You get bored easily.”

“Tell that to the welts on my arse. I swear to Merlin, Draco, she is absolutely—”

“Bup-bup-bup,” Draco interrupted, plugging his ears. “I will castrate you if you finish that sentence.”

Blaise rolled his eyes. “Fine. Let’s talk about you. How was Newcastle?”

Draco rubbed his temples. He had just returned from a lengthy negotiation in Newcastle regarding his company’s acquisition of a Butterbeer brewery. He was now firmly convinced that Newcastle was not actually in Great Britain, as he was completely unable to identify a single word of the Geordie accent as English. It was disgraceful how often he had to ask the representatives from the brewery to repeat themselves until he eventually gave up and just pretended to understand, which was probably not very business savvy of him come to think of it. “I’m tired. And Butterbeer is disgusting.”

“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about Newcastle,” Blaise said.

Draco grumbled in response.

Blaise tried to keep the amusement out of his voice. “Why are you buying a brewery if you don’t even like Butterbeer.”

Draco shook his head and squinted his eyes at the ridiculous question. “Because it’s profitable, Blaise. I certainly didn’t buy it for my health. If I only invested in companies I liked, my shareholders would never make any money. And, coincidentally, neither would I.”

Though he and Blaise were both shrewd businessmen, there was a certain disconnect between them regarding their level of passion for their work. Blaise, having built his company himself, tended to work non-stop to ensure its continued success. Though he had fallen in to the stereotype of the young bachelor entrepreneur who was married to his work, he appeared to be perfectly happy with this arrangement.

Draco, on the other hand, inherited his company, which had belonged to the Malfoy family for countless generations. While he couldn’t call running an international wizarding conglomerate his heart’s desire, Draco was a competent leader, and the company thrived under his care. Most of his job was to act in the role of a facilitator. He had a knack for spotting talent, and in this way, he ensured that his company’s leadership was top notch at every level. His strategy was this: hire the right people and pay attention. He had been doing this for years, and in all that time he’d had no need or wish to micromanage the minutiae of his company’s affairs. This always allowed him a work/life balance. Did he have a passion for his work? Maybe not. But he was perfectly happy that way.

“I keep a lot of people employed. That’s more important to me than investing in interesting companies.” He threw back another Firewhisky with the force of a man upset about something. “Hermione’s father insulted my work,” he muttered.

Blaise snorted. “I’ve never met him, but he sounds like a dick. Honestly, the fact that he makes you call him ‘Dr. Granger’ alone….”

Thank you. Hermione doesn’t see it. Or maybe she does and she refuses to acknowledge it. She probably thinks she can manage him.”

Blaise shrugged. “The man’s a tit. Surely you deal with people like him often enough in your line of work.”

“Blaise, in my line of work, I often am people like him,” Draco answered.

“Then you should know how to handle them.”

Draco nodded. “Normally, yes. But this is different. This is…personal. It’s the father of the woman I love. I can’t very well set out to eviscerate him.” Draco scowled. “Fucking hells, I need him to like me.”

“What’s his problem with you?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Ostensibly, my job, my unusual name, my fashion sense, my personality, my weak constitution, my overly blond hair, my interests, my taste in literature, my food and wine preferences, my money, the way I raise my son…I could keep going but we’d be here all night.” Draco sneered. “Really and truly, his actual problem with me is that I ever looked sideways at his daughter. She assures me he’s been this way with every guy she’s ever bumped beautifuls with.”

“And he scares you,” Blaise said, smirking.

Draco nodded. “I’m man enough to admit that the very thought of him makes my balls retract into my body.”

Blaise took a long sip of his drink. “I know you’re not going to like this, Draco. But you may need to ask for some help with him.”

“What sort of help?”

Blaise smirked. “Which of her friends has she known the longest?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “What insight could Potty-clog and Weasel-fuck ever offer?”

“Still with the nicknames? Aren’t you kind of friends with them now?”

Draco shrugged. “Call it nostalgia. I may be a bully, but I’m also a sentimentalist.”

“How poetic of you.” The corners of Blaise’s lips quirked up. “Weasel still is such a little shit.”

The two adult men clanged their glasses together at that declaration.

“Seriously, though,” Blaise said. “They both might be world class prats, but they’ve been friends with Hermione since they were eleven. And they’re removed enough from you and her dad to maybe…just maybe…be able to offer some insight. Her dad likes them, yeah?”

Draco shrugged. “I would assume so.”

“Sucking up to your fiancée’s friends as well as her family is never a bad thing. Or so I hear.”

Draco shuddered at the thought. “Don’t let’s go that far. I’m asking them how to approach a mild congeniality with her father, not asking them to donate their kidneys. Even they can handle that, certainly.” Suddenly, Draco sneezed unexpectedly into his hand.

“Bless you,” Blaise said, promptly.

Draco quickly recovered and sniggered into his glass. “You know, Potter said you never bless people when they sneeze. It’s supposedly one of his qualms about you.”

Blaise shrugged. “Of course I do. Just not people I do business with. You’re my mate. He’s the Man-Boy Who Died Twice and I needed his business. You know my theory on this, Draco.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Never be too nice to people you need. Make them think they need you just as much.”

Blaise raised his glass in a toasting gesture. “Maybe that’s your problem, Draco. Don’t let yourself be out-Slytherined by a Muggle.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed in contemplation of Blaise’s advice. “This is why I keep you around, my friend."

Blaise smirked. “Those Gryffindors have softened you. But you’re still just enough of an arsehole to be fun to hang around.”

Draco really was so grateful to have such a depraved son-of-a-bitch as a best friend.

Chapter Text

“You’re paying,” Ron said to Draco as he slumped down into the seat next to him.

Draco gaped at the ginger. “Well, it’s fucking nice to see you too, Weasley.”

He regretted this already. Inviting Freckle Face and Vincent van Fuck-up to meet him for a pint wasn’t exactly his idea of a fine way to pass an evening. But he wanted to pick their brains…such as they were.

Ron promptly ordered a pint of brown ale and gestured to the barmaid to put it on Draco’s tab. “Yeah, and uh, grab us some pork pies from the back, would you?”

Draco grimaced. “Do not order those foul things. I didn’t free up my evening so I could watch you eat Crup-food grade meat with your hands.”

“Well, I can’t very well drink on an empty stomach, now can I?” Ron countered.

Draco narrowed his eyes disbelievingly. “I doubt your stomach has ever been empty, Weasley.”

Ron opened his mouth to throw out a rude retort, when Harry arrived. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. “I needed to finish your engagement gift, Malfoy.”

Draco took in his appearance. Harry was wearing what appeared to be an embroidered muumuu, along with a pair of leather sandals and a necklace made entirely of beads. His hair had grown a bit and he obviously hadn’t shaved in weeks. He looked like a nearsighted Jesus.

Needless to say, Draco longed to make fun of him. “You really didn’t need to get me a gift, Potter.”

Harry waved off his protest. “It’s for you and Hermione,” he said, thrusting a large, rectangular parcel into Draco’s hands.

Draco groaned internally. He already knew what it was.

“Oi, Harry. What’d you want?” Ron asked. “Malfoy’s buying.”

Draco sputtered, “I never said that I’d—”

“Double neat 25 Year Reserve Ogden’s,” Harry promptly ordered.

Draco grumbled. “Potter, I have seen you drink Tesco vodka out of a shoe. When did you suddenly develop a taste for fine liquor?”

“Since you agreed to treat,” Harry answered brightly. “Are you going to open your present or not?”

Draco grumbled as he joylessly tore the paper to reveal what was quite possibly the worst original Harry Potter painting yet. It reminded him of the watercolor pictures Scorpius used to make when he was five or six. Only, when Scorpius did it, it was adorable, and (at least according to a father’s artistic eye) a sign of precocity and true potential for genius. Such artworks were often signed with a note reading, ‘I love you, Daddy,’ or something similar, and displayed proudly on his study wall. But this…

This wasn’t cute.

A sleazy-looking, beige animal, which appeared to be a cross between a rat and a dog (he assumed Harry was aiming for a ferret), decked out in a jacket made of money, was holding hands with a Hermione stick figure (complete with magnificently drawn breasts). The two of them were standing underneath a rainbow in a meadow, which might have been nice but for the fact that the ferret appeared to be abducting the Hermione-figure, and the expression on her face might have been construed as the artist’s failed attempt to capture apprehension. Worst of all, Draco could make out disproportionately miniscule genitalia on the ferret.

“Well, what do you think?” Harry asked, eyes glistening with pride.

Draco searched his face for any sign of sarcasm or an understanding that this creation was, in fact, a joke. Finding none, he sighed. “It’s…well…. heh.” There really were no words to describe how much he detested it. “Thanks, Potter.” He bit his lip and examined the painting with a critical eye. “I know I said it before, but you really, really shouldn’t have.”

 

Harry clapped him on the shoulder. “Nonsense. You’re one of us now,” he said, draining his Firewhisky and ordering a new one. Ron too, appeared to be on his second pint. Draco hadn’t yet had an opportunity to even order one. Although, looking at his engagement present, he determined that it was definitely that time of the evening to start imbibing.

“Well, Potter…that’s…very nice of you.” He chuckled, looking at the painting once again. “It’s completely unnecessary, and I hate it, but thank you all the same.”

Harry raised his glass to Draco. “You’re welcome,” he said seriously. “So, I assume you asked Ron and I here for a reason tonight. And, I must say, Malfoy,” he touched his hand to his heart. “I’m touched.”

Draco raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Well, I assume you wanted to ask us to be your groomsmen for the wedding,” Harry said.

Ron emptied his pint glass and slammed it on the table. “I’ll do it. But don’t think I’m going to wear anything green or poncy or—”

“Hold on a minute,” Draco said. “I wasn’t going to ask you two to be groomsmen.”

Harry’s face dropped. “You weren’t?”

Draco pushed down a little bubble of guilt. “Um…no. Sorry.” Shite, it never even crossed his mind. “Blaise and Theo are going to do that. But I did want to have a word with the two of you about something else.”

Harry and Ron looked at each other and each adopted expressions of indignant iciness, signaling the barmaid for another round.

Draco scratched the back of his neck. “Look…it’s not like I’m your favorite person. I didn’t realize you’d even be interested in—”

“It’s fine, Malfoy,” Harry said, sipping his drink coolly. “Just tell us why you wanted to talk to us.”

Draco observed his fiancée’s two best friends with a bit of bewilderment. Neither of them were very interested in making eye contact with him, and they seemed a bit…dare he think it…sassy at the prospect of having a drink with him now. He sighed. “I really didn’t mean to offend you. You know that I think of you as…er…you know…” Fuck, what were they exactly? “…Hermione’s friends.”

Harry slammed his drink down and crossed his arms, glaring at Draco. “Hermione’s friends? Just Hermione’s friends?”

Draco’s eyes widened comically. “I mean…I didn’t think you two…” He turned to Ron for some backup. “Weasley, you get it, right?”

Ron shrugged, still refusing to look at Draco. “I thought we got on alright, myself. But apparently, I was wrong.”

Draco gaped at him. “Weasley, you and I are incapable of speaking without insulting one another’s personality, or, in my case, your appearance, intelligence, uncouthness, income tax bracket, hygiene, poor taste, endless appetite—”

“Well, yeah, Malfoy. I get that. But…you know.” Ron shrugged, looking down at his pint. “That’s sort of our thing, isn’t it?” he asked in a small voice.

Draco’s head reeled. He exhaled deeply. “Okay, then. I guess…we’re… kind of friends. The two of you and me. We’re friends. You two are my friends.” Saying it in different ways didn’t make it sound any less strange. “Potter and Weasley are my friends. I am friends with—”

“Well don’t sound so excited about it, Malfoy,” Harry quipped. “We’re your mates. That’s that, and we don’t need to go too far into it.”

Draco nodded, feeling grateful for an opportunity to take the conversation in a different direction. “Fair enough.” He cleared his throat. “So, as my friends, I was hoping you’d give me some advice on how to deal with a problem of mine.”

“This have something to do with ‘Mione?” Ron asked.

Draco grimaced. “Not exactly. And for fuck’s sake, Weasley, you know she hates it when you call her that.”

Ron chuckled and waved off Draco’s comment. “She does not.”

“She absolutely does, and so do I, for that matter. What kind of an idiotic name is ‘Mione’? It’s even more ridiculous than what her mother calls her.”

Ron and Harry shuddered. Or rather, ‘Ronnie’ and ‘Harold’, as they were known by Jean Granger, shuddered.

Harry pinched his nose. “I love Jean, I really do, but why in God’s name does she do that?”

Draco and Ron absentmindedly nodded in agreement. It was an odd moment of camaraderie between the three men, bonding over something they all found distasteful about an otherwise perfectly delightful woman.

“Why don’t we just say something to her about it?” Ron asked.

Draco snorted. “You go right ahead, Weasley, but forgive me if I do not partake in insulting the one future in-law who actually likes me.”

Harry and Ron sniggered and nodded their heads.

“Edward is a right prat,” Ron said.

Thank you!” Draco said. “This is what I wanted to talk to you about.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “You invited us to get a pint so you can gab about what a dick your future father-in-law is?”

“I need to know how to get him to like me,” Draco said.

Ron snorted. “That’s easy. Stop shagging Hermione.”

“Not an option,” Draco said firmly without hesitation. “Next.”

“Look, mate,” Harry said, leaning in with the air of one about to lay down some wisdom. “Edward is, and always has been, an arsehole where Hermione is concerned. He was only nice to me once I started dating Ginny and he realized I wasn’t trying to make a bid for his daughter’s knickers. He was only nice to Ron after the two of them broke up. And I can only assume, being the undeniable tosser that you are, that Edward despises the pants off you.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Your friendship means the world to me, Potter.”

Harry ignored him. “However, if you are dead set on continuing to shag Hermione,” he paused and narrowed his eyes, “and you have absolutely decided on that?”

Draco narrowed his eyes in disbelief. “Potter, I will hex you back to a Muggle existence if you do not cease being so abominably thick.”

Harry shrugged. “Just checking. Anyway,” he cleared his throat, “there are ways to make Edward regard you with slightly less disdain.”

Draco grinned. “You see, this is why I called you, Potter.”

“Edward probably insults you constantly, yeah?”

Draco nodded. “About any and everything.”

“Well, from now on, whenever he acknowledges your existence in that ever-so-charming way of his,” he leaned in and whispered, “you will just smile, nod, and agree with everything he says.”

Ron nodded. “He needs to feel like he’s the alpha. So, if he insults your shoes, or your haircut, or your job, you just say, ‘You’re right, Edward.’ And all you have to do is say that every time. After a while, it doesn’t sting so bad.”

Draco scowled. These two gormless arseholes were the crème de la crème of Gryffindor? These were the blokes who took down the Dark Lord when they were seventeen and they can't even stand up to a bloody dentist? “Are you serious? That’s your big advice?”

Harry nodded. “You’re welcome.”

Draco seethed. “So, I’m just supposed to eat shit and say ‘thank you’? You know that’s impossible for me, don’t you?”

“You asked our advice. This is it,” Harry said.

“Well, no offense, but your advice is shite. Edward Granger really is cleverer than both of you put together if he can make you kowtow to him like that. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. He is Hermione’s father. But I deal with men like him in my line of work every day. And I can tell you this: that is not the way to earn their respect.”

Harry chuckled. “Who said anything about earning respect, Malfoy? This is just how you edure him.”

“Well, I won’t do it. I want that man to like me. I want his respect.”

Ron leaned back and tucked into his pint. “Whatever, mate. I guess we’ll see how well that goes for you at the engagement party.”

Draco froze. “Engagement party?”

“Oh yeah,” Ron said, pulling a card out of his jacket pocket. “Just got the invitation today.”

Draco’s jaw dropped. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.” He gaped at the invitation. “Fuuuck,” he whined. “Why the bloody hell didn’t Jean ask Hermione and I if we wanted an engagement party? And why am I having to hear about this from you?”

Ron shrugged. “It was meant to be a surprise.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed. “But you just told me.”

“Eh, what can I say? I like stirring shit,” Ron said.

Draco shook his head and read the invitation:

 

Edward and Jean Granger

request your presence on Friday, October 6 at their home to celebrate the engagement of their daughter,

Hermione Granger

to

Draco Malfoy.

Please RSVP no later than September 29.

We hope to see you there!

 

“It’s in two weeks!” Draco exclaimed. He rubbed his temples to quell his mounting headache. “This is the family I’m marrying into.”

Harry clicked his tongue sympathetically. “It’s best to just let Jean have what she wants. If she wants to call you a stupid nickname, let her. If she wants to make an appointment for you to have your hair cut because, ‘Really, darling. It’s unseemly for a young man to have that much hair,’ you let her. And if she wants to throw you an engagement party, you bloody well let her.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “I’m sensing a theme in the way you deal with Hermione’s parents.”

“And if you know what’s good for you, you will too,” Harry said, leaning back in his seat and sipping deeply from his drink. “Also, you should know that Jean’s parties are usually themed, so it’s sure to be an illustriously tacky and ostentatious affair.”

Draco grit his teeth and released a puff of air in a humorless impersonation of a laugh. He kind of wanted to hit something. Or someone. Or at least verbally assault someone.

“You know, Potter, I’m really feeling quite stressed out at the moment and I wish to Merlin I hadn’t agreed so quickly to be your friend.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “Oh, yeah? And why is that?”

“Because insulting you is just…” Draco clenched a fist, “it’s oddly calming, you know?”

Harry and Ron nodded. “I believe the feeling is mutual,” Harry said.

Draco smiled evilly. “Theoretically, if we hadn’t just agreed that we’re to be friends…I’d take a jab at that assault on the senses you call a shirt. Just…theoretically, you know?”

Harry sighed. Eh. Why the hell not? What are friends for, after all? “Okay. Anything else?”

Draco eyes glimmered maniacally. He looked unsure for a moment, as though he didn’t really believe Harry was really bestowing such a tempting gift upon him. Eventually something won out. “I don’t even know what you would call that outfit. Is it a dress for wizards? Is it a mistake? And don’t even get me started on your personal hygiene—”

“Just let it all out, Malfoy—”

“In fact, all your fashion choices of late are such atrocities, I can’t even stand to be in the same room as you without feeling violent.”

Alright. Good one, Malfoy.”

“And you,” he hounded in on Ron. “You have farted no less than three times in the fifteen minutes since we sat in this booth.”

Ron grimaced. “Oi, now. You were doing him,” he pointed at Harry.

“How is that even possible, Weasley? You are, quite simply, the most disgusting person I have ever had the misfortune to know. Your very existence is a dual-action appetite and libido suppressant.”

Hey, now. I don’t appreciate—”

Harry interrupted him with a pat on his arm. “Come on now, Ron. He needs this.”

Draco continued. “Sometimes when I think about the fact that a girl as beautiful and as brilliant as Hermione willingly chose to spend time with you two talking baboons, I’m torn between wanting to vomit and wanting to kick the living shit out of you both for nearly getting her killed innumerable times.”

“Well, to be fair, she did instigate a lot of that,” Ron muttered.

Draco ignored him. “On your best days, you both are shining examples of mediocrity. I wake up some mornings wanting to scream into a pillow because I can’t believe I have somehow doomed myself to be stuck with you two idiots for the rest of my damnable life. The only thing that stops me is that my spare pillow is often taken up by Hermione, which reminds me why I muster the energy to tolerate you.”

Harry nodded. “I feel like he’s close, Ron. It seems to be working.”

“And when I see her lying there, taking up my side of the bed, mind you… hogging the covers…her hair nearly choking the life out of me…” His eyes softened as he tried to fight the smile on his face. “I realize that I would do pretty much anything just to be allowed to hold her hand.”

Harry grinned and muttered under his breath, “And his heart grew three sizes that day.”

“And the fact that I somehow in the grand scheme of things got lucky enough that I can spend the rest of my life with her means that I probably cheated God, because there is no way I deserve her.”

Ron snorted. “On that we agree.”

Harry kicked him under the table. “Shut it, you prat.” He rested his head on his hand, propped up on his elbow, and smiled serenely. “This is nice.”

Draco sighed and bit his bottom lip to fight his smile. “And if I have to put up with your disgusting personal habits, Weasley, and your delusions of grandeur, Potter…and even if Jean insists on never getting my name right, or Edward chips slowly away at my self-esteem until there’s nothing left…it’ll all be worth it if I can call her mine. She is worth everything.”

Silence hung in the air for a moment as Draco’s speech sunk in.

Ron spoke first. “Damn, Malfoy. Could you possibly write that shit down? Susan would go out of her mind if I talked like that to her.”

Harry clapped him on the shoulder. “You see? We don’t have to be especially nice to each other to be friends. In fact, it would probably be weird if we did. Feel better?”

Draco chuckled. “Yeah, Potter. Thanks for that. Both of you.”

“You’re welcome,” Harry said. “Now, shall we talk about where in your house you’re going to hang my painting?”

Draco grinned. “Your painting’s going in the incinerator, Potter, along with the rest of the rubbish.” Draco took a sip of his ale. “You made my cock entirely too small.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re a varicose prick vein, Malfoy.”

Draco smirked and gestured to Harry and Ron. “And you both are spunk stains on the name of wizard-kind.”

Harry snickered. “Malfoy,” he said as he drained his Firewhiskey, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

_________________________

 

Albus was a prideful boy. He was proud to be a Slytherin, proud of his ability to bake the perfect pie crust—he was even proud to be a Potter on the off chance his father remembered to put on a clean shirt. Like any true Slytherin, Albus had bountiful reservoirs of pride, which ran deep and were not easily expelled. So, it was no easy feat for him to swallow every last drop of pride he possessed and approach the one person in all of Hogwarts for whom he’d sooner gnaw his own arm off than ask their advice.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t my little brother, trekking all the way from the dungeons to ask for help with a girl.”

He hated himself for being here. Truly, he did. But Monica hadn’t even looked at him in days, so there had been no opportunities for him to redeem himself. Loath as he was to admit it, James had a gift of making people notice him—particularly girls.

“Fuck you, James,” Albus said. “If anything, I’m just curious why the living hell any girl could stomach you.”

It was one of the Great Mysteries. Magic—that made total fucking sense. Fairies, centaurs, ghosts, giant squids…suuure, why not? What Albus would never understand was why his brother, the gittiest git to ever git, always seemed to be surrounded by flocks of gorgeous girls.

James smirked. “Not nearly as surprised as I am that even one finds you marginally appealing. But don’t worry. I’m sure it’s just a fluke. You’ve got plenty of time left to die alone.”

Albus snorted. He learned long ago that nothing infuriated his brother more than the fact that no matter how much he pushed, he could never crack the bastion of self-esteem that was Albus Potter. “Why would that bother me? I love being alone. Truth be told, and I am absolutely fucking serious about this, I’m more concerned that I wouldn’t die alone.”

James rolled his eyes. “It’s Flint, right?”

Albus scowled. “How do you know that?”

James adopted a wiser-than-his sixteen years tone and gazed off into the distance. “I know everything that goes on in this castle, Little Brother.”

Albus rolled his eyes. “So, that pig-faced, Irish prick, McPhearson told you?”

James shrugged. “More or less. And I must say, I’m surprised it took you this long to seek me out, Little Brother. There’s a lot you could learn from me.”

“You mean besides moral decrepitude?”

James ignored his quip. “And you should know that the only reason I’m even consenting to talk to you about this is because I don’t approve of Gryffindors and Slytherins fraternizing.”

Albus sneered. “So, it must really burn you up that our dear cousin plays regular one-on-one tonsil-Quidditch with Scorpius.”

James shrugged. “Hey, if she wants to spoil herself with that bottle-blond bender, she can have the fuck at it. But once he breaks her heart, she’d better not come running to any of the Gryffindor lads. They won’t want anything to do with a Slytherin’s sloppy seconds.”

Albus growled in the back of his throat. “You can say what you want about me, but you will shut your unprepossessing mouth up about Scorpius.” He thought for a moment. “And Rose, too. She’s cool.”

James sniggered. “Fine, fine. I forgot about your gay crush on that poncy little—”

“How was your fucking summer, Jameson?” Albus said in a voice about two decibels louder than necessary.

James shuddered. “You will not mention that word,” he muttered.

What word, Jameson? Summer?” Albus continued in his slightly-louder-than-normal pitch. “Would you like me to tell you about the brioche I baked in my Muggle Studies class, Jameson?”

James glared. “You know you’re triggering my PTSD, you little sod.”

Albus cackled with unsuppressed wicked glee. “You know, for a Gryffindor, you truly are a bottomless pit into which all gorm goes to die.”

James had spent a very traumatic summer in Little Whinging, working in their cousin Dudley’s bakery. Dudley, who always seemed rather quiet when he interacted with him in the past, went full on Uncle Vernon, per Harry’s request. This was partly his parents’ attempt to remedy his bullyish tendencies, partly Dudley not wanting to turn away free full-time help. The way Harry figured…who better to scare the bully out of a bully than a former bully? He considered sending him to Draco, but ultimately decided James would probably receive the wrong message about his aggression paying off if he hung around the obscenely large Malfoy Manor with the handsome, rich ex-Slytherin who had a svelte fiancée and an international, multi-billion Galleon company. Plus, Draco, who had no familial ties to James, would probably end up throttling the boy at some point.

Dudley proved to be the perfect choice. Every morning James awoke at 5:00 a.m. to make pie crusts and bread dough under Dudley’s hawkish taskmastership. At 7:00, the bakery would open, and James, back aching and exhausted, would be expected to tend to the first rush of guests, all of whom were in a hurry to get to work. Around 9:30, James would make cakes. Dudley was obsessive that his recipes be represented perfectly, and had no qualms about forcing James to do it all over again if he put so much as a whisper more flour than the recipe called for.

James naively believed that Dudley, a Star Trek enthusiast and overall quiet bloke, would be a pushover. But Dudley, himself a bully at James’s age, had developed zero tolerance for the cheeky antics of the youth. He yelled, knocked vats of pastry dough over if he sensed it had been improperly mixed, insisted upon calling James ‘Jameson’, and basically broke every child labor law in Great Britain—all with Harry’s blessing of course.

James hadn’t been able to stomach gluten ever since.

“You know what? Never mind. Given a choice between advising you on how to pull some Slyther-whore and taunting you and your bent little pureblood prince, I think I’ll choose the latter.” James angrily turned his back on his brother and started towards his dorm.

Albus inspected his fingernails with bored indifference. “You’re probably right. After all, it’s not like you actually do anything with any of the birds who flock around you.”

James stopped in his tracks. “What?

Albus shrugged. “I only mean that you haven’t actually been with any of them. Well…any of the girls that like you, that is.”

James’s eyes widened. He took a dangerous step towards his brother. “What. The fuck. Do you mean by that?”

Albus smirked wickedly and lowered his voice to a whisper, “You really should be more careful to cover your tracks, Jameson. Popular bloke like you, so vocally anti-Slytherin…,” Albus edged closer and clapped his brother on the shoulder. “It’d be a shame if anyone found out about your clandestine little broom cupboard meetings with Brady Fitch, now wouldn’t it?”

James’s jaw fell on the floor. “That wasn’t…we were just…” His eyes darkened. “How the fuck do you know about that?”

Albus patted James patronizingly on the cheek. “I know everything that goes on in this castle, Big Brother.”

James clenched his jaw. “Are you going to tell anyone?”

Albus sighed and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Now I don’t know about that. Let’s look at the possible ways that this could go for you, shall we?” Albus cleared his throat. “The first option, I tell everyone. Your reputation is ruined. You’re exposed as a Slytherin-lover and a hypocrite. Not to mention, a poofter, but honestly, I’d like to think society has evolved past all that.”

“You’d fucking better not—”

“Ah, ah, ah, James. What does Mum always say? It’s rude to interrupt people when they’re talking.” He cleared his voice again. “Now on the other hand, I could be a stand-up brother and not publicly shame you for your preferences in who you like to stick your dick into. You and I could have a real shot at the whole fraternal relationship thing and one day we’ll laugh at this while you and Fitch have me and my probably supermodel girlfriend over to your flat, which you two will no doubt share with two Chihuahuas and an adopted baby from Sudan.”

James rolled his eyes. “But of course, there’s no chance in hell you’ll do that. And for your information, he and I aren’t even that seri—”

Again with the interrupting, Jameson. Honestly, to think we share the same mother.” Albus rubbed his chin thoughtfully before sighing dramatically. “But you’re right of course. That’s not really an option. After all, if our roles were reversed, would you be the nice brother and look out for me?”

“What about taking the high road?”

Albus laughed darkly. “Do I look like a fucking Gryffindor to you? Now if you were talking to Scorpius, he might be taken in by that. Unfortunately for you, I’m not as nice as him.” Albus cleared his throat. “There is, of course, a third option.”

“Oh yeah? And what’s that?” James bit out.

Albus smirked. “I hold this over your prat head for as long as I wish, and you will owe me…” he paused to count fingers. “Let’s just say you’ll do whatever I damn well ask from this point on.”

James glared at the devious little viper he had the misfortune of calling his brother. “How do I know you won’t just tell everyone anyway?”

Albus shrugged. “You don’t. And if I’m being honest, I probably will. But I will do so at a time and place in the future that is advantageous to me. You get more time in La-La Land with your mentally deficient troll lover, and in the meantime, you will cease bullying all Slytherins.”

James gaped. “I can’t just stop entirely—”

“Jameson, I swear to Merlin, if you don’t stop interrupting me, I will put you out of your misery and spread your little secret around the castle right now. I wasn’t fucking finished.” He grinned. “You will encourage your entourage to follow in your footsteps and back off the Slytherins. You will also answer all my questions about how to approach my little Flint problem, even though I have absolutely no idea why every other bird in this place seems hell-bent on being your girlfriend. I mean, your face is alright, I guess, even though you inherited Dad’s hair and Mum’s freckles, but let’s face it James, you’ve an appalling personality. You’re not very smart, and overall you’re just a Grade O cunt.”

James clenched his jaw, debating whether now was the best time to antagonize his brother by contradicting him. “What you need to understand, brother, is that the girls that like me don’t want a darling, sweet little boyfriend who dotes on them. They want what they can’t have. I throw a few negs their way and their fragile, little adolescent self-esteems start begging me to want them.”

Albus rolled his eyes. “Why would you do that? It’s not like you’re actually interested in sealing the deal, are you?”

James shook his head. “I have a reputation to maintain. It just sort of…helps.”

“Right. Keeps the dogs off your trail and leaves you free to get stuffed by Missing Link Fitch, am I right?”

James’s eyes flickered. “Do you want my advice, or not?”

Albus snorted. “Your advice is rubbish. ‘Be mean to them.’ That’s your big secret?”

James shrugged. “You asked.”

“Well, maybe that works on certain girls, but it sure as hell won’t work on Mon. She’s more likely to break my nose than chase after me for negging her.” He scoffed. “Merlin, no wonder you prefer blokes. The only girls interested in you are a bunch of simpering idiots desperate for male attention.”

“I don’t care one way or another how you deal with Flint,” James barked. “You asked for my advice and I gave it. I held up my end of the bargain. Now get the fuck out of here before I commit fratricide.”

Albus nodded and turned to leave the tower. But before he left, something caught in his chest. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but he felt he needed to say something to his brother. He paused and turned around to face him. “Just so we’re clear, you know I don’t care about your…preferences, right?”

James scowled. “I don’t give a shit what you think about me. I never have”

Albus adopted a softer tone. “Neither will Mum or Dad, you know. They’ll understand.”

James stared at a spot on the floor unblinkingly. His Adam’s apple bobbed, and he spoke barely above a whisper. “I know.”

Albus nodded. Though it was laced with blackmail, animosity, and manipulation, it was still the most heartfelt interaction he’d ever had with his brother. “You don’t have to be an arsehole just because you’re scared of what people will think of you.”

James scoffed. “Easy for you to say. You’ve never cared about what anybody thought of you. Not ever.”

Albus considered this. True, he lived by a code that nobody’s opinion of him mattered but his own, and had done for as long as he could remember. But he’d never considered that his brother might be envious of him for this. Nor had he ever considered that James’s bullying was a defense mechanism. He suddenly felt a pang of brotherly…eh, love wasn’t the right word at all…but he definitely felt a bit sorry for James. It was an odd sensation. He wasn’t sure he cared for it.

James suddenly realized his brother hadn’t left yet. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. Um…” Albus scratched his head. “So, you and Fitch…”

James groaned. “Can we not do this?”

“Look, as repellant as I find basically everything about you, you obviously are doing better in the relationship department than I am. And I’ll bet my arse you don’t pepper Fitch with negs.”

James blushed and worried his bottom lip, staring intently at the floor. He shook his head.

“So, why do you think he likes you?”

James sighed. “I honestly have no idea.”

“Well, why do you like him?”

“Um, I guess,” James scratched the back of his neck and shrugged noncommittally. “He’s funny. And he’s…actually a pretty nice bloke if you can believe it. And he…” he swallowed deeply. “He was the first person to make me feel like it was alright that I…you know. Look, Albus,” he sighed. “I know that you and I don’t exactly get along, but Brady’s parents aren’t like ours. They wouldn’t be alright with…” He exhaled angrily. “Just don’t bring him into this, alright?”

Albus’s eyes widened. He had not been expecting a bout of selflessness from his brother. He nodded. “Okay, James.”

As Albus walked back to the dungeons, he realized he didn’t know his brother at all. Their entire lives James had been a pushy, entitled brat, but Albus realized there had been a time when the two of them actually kind of liked each other. There was a time James wasn’t the icy bully he was today. Before Hogwarts. Before Slytherin and Gryffindor and ‘Oh my god, your dad’s Harry Potter?’

And then there was his girl-dilemma. He’d always believed himself to be superior to the type of boy whose greatest problem was a female (99 problems and all that). And yet here he was…wallowing in self-pity because Monica Flint was mad at him. Merlin, he couldn’t believe he turned to his own brother for insight on how to get a girl to talk to him.

When Albus discovered the two on the Marauder’s Map, which he had long ago filched from his father (he wasn’t joking when he said he knew everything that went on in the castle), he assumed it was just meaningless shagging going on between his brother and that shit-for-brains ape, Brady Fitch. And lo and behold, his brother actually had feelings for him. He didn’t even realize James was capable of feelings. Especially because Albus was only now discovering that he himself was.

Holy shit. James was a good boyfriend. A better one than Albus had been, that’s for sure.

Fuck. That.

_______________________

Chapter Text

Hermione hated doing rounds.

Everyone assumed that just because she was Hermione Granger she was a stickler for rules. Never mind that as a student she and her two best friends spent the entirety of their education sneaking around and figuring out ways to circumvent any and all rules. As an Auror it may have been her job to enforce the law, but she always regarded the laws of man as an incidental concern, ancillary to the higher laws of morality. She didn’t revel in busting the chops of the well-meaning ignorant. Likewise, as a professor, she derived no pleasure from reprimanding children for their ultimately harmless, technically forbidden behaviors. Furthermore, while she was fond of her students, she certainly was not their mother and thank Merlin for that. Honestly, she was nervous enough about being Scorpius’s stepmother, and he was one of the easy ones.

As she unenthusiastically drudged through the castle, pretending to look for troublemakers and trying not to feel like a hypocrite, she imagined all the things she’d rather be doing.

Folding her laundry.

Finishing A Tale of Two Cities for the third time.

Picking a wedding planner.

Sending sexy messages via two-way parchment to Draco.

Extinguishing a small, controlled fire with her face.

Suddenly, she heard a noise coming from a nearby broom closet. It could not have been more unwelcome. She knew that noise. A feminine giggle, a shuffling of bodies against a wooden door, a low moan. It was the sound of two teenagers fornicating. Whoever they were, they must be below sixth year not to know how to cast a Silencing Charm.

Fuuuuck. Why me? I don’t really give a shit if these kids want to experiment with each other, so long as they’re safe about it.

Mustering all the professionalism she possessed, she steadied her wand at the lock and unthinkingly intoned, “Bombarda.”

The doorknob soared through the air, leaving in its wake a trail of splinters. Two voices, a male and a female, released a litany of shrieks and curses in surprise at the intrusion. As the door swung open to reveal the culprits, Hermione cursed Neville Longbottom for talking her into switching nights with him.

Rose? Scorpius?” She wanted to vomit at the sight of her two favorite students’ flushed faces and similar states of dishevelment. “What do you think you’re doing in there?” It was probably the most superfluous question she had ever uttered, as she already knew exactly what they were doing. Her eyes widened as she observed the pair.

Scorpius’s shirt was untucked, and unbuttoned to his chest. Rose’s shirt lay forgotten on the broom closet floor, and she stood there, covering herself, clad only in her bra and her uniform skirt. They each were sporting fresh hickeys, raging blushes, and swollen, red lips. Neither was able to make eye contact with her.

“Um…okay. This is…” She didn’t have a game plan for how to finish that sentence. It was what, exactly? What word could possibly encompass the whirlwind of Niffler shit that was this situation? Uncomfortable? Horrifying? Yucky? None of them even scratched the surface. This situation was multifaceted. Like a glass of Fernet, it was damn near impossible for her to swallow.

On the one hand, you had Scorpius—her future stepson. As a pseudo-parent, how was she supposed to handle this? What would Draco do? Could she ground him within the castle? Now listen here, young man. There will be no shenanigans with this, or any other, young lady while you’re under this roof. She wasn’t sure she was quite uncool enough to pull that off.

On the other hand, there was Rose—her goddaughter. She had known this girl since she was a baby. She had (under extreme duress from Ginny) changed her diapers, watched her take her first steps, seen her off on the Hogwart’s Express for her first day of school. And now here she was, covered in love bites, shirtless, about to do Merlin knows what, with her boyfriend. Who also happened to be Hermione’s future stepson, and round and round we go.

Goddammit!!! Why couldn’t Neville have found this instead of her?

Or better yet, why couldn’t it have been any other two children in the entire bloody castle?

“Alright. So…um…Rose, you should…probably put your shirt back on, sweetheart. And Scorpius, you should fix your tie and um…head on back to the dungeons. Oh, and um…twenty points from Gryffindor and Slytherin for being caught after hours.”

In a broom closet, maybe about to have sex, she mentally added.

Scorpius nodded and tucked in his shirt. Hermione turned her head as he bent his head down to Rose’s ear and whispered, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and kissed her goodnight. His eyes remained firmly planted on the floor as he darted past Hermione towards his common room.

Rose bit her lip as she put her shirt back on. “Um…we weren’t really doing anything, Aunt Hermione.”

Hermione internally scoffed. Only because I interrupted you before you got to the good part.

Hermione squinted her eyes shut. “Rose, would it be possible for you and I to speak about this another day? I wasn’t exactly prepared to deal with this tonight and I think I’m getting a migraine.”

Rose nodded solemnly. “Are you going to tell my parents?”

Hermione inhaled deeply and sighed. “I don’t see any reason to. But you really should talk to your mother if you’re thinking about…” Having sex. Say it. Say it, damn you! She cleared her throat. “She’ll understand. And…she’d want you to come to her with something like this.”

Rose worried her bottom lip. “Can I talk to you about it, too?”

That took Hermione by surprise. “Um…sure. But not tonight, alright?”

Rose nodded. “Thank you, Aunt Hermione.” She fixed herself and headed to Gryffindor Tower.

Once she was out of sight Hermione threw a small fit. She grabbed her hair with both hands and whispered loudly to herself, “Fuuuuuuuuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-FUUUCK!”

She didn’t finish her rounds that night and she slept horribly. Oh, the joys of parenthood.

_____________________

 

I need to talk to you. Can you come by today? --Hermione

Draco clutched her note in his hand. He’d bet anything this had to do with Jean’s engagement party. As he trailed the corridors that led to Hermione’s office, ignoring the airy Hello, Mr. Malfoy’s that were thrown his way by older Slytherin girls, he thanked the gods he had a partner as brilliant as Hermione Granger. She’d know exactly how to handle the situation.

He found the door to her office open and a very nervous Hermione sitting at her desk, biting her nails, a habit in which she only indulged when she was nervous.

“By all means, continue gnawing on your nails like a barbarian. But don’t be surprised if I leave you should you mess up your teeth. I like you pretty, Granger,” he said, his eyes sparkling playfully as he walked over and sat on her desk.

She rolled her eyes. “I get enough of that from my mother, thank you.”

“Speaking of your mother,” Draco dove right in, “I assume you called me here about this.” He held up the invitation he managed to strong arm from Weasley’s grip the other night.

Hermione’s brows furrowed. “I don’t know what that is. I called you here because I caught Scorpius and Rose snogging in a broom closet the other night and I need to know what I should do about it.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “O-kaaay?”

Hermione sighed. “They were…pretty far into it when I found them.”

Draco chuckled. “They’re fourteen, Hermione. They can snog a little bit.”

Her expression dried. “I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t have kept it to strictly snogging had I not interrupted. Rose wasn’t wearing a shirt when I found them.”

Draco’s eyes widened slightly. So, Scorpius took his advice. And apparently, it worked out for him. What does one say to that? “Uhhh….”

“Exactly. Do you know what this means?”

“My son is a debonair charmer who talks girls out of their clothes?”

Hermione’s eyes darkened. “You’re not taking this seriously. It means that if they’re already doing that then…other stuff isn’t too far down the line.” She hopped up out of her seat and began pacing.

Draco nodded. “Right. And…I’m sorry. Why exactly do I need to know about my son’s after-hours activities in broom closets?”

Hermione huffed. “You mean to tell me you’re not going to do anything about it?”

Draco narrowed his eyes and contemplated how he could possibly answer that question in a fashion that would satisfy Hermione. He examined her. She wore that specific flavor of know-it-all on her face that meant she was inviting him to challenge her. Her lips were pursed, her eyes slightly rounded, her brow wrinkled. Her arms were folded tightly in front her of and her hip was cocked slightly to the right. He imagined this wasn’t too far off from her fighting stance from her Auror days.

“I suppose I could,” he cocked his head slightly, “talk to Scorpius?” It was a question more than an offer.

She rolled her eyes. “About?”

“About…protection?”

She dropped her arms and her eyes widened into near perfect circles.

Shit. Wrong answer.

“You’re not going to explain to him that he’s far too young to start thinking about becoming sexually active?”

Draco scratched the back of his neck. “Well, if you’ll recall, Scorpius has technically been thinking about becoming sexually active for quite some time now. Remember the letter he wrote—”

“Draco, I swear to God, do not bring that up now.”

He snickered. “I’m sorry, Hermione, but this isn’t exactly coming out of nowhere. He’s fourteen.”

“‘He’s fourteen.’ You say that like it explains everything.”

“Okay. You’re right. It doesn’t explain everything.” He cleared his throat. “He’s fourteen and he’s male.”

Hermione’s mouth disappeared into the thinnest of lines. “Why are you being so blasé about this? Aren’t you upset?”

Draco shrugged. “Honestly, I’m just relieved he’s interested in someone like Rose. He has better taste than I did at that age.”

“Oh, yes. Let’s not forget your connoisseurship of quality women.” Hermione’s hair had expanded to a frightful height in her indignation and her cheeks were flushed. Draco thought she looked positively adorable, but he suspected trying to flirt with her would be dangerous right now.

“Better that he loses his virginity to Rose rather than someone like…I don’t know…”

“Pansy Parkinson,” Hermione replied dryly.

Draco snapped his fingers. “Precisely.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes dangerously. “I can’t believe you’re willing to just let your son make this huge decision without talking to him first.”

Draco was not about to tell her about the conversation he recently had with his son. He suspected that she was so fussed about this situation because it was Rose his son was snogging and doing…well…everything that comes after.

“Well, to be fair, I tried to talk to him about this last year. That didn’t go very well, if you’ll remember. But things are different now. He’s got a nice girlfriend, he’s matured quite a bit, and he’s the same age I was when I lost my virginity.”

“Because it’s such a good idea for Scorpius to make the same decisions you did at his age?”

No. I never said that. I explicitly said that I didn’t want him to make the same mistakes I did.”

“By screwing around with girls like Pansy Parkinson?”

“Exactly.” He scowled, wondering when this had turned into a fight. He had been so careful.

Hermione made a face. “Why you ever wanted to lose your virginity to a little pug-faced shrew like her, I’ll never know.”

Draco shrugged. “She let me?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You know what? Fine. Do what you want. He’s your son. But I’m going to talk to Rose.” She turned her back to Draco and began rifling through papers on her desk.

Draco took a deep breath and counted to three. He reminded himself that just because his hot-headed lover was looking for a fight, it didn’t mean he should indulge her. “Look, Hermione. I understand that you’re concerned about Rose, but Scorpius would never do anything to hurt her.”

The papers stilled. Her back stiffened slightly. “I know. I just…I don’t know how I’m supposed to handle this. Not as their teacher, but as Scorpius’s stepmother. What exactly is my role going to be?”

Draco stepped towards her. “Well, you’re going to be a co-parent to him and a wife to me. What further instruction do you need?”

“Do I have jurisdiction to punish him?”

Draco’s eyes widened. “For this?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know.” She sighed. “I guess I just didn’t realize that you were alright with the idea of your son having sex.”

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. “I wouldn’t say that at all. There’s a huge part of me that wishes he were still a little boy. But he’s growing up. I can’t stop him from doing that. And you needn’t worry about your role in this.” He placed a calming kiss on her jaw. “Scorpius adores you. And you both are abominable know-it-alls and I love you all the more for it.” Hermione smiled. Draco pushed a curl out of her face and traced his thumb across her cheek. “This will work. You, me and Scorpius are already a family whether you realize it or not. The rest we’ll figure out along the way.”

She leaned in and kissed him. He grinned into the kiss and held her tightly to his chest.

“I’m sorry I freaked out,” she murmured against his shoulder, hugging him. “I guess I am a little nervous about being a stepmother. I’m afraid I don’t know the rules.”

He kissed the top of her head. “I don’t think there are any. And on the bright side, Scorpius is just about done. He won’t require too much raising on either of our parts. That kid is the self-cleaning oven of progeny.”

She chuckled against his chest. “Thank God for that.”

Draco practically purred as he felt her melt into him. She was relaxed now. He had done his job.

“What was that thing?”

Draco’s eyes flew open. “Huh?”

“The piece of paper you had in your hand when you came in here.”

He sighed. “That, my darling wife-to-be, is proof that I’m crazy for you, as that is the only explanation for why I put up with certain things.” He fished in his jacket pocket for the invitation and handed it to her.

As Hermione’s eyes slid across the card, her face twisted into disdain. “Why? We already had a thing. At Ginny’s.”

“Ah, but this is different. This is meant to be a surprise for us, which is, of course, entirely hopeless considering the fact that none of your friends can keep a bloody secret.”

Hermione groaned. “A surprise party?”

“Plus, there’s the simple fact that I’m assuming all your relatives will be in attendance, many of whom do not know that you’re a witch and will therefore not be invited to our wedding. And, of course, I’m assuming they’ll want to know all about your dashing fiancé.”

Hermione growled. “You know we have to go along with this fucking thing, right?”

“I was worried you might say that.” He sighed. “Are you absolutely positive there’s no way out of it? We could be away that weekend. I have summer homes in other places besides Capri. What about The Maldives? Have you ever been? Sure, it’s monsoon season, so probably not the best time to go, but—”

“My mother’s only trying to do something nice for us, Draco. The least we can do is go to her party.”

“Well, I guess when you put it like that…" Draco's face fell. "I still hate it.”

Hermione chuckled. “It’s best to just let her have her way about these things.”

Draco sighed, recalling Potter’s words and hoping he was at least wrong about Jean’s penchant for themed parties. “I suppose you and I are stupendously buggered.”

Hermione draped her arms around his middle. “Are you starting to regret getting engaged to an icky Muggle-born girl?”

Draco chuckled into her hair. “Oh, you are the ickiest. But as it turns out I happen to adore that in a woman.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Do you now?”

Draco hummed in affirmation. “The ickier the better.”

“Well, that explains Pansy Parkinson.”

“You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous that you didn’t besmirch my innocence yourself, Granger.”

“You can believe that if you’d like.”

“I do believe that. And it’s entirely your own fault. If you hadn’t had such a bug up your pert little arse about me in school, it could have easily been you.”

Hermione snorted. “Rubbish. Said bug was entirely justified if I remember correctly. You were an arse. If it was anyone's fault, it was yours. Plus, I had entirely too much self-respect back then to make that particular blond decision.”

He dragged his hands over her arse and squeezed gently. “Are you sure you didn’t fancy me at least a little?”

“I would have fancied putting you in a headlock, does that count?”

“Hmmm. Perhaps later, love. After all, we are in your office and it wouldn’t kill you to have a little professionalism. For the sake of the children, you know.”

She scoffed indignantly. “Excuse me? Did you, or did you not, take me right on this very desk just last week?”

Draco shrugged. “Witch, you were begging for it.”

“So, when are you going to talk to Scorpius?” she asked, ignoring his attempt to shift the conversation into their own deranged brand of foreplay.

Draco’s eyes widened. “Uhhh…you still want me to do that?”

Hermione smiled sweetly and kissed him full on the lips. “Make it a good talk. See that he understands.” She kissed her way to the hollow point under his ear.

Draco hissed. “Whatever you want,” said his penis.

Hermione lightly bit his neck. “You should do it now.” She rubbed his shoulders. “Well, Mr. Malfoy, I have an appointment with one of my students. So, if you don’t mind,” she sauntered off to her desk, leaving him slack-jawed and horny.

He grumbled softly. Damn that witch! “Of course, my darling lover. I’ll get right on that.”

He turned to exit her office. She laughed from her chair. “If you’re very good, you’ll get bonus points.”

He stilled in his tracks. He released an aroused sigh before turning around to face her, his eyes sparkling with playful lust. “Hermione, unless you want your student to witness me fucking you into that desk and reducing it to a pile of splinters, I suggest you stop talking like that.”

“Um…Professor Granger?”

Draco clamped his eyes shut and prayed to the gods for deliverance. Of course, they wouldn’t give it to him because the gods, if they existed at all, were a bunch of sadistic pricks who enjoyed watching him suffer, but a guy could still hope. He turned around to face the girl who absolutely, one hundred percent, heard every bit of what he had just said to Hermione.

“Rose. How are you?” he asked his son’s girlfriend, who stood there, gaze averted to the floor, looking small, and innocent, and supremely uncomfortable.

“I’m very well, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Good. Well…” Draco shuffled his feet a bit. “Excuse me. I’m just going to…” he mumbled as he trailed past her, never to finish his sentence.

Rose stood there with her hands behind her back, smiling meekly at Hermione. “I’m sorry. I know I’m a bit early, but your door was open and I didn’t realize Mr. Malfoy was here.”

Hermione waved off her comment. “Not at all, Rose. Please come in.”

Rose sat in the chair across from Hermione. “I suppose that’s as good an introduction as any to talk about sex,” Rose said over her nervous laughter.

Hermione responded with her own desperate laugh. “Yes, well. I am sorry you overheard Mr. Malfoy just now. But I suppose you’re right.” She cleared her throat. “So. You think you’re ready to have sex?”

______________________

 

“Incredible.”

Scorpius’s breath caught in his throat as he flipped through the book Albus had pilfered from his mother’s sock drawer. Scorpius had read a fuck load of books in his day, but absolutely none of them had been like this one. For one, the entire point of the book wasn’t words. It was pictures. Glorious pictures. Terrifying pictures. Pictures of men and women screwing each other six ways from Sunday. This book, this Kamasutra, seemed to be a sort of instructional manual in the dirty arts. And boy, oh boy, did Scorpius love learning new things. So far, under the book’s tutelage, he had come to the conclusion that women were the absolute best sports on Earth that they allowed men to do these things to them. He hoped they enjoyed it as much as he assumed he would, should he ever be lucky enough to find himself in any of these positions.

He was particularly entranced by a position called The Airplane, when he was interrupted by a deep cough.

Dad?” He immediately threw the book over his shoulder and stuck a pillow in his lap.

“Doing some reading there, Scorp?” Draco asked, fighting a smirk.

Scorpius grumbled. “I was.”

“Have time for a chat?”

_________________

Hermione choked on her tea as Rose regaled her with the tale of hers and Scorpius’s failed encounter behind the greenhouse.

“So, you see, Aunt Hermione, you shouldn’t worry about me feeling pressured. If anything, I’m the one who pressured him.”

Hermione gulped as she battled with her intellect and her instincts. Her intellect told her that it was a good thing that Rose was blossoming into a young woman who was owning her sexuality and whose boyfriend wouldn’t push her to do things she wasn’t ready for. Her instincts told her that Rose was just a child and nononononono way should she be thinking about these things until she was at least 30.

Hermione’s instincts also really didn’t want to know that Scorpius was a little too quick on the draw.

Rose sighed. “I told him he had nothing to be embarrassed about, but I can tell he’s still embarrassed.”

_______________

“I’m bloody mortified about it, Dad! This is not how I wanted my sex life to start out.”

If literally any other person had told Draco this story, he would have cracked a rib laughing at them. “I know, Scorp. You’d probably rather your sex life started out like that,” he said, gesturing to the Kamasutra book laying on the floor, the page open to The Airplane. “But you’ll need to work up to that sort of thing. And believe me when I say you will get used to the idea of…you know, and in the future you will avoid more…accidents.”

________________

“Um…Rose, dear…I’m flattered that you saw fit to confide in me, but I—”

“And thank you so much, Aunt Hermione, for listening. I knew that as a feminist you’d understand that this is just a healthy way for me to express my budding sexuality.”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. Holy shit, she pulled the Feminist Card. Well, damn. I can’t refute that. Little snot should have been in Slytherin. “Yes, it’s certainly quite normal, Rose. But, I just want you to understand that once you take that step, you can never go—”

“I mean, most people would simply repeat the sort of patriarchal rhetoric that is nothing more than a product of living in a society that overvalues young women’s virginities and shames them for coming into their sexuality. Don’t you agree, Aunt Hermione?”

This fucking kid could rule the goddamn world. Hermione was not used to being rendered speechless. Her brain was flushed of everything she had prepared to say to Rose. Her precocious goddaughter would not tolerate hypocrisy, so what did that leave? She leaned back in her chair. “You seem very confident in your decision.”

“I’ve thought about it a lot.”

“You’re fourteen.”

“Almost fifteen. This isn’t unusual for people my age, Aunt Hermione.”

She sighed. “I know that. It’s just not easy for me to admit you’re not a little girl anymore.” 

_________________

“You know about protection, right?”

Scorpius nodded.

“Because I don’t fancy becoming a grandfather before I reach my mid-thirties.”

“I know, Dad. We’ll be careful.”

“Good.” Draco stuffed his hands in his pockets and congratulated himself on a job well done. He was fairly certain that if the kids knew to be careful, that pretty much covered everything.

__________________

“And it’s not just me, Rose. Draco is having this same conversation with Scorpius right now. A thorough, lengthy discussion on what it means to take the next step.”

___________________

“Chocolate frog?” Scorpius offered the treat to his father.

Draco shrugged. “Sure, why not?”

The two Malfoy men munched on their treats in silence for a bit. “So, how are classes going?”

____________________

“And I don’t anticipate he’ll let Scorpius off as easy.”

_____________________

Merlin, Scorp. You’re taking Advanced Ancient Runes and Advanced Arithmancy? Are you a masochist or just an insane nerd?”

Scorpius shrugged. “It will look good on my resume to have the N.E.W.T.s.”

Draco shook his head in disbelief. He recalled Advanced Arithmancy being a particular bore. Blaise only scooted by with an Acceptable because he was sleeping with Professor Vector at the time. Draco sniggered, recalling how Blaise defended his actions, saying he wanted to see how many times 16 could go into 48.

Yeah, he probably shouldn’t share that anecdote with Scorpius.

_____________________

“Draco and I are on the same page about all of this.”

_____________________

“You’re not upset I’m going to start having sex soon?”

Draco shrugged. “Other than wanting you to be safe, it’s really none of my business.”

_____________________

 “In fact, I’d wager that right this very second, Scorpius is feeling rather uncomfortable. I can only imagine what they’re talking about.”

_____________________

Scorpius bit the head off another Chocolate Frog. “You hear Sluggy checked himself into St. Mungo’s rehab facility this summer?”

“Did he really? Huh. Good for him. The old sod always did drink too much.”

______________________

“So, really, you’re getting off quite easy having to listen to me.”

Rose sighed. “You won’t change my mind. I wanted to talk to you because I thought you’d understand.”

Hermione bit her lip. “Look, I’m not going to give you my blessing. But what I will do is take you to Madam Pomfrey’s to make sure you get set up on the right Contraceptive Potion. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to be safe.”

Hermione gave herself a mental pat on the back for being such an understanding godmother. She wondered if Draco had finished talking to Scorpius, yet. Definitely not. I’m sure he has a lot he wants to cover with him. 

______________________

“Did Professor Granger really tell you to come talk to me about this? Merlin, you are whipped aren’t you, Dad?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “You don’t know the half of it. Her parents alone—”

“Oh, speaking of them.” Scorpius reached in his bedside drawer and pulled out a small, rectangular card. “I got this by owl a few days ago. It’s supposed to be a surprise, but I figured you’d hate that, so I’m warning you.”

Draco’s eyes widened as he stared at the invitation. “Merlin, she invited you, too?”

“Albus got one, too. So did Rose. And I’d wager Lily, James, and Hugo got them, too, seeing as they’re all Professor Granger’s godchildren.”

Draco’s head reeled. “That woman doesn’t miss anything.”

Scorpius shrugged. “I figured I’d go. It’s always entertaining to watch you try to interact with Edward.”

A vein in Draco’s temple began pulsing. “Cheers for the vote of confidence, son.”

Scorpius nodded. “You are welcome.”

Draco hung his head in his hands. “You want some actual advice, Scorp? Not about sex, because I’m honestly done to death talking to you about that, but about women in general?”

Scorpius leaned in, eager to hear what his father had to say. “Lay it on me.”

“If at all possible, try to find one whose family isn’t bat-shit barmy.”

Scorpius contemplated this. “I don’t think Rose’s dad likes me very much.”

Draco waved that off. “Consider that a lost cause. You look too much like me.”

____________________________

“Well, Miss Weasley, I’m glad to see that you’re being responsible. More young ladies should take the initiative to come and see me about these things,” Madam Pomfrey said. Hermione rolled her eyes at the Healer’s easy acceptance of her goddaughter’s blossom into womanhood.

“And what about you, Ms. Granger? Do you have anything you need to see me about?”

“No, thank you, Madam Pomfrey. I’m just here for Rose.”

Madam Pomfrey examined her through narrowed slits. “Well, that would certainly be a first, wouldn’t it? You not needing some sort of medical attention.” She took Hermione’s chin between her fingers and moved her face either way. “Are you absolutely positive, Ms. Granger, that you do not need my help?”

Hermione winced at the older woman’s rough handling of her face. “Yes, Madam Pomfrey. I’m quite sure.”

Madam Pomfrey released a subtle, indignant cough. These kids were all so naïve.

Chapter Text

“Goddammit, Blaise, I will slit your throat if you don’t pull your shirt down. This is a nice fucking place,” Draco drawled.

Blaise, who had been showing off his newest scratch marks, courtesy of Luna Lovegood, snickered. “But I didn’t even get to the best part yet.”

“Don’t. Bloody don’t. Didn’t I tell you I don’t want details? For fuck’s sake, Blaise, have a little respect for the woman you’re shagging.”

“Fine.” Blaise sat demurely back in his seat and sipped his coffee. “Two words.”

Don’t,” Draco warned, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

Blaise narrowed his own eyes in response. Neither blinked. Anyone looking on would have seen a showdown between two inscrutable cobras, each daring the other to strike first. Something in Blaise’s eyes shifted and the slightest whisper of a muscle in his lips quirked into the subtlest smirk ever to grace the face of a Slytherin. “Sex swing.”

Draco growled at his friend, who was cackling in amusement over Draco’s discomfort. “Eat a dick, Zabini.”

“Merlin, you’re in a mood. What’s the matter? Penhaligon’s warehouse blow up or something, you poncy fucker?”

Draco scowled. “Eat a bag of dicks, Zabini.”

Blaise amusedly ignored his friend’s quip. “Granger got a sore throat this week?”

“Charming. Fuck off, eat a mountain of dicks, and by all means, continue to talk about my fiancée like that. It’s been far too long since I’ve kicked an arse.”

“Tetchy,” Blaise murmured, tucking into his cappuccino. He grimaced at the not-quite-dense-enough consistency of the foam, “Why is it so bloody difficult to get a decent coffee in this country?”

“Next time, you pick the place, then,” Draco said, making quite a show of snapping open his copy of The Daily Prophet.

“Are you on the damn rag, mate? What is your problem?”

Draco sighed. “Sorry. It’s just that I had hoped Hermione would have set a date for the wedding by now, but every time I bring it up she jumps down my throat.”

“A match made in heaven, I see. Do you think she’s stalling?”

Draco glowered at his friend. “Why would she do that?”

Blaise shrugged. “Granger doesn’t really strike me as the stars-in-her-eyes, been-planning-this-since-she-was-in-nappies kind of girl.”

“She’s not. That’s why we have a wedding planner, which she finally settled on, by the way. I took care of the vetting process for her, narrowed it down to three. All she had to do was pick one, and it took her bloody ages. These things have to be taken care of quickly. Otherwise, beggars can’t be choosers, you know.”

“I have no idea. Never been married myself. Wouldn’t have the slightest insight into this world.”

“You sound just like her.”

Blaise sneered, “I’m going to decide to take that as a compliment, coming from you. And seriously, mate, you know the woman has a fucking job, right? A bloody stressful one that takes up a great deal of her time? She’s got other things on her mind, so this process will probably take longer than you remember. Why are you in such a rush, anyway?”

Draco sighed. “I wouldn’t say I’m in a rush, per se. I just get the feeling lately like this isn’t a priority for her. I want her to enjoy it. I’ve tried to make things easy.”

“So why don’t you pick a date, then?”

“Because I’d pick the closest date possible, and Hermione seems to be on a slightly different time frame than I am.”

“Oh yeah? Has she said she wants a long engagement?”

Draco shrugged. “She hasn’t said it in so many words, but I get the idea it’s what she’d prefer.”

“And you wouldn’t?”

“I just want to be bloody married to her, Blaise. It is, after all, the entire point of getting engaged.”

Blaise snickered. “It’s a testament to how good a friend I am that I’m not going to take the piss out of you for being such a besotted little bellend.”

“Ta, ever so, arsehole.”

“If she’s stressed out at work, have you tried sex? Always helps me unwind.”

Draco feigned a look of disbelief. “Color me fucking surprised. And not that it’s any of your business, but if that woman needs to get laid more often than she already does, my cock would fall off from exhaustion.”

Blaise smirked. “Granger, you filthy girl.”

Draco clenched his jaw. “You’re up for a good hexing.”

“Whatever, mate. She’s your girl. Obviously, you know her better than I do. From my experience with women and relationships—”

“At which you have always sucked,” Draco murmured.

“—there’s no sense in talking to them about anything when they’re already in a snit. If you want her to set a date, you’d better make sure she’s nice and relaxed when you bring it up.”

Draco drew nonsense patterns on the table, his eyes fluttering in contemplation. “Honestly, I think she’s more nervous about the stepmother thing.”

“Fancy that. Something Granger sucks at. To be fair, that woman is hardly a maternal dispenser of boo-boo kisses.”

Draco scowled. “You are aware that my son is fourteen, right?”

“Yeah, but can you honestly picture her having little sprogs of her own?”

“Actually, yes, I can. I think she will be a brilliant mother.”

“Will be, or would be?”

Draco’s mounting frustration snapped slightly. “Mate, what are you doing?”

Blaise brought his hands to his chest in surrender. “It just sounds like you two have a lot to talk about, that’s all.”

Draco bit his lip. “Yeah. I guess so.”

“Now can we stop with the fucking girl talk and order already? I’m starving.”

Draco rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to point out that Blaise started it by spouting off about what a hellcat Lovegood was in the sack before he even sat in his bleeding seat.

He clenched his jaw as he stared at his menu, not even registering the words on the page. He did so hate it when Blaise was right.

______________________________

 

Hermione moaned as Draco’s talented hands worked at melting a knot in her neck. “Sweet Morgana, you’re a magic man.”

He chuckled as he placed a kiss on her shoulder. “We prefer to be called wizards, love.”

“I’ll call you anything you want if you keep doing that.” She had been feeling out of sorts for days now. Hogwarts seemed like one giant trigger lately. Children’s brattiness triggered migraines, piles of rich, fatty, house-elf prepared food triggered nausea, and accidental parenting triggered neurosis. Her weekends with Draco were her reprieve.

“Have you given any thought to setting a date?” Draco murmured.

Her eyes snapped open in surprise. Just like that, her reprieve was gone.

From everything she’d ever read or heard about being a bride, right about now she was supposed to be glowing from a constant state of euphoria. She was supposed to be radiant and giggly. That’s what every woman in every movie, book, and bridal magazine said it was like to be a bride.

The bitches had lied. She wasn’t teetering on the edge of heaven. She wasn’t blushing. She was a stressed out, high-strung, twisted mess who couldn’t even get through a damn back massage without seizing up because she hadn’t set a bloody date yet.

Plus, she kind of wanted to throw up. Her back hurt. Her head throbbed. And her fiancé reminding her about all the things she had been procrastinating on, really irritated her. “Not yet,” she answered shortly.

He kissed her neck. “I don’t want to push. But our wedding planner can’t really do anything until we give her a date.” He deposited another sweet kiss to her neck. “And you know I can’t wait to marry you.”

Any other woman in the world would have been charmed by him right now. But Hermione was in a mood, and she was determined to be mad, no matter how ridiculous a goal it was. “Well, whether we set a date today or next month, you still have to wait.”

He chuckled. “Personally, I’d marry you now if your mother wouldn’t have me executed for denying her the opportunity to fuss over you.”

Goddamn it, he was cute. It was problematic because it assailed Hermione’s resolve to be bitchy towards him for dashing her zen with wedding nonsense. “Right. But don’t you think that we should talk about what happens after, rather than spend so much time agonizing over the wedding?”

Draco’s hands stilled. “What do you mean? Afterwards we’ll be married.”

She turned around to face him. “But we haven’t even discussed how married life is going to be.”

Draco grinned. “Well, obviously, you’ll move in here, and we’ll—”

“Wait, hold on a minute,” Hermione said, twisting her body so she could fully face him. “I’m a Hogwarts professor, Draco. I have duties other than just teaching that I need to be present for.”

Draco did not like where this was going, but it wasn’t yet time to allow his face to betray his frustration. “So, you’ll just come home after you’ve completed those duties. Hogwarts is connected to the Floo Network, you know.”

Her eyes flashed. “I’m aware of that, Draco. But it wouldn’t be fair on the other professors if I left at the end of every day and they were forced to pick up my slack by being on-call 24/7.”

Draco sighed and crossed his arms. “Funny how that doesn’t seem to be a problem when you come here every weekend, does it?”

“The only reason it’s not a problem, Draco, is because I make up that time during the week so I can spend my weekends with you.” And it’s fucking stressful, she did not add.

“Minerva surely doesn’t expect the professors to live like monks, Hermione. How else are you all supposed to have personal lives? Spouses? Children? It’s not fair to expect this of yourself, and I seriously doubt Minerva expects it either.”

“Has it escaped your notice that none of the Hogwarts professors are married?”

“I don’t care about the other professors, Hermione. All I care about is that you will be married. To me. And, silly me, I rather hoped to live with my wife because it’s what husbands and wives do. If Minerva has a problem with that, she can lump it.”

She rolled her eyes. “We’ll talk about this later, Draco.”

Draco had been holding back, but he was genuinely pissed off now. “You were the one who wanted to discuss it to begin with.”

“That was before you triggered my migraine with this inane conversation.”

Inane?”

“We-can-talk-about-living-arrangements-later, Draco,” she said in a hurried tone, obviously anxious to end the conversation as quickly as possible.

Draco’s eyes hardened. “Fine. I’ll have a talk with Minerva first thing Monday morning.”

“No. I’ll have a talk with Minerva. At a time when she is free to discuss it.”

Fine.” Draco clenched his jaw and looked away from Hermione. He had noticed that she’d been a bit tense lately, but this was the first time he felt his patience with her slip. As far as he was concerned, husbands lived with their wives. That was non-negotiable. It baffled him that she didn’t understand that.

More than that, it fucking hurt his feelings. When she wasn’t around he missed her all the time. He counted down the minutes until he could see her again. One of the things he was looking forward to most about married life was that they would live together. If their roles had been reversed, he would have fought tooth and nail to move in with her, Hogwarts’s policy be damned. And it wasn’t even a bloody policy to begin with! As a Hogwarts governor, he had seen the damned bylaws. It was purely by accident that Hogwarts professors were a load of shut-ins.

Hermione folded her arms. “When did this turn into an argument?”

Draco shook his head. “I’m not sure but it seems to be happening a lot lately.”

“Well, I’m sorry if I’ve been so insufferable, but I’m stressed out.”

“Then talk to me about it. I’m supposed to be your partner, Hermione. You don’t need to turn everything into a fight.”

She scoffed. “I don’t do that.”

“Yes, you do. And I never say anything about it because I try to be understanding.”

“I try, too! Did you not just hear about how I rearrange my schedule so I can—”

“I know that, Hermione, but relationships aren’t just about sex and flirting. They’re work. And I wouldn’t have asked you to marry me if I didn’t think you’re worth it, but I don’t always get the impression you feel the same.”

Demon Hermione: No big deal, hon. Just remove yourself from the bed, walk over to the door and down the stairs, and leave him with his cock in his hands tonight. After all, relationships aren’t just about sex and flirting. Tosser can wank himself raw for all you care.

Angel Hermione: You know that’s not what he meant. Don’t listen to her. This is what is known as an honest discussion. It’s the hallmark of a healthy relationship, so give the man some credit! And pardon my French, but you’re being awfully witchy to a man who’s this eager to spend the rest of his life with you.

She sighed.

Okay.

There was a slight possibility that she had been a right little brute lately. She knew it wasn’t his fault that she was perpetually a Peeves prank away from being committed to St. Mungo’s. But somehow that didn’t stop her from taking it out on him anyway. And he had been nothing short of wonderful with his back massages and his patience and his gorgeous man-face. She bit her lip in shame. “I suppose.” She sighed. “Look, I’m sorry for being a bitch.”

Draco chuckled. “Nonsense. You’re ever delightful.” He kissed her gently.

Hermione melted against him, grateful that her fiancé could lie so prettily.

“I just want you to know that I’m here to make your life better, not worse. If you’re stressed out, then talk to me. Maybe I can help.”

God, if she wasn’t so bloody tired she’d throw him on his back and fellate him stupid for saying that. She smiled, leaning over to kiss him. “I’ll talk to Minerva first thing Monday morning.”

“Good.” He leaned in for another kiss. “You know I’m arse-over-tit for you, right?”

She laughed. “Are you now?”

“Mhmm.” He gathered her in his lap and kissed her lazily. “So much so that the idea of not living with you once we’re married makes me ill. Call me greedy, but I want to wake up to you…” he kissed alongside her neck, “…every morning.” Another kiss. “And go to bed with you.” Kiss. “Every night.” Kiss. “For the rest of our lives. And I don’t want to share you more than I have to with a bunch of snot-nosed little sprogs who aren’t even ours.”

She giggled. “On that we agree.” She closed her eyes and basked in the sensation of being seduced. She couldn’t remember why she’d been so nervous about getting married lately. Draco was divine.

He kissed behind her ear. “That said, I can’t wait to have swotty babies with you.”

Her eyes flew open.

“Babies? As in…plural?”

Yeah. Major lady-boner killer, that.

He hummed against her skin. “As many as you want.”

She bit her lip, choosing her next words carefully. Don’t you dare fight with him again. You love this man. He is wonderful, and loving, and beautiful.

And apparently eager to put a bun in your oven.

“And what if that’s zero?”

He stopped with his ministrations. “You mean…you don’t want children,” he said flatly.

She swallowed loudly. “I mean…not particularly.”

He leaned back and looked at her. “Oh. Well, okay. Um…I suppose I’d be alright with it.” He chuckled nervously. “I mean, it’s not like I can force you.”

She forced a grin, trying to reassure him, and cupped his cheek. “I’m not saying ‘never.’ I’m just saying children have never been on my radar. I never really saw myself as a mother.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Well, you do realize that you’re about to be a stepmother, right?”

“Believe me, Draco. I am well aware. Quite frankly, I’m terrified.”

He looked past her, biting his lip. “You don’t think I was terrified when Scorpius was born? Merlin, I was twenty. I had no idea what I was doing.” He licked his lips. “I thought we talked about this, already.”

“We did, but that doesn’t mean my apprehension about it just dissolved, Draco. I’m not a maternal type and I never have been.”

He laughed humorlessly. “You’re a teacher, Hermione. You’re excellent with your students. I think you’re already better at it than you realize.”

“That’s completely different. As long as they don’t die on my watch, I’m not responsible for them. At the end of the term, I get to send them back to their parents, and then they’re someone else’s problem.”

Problem? Hermione, do you hear the words coming out of your mouth? Do you have any idea how selfish you sound?”

“Well, I’m sorry, Draco, but I’m used to not having to worry about anyone but myself. That’s the way it’s been for years, and that’s the way I like it.”

Draco was seething. “Too bad you’re about to acquire a husband and a child, then, isn’t it? You’re not allowed to think like that when you have a family.”

Hermione closed her eyes and sighed. She couldn’t remember the last time she had so thoroughly cocked up a conversation. “I understand that, Draco. All I’m saying is that it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment for me.”

“Well.” He shuffled to put some distance between himself and Hermione on the bed. “How kind of you to fit us in. Hopefully we won’t be too much of a ‘problem’ for you.”

She narrowed her eyes dangerously. “Stop making me feel like an arsehole, Draco. Of course, you won’t be a problem, you bloody, insufferable prat. You might be a git, and right now I kind of want to slug you in your obnoxiously symmetrical face, but you’re not a problem. So, you can stop pretending to misunderstand me anytime now, Princess.”

Draco’s eyes widened at the insinuation. “Oh, so now I’m ‘pretending’ to misunderstand you? And you’re the princess, you barmy swot.”

“You know that I love you and Scorpius, you fussy wanker!”

“I know that, Hermione. But I don’t appreciate your suggestion that my son and I are liabilities to your glorious autonomy.”

Hermione fumed. “I told you I was scared of being a mother and you’re throwing it in my face! And that’s even with Scorpius being one of the easy ones! Plus, he’s already mostly raised.”

“That doesn’t mean you won’t be involved.”

Hermione jumped off the bed and resumed her fight stance. With hands on her hips she bristled at her fiancé. “You see, this is why we needed to talk about what happens after the wedding. We need to be on the same page.”

“Well, obviously, you’re going to try to live away from home and refuse to have a family with me. And I don’t get a say in any of it.”

Hermione huffed. “I told you I’d talk to Minerva on Monday about my living arrangements for after the wedding. Why are you being such a prat?”

“Why are you acting so spoiled? Marriage is a partnership, Hermione. You don’t get to live in a separate world from me.”

“For the last time, you twat, I told you I would live with you.”

“Only after I forced the issue. If I hadn’t said anything, you would have happily treated being married to me like an ancillary inconvenience.”

“How dare you say that to me! I love you, you arsehole, and I want to marry you.”

“Then make some bloody sacrifices for me. Actually want to have a home with me. Consider the possibility of a family. Be involved in decisions involving Scorpius. I want us to be a fucking family, Hermione. I put up with your friends, your parents, your temper, your insurmountable swottiness, and lately, your moods. I shouldn’t have to beg my wife to want to live with me.”

Hermione sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “How did we do this? We just made up from a fight and now we’re fighting again.”

Draco nodded. “I suppose it’s good for us to do this now, rather than after we’re married.”

Hermione nodded. “I guess so.”

A pained shadow crossed Draco’s face. “Look, Hermione, if you’re having second thoughts—”

“Draco, how can you say that? You should know I want to marry you.”

“Yes, but do you want to be married to me? Do you know what that means? Because I do. And I want that with you. And I would hope that you want that with me.”

Hermione sighed. “I’ve never been married before, so maybe I don’t know what it means. This is the only serious relationship I’ve ever had.”

Draco’s eyes softened slightly. “I know. I know it’s your first. But it’s also your last. This is it, Hermione. It’s going to be you and me until the end.”

She took a step towards him. “And I’m learning, Draco.”

His eyes hardened with resolve. “You’re Hermione Granger. Learn faster.” With no warning, he grabbed her hand and yanked her back to the bed, basking in the sound of her surprised squeal. He leaned forward and crushed his lips to hers in a bruising kiss and fell into her until she was on her back.

Okay, now this she understood. This part had always been brilliant between them.

Draco bit the neck he had kissed so tenderly minutes before. “You’re going to be my wife.” He undid the fastenings on her trousers and hooked his fingers over the hem before roughly pulling them down. “And I’m going to be your husband.” He whispered raggedly into her ear, “And don’t think that just means I’m going to fuck you whenever you want.”

She moaned. Jesus H. Christ he was so fucking hot right then.

He dug his fingers into her hips and pulled her knickers down with the other hand, never taking his eyes off hers. “You have to earn it.” She tried to roll her hips up to meet his, but he held her down. “Nice try, but you haven’t earned it yet, sweetheart.”

She bit her lip and whimpered. “Please.”

“Please what?” he asked, his pewter eyes dark with lust and resolve. “You want me to shag you into this mattress?”

“Yes.” Her voice came out breathy and faint. “Please, Draco. I need you.”

He smirked. “Yeah? Well, I need you, too. And I’m not just talking about your pretty cunt wrapped around my cock,” he said, inserting a finger into her heat. She keened as he pumped slowly, not nearly enough to make her come, but more than enough to drive her crazy. “I want to have a fucking life with you, Hermione.”

His words combined with his fingers buried in her tight heat…she would have given him anything in the world at that moment. “I want that too, Draco. I love you so much.”

His breath grew ragged as he watched her fall apart. “I believe you. And not just because you’d say just about anything right now to get me to let you come.” He inserted another finger and picked up the pace. “You’re mine. And I’m yours. And this is not something either of us will take lightly.”

“Draco, please. I want everything with you. Please.” Although her mind had basically been reduced to a demented lust-filled haze, she meant every word.

He bit his lip and pumped faster. “I think you’ve earned it now, love.” He bent his face down so his mouth was level with her ear. “So, why don’t you tell me how badly you want me to fuck you right now.”

Hermione bucked her hips and moaned. “I…I’ve never been so turned on in my life. I need you so bad,” she said, reaching for his belt buckle.

He groaned, wanting nothing more than to give her everything she wanted. Still, he needed to maintain control of the situation, so he stilled her hand by wrapping his fingers around her wrist. He relished the surprise in her eyes and shot her a saucy smirk. “I shouldn’t, you know. I should leave you here teetering. That way you’ll know how it feels to miss something.” His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat as he swallowed, watching her writhe beneath him, begging for his touch. “Merlin, Hermione, I need more of you.” She knew he wasn’t talking about her body right now. And he had never been sexier than in this moment. He was so honest, so raw, so possessive-- in the best way.

“You can have all of me, Draco. I’m yours. Please.”

He released a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding in. “Of course, I won’t be that cruel.” He whispered harshly in her ear. “Because that’s not the kind of husband I’m going to be.” He smiled wickedly at her helpless, needy body. “But first I’ll need you to come for me, love. Hard. Will you do that for me?”

Hermione was seeing stars. She’d never been this wet, this ready, this tightly wound. She was fast approaching what would quite possibly be the most explosive orgasm of her life. “D-D-Draco…please don’t stop…”

Sweet Circe, I love hearing you beg for me. And you do it so prettily, too. I think that deserves a reward.” His thumb flickered over her clit and something tight in Hermione’s core exploded. Wave after wave of sweet release hit her. Every inch of her body screamed in release. Even her teeth tingled. She felt like her essence was being drawn from her. When it was finally over she felt wrung out and there was a faint humming in her ears, like she shorted a circuit in her brain. Death by orgasm. She chuckled, thinking this was exactly how she wanted to die.

Draco smirked proudly at his pliant, rag-doll-like wife-to-be. “Don’t give up on me now, love. We’re just getting started.”

Hermione’s body rejoiced at the gravelly, promise-filled voice assuring her he would give her that glorious release again. When he entered her, she felt complete and just…happy.

She always knew she was a lucky person. The sheer fact that she was alive today was proof enough of that. But this was beyond what she thought possible. That this snarky, bull-headed man wanted to commit himself to her and put up with her own litany of faults forever?

Forever. She’d never tried to fathom what ‘forever’ meant. But she was beginning to.

Forever means never again without you.

He thrust deep inside her and whispered against her collarbone. “You’re the one, Hermione. I couldn’t let you go now if I tried.”

A single tear escaped the corner of her eye as she clutched him. She remembered Blaise Zabini’s words to her nearly a year ago: You’ll never be loved by anyone the way you’ll be loved by Draco Malfoy.

“Thank God for that,” she whispered.

Chapter Text

Draco was happy. At this very moment, he and Hermione were the picture of domestic bliss and he could not have loved it more.

Having decided to take their breakfast in the small library this morning, they each sipped their coffee, reading on opposite ends of the couch. Hermione looked fetching in one of his shirts, even though it drowned her. If not for her enormous hair to balance out her small frame, the shirt would have looked comically oversized. She was tapping her foot against Draco’s calf, narrowing her eyes as though she had just read something she didn’t particularly agree with, and Draco couldn’t believe it was possible to love a person this much.

No sooner had he returned his attention to his own book, Hermione gasped. “Draco. Draco,” she said in an urgent whisper.

What?” he replied in the same tone.

“Look.” She curled her body up into a ball and peered behind the couch, her eyes widening. “It’s the Roomba.”

Draco smirked as he mirrored her movements. The two of them looked like overgrown children spying on an adult doing something naughty.

It had become an embarrassing pastime between the two of them; one of those odd couple idiosyncrasies that indicates one is comfortable with their partner to the point where they don’t care to appear foolish in front of them. There was no telling how many hours they had collectively wasted watching the Roomba suck dirt from the floor since Draco purchased it during the summer. ‘An experiment with Muggle technology,’ he called it. Draco’s house-elves were naturally infuriated by the purchase, but he assured them that it would simply make their jobs easier and that if a month had gone by and they didn’t love it, they could hold a bonfire and burn it in his backyard.

The month came and went, and the Roomba proved to be not only a useful tool to lighten the house-elves’ burdens, but also a source of great entertainment for Draco and Hermione when they fancied turning their brains off and reverting to a state of near-infancy.

If any of their friends caught them like this, they’d Obliviate them.

“Get that crumb, Roomba. Get it,” Hermione urged. Draco suspected she sometimes ate less gracefully than she normally would have in an attempt to ‘feed’ Roomba.

He suspected it, because he did it, too.

Narcissa would have torn him a new arsehole if she had been alive.

Draco sniggered at the machine. “My father’s portrait despises Roomba. He says the noise wakes him up at night when it comes into the Portrait Hall.”

“Good. Your father’s a tit,” Hermione intoned, never taking her eyes off the Roomba.

“You’re a tit,” he childishly retorted, his gaze echoing her own.

You’re a tit.”

“You’re mum’s a tit.”

They each gasped, tearing their eyes away from the Roomba.

Draco.”

He grimaced at his ill attempt at humor. “I know.”

“A ‘your mum’ joke. Really?”

“I made a mistake. You know I love Jean.”

“What are you? Twelve?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Oh, like you’re a paragon of adulthood right now, watching the Roomba suck the remnants of our breakfast from the floor. Look at us.”

They were awfully precious in that moment with their feet tucked protectively under their bodies.

Draco affected an expression of utmost seriousness. “I assume the floor is hot lava.”

“Obviously,” Hermione drawled.

They each instinctively drew their knees to their chest to keep their toes as far away from the edge as possible. The movement gave Draco an excellent view of Hermione’s knickers and suddenly the game was over for him.

“What?” she asked, regarding the predatory look in his eyes.

With no warning, he lunged at her, sending her flat on her back on the cushions. Hermione giggled and pretended to struggle.

“Shhh, love, shhh. You don’t want Roomba to hear.”

“Roomba can’t hear any-thmmm.”

He silenced her with a heated kiss, massaging her breast through her (although, technically, his) shirt. He knew it was safe to release her once she began to make little moaning sounds into his mouth. He pulled back with a smirk. “Did anyone ever tell you that you talk too much?”

“Daily.”

Draco rolled his eyes and began working dutifully at the buttons on her shirt.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked petulantly.

He smiled brightly at her, delighted to see that she wasn’t wearing a bra. “Shutting you up,” he said as his thumb brushed across her nipple. “Lift your arse.”

Hermione mindlessly obeyed and was rewarded with a hot tongue enclosing her nipple. His tongue expertly worked her while he removed her knickers from her body and stuffed them in his pocket.

“What are you doing with my knickers?” she panted.

He responded by lowering himself down her body and licking a wet stripe up her slit. It might not have been the most effective way to shut her up, as she began spurting incoherent nonsense in lieu of silence.

“You…Merlin…fuck…Draco.”

He chuckled into her warm core, sending thrumming vibrations across her body, and locked his lips on her clit. Her hands made a mess of his hair as she pulled his head as close as possible to her. Higher and higher she climbed, trusting Draco to take her to each new peak. He guided her further and further to that unholy summit. She was so close. She was going to come any second now. She…

He pulled his mouth back and stuck two fingers inside her, pumping them lazily, but alas, he did not curl them.

“What the fuck are you doing?” She wanted to rip his head off. “Get your mouth back on my clit and finish me off, you wanker!”

“So demanding,” he said. He watched her for a moment, writhing desperately on his fingers, trying to generate friction closer to where she needed it most. “Look at you,” he said, biting his lip and gazing lustfully at her through half-lidded eyes. “Hermione Granger utterly at my mercy. Such a fucking gorgeous sight.”

She would have given anything in the world to come. It was, currently, her only ambition in life. “Draco.” Her breath came out in little pants. Somewhere in the back of her mind she vowed to hex him until he was just a scorch mark on the floor.

But first she needed to come.

“Please.”

“Please what, darling?” His eyes contained the innocence of a thousand newborn infants.

“You know what.” She bucked her hips faster, trying to will those fingers to curl, and vainly put herself closer to his face. “Let me come.”

“Mmmm.” He closed his eyes and curled his fingers a fraction of an inch. “I don’t think you’ve ever been this wet before, love.” His fingers were no doubt pruned from how soaked she was. He was unbelievable. Just minutes ago, he was making ‘your mum’ jokes and pretending that the floor was hot lava. Now he was withholding an all-precious orgasm from her.

He’d better hope that she passed out when she finally did come, because otherwise he was a dead man.

His fingers scissored inside her, stretching her out and preparing her for a thorough fucking. She moaned at the change of motion.

She growled. “Let me come and I’ll take your last name.”

His fingers stilled inside of her.

That fucking minx.

He breathed heavily, lowering his face to her clit, his breath warm and moist above her. “I’m not going to hold you to that. I’m not that much of a bastard. But Merlin, Hermione, you don’t play fair.”

He lapped her up like she was his last meal and curled his fingers against her G-spot. Hermione came so hard she thought she would pop a joint out of place. Or at least a blood vessel. “Fuuuuuuccckk!!!”

Draco licked her through her orgasm, before pulling his fingers out. He slid them over her mouth, still open from where she had cried out, and dipped them inside.

He thought he was going to explode in his pants when he felt her tongue and lips curl around his fingers. His own mouth opened in a perfect, silent “O” as he fumbled with his trousers.

Hermione had a sudden urge to pull a power play on him and refuse him entrance to her vagina. But she was in an excellent mood post-orgasm, and Godric help her, she wanted him. She always wanted him.

She was so wet, he was able to slip inside her effortlessly. They both released a slow, satisfied moan. Draco went stiff for a moment. Hermione’s body still hadn’t registered that it contained bones.

No sooner did Draco begin to thrust than Hermione’s vagina made an unusual squelching noise. They both paused.

Draco hesitantly narrowed his eyes at her.

Hermione bit her lip, stifling a giggle.

“Don’t,” he admonished. “Don’t laugh.”

Too late. Hermione erupted into a fit of giggles.

The corner of Draco’s lips quirked up. It was evident he longed to join her in laughter. “What was that?” he asked.

Hermione calmed down enough to speak in complete sentences. “Vaginas do that when they get wet enough and with the right position.”

Draco nodded, amused at the revelation. “Interesting.” He cleared his throat. “If you are quite finished, I’m going to resume my shagging of you now.”

“That didn’t kill the mood?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Maybe for a second but my cock isn’t so fickle that he cares about the funny noises your quim makes. He just wants a go at it.”

“He?” Hermione asked.

“Hermione,” Draco sighed. “I am trying to fuck your brains out. Shut up and let me work.”

“Oh, well in that case,” she raised her hips and thrust against him.

Aaaannnd…it happened again.

This time neither of them could contain their laughter.

“Okay, okay,” Draco said, containing himself and holding her hips down. “No more moving for you. You have officially revoked your moving privileges.”

“You’re not going to let me participate?” she asked with a pout.

He leaned in and kissed her deeply. “Hermione.” He peppered another lighter kiss on her jaw. “I love you. And I love your quim. But I need both of you to shut up right now and let me do my job.”

“It’s perfecting natural for it to—”

He silenced her with a finger to her lips. “Darling, I understand that female anatomy is complicated and unpredictable and even fickle at times, but I really, really need to finish this, and you’re not helping when you try to…help.”

She stifled another giggle. He was so adorable she forgot all about her ten-part plan to torture him for his earlier antics and felt inclined to be kind.

He smiled brightly at her. “Now,” he placed another kiss on her lips. “If you’ll behave yourself, I believe there will be another orgasm in this for you, too.”

Fuck a duck, she loved this man.

_______________________________________

 

Albus was bored.

Not with life. Life was so endlessly fascinating. He subscribed to the idea that boredom indicated a lack of inner resources. And Albus had those in spades.

No, Albus was bored with petty, teenage, hormone-driven drama. It had been ages since Monica had spoken to him after his faux pas. He had tried to catch her attention, but she continued to evade him. At first, he shrugged it off, assuming she would come around like she said she would when she decided it was no longer time to be angry. But Albus’s lying-in-wait Slytherinness had run dry.

Now he was just bored—bored with waiting for her to get over whatever nonsense fourteen-year-old females needed to conjure when they felt they had been wronged. Were all girls like this? Would he have to do this every time he wanted to woo a female? Albus sorely doubted it was worth it.

He tapped his quill on the table as he sat with Rose and Scorpius in the library, contemplating his boredom with the situation.

Without taking her eyes off her book, Rose extended her hand and grabbed his quill, tossing it across the table.

Oi. That was expensive.”

“And loud,” she mumbled. “Just go talk to her, Albus.”

Albus grimaced. “Oh, right. Because that worked out so well for me last time.” He sucked a breath in through his teeth, hissing in frustration. “She won’t talk to me.”

“You’ve tried?”

“Yeah. And she just blows me off every time.”

Rose grimaced in contemplation. It didn’t make sense. Monica seemed to really like Albus. Why would she avoid him if he so clearly wanted to make amends? “So, in these moments when you try to approach her, what do you say?”

Albus shrugged. “I just ask her if she’s still mad.”

Rose closed her eyes in mild horror, tucking her quill into her book to mark her place and calmly shutting it. She took a moment to collect herself so she wouldn’t blow up at her cousin’s egregious thickness regarding the fairer sex. Her mind easily conjured the catastrophes that were his attempts at wooing. “So, you just walk up to her and ask her, ‘Still mad?’”

Scorpius looked carefully up from his book, understanding dawning upon him regarding the degree to which his friend was fucked. “You don’t do that, do you Al?”

Albus looked back and forth between his two companions. “It’s a fair question.”

Their simultaneous groans indicated that it was the very opposite of a fair question in the delicate art of romance.

“What happened to waiting patiently?” Scorpius asked.

Albus scoffed. “What am I, a bloody Hufflepuff? I don’t have endless bounds of patience to give to this situation.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Well, doing nothing would have been better than your approach. She might have come around on her own.”

“You would think that, wouldn’t you? But my recent education into the barmy motivations of women has taught me that you can never predict any bloody thing they’ll say or do. And I refuse to pine.”

Scorpius and Rose regarded their friend, who was almost certainly going to die alone, with concern.

“Afternoon, freak bitches,” Simon said, announcing his arrival and plopping his book bag in the seat next to Albus. Immediately, the table was engulfed in a douchebag-scented cloud.

“Sweet mother of Salazar, what is that?” Scorpius asked, waving the air in front of him.

“Axe Body Spray. I wouldn’t expect you lot to understand the appeal. It’s a Muggle thing. Makes a bloke irresistible to women.”

Rose wrinkled her nose in disapproval of the scent. “Muggle or witch, I can’t imagine any girl would find that appealing, Simon.”

Simon chuckled. “Oh, Rose, Rose. Your naiveité is endearing. I see why Scorpius is so pussy-whipped.”

Hey!” Scorpius exclaimed.

“But this is the scent of virility. It says so, right on the spray can.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “You should know better than to use anything that comes in a spray can as cologne. Have Albus and I taught you nothing?”

Simon shrugged. “Not all of us shit Galleons, mate. I’m telling you. Girls go mental for this stuff. They can sense my virility.”

A fifth-year Hufflepuff lingered near their table, scouring the bookshelves. Simon looked her up and down, smirking douchetastically. “Watch this.”

He approached the girl, leaning against the bookshelf as closely as possible to her so she could better catch a whiff of his stink. Albus, Scorpius, and Rose couldn’t hear what was said, as he was speaking in a low, throaty tone, but they had an excellent front-row seat to witness the offended expression she wore at whatever he said to her. They could also hear the impressive slap she bestowed upon his cheek.

Simon slowly walked shamefully back to the table. “Okay, bad example. Clearly, she doesn’t appreciate how virile I am.”

Albus rolled his eyes. “Mate, I don’t want to lie to you. So, I won’t. That shit smells like Desperation shagged Creepy and their baby took a dump on All That Is Beautiful. Apparently, I’m so socially retarded I even scare off girls who like me. But even I know you’ll never get a girlfriend if you’re covered in that stench."

Simon sniffed his robe. “Is it really that bad?”

“Yes,” his three companions intoned.

Scorpius saw an opportunity to change the subject. “Now that you’re here, Simon, maybe you can help Albus with his girl problems that he’s been whinging about for the past hour, while Rose and I actually get work done.”

Simon raised an eyebrow at Albus. “You’re still hung up on Mon? I thought you two had gone off each other.”

Albus scoffed. “Very nearly, but not completely.” Simon indignantly inspected his fingernails.

“Bet you wish you had some of my virility spray now, don’t you? What with Mon and that McPherson bloke all huddled up cozy in the Restricted Section right now.”

Three pairs of fourteen-year-old eyes attacked him at once.

Albus’s eyes were hazel slits. “What?”

Simon realized in that moment how tactless his delivery of that news had been. “Uh…you didn’t see them?”

Obviously not, Simon!”

Simon stuck his hands in his robe pockets and shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry, mate. But maybe it’s not what it looks like.”

Albus rolled his eyes at his dense friend. “The Restricted Section, yeah?”

Rose gaped at him with wide eyes. “Albus, don’t go looking for trouble.”

“Who said anything about trouble? Maybe I just want to get away from Simon and his cloud of Eau de Crossfit Enthusiast, ever think of that?”

“Rude,” Simon intoned. '

Following his friend’s instructions, Albus made his way to the Restricted Section. He stopped in his tracks when he heard a familiar voice.

“Padraig, I told you. I like someone else.”

Monica.

“Well, he doesn’t like you, love. He’s a wanker, and everybody knows it.”

Ducking into the aisle in front of them, Albus followed the sound of their voices. He could just make out the ostentatiously burly figure of McPherson, cupping Monica’s cheek. Albus snarled. He bet the bastard wore Axe Body Spray.

Monica politely took his hand in hers and removed it from her face. “You’re right.”

Excuse me! Albus had half a mind to announce himself right then and there to his slippery would-be paramour.

“He’s not very nice to me. Or anyone else, really. But…I guess…” she sighed. “I wish he was different.”

“I’m different.”

Albus scoffed. What sort of self-respecting man would beg a girl who clearly doesn’t fancy him to go out with him? McPherson was such a ninny.

Monica smiled at the Gryffindor. “I know you are, Padraig. And believe me, I wish he were more like you.”

Albus could have thrown up. The very idea that he should be anything like that meathead fucker set his teeth on edge. And what exactly did she mean when she said he wasn’t very nice to her? He was a goddamned gentleman, just like his mother taught him.

Granted, his mother was Ginny Weasley, so that might not have meant much in the way of manners, but still.

In one last push of bravado, Padraig took Monica’s hand in both of his. “You know I like you, Mon. I really, really like you.”

Albus sneered at his declaration. Typical Gryffindor tripe. The bloke was trying too hard.

Monica blushed sweetly. “I know. And I like that you like me. You certainly like me more than he does.”

Probably true, but hardly fair under the circumstances. If Monica wanted him to fancy her in that bent, Gryffindor way that McPherson did, then she was barking up the wrong tree.

“Let me see if I can change your mind.” Padraig went for broke and swooped in to capture Monica’s lips in a kiss. She was taken aback at first. Her eyes widened at the initial contact. But after a moment she seemed to melt into it. When she closed her eyes, and tucked her hands around Padraig’s neck, Albus realized what a spectacular tosser he had been.

Jaw set in determined fury and eyes like dry ice, Albus turned on his heel and made his way back to his friends.

“Oi, Al. You alright, mate?” Simon asked.

Albus chuckled. “I dodged a fucking bullet. How do you think I am?”

Rose bit her lip. “Are you sure you’re alright, Albus?”

He shrugged in feigned nonchalance. “There are literally hundreds of other girls at this school. Why would I possibly be upset over Monica’s grievous skankage?”

Simon put his hand on Albus’s shoulder in fraternal solidarity. “She doesn’t deserve you,” he said, opening his arms slightly.

Albus jumped like he was on fire. “I swear to Merlin, Simon. If you try to hug me right now I will gut you.”

Simon raised his hands in surrender. “All I’m saying is that she clearly doesn’t appreciate your virility.”

Albus glared at his friend. “Fucking say ‘virility’ one more time. I dare you.”

Scorpius knew what this was. Albus was upset. There was no denying it. But he would obstinately pretend otherwise until…well…probably forever. “Look, mate. It’s alright to be upset.”

“Why would I be upset?” he asked coolly.

Scorpius rolled his eyes in annoyance. “The girl you fancy cheated on you with another bloke.”

Albus clucked in disagreement. “Technically, we were never together. She can do what she wants. I’m not going to get all fucked up about it.”

Scorpius sighed, realizing Albus would be impossible for the foreseeable future. “Fine. You say you’re alright, I’m not going to push it.”

Rose clearly wanted to push it. Ignoring Scorpius’s warning look, she bit her lip before blurting out, “Is there anything we can all do for you? Anything at all?”

Albus’s face broke out into a wicked grin. “Well, now that you mention it, Rose,” he clapped Simon and Scorpius on the shoulders. “I really could use some assistance with my Venus Sneeze Traps. It being the turning of the seasons and all that, their allergies are acting up.”

Scorpius groaned. “Something other than that. Nobody cares about your creepy plants, Al.”

“How ‘bout we just get you good and pissed?” Simon suggested.

Rose rolled her eyes. “Something less crass, perhaps?”

Albus considered it for a moment. “Nope. Crass it shall be.” He grabbed his bookbag and backed away towards the exit of the library. “I expect good Firewhisky. Make it happen. Remember. I’m very, very upset.”

Scorpius stared unblinking at the wall. “That was exhausting.”

Simon nodded. “I know.” He clapped Scorpius on the shoulder. “Well, rich boy. You heard the man. He wants the good stuff. I would contribute, but I’m skint.” And with that, Simon fucked off, leaving Scorpius and Rose alone.

Scorpius sighed and offered Rose an apologetic smile. “So, those are my friends.”

Chapter Text

Scorpius Malfoy did not enjoy the taste of crow, but here he was, gobbling down a whopping heap of it just to help his best friend enjoy a taste of escapism for one night. “Can you help me or not, Potter?”

James Potter pulled a face at the young Malfoy. “Why the ever-loving fuck would you ask me, Malfoy? Why not one of the older Slytherins?”

“You think I would be here if I thought any of them could swing it on such short notice? Look, you have a reputation, Potter. And if it helps, I’m asking for Albus.”

It did not help. Not one bit. James leaned back in his chair and allowed an obscenely self-indulgent pregnant pause to fester between them. He enjoyed his moment of power before speaking. “Well, isn’t that romantic?”

“You know what? Forget it. I’ll find another way.”

“Hold on a second, Malfoy. I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it. I just want to know why Teacher’s Pet and Wunderfreak all of a sudden have a hankering for some Firewhisky.”

Good Firewhisky. Don’t forget that part.”

“Whatever. Why does my brother need it?”

Scorpius hesitated. The glimmer in James’s eyes looked a tad too unhealthy to be born out of sheer curiosity. On the other hand, he needed his help. “Girl problems.”

James snorted. “As if I should be fucking surprised. He’ll probably die a virgin.”

“Thank you very much for your assessment, arsehole. If you’ll excuse me.” He turned to leave but James stopped him.

“I’ll help you. For a price.”

“We’ve already established I can pay you whatever you want, Potter.”

“Not money. Well…not just money. You’re throwing a little pity party for my brother, yeah?”

“Yes?”

“I want in.”

Scorpius snorted. “You want to hang out and get drunk with me, Simon and your brother; none of whom you like, all of whom you have bullied?”

“Correct. Although I do resent the term ‘bully.’”

Scorpius ignored the urge to point out that absolutely no other word would suffice. “Why?”

He shrugged. “Brotherly concern. It’s moments like these we should be there for each other.” That, and he probably figured he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to collect potential blackmail on his younger brother.

Scorpius didn’t buy the concerned brother act for a second. But his need for James’s advanced age and sleazy connections won out. “Fine. Whatever. I don’t care.”

“Super. That’ll be one hundred and fifty Galleons, please.”

What?”

*

Albus fell gracelessly on his arse, luckily without spilling a drop of Firewhisky. He brought the bottle to his lips. “Everyone. I’ve come to a very important desh-ision.” He was at that special level of intoxication where he struggled with certain consonants. “Life…is hard.”

Simon snorted. “Compared to what?”

“No, no, no, no, you don’t get it,” Albus sputtered. “It’s love. Why is it so important when all it does is make shit harder? Why do we do it?”

“Digging a little deep there, Al,” Scorpius said, grimacing at the burn of the Firewhisky. The superior quality of the liquor was utterly wasted on the fourteen-year-olds who hadn’t the foggiest idea of what good liquor was supposed to taste like.

Albus continued. “Love is blind. And deaf. And dumb. And just like, fucking…stupid. You know?”

“Did you love Mon, then?” Simon asked.

“Pssshew. I did not. D’I look like Scorpius t’you?” He took another swig from the bottle, wiping the excess off his mouth. “I did like her though. Least I think I did.” He shrugged. “S’not my fucking problem now.”

“Whad’you bet we can climb that greenhouzz?” James asked. Being somewhat more used to the taste of Firewhisky than his younger companions, it was not lost on him that this was the good stuff. He had eagerly tucked into the Baby Malfoy’s splendid stash. “Looks big. I’ll bet we can do it.”

“You know, James,” Scorpius said, clapping his hand on his shoulder. “You’re alright. I mean, I alwayzz thought you were a twat becuz you were twatty and you terribleized the Slytherinzz.”

James chuckled, throwing an empty bottle of Firewhisky at the greenhouse wall before throwing his arm around Scorpius. “I alwayzz thought you were hot.”

Scorpius pulled a face at this unexpected information. “What?”

“What?” James asked, apparently unaware he had said anything revealing.

“I’ve got a great idea,” Simon exclaimed. “We should get brooms. I’ll bet we could play a wicked game of Quidditch right now.”

Scorpius seemed confused at the odd suggestion. “How drunk are you right now?”

“Yes,” Simon responded.

Albus snorted. “Do any of us even like Quidditch?”

“No,” Scorpius said.

“Not really,” Simon said, shrugging.

James cackled. “It drives Dad crazy that neither of us really took to it.”

You did,” Albus exclaimed, drunkenly. “You always play at Gran and Grandpa’s house.”

“Doesn’t mean I like it,” James said, opening another bottle. “If I’m passably good at sports, maybe no one will think…” he trailed off, never to finish that thought.

Albus felt a pang of guilt. He knew exactly what James was thinking. Boys who were good at sports were less likely to be poofs, at least in the eyes of the ignorant public. No matter how drunk and Slytherin he was, he would not betray James’s big secret now. “You know, I think I like James’s suggestion. Let’s climb the fuckin’ greenhouse.”

Alright!” Simon said in agreement.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Scorpius said. Despite his intoxication, he thought he’d give level-headedness one last push before giving up completely.

Simon chuckled. “You’re a huuuuge pussy, Scorp.”

Scorpius scoffed. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it. I just said it’s not a good idea. And it’s not, by the way. You fucking chode.”

“You guys are fun! Who knew Slytherins were actually a good time?” James asked no one in particular.

Again. Albus would not point out that James knew better than anyone how good of a time Slytherins could be, seeing as he was secretly dating one. Merlin, morality was hard.

“Kind of hard to recognize it when you’re hexing our shoelaces together, isn’t it, Potter?” Simon asked, grunting as he climbed the wall.”

Once all four boys were safely on the greenhouse roof, they looked out over the mildly impressive view. Much more impressive than the slightly elevated view of the lake, was the fact that they all managed to climb that high without killing themselves.

“This is nice,” Simon offered.

“Yeah,” Albus said, releasing a long breath. “Am I going to die alone?”

“Yes,” all three boys said simultaneously.

“No offense,” James said. “It’s just that you’re a total wank and I honestly can’t imagine how Monica Flint was ever into you to begin with.”

Albus scoffed. “Merlin, James. I wish you wouldn’t hold back.”

“Just being honest,” he said, as he pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his robe pocket.

“Since when did you start smoking?” Albus asked.

James lit up a cigarette and inhaled deeply. “I think it was around the time Dad started painting images of Aunt Hermione’s tits.”

“To be fair, they are glorious tits,” Simon said.

Scorpius grumbled. “Please don’t. She’s going to be my stepmother. Please, don’t talk about her tits.”

Simon totally ignored him. “I’ll bet your dad likes to motorboat them. That’s what I’d do if I was lucky enough to have a go at them.”

Scorpius took a long pull out of a bottle to drown out the image Simon had painted. “You’re a rubbish friend.”

“So, your dad’s really marrying Aunt Hermione?” James asked.

“You going to make your usual Death Eater quips? They’re getting a bit old,” Scorpius said.

James shrugged. “Yeah, sorry about that. I don’t know why I did that. I don’t even know your dad. All I know about him is that he’s....” James had to stop himself. He almost said the words, ‘dead sexy.’

“Give us one of those,” Simon said to James, signaling to the cigarettes. To everyone’s surprise, James immediately handed one over and Simon lit it up with a level of comfort and proficiency that suggested this wasn’t his first rodeo.

“You want one Albus? Malfoy?”

“No, thanks,” Scorpius said.

“Don’t be a vag, Scorp,” Albus said, taking one.

“I’m not a vag,” Scorpius protested. “I just don’t fancy the smell.”

“Of vag?” Simon asked, chuckling.

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “ No , you fucking toss pot. The smell of... that is fine.” He stuffed his hands in his robe pockets and looked away. “I assume.”

“Having a girlfriend’s made you soft,” Simon said.

Scorpius scoffed. “What are you, insane? I’ve always been like this.”

“It’s true,” Albus said, attempting to inhale, but inevitably coughing a bit. “He’s always been a bit of a ponce. Being in love hasn’t changed that.”

“You love Rose?” Simon asked.

Scorpius chuckled into his bottle. “Couldn’t keep a secret, could you mate?”

“I don’t know if I’d call it a secret,” Albus said. “Bloody obvious, the way you two look at each other.”

Scorpius couldn’t fight the smile on his face. “You know what? You’re right. It shouldn’t be a secret.” The alcohol surged through his veins, making him feel invincible as he moved closer to the edge of the roof and screamed into the abyss. “I LOVE ROSE WEASLEY AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!”

James sighed, empathetically, feeling a surge of alcohol and Gryffindor-based courage rise to the surface. “Good for you, Malfoy. You know what?” He walked over to join him and screamed into the air. “I’M GAY!”

Simon and Scorpius jumped at the unexpected confession, not knowing whether they should admire James’s courage, or gape in disbelief at it. Albus observed the scene with quiet, fraternal pride.

Scorpius nodded. “Congratulations, Potter. This feels good.” He inhaled deeply, preparing for Confession Number Two. “I CAME IN MY PANTS WHEN I TOUCHED ROSE THROUGH HER KNICKERS AND NOW I’M WORRIED I WON’T BE GOOD AT SEX!”

Simon scoffed. “Bloody impossible, mate. Your dad is a stud. He pulled Professor Granger. I’d wager that shit’s genetic or something.”

“You think so?” Scorpius asked.

“I LOVE COCK!” James screamed, high on the revelation of drunken confessions.

Simon pulled a face. “Okay. I think we get the picture.”

“I LOVE BRADY, I THINK, MAYBE!!!!”

“Brady?” Simon asked.

“Fitch. Keep up,” Albus said.

“You knew, Al?” Scorpius asked, impressed despite himself. “And you didn’t say anything?”

Albus shrugged. “Personal growth, mate.” Merlin, he was relieved James had spilled the beans because he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d have been able to hold it in.

James sighed. “He’s mad at me, though.”

“Because you’re a twat?” Scorpius asked.

James grimaced in confusion. “Kind of. How did you know?”

“Lucky guess.”

“He says he’s getting tired of me being so mean to him in public. But if I wasn’t, then people would wonder. This way, nobody suspects.”

“Why don’t you two just come out?” Scorpius asked.

James sighed. “Fitch’s parents would crucify him. And me…well…” He shrugged. “I guess I don’t care if people know. I used to. But I’m getting so fucking tired of hiding all the time.”

Scorpius could not believe the night he was having. He actually felt sorry for James Potter. “Well, if you ever want to talk about it…” He clapped James on the back. “That’s what the school counselor is for.”

James turned to Scorpius with a dumb little drunken smile. “You’re alright, you know that, Malfoy?” He threw an arm around the blond boy.

“Uhhh…” Scorpius wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to his former bully in this moment. “Thanks?”

“Bring it in, Malfoy.” James said, drunkenly stumbling over.

“That’s alright. There’s been quite enough affection going around tonight as is, thanks.”

“Just lay one on me, Malfoy. Right on my mouth,” James said, ignoring him.

Scorpius fell back away from James. “That’s alright. I’m good. Besides, I definitely like girls. Breasts, vaginas, those lovely girl legs of theirs…can’t get enough of them. Specifically, my girlfriend’s. I assume."

“Whom you love, right?” James said. He might have been drunk, but damn him, he had been paying the fuck attention.

“Yeah,” Scorpius said, smiling. “Whom I love.”

Simon stepped closer to the edge. “This confession thing looked pretty good.” He cleared his throat. “THE SORTING HAT TRIED TO PUT ME IN HUFFLEPUFF BUT I TOLD IT TO BUGGER THE FUCK OFF!!!”

Scorpius guffawed at his friend’s confession and resumed his own. “I LOVE ROSE WEASLEY!!!!”

“I LOVE BRADY FITCH!!!” James screamed.

“I’M WASTED!!!” Albus said, trying the confession thing for himself.

“AND YOU ARE ALL IN A LOT OF TROUBLE RIGHT NOW!” A voice from below infiltrated their catharsis.

It was Professor Longbottom.

Oh. Bugger.

“GET THE HELL OFF MY GREENHOUSE ROOF, YOU LITTLE SHITS!”

*

Brunch. The most important meal of the day—so long as that day is a weekend and you have nothing to do for the rest of said day so you can have at least two cocktails with said meal. It was a time-honored tradition that Hermione, Ginny, and Susan got together at least once a month to indulge in overpriced beignets, bellinis, and frittatas. During these almost ostentatiously girly appointments, Ginny and Susan would ply Hermione with drinks in mostly vain attempts to get her to indulge them with tales of how Draco Malfoy was in the sack. She mostly kept her trap shut, but would, every now and then, throw the two long-married women a bone.

Today, however, the subject was wedding planning; a subject which was, if possible, even more taboo in the World of Hermione. Although it was a safer topic, it was, in Hermione’s opinion, a zillion times less interesting. And today she was in no mood.

Her stomach churned as she nibbled at her meal. It was a dish that she had ordered many times before and was one of her favorites at this particular Muggle establishment—beet-cured salmon on a caraway bagel, with house-made cream cheese, red onions, and capers, and a side of arugula in a honey-lemon vinaigrette. But today her body seemed to disagree with the entire concoction. The unwelcome gelatinous texture of the smoked salmon, combined with the stinging bitterness of the caraway seeds, the acid of the red onions, and the salt of the capers, made her question why she had ever found this dish appealing. Stir it all up in her stomach and tack on some dairy from the cream cheese and they might as well pay her to eat it.

She gazed longingly at the crabcake eggs Benedict with grilled asparagus that Susan had ordered. For a moment, she experienced the most intense order envy before her mind conjured vivid culinary imagery of how the dish would manifest in actuality. The runny egginess of those poached eggs, combined with the nauseating creaminess of the hollandaise sauce didn’t sound so appetizing. Add to the mix a charred vegetable that would have made her urine smell intolerable…

Forget it. Might as well woman up and eat her salmon.

“Mmmm,” Ginny hummed as she dug into her full English breakfast. “You guys have got to try this sage sausage.”

Hermione instinctively raised her napkin to her lips in protest of the suggestion. Kill me fucking now if she brings that stuff near me.

Ginny forked a generous amount and neared it to Hermione’s face. “You will love this.”

And with that, Hermione immediately vomited all over her place setting.

“Okay,” Ginny said, casting a discreet Scourgify and wrinkling her nose in disgust. “That is a gross overreaction to me trying to share something beautiful with you.”

Susan cast an Air Freshening Charm and leaned in to examine Hermione’s face. “At the risk of asking a stupid question, are you alright?”

“I’m fine. It’s just…” Hermione took a moment to concentrate on breathing lest she blow her chips again. “It’s just stress.”

Ginny smirked as her eyes raked across Hermione’s form. To a casual observer, it may seem she was checking out the curly-haired witch.

“What?” Hermione asked.

Ginny’s eyes sparkled with mischief.

What?” she repeated.

Ginny lunged at her and grabbed a handful of boob.

Ow,” Hermione yelped. “That bloody hurt.”

Ginny had rarely looked so self-important as she did in that moment. “Hermione, darling. Have you been naughty?”

“No. But you have, you bint,” Hermione said, nursing her bruised tit.

“Your breasts look amazing in that top, by the way.”

“I appreciate the compliment, but that doesn’t give you the right to cop a feel whenever you feel like it. I’m sure Draco and Harry would agree with me.”

“No, they wouldn’t,” Susan said. “In fact, they’d be a bit stropped they didn’t get to see it.”

“Hermione,” Ginny said, leaning in and whispering. “Have you gotten yourself knocked up with a baby ferret?”

The Brightest Witch of Her Age, Heroine of the Golden Trio and All-Around Classy Person, released an almighty snort into her mimosa. “Absolutely not. It’s not possible. Draco and I are careful.”

The moment she released those words into the world, Hermione knew that they were not entirely true. The night Draco proposed, they had had the wildest, hottest, sweatiest, most uninhibited sex they had ever had. There was no telling how many times they shagged that evening, but Hermione knew they had gone well into the wee hours of the morning. Collectively, they had probably had about a baker’s dozen orgasms over the course of twenty-four hours, if not more. Probably more. Once they stumbled back to the house from the beach, Draco couldn’t even wait to get her bikini off, much less pause to remember a contraceptive charm.

“I think we’ve lost her,” Susan said, watching Hermione give herself over to the fog of the lurid memory.

“Wanna revisit that supposition, Hermione? Is it really impossible?” Ginny asked.

Hermione swallowed deeply and took a sip of her water. “Maybe not,” she answered in a small voice.

Susan began looking around at the shops around them. “Is there a chemist’s shop nearby?”

“I don’t need to take a…” Hermione swallowed loudly, “…pregnancy test.” She whispered the words as though uttering them any louder would tempt bad juju upon her.

“Fine.” Ginny threw her napkin on the table and stood up, swinging her handbag on her arm. “Since you’re in denial, I’ll go and get one for you.”

“No, Ginny, don’t. I’m really feeling much better now. You really don’t need to…”

And she was gone.

*

“Everything okay in there?” Susan asked from outside the bathroom stall.

“If you two could crawl out of my arsehole for a second, maybe I could actually wee.”

Ginny released a low whistle. “Teaching those teenagers has destroyed your social skills. Listen to those colorful words.”

“Shut it.”

After several moments, a faint tinkling sound could be heard through the stall door.

“Good job, Hermione,” Ginny urged.

Ugh. Could you both please back off and give me a moment?”

“Are you pregnant or not?” Susan asked.

“It takes a minute. Seeing as I only just now was able to pee on the damn thing, I don’t know yet.”

“Woof. Either you’re pregnant or you’re making the slow, painful transition into a Bridezilla,” Ginny said. “Either way, could you tone down the bitchiness?”

Hermione scoffed, her eyes firmly planted on the little bar that would, in about thirty seconds or so, reveal her fate. She was absolutely certain that she could not be pregnant. She wasn’t even sure she was ovulating that night she and Draco might have gotten a tad carried away. There was no way she could be pregnant. Absolutely no way in…

Motherfucker.

Chapter Text

Hermione lay awake in her dorm. She had been awake for hours. With wide, horrified eyes, she stared at the ceiling.

Pregnant.

She was fucking pregnant. A Hogwarts professor. Shaping the minds of today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders. Knocked up because she couldn’t slow down for ten seconds to cast a contraceptive charm. An exemplary archetype of adulthood, she was.

She could have screamed.

She also, in that moment, could have committed at least voluntary manslaughter for a box of Ginger Newts.

Odd. She had never been particularly fond of them. But at the moment, she wanted to crunch through a barrel of those spicy little lizard-shaped biscuits.

“My baby is half-snake,” she said aloud to herself. The thought made her laugh for some odd reason. It amused her that this tiny, developing, part-Slytherin fetus seemed to demand amphibian-shaped desserts. “Obviously, you did not inherit your father’s snobbery.”

She had accepted the fact that this baby was happening. She was still royally freaking out, as was her right. But she had at least come to terms with the fact that, ready or not, in eight months she was going to be a mother.

For about ten minutes, she had thought about an abortion. She couldn’t help it. It was instinctual for her to run through her options, no matter the situation. But ultimately, she decided she couldn’t do it. This wasn’t the result of a fling. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill accident; the result of a one-night stand. This was her and Draco’s child.

Was she ready to be a mother? No. But in her experience, preparation for a task (or lack thereof) wasn’t necessarily indicative of its imminence or its unlikelihood of occurring. Had she been ready at seventeen to wipe her parents’ memories and then set out to destroy the most notorious wizard in living history? No. She had not been.

And she had rocked that shit.

She sighed and rubbed her abdomen. “Are you really in there?” she whispered.

Her eyelashes fluttered as she felt the pangs of exhaustion finally overtake her. As she began to drift, she wondered if it would have Draco’s blond hair. Her big, brown eyes? Would it be a reader, like both of its parents?

Knock, knock, knock!

Hermione’s eyes flew open. She grumbled.

Knock, knock, knock!

“Alright, alright. I’m coming.” She slipped out of bed and threw on a jumper that Draco had given her as a joke. It read, “Slytherins Do It In The Dungeons.” It was kind of vile. But it made her laugh and kept her warm in the drafty Scottish castle.

She opened the door and was instantly shocked to discover a familiar intruder. “Draco?”

“Hi,” he said, leaning against the door frame looking infuriatingly, rakishly handsome, despite the fact that he had obviously just rolled out of bed. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“What are you doing here? Is something wrong?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “My child.”

Hermione froze for a moment. Oh. He means Scorpius.

Great. Pregnancy brain popping up already.

“I just got an urgent owl from the Headmistress. Scorpius and his mates were caught drinking on the roof of one of the greenhouses.”

What?”

“I know. Not his best moment. Longbottom caught them, apparently. Minerva wanted to wake you first, but I told her I’d do it myself. I thought one of us should be a bit more well-rested before we have to handle this.”

Okay, well that was just absolutely fucking adorable. Despite the fact that she was anything but well-rested, her pregnancy hormones responded to the sweet, thoughtful, delicious-looking male whose baby she happened to have cooking inside her. “That’s so sweet. Thank you.”

“Are you alright?”

“Huh?”

“Your eyes look a bit glassy.”

“I’m fine,” she said, waving off his comment. “Let me put on a robe and we’ll go deal with this.”

He smirked as his eyes fixed on her jumper. “You know, you really look quite fetching in that thing.”

She rolled her eyes. “I seriously doubt that.”

He stuck his hands in the pockets of his robes, feigning indifference to the topic he refused to drop. “So, is that your favorite jumper?”

“Hardly,” she lied, wiggling into a pair of yoga pants.

“Do you sleep in it? Do you dream of me?”

“It’s warm.” She threw on a robe over her casual attire. Drunken teenagers or not, she would not set a bad example by donning inappropriate clothing in front of them—especially since she had already failed at practicing safe sex.

“You sure you’re alright?” he asked.

She nodded. “I’m just tired. And, um…I need to talk to you about something. But it can wait.”

His face scrunched up in concern. “Tell me now.”

“We should probably make our way to Minerva’s office, don’t you think?”

“Hermione.” He said her name in a firm way that reminded her he was about to be a father again very soon.

She sighed. “Please. Let’s just go and…parent. Afterwards, we can talk as long as you’d like.”

Her plea did nothing to pacify his curiosity. “Is everything alright? I don’t need to be worried, do I?”

She chuckled warmly. “No. I don’t think so. I think…you’ll actually be pleased.”

He smiled at her and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “Come on. Let’s go shame my kid.”

 

*

 

The two of them arrived at Minerva’s office moments after Harry and Ginny did. Ginny epitomized ‘sleepy chic’ in an old Harpy jumper and a pair of leggings. She somehow managed to look cool despite the fact that she had just woken up. She had the kind of hair that allowed her to wear bedhead well. Bitch.

Harry, on the other hand, looked like a deranged hermit on his last Horcrux. Hermione hoped he was wearing underwear beneath his muumuu of the day, but somehow she doubted it.

There were also two very frightened-looking people Hermione could only assume were Simon’s parents, as they were both shaking like leaves. They seemed afraid to sit in the presence of so much magic.

Scorpius, Albus, Simon, and (to everyone’s surprise) James, were all bellowing some god-awful song at the top of their lungs. Scorpius and Albus screamed, “WATCH ME WHIP!” followed by Simon and James’s “WATCH ME NAE NAE!” And on and on it went.

Draco turned to Hermione, his designated translator on all things young and stupid, and asked “What the hell is ‘nae-naeing’?” If he’d said it once, he’d said it a million times. The music kids listened to these days was just bloody awful.

Minvera looked beyond harassed. “Thank you all for com—”

“DO THE STANKY LEEEEGGG! DO THE STANKY LEG!”

Something broke in her eyes. “Misters Potter, Malfoy, and Jenkins! You will all desist!!!”

They desisted. Simon looked like he had even pissed himself a little.

Simon’s mother was a hair’s breadth from fainting.

Minerva now addressed the room with the dispassionate tone only one who has spent over fifty years in education could assume. “I will not keep you all, as I realize the hour is quite late and you would all no doubt prefer to return to your homes. But I felt this incident required your immediate attention.”

The boys now sat slumped against the wall in various stages of sleepy-drunk. James’s head was resting on Simon’s shoulder, a faint line of drool dripping from his open mouth. Simon was totally passed out, his head resting firmly against the wall. Albus was the most awake, or at least his eyes were open. But he didn’t seem to really register what was going on as he had, undoubtedly, blacked out. Scorpius kept nodding off and his head would jerk up as though he was trying to hide the fact that he couldn’t stay awake.

Ginny sneered at Albus and James. “Nu-uh. None of that. Wake up! If we can’t sleep, neither can you.”

Flashes of Molly Weasley.

Both boys shot up at the sound of their mother’s screeching. They obviously were conditioned to call themselves to attention in the presence of Ginny’s ire.

Flashes of Fred and George Weasley.

Harry stared at them wistfully. “Is it really true, Minerva? Were they caught drinking together?”

“According to Professor Longbottom, yes.”

Harry sighed. “Honestly, I’m just glad my boys are finally getting along.”

The Jenkinses gaped at Harry in his crazed attire as though he might lunge at them any moment and turn them into a pair of toads.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Well I, for one, am furious. And you had better believe I am going to do everything in my power to make both of your lives incredibly hard from this point on.”

Hermione had to suppress a laugh. She remembered (or half-remembered) an evening back in sixth year when she and Ginny had gotten their hands on a few bottles of elf-made wine, snuck down to the lake, and imbibed to dangerous levels of inebriation whilst bemoaning their respective boy problems. Ginny had actually puked on the Giant Squid. But that was probably not what the boys needed to hear at the moment.

Parenting.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Scorpius?” Draco asked. “What could have possibly possessed you to drink your weight in Firewhisky and sneak onto a greenhouse roof after curfew?”

Scorpius regarded his father through half-lidded eyes. He looked contrite enough for someone very obviously using every faculty they possessed in order to stay awake. “M’sorry, Dad.”

Draco groaned. He wanted to stay mad, but he knew he couldn’t. He had, after all, zero legs to stand on when it came to underage drinking, curfew breaking, and vandalism of Hogwarts property. Lucius wouldn’t have even gotten out of bed had Draco done this.

“Each of you will take thirty points from Slytherin,” Minerva said.

James sniggered. “Suckers.”

And thirty points from Gryffindor as well, Mr. Potter.”

James sighed defeatedly. “I should have just let that stupid hat put me in Slytherin.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Can you punish them more if we say it’s okay? Is Filch still around by chance? Maybe Hagrid has some troll cousin they can—”

Harry put a patronizing hand on the small of her back and began rubbing circles while making cooing, shushing sounds. “Relax, Gin. They’re just boys.”

Ginny slowly turned her head and shot him a Look. She scrutinized him carefully for several long moments before narrowing her eyes dangerously. “Thank you,” she said in a deadly calm voice, “for your mansplanation.”

Okay. Maybe she was a little cranky at losing her sleep. Ginny was not a morning flower and did not take well to being woken up before she was ready.

“They will all receive detention with Professor Longbottom.”

A collective groan came from the group of boys, with the exception of Albus, who seemed overjoyed by the prospect of engaging in several afternoons of manual labor with his favorite professor.

Minerva took a deep breath. “I asked you all here to assure you they could not have possibly procured the Firewhisky from any of the Hogwarts faculty or staff.”

Ah. The obligatory ‘Hogwarts is not liable for any blah, blah, blah’ talk.

Harry scoffed. “Minerva, we remember all too well how difficult it was to get our hands on liquor back when we were in school. Not that we didn’t try, eh? Am I right?” He looked to Ginny, Hermione, and Draco for support. None of them were in the mood.

Neither was Minerva. She shot him a Look.

He cowered. “Joking. Obviously.”

James, meanwhile, was stroking Scorpius’s hair. “Malfoy, you’re so fucking blond.” He turned to Draco. “Where do you guys get all this blond from? It’s unusual.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “James, seriously. Leave the poor boy alone and go to bed.”

“I mean look at this guy,” James said, ignoring his mother and gesturing to Scorpius. “He could be a fucking Veela with all that blond.”

Shortly after Albus and Simon began playing a ‘game’ wherein they each would slap one another as hard as possible until they shrieked with drunken joy, McGonagall, with her normally iron nerves shredded to shit, finally managed to maneuver the boys back to their respective common rooms. It was like herding drunken, yowling cats. Once the boys were sent to bed, the Muggles returned to their cozy home in Preston, where they promptly banished the evening’s events from their thoughts, and the wizard parents were left to wander the corridors.

Hermione noticed Ginny lagging back a bit with a bitter look on her face. She decided to be a good friend and investigate.

“Hey. Everything alright?”

She rolled her eyes. “Look at him, Hermione.”

Hermione did not need to be an ex-Auror to know she meant Harry. He had apparently decided to grow a beard, and it was coming in patchy, like he had some variety of mange. His muumuu was a putrid green color, and she doubted he had even approached his nearly shoulder-length hair with a comb for days.

Ginny seethed. “I’m sexually frustrated.”

That’s your problem?” Hermione rolled her eyes. “I thought he was just getting on your nerves.”

“Oh, he is. I can’t fuck him like that, Hermione. I won’t. Did you know that he’s ‘evolved’ as a painter, recently? Paints everything in shades of green. Calls it his Chartreuse Stage.”

“Gross.”

“Correct. And it’s my fault. I did this. I was the one who encouraged him to take time off work and follow his dreams. I bought him that goddamned camera.”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Ginny. I’m sure it’s just a phase. He’ll get over it soon enough and rejoin the ranks of the well-groomed.”

Ginny waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. “You’re probably right. I shouldn’t be complaining. After all, it’s not like I’m pregnant or anything.”

Hermione immediately brought a finger to her lips signaling that the topic was forbidden.

“You haven’t told him?” Ginny asked in a whispered tone.

“I haven’t had the opportunity, yet. I was going to do it tonight when he showed up, but we’re all exhausted, and he’s probably not up to it.”

“Well, if he’s anything like me, he’s probably contemplating wringing the neck of the kid he’s got. Last thing he needs to hear tonight is that in fourteen years, he gets to do this all over again.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes. “You’re mean when you don’t get laid.”

 

*

 

Draco and Hermione said goodbye to the Potters at the Great Hall Floo. Both of them were dead on their feet as they walked up to her dorm.

“What was it you wanted to tell me earlier?”

“Huh?”

“You had something you wanted to talk to me about. Something good, you said. I could use some good news tonight.”

“Um…it was nothing.” 'In an instant, Draco seemed to wake up. “No, it was something. Tell me.”

She sighed. “Draco, I’m tired and so are you. I’ll still be pregnant tomorrow, so why can’t I just wait until then to tell you?”

A shiver went up Draco’s spine and he froze in place. He wasn’t certain she had registered what she’d just said. He wasn’t even sure he registered it. “You’re what?”

Wait…did she…? Fucking pregnancy brain!

“I…” she sighed heavily. “I just found out today.”

Draco stood up, grabbing a nearby railing for support. “You’re really…there’s a…” his eyes fell to her stomach. “You’re sure?”

She shrugged. “I mean, I haven’t confirmed it with Madam Pomfrey yet, but I peed on two sticks, so yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

“You peed on two…no. I don’t even care.” He seemed to be struggling to catch his breath. “You’re pregnant? We’re having a baby?”

“That is usually the result of impregnation, yes.”

Draco was wide awake now. He spoke slowly and methodically like he was trying to work out an Arithmancy problem. “There’s going to be a baby that is half you, half me. You are going to give birth to it and we are going to raise it together. As parents. To a baby.”

Hermione nodded slowly. “I think you’re slowly starting to get it.”

The faraway look in Draco’s face slowly lifted and he broke out into the loveliest smile Hermione had ever seen. He wasted no more time and scooped her up. “We’re having a baby!”

Hermione couldn’t help but giggle a bit. “Draco, put me down. You’ll hurt it.”

“That’s not how it works and you know it.” He looked like a child on Christmas morning. “Hermione…this is…” It was everything he’d ever wanted.

He hoped it was a girl.

His face instantly fell as an unwelcome thought assaulted his happiness. “Your dad’s going to kill me.”

 

*

 

As tired as they were, the two barely slept that night. They lay in bed, stroking one another, sharing sweet, intimate kisses. Draco was drawn to her stomach, which he couldn’t seem to stop petting.

“My child is growing in there.”

“Oh, yeah. I should probably make sure it’s yours, shouldn’t I?” Hermione teased.

He stuck his tongue out at her. “When did it happen, do you think?”

She snorted. “I’ve got a pretty good idea. The night you proposed. You remember how enthusiastic we were.”

He grinned wolfishly at her. “Which time? I recall a plethora of quality shags that evening.”

“It’s hard to say for sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say that second time on the floor of your living room.”

Draco sighed fondly. He remembered. In their eagerness, they broke two vases of some vague historical significance that he suspected his mother had loved more than his own self. He had ripped her bikini bottoms in half and she had barely even noticed. They started against the wall, but eventually moved to the floor, the coffee table, and ended up right back on the floor in front of the fireplace. He had finished deep that time. So much so that for an extended period of time, he and Hermione couldn’t even move, really. It had seemed to be their goal to push themselves together as close as physically possible. Their bodies pulsed, throbbed, and trembled in each other’s arms. He recalled thinking that he couldn’t get close enough to her. It wasn’t enough to be inside her. The slightest amount of space between them had been too much. They clawed at one another like they were trying to merge into one being.

The orgasm itself had been one of the most intense he could remember. He was pretty sure he had seen a new color that hadn’t existed prior to that explosive event.

“Draco. You still with me?”

“Hmm? Yeah.” He shook himself back to the present and resumed the protective stroking of his fiancée’s abdomen. “Not that I’m not thrilled, because I am, but I thought you were on the pill or the potion or something.”

She rolled her eyes. “The pill. And I usually cast a contraceptive charm too, because the pill is only 99.9% effective.”

He couldn’t help it as the beginnings of a devilish grin began to form on his face. The fact that a reliable and effective form of birth control had been no match for his virile and potent sperm greatly appealed to his inner caveman.

Hermione shoved him gently. “Don’t you dare enjoy that.”

“It’s not my fault I’m so good at knocking you up, Granger.”

She sighed forlornly. “My body is going to be a wreck.”

“Your body is going to be glorious.” He hushed her up with a heated kiss. “I can’t wait. New baby smell and tiny socks. You pushing a pram.” He sighed, his eyes tracing the outline of her lace camisole. “Your breasts are going to be huge.”

She snorted. “You would think about that.”

“We’ll need to convert the room nearest ours into a nursery.” His eyes widened, as though he had just remembered something important. “Baby names. What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking about diaper changes and 4 a.m. screamings. Plus, the fact that my vagina will become a fucking bat cave.”

“But a cave of wonders.” He dodged her light smack to his shoulder. “Come on. We both know it doesn’t work like that. And as for the rest, we’ll get through it together. Plus, it isn’t like we don’t have help. There are, at the Manor, about twenty or so house-elves who have been looking forward to this day since the moment I brought you home.”

Hermione laughed, in spite of herself. “I know. I suppose I’m just nervous.”

“I know you are, love.” He ran his fingers up and down her arms. “Just last week you were freaking out over being a stepmother.”

“Thanks for the reminder.”

“And I seem to recall you were rather unenthusiastic about the prospect of having children.”

“If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t say I’m too enthused about it now. But it’s happening.”

Draco tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “This isn’t how I would have gone about it, either. But trust me when I say you are going to be brilliant. Just like with everything you do.”

She yawned, her sacred vessel body finally taking the sleep it had been demanding. As she fell asleep in his arms, her final thought was how grateful she was for him.

She would save worrying for tomorrow.

 

*

 

At 8:00 a.m. the following morning, Hermione frantically knocked on 12 Grimmauld Place for several minutes before the door opened to reveal a frazzled Ginny Weasley.

“Ginny, I’m freaking out.”

“Hermione. Come the fuck in,” Ginny said in an even voice, still clad in her pajamas. “Let me just make some coffee.”

Hermione followed her into the kitchen, setting the bag of pastries she had brought as a gesture of goodwill on the counter. “I told Draco about the pregnancy last night after you guys left. And can you believe what he said to me?”

“What did he say?” Ginny asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

“He said that I was going to be ‘brilliant.’” She released a scoff-like laugh of incredulity. “And he was just so...sweet, and...and sure about everything. I mean seriously.”

“Right,” Ginny droned, measuring out an unholy amount of coffee for the pot. “How dare he be a loving and supportive partner?”

“I just don’t think it’s sunk in yet for him,” Hermione said, completely oblivious to her friend’s sarcasm. “He’s too calm. There is no reason he should be so calm about this.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “He’s a man. They’re stupid.”

Right? I mean I’m growing a bloody parasite in my body, Gin.”

“Yup. I grew three of them myself.”

“I mean, I must be crazy to do this. Because, Gin…I’m going to admit something to you. Something I’ve never told anyone.”

Ginny promptly poured them each a cup of strong, magically-brewed coffee. Her own cup, she had covertly laced with Firewhisky. “Do go on.”

Hermione leaned in and whispered, “I don’t like kids.”

Ginny nearly dropped her mug. “You…you don’t like kids?”

“No.”

“But you’re a teacher!”

“And a godmother. And a stepmother. And now, a freaking mother. And I don’t like kids.”

“Well,” Ginny said, sipping her Mommy Medicine coffee. “Shit.”

“I mean, I guess I should clarify. It’s not that I don’t like kids, per se. It’s just that I have never in my life thought that it might enrich me in some way to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around, screaming at me, and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life.”

Ginny snorted. “Well, it’s a bit more than that, but I do think it’s fair to say that you will lose a good portion of your dignity. For example, there was this time when Albus was four, he asked me to make him a jam sandwich. I was busy, but nevertheless, I stopped what I was doing, and I made him the damn sandwich. And when I gave it to him, he asked me to cut off the crusts. I didn’t even think about it, Hermione. I just did it. And while I was doing it, I swear to God, I heard him whisper, ‘You’re my bitch now.’”

Hermione released a low whine. “You know me, Gin. I’m not that girl. I don’t sigh when I see babies in prams. I don’t rub pregnant women’s bellies. And I don’t dissolve into tears at the sight of tiny socks and shoes! I’m not even that good with kids.”

“I know,” Ginny said, adding more Firewhisky to her coffee. “You were not great with mine until they were, as you said, ‘old enough to hold a conversation.’ But that doesn’t mean you know you won’t be a good parent. Everybody thinks that until they do it. You’ll surprise yourself.”

“No, Ginny. I know I will suck at it. I’ve already had an extremely unsuccessful conversation with Rose about sex after I caught her and Scorpius half-naked in a broom closet together.”

Ginny’s jaw dropped. “Shut up.”

“Exactly.”

“That is…” Ginny gaped. “That must have been bloody awkward.”

“Rose thinks she’s ready.”

Ginny let that information sink in for a moment before bursting out laughing. “Do not tell Ron.”

No shit, Gin!”

“Did you say something to Susan?”

Hermione shook her head. “Rose told me she would talk to her on her own.”

Ginny burst out laughing again. “Oh, honey. You got played by a teenager.”

“What?”

“She’s not going to say shit to Susan. When I was her age and I started dating Michael Corner, my mother said the same thing to me. ‘You can talk to me, Ginevra.’”

“And I’m guessing you didn’t?”

“No, I did not. But I’ll tell you what I did do: I lost my virginity to that shit-head under the Quidditch stands while a squirrel carried off my knickers. Michael lasted a minute and a half and then left me to track down my knickers on my own.”

Hermione grimaced. “Gross. I always wondered why you dumped him. All you ever said about it was that he was a ‘bad loser.’”

“He was. But it will be different for Rose. Scorpius is a nice boy and he’s crazy about her.”

“Fair point. I guess I just didn’t handle it well.”

Ginny held up her mug and clacked Hermione’s cup with it. “Welcome to parenthood, kid.” She took a healthy swig. “At least your goddaughter felt like she could talk to you. My son can’t even come out of the closet to me.”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “Albus is gay?”

Ginny snorted. “James. James is gay.”

Hermione sighed and sat back in her chair. “Oh my God, I know nothing.”

Ginny shrugged. “I found some magazines in his room this summer when I was cleaning under his bed. He does not have his brother’s talent for secrecy.”

“Wow. He seems so…”

Ginny nodded. “An act. And a totally unnecessary one, at least where his father and I are concerned. It…” Ginny paused, staring into her coffee cup. When she spoke again, her voice was a little bit heavier than it was before. “It hurts that he thinks he can’t tell us.”

“Gin,” Hermione said, covering her friend’s hand with one of her own. “I’m sure he’ll talk to you in his own time.”

“I know. Of course he will.” She fixed Hermione with a serious look. “Most of the time, it’s a thankless job, being a mother. James is a textbook closet-case bully, Albus is a socially inept little creep, and Lily has nothing to say to me. But I swear to God, I’d stop my heart for any of those little monsters. Sometimes I look at them and I’m so damn proud of them, I just can’t believe they’re real. I made those people. Sure, they’re flawed. Harry’s flawed. I’m extremely flawed. But we’re a fucking family. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

Hermione couldn’t help but smile at this rare moment where Ginny tore down her armor. “I want that. I do. I never thought I would, but Merlin help me, I fucking want all of that.”

“You and Draco might not be perfect, because perfect doesn’t exist. But he’s your forever. There’s no doubt about that.”

Hermione smiled wryly at her friend. It was moments like this that she was reminded of Ginny’s profession as a sports writer. The woman had a marvelous way with words.

The red-head sank her teeth into an almond croissant “Fuck, this is so good, I can feel it in my clit.”

Just a goddamned genius wordsmith. A member of the literati with unparalleled rhetorical talent. Hermione grinned.

“You, my dear, are sexually frustrated.”

“And you, my spoiled friend, are an oversexed prat.”

Hermione took a sip of her coffee. “Probably. But you still need to talk to your husband.”

“I will. You know, the subject of his paintings has shifted. He doesn’t paint tits anymore.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear.”

“He paints images of his Auror days.” Her mouth stretched fondly in an almost-smile. “He misses it.” She took an indecent bite of her pastry.

“And you miss his Auror robes.”

Ginny released a girly sigh. “I want to get fucked so bad.”

“Talk to your husband, Gin.”

“Yeah, yeah. You be nice to that stunning blond man you’re marrying. He’s trying to calm your neurotic arse down, so zip it and let him. And give him some blow jobs or something to thank him for being such a prince about the fact that you’re about to get fat and cranky for the next nine months. And stop inventing reasons to freak out and dumping them on my door before I’ve even had my coffee.”

Thus spake Ginevra.

Chapter Text

Scorpius’s mind awoke from its erratic half-slumber, but his eyes refused to budge. “Ughhh,” he moaned. “Someone should just kill me.”

He had never felt like this before. His head was heavy, filled with static, and further encumbered with a sharp pain that threatened to split his skull in two. On top of that, he was pretty sure he was going to vomit.

On his bedside table, he found a glass of life-giving water. He drank it all as fast as his stomach and head would allow. Even through the ire of those traitorous organs, he was thirstier than he’d ever been in living memory. Once he drank his fill, he caught sight of a note next to the glass that read:

 

Good morning, Scorpius.

 

Curious, he opened the note and read:

 

My formerly well-behaved son,

Enjoy your hangover today. I’d like to think it will be enough to keep you from doing something so monumentally stupid again in the future, but I’m a realist. This is just the first of MANY hangovers you will experience in your life. I have arranged for Whimsy to put a glass of water on your bedside table, which I’m sure you have already demolished. I had thought to have her give you a Hangover Potion. But seeing as this is an excellent teaching opportunity, I opted against it.

You’ll be fine.

 

--Your loving father

 

P.S.—Hermione’s pregnant. Ruminate today over your impending brotherhood while you think about how to be a better role model. :)

 

“Buggering hell,” Scorpius croaked. He was going to be a brother, and all he could think about was how much he wanted another glass of water. He tried to cast an Aguamenti, but his brain hurt too much. “Ow.”

In that moment, Albus woke suddenly with a hiss. “Ohhh, fuck my life,” he said, rubbing his temples.

Simon was still totally passed out.

A knock came at the door.

“You get it,” Albus said, rolling over on his side.

You get it. I just found out I’m going to be a brother.”

“S’nice,” Albus said.

Albus? Albus Potter? Are you in there?” said a voice on the other side of the door. The deep, male voice muttered softly to itself, “This is the fourth-year dorm, right?”

With an almighty growl, Albus crawled out of bed and winced as he stumbled into a standing position. With glacial speed, he trudged over to the door and swung it open. “What?” He scrunched his face in confusion at the person on the other side of the door. “Fitch?”

The gentle giant that was Brady Fitch was, if possible, even less of a Slytherin than Scorpius. No one had ever heard of him saying or doing anything clever, ambitious, or resourceful. Shagging Albus’s brother was probably the most devious thing the bloke had ever done. He appeared to be rather uncomfortable as he stood in Albus’s doorway, shifting the weight of his substantial Beater build from foot to foot. “Alright? Um…can I come in?”

Albus shrugged and left the door open as he turned around to return to his bed—the only thing in the world that understood him right now. Brady Fitch gingerly accepted the invitation into the room and shut the door behind him as he looked around for a chair to sit upon.

“Umm…so your brother was drunk last night.”

“I was there,” Albus said, rubbing his eyes.

“He um… he sent me a message.”

Albus grunted in acknowledgement.

“Aaannnd…he mentioned that you might know something that involves—”

“I know you’re shagging my brother. Or…he’s shagging you. Please don’t tell me which one. I really don’t want to know.”

With frightened eyes, the older boy sputtered. “We…ahh…” He looked around the room at Scorpius and Simon.

“They know too,” Albus muttered. “James sort of came out last night to us. Also, I think he loves you or something.” Albus was in no mood to keep juicy information to himself this morning. Better out than in. Just like all the poison in his bloodstream.

Brady preened at this information. Albus vaguely registered that the boy was batting his eyelashes as an embarrassing blush stained his cheeks.

“No offense, but what the fuck are you doing here? As you can see, we are all rather indisposed this morning.”

“Oh, that. Well…I just wanted to thank you. You see, James told me last night that he wasn’t ashamed and that he wanted to ‘shout from the rooftops’ or something.”

“Well, he definitely did that.”

“And he said it was ‘all because of his brother, who was not as much of a twat as he thought he was, and his stupid little friends.’ So…thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. Now, Fitch…” he said, rubbing his eyes. “I don’t want to be rude, but if you don’t bugger off now, I’m liable to start shitting hexes.”

“Oh,” Brady said, obviously thinking Albus meant it literally. “Well, alright then. I’ll leave you to it.” With the sheepish politeness characteristic of someone who had just met a member of their boyfriend’s family, he exited the room.

A moment of silence descended over the room, which smelt greatly of paint thinner and sweaty boy.

“Ow,” Scorpius whimpered pathetically.

Knock, knock, knock.

Albus fake cried. “Scorp. I cannot. Okay?”

“Neither can I.”

“Simon?” Albus said, nudging his head in the direction of Simon’s bed. The boy was still totally passed out.

Knock, knock, knock.

“I’m coming!” Albus bellowed. He shot a glare in Scorpius’s direction, muttering under his breath, “Spoiled little turd.”

As he swung open the door for the second time that morning, he was even more surprised to find Monica Flint on the other side of it.

“Hi,” she said.

Albus blinked at her. “Um…hi.”

“Can I come in?”

He looked around to try to find a seat for her. “Yeah. Just um…”

“I only need a minute. I can see you’re um…” She motioned to his out-of-control Potter hair and his zombie-like pallor.

“A tad hungover,” he said, rubbing his face. “What’s up?”

“I just…I wanted to tell you that I’m…um…well, I’m—”

“You’re dating Padraig McPhearson.”

Her large green eyes widened into near-perfect circles. “How did you…?”

He shrugged. “I know everything that goes on in this school.”

She bit her lip sheepishly. “Is that why you were…you know. Drinking?”

He scoffed. Yes. Absolutely. “It’s cute that you think that, but no.”

“Right.” She suddenly looked extremely uncomfortable. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“Well, I thought…” She sighed. “It doesn’t matter what I thought.”

Albus squinted his eyes shut. “Mon, you shouldn’t apologize to me. If anything, I should apologize to you. I wasn’t very nice to you, which was stupid because the truth is, I do really like you. But I’m not boyfriend material.”

“You like me? Al, if you’re serious, then I don’t have to—”

“Yes, you do, Mon. You want one of those blokes who woos you and courts you and all that rot. McPhearson might be an imbecilic waste of space, but he likes you the way that you want. I thought I could do all that stuff, but the truth is, if I really wanted to, I would have. And I don’t.”

Monica looked like she wanted to say something else, but she just nodded. After a long moment, she held out her hand and extended it to Albus. “Can we be friends?”

Albus rolled his eyes and took her hand. “We’re already friends.”

She smiled. “Good. I guess…I’ll see you around?”

“Sure.”

After she left, Albus stared at the door for a few seconds before dragging himself back to his bed. He hit the mattress with a groan.

“Why did you do that?” Scorpius asked.

“Why were you listening?”

“I needed a distraction from my body’s betrayal. Why would Monica go out with some bloke she doesn’t even like just because she wants a boyfriend? It’s supposed to be you.”

Albus sighed. “Look, I know that you have this adorable little relationship, and you want to have Rose’s babies or something. But I’m not like that.”

“Okay, first of all, fuck off. And second of all, you like Mon.”

“I know.” It just wasn’t enough. And oddly, Albus was okay with that. There had been a reason he referred to her as a ‘snog buddy’ rather than a ‘girlfriend.’ Albus Potter was not that guy. Sure, if the right girl ever came around, that was likely to change, but now was not that time. He simply had no wish at the age of fourteen to change his personality and his values just to please a girl, even if it was a girl he fancied.

Scorpius wouldn’t let it rest. “But, Al--”

“Scorp, I’m fourteen. Maybe in a few years I’ll look back and realize I should have run off into the sunset with her or something, but I seriously doubt it. By then, I’ll probably like a different girl. Maybe even a few different girls. And you know what? I’m okay with that.”

Scorpius smirked as he rolled over and covered his head with a pillow. “Yeah, alright.”

Simon awoke with a cringing whine. “Noooo. Why me?”

“Welcome to Hell, mate,” Albus said. “Our bodies hate us, Slytherin is down ninety points, and we’ve all got detention until we die. All in all, I’d say it was a rather expensive evening.”

“Were…were my parents here last night?” Simon asked.

“It’s entirely possible.”

Scorpius waved his father’s note in the air. “My dad knocked up Professor Granger. I’m going to be a brother.”

“That’s nice,” Simon said, grasping at his bedside table for his wand like a helpless baby kitten.

In that moment, a house-elf popped into the boys’ dorm. “Is any of you being Albus Potter?”

“That’d be me.”

The house elf dropped a red envelope in Albus’s lap and disappeared promptly on the spot.

Albus’s face fell. “No.”

“Open it, mate,” Scorpius said.

“No way,” Albus said, with a horrified look on his face.

"Don't be a pussy. Open it."

"Hard pass."

“Why?”

Because, you fucking toe rag, my mum’s Howlers are no joke. I swear, the woman is part-banshee.”

Open it, or it will be so much worse.”

With bated breath, Albus opened the envelope.

"ALBUS, I SWEAR TO MERLIN, IF I DIDN’T LOVE YOU AND YOUR BROTHER SO MUCH, I’D TEAR YOUR KIDNEYS OUT THROUGH YOUR TOES!!! I GOT AN OWL AT 3 BLOODY A.M. THIS MORNING FROM THE HEADMISTRESS BECAUSE OF YOU, YOUR BROTHER, AND YOUR LITTLE FRIENDS. SOMEBODY THREW AN EMPTY FIREWHISKY BOTTLE INTO THE LAKE AND HIT THE GIANT SQUID ON THE HEAD! HE’S GOT A CONCUSSION ACCORDING TO MADAME POMFREY. I DON’T CARE WHO DID IT, BUT YOU AND YOUR BROTHER ARE GROUNDED WHEN YOU GET BACK FOR THE CHRISTMAS HOLS. I’VE GOT OVER TWO MONTHS TO PLAN HOW BAD YOUR PUNISHMENTS ARE GOING TO BE, SO YOU BETTER BELIEVE THEY’RE GOING TO BE WHOPPERS.

AND YOU’RE FOURTEEN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I HOPE YOU HAVE GOT A WHALE OF A HANGOVER THIS MORNING, YOUNG MAN. THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE FEELING THIRSTY AND YOU DO SOMETHING THIS STUPID, I WILL OPEN UP SUCH A CAN OF WHOOP-ARSE ON YOU, YOU CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE!"

The Howler dove to deposit a healthy bitch-slap to Albus’s face before combusting in the air.

Several moments of silence between the three boys passed before Simon finally spoke. “I think...I blew a funny fuse. I cannot laugh at that.”

“We hit the Giant Squid?” Scorpius asked. Immediately, all three boys’ attention was directed to the window, where the Giant Squid’s tentacles could usually be seen swaying in the green glow of the water.

Sure enough, a narrow-eyed, seething, oversized mollusk was glaring at them with a bandage wrapped around his head.

“Oh, hell,” Scorpius said.

“Can we all just take a moment to acknowledge that Albus’s mum is a scary fucking person?” Simon asked. Scorpius and Simon sniggered at the imprint of the thick, Howler card-stock on Albus’s face.

“‘I will open up such a can of whoop-arse on you,’” Simon said in a high falsetto, meant to evoke Ginny’s voice.

Albus glared at him. “By all means. Continue mocking me in your ball-gurgling revelry.”

“‘If I didn’t love you and your brother so much, I’d rip your kidneys out through your toes,’” Scorpius added.

“I hate you both. And I’m never drinking again.”

Ah. Youth.

 

*

 

Draco moaned as he spilled into Hermione’s mouth. Wave after wave of ecstasy hit him when she swiped her tongue over the tip, just to make sure she didn’t miss a single drop.

“Oh, gods,” he said, catching his breath. “Woman, you’re going to kill me.” It had been the third blow job of the afternoon. “May I ask what brought this on so I can be sure to replicate it in the future?”

She smirked up at him. “I just wanted to express my appreciation for how wonderful you’ve been.”

“Message received,” said the happily oversexed husk of a man lying on the bed next to her. “I think this is exactly how I want to die. Death by blowjob.”

“And leave me to raise our child all on my own?” Hermione teased.

He smiled, cupping her face in his hand. “I wouldn’t miss that for all the blowjobs in the world.”

She laughed. “Why is that sweet? It really shouldn’t be.” She propped herself up into a sitting position. “I’ve think I’ve decided on a date for the wedding, too.”

Draco grinned brightly. “Okay, seriously. I’m going to give Whimsy a raise, because whatever she slipped into your porridge this morning is really working for me.”

“Next October. The baby will be here by then, and it gives us a year to plan.”

“I’m sold.” He tugged her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her. “In the meantime, I want you to move your things into the Manor.”

She looked up at him. “I thought we agreed I’d move in after the wedding?”

“That was before you were pregnant with my child. I don’t want to miss being able to take care of you. Of both of you.”

Hermione opened her mouth to retort before he silenced her with a finger to her lips.

“This is not a discussion. You know I’m right.”

Hermione couldn’t even muster a half-hearted attempt at feminism in that moment. The truth is, she knew he was right. It would be far more comfortable to be pregnant in a large, warm house with dozens of house-elves and a doting fiancé to wait upon her than to be pregnant in a drafty castle with ghosts, poltergeists, and a tiny dorm room. She grumbled and rolled her eyes so hard, she could almost hear them. “Fine.”

He smirked triumphantly. “See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” He kissed her deeply, prying her lips apart and forcing her to kiss him back, despite her best efforts not to. “Ridiculous…woman,” he said through his demanding kisses.

Hermione chuckled into his lips. It was hopeless to resist him. He was too good of a kisser and Hermione was a sucker for a good snog. She gasped as one of his hands made its way under her top to cup a breast. “Again?”

“Again,” he whispered into her mouth. “And this time we both get off.”

Chapter Text

Hermione awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of her stomach demanding sustenance. It seemed to speak its desires very clearly.

Ginger Newwwwts. Ginger Newwwwts.”

Fucking Ginger Newts.

It’s no wonder she was ravenous. The hot-blooded snake currently wrapped around her body had kept her up all night. Her skin was still raw from the attentions of his skillful tongue and teeth as they sucked patches of blood to the surface. He had held her wrists above her head as he licked and nipped his way down every inch of her body. She thought she was going to die when his tongue dipped into her bellybutton just as he plunged two fingers from his free hand into her dripping heat.

The torrents of filth that came out of her mouth surprised her. She had begged him to fuck her in the dirtiest, most depraved ways imaginable; words that she never even realized she knew. He had been panting for her by the time he finally complied with her lusty demands.

The bed held up surprisingly well.

She slipped out of Draco’s possessive grip and threw on a silly little robe he had bought her. On her way to the kitchens to procure the objects of her confection desires, she froze at the sound of a scoff cloaked in a glower coming from a nearby portrait.

She turned to find the perpetrator. “Lucius Malfoy.” '

“Miss Granger,” he said in a pinched voice. “It’s terribly early for you to be awake, don’t you agree?”

She chuckled darkly. “It really burns you up to see me have free reign of this house, doesn’t it?”

Lucius Malfoy’s arrogant features drew up into a sneer. “My son might prefer to think with more single-minded parts of his anatomy, but you are smarter than that.”

“...Thank you?”

“I mean to say that you cannot think you will ever truly be Lady of this great house.”

Hermione hated the way those words affected her. Lucius Malfoy’s racist yawns should never be able to tear her down. “Draco loves me.”

Forever.

“Draco is spoiled. It is my greatest regret as a father that I failed to teach him his privilege did not come without responsibilities.”

That’s your biggest regret as a father?”

“You’re not a parent, Miss Granger. You can never understand how difficult it is to watch your only child make the biggest mistake of his life.”

Don’t let him get to you. This is just a shadow of the bitter little man Lucius Malfoy was in life. As good as it would have felt to throw it in Lucius Malfoy’s face that she was carrying Draco’s half-blood child, she had no desire to stand in the corridor arguing with him until dawn. “You have no idea what it means to love.”

Lucius smirked evilly. “No? I seem to recall my son dearly loved his first wife. She was a true Lady Malfoy. You will never fill her shoes.”

She should have been angry. She should have clawed the portrait Lucius Malfoy had temporarily usurped for the sole purpose of torturing her till it was nothing but shreds. This would be her home. Draco would be her husband. How dare Lucius Malfoy try to make her doubt it?

Instead, she wanted to cry. Lucius Malfoy’s portrait made her want to cry. That fact alone made her angrier at herself than she ever could have been at her dead future father-in-law.

She went to bed without her Ginger Newts.

 

*

 

Draco awoke happy. Hermione curled up as closely as possible to him in the night, her face nuzzled in the crook of his neck. He stroked the silky skin of her back up and down the length of her spine and kissed her lightly on the cheek. He couldn’t help but smirk at seeing the evidence of their coupling the night before across her neck, collarbone, even abdomen. He was especially drawn to her stomach these days.

Pulling up the sheet as softly as possible so as not to wake his bride-to-be, he nodded smugly as his suspicions were confirmed. He had left one or two love-bites on the inside of her upper thighs. Oh, yes, those were especially fun to make. His mouth watered at the memory of everything he had done to her last night and he felt his cock stir in agreement that it should be repeated as soon as possible.

He nuzzled her awake by rubbing his nose across the soft skin of her neck and became vastly more adventurous with his light touches across her body. “Wake up,” he hummed across her throat.

She made the most adorable little keening sounds as she wiggled awake. Draco left feather-light kisses across her eyelids, and journeyed south over her cheekbones, nose, eventually landing on her mouth. She awoke the very moment his lips touched hers, responding eagerly to him.

Very eagerly.

Draco was a bit taken aback as she pushed against him with a hunger he had never seen her display this early in the morning. Not that he was complaining—he had certainly been hoping the morning was headed in this direction—but he had been unprepared for her vigor.

Draco groaned as she bit his bottom lip and laved her tongue across it to sooth the worried flesh. His breath came out in pants. “H-Hermione.”

She silenced him with another bruising kiss. Draco couldn’t help but rock his hips against her and press her to him, clutching her lower back.

“Ahhh, fuck. Is this what being pregnant does to you?”

She hummed lustily against his chest and dragged her tongue down his torso. “I love you,” she whispered.

He knew that she loved him. But something about the way she said it…something wasn’t right. She was upset.

Ooooh, gods, Hermione,” he groaned as she took him in her mouth.

Well…he knew something was wrong, but his cock didn’t know that.

“Hermione,” he panted. “Stop.”

She pulled her mouth off him and glared up at him. “Excuse me?”

He sighed. “I’ll probably regret this but I don’t think we should have sex right now.”

“Why not?”

“Something’s bothering you.”

She sulked as she pulled her knees to her chest. “Is it so wrong for me to want to make love to the father of my child?”

He smiled and cupped her jaw lovingly. “The day I turn that down will be the day I give the house-elves permission to poison my tea.”

“But you did turn me down. Just now.”

“No, I postponed sex because something is wrong. You’re never like this. And as much as it pains me to say, we can’t fuck all our problems away. You can talk to me about anything.”

She nibbled her bottom lip for several moments before decidedly opening her mouth to speak. She knew she and Draco had a history of communication problems. At one time, it had been funny, but in order for their Forever to last, she would need to make more of an effort. “Why don’t you ever talk about Astoria?”

Okay. He had not been expecting that. “What do you want to know?”

“Why isn’t there a portrait of her in the Manor? Or at least…I’ve never seen one.”

Draco smiled sadly. “She was…sick for a long time. And she never…” He shook his head. “She didn’t want to have one made.”

Hermione could see the memory forming behind his eyes. Two minutes ago, he was in her mouth and she was on her way to bringing him to ecstasy. Now she was making him sad. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“No. It’s alright. You’ve every right to ask.”

Hermione stared at her toes. “You loved her.”

Draco blinked in surprise at her. “I did.”

“You must have been so lonely without her.”

He took her hand in his and gently rubbed her knuckles with his thumb. “I was for a long time. But I had Scorpius. And then I met you and…suddenly I wasn’t lonely anymore.”

Hermione blushed at his statement. He was being so honest with her; so open. She should return his confidence by opening fully to him as well. “This wasn’t something I meant to bring up. It’s just that…last night, I was heading to the kitchen, and I ran into your father’s portrait.”

Draco’s eyes hardened in an instant. “What did he say to you?”

Hermione shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”

“No, Hermione. It does. This is going to be your house. I’m not going to let the bloody furnishings make you feel otherwise.”

“He just reminded me that I wasn’t the first wife. It’s easy to forget sometimes and I guess I just felt…like…an imposter. It’s an odd feeling. I’m happier than I ever thought I could be with you, but it never would have happened if Astoria was still alive. It feels wrong to think that way. I’m glad you had Astoria, and I know if you could go back you would have done everything the same way. And I would want you to. It’s how Scorpius came to be. But if she was still alive, you and I wouldn’t be together. How does my happiness with you live side-by-side with that fact? I don’t know what to make of it. I never knew Astoria, but I could never be happy that she died. Especially if she meant so much to you.”

That was a lot to get out. But it had been eating at her since last night. She had no doubt that she and Draco belonged together. But how was she not supposed to feel like she had encroached on a dead woman’s life? How did wise people handle this anomaly?

Draco reached out and stroked her face. “I don’t have the answers. I’m eternally grateful to Astoria and a part of me will always love her for what she did for me. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t complicate my life, somewhat, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are my life now. For this little moment in time, it’s just you, me, Scorpius, and this little person inside of you.” He stroked her stomach lovingly. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Hermione Granger tries to rationalize the one thing that doesn’t make sense at all.”

“You’re right. I’ll drive myself crazy overthinking this.” She sighed. “I’m sorry I ruined our morning.”

He shushed her and pulled her closer to him, giving her a reassuring kiss on the lips. “You could never ruin anything.”

“Except a blow job.”

“If memory serves me correctly, I think I ruined the blow job. You were doing a pretty marvelous job of it.”

She smirked. “Shall we test a theory of mine? How soon after talking about your father do you think you can be ready to go again?”

Draco scoffed. “Probably not anytime soo—ooohhh.”

Hermione shut him with her hand around his cock. She rubbed her body against his naked chest, moaning at the instantaneous hardening of her nipples.

“You depraved little vixen,” he said, unable to keep from being impressed with her determination to tie up loose ends.

“I know. I need to be spanked.”

Draco groaned as his dick instantly inflated. “Hermione, do you have any idea how much it hurts to get hard that fast?”

No sooner had he said it and he was in her mouth again. Just before he lost all ability to form a coherent thought, he vowed that his father would not be interfering in his life beyond the grave ever again.

 

*

 

His hand slammed down on the wall next to Lucius Malfoy’s portrait, startling him awake. “Wake up, old man.”

Lucius grumbled at the abrupt intrusion. “This is most improper.”

“Not as improper as you bullying my fiancée last night.”

Lucius rolled his eyes, a habit which would have been too undignified for him in life. But in death, sharing a room with generations of his relatives, including his father with his constant, ‘Do you know, Lucius, dear boy? I think you may be the only Malfoy in history to have landed himself in Azkaban’—eye rolling was a thing he did now. “Women can be rather dramatic, Draco.”

Not Hermione.”

“The young lady is supposed to be intelligent, Draco. It should hardly be a surprise when she figures out for herself that she has no business in this family.”

A deadly sneer haunted Draco’s face. “Did she happen to mention that she’s pregnant?”

The hunting dogs in the background of Lucius’s portrait began snarling wildly, as though they could sense that there would soon be a half-blood baby born to the most ancient house of Malfoy. Lucius, himself, seemed to take it well enough.

Seemed to. In reality, he was merely sitting very still while his wife reached across her own portrait to pinch him mightily on the thigh in warning.

“That’s wonderful news, dear,” Narcissa said. “Scorpius was such a darling baby. It will be marvelous to have another in the house, won’t it, Lucius?”

He said nothing.

“Lucius?” She pinched harder.

Yes,” he responded in a tight voice.

Draco smiled at his mother. “You can let go of him now.”

She did. Lucius immediately rubbed the wounded spot on his leg and glared at his son. “Are you quite sure the child is yours?”

Lucius! Really, dear,” Narcissa scolded.

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that, Father.” Draco looked eerily like Lucius in that moment, all ice and perfect blond hair. “At any rate, I came here to tell you that you will not be speaking to Hermione anymore.”

“I make no promises if your whor—” the return of Narcissa’s perfectly manicured, sharp nails digging into his leg, “Hhhorcrux-hunting girlfriend—”

“—Fiancée.”

“—Girlfriend insists on nosing around the house where she doesn’t belong.”

Draco sneered dangerously at him. “Perhaps you’re right, Father.”

Lucius looked like he was stifling a yawn. “Really?”

Draco shrugged. “Yeah. I mean, it’s highly unlikely that she’ll want to come visit you in the Portrait Gallery, but if she does, I can’t stop you from talking to her.”

Lucius recognized the careful way his son didn’t seem to be perfectly agreeing with Lucius’s meaning.

“Father, if you would be so kind, would you care to try to go into Mother’s portrait?”

He tried. He couldn’t. “What is the meaning of this?”

“I’ve cursed your portrait with a Sticking Charm.”

“A Sticking Charm? It’s outrageous! Your own father—”

“I’m going to stop you right there. You’re a terrible person. You’re a high-functioning sociopath. You’re a bigot. And you’re a coward. But most importantly, you’re dead. I am the Master of this house, the Head of the company, and very much alive. And I will not have you poisoning my wife and children.”

Poison? I’m quite sure that little Mud—”

“Lucius Malfoy, you will hold your tongue this instant.” Even as a portrait, the very air around Narcissa seemed to carry notes of Stolichnaya and Chanel No. 5. The woman was pure class. “Our son has just shared some wonderful news with us. He’s having another child and we are nothing if not happy for him.”

Lucius the Formidable was, alas, a man whipped. Also, he was stuck. And in this room where he was bound for all of fucking eternity with his entire deranged family tree, his wife was his only ally. “We are…happy…for you and….” He gulped mightily. “Miss Granger.”

Draco nodded. “Feel free to visit any of the other rooms, Mother. I want him to have a full report on mine and Hermione’s life together.”

Lucius glared.

Draco smirked.

He deserves it, the old fucker.

As Draco left the Portrait Gallery, he realized that he had truly learned a lot about fatherhood from Lucius Malfoy. Granted, he learned what not to do. But it was largely because of that prickly old man that Draco was the sort of father who would protect those he loved from anything (or anyone) he perceived as harmful. He had followed that code throughout Scorpius’s life. And now that his family was growing, he would continue to be the man his father was not.

In a way, he would always be grateful to that old bastard.

 

*

 

Harry lay gasping on the bed, running his hands through his recently-cut hair. “Wow.”

Ginny smirked beside him, feeling sated and calm for the first time in ages. “I know.”

“Thank you, Merlin. Thank you, Nimue and Circe and fucking Godric sodding Gryffindor.” It seems Harry had been hankering for a fuck as much as much as Ginny had.

“Harry,” Ginny turned on her side to face her husband. “I think we both know what you have to do.”

He sighed heavily. “Yeah. I realize my Chartreuse Stage is a tad derivative—”

“GO TALK TO THE MINISTER ABOUT GETTING YOUR JOB BACK, HARRY!”

Harry cowered slightly. “But…you’re the one who pointed out that my job was ruining my life. We had a bet. You won. Remember?”

“I’m not talking about being head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I’m talking about being an Auror. You loved that job. And I know you miss it.”

A wistful twinkle appeared in his eyes. “I do.”

“So, go talk to the Minister about becoming an Auror again. Explain that you’re not interested in paperwork and he’ll probably invent a job that puts you in a seniority position but that ensures you won’t leave the Ministry again. You know how much he adores appearances.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “He’s the worst.”

“Don’t I fucking know it.”

“And that’s saying a lot, because I’m friends with Malfoy now.”

“Talk to the Minister, Harry.”

He grinned at her. “You know it’s odd that you call him ‘the Minister.’”

“You know, I would prefer not to talk about our dickhole Minister for Magic while we’re in bed together, naked. Not when we could be shagging right now.”

A grateful look passed across Harry’s face as Ginny disappeared under the covers and crawled towards his cock.

“Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

 

*

 

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the infamous Harry Potter come to ask for his job back.”

“Technically,” Harry said, “I have no interest in my old job. I just want to be an Auror again.”

The Minister grinned. “Well, I’m sure I can work something out for family, Harry.”

Harry nodded. “Thank you, Percy.”

“I prefer ‘Minister,’ if you please.”

Like Harry said. The. Worst.

Chapter Text

“I prefer ‘Minister,’ if you please.”

Harry’s eyelids fluttered like he was dearly struggling not to roll his eyes. “Minister, then. If it’s at all possible, I’d like to return to my old post as an Auror. I’m not asking for special treatment and I wouldn’t even consider it to be a demotion, but I—”

“Harry, Harry, Harry. No need to explain. As I said, we’re family. It’s not really special treatment, per se. Consider it to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both yourself and the Ministry. Having the ‘Boy Who Lived’ on the payroll—”

“Please don’t call me that.”

“—really endears the government to the public. And after all, a happy society is a functioning one, am I right?”

“Sure.”

“Smashing. By the way, I feel terrible that my assistant didn’t offer you anything to drink.”

“That’s okay. I actually have to be—”

Jerry!” Percy said, pushing a button on an intercom.

A wiry, pale young man appeared in the doorway. “Yes, Minister?” he said with cloying cheerfulness.

Percy looked bored having to talk to him. “Why didn’t you offer the Boy Who Lived a cup of tea?”

Harry rubbed his temple. “Again. Not necessary. And I hate when people call me tha—”

“I’m so sorry, sir,” Jerry said. Oddly, Harry believed him. “It was an oversight, of course. What can I get you, Mr. Pot—um…Mr. Boy Who Lived?”

Harry released a heavy sigh. “Tea. Dash of milk. Two sugars.” The boy was obviously terrified of Percy, so Harry might as well placate the lad. It probably would have broken his heart if he said he didn’t want anything.

Percy grinned. “Splendid. This will give us a chance to catch up.”

“Yeah. Look, I really can’t stay long—”

“I apologize for my assistant. My old one quit on me. Something about ‘wanting to salvage his marriage’ because apparently, I’m ‘too demanding,’” Percy said, using finger quotes. “Can you believe that?”

“Absolutely,” Harry said dryly.

Percy ignored him. “So, now, of course, I’ve got this lad fresh out of Hogwarts. He came highly recommended. Head Boy, prefect, perfect marks, political aspirations.” Harry stifled a scoff at the familiarity of Jerry’s resume. “And, of course, he’s completely inadequate. Honestly, I almost thing he should be paying me to train him.”

Harry’s eye twitched. “I feel for you.”

Percy grinned a politician’s smile that did not reach his eyes. “I appreciate that, Harry. It’s so good to catch up with you. Mother tells me you’ve been painting.”

Harry scratched his jaw and shrugged. But as much as he disliked talking to Percy, hardly anyone else was asking him to talk about his art. “Mostly abstracts. Although I do dabble a bit in minimalism with my figures. I’m mostly interested in pre-modern—”

“Yes, yes, that sounds fascinating. You must allow the Ministry to showcase some of your work. Perhaps even…an auction? Can you imagine, Harry? An original piece by the Boy Who Lived. It would sell instantly.”

Harry’s jaw fell slightly open. He gave up. “Rrright. Look, Perce, I really do have to—”

“Could you…” Percy released a soft laugh, “not call me that? You know I don’t like it.”

Harry’s eye twitched again. “Sure.” In that moment, Jerry arrived with his tea. “Thank you.” Harry nodded at the young man. “You should get out while you still can.”

Percy laughed as he reached across the table and clapped Harry on the shoulder, causing him to spill a small amount of the tea he didn’t actually want. “Who knew the Boy Who Lived was so funny? You and my sister…” he laughed and shook his head. “You two are just hilarious.”

“Hmm.” Harry took a sip of his tea. “Well, this was fun, but I’m afraid I’ve got to—”

“Did you know that I’m up for reelection next year, Harry?”

Harry sighed. He might as well finish his damn tea. “I did not. I’m afraid I don’t really keep track of these things.”

“My initial campaign was groundbreaking. I broke through the glass ceiling to get where I am today, did you know that?”

Harry shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”

“You guess? Harry, there’s no guessing about it. Can you imagine the hurdles I’ve had to jump to get here?”

Harry rolled his eyes into his teacup. Here we go again. ‘My election to this office proves that an openly gay man can be blah, blah, blah.'

“My election to this office proves that an openly gay man can hold a higher office in this country. Wizarding Britain is ready for progress. And with a friend like the Boy Who Lived giving me his whole-hearted support, there’s really nothing stopping me from implementing that sort of change, wouldn’t you agree?”

Harry shrugged. “Sure.”

Especially as the father of a gay son, you will be particularly interested in—”

“I’m going to tell you what I told Aunt Muriel. Albus isn’t gay, he’s just peculiar,” Harry said dully, as though he was tired of having to say it again.

Percy laughed. “There’s that classic Potter humor again. No, no, no, Harry. Obviously, I’m talking about James.”

Harry snickered. “James. James isn’t gay. He’s…oh.” Harry’s eyes widened as he took a moment of silence. Everything seemed to hit him at once.

A group of Gryffindor girls at King’s Cross Station smiling at James while he ignored them. A tall Slytherin boy bashfully waving at him while James blushed and looked away. A poster of Viktor Krum right in front of James’s bed even though he didn’t seem to like Quidditch that much. All simple, innocuous acts in and of themselves. But in the aggregate…

“Holy shit. James is gay.”

Percy nodded his head slowly as though he was dealing with a mentally deficient child. “Yes. Did you really not know that?”

Harry shook himself. “Thank you for the tea, Perce—”

Minister, if you please!”

“—but I’ve got somewhere to be.”

“You’ll start work again on Monday?”

“Yeah, sure.”

As Harry slammed the door behind him, Percy took a long look at the chair in which Harry had been sitting minutes before and hit the buzzer. “Jerry! I hope you’re happy. We lost the Boy Who Lived because somebody can’t make a proper cup of tea!”

 

*

 

Gin!”

Whaaat???” she bellowed from the cellar.

“I just talked to your brother.”

Whaaat????”

“I JUST TALKED to your BROTHER!!!!”

What did Ron have to say?”

“Bloody hell.” He supposed he could go to her rather than yelling across the house. It seemed unnatural, and yet he seemed to remember vaguely that screaming across the house never worked.

He dragged himself downstairs to find his wife rummaging through several old boxes.

“You’ve lost a bit of weight since you quit your job, but I think your Auror robes still fit. I kept them for you. You know,” she said, blushing hotly, hiding her face in the boxes, “just in case. I think I can use Tailoring Charms to get them to fit you again.”

Harry sighed fondly. You can take the girl out of the Burrow, but you can’t take the Burrow out of the girl. “Gin, is our son gay?”

She paused in her rummaging. “You know Albus is just unusual.” Her voice was a bit more pinched than usual.

“Not that son.”

Ginny emerged from the boxes to face her husband. Her hair was a mess, falling from its ponytail. A fine sheen of sweat covered her skin from her exertions. But her eyes were hardened. She somehow looked nine feet tall. “Why?”

“I just finishing talking to Percy. He seems to think—”

“And why would you listen to anything that old bender has to say?”

Harry grimaced slightly. “Really, Ginny? Bender? Our son might be gay.”

Ginny shrugged. “I can say it. Percy said I could. I have express permission.”

“How did you get express—”

“Why do you think James is gay?”

“You didn’t answer my question. Is he?”

Ginny crossed her arms and glared at her husband. “Would that be a problem if he was?”

“No,” Harry said without hesitation. “But if he is, I want to know about it.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m his father.” It seemed obvious.

“You think James should tell you?”

“Absolutely.” Again, obvious.

“Well, he hasn’t said anything to me.” Ginny turned her back and resumed her search for Harry’s Auror robes.

“Oh. Okay. That’s…I guess Percy was mistaken, then.”

Ginny sighed. “You know…no.” She violently slammed her hands on either side of the box and raised herself out of it. “Percy was not mistaken.”

Harry paused. “Sooooo…”

“Our son likes blokes.” Ginny’s eyes, which had always been so expressive, dared him to express disappointment.

But even Harry wasn’t that brave. He opened his mouth carefully to speak. “Except James hasn’t said anything to me about it, so—”

“What the fuck is wrong with you? So, he hasn’t come out to us yet. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

“Oookay, but—”

“And don’t you dare say anything to him. He will come out to us in his own time when he is ready.”

“But Percy said—”

Ginny laughed bitterly. “I swear to Merlin, Harry. Is there anything you’ve possibly learned about me in our sixteen years of marriage to make you think I give even half a fuck what Percy says? He’s not ready. The only reason Percy knows is because he just assumes everyone is gay until proven straight and the only reason I know is because I found some dirty magazines under his bed which I totally did not keep and hide in my underwear drawer.”

Harry gulped, trying to push aside all thoughts in his mind of what ‘dirty magazines’ could possibly mean. “So then, why didn’t I know?”

Ginny was seriously laughing now. “Well…you’re an idiot, aren’t you?”

“Mmmm…am I, though?”

“I mean you have the attention span of a house fly and I could probably shave my head and you wouldn’t notice, but it’s not your fault, I suppose. It’s that fucking ‘Y’ chromosome. It basically makes you useless.”

“Biology-speak. Been talking to Hermione?”

Yup. But don’t worry. James is…well, things are going to be hard on him. He’s probably scared out of his mind because he doesn’t know what will happen once he does come out. But our job is not to push him. Our job is to be supportive once he decides to tell us. In his own time.”

“But…” Harry sighed. “Doesn’t it bother you that he couldn’t just tell us?”

“Yeah.” Ginny took his hand in hers. “But this isn’t an easy thing to do. This isn’t as simple as asking us for advice or telling us he got a ‘T’ in a class.” Her voice dropped to a heavy whisper. “This is his life, Harry. His life. We just have to be patient.”

Harry nodded as he skimmed his thumb across Ginny’s knuckles. “I’m not good at patience.”

“Aww.” Ginny leaned in and kissed him on the lips. “That’s abundantly clear to anyone who has spent even a few moments in your presence. I could write a bloody book series on your lack of patience.”

“It’d be a bestseller, I’m sure,” Harry said, rubbing his hands down her arms.

“Prat.” Ginny smiled as she leaned in to capture his lips with her own again. “I mean it, Harry. Leave James alone until he’s ready.”

“Yeah, but if he would just—”

Suddenly, Ginny was all up in his personal space. The macho Auror cowered in his tiny wife’s shadow as she stole his oxygen, her eyes shining with resolve. “If you say a word to him, I will cut you. I will call Molly and she will pound you into dust with her rolling pin. George will turn you inside out. Bill will hide the pieces. Charlie will feed the evidence to his monsters.” She narrowed her eyes. “Do. Not. Fuck with me. Understand?”

Harry gulped, nodding voraciously. Sometimes he forgot he married a Weasley. “I won’t say a word. He’ll tell us when he’s ready.”

“Good boy,” she said, patting him on the cheek. “Now, would you like to help me find your Auror robes?”

“Yes,” he said without thinking.

“So, other than him outing our son to you, how did your meeting go with the Minister?”

“Fine,” Harry said, still recovering from his wife-based fear. “He said they’d be proud to have me back.”

“Did he ask you to do anything for his campaign?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “He wouldn’t let me leave his office.”

“My brother made you his bitch, didn’t he?”

Harry sighed heavily. “You Weasleys are bloody terrifying.”

 

*

 

“Let me drive.”

“No,” Hermione intoned.

Please.”

“No.”

Draco pouted. “How am I ever going to learn if you won’t let me practice?”

“Because I’m pregnant and it’s not just my life at stake anymore. Horses,” she said, as they passed a field where several horses were grazing.

“Oh, come on. I’m not that bad.”

“Draco, did I, or did I not, have to Obliviate several Avis employees when we took that road trip earlier this summer?”

He looked out the window, quietly for a moment. “That wasn’t entirely my fault. Horses.”

“You immediately crashed the car into two other cars before making it out of the lot. Then you proceeded to fix the dents in those cars with magic.”

Draco continued to gaze quietly out the window. “Habit.”

“You’re a man-child. And you can’t be trusted with large machinery. Horses.”

Neither were too excited about having to drive to Hermione’s parents’ house in Hampstead for the party. But Apparition wasn’t safe for pregnant women, and because there would no doubt be several of Hermione’s Muggle relatives at this thing, hooking the Grangers’ house up to the Floo Network for a single afternoon probably wasn’t the best idea. Ostensibly, they were having a nice, quiet dinner with her parents. In reality, Jean Granger no doubt had tracked down the name and address of every person Hermione and Draco knew, figured out how to owl them, and threw them in a room together with a bunch of stuck up Muggles.

Hermione hated that she had to sit through this thing sober.

“How did your checkup with Pomfrey go?”

Hermione rolled her eyes at the memory.

“Miss Granger.” Madam Pomfrey had never looked so smug.

“Madam Pomfrey.”

“So, you and Mr. Malfoy didn’t use protection, and now you’ve found yourself in a family way.”

How did she make her and Draco seem like two horny teenagers going at it in broom cupboards?

“Well, we seem to be starting a family a little sooner than one would expect, but we’re both very happy about it.” It was only half a lie. Draco was ecstatic and Hermione was making peace with it. Once she saw an ultrasound of the little bugger, she’d probably start blubbering like every expectant mother.

“I’m going to be doing an overall checkup on you just to make sure you and the little one are in good overall health. This isn’t St. Mungo’s, so I don’t have the Potions I’d need to conjure an image of the baby's activity in your womb. You’ll need to make an appointment with a Healer specialized in obstetrics to do that.”

“Of course.”

Madam Pomfrey barely tried to hide her smirk. “You do understand that for the duration of your pregnancy, you will be unable to go off on your little adventures. It’s most unhealthy for the baby to put that sort of stress on yourself.”

Hermione made an exasperated sound. “How many times do I have to tell you, Madam Pomfrey? I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m a professor at this school. I’m your colleague. I don’t go off looking for trouble any—”

“Oh! There’s the baby’s heartbeat. A good strong one, too.”

Hermione immediately forgot about defending her status as an adult. “Can I hear?”

Madam Pomfrey raised her eyebrows. “This is an expensive instrument, Miss Granger.”

“Again, I’m an adul—”

“I’m going to go fetch you some pamphlets on how your diet and lifestyle should change over the next several months. I trust you understand that you shouldn’t ingest anything from that vile store Weasley Wizard Wheezes. I know how you kids today can’t seem to tell the difference between regular sweets and jokes.”

“I’m pretty sure she was fucking with me,” Hermione said. She adjusted the strap on her seat belt, as it was sitting uncomfortably on her breasts, which were so much more sensitive of late. They were also getting bigger. She would need to buy some new bras at some point. “I hate my boobs.”

“You’re out of your damn mind,” Draco said, leering at them.

“Just imagine if you had to carry these things around.”

Draco went silent.

“Draco?”

“Hmm? Sorry.” Not his fault. She did ask him to imagine what it would be like to have breasts. Merlin, he’d never get anything done. How did women manage to keep their hands off them all day? If he had breasts, especially a pair as nice as Hermione’s, he’d be playing with them all the—

“You keep spacing out,” Hermione said. “Also, horses.”

“I’m sorry. I’m a bit nervous. After all, we are telling your parents about the baby, and it’s not every day that a man gets to see what the inside of his own body looks like. Forgive me if I muse.”

“You’re overreacting.”

“Say that to me again after your dad finishes ripping me in half.”

She rolled her eyes. “You’re wound up today.”

“Maybe it’s because somebody refused to let me ravish her against the shower wall this morning. Horses.”

“We’ve been through this. Shower sex is overrated. It’s cold and awkward and you bloody always drop me. Our disparities in height make it impossible for us to do it comfortably. Not to mention, you have a perfectly wonderful bathtub.”

“Say what you will Granger. I, personally, will never give up trying to convince you otherwise. Horses.”

Hermione smirked to herself. This man, this utter prat had stolen her heart, stuck a bun in her oven, insisted on making an honest woman of her, and was currently singing the high notes to ‘Suffragette City’ along with the radio. He couldn’t drive to save his, hers, or their unborn child’s life, thereby insuring that the pregnant lady had to do it all herself. He had insisted no less than three times already that she stop the car so he could pee, despite her having told him to go before they left. He had complained about hunger, inadequate temperature (both hot and cold), and boredom almost nonstop since they had gotten in the car.

Hermione looked at the love of her life; her husband to be. The father of her child. She sighed. “I’d really like to punch you in the face right now.”

He smiled as he played with a stray curl on her shoulder. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Hermione rang the doorbell. The effect was instantaneous.

EDWAAARRRD! The kids are at the door.”

Hermione took Draco’s hand in hers. The pad of his thumb ran across her knuckles, calming her nerves.

He winked.

The door opened to reveal the mildly exasperated countenance of Edward Granger. “Princess, you look beautiful,” he said, sweeping his daughter up into a hug. Without releasing her, he let his gaze fall on Draco. His grin slipped slightly as he addressed him. “Draco.”

Draco nodded. “Edward.”

Ah, snap!

Edward’s grin slipped a little more, his eyes boring into Draco’s, daring him to blink first. But Draco stubbornly refused to emote. He was a Malfoy, dammit, and he could do this all day.

The clouds shifted, delivering a beam of sunlight to bounce off the windshield of the BMW Draco and Hermione had rented for the journey. The reflection caused Edward’s attention to deviate.

Draco smirked. I won, arsehole.

“Hermione, is that your car in the driveway?”

“It’s just a rental, Daddy. It’s such a nice day, Draco and I decided to drive.”

Edward glanced at the pale gray sky as it very Englishly threatened to rain. “Living in Scotland has really done a number on you, Princess.”

“I quite agree, Edward,” Draco said, ignoring the way the older man’s forehead vein throbbed at him. “Which is why I’m sure you’ll be pleased to learn that she’s in the process of moving her things to my home in Wiltshire.”

Hermione shot Draco a warning glare as Edward resumed his previous stance of staring unblinkingly at Draco. “She’s what?”

Jean Granger appeared in the doorway, holding a glass of Chardonnay. “Edward, dear, why are the kids still out here on the porch?”

Edward ignored her. “You mean to tell me that you and my daughter will be living together before you’re properly married?”

Draco feigned innocence. “I thought you’d be pleased, Edward. After all, Wiltshire’s quite a bit closer to Hampstead than the Scottish Highlands.”

Jean grinned. “That’s marvelous! Isn’t that marvelous, Edward?”

The man didn’t seem to be breathing as he glared at his daughter’s fiancé. He said nothing, but motioned for the two of them to enter the house, his gaze never leaving Draco’s. Just before Draco followed Hermione through the doorway, Edward stuck his arm out, blocking Draco’s path.

Draco might have appeared undaunted by his future father-in-law’s sudden act of mild aggression if not for the bob of his Adam’s apple. He waited.

Edward said nothing but continued to hold Draco’s gaze. After several seconds, his eyes flashed as he lifted his arm to allow Draco into his home. “We’ll discuss this later.”

Draco’s heart pounded as he accepted Edward’s empty gesture of hospitality. He wondered if using his magic to defend himself against the inevitable beating Edward would inflict upon him when he learned of Hermione’s pregnancy could possibly be defensible in the Wizengamot. Just imagine how that would go. “No, you don’t understand, Your Honor. This man was a dentist! He’s fucking scary.” Somehow, he doubted it would fly.

He followed the sound of Jean’s voice into the foyer. “Ah. There you are, Drakey, dear. Let me take your coat, and then you and Min can GO INTO THE LIVING ROOM AND MAKE YOURSELVES A DRINK.”

Draco reckoned that was the signal for everyone to assume their positions. He stifled a smirk at the realization that Jean, lovely as she was, thought she was being subtle. “Thank you, Jean.”

Hermione took his hand in hers and rolled her eyes as they entered the living room.

“SURPRIIIIIIIIIIIISE!!!!!!!!!” said everyone either of them had ever met.

They were rooted to the spot. To pass the time in the car, the two of them had practiced their surprise faces, even turning it into a bit of a game. Despite their mastery of the art, nothing compared to the real thing. In this moment, there was absolutely no need to pretend.

Looking around, Draco saw the usual suspects: the Potters, the Weasleys, Scorpius, a bunch of Muggles he assumed were related in some way to Hermione. But then there were also Blaise, Theo, and…

Oh, balls.

Sneering at him in head-to-toe Chanel and holding a glass of sherry, was his innocuously racist Great Aunt Lucretia. She wasn’t quite as bad as his father and grandfather had been when it came to blood status, but she could hardly be called a progressive. Though she often boasted about the time she once danced with a Muggle-born at a ball in Avignon as a token of her ‘wokeness,’ attending a Muggle party was most likely not at the top of her bucket list. That said, he noticed none of his other relatives showed up. It wasn’t surprising. While they wouldn’t fail to attend a Malfoy wedding, they wouldn’t be caught dead in the home of middle-class Muggles (although he suspected many of them would take issue most with the ‘middle-class’ part). He imagined Aunt Lucretia only showed up today just so she could scrutinize his bride-to-be and report back to the rest of the family.

Surprise! Edward and I decided to throw you two an engagement party,” Jean said, handing them each a glass of chilled white wine. “Are you surprised?”

They each spoke at the same time.

“Extremely—”

“—Astounded.”

Draco couldn’t help but marvel at the resourcefulness of Hermione’s mother. How she had managed to track down the names and addresses of all their closest friends in the wizarding world and figure out how to send them invitations via owl, was beyond him. But almost immediately, the thought was pushed aside as the guests bounded towards the two of them with near-maniacal levels of entitled meddlesomeness in their eyes.

“So, you’re the famous Draco!” Hands were clapping down on his back.

“Such a handsome young man. And with a teenage son. I don’t believe Jean mentioned that you had been married before.”

He gulped his wine.

“A teenage son! How old are you exactly, young man?”

“And what is it you do for a living again?”

“Such unusual hair. You and Hermione will make the most beautiful babies. That is if she’s not too old.”

“Saw you driving up in a BMW. Brave of you. You can never be sure about foreign cars.”

“What sort of a name is ‘Draco,’ exactly? Is it a family name?”

Draco chanced a glance at Hermione to find her being poked and prodded in a similar fashion. She gripped his hand and blinked longingly at her glass of Chardonnay which she could not drink because of the tiny life growing inside of her.

 

*

 

Hermione was in Hell.

“You’ve grown your hair out, dear. I imagine you’ll want to get a more flattering cut before your wedding.”

“What sort of dress were you thinking? You must remember that you’re much too busty to pull off the sort of backless thing that’s so popular with your generation.”

“Jean tells me you teach your young man’s son. It’s rather unusual that there wasn’t some rule against such a thing at your school. Even if it is Scotland.”

“Will you still be working after you’re married? You really shouldn’t.”

“My, my. That is quite a ring. He must do very well if he could afford such a thing. Not that we should be talking about money, because there’s nothing more gauche.”

Hermione couldn’t breathe with so many aunts and cousins surrounding her. She tightened her grip on Draco’s hand as an old woman in her—honestly, Hermione couldn’t even wager a guess as to how old she was, nineties, at least—parted the sea of Muggles using the sheer imperiousness of her aura to get to Hermione. It was evident that she was somehow related to Draco. Her outfit looked like it had cost at least two months of Hermione’s salary and she had that certain Malfoyness to her face—an arrogant sneer smeared across delicate aristocratic features. It was what made Draco’s face look rat-like as a child, and devastating as an adult.

“Hermione Granger, I presume,” the woman said in a clipped, mildly French accent (which Hermione assumed was mostly affected), holding her hand out. “Lucretia Bellefleur, how do you do?”

“Very well, thank you. You must be Draco’s aunt. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Not nearly as much as I’ve heard about you, my dear. Even in France, your face appears in the papers.”

She looked at Draco who appeared to be in need of a new glass of wine. “Um…so you live in France?”

Draco groaned.

“In Lyon.” The woman looked delighted to be speaking about this. “The French magical community is so much more civilized than the English.”

Hermione wildly looked around to make sure none of her own relatives were listening as Lucretia droned on.

“That whole messy business with You-Know-Who never would have happened in France. The French are much more discerning about their social circles than the English. To think that my nephew would have let some half-blood nobody from nowhere into his home…no offense meant, my dear. You, of course, are an exception. Due to your notoriety, of course your blood status isn’t quite as important. But you understand what I mean, don’t you?”

That glass of wine in her hand was mocking her.

Draco leapt to her defense. “Auntie Lucretia, please be considerate while you’re a guest in the home of my future in-laws.”

Lucretia nodded, miming buttoning her lips. “But of course, Draco, dear. You’re absolutely right. It’s bad form to discuss such things in your lovely bride’s childhood home. Oh goodness, look at me. Only a day back in England and already my manners are slipping. My late husband would have been positively aghast.” She drained her sherry. “Now, tell me dear. Your parents…work? They have some sort of…” A faint shadow of horror eclipsed her face. “Occupation.”

“In our world, we would call them teeth Healers.” Hermione realized this woman probably didn’t spend much time with people who had to earn their money.

“Hmmm. Seems rather unnecessary, if you ask me.” She looked around the room. “I say. Don’t your parents have a house-elf or some kind of servant to bring me another drink?”

 

*

 

Edward Granger glared at his future son-in-law through his scotch glass. The poncy little twit hadn’t let go of Hermione’s hand since he’d stepped foot into his house. That didn’t sit right with Edward. Too much touching. Entirely too much touching. He’d never even set eyes on the bloke when he didn’t have one or both of his hands all over his daughter. And now his precious baby girl was going to play house with him. This ‘man’ who had never had to build anything; who had inherited his wealth.

Draco ‘Silver Spoon’ Malfoy.

When he’d first met the bloke, he had hoped it was just a fleeting attraction; a desire to walk on the wild side. Hermione had never gone through a bad boy phase as a teenager. Perhaps it was just a delayed reaction to the normal experiences of youth that her circumstances had denied her. But months dragged on and it was ‘Draco this’ and ‘Draco that.’ Worst of all, the young man seemed genuinely enamored with his daughter, despite the fact that he couldn’t even come close to deserving her. Eventually, it became apparent that the relationship was serious. The man’s son, Scorpius, seemed an amiable enough chap, but it worried Edward how much the boy seemed already to regard his Hermione as a sort of stepmother figure.

The man even had shifty friends. That Blaise Zabini was a character. Too many compliments to Edward’s wife for his fancy. Jean was certainly a handsome woman, but any fool could tell that she was not Hermione’s sister.

And don’t even get him started on Theo Nott. What sort of self-respecting man wore a shirt that shiny?

“Evening, Edward. How are you?” Edward grunted a response. It was that odd boy of Harry’s. Not a bad lad, but obviously lacking in discipline. Too interested in cooking. Every time he came around, all he ever did was exchange recipes with Jean. It wasn’t normal for young boys to have an interest in such things.

“Hell of a night, wouldn’t you say?”

Edward harrumphed. Normally, he would delight in correcting the boy’s language and his over-familiarity with adults, but he was hardly in the mood tonight. “Hell is right.” He took a healthy swig of his scotch. “You’re friends with Scorpius, aren’t you?”

“Indeed, I am.”

“So, how well do you know my future son-in-law?”

Albus shrugged. “Quite well, I’d say. And believe me, Edward, I understand your apprehension at this marriage. Why, if my future grandchildren were almost guaranteed to be vain and blond, I’d be drinking in the corner too. Speaking of which…mind if I help myself?” He gestured to the bar cart.

Edward stared evenly at the overly-confident teenager. “You’re a bit young to be drinking, aren’t you?”

“I’m older than I look. Did you know that the legal drinking age in the wizarding world is seventeen and I’m turning fifteen in only a few months. Add to that the fact that I’m a tragic rebel bad boy who lives in his father’s shadow, endures his brother’s bullying, his sister’s indifference, his mother’s mild alcoholism...I’m basically sixteen. Then there’s the fact that I’ve recently had my heart broken and I’m quite sure I’ll never learn to love, and you and I are essentially the same age, Edward. So, I’ll ask again. May I help myself?”

“Do I look like an idiot to you, boy?”

Albus’s eyes widened. “Wow. That usually works. Respect, Edward.”

The older man took a healthy swig of scotch as he watched Draco rub circles on his only child’s back. “Shut up.”

 

*

 

A small crack started to appear in the (sadly full) wine glass Hermione was clutching with all her might. Great Auntie Lucretia was basically a French Voldemort; pale, racist, and there’s no way that was her real nose. The now-warm glass of Chardonnay her mother had poured her a half hour ago remained untouched as the old crone droned on about the crassness of the English, the duties Hermione would now have to endure as a Lady of Malfoy Manor, and every so often accidentally dropped the M-word. Every time it would happen, she’d immediately recognize her mistake, clutching her pearls and apologizing profusely, insisting she was a product of ‘a different time’ and these things just tended to happen. Draco covertly liberated the Chardonnay from Hermione’s fist and took several cleansing sips.

Hermione was so jealous, she could have spit.

Rescue came in the form of her father. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Bellefleur. I don’t mean to interrupt, but one of Hermione’s old friends is asking after her.”

“Of course, Mr. Granger,” Lucretia said, smiling graciously. “I shan’t monopolize any more of the bride and groom’s time. After all, socializing is a valued Malfoy trait that your daughter must learn as part of our family.” With that, the old woman sauntered over to a bottle-bearing Albus, whom she had mistaken for a waiter, and insisted that he fetch her a drink.

Hermione turned to her father, grateful and confused. “Old friend? Who…” Her face fell as she noticed a bearded man waving to her from her parents’ couch.

“Is that…?”

Ian Rothco. Her ex-boyfriend of twelve years ago. Really, he couldn’t even be called a boyfriend. Just a fling. A fling whose presence at this party made no sense to Hermione because her father had absolutely detested him when they were together. He had always insisted that Ian was too old for her, being ten years her senior. It wasn’t an enormous age gap, but at twenty-one, Hermione had felt it.

He had been an acquaintance of an acquaintance of her parents. A dentist who happened to also be a Bristol alum, just like her parents. “I…I don’t understand, Daddy. What’s Ian doing here?”

“Ian?” Draco perked up. “Who’s Ian?”

“Hermione’s old boyfriend,” Edward said, giving her shoulders a squeeze.

“Daddy,” Hermione chastised him dully. She shot sympathetic eyes at Draco, who clung to the room-temperature Chardonnay like it was a life line. “It was a long time ago.”

Draco’s eyebrow twitched as he watched Edward guide Hermione over to a tall, well-dressed man with the most absurdly self-important salt-and-pepper beard Draco had ever seen.

Hermione’s old boyfriend,” Draco said in a mocking voice. “Arsehole.” He sipped Hermione’s wine while he searched the room for the calming presence of his son.

Scorpius appeared to be the current target of Aunt Lucretia’s scathing criticism. Draco locked eyes with his son and tried to nonverbally apologize as their elderly relative poked and prodded him. Draco heard her say, “Fourteen is rather an unfortunate lanky age, young man, but that doesn’t give you the right to slouch!”

Draco sipped his drink some more. No big deal. He would just stand here and watch that overgrown shrubbery Hermione used to date lest he attempt to paw at her. He was positive Edward only invited the guy to spite him.

“Ooooh. Who’s that guy Granger’s talking to?” asked Theo as he joined his old friend.

Draco continued to glare at the sight of Ian giving Hermione a hug that lasted entirely too long. “Edward Granger’s attempt to put me in Azkaban for manslaughter.” He regarded his friend. “You look…different.”

Theo had come out of the closet only months before, and every time Draco saw him, his hair was a little more stylized, his shirts a little tighter, his sentences ending on a little bit higher note.

“Thank you,” Theo said, ignoring that Draco hadn’t truly paid him a compliment. “You never told me Hermione’s father was so adorable. I love a man with a beard.”

“You love every man, Theo.”

“Are you calling me a cock slut?”

“I’m calling you a freshly-out-of-the-closet gay man with a gym membership, living in London.”

Theo rolled his eyes. “You’re just tetchy because I never offered to give you a bro job back in school.”

“Still straight, Theo.”

Theo chuckled. “That’s what they all say. But you’d be surprised how few ‘straight’ men will turn down an innocent bro job. Speaking of which, how’s Lucius?”

Draco’s eyes were fiercely torn away from Hermione’s ex-douchebag. “Dead, Theo. Still dead. And what the hell does he have to do with anything?”

Theo shrugged. “I don’t know. I just kind of always got a vibe from him, you know?”

No, I do not know.”

Theo booped Draco on the nose. “Tell his portrait I said ‘hi’ the next time you see him.”

Draco stared at his friend in mild horror. “Theo, I can’t fucking believe that I even have to say it, but please stay away from my dead father.”

“That gorgeous, silky blond hair. Those cheekbones. Intense, silver eyes…”

“You’re describing all of the features he and I share.”

“Draco,” Theo rolled his eyes. “Look at you. You’re like every gay man’s dream. But you’re stubbornly straight and you’re a total arsehole. Plus, you’re marrying a girl you used to call ‘Beaver Cunt’ back in school. Which, in my opinion, was a little redundant.” Draco smacked him in the back of the head. “Ow. Rude.”

“What are you two chatting about?” Blaise asked, bearing a backup glass of wine for Draco, who had already drained his second one. “I figured you’d need reinforcements.”

“Blaise, I take back every bad thing I ever said about you,” Draco said, taking the wine eagerly. He gestured to the blonde next to Blaise. “Lovegood.”

“Hello, Draco. This is a nice party, don’t you think? Although, I’m rather hesitant to tell Hermione’s parents that they have weresprites living in their cupboard. You know what that means.”

Draco blinked at her, briefly settling his eyes on Blaise before shaking his head. “Actually, I have no idea.”

“Well, you know how weresprites only mate when surrounded by an aura of extreme fertility during months that end in ‘R’?”

“Sure,” Draco said, blindly agreeing.

“I’m afraid that Hermione’s parents are expecting another baby.”

Draco blinked and allowed the absurd statement to land between the four of them. He shifted his gaze at Blaise, who averted his eyes, choosing instead to pick a speck of lint off Luna’s conspicuously non-Muggle dress. “I highly doubt Jean is expecting.”

Luna smiled. “Maybe not. But the weresprites are here for a reason. Either way, there’s going to be a baby in their lives at some point soon.”

Draco swallowed loudly and sipped his wine.

Theo grinned condescendingly at the girl. “I am like…obsessed with you right now.”

Ian What’s-his-name pulled Hermione in for another lingering, unnecessary hug and Draco made the decision that it was time the git paid him, the groom, his regards as well. “Excuse me.”

 

*

 

“You look amazing, Hermione.”

“Thanks, Ian,” Hermione said, carefully keeping her tone polite, but not too polite.

“When your father told me you were getting married, I couldn’t believe it. After all, I thought you said that marriage was an outdated tradition that historically preyed upon women’s lack of autonomy.”

That certainly sounded like something she would have said in her youth. “I’ve grown up.”

“You certainly have. I know I said it before, but you look fantastic, Hermione.”

“Again. Thank you.”

“I must admit when your father said that you had asked about me, I was shocked. I haven’t heard from you in years.”

“Did he now?” Hermione distinctly remembered that her father had never even liked Ian until after they had broken up, despite the fact that he, too, was a respected dentist. The entire time they were together, her father insisted that he was ‘too old for her’ and ‘a tedious bore.’ Of course, the second that she broke up with him, her father was going on fishing trips with him and inviting him over for Sunday dinner.

“Oh, yes. He keeps me updated on you,” he said, shooting her a wink. “It really is good to see you, Hermione.” He pulled her in for another hug, which she was in no mental state to reciprocate.

A cough. “Draco Malfoy, how do you do?”

Ian broke the hug. “Ah. You must be the fiancé.”

Draco was wearing his business smirk. The one he broke out for special occasions when forced to deal with people he didn’t like. “And you must be…I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t know who you are.”

“Ian Rothko. I’m an old friend of Hermione’s.” The two men shook hands with such force, Hermione was sure their palms would be raw.

If it hurt, Draco wasn’t giving any indication. “Hm. Funny, she’s never mentioned you.”

Hermione negotiated silently with her peanut-sized baby. Please let me have just one glass of wine? I promise I’ll give you anything else you want for the next eight months.

“So, tell me, Ian,” Draco said with faux politeness, “how exactly do you know Edward? I’m assuming it was he who invited you.”

Ian grinned. Draco privately thought the man had too many teeth. “I was an intern in her family’s practice when I was first starting out. They’ve both sort of been my mentors through the years.”

“Ah. So, you’re a dentist, too. Isn’t there some sort of rule against dating your bosses’ daughter? I’m afraid I don’t know anything about dentists’ code of conduct, so I could very well be mistaken.”

Ian grinned, closed-lipped and tight. “No more than dating your son’s teacher, I’d assume.”

“Draco, can I talk to you for a moment?” Hermione asked.

“Of course.” Shooting one last look at Ian Roth-chode, Draco followed his fiancée away from the crowd, through the hall, and up the stairs. It was a part of the Grangers’ house he had never been to before.

She turned the doorknob into what Draco assumed was her childhood bedroom. Suddenly, Draco’s salty mood lifted and he felt positively giddy to be here.

He couldn’t be sure what color the walls were because books seemed to line every square inch of the room. A large stuffed bear sat primly on her bed and there were Muggle photos everywhere depicting her, Potter, and Weasley in various stages of youth and adulthood. Draco imagined her parents used this as a guest room in a pinch; hence the lack of Hogwarts mementos. He smirked as he fingered a photograph of an eleven-year-old Hermione trying on her father’s glasses. It was adorable.

He sighed. He couldn’t fucking wait to see what their baby looked like.

“I can’t believe I’m in Hermione Granger’s bedroom,” he said.

She was somewhat less amused. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m poking my nose into your past. Is this a scrapbook?”

“No, I mean what were you doing downstairs?”

“Hermione, your ex-boyfriend, who was clearly invited by your father as a way to rile me up, had his hands all over you. And for the record, he started it.” He sipped his wine.

“Are you drunk?”

“A little.” Three glasses of wine in a half an hour would do that to anyone.

She sighed. “Would you completely hate me if I asked you not to drink? Since I can’t.”

“Oh, um…” Draco scratched the back of his neck. “Of course not. You’re absolutely right. It’s best to approach this whole thing sober.” He sat the wine down on Hermione’s old dresser.

She chewed her lip. “I actually meant generally. Until…the baby’s here.”

Draco blinked at her. “I mean…”

“It would be such a great help to me.”

Something in her face shifted. There was a suggestive coquettishness that reeked of manipulation. But Draco, in his mildly inebriated state, couldn’t be arsed to decipher it.

He scratched under his jaw. “I guess that it wouldn’t kill me to abstain. If you can, I can.”

She smiled beautifully and pulled him in for a deep kiss. “Mmm. You taste like Chardonnay.”

“Mmmm,” he agreed, refusing to allow her to stop kissing him. His kisses grew more insistent, trailing down to her jaw. “Am I the only boy who’s ever been in this room?”

“Yes,” she said, tilting her head back.

Clever fingers brushed her breasts, making her gasp. They were so sensitive lately. “I want to have you on this bed,” he whispered into her neck.

“But…” A hard suck on her collarbone nearly made her lose her train of thought. “There’s the...thing.” His thumb ran over her nipple, pinching it at the same time he bit down on her shoulder. “The…party.”

“I couldn’t care less about the damn party.” Grasping her arse, he picked her up and carried her over to her bed. Hermione Granger’s bed. Ah, the possibilities.

“Draco…I…ohhh.” He slipped his hand under her blouse and immediately pulled her breast out of her bra. When he ran his tongue over the area above her breasts, he couldn’t think of a single reason to dissuade him. Her nails scraped over his scalp, eliciting a growly moan from him.

“You beautiful savage,” he whispered, capturing her lips again and grinding his hips into her.

Suddenly the door opened.

Hermione instantly jumped up, causing Draco to roll onto the floor. “Oh, my God! Dad!”

Edward Granger glared at Draco, who was currently, lying gob smacked on the floor with a swiftly dying boner. “So, you couldn’t help but sneak away from the party my wife threw for you, could you? You thought you could just come up here and play grab arse with my daughter.”

“Daddy, please. You’re hardly being fair,” Hermione said, still flushed from what Draco had been doing to her.

“Princess, would you mind giving Draco and I a minute alone, please?”

Both Hermione and Draco’s eyes widened. “Um…” She glanced at Draco who was silently pleading with her not to leave. “Whatever you have to say to Draco, you can say to me as well.”

The fire in Edward’s eyes seemed to cool slightly. He fixed Draco with a hard glare. “It can wait, then. But you and I need to have a talk.”

“I agree,” he said.

“In the meantime, you should both go back downstairs before Jean comes looking for you.” He shut the door behind him and left them alone in the room.

Both of them were silent for several long seconds.

“Well, I don’t know about you,” Hermione said with false optimism. “But I think that actually went quite well.”

Chapter Text

“Well, I don't know about you, but I think that actually went quite well.”

Draco clenched his jaw and pulled himself off the floor. “We should go back down.”

“Don't worry.” She reached out a hand to stroke his arm. “I won't let him make a scene.”

“I’m not worried.” He didn’t look at her, but he covered her hand with his own. His thumb brushed back and forth against it, almost absently. “Hermione, we have to tell him.”

“Not yet.” She gripped his arm tighter. “I know how to handle him. Just let me be the one to set the pace.”

He looked at her through a lock of hair that had fallen in front of his eyes. “No.”

And then he left the room.

With a slight, cracking panic in her voice, she called after him. “Draco? Where are you going?”

He was already downstairs when he immediately found Edward scowling in a corner. The man was petulantly nursing a (third?) scotch. He almost looked like he wanted someone to approach him and ask him what was wrong with him. “Excuse me, Edward. I need to have words with you.”

He whipped past him into the kitchen, casting a Silencing Charm. Predictably, Edward trailed just behind him, looking impossibly angrier at being bossed around by an overdressed blond person. “You don’t summon me in my own home, boy. I don’t know how things are in Wiltshire in your fancy mansion, but in this house—”

“Why don’t you like me?”

Edward gaped at Draco. It must have floored him that Draco, a proven sissy, had the balls to just say it. Finally.

When Edward didn’t answer, Draco continued. “I love your daughter. I love her more than anything. For most fathers that would be enough. But you? I can’t figure you out. It’s like you—”

“I don’t like you.”

It was Draco’s turn to gape at Edward. “Oh. So, we’re doing this.”

“You’re not good enough for my daughter.”

“Bit harsh, but alright.”

Edward continued as if Draco had said nothing. “When her mother and I sent her off to school and she used to come home during the holidays, she would always talk about a rude little boy who called her dirty names and teased her.”

Draco suppressed the urge to point out that he still occasionally called her dirty names and teased her, and that she seemed to like it pretty well nowadays. But he highly doubted Edward would find the parallel humorous. Plus, every time Draco thought about how awful he was to Hermione back at Hogwarts, it made him feel a tad ill.

“This little boy told her that she didn’t belong in his world. And Hermione hated him. She hated the things he stood for and she hated that he made her feel like she didn’t belong.”

“I imagine so,” Draco said. None of this was news. Still, it wasn't exactly fantastic hearing about it in detail. Edward had no reason to hold back from saying all the things Hermione was too tactful to say.

“So, imagine my surprise when she brings that same ignorant little bully to my home and tells me she’s in love with him.”

Draco stared at the patterns in the kitchen island countertop. He didn’t know what to say. How does one defend oneself when they don’t have a leg to stand on? “I understand.”

Edward sneered disbelievingly and folded his arms across his chest. “You understand?”

“If anybody ever treated a daughter of mine like I treated Hermione when we were growing up, I would hang him over the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch by his fingernails.”

Edward shook his head, unmoved by Draco’s empathy. “You can’t possibly understand. You don’t have a daughter.”

And then Draco uttered two words that turned Edward Granger’s ear hair white. “I might.” By the time he realized his mistake, Edward had already grabbed him by the collar of his shirt.

“What did you say?”

“Daddy? What the hell are you doing? Let go of Draco, right this instant!”

Hermione! Draco was saved. Of course, she would be furious once she realized that he half told her father about the baby without consulting her first, but that was a different problem for a different second.

“Hermione, what does this…boy mean when he says he might have a daughter?”

She de-agaped her mouth and stood up a little straighter. But despite her defiant posture, Draco could tell she was pissed. He didn't miss the various shades of fuck-off in her irises when she glanced at him. “He means…” She sighed. “I’m pregnant.”

Edward let go of Draco, his attention now fully fixed on the grown woman whose diapers he used to change. “You’re what?

“Edward dear, what is everyone doing in the kitchen?” Jean froze when she saw the tense scene before her. “What’s going on?”

Without taking his eyes off Hermione, Edward answered, “Our daughter just informed me that she’s pregnant.”

Jean’s eyes widened as she turned to Hermione. “Minny, dear, is this true?”

Hermione sighed. “I wasn’t going to tell you yet.”

“But you are having a baby?”

“Yes.”

“Drakey’s baby?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Mother! Would it kill you to call him ‘Draco?’ He bloody hates that nickname!”

Draco laughed off her outburst. “What she means, Jean, is that—”

“I mean that both of you need to start treating me like a bloody adult! Draco and I are not children and we can make our own decisions!”

Jean blinked in the silence following her daughter's outburst. “Min—um…Hermione, dear. You know I hate when you use language like that. I understand you spend your days surrounded by teenagers, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk like one.”

Hermione rubbed her temples. “My language isn’t the problem, Mother.”

“I should say not!” Edward said. “The problem is that this…miscreant seduced our daughter, convinced her to live with him in sin and then impregnated her.”

Draco narrowed his eyes at Edward. “I’ll thank you to keep your opinions about mine and Hermione’s life to yourself.”

“Hermione is my business.”

“Not anymore. She’s a grown woman. She’s marrying me and there’s nothing you can do to stop that from happening.”

Edward opened his mouth to retort, when Jean spoke over him. “I think I’m going to open that bottle of cognac we were saving for a rainy day. We’ll all have a nice little drink and then discuss this like adults.”

Hermione held up a hand. “None for me.”

Jean, the Hostess, paused. “This is a fifty year old bottle of Chateau de Montifaud. Why don't you want any?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Fetal alcohol syndrome.”

“Ah, yes.” Jean looked at Draco. “For you, dear?”

Hermione answered for him. “No, Mother. Draco said he would abstain until the baby was born to support me.”

Edward sneered at Draco. “I see my daughter’s got you properly trained, then. It’s no surprise that she wears the trousers in your relationship.”

Draco narrowed his eyes at Edward. “You know what? Fuck you.”

“Here’s a solution!” Hermione said, desperately. The room went quiet and everyone looked at her. She bit her lip. “Let’s all stop talking until I think of what to say next.”

Draco shook his head. “No, I’m sick of his bullshit. At this point, you’re just inventing reasons not to like me. And I really don’t give a rat’s arse anymore if you do or not. I’m honestly kind of ashamed that I cared for as long as I did. As long as you treat my children with respect, then you can think whatever you want about me. But if you expect me to just lay down and take it anymore, you are sorely mistaken. And you can take your opinions about me and about mine and Hermione’s relationship and shove it up your arse!”

The room went silent.

It was like watching a tidal wave as the lines in Edward’s forehead collapsed. Slowly, the corners of his mustache relaxed from their typical position south of his mouth, and his shoulders began to shake as laughter rang through his entire body. It started quietly at first, but gradually built until it consumed the room. Soon, Edward was joined in his laughter by Jean, who had already knocked back some cognac during Draco’s speech, and Hermione. Only Draco didn’t join in the misguided mirth.

Edward wiped tears from his eyes. “Hermione, this can’t possibly be the man for you. He’s utterly ridiculous if he thinks he can just talk to me like—”

“Enough, Daddy.” Hermione's change in mood with near-demonic swiftness shut down any residual laughter in the room. “Do have any idea how ridiculous you are? To have held a grudge for so long against a little boy you never even met until he grew up is certifiably insane.”

Draco had never been more attracted to her.

“He’s been nothing but civil to you even though you treat him like shite.”

Jean grimaced at Hermione's choice of words. “Really, dear. That language is—”

Mother. Do not start with me. I’m sober, pregnant, and pissed off.” She took a deep breath and turned to her father. “Daddy, this is it for me. Draco is it. So, if you can’t get over this colossal grudge, then…then this really is it.”

Jean gasped. “Edward, you apologize to that sweet boy right now, or I swear to God you’ll be sleeping on the couch for the rest of your goddamned life!”

Hermione slowly turned to face her mother, unable to resist the shadow of a smirk resting behind her features. “Language, Mum.”

“I mean it, Edward,” she said, ignoring Hermione’s quip. “You will not keep me from my grandchild. Get over yourself and do some bloody groveling or I will… I’ll…” She narrowed her eyes dangerously. “I will donate your 17th century dental pelican to the British Dental Museum.”

No! Not my baby,” Edward said. “Do you have any idea how long it took me to find that?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Daddy. Me telling you that you would lose me if you don’t make up with Draco doesn’t do it, but some creepy old tooth extraction tool does? You need to sort out your priorities.”

“I…” Edward realized he was trapped. The women in his life had backed him into a corner, using all the things he most loved against him. He had no choice. Turning his attention to Draco, he sheepishly mumbled, “There is a chance that I was a tad too hard on you.”

“A tad?” Draco asked.

“Hey, you used to bully my daughter. ‘A tad’ is all you get.”

It was more than he'd expected, truth be told. “I’ll take it.”

Hermione knocked her elbow into her father’s side. “Daddy. Shake Draco’s hand.”

“That’s okay,” Draco said, remembering the trash compactor that was Edward Granger’s fist.

“No, Hermione’s right. Shake my hand, Draco.” Edward extended his hand to Draco.

He stared dubiously at the olive branch. “Just remember that you are a lot larger than me, as you have reminded me multiple times in the past.”

They shook. And it wasn't terrible.

Edward looked Draco in the eyes. “Not a bad grip for a man with lady’s hands.”

“Okay. We’ll work on your tone later,” Draco said.

Jean examined the scene with glassy eyes. “I’m so happy for you and Draco, Hermione. And you’re right. You two are adults. I shouldn’t use nicknames.”

Hermione suddenly remembered the truth she had laid down on her mother during her rage rant, and she couldn't help but feel guilty for it. “Mother…”

“No. No, you’re right.” Jean sniffed, drunkenly. “I just wanted to throw you two a nice party.” She suddenly backhanded Edward’s forearm. “And you had better be nice to this young man in the future, Edward Granger. He’s giving us a grandchild!

With an uncharacteristically feeble strain in his face that could only be interpreted as fear of his wife, Edward attempted to defend himself. “Jean, you know I—”

“He and Hermione will make the prettiest babies. You’re going to want more than just one, aren’t you Hermione?”

Hermione gaped at her mildly intoxicated mother, looking at Draco for assistance. He grinned at her discomfort. “Um…well, this was a bit of a surprise, Mother.”

Edward harrumphed. “I’ll say.” He fixed Draco with a hard glare. “Don’t you magical people believe in family planning?”

“You realize there is no possible way I’m discussing this topic with you, don’t you, Edward?”

“Probably wise.”

Hermione interjected. “Are we all good here? Because there’s still a very large number of people waiting on the other side of that door for the four of us to come out of this room.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “I have to ask, Jean. How the bloody hell did you get in touch with my Auntie Lucretia?”

“Your friend, Mr. Zabini. He was rather helpful.”

Draco erupted into a fit of laughter. His body doubled over and he clutched his ribs to better contain them in his body. This went on for quite some time before he wiped his eyes and said, “I’m sorry. It’s just...so many things about that answer is incorrect.” He was fairly certain even Blaise’s employees didn’t call him ‘Mr. Zabini.’ And nobody who had ever interacted with him for more than a minute would ever call him ‘helpful.’

Edward grunted. “I don’t like that guy.”

Hermione put a hand on his shoulder. “No one does really, Daddy.”

“Should I not have invited your aunt, dear?” Jean asked.

“Well…I think I should warn you, both of you,” Draco amended, turning to Edward to signal that he too, was part of this, “that my family is appalling. If you ever wondered why I was such a little shit when I was a kid, you need look no further than the people who share my surname.”

Edward chuckled. “Wonderful. Then you won’t mind our relatives.”

I mind our relatives, Daddy,” Hermione said. She turned to her mother. “Please tell me that I don’t have to invite them to the wedding.”

Jean’s eyes widened. “Darling, I don’t even want them here. But your Aunt Prudence insisted that they all meet Draco.”

Hermione fixed Draco with a cool stare. “She would get along gloriously with your Aunt Lucretia.” Aunt Prudence was one of those women who believed that she could say the most racist, sexist, and generally offensive things about someone, so long as she immediately followed with a “Bless them,” whilst clutching her pearls.

Edward clapped Draco on the shoulder. “Come on. Let’s go introduce you to a lot of people who will be dead in a few years.”

 

*

 

Draco was currently having his ear talked off by an odd Slytherin boy named Brady Fitch who he assumed was a close friend of James Potter’s, as he hadn’t left his side the whole night.

“And you see, Mr. Scorpius’s Dad, that’s why I think you should ask Professor Granger to look over my essay again. My sleep apnea has really been acting up.”

“Yyyeah.” Draco narrowed his eyes at James Potter for assurance that this wasn't a joke. James, however, refused to stop looking at his shoes. “I don’t really do that. And even if I did, there’s no way she would listen to me. But, hey, it sounds terrible. Sorry about all that. If it’s a real concern, you should get a note from Madam Pomfrey.”

The boy nodded at him. “Tushy, Mr. Scorpius's Dad. Tushy.”

James leaned in to whisper. “It’s touché.”

Draco took a large sip of his sparkling water, pretending it was laced with vodka. “Oh, look. There are other people who I should talk to. Excuse me.” Draco walked towards Blaise and Theo.

The latter held up a tortilla chip and sniffed it. “The food here is weird, mate.”

“It’s Muggle. Have either of you seen my son?”

Blaise smirked. “I have. And I wouldn’t go in the downstairs washroom if I were you.”

“Why? Is he okay?”

“Mmm,” Rose hummed into Scorpius’s mouth as he cupped her breast underneath her jumper. “You can go farther if you want," she said, capturing his lips again.

Scorpius froze. “Here?”

Yeah,” she chased his lips again, but he dodged her.

“As in…Jean and Edward’s downstairs washroom? You want me to take your bra off while we’re holed up during my dad’s engagement party? At my future step-grandparents’ house?”

“Well…yeah.”

He blinked at her. His hand was still under her jumper. “Alright then.”

They resumed their snogging and Scorpius put the slightest bit of distance between them so he could remove her jumper when the door swung open.

Whoa!” Scorpius said, shielding his girlfriend.

“Whoa!” Blaise, said shielding his eyes.

“Get out of here, Uncle Blaise!”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m way ahead of you,” he said, walking away and shutting the door behind him.

“Oh, he looked like he was more than okay,” Blaise said with a suggestive sneer.

Draco winced. “No need to be crass.”

“I’m just saying. Your son’s got game.”

Theo nudged Draco. “Speaking of snogging, Hermione’s ex-boyfriend is a hell of a kisser.”

Draco blinked rapidly at his friend. “I...I can’t even comprehend you, Theo.”

Theo winced. “Although, I’m pretty sure he’s never given a blow job before, because he was all teeth.”

Okay! You’re a slut. And I’m going to go speak to someone with a more comparable mental age.”

Draco's absence was quickly replaced with the presence of Albus Potter. “You two look like gentlemen of style and substance.”

“You’re Potter’s son,” Blaise said, narrowing his eyes.

“Albus Potter, at your service,” he said shaking hands with them. The two and a half men nodded at each other and shared a companionable moment of silence.

“So,” Albus said. “Do either of you happen to have any weed you’d like to sell?”

“That depends,” Blaise said. “Your dad still an Auror?”

“Who even bloody knows anymore,” he said. “So, are either of you interested?”

“Look, kid,” Blaise said with a condescending smile. “We're grown men who grew up with trust funds, not a couple of snot-nosed teenage chavs.” He took a sip of his champagne. “Of course we have weed.”

Theo raised an eyebrow at the unusual teen. “How old are you anyway?”

Albus tutted him. “This question again. I’m very disappointed in you, Theo.”

And for the second time that day, Blaise and Theo found themselves abandoned.

“Where's Luna?” Theo asked.

“Where do you think?”

“Nargles,” they both said at the same time.

Theo snickered as he watched Albus Potter approach his clearly gay brother and that brother’s equally gay date. “Is it just me, or do you get a sense that one day, that kid will rule the fucking world?”

Blaise had noticed that the boy was nothing like his showboat father. Rather, he seemed to evoke the best qualities of his crudely charismatic mother and the insidious intelligence for which their shared House was famous. Given a few years, he would probably be Blaise’s new best friend. “Oh, indubitably.”

 

*

 

“Mind if I stand here next to you lot?” Albus asked. “The company at this party is severely lacking. Everyone is inexplicably obsessed with age.”

“Where's your friend?” James countered.

Albus released a bored sigh. “Off breeding somewhere, probably.”

“Gross,” Brady said.

Albus nodded and gestured at Brady with his thumb. “This guy gets it.” He sniggered as he watched Simon strike out while he attempted to chat up Albus’s own sister. “You see that?” He directed James’s attention to the heartbreaking scene.

“Just wait. Dad will cut in soon. But he’d better get used to it because I’m pretty sure Lily’s going to inherit Mum’s um... attributes.”

“Gross, but yeah.” He scanned the room. “This party is so incandescently boring.”

“I can do a backflip,” Brady offered enthusiastically. “Want to see?”

“No, that's alright, mate,” Albus said. “I was thinking about breaking into Edward’s good stuff; the stuff he doesn't leave out.”

“We're in,” James said.

As they sauntered towards the kitchen, Albus poked his brother in the ribs. “So, this is a real thing now, eh?” He pointed to Brady.

James tried to hide his blushing face. “Shut up.”

“Never.”

“So what about you, then? What happened with that girl?”

Albus stopped in his tracks. “Are we actually having this conversation?” James shrugged. “Well then, here's the thing.” He put an arm around his brother’s shoulders. “I struck out.”

“You alright with that?”

“Yeah.” He really was. “I was never going to be that bloke to fall in love at the end of the story. My future is still out there.”

James snickered. “You are so fucking weird.”

He was no Scorpius, but hanging out with James wasn't so bad.

 

*

 

Draco approached a suit-clad, freshly barbered Harry and a nervous-looking Ron.

“Hey,” Ron said, with a slight glower. “Your son has been in the toilet for far too long. Now, I can’t go down there and say anything because it would be creepy, but you should probably check on him.”

“Worried about my son's digestive health, are you? So thoughtful of you, Weasley.”

“Something like that.”

“Great. While I’m down there, should I check on your daughter, too?” Draco asked.

You,” Ron said, gritting his teeth and making a fist, before calming down. “Rose is with her cousin.”

“Which cousin? The one guarding Edward’s liquor collection or the one getting chatted up by Scorpius's other weird friend?” Draco said, motioning over to Albus and Lily respectfully.

Harry’s head whipped around. “Are you fucking kidding me? She’s far too young to be thinking about boys.”

“Tell that to the boys.” Draco eyed their drinks and tugged at his collar. “I can’t believe I told Hermione I wouldn’t drink until after the baby was born.”

“Whipped, you are,” Harry said, taking a smug sip of his scotch.

“Says the man who bought his wife flowers once because he pissed her off in a dream,” Draco retorted.

Ron nudged Harry’s ribs. “Hey, mate. It’s none of my business, but is that burly bloke…with James? Like with with?”

Harry looked over at his son who was currently stopping Brady from eating a banana with the peel. There was a tender laughter in his eyes that Harry had never seen before. “I don’t know. He hasn’t said anything yet.” And surprisingly, Harry was alright with that. One day, when James was ready, he would.

“I hear you stood up to Edward,” Ron said, already moving on from the conversation.

Draco pinched the area between his eyes. “It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life. And I have been hugged by bloody Voldemort.”

“You lot were in that kitchen a while. What happened in there?”

Draco shrugged. “Edward and I did a bit of yelling. Jean cried.” Draco grimaced suddenly as if to emphasize his next point. “Jean cries a lot when she drinks.”

“I know,” Harry and Ron said simultaneously.

“I think, in the end, I’m the father of their grandchild, so Edward has to at least pretend to like me, or else Hermione won't come visit him anymore, and Jean will take away his toys. So, we’re in a good place.”

“We saw you met Ian,” Ron said. “Bloody idiot, he is. Neither of us ever liked him.”

“Apparently he gives shite blow jobs,” Draco said.

Harry and Ron blinked rapidly. “No,” Harry said. “No. I’m not even going to try to unpack that one. Ah, Hermione. Thank God.” He brightened at the presence of his most appropriate friend. “If you’ll all excuse me, I've got some fathering to do.”

 

*

 

“How come I never see you around?” Simon tried to casually lean against the wall, the effect being that he resembled a colossal fuck boy.

Lily backed away from him, repelled by the cloud of Axe body spray the boy was emitting. “Because I'm a second year. I think I've mentioned that.”

“You're a sassy one, aren't you?”

“You've met my brothers. I'm learning.”

“Mr. Potter!” Simon immediately stood up straighter at Harry’s arrival. “If I might say, you're looking particularly--”

“Not today, buddy. Not today,” he said, grabbing Simon by the shoulders and moving him away from his youngest child.

 

*

 

“What are you all yammering about?” Hermione asked.

“Nothing,” Draco said, sliding an arm around her waist. “How much your father likes me now.”

She chuckled into his chest. “This day has been absolutely exhausting.”

He rubbed little circles into her back. “A lot of…human stuff. That’s for sure.” '

“Is it just me or has this all seemed like a lot of ado about nothing?”

“What, precisely?”

Hermione sighed. “Just…everything. My father’s marathon grudge against you. Our friends and their little dramas. Scorpius and Rose doing…whatever it is that they do. My other godchildren. My parents. Everything. We all make a big fuss over it, but at the end of the day, it’s only life.”

Draco hummed in agreement. “You get rather philosophical when you’re tired.”

“I’m serious, Draco. There’s no great plot to this. To anything, really. It’s just...stuff. A collection of things that all run together and it seems like everything, but really it’s nothing in the grand scheme of it all. Right?”

“Well, you said it yourself, love.” He kissed her forehead. “It’s everything.”

“Hmm,” her eyelids fluttered. “That’s nice.” She began to walk away.

“Hey, where are you going?” Draco asked.

“I’m going to throw up.”

Again?

“Blame this bitch,” she said, pointing to her stomach.

As he watched her disappear down the stairs, he sighed, realizing that despite his fiancee’s crass language, she had just referred to their baby as a ‘she.’

 

*

 

Hermione couldn’t help but feel a profound rightness with the world as she rushed to the nearest bathroom to empty her stomach for the second time that evening. That feeling dissipated the moment the door swung open.

“Son of a cunting bitch! Again? Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the camel, this is the—” She interrupted her own rant by retching heavily upon her mother’s brand new carpet.

A small cough could be heard on the other side of the door. “Um…Aunt Hermione? You’re not going to tell my parents about this, are you?”

“Yeah, it’d be really cool if you didn’t mention this to Dad, either. And uh…I heard I’m going to be a brother. That’s cool. Congratulations.”

A string of spittle ran down her open mouth. She sighed. “Thanks. Um…carry on.”

Her inner control freak raged as she resigned herself to a truth she had always avoided. This was life. And it happened whether you wanted it to or not.

And that's not a bad thing.

Chapter Text

Nine months later…

Draco’s eyes burned in his skull as he bounced the screaming little hellion in his arms. “Please stop crying,” he begged. “Please.”

She responded by opening her mouth wider, shutting her eyes tighter, and letting all Hell break loose.

The poor man was pooped. He hadn’t slept properly in days. Mirum seemed to regard any moment her parents’ attentions weren’t 100% fixed on her as a wasted opportunity.

They had been forced to schedule sex. Hermione’s idea. Whimsy took care of Mirum for the afternoon while Draco and Hermione snuck upstairs to be alone. But even that was ruined.

“I’m going to fuck you so good,” he said, kissing across her collarbone.

“Yeah…you…” Hermione yawned mightily.

“Oh no, don’t…”

But it was too late. Draco yawned too, and in seconds, the two of them were passed out and drooling on each other. Granted, it had been a rather stunning nap, but hardly the way he had planned on exhausting his fiancée.

“Shh, shh,” Draco pleaded. “What do you want? I’ll give you anything.” She had already eaten. Draco had changed her twenty minutes ago. And she absolutely abhorred her dummy. Every time they tried to give it to her she ripped it out of her mouth and threw it on the ground.

Her prospects as a future Beater were rather promising.

As if to prove this point, she launched her tiny fist at his chin.

He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. “I love you. I do. But you’re a monster.” He barely heard the Floo in the other room, signaling Hermione’s return from her lunch with Ginny. He had hoped Mirum would settle down before Hermione returned home, so he could prove to her that it was okay for her to go out every now and then. He’d practically blackmailed her just to get her to go to lunch with Ginny. Their wedding was only a month away, and Hermione was more stressed than ever. She needed this.

Plus, it gave him an opportunity to bond with Mirum. At this stage in her young life, there wasn’t much the two of them had in common other than shared DNA and a fondness for Hermione’s breasts. But he could always establish a connection by holding her while she screamed, changing her soiled nappies, and letting her use him as target practice for her projectile vomits.

That said, he was anxious for her to get a little older so they could talk about Quidditch or something.

He continued to bounce their daughter while she screamed. His eyes were dry and red from not having blinked in ages, so he couldn’t muster a proper greeting when Hermione entered the room. “How was Ginny?” he asked with a hollow voice.

“Fine. I mean not fine, exactly. I hexed her.” She plopped down on the sofa next to him.

Deciding that a change in tactic was in order, Draco put the infant on his chest and rubbed circles on her back. Perhaps she just wanted to be burped. “Might I ask why?”

Hermione rolled her eyes—also dry and reddened from lack of sleep. “She bought Mirum a present.”

Draco’s movements paused. “I don’t follow.”

“Let me show you,” she said, pulling something from her bag. “Here.”

Draco finally blinked. It was a onesie that read, “My Parents Shagged Nine Months Ago, and All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Yeah. She’s not wearing that.”

“That’s what I said.” She rubbed her temples. “Did she take a nap?” Mirum screamed in response to her mother’s question. Both mother and father were such veterans when it came to Mirum’s tantrums, they didn’t even grimace at the noise.

“No,” he responded.

Hermione sighed. “Of course she didn’t sleep. She never sleeps. Demon babies can’t sleep.”

“It’s your fault.”

“Is it?”

“I wanted to name her Ara after the constellation south of Scorpius. But noooo. You had to name her something esoteric and flippant.”

“Mirum is a beautiful Latin name.”

Draco released a hollow laugh. “It literally means ‘surprise.’ She’s going to notice. She probably already does.” He narrowed his eyes at the baby. “How much do you already know? Are you a genius too, like your mother?”

“Draco, honey. No offense. But you sound absolutely bat-shit barmy. You’re going crazy. Give her to me and go sleep.”

“No, I—”

Haven’t slept in days. Give me my child.”

He handed the wailing baby over to her and rubbed his face. “Neither have you.”

Hermione deposited the infant on her chest. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but don’t you think we could let the house elves do a bit more than we have up till now?”

He took a deep breath and spoke in a rehearsed voice, as if he’d said it a thousand times. “The parenting books say that it’s important we take a direct interest in her early care so she can—”

Sod your books.”

He blinked blindly at her for a moment before comprehending the meaning of what she just said. “It is…literally unbelievable that you just said that.”

“Take a nap, Draco.”

“But I—”

“I swear to Circe, Draco. If you don’t go upstairs and get in that bed and take a goddamned nap, I will personally give you a vasectomy, so that we don’t ever have to worry about any more ‘surprises’ ever again.”

Draco yawned and nodded. “Okay. Okay.” He smacked his lips sleepily. “What was I doing?”

She sniggered. “Just sleep, love.”

“Okay. Good night.” He curled up into the fetal position and feel asleep right there on the couch.

Hermione made calming, cooing sounds at her daughter while she cried. “Shh, shh, shh. It’s alright. Mummy’s here.”

She had lied to Draco. When she suggested they name their daughter ‘Mirum,’ she failed to mention the deeper meaning: wonderment, awe, an extraordinary thing. Because she felt it; that tug at her heartstrings the moment she lay eyes upon this miraculous, fascinating little person she helped make.

It was just so much funnier for Draco to think the name was an homage to her unplanned conception.

Mirum, the Wonderment, cried. She cried wet, loud, baby tears that simultaneously broke Hermione’s heart and irritated her to the depths of her soul. If one really thought about it, no human being should be allowed to act like this; cry for no reason until they decided they were finished or somebody gave them what they wanted.

“This is so not cute,” she said as she patted Mirum’s back. She remembered the mantra Ginny taught her. “I will not eat my young. I will not eat my young. I will not eat my young.”

Slowly, but surely, Mirum’s squalls lessened as her mother held her. Hermione kissed her daughter on the forehead as she finally began to show signs of sleepiness. “Oh, my sweet, little demon. Daddy and I are going to fuck you up so bad.”

“Goo!” Mirum said, with a smile.

 

*

 

Three years later… \

No, Daddy. No! Mrs. Feathers has to have the purple cup and Mr. Whiskers gets the pink cup!” Mirum corrected the stuffed Hippogriff and lion toys’ preferred choice of stemware.

Draco was currently the guest of honor at a tea party to celebrate the marriage of Mrs. Feathers and Mr. Whiskers. He was wearing a hot pink boa and a sparkly tiara to match the one on his three-year-old daughter’s curly blonde head. “Well, shouldn’t they have matching cups? After all they are about to comingle their assets and everything that belongs to Mr. Whiskers will soon be Mrs. Feathers’s.”

Mirum giggled. “You’re so silly, Daddy. Mr. Whiskers likes pink. It’s his favorite color.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. He suspected Hermione had had some sort of discussion with their daughter about ‘the toxicity of traditional gender roles’ or something equally woke like that. The first clue probably should have been that Mrs. Feathers had opted to keep her own surname. Obviously, he must have listened to one of his wife’s rants closer than he thought, given the fact that he and his three-year-old daughter were currently sporting twin accessories in complementary colors. “Oh, I see now. Please forgive me for the mix up.”

“You need to say you’re sorry to Mr. Whiskers.” Mirum looked at him with large, liquid brown eyes, so similar to her mother’s. It never even occurred to Draco to turn her down as he picked up the stuffed lion toy, his eyes full of contrition, and said, “Mr. Whiskers, it is my most sincere hope that you will accept this humble apology for nearly giving your pink cup to your wife.” His voice lowered slightly as he cupped a hand to Mr. Whiskers’ ear as a useless barrier. “Although, if you want a bit of friendly advice, you should probably learn to share sooner rather than later because the second Mrs. Feathers decides that she likes that pink cup, you’re going to be drinking out of purple for a long time, mate.”

The room was so saturated with Mirum’s laughter, Draco nearly didn’t hear the Floo go off, signaling his wife had returned home from work.

Mummy!!!!” With the fickleness only a child could display, Mirum immediately lost interest in celebrating the Feathers-Whiskers wedding and jumped up to greet her mother.

Hermione swooped Mirum up into her arms and kissed her on the cheek. “Were you a good girl for your Daddy today?”

“Daddy says that once Mr. Whiskers marries Mrs. Feathers that she gets whatever she wants.”

Hermione quirked an eyebrow at Draco, who nervously laughed at their child’s backstabbing candor. “Kids. I’ll never know where she comes up with this stuff.”

Hermione smirked and set Mirum down on the ground. “Why don’t you go down to the kitchen and have Quincy make you a hot chocolate?”

Mirum’s large brown eyes widened impossibly larger. “But Mum! Quincy scares me.”

Draco bit his lip at the sole parallel between his and his daughter’s childhoods.

“Tell him I said you could have one,” Hermione said.

“Okay, Mummy.” In a flash, she skipped around the corner and disappeared in a haze of curls, glitter, and lace.

Hermione wasted no time and collapsed on the sofa. “How many sweets did she talk you into letting her have today?”

Draco shrugged and contemplated his answer. “Oh, probably just the one biscuit I let her have after lunch.”

“Draco.”

“Several.” There was no use lying to her. His former-Auror wife could sense his bullshit from a mile away. Blaise always teased him that between Hermione and Mirum, he was so whipped it was a wonder he could stand up straight.

She rubbed the back of her neck. “Since you’re the one spoiling her, then you can be the one to put her to bed later.”

“Fair enough,” he said, plopping down on the couch next to her and batting her hands away from her neck, replacing them with his own.

“Mmmm. That feels amazing. Almost enough to distract me from what you’re wearing.”

Draco ignored her and continued to work the knots in her neck. “Only real men wear pink feathers.” He placed a kiss where her neck met her shoulder.

She chuckled lightly. “How soon do you think I could send Mirum to bed and it not be considered child abuse?”

“As wound up as she is, probably well after midnight,” Draco said, kissing her neck again. “Hard day?”

“Just long. Rose and Scorpius are being divas about the Graduation ceremony. Rose made us run through the entire rehearsal five times this afternoon and I am officially never trusting Scorpius again when he asks me for ‘a quick fashion consultation.’ He spent thirty minutes agonizing over which pocket square best complemented the colors in his tassel.”

“That’s my boy.”

“Eh. You probably would have spent forty.”

“Yes, well, luckily for the Hogwarts faculty, I was never asked to be Head Boy, so I didn’t get to lord over the graduation ceremony.”

“Luckily is right. As if you aren’t a total brat now, you would have been absolutely unendurable.”

He chuckled against her neck and placed a hot, open-mouthed kiss just below her ear. “Have you noticed that we’re alone right now?”

“Why do you think I sent Mirum down to the kitchen?” A devilish glint sparkled in her eye. Hermione never let Mirum have chocolate before dinner. It was a vain attempt at instilling proper nutrition habits, however, as the child refused to eat anything besides butter noodles these days.

“You sneaky minx.” Draco bolted up and immediately started removing clothes, starting with his shoes. It might have been more sexy and less ridiculous if he still hadn’t been wearing the tiara and boa Mirum had insisted he wear for the tea party. “What?” he asked as Hermione erupted into a fit of giggles.

“Nothing, just…” She sighed. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said, grinning that dashing, close-mouthed Malfoy smile that left Hermione weak in the knees. “Now take off your bloody clothes, woman.”

“You’re not the boss of me,” she said playfully.

Draco’s mischievous glint faded slightly. “Please, please, please don’t ever let Mirum hear you say that. I have a feeling she’d have a field day with that one.”

The immediate fear in Hermione’s eyes at the prospect of feeding Mirum’s inner brat was apparent. She nodded vehemently in concurrence. She had a faraway look in her eyes just thinking about their daughter stomping her foot, Shirley Temple style, and insisting “You’re not the boss of me!” The kid pretty much soaked up everything they said or did.

Draco narrowed his eyes at his wife. “What are you…? Oh, no, no, no. I didn’t mean to kill the mood. Please don’t let the mood be dead.” He leaned down to kiss her. “Here. Let me help you get out of these clothes.” He snuck one hand inside the front of her shirt and cupped her breast, freeing it from the confines of her bra cup whilst Hermione giggled into his mouth.

Daddy! Mummy!” Mirum ran into the room with the area around her mouth covered in chocolate.

As if he was on fire, Draco immediately removed his hand from Hermione’s top. She, in turn, crouched down on the couch and refastened the buttons on her blouse whilst Draco covertly pulled his trousers back up. Damn it. He had been so close! “What is it, sweetheart?”

“When we go to see Scor-puss and Rose walk across the stage tomorrow, can I wear my Elsa dress?”

While the untimely arrival of their toddler meant Draco could kiss goodbye the dream of shagging his wife rotten on the sofa, he couldn’t help but be charmed by her request. Mirum hadn’t yet mastered the pronunciation of her brother’s name. Nor had she taken to magical fairytales over the Muggle ones. Ever since Edward and Jean took her to see Frozen, she only had eyes for Elsa. Hermione always teased him that it was only proper a Malfoy girl would find her kindred spirit in a broody ice queen with impossibly blonde hair. His mature response was to stick his tongue out at her and pull at her hair. Having a three-year-old really made one question the merits of acting one’s age.

Hermione emerged from behind the couch, her clothes righted. “That depends. If I go up to your room right now, will I find crayons all over the floor?”

Mirum shook her head emphatically. “I picked them up, Mummy. I pinky promise!”

Hermione nodded. “Well, alright, then.” She made a mental note to have Whimsy press Mirum’s Elsa dress. She typically tried to ration how often Mirum wore it, because if Mirum had it her way, she’d wear it every day. A fondness for princesses was a little girl trend Hermione had bypassed, but she couldn’t deny it was endearing on her daughter.

Yaaaayyy!!!!” Mirum skipped in circles around the room. “Daddy and me are playing tea party. Will you play with us?”

“It’s Daddy and I,” she corrected. “Yes, I suppose.”

While this was not the game she had anticipated on playing with Draco when she returned home, she could never get enough of the novelty of seeing Draco Malfoy in a tiara, saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ to a variety of stuffed animals while sipping imaginary tea out of flowery cups.

 

*

 

The following day, Hermione, Draco, and Mirum (clad in a satin, baby blue princess dress with a glittery, organza train), stood at King’s Cross Station, waiting for the Hogwarts Express to take them to the graduation ceremony. Mirum stood between her parents, each of her hands holding one of theirs. Draco bit back a grin at the realization that the scene was painfully idyllic—a word that he never would have thought could possibly describe his life.

“Are Scor-puss and Rose winning a prize?” Mirum asked, clutching Mr. Weezy, an orange stuffed bunny she’d grabbed after Hermione informed her she could only bring one toy to the ceremony. The bunny had been christened ‘Mr. Weezy’ due to Draco’s inability to damper his jibes at his wife’s ginger best friend. The day he bought it for his daughter after she refused to be parted with it at the toy store, he stood at the counter, held it up, regarded the slight paunch in the bunny rabbit’s belly (along with its vacant, wide-eyed expression), and declared to Hermione, “This thing kind of looks like Weasley.”

Kids pick up on everything. Draco still hadn’t heard the end of it from Hermione.

“No, sweetheart. Your brother and Rose are the Heads of their class. They’re each giving a speech today because they’re graduating,” Hermione aptly explained.

“What’s grad-jating?”

“It means that none of the boys and girls the same age as them have to go to school anymore.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re old enough now to go out in the world and work. Like Mummy and Daddy do.”

“Why?”

Draco chuckled. If he didn’t cut in, these two would be at it for hours. “Because darling, the government, in its omniscient wisdom, erroneously believes that 17 is old enough for a person to have something useful to contribute to the world, and that the real adults, for some reason, are willing to put up with having to regard them as peers, even though most of them are still raging smart alecks who live with their parents.”

Mirum blinked up at him. She was too confused to continue her line of questioning. His tactic had yielded its desired outcome.

Hermione rolled her eyes at his faux-pessimism. “Do you have any idea how old you sound when you say things like that?”

“Mirum,” Draco said, looking down at his tiny daughter, “tell your mother I’m not old.”

She giggled. “You’re old, Daddy. So old!”

His daughter’s betrayal was punctuated by his wife’s totally unnecessary laughter.

“Oh, like you’re so much younger than me. Oh, wait. You’re a year older,” he said.

Feigning innocence, she placed a hand over her heart. “Hey, I’m not the one with an adult son.”

Adult,” Draco snorted. “And for all intents and purposes, yes you are.”

Hermione mockingly mouthed his words back at him.

Their banter came to a halt as they approached Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Susan who were also awaiting the train, and exchanged greetings as if they didn’t see each other constantly. Seriously, constantly. Or at least it seemed so to Draco.

As usual, Mirum was the center of attention.

“I love your dress,” Susan said.

“Thank you,” Mirum mumbled as she stuck Mr. Weezy’s ear in her mouth, pretending to be much more shy than they all knew her to be. ‘Awww’s’ were exchanged.

The train finally arrived. As they all prepared themselves to board, Ron elbowed Draco in the ribs. “Twenty Galleons says more people applaud at Rose’s speech than Scorpius’s.”

Draco winced. Weasley was always fucking doing this. Your son’s lucky to have Rose. She could have any boy she wanted. That sort of thing. It was dull and completely beneath Draco. He wanted no part in it. “You’re on.”

The pointed clearing of Hermione’s throat brought them back to reality as they sheepishly avoided their respective wives’ eye-rolling and took their places on the train next to them.

“Daddy, will I have to go to school one day too?”

Draco’s chest tightened at the very thought. “One day, yes. But not for a long time.” Not so long, he thought regretfully.

The familiar dips and valleys in the English countryside whizzed past them as the Hogwarts Express tore through the landscape. Mirum tugged tightly on his arm, unsure of how to make sense of her very first train ride.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, sweetheart.”

Her chin wobbled a bit. “What if the other boys and girls don’t like me?”

It was official. Being a father to adorable little girls was the worst. The burning in Draco’s eyes and the tugging in his chest at his daughter’s distress made him realize why Edward Granger was such an intense man.

If anybody ever treated a daughter of mine like I treated Hermione when we were growing up, I would hang him over the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch by his fingernails.

He would, too. What had his life come to when his Gryffindor wife was the level-headed one?

“Sweetheart,” Hermione said, realizing that this was not the sort of question Draco was capable of answering, “I promise you that you will have friends and they will like you.”

“Did you and Daddy like each other when you were in school?”

Hermione shot her four friends warning glares as they attempted to stifle their sniggers. “Not exactly. But we grew up and we fell in love and made you.”

That answer seemed to pacify Mirum as she snuggled drowsily into her mother’s side, letting the train gently rock her into a pre-nap stasis.

Draco caught Hermione’s eyes and tried to wordlessly communicate to her how much he loved her in that moment. It was comforting to know that when he was too much of a mess to be useful, she would step in and say the right thing to their daughter. Admittedly, the reverse was sometimes true as well. Neither of them were perfect. But they always seemed to know when the time was ripe to step up to the plate for the other’s sake, as well as Mirum’s.

With Scorpius, he’d been alone. He’d played the role of both parents, and had to pick up his own pieces from the days when he was operating at less than full capacity. He never allowed himself to become overly emotional, never dwelling on the temporary nature of childhood or even existence. Stiff upper lip. Chin up. There’s no time to fall exhausted onto the sofa after a hard day when your little boy needs to tell you a two hour story about a grasshopper. By the time Scorpius went off to school, Draco was utterly exhausted. There had been no time to fully realize the depths of his own needs as a person until Hermione came along.

He was grateful. So completely, devastatingly grateful. He took Hermione’s hand over their sleeping daughter’s form and raised it to his lips. She blushed. He hoped he could always make her blush, even when they were old.

Hills turned into mountains through the frame of the windows in their compartment as they headed towards the next of many milestones in their family’s future.

All was well.