♥ Normal is the Watchword ♥
If Jamie was ever to be the main character of a story, he would love for the first line of that story to be something such as "Jamie was a very normal almost-twelve year old boy". The problem was Jamie really wasn't the main character of this story. No, if there was to be a story, the main character would rather be his dad. And as his dad was Harry Potter, Jamie knew from his quite short life-experience that he had renounced his chances at being normal at the same time he had left the warmth and comfort of the womb (and some would argue, even before that).
There were several things, even, that made Jamie rather abnormal.
First of all, Jamie was a wizard. This could have been absolutely normal, except that, even as he had always been aware of it, he had never really lived as one. He had been to a normal school and on normal holidays, and he lived in a normal house where his dad hardly ever used magic. The word Muggle still felt kind of weird on his tongue, as if it was a foreign word.
So, when he dived head-first in the Wizarding World and visited Diagon Alley for the first time and then went to Hogwarts, Jamie didn't feel normal at all. His dad told him he shouldn't worry and that he would adapt easily, but then he always started recounting how he had discovered the Wizarding World himself, so Jamie's usual response was 'okay' and a smile, despite not feeling confident at all.
Because of his dad being his dad (and he really was an awesome dad, there definitely was no complaining on Jamie's part), Jamie rapidly discovered that his life at Hogwarts was never going to be normal either.
For one, he was the only first year whose classmates asked for his dad's autograph on their Chocolate Frog cards. And he was the only one whom everybody knew even before he put one foot on school grounds. Well, to be fair, people didn't really know him, they only knew the idea of him. They talked about Harry Potter's son on the Hogwarts Express and they clapped loudly when they heard his name during the Sorting. To say they were disappointed when they saw him would be an understatement. Nobody expected Harry Potter's kid to be a scrawny, elongated boy with washed-out red hair, a nose a bit too long for his face and the most unremarkable eyes ever. Also, they didn't expect him to Sort Hufflepuff. At all.
All in all, before making any friends, he had already disappointed the whole school.
And if that wasn't enough, there was also the thing about him only having a dad. Jamie was far from being naïve, he hadn't waited for his dad to tell him to know that some kids only had a dad or a mum or two dads or two mums and that it was completely normal. What his dad didn't know that Jamie knew, though, was that a few weeks before, while he was snooping in his dad's stuff to hopefully find out whether his dad had bought him the game he'd put on his birthday list, Jamie had found a picture of his dad with an unnaturally huge belly. The picture was dated from a few weeks before Jamie's birth.
So, yeah. Jamie knew that he wasn't normal, and he knew it for a long time. Plus if he hadn't known it before, the beginning of his curriculum at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had made him absolutely certain.
Oh, and yes, there was also this weird thing about his magic. Not normal at all.
But enough about him. This story was definitively not about him, after all. This story was about his dad. And maybe a little about Professor Malfoy, too (or rather a lot).
The story really began in the Charms classroom. It was a Friday afternoon and Jamie was tired and he kind of exploded something. Again.
'You really are the most dangerous first-year I've ever seen,' Professor Malfoy said while repairing the quill Jamie had just Wingardium Leviosa-ed into ashes. The statement was clearly meant to be heard by the whole class and everybody dutifully snickered, some not even trying to hide it in their hands. 'You'll come and see me after class, James.'
Jamie sighed and looked down at his wand-holding hands. This could not be good. Not only Professor Malfoy's class was the one where his magic acted up the most, but more than that, Jamie knew that Professor Malfoy didn't like him very much.
Professor Malfoy never looked him in the eyes -- or in the face, really. His eyes were always focused just above Jamie's left shoulders, or in the best of cases, on the side of his neck. But then again, Professor Malfoy was a very changing man. Some days it seemed as if Jamie's very existence repulsed him entirely, and some days it was just like Jamie didn't even exist at all. What was a permanent feature was that Professor Malfoy was always weird where Jamie was concerned. For example, he was the only professor (except for Uncle Nev' and Hagrid, whom he'd known forever) not to call him by his last name. And Jamie was the only student Professor Malfoy called by his first name.
'I've spoken to Professor Scutum and Professor Grant,' Professor Malfoy said before Jamie had time to decide if he should sit or stand. 'They told me that my class was not the only one where you had problems with controlling your magic. It seems, however, that mine is the class where these problems manifest themselves the most. I'd only presume it was because it is where you practice your magic the most.'
Professor Malfoy was saying all of this with a very even tone, and with his gaze directed to the other side of the classroom. Jamie thought he rather looked like a robot.
'From what I've seen, the problem is not from lack of work or focus on your part, and the quality of your wand certainly isn't to blame.' Professor Malfoy marked a pause, but Jamie couldn't think of anything to say. 'Do you understand what I'm saying, James?' His voice was soft, and it was suddenly like Professor Malfoy was a completely different person. It was as if he cared.
'Does it mean that the problem comes from me, Sir?'
Professor Malfoy just nodded and something very strong seemed to grip Jamie's heart very hard.
'But before any more research is done, I think it would be good if I talked to your father.' Jamie could feel Professor Malfoy's gaze on him now, and it was a very odd sensation after being deprived of it for so long. It was Jamie, however, who couldn't look at Professor Malfoy anymore.
'Am I going to be expelled?' Jamie asked in one breath, trying to keep his voice from wavering.
'Of course not, James. You're Harry Potter's son,' Professor Malfoy answered, his voice once again cold and dismissive.
Jamie could have just blamed the harsh tone on Professor Malfoy's natural weirdness and ignore it. But at the same time, Jamie had just learned that there was something wrong with him and it was sort of hard to take in; he was only a kid after all.
He left the room and blinked away the tears.
Thanks for your last letter.
I hope everything's good at home. I miss Sultan very much and I hope he's not going after Mrs Durham's cats again, she seemed very serious last time when she threatened to lock him in the next time he'd come to her house.
Here, everything is not so good. It seems there's something wrong with me that makes my magic go crazy and Professor Malfoy would like to see you to talk about it. I guess he's sent you an owl too. Don't worry too much about that: it really doesn't happen that often. Also, on the good side, it means we'll see each other soon and maybe I could show you my dorm and you could meet my friends?
The classes where I don't have to use my wand all go very well. I received the top mark on my latest Potions essay and Professor Binns seemed to like my presentation on house elf history well enough (you'll thank Aunt Hermione for her help on the subject, right?).
In other news, my friend Marcus's brother Brutus said he would show us some Exploding Snap tricks that would guarantee us to win every game. I'm not too confident about it after the failure of his so-called "Fail proof way to know which flavour your Bertie Bott's bean will be", but it's sure to be a good laugh, at least.
PS: Oh yes, and before I forget: Teddy says hi. We don't see each other that often, living in literal opposites of the castle, but he comes to eat at the Hufflepuff table at least once a week, so we can catch up a little.
Jamie re-read his letter. It seemed all right.
He was sure his dad would eat himself with worry anyway, so there was no point in expressing how much Jamie was scared and how long he'd cried in the bathroom after leaving the Charms classroom. With a little luck, his dad would even receive his owl before Professor Malfoy's and the worst would be averted.
That was how two days later, Jamie found himself giving up his right of lie in in order to go meet his dad in the entrance hall fifteen minutes before his eight o'clock appointment with Professor Malfoy.
Even with the need to get up early on a weekend, Jamie was still glad Professor Malfoy had made the appointment for a Sunday morning. At least there wouldn't be too much people gawking and whispering about the presence of the great Harry Potter in the school. Couldn't some people understand that, to him, his dad was just his dad? And would they like it if Jamie went to talk to them just to blab about their parents without even saying hello first? Some people just never learnt to be polite, as Aunt Hermione would say.
Dad arrived a few minutes later, and before Jamie could say anything, he was drowned into as strong a hug as he'd ever received (even stronger than when they'd gone to Granny Molly's for Jamie to learn Quidditch and he'd received a Quaffle straight in the stomach).
'Um, Dad?' Jamie said when he finally managed to breathe out again.
Dad loosened his hold on Jamie with a muttered, 'Yeah, right, you're a big boy, now,' and flattened the front of his wizard robes. Jamie found it quite odd that his dad would choose to wear his fanciest clothes for this appointment with Professor Malfoy, but didn't say anything.
'All right, Jamie, you've got to tell me exactly what's wrong with your magic. I want to hear your version before Malfoy gets a chance to put his own spin on everything.'
'It's not that bad, really,' Jamie tried to relativize. He usually could read his dad's face quite well, and what Jamie saw now was a mix of utter worry, a hint of guilt and the fierceness of a fighter ready for war. 'It's just that, when I learn a new spell, it takes me longer than the others to manage it, and when I finally do, it only works a few times before it overloads and something explodes.'
This explanation was unfortunately as true as they came. Jamie only wished it was something seemingly more fixable.
'Is Malfoy pressuring you? Is he fair to you? Is he the reason you have problems at all? I had a teacher who hated me when I was in Hogwarts; I know how it can be. If he's like that you can tell me, you know you can.'
Jamie could sense Dad was about to give him another crushing hug, and knew that people were bound to start coming up or down for breakfast, so he decided it was time to get a move on. 'It's not Professor Malfoy's fault, Dad,' he said, making for the stairs. 'Charms isn't the only class I have troubles with my magic in. Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts, too. Professor Malfoy is definitely weird to me, and some days it does look like he hates me, but he's not failing me on purpose or anything. He wants to help with this, after all,' Jamie finished with a small voice, realising that what he was telling his dad was not only to reassure him. It was the truth, really.
Dad looked at him dubiously, but the frown on his brow eased off and he put a comforting hand on Jamie's shoulder. 'If you say so Jamie, I trust you.' The I don't trust Professor Malfoy was implied, but Jamie chose to ignore it for now. He remembered Hagrid saying things had always been complicated between Dad and Professor Malfoy, but hadn't fathomed how much until now.
They spent the rest of the trip to Professor Malfoy's chatting about Jamie's friends and his other classes and what Teddy was up to with his Gryffindor friends, and it was like Dad was all right again, appeased and content. And then they reached their destination and Dad was all tense and twitchy all over again.
They entered the room after knocking but before Professor Malfoy let them in. Jamie thought Professor Malfoy would maybe say something about it, but he just stood from behind his desk, and said, 'Mr Potter' and, 'James,' with a nod for each of them. 'Have a sit, please.'
Dad sat reluctantly and Jamie could feel the tenseness in the room. Dad and Professor Malfoy were quite explicitly glaring at each other, but Professor Malfoy seemed to be better able to rein in whatever he was feeling than Dad.
'Mr Potter, I trust you are aware of James's troubles with his magic. It is my belief, despite all else, that if a few tests turn out encouraging we can deal with it efficiently and perhaps even resolve it entirely. Of course, it would demand a considerable amount of time on James's part, what with test-running and remedial classes.'
Professor Malfoy's voice was as calm and flat as ever, but his gaze was fixed on Dad so determinedly, he could as well have been shouting. Jamie wondered how his dad could stand it; if he'd been in his position, Jamie would certainly have looked down only after a few seconds.
'Jamie,' Dad said without stopping his staring-contest with Professor Malfoy. 'Do you think you'd be ready to do what Professor Malfoy just said?'
Jamie nodded, and then, realising no one was looking at him, said, 'Yes,' hoping to sound self-assured and grown-up-like.
'Would you mind leaving us for a few minutes, please?' Dad went on, his tone light but his stare on Professor Malfoy not wavering.
Jamie got up and left the room with a last look to his dad and Professor Malfoy, hoping they wouldn't use his absence as the occasion to throw anything at each other, whether it was stationary, fists or hexes.
As soon as he was outside Professor Malfoy's office, Jamie could hear loud voices coming from inside. Without even thinking twice about it, Jamie dragged his Extendable Ears from the bottom of his robe-pockets and hoped they were still working after Maia Mapleback's pet rat had used them as a toothpick. It was not like he had a habit of eavesdropping or something, he just -- he needed to know what was discussed inside Professor Malfoy's office. It seemed crucial. Uncle Ron had given him the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes product in case of emergency, after all. As far as Jamie was concerned, his dad and Professor Malfoy locked in a room together definitely was an emergency.
As soon as the ear-end of the device had slipped under the door, Jamie could hear every detail of the argument that was going on inside.
'...and please drop the "Mr Potter" act; it's really out of character,' Dad was saying. 'Try to be forward for once and say what you mean. My son has done nothing to you, you don't have the right to make him your...experiment, or plaything, or whatever you intend to do to him. If anything happens to him -- '
'Nothing will happen to him!' Professor Malfoy cut him off, his usual imperturbable tone now vanished. 'Can't you understand that I just want to help? You've always made me more evil than I was.' He even sounded a little desperate.
'Have I, now? This is a very liberal reinterpretation of events, isn't it? I remember trusting you, I remember -- ' Dad didn't finish his sentence. Jamie heard him sigh, and then go on, 'All right, Malfoy. Whatever I might think of you, I know you wouldn't hurt a child. I just hope you can really help him, and...not let things get in the way.'
'I promise I won't,' Professor Malfoy said softly. 'Harry -- '
'Don't,' Dad interrupted sharply.
There was a blank then, absolute silence, and Jamie wondered briefly if his Extendable Ears were maybe malfunctioning after all. But then, Professor Malfoy spoke again, with something in his voice that made him a lot more human than Jamie had ever heard him sound like. 'He really looks a lot like you.'
'No,' Dad answered with something like a smile in his voice. 'No, he really doesn't.'
And then Jamie could hear Dad's steps coming towards him and he put the Ears away.
Jamie thought a lot about the conversation between his dad and Professor Malfoy during the next few weeks. It had been so...different from what he'd expected. He'd expected insults and personal attacks, and even maybe a few threats, but what he'd heard... It made him rethink his stance on the "complicated" Hagrid had talked about.
All in all, Jamie didn't know what made him wonder the most. There were three things that mainly bothered him, though:
First, his dad had said he used to trust Professor Malfoy. It hinted at a very different history than what his dad, or Hagrid, or Uncle Nev', or even Teddy (who'd never been with his Grandma's family and his godfather at the same time as long as he could remember) had ever shared with him. If Dad and Professor Malfoy really were enemies during their school days (which Jamie started doubting seriously), there had to be something else, right? Something that had happened afterward? Maybe they'd worked together, or something. Jamie couldn't really wrap his head around it.
Second, there was Professor Malfoy calling Dad "Harry". What about that? It seemed really weird that Jamie was the only student Professor Malfoy called by his first name and that suddenly his dad deserved the same treatment. A treatment that his dad had refused, moreover. And this was weird too, because Dad generally didn't like being known as Harry Potter and usually insisted he was "just Harry". He never used to be picky about who was allowed to call him by his first name.
Third, and that was maybe what baffled Jamie the most, did Professor Malfoy really think that Jamie looked like his dad? If so, there was definitely something very wrong about Professor Malfoy's eyesight. Jamie looked nothing like his dad. If he hadn't seen The Picture, he might even be subject to wondering whether his dad was really his dad.
The thing was there were only two people who knew what it was all about, and out of the two, the one who was the most approachable had stayed tight-lipped during the entirety of his visit at Hogwarts. His dad had refused to even broach the subject of Professor Malfoy. It seemed to be the new taboo.
So, because having this kind of discussion with Professor Malfoy kind of gave him the creeps, Jamie decided to let it drop.
He let it drop and went on living the life of a first-year Hogwarts student with magical disability. And that was no fun at all. He spent one hour every night in Supervised Wand Practice with whatever teacher lost when they drew lots in the staff room and at the weekends was probed in all places and with all kinds of devices by Professor Malfoy and Madam Pomfrey in turn, all of that leading to no progress whatsoever.
If things weren't bad enough as they were, with all his free time devoted to homework and no hope at all to enter the Junior Quidditch League, things seemed to explode around him even more than before, making him regularly lose points for his House from no fault of his own. He might as well give back his wand and go back to live his almost normal non-magical life, for all good Hogwarts did to him.
But still, he'd made Teddy swear secrecy and was reluctant to even hint at all the things that went wrong, where his dad was concerned. Nowadays, his letters were just filled with a load of reassurance and some invented fun he could have had with his friends. He really didn't want his dad to know how sad he really was. Hogwarts was like a home to Dad, after all; Jamie couldn't just go and destroy a myth, could he?
It was on a Saturday afternoon in early November that things came to a head and Jamie knew he wasn't far from reaching rock bottom. He was in Professor Malfoy's office discussing his "problem" for the umpteenth time, Professor Malfoy scribbling his answers on a piece of parchment, when, out of nowhere, Professor Malfoy asked, 'What about your mother, James?'
Jamie jerked out of the tired stupor that always took hold of him when Professor Malfoy asked inane questions about the width of his teeth and the texture of his right-hand palm. 'Sorry?' Jamie blurted out less politely than he'd have wished.
'I'm starting to think that what you're suffering of might be hereditary. It would make things easier if I knew who your mother was,' Professor Malfoy said without looking up at Jamie and ignoring his reaction completely.
Jamie had no idea what to answer. He really couldn't say that maybe, yes, he had a suspicion his dad was his mum. But if his dad hadn't told Jamie, there was no way he'd want Professor Malfoy to know.
And even apart from that, Jamie was still not sure how it all worked. Jamie kind of always knew on some level that his dad was gay, but had never really thought over how it came to play in his procreation. Did his dad have him all alone, then, or was there some other person who'd intervened in Jamie's creation? And if so, was this person a man or a woman? Theoretically, babies were supposed to come from a man and a woman, but from the little Jamie'd learnt from watching TV and listening to other kids in the courtyard, even with his dad's preferences put aside, it seemed improbable that it was a mum who had put Jamie in Dad's belly.
To sum it up, Jamie didn't have a clue how to answer Professor Malfoy's question and certainly didn't want to reflect on his dad's sexual life more than he ought to, so he just mumbled, 'I don't know, Sir. I'll ask my dad.'
Professor Malfoy looked up at that, and something seemed to appear on his face, but he remembered to guard his expression right away. Jamie looked down and crossed his fingers for the questions to be over soon.
So yeah, when Jamie was back in his dorm that night, he'd decided that his already abnormal life had to get even less normal, and soon. He had to ask his dad if he had a mum or another dad or whatever, but he had to figure things out before. Because if it turned out that his dad had done something dangerous to get pregnant with him and that it was the cause of this whole mess, Dad would never forgive himself, even if Jamie already hypothetically had.
First thing first: Jamie had to become a little less clueless about sex, and precisely about the gay variety thereof.
'What do you know about sex?' Jamie not-so-diplomatically asked Marcus the next morning.
Marcus, being a very easy-going kind of person, didn't bat an eyelid and answered just like he would have if Jamie had asked him about Herbology homework, 'The most I know about it is what Brutus says: that it's very good and that he's had a lot of it. But I wouldn't believe him on that last part, though.'
Jamie nodded and Marcus seemed to think the conversation was over, his nose already back in the latest New Adventures of Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle: Renaissance.
'But,' said Jamie, 'How does it work, really? To make babies and such?'
The look on Marcus's face was odd but he answered anyway. 'So, from what my brother told me -- and we've got to keep in mind his information isn't always the most trustworthy, here's what I understood: the man's supposed to put his penis in the woman's...thing, you know, and then his sperm gets somewhat nested in the woman's womb and...' Marcus tailed off.
'And that's how babies grow,' Jamie completed. 'All right, that seems logical enough.' Jamie got a little closer and lowered his voice for his next question, 'But, what about...men-with-men? How do they...you know?'
'I don't know,' Marcus said with a frown. 'Why would you want to know that? I think they get it in the butt or something.'
Wow. That was a weird imagery to have in mind. But Jamie needed to know more, and Marcus didn't look completely disgusted by his questions yet. 'Do you think they can make babies, too?' he asked in a whisper.
'I don't know, mate,' Marcus answered with a bewildered expression. 'But I guess that with magic anything's possible, right?'
Marcus shrugged and Jamie nodded and that was that.
Well, that was that, but only to some extent, because it seemed this private -- thank you very much -- conversation Jamie had had with his best friend had been eavesdropped on and relayed and soon the whole Hufflepuff House knew Jamie was interested in man-sex. And, like they always did, they understood everything wrongly, interpreting that Jamie was interested in man-sex, and not just inquiring intellectually.
At least, and God! was Jamie thankful for House-rivalry, the Hufflepuffs seemed to think it was a Hufflepuff matter, and thus not concerning the other Houses, so the information hadn't leaked yet.
Marcus told Jamie to ignore the whispers and the looks, and Jamie knew he was right and was thankful that Marcus was a true friend, but it was very difficult extracting himself from all the mocking and the barbs and the piques that were meant for people like his dad.
If these kids knew that who they were really calling a poof and a perv' was the Saviour of the Wizarding World, maybe they'd be more inclined to shut their gobs.
And then something happened that made Jamie realise there was still something below rock bottom. And, worse than all, it happened just in front of the Charms classroom.
Titus Tottercoombe, one of the Hufflepuff prefects who was really a pain in the butt, had greeted him with a very fake and very jovial, 'Hello, Potter!' and then proceeded to fake-whisper to his friends very loudly, 'Yes, I heard it too, Jamie Potter wants to make babies with another boy. He doesn't seem to realise that it would make him and the baby both freaks!' He practically shouted the last word, and something in Jamie broke.
He got out of Marcus's restraining grip and pointed his wand towards Titus before his brains had time to catch up with him. The gargoyle Titus was standing next to literally went to pieces, and bits of rocks flew everywhere in the corridor.
It was only when every stone had fallen down and nobody was hurt that Jamie noticed Professor Malfoy standing a few feet from him, wand in hand and probably still warm from the protecting spell he'd just used, and a furious expression on his face. His usually fair complexion was almost scarlet and his eyes were burning a hole inside Jamie's forehead.
Professor Malfoy clutched Jamie's arm in a claw-like hand and pulled him inside the Charms classroom. He slammed the door behind them and threw Jamie in a chair.
'Do you have any idea what you could have done?!' Professor Malfoy raged, pacing the classroom with his hands flying in the air at the speed of his words. 'Do you have any idea how dangerous you can be? We're not working all this time on your problem just to have a bit of fun.'
Jamie knew his own cheeks must have been red from guilt and the shame of truly being the freak Titus had described.
'I'm not spending all my free time researching your case so that you can flaunt your exploding prowess in the middle of a crowded corridor,' Professor Malfoy went on. He stopped in his tracks and turned towards Jamie accusatorily. 'Or maybe you just want to stop it all so that you can be free of maiming your classmates as you wish? Have you considered what your father will think when I tell him his son is on the verge of becoming the next misfiring madman to be put away from the streets?'
Oh no, Jamie thought. Professor Malfoy had absolutely no right to play the dad card. Not when it was his entire fault in the beginning for bringing up Jamie's supposed mother and causing Jamie to be the laugh of the whole Hufflepuff House. He had no right to talk about his dad as though he knew what his dad would feel. Professor Malfoy had no idea what Jamie's life was like and knew nothing about Jamie's dad.
'What do you know about what my dad would think?' Jamie burst out. 'What would you think if it was your son who was harassed because you both are so-called freaks? You know nothing! You don't even have children.'
As soon as he'd finished talking, Jamie immediately regretted answering a professor back like this, but Professor Malfoy merely looked taken aback, and his fury seemed to have totally evaporated. His face had turned alarmingly pale, and he looked suddenly completely defeated. 'No, you're right. I don't know what having a son means. Your father managed where I couldn't.' His face hardened back to normal then, and he turned a blank look on Jamie. 'This little stunt will cost one hundred and fifty points from Hufflepuff. And I'll summon your father in my office again. Rest assured that it will be a lot less pleasant for you than it was last time.'
And so it was that, the next Sunday, Jamie was once again standing in the entrance hall half-asleep, waiting for his dad to show up. When he did, Dad hugged Jamie, but it was considerably less warm than usual. Professor Malfoy's owl had obviously been very thorough, and Jamie's half-cooked explanations had not been enough to soften the blow.
'I'm really not happy with you right now,' Dad said in his you're-in-trouble voice. 'But I'm still on your side, and I'd rather you told me what exactly happened and why on earth you would do something like that, before we go and see Malfoy.'
Jamie had known he would have to say out loud what he'd been unwilling to put down on parchment, but it was still a difficult task. He took his dad's arm and pulled him in the direction of the stairs. This was a conversation he didn't want to have in the open space that was the entrance hall.
'Basically...' Jamie hesitated and wondered how blunt he could be. Oh, well. He had totally reached the point where it didn't really matter anymore. 'I snapped when Titus Tottercoombe said you and I were freaks because you carried me.'
Dad stopped in his tracks and almost lost his balance on the stairs. He gripped the bannister so hard it looked like it hurt. 'How does he -- how do you know?'
'I found a picture in your stuff...'
'Oh,' Dad said just before composing himself and joining Jamie at the top of the stairs. 'Who else knows about it?'
Dad's voice was detached and he looked as though he was about to faint.
'No one knows, really. I just asked questions about how it could possibly happen, and it was overheard, and all the Hufflepuffs think it's me who wants to -- well, you know. It's just that when people tease me about it, I take it as if they were talking about you, and they tease me a lot, and...' Jamie trailed off, looking for some reaction from his dad. All he could feel coming from him was a huge relief.
'Very well,' Dad said, going back to normal in the blink of an eye. 'I understand your motivations, but what you did was still very stupid and reckless. It's a real wonder you didn't Sort Gryffindor with this kind of reflexes.' He ruffled Jamie's hair and even as aware as he was of the seriousness of his situation, Jamie couldn't help feeling a little proud.
Inside Professor Malfoy's office, Jamie came back to earth quite quickly. Professor Malfoy was using his lowest voice and his fiercest glare and he seemed to be enumerating everything Jamie had ever done wrong in his life.
Jamie remembered how ashamed he was about all of this and didn't dare look at his dad because he knew he would only see disappointment in his face, and that was the worst thing ever.
'What punishment do you suggest?' Dad asked in a carefully neutral voice.
'I've already deducted a lot of points from Hufflepuff. I've talked about it with the Headmistress and James's Head of House, and they agreed to let me take care of the punishment. I'm planning on having Jamie in detention every Sunday morning for the duration of the school year. It might seem harsh, but you have to remember James knew what casting a spell like this would result in. This was not a mere accident.' Professor Malfoy's speech sounded overly rehearsed, but Dad seemed to understand something that Jamie didn't, because his eyes softened at Professor Malfoy's last sentence.
'It seems fair,' Dad said. 'And what about the students who harass Jamie?'
Jamie could feel the heat of embarrassment on his face, but he was kind of glad that something might be done about that. The rest of the year would be hard enough with all the detentions; he didn't need any more bullshit from Titus Tottercoombe.
'It will be taken care of,' Professor Malfoy said, and Jamie could feel it would; his heart was already a little lighter. He smiled at his dad and Dad smiled back. Professor Malfoy cleared his throat and went on, 'There is something else that I would like to talk to you about. It is in regard to James's diagnosis. I need more information on his genetic background.'
Jamie knew he could have felt his dad tense from a mile away, the reaction in his body was so strong. Added to the tension that emanated from Professor Malfoy, Jamie wondered how he could still be in the room and breathe properly. Jamie turned to his dad inquisitively, but his gaze was focused on Professor Malfoy. 'Could you please wait for me outside, Jamie?' Dad asked in a rough voice.
Jamie had a very strange feeling of déjà vu, but he complied immediately anyway. This time, he had his Extendable Ears out and ready soon enough not to miss any part of the conversation.
'You think what Jamie has is hereditary?' Dad asked with a thin voice.
'It is a possibility I need to look into,' Professor Malfoy agreed. 'Now, no need to sugar-coat the truth,' he said with something that sounded suspiciously close to faked nonchalance. 'There's water under the bridge, I reckon. You can tell me the name of the woman you've had a child with less than a year after our break-up. I can take it, I promise.'
Jamie almost dropped the Ears completely. No way. There was absolutely no way -- his dad and Professor Malfoy? It was just...well, in fact, it kind of made sense. It would explain some things about their history and why Professor Malfoy seemed to dislike Jamie so much, at least.
But Jamie didn't have time to make a lot more speculations, because the conversation was still going on inside the office, and he totally needed to pay attention.
'There was never anyone but you, Draco,' Dad said in the saddest voice Jamie had ever heard.
'There wasn't -- ?' Professor Malfoy was clearly as astounded by this statement as Jamie was, but then again, it was true that Jamie had never seen his dad romantically involved with anyone. Did this mean Professor Malfoy had been Dad's One True Love or something? Or maybe Jamie shouldn't have let Sally Green make him watch all these Sandra Bullock movies back in year four.
Fortunately, Professor Malfoy's quivering voice brought him back to the situation at hand. 'I -- all right, so you used a surrogate mother, then? Do you still have her address, or something? Some way to contact her?' He sounded like he desperately needed to stay in control, but Jamie could tell by the increasing trembling of his voice that he didn't manage at all.
'There was no woman involved in Jamie's conception. None whatsoever,' Dad said, with an eerily calm tone.
'I...I don't understand. How -- Did you -- ?'
Jamie heard his dad gulping and taking a breath before answering, 'Jamie turned twelve on the fifth of September.'
There was a long pause then, and Jamie could hear heavy breathing, but he didn't know whom it came from. Maybe it was from both of them.
'James is -- I'm -- Am I James's father, Harry?' Professor Malfoy sounded uncertain, but it was clear he knew the answer to his question, and Jamie realised he knew it too.
Jamie's knees buckled and he felt himself slip to the floor slowly, still pressed to the office door and still listening through his Extendable Ears with all his might. There was something inside him that was rejecting the idea of Professor Malfoy being his father like it'd be rejecting an organ transplant from an Acromantula, but there was also this voice in his head that kept repeating Now you know.
On the other side of the door, the shock was perhaps as intense as it was in Jamie's head, because it seemed to be weeks before somebody spoke again. It was Professor Malfoy who did, and he didn't talk as much as positively scream. 'How could you? How could you not tell me we had a son? You had absolutely no right hiding him from me! He's as much mine as he is yours!'
'No, he's not!' Dad yelled back, not missing one beat. 'You relinquished any rights you had on him when you left me, when you kicked me out of your life like you'd free a disobedient house elf. You stomped on my heart and made sure I understood everything I'd thought you felt for me was a lie. I was scared, and alone, and I had no idea what was happening to my body. Do you even have any idea how it felt like for me?'
Jamie's head was spinning. He didn't want to know all of this. He didn't want his father to have been so miserable -- especially as it was partly because of him, but there was nothing he could do now. There was nothing he could have done, ever.
Jamie took the Ears off and rolled the strings conscientiously before putting them back in his robe pocket. He didn't need to hear any more of this. No, he needed to compose himself and learn to live with his whole world turned on its ear, because he definitely wasn't supposed to have heard that, and his dad was upset enough as it was without Jamie breaking down too.
He'd go and fetch Teddy. Yes, that was what he'd do. Teddy didn't know any of this, Teddy was good. He would be there for Dad. He would be his normal happy-go-lucky self and he could distract Dad. And maybe he could distract Jamie a little, too. Jamie wouldn't have to think about any of this and after, when his dad was gone, he could maybe try to figure it all out.
Jamie didn't figure anything out. He spent the following week in a haze, walking through the motions, going to class, and to supervised practice, and to his diagnosis session, and when he was alone in the bathroom, he looked at himself in the mirror and saw things he'd never seen before. It was weird how much knowing where he came from could change his perspective on himself.
He looked at his nose and at his chin, and he observed his long limbs and he could see how he might be a little bit of Professor Malfoy. And once he'd extracted these features, it was easier to see a little of his dad in himself: in his cheeks and his ears and the curve of his eyelashes. He looked inside his eyes and could see how this dull colour was in fact a mix between green and grey, and it was as if he was a whole new person.
Jamie's perspective on everything seemed to have shifted a bit. He didn't know if Titus Tottercoombe had been punished or if the rumours about him and butt-babies had gone on or not. What had been a pivotal element in his life was now just a small detail to be put on the side-lines. He was too preoccupied and too lost in his own world to notice anything, really.
Well, to be honest, there was still something he noticed -- or rather someone.
Professor Malfoy seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Every time Jamie was walking through the Charms corridor or eating dinner in the great hall, Professor Malfoy was there, staring at the back of his neck. But every time Jamie lingered after Charms to talk to him, he'd disappeared, and every time Jamie waited hopefully for his supervisor to arrive for his wand practice, it was never Professor Malfoy who came.
Jamie was not even sure what he would say to him, or if he really wanted to talk. Should he tell him he knew he was his father? Should he try and act like everything was normal? This technique couldn't work twice; he may also add that it wouldn't have worked on his dad if they hadn't been both equally upset at the time. And Teddy really had been the best buffer possible.
Despite everything, there were some unresolved issues Jamie wanted resolved. Like what had made Professor Malfoy leave Dad, and why had the pregnancy been such a secret after all that. And it was a very weird feeling for Jamie to realise that, for the first time of his life, when it came to a Very Serious issue, someone else seemed more reachable than his dad.
His dad had always been there for him, and Jamie knew that if he told him he knew about Professor Malfoy Dad would be honest with him. But there was this connection with Professor Malfoy, now. There was the fact that they'd both just learned about each other and there was nothing his dad could do to be able to relate to that feeling of having to redefine your entire existence in a blink of an eye.
Jamie still couldn't think of Professor Malfoy as anything else than Professor Malfoy, but he did feel a bond with him -- not something like he was feeling about his dad, sure, but that was something, right? And maybe, and that was something Jamie only dared to hope at night just before falling asleep, Professor Malfoy could feel it too.
His first detention was the first time Jamie had the occasion to see Professor Malfoy in private since the Big Revelation, and now that he had the certainty it would indeed happen, Jamie was sort of terrified.
He still hadn't worked out what he should say. Should he even say anything at all? And what if he asked the right question, but got the wrong answer? He didn't really know what kind of person Professor Malfoy was, and he'd better not start imagining things in his head about what kind of father Professor Malfoy could be, because there lay the road to madness.
In the Charms classroom with Professor Malfoy, the atmosphere could have been cut with a knife. Professor Malfoy, as usual, didn't look at Jamie, but what was different was that instead of staring at some distant spot behind Jamie, he didn't even turn in his direction at all. It was as if Jamie was a Basilisk, and it was dangerous to even look at him. For all Professor Malfoy could see of him, Jamie could as well have sent someone else in his stead.
Jamie's assignment for his detention with Professor Malfoy was to put files in alphabetical orders and to tidy an old desk in the back of the classroom. It wasn't a very hard task, as Professor Malfoy was a very neat man, and Jamie was finished after only two of his five hours of detention.
He stood next to the clean desk and wondered if he should say something or just have a sit and wait out the remaining of his detention. Professor Malfoy was bent over stacks of parchments that suspiciously looked like foot-long essays and the distinct frown on his brow didn't make Jamie want to interrupt him at all. However, whilst he hadn't spared him a glance since his arrival, Professor Malfoy clearly had some kind of sixth sense, because Jamie was fidgeting for only a few seconds when he heard Professor Malfoy's stern voice say, 'If you are finished with the desk, you can come sit over here.'
Jamie did as he was told and went to sit at the front desk the closest to where Professor Malfoy was grading his essays. With a flick of his wand but still no look in Jamie's direction, Professor Malfoy placed ink and parchment in front of Jamie and instructed him to write an essay about why what he did was wrong.
Jamie stared blankly at the parchment and realised he could barely focus on the memory of the exploding gargoyle. It seemed so long ago, and held a lot less interest for him than the man who was just opposite him, only a few inches away, and whom Jamie could now observe as much as he liked, stubborn as Professor Malfoy was not to look back at him.
From his viewpoint, Jamie could see much more than his main features. He could see the way he wrote, discern the texture of his hair and guess at the muscles in his neck. Jamie ran a hand through his own hair and wondered how much like Professor Malfoy he'd turn out to be as he grew up. What was harder to see though, was what had made his dad fall in love with him. Everything from the set of Professor Malfoy's shoulders to the fine tailoring of his robes screamed cold and insensitive. And yes, Jamie knew it was just a façade, and he had seen said façade crumble. It was just really hard to picture his smiling, funny, loving, warm dad with someone like Professor Malfoy.
But then again, what did Jamie know, really? 'Opposites attract,' Sally Green used to say while watching some shallow and fashionable woman fall in love with a dark and broody bloke on the TV screen. Who was Jamie to decide who could or couldn't fit well together? He still wondered, though, if Professor Malfoy had been able to erase this air of loneliness that sometimes floated around Dad. And maybe Dad had been able to make Professor Malfoy a little less heartless-like, too.
Jamie wasn't very well versed in these adult-y feelings, but from what he'd heard his dad say during The Conversation, it seemed that, in spite of everything, Dad still had feelings for Professor Malfoy. Jamie didn't know how Dad could if Professor Malfoy had left him like he'd said, and thought it was all quite unfair.
'Do you ever miss him?' Jamie said, lost in his thoughts and realising only belatedly he'd spoken out loud.
Professor Malfoy's head snapped up and his eyes were suddenly fixed on Jamie's, burning a hole through him. Jamie wanted to be anywhere but here, and preferably somewhere deep inside the ground.
'I beg your pardon?' Professor Malfoy asked curtly.
Jamie had never been very good at quick-thinking under pressure, but he couldn't afford Professor Malfoy realising Jamie had listened in on the revelation his dad had made. He was not ready for this truth to be out, for Professor Malfoy and him to have to do something about it. Things were already difficult enough as they were.
So Jamie thought, fast, of the last time he'd been alone in this room with Professor Malfoy and said the first thing that came to his mind. 'Do you ever miss it, having children?' It was as close to a non sequitur as it could be and too close to the truth for comfort, but it was better than nothing, right?
'I am a teacher, I have as good as hundreds of children here,' Professor Malfoy said, and then went back to grading his essays.
Jamie was so surprised that Professor Malfoy had deigned answer him that he forgot to think and answered back, 'Do you, really? Because last week you said my dad had managed where you hadn't.'
Jamie bit his lip at his cheek, but he could see Professor Malfoy was struggling between responding and telling Jamie to mind his own business. Except that it was kind of Jamie's business, wasn't it? Professor Malfoy didn't know that Jamie knew, but it must be quite something, having your unacknowledged son ask you how you felt about children.
'I...I was supposed to have children -- or at least one child, yes. But I realised it would be unadvisable, given the father I had as an example.'
'My dad didn't have a father as an example at all, and he's the best dad ever,' Jamie said.
'And I guess he was better off as he was. At least he didn't have anybody to control his life and that of a hypothetical child.' Professor Malfoy sounded bitter, but he was looking at Jamie again, and there was something very warm in his eyes, something wistful.
Suddenly, Jamie wanted to take the step he hadn't thought he was ready for. There was just one more thing he had to know first. 'Is that why you broke up with my dad?' Jamie asked quietly, hoping he hadn't read Professor Malfoy too wrong.
Professor Malfoy didn't say anything at first, but took it in stride. His tone was matter-of-fact when he went on, 'It was part of it, yes. The other part was that I was a coward and knew I would always be one.' He marked a pause and Jamie thought that if Professor Malfoy had compared his courage to Dad's, it didn't give him much chance. 'Do you also know -- ' Professor Malfoy hesitated, 'Do you know who -- '
'Do I know that you're my father?' Jamie cut in.
Professor Malfoy chose this moment to notice the red ink that was pooling from his quill to one of his students' essay and went about syphoning it with his wand. When he was finished, he turned his attention back to Jamie, and looked a little more collected. 'I only learnt about it last week. Had I known I had a son before, I assure you I would have -- '
'I overheard Dad and you last week,' Jamie interrupted again, aware that if the truth was out, it had to be the whole truth. He couldn't let Professor Malfoy think Jamie was suffering of abandonment issues when he had only started wondering about his second parent a few weeks before. 'That's how I learnt that you were...you know. Dad had never talked about you before.'
'I understand why he wouldn't,' Professor Malfoy muttered, absently crossing out a wrong spell on a student's paper. His shoulders squared a little then and he said, 'Do you -- Would you like to...learn to know each other, perhaps? I understand your father wouldn't like it to be public knowledge and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with that either, and there's the fact that I'm your teacher and it mustn't influence the way you are treated as a student...' Professor Malfoy trailed off, his eyes on his desk but his tone hopeful.
'Yeah, that'd be great!' Jamie said enthusiastically, and Professor Malfoy smiled at him for the first time ever. It was a nice smile.
And then he made Jamie write his essay about responsibility.
Thanks so much for your last letter (and the sweets that were with it, I was starting to miss regular sherbet lemons quite much).
If she comes again before it arrives, you can tell Sally I've written her a letter. And of course you can lend her any of my books.
Here, everything is going very well. Professor Malfoy has finally found out something: he says he discovered a proof that what I have comes from some kind of spell. He doesn't know anything more precise yet but at least now he knows what to look for, right? And it's a good thing it's not hereditary either, it means it's easier to cure it if it comes from outside rather than from inside.
My detentions don't go too bad either. I usually have to do some cleaning for the first hours and then he lets me time to do my homework. It's still a punishment because I can't sleep in on Sunday mornings, but it could be worse, and it leaves me more free time the other days after the supervised practice. Those go better, too: my learning new spells is still disastrous, but now I don't have any problems with the oldest spells any more. It's frustrating that I'm always so behind everyone else, but at least what I can do, I can do very, very well.
The other classes go well, too. Potions is definitely my best subject. I asked Hagrid how come you were so bad at it when you were here, and he told me that Professor Crocker is a much better teacher than the one you had back then, so I guess it wasn't really your fault.
History of Magic is getting tiresome, though. Each time I ask a question about something, Professor Binns seems more and more annoyed. And he didn't let me do my presentation on Centaurs history, but I insisted he took the paper-version and marked it anyway. He didn't seem so pleased about it. I think I'll let drop the Goblin presentation I wanted to do.
Also, Teddy asks if you could help convince his Grandma to let him stay at Hogwarts for the hols (I think he's got a girlfriend or something, but he wouldn't tell me).
Jamie's life at Hogwarts had settled at last and things had become very pleasant. Classes were going as well as they could, Hufflepuff was starting to come back from the loss of points Jamie had subjected it to, and the Muggle club showed a movie in the Transfiguration classroom once a week.
And there was Professor Malfoy, whom he could call Draco when they were alone together now (they'd agreed that Father or Papa or Daddy would be a bit too much given how little they still knew each other).
Draco would show up at Jamie's supervised practice several times a week and take care of most of his diagnosis sessions and keep him a little longer than necessary during his Sunday morning detentions so that they could talk. Well, mainly it was Jamie who would talk about his Hogwarts friends and his Muggle friends and his classes and his favourite movies and books. Draco didn't talk as much: he refused to talk about his family and didn't think it was a good idea talking about his job and he didn't seem to have anything else than that in his life, really.
Their conversations went from the seriousness of Draco's regret at having missed Jamie's childhood to idle chit-chat about Brutus's latest shenanigans. The one subject that stayed completely and utterly taboo, though, was Harry Potter. It was a bit disappointing, as it was the main thing they had in common and Jamie considered it to be the most interesting conversation they could have, but he did understand why Draco wouldn't want to talk about it.
However, it seemed clear, from what Jamie had learnt about Draco in these few weeks, that he still had feelings for Dad. And this information was definitely the best thing Jamie could learn, because it gave him the best idea ever.
Jamie would arrange for his dad and Draco to get back together.
It was not that he longed for a great and big family united for ever and ever so much that they just both seemed so lonely. He could feel it in his dad's letters and remember it from some looks Dad gave Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron when they were being all lovey-dovey, and he could hear it in Draco's tone of voice and see it in his eyes when Jamie left the supervised practice room at the end of a session.
Dad had said there'd never been anyone but Draco, and Draco had told Jamie how his own father had wanted to control his life. There was no doubt in Jamie's mind that his parents were in fact meant to be together (and how much Sandra Bullock was responsible for this kind of thought process wasn't something Jamie was inclined to consider).
Jamie had first thought he could maybe use their connection via Teddy and make them all spend Christmas at Aunt Andromeda's, but it was obviously not doable if Teddy stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays. The boy really had the worst timing possible.
No, his approach had to be way more upfront. Not only was he pants at being sneaky, but he also lacked the resources and time to perfect a good secret scheme. Jamie often wondered how his dad had found time to do all the things people said he did while at Hogwarts. Jamie was often so swamped with homework he couldn't even think of going after werewolves and Dementors and three-headed dogs.
It was a Tuesday night and Jamie knew Draco usually arranged to be his supervisor on Tuesdays because he didn't have any classes until ten o'clock the next morning and could afford to take a break from his prep work.
When he arrived in the practice room, Jamie greeted him with, 'How would you feel about getting back together with my dad?'
Draco's step faltered and he kind of spluttered, which was a very entertaining sight, mostly due to the fact that it seemed so out of place on Draco's face. 'Do you have any idea what you're suggesting, James?'
Jamie cleared his throat as an answer and said, with what he hoped was a good approximation of a posh accent, 'Yes, Sir.'
Draco rolled his eyes and Jamie smiled guilelessly. Forcing the "James" out of Draco's mouth was one of the funniest things to do.
'Anyway, Jamie,' Draco went on, and then took a more serious tone, 'there is no way this could happen between Harry and me. You have to understand, I have hurt your dad very much. I'm very glad we can learn to know each other, you and me, but realistically, Harry would never stand for that if he knew.'
'So you're saying you do have feelings for him, right?' Jamie said, considering it already a done deal. He'd learnt at a too young age that there was nothing love couldn't overcome.
'This is really not the point,' Draco answered sharply, getting his wand out of his holster and making for the corner of the room he usually occupied during practice.
Jamie followed suit the getting-ready-for-practice bit but couldn't help insisting, 'But it is totally the point, though. If you have feelings for him and he has feelings for you...' Jamie tailed off with a hopeful tone, but Draco didn't seem convinced at all.
'Very well,' Draco said after a long-suffering sigh. 'I don't see you concentrating for practice anytime today anyway, so we might as well fill our timeslot with valuable information. But hear me out, Jamie. This is the one and last time this will be discussed, all right?'
Jamie nodded. This was what he'd been waiting for since he'd first eavesdropped on Dad and Draco, and it wasn't his style to look a gift horse in the mouth. Draco came next to Jamie in the centre of the room, conjured two fancy-looking armchairs, and gestured for Jamie to sit down.
'I suspect you may have already heard this from people who knew us back then, but it bears repeating: Harry and I hated each other in school. I did nasty things to him and he reciprocated dutifully. We were on opposite sides in the war. We did save each other's life, yes -- and frankly he did more of that than I did -- but it didn't mean we liked each other that much more, when it was all over.'
Draco's tone was dark and he really didn't seem happy about having to tell this story to Jamie. Jamie reckoned it was maybe because he didn't like the person he'd been at that time and had tried to forget about it.
'The first time we met again after all the hubbub of celebrations and trials was over, life had more or less taken back its normal course. We were not even aware we were gay at that time. We just knew something wasn't right about the expectations people had of us. For two people who had tried for a very long time to be the opposite of each other, we were in very similar situations. I wouldn't know what Harry was precisely feeling at the time, but I guess it was similar to the feeling of entrapment my father was making weigh down on me. He wanted me to marry in a good family and have children right away, but I didn't feel ready for that. I felt I had grown up much too fast during the war... Bottom line is Harry and I were trying to find ourselves, and we found each other.'
Jamie wanted to smile at that, but the look Draco sent him was dark.
'Things were not easy at all between us. Our relationship -- if you care to call it that -- was rocky at best most of the time. We were constantly taking little steps forward and big steps back. I was utterly scared of admitting I was gay -- even to myself, sometimes -- and Harry didn't want people to know about me. But we never really stopped what we had, and it arrived a time when it had become...part of ourselves, maybe? We stayed together for three years, but it never stopped being a secret from everybody else. And to answer your main question: yes, I loved him very much for most of that time. But it was I who ended things, and I never once regretted doing it.'
Their eyes met, but nothing in Draco's demeanour indicated he wouldn't have broken up with Dad if he'd known he was pregnant. Jamie waited a bit for Draco to go on, to explain what had happened that made it so necessary for them to separate, but he didn't seem to want to add anything.
'Is it your father who forced you to break up?' Jamie prodded, hoping it was more a case of Hollywood-like misunderstanding than Draco just being a bastard.
'No,' Draco answered after a long pause. 'My father never knew about Harry and me. It would have been the worst thing that could happen. He just gave me an ultimatum: either propose to Astoria Greengrass, marry and eventually carry on the Malfoy line, or lose everything.'
Jamie glanced briefly at Draco's ring finger. There was no sign he'd married this Astoria person, so why had he left Dad anyway?
'You have to understand, Jamie, I couldn't lose everything. I couldn't decide to say goodbye to my father and go live happily ever after with Harry. Had I done something so out of character, my father wouldn't have failed to discover the truth about Harry and me. And if he had...he would have been very happy.'
Jamie was taken aback by this last statement, but Draco didn't seem to notice Jamie anymore, he was thoroughly involved in his story and, looking at his face, Jamie could tell he was reliving all of it.
'Oh yes Lucius Malfoy would have loved it, because his greatest dream would have come true and he'd have had Harry Potter under his thumb. Of course Harry wouldn't have been pushed around by my father but I would have, like I always had, and this would have ended either of two ways: Harry hating me or being completely manipulated and controlled by my father. I chose the former. I broke up with him and made sure he'd never come back. And looking back now, knowing he was pregnant with you, I'm absolutely ecstatic I did it, because if my father had known your existence, you would never have been free of him.'
Draco took in a big breath and went on, 'So I proposed to Astoria Greengrass. We stayed engaged for a long time and I kept pushing back any wedding date she might have had in mind. And then my father felt sick and it was kind of his last wish to see me married so we finally fixed a date that was in the realm of the possible. I still didn't want to do it but I didn't want to upset my father much more. He died before we got to it, though, and Astoria called it all off. She said I had been pretty obvious and that she'd gone along with the marriage sham because I seemed to need it, but she really didn't mind not marrying me, and that was that.
'A few months later I became a teacher here, and I've tried ever since not to think about what I'd done to Harry too much.'
Draco looked sad and Jamie wanted maybe to comfort him or something, but then Draco was standing up and Vanishing the chairs, so Jamie was standing up too, and Draco acted as if the conversation was over. But Jamie was definitely not ready for the conversation to be over.
'But if you still have feelings for Dad, you can explain this to him, or apologize to him or something -- '
'I cannot apologize,' Draco cut him off. 'It would mean putting the blame on my father; it would mean making him the evil incarnate everybody already thinks he is. And it would just remind everybody, and especially myself, that I was the one who pleaded and begged the Ministry for him not to be sent to Azkaban. I'm responsible for everything he's done since the end of the war and I can't even blame myself or be regretful because he's my father and I can't be sorry he wasn't sent to this hell-hole.'
Draco was almost as angry as he'd been after the gargoyle incident, and it was a sight to behold, especially because he seemed angrier at himself than at Jamie.
'Don't you think I never thought about contacting Harry again during all these years? But all I could've said to him was that it definitely was my entire fault and that I didn't regret anything. He wouldn't have understood what it was like to have a father like Lucius Malfoy. And you certainly can't really understand either, what with having grown up with Perfectly-Perfect-Potter as a father.'
But, Jamie thought, taken over by a feeling of hopelessness, but this was so very unfair. Draco didn't really know Dad anymore and he barely knew Jamie, and he had no right to just assume what they would understand or not. He had no right to victimize himself and keep other people from being happy just because he was such a coward -- because a coward he definitely was, and he'd been absolutely honest when he'd said it was the reason he had broken up with Dad. What made Jamie angry the most, though, was that Draco insisted on keeping his own self from being happy, even after all this time, even when his father was long dead and Dad's memories of the events must surely have mellowed a lot.
'Oh, but you're very wrong there when you say I wouldn't understand what it's like to have a father like Lucius Malfoy,' Jamie shot back. 'Because I discovered very recently that I have a father who can be a right bastard, Sir.'
And Jamie left the room without having practiced anything and without realising he had talked like that to a teacher.
The next day, Jamie was in a right state and knew he couldn't let things just lie a bit.
He went to Draco's office after an excruciating wand practice supervised by Professor Vertere, who taught Ancient Runes and was as boring as the subject sounded like. He went there because he had this visceral need to make up with Draco, only to be sure never to be subjected to Professor Vertere anymore.
When he fought with his dad, Jamie knew he could always count on Dad coming to see him in his room and check that he was okay and that even if they were both angry and/or hurt, he knew that things would get better soon. And because he knew that Draco had certainly no experience of this kind -- given the portrait he'd made of his father -- Jamie decided there was nothing against taking the lead by himself. He had to initiate Draco into the family, or something.
Jamie knocked on the door and waited to hear Draco's, 'Come in', before stepping inside. He made his way towards the desk, Draco's gaze fixed on him, and sat on one of the chairs intended for visitors.
'Hello,' he said, quite unsure of himself now that he was faced with a Draco who wasn't inclined to give anything away.
'Good evening. What may I do for you?' Draco asked, returning his attention to his work.
This really was something Draco was doing a lot: when he was somewhat distressed, he focused his attention elsewhere so as not to let even a glimpse of his emotions show on his face. It was very effective and Jamie wondered if he'd been doing it all along.
'I still like you, you know.' Jamie said.
Draco looked up with an astounded look, but didn't seem to want to answer anything to that.
Jamie figured that'd be as good as he'd get so he went on, 'And I'm sorry I called you a bastard, because you're obviously not, or else all this pure-blood crap wouldn't have been so important to you -- yes it's Uncle Nev' who told me about this part of your past, but don't blame him...' Jamie knew he was rambling, and from the look on Draco's face, it didn't seem to help matter much. 'So yeah,' he went on, 'I've known for a while about that, but it doesn't matter to me because I know you've changed. And about this complicated thing with your dad and my dad, I know it's in the past too. And maybe you don't feel you can apologise, but it doesn't have to keep people from forgiving you, right?'
Jamie looked Draco in the eyes and tried for a smile. He got no explicit reaction from Draco, but could sense Draco was somewhat mollified. He didn't seem relaxed enough for Jamie to suggest Dad could be one of these forgiving people, though, so he didn't.
'So, could it, maybe...? Could it go back to where it was? I don't promise I won't still want you and Dad to get back together, but I won't try to push you into anything you don't want to.'
Jamie thought he must sound quite reasonable and grown-up and stuff. Draco must have thought so too, because there was a tiny smile on his face and the skin of his cheeks didn't look as pale as usual.
'I've thought a lot about the conversation we had yesterday, Jamie. I'm glad you came to see me today and I have to admit that I would have missed learning to know you.'
Jamie heard him gulp and take a deep breath, like what he'd say next was something very difficult to say.
'I won't hold against you your will to bring Harry and me back to each other. To be truthful...' -- another deep breath -- '...I've wanted it too. The moment Harry told me, it was my first thought. And I got angry at you the same way I get angry at myself when I let myself wish...'
Draco sighed, glanced at Jamie and put the stuff he was working on aside.
'False hope is the worst kind of hope, Jamie.'
The few weeks left before the Christmas hols went as well as ever. Jamie still felt like he was pressed for time on all sides but he didn't mind it so much.
The promised treats of more time speaking to Draco and having fun with his friends motivated him to finish his homework with more and more punctuality and he even made some real progress with his problem. Things didn't explode around him as much as they used to, and when they did it was with minimal damage. Jamie didn't learn new spells quicker or better, but it was already something, right?
December snowfalls and the glorious snowballs fights they brought were at this point the icing on an already cream-filled cake.
Plus, the more he talked with Draco, the more Jamie felt Draco open to him. Draco talked a little about his family now and then, and the Harry Potter subject was not as taboo as before. Jamie would talk about his latest achievement in Potions and Draco would jokingly ask what his horrendously-bad-at-Potions dad thought about it and just like that, Jamie could slip more and more info about his dad to Draco and squeeze out of Draco a little of what he thought about Dad.
Once, when Jamie had complained about eating a cod-liver oil flavoured Bertie Bott's bean, Draco had even reminisce about him and Dad bonding over their shared love of the sweet at the beginning of their relationship.
And sometimes, when he thought Jamie wasn't paying attention, Draco had this odd look in his eyes... Maybe it was just his imagination, but Jamie reckoned there was something very fond and very soft in this look; something that didn't seem entirely directed at Jamie.
So yeah, not only were things going superbly well, but also, whatever Draco might have said about it, Jamie knew there was still hope -- the good kind of hope. There was hope in this little spark that sometimes appeared in Draco's eyes and the careful way he tried to hide his interest when Jamie talked about his dad. There was hope because Draco would smile more than he'd ever smiled since the beginning of term and there was hope because his face muscles seemed so unused to it that Jamie guessed he hadn't smiled as much for longer than that.
In fact, there was so much hope that during their last supervised practice before Christmas, Jamie found the courage to ask, as nonchalantly as possible, 'So, what're your plans for Christmas?'
'Nothing else than a quiet Christmas dinner with my mother,' Draco answered while Transfiguring the room back to its normal classroom-state.
'Oh, I guess it's going to be kind of lonely for you, isn't it? Me and Dad -- '
'Dad and I,' Draco corrected, still concentrated on Vanishing the latest scorching marks on the floor.
'Dad and I,' Jamie repeated, 'we usually go to the Weasleys' for Christmas day, but on Christmas Eve we invite friends and such. I'm sure there'd be enough room for one more person.'
'Would there, now?' Draco asked with a smirk showing on the part of his face Jamie could see from his current point of view. 'And I can very well imagine how thrilled Harry would be if you were to invite people in his home without telling him first, especially if this "one more person" was me, don't you?'
Draco's eyebrow was arched in amusement, but Jamie could tell from the tenseness in his eyes that it was one inch from being a you-promised-me-not-to-interfere-again eyebrow.
Jamie sighed in defeat and muttered, 'I thought Christmas was supposed to be a family holiday...'
'Harry wouldn't have me there, Jamie,' Draco said softly but firmly. 'And I won't go where I'm unwanted.'
Jamie felt his spirits go down but tried to tell himself that he'd expected a refusal after all, that it was still too soon. Maybe being alone with his dad for a few weeks would help Jamie try and know better how Dad felt about Draco? Yeah, that was how it'd go. Jamie just had to be a little patient. With his magic problems, he knew how to wait and work hard for things to work, after all.
'All right, then,' Jamie said with a shrug. 'I get it. I just...I think I'll miss you during these holidays...'
When Jamie glanced up at him, Draco had stopped casting and was looking at him with an odd look. He smiled then, a small and sincere smile. 'I'll miss you too, Jamie. I -- ' He stopped abruptly and went to rummage through his satchel, finally pulling a little wrapped box out of it. He straightened back and faced Jamie, the box in his outstretched palm. 'I've brought a Christmas present for you. I think it would be advisable not to open it in front of your father, though.'
Jamie pocketed the box with what he hoped was a smile that reflected how much it made him happy. And then, when it was a little wanted but absolutely unexpected, Draco bent down and hugged him.
It was a stiff hug, the polar opposite of the ones Dad gave him, but it was a hug from Draco Malfoy and that, that was definitely something.
Dad's hug when Jamie got off the Hogwarts Express was so strong and so joyous it felt almost as if he hadn't visited Jamie at Hogwarts twice during the term. Jamie didn't mind though, because he had missed his dad very much too. Dad had been at the centre of a lot of his thoughts after all, being a major feature in his "Get His Parents Together Plan". Plus, thinking about Dad's personal life so much without being able to talk to him about it had taken its toll on Jamie, so having him close again felt like a real breather. Besides, refusing a hug just for appearances' sake was way more hypocritical than anything Jamie was capable of.
Dad had not planned extravagant things for them to do during the hols, just normal, quiet (or not-so-quiet) stuff they used to do all the time. Like watching movies together under a thick blanket and heaps of marshmallows, having very long walks around the neighbouring hills with Sultan, or inviting some of Jamie's friends for full afternoons of board-games time...
It was all really nice and warm and Jamie absolutely loved these things they did together, but when he finally got down from his high of being home again, he had to think again of The Plan, and realised that five days had already gone by and he'd not made one inch of progress in talking Dad into falling back in love with Draco.
Well, maybe he wouldn't talk Dad into it, per se, but at least try to test the waters and see how much Dad would admit to feel for Draco.
So, on his sixth day of holidays, while they were doing a breakfast-for-dinner kind of thing, Jamie decided to broach the subject.
'Don't you ever not want to be single anymore?' he asked with the most casual expression he could manage.
Dad froze with a toast half-way to his mouth and looked at Jamie with big, big eyes. 'Why,' he asked carefully after setting his dripping toast back on his plate, 'do you feel like you need...another parent?'
There were worried undertones to his question and Jamie almost rolled his eyes -- it was always thinking about Jamie before himself that had brought Dad into this whole loneliness mess, wasn't it?
'I wouldn't mind having another dad, no,' Jamie answered seriously, letting his dad know he didn't have to use the word "parent" and that Jamie was okay with it. 'But it's more about what you want, though. I've never seen you date anybody. Don't you miss, just -- having someone?'
Dad looked at him with something of a bittersweet smile, and a threatening brightness in his eyes. He sighed then, but didn't lose his smile. 'Of course I feel lonely sometimes... And I would love to have someone to be your dad with, but you've always been my priority, you know that? And you've got to understand that men my age don't usually want to have a relationship with a family. And from the moment of your birth, I haven't been just me anymore, Jamie. I'm -- '
'A family,' Jamie mouthed at the same time Dad said it. It wasn't the first time Dad said something like this and it usually made Jamie feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know his dad loved him so much. Now though, even if he was still very pleased to hear it, he felt a little sad to realise that perhaps, without Jamie being aware of it, Dad had tried. And that it hadn't gone well at all.
Jamie could picture in his head Dad on some kind of romantic date with a Hollywood-like kind of bloke (thanks again Sandra Bullock) with roses and candles and a fancy restaurant and when on his doorstep and waiting for a kiss, the bloke telling him that he didn't like kids so much.
It was not just sad, it was heart-breaking. And that was only in Jamie's imagination -- he didn't dare think what could have happened for real.
'Not everybody's like that, though,' Jamie said quietly.
'I guess you're right,' Dad said after munching on his toast for a little while. 'But I guess that after a while, I just...' He seemed to search his words.
'You gave up?' Jamie suggested.
Dad gave him a wistful look and a sad smile. 'No, I just, I learnt to satisfy myself with what I've got, I guess.'
Jamie nodded in understanding and thought he'd let the subject drop for a while. It wasn't time yet to bring up Draco. If Dad had had so much trouble trying to find someone who'd like him enough to like Jamie too, it must have fed a lot of resentment towards Draco for leaving him in the first place.
Jamie dug in his cereals and changed the subject.
For Christmas Eve dinner, Dad had invited everybody for a home-cooked dinner. He did it every year, but usually didn't quite manage the whole home-cooked part of the dinner. This year seemed to be the year, though. Dad had placed the bar not as high as the year before (managing a stuffed turkey plus a traditional gratin dauphinois plus crèmes brûlées for dessert had been kind of unrealistic) and with Jamie's help, he was well on his way to manage everything without needing to place an emergency Floo-call to Granny Molly.
This year he'd opted for one dish of lasagne and one shepherd's pie accompanied with different kinds of salad for the main course, tasty and creamy vegetable soups for starters and a regular trifle cake for dessert. The trifle was not done yet, but Jamie had good hope they'd be done with cooking and ready to greet everyone by six thirty.
Jamie was proved right when Uncle Nev' and Aunt Hannah arrived, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and Dad was all ready and had even had time to force Jamie into the Sunday-shirt he hated (it wasn't that it was ugly or anything, but when he wore it he always felt like he had to be careful of everything in an effort not to stain it).
Aunt Hannah hugged him and gushed on how he'd grown up since the last time she'd seen him and Uncle Nev' ruffled his hair, said 'What's up squirt?' like he always did when there were no other Hogwarts student around and then jokingly asked if he'd finished his Herbology homework.
Jamie tried not to stare too obviously when they deposited a huge and brightly-wrapped gift under the Christmas tree.
The next to arrive were Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione with Rose and Hugo and Jamie was tasked with entertaining the kids (even if he considered himself a little too old to play with a seven and a five year old), so he lost count of the arrivals of the other guests.
When the kids were called from Jamie's room to start dinner, Aunt Luna and Uncle Rolf had arrived, as well as Uncles Dean and Seamus and Jamie realised that cooking all afternoon had made him absolutely ravenous.
He ate a lot and listened to the adults talk about some kind of new Ministry policy from one ear (Uncle Seamus seemed to think it was utter bollocks but Aunt Hannah said it had good points) and to Rose and Hugo argue about the latest Babbity Rabbity Wireless-novel they'd heard (Rose said Babitty was the best character and Hugo thought her new Kneazle-kitten was the best thing ever, even if it didn't seem to do anything at all) from the other. Jamie realised he usually had Teddy to talk about more interesting things with him, but didn't miss him that much because it also meant there was more for him to eat without Teddy's giant-sized stomach at the table.
All in all, the evening went really great. People started to ask him about Hogwarts and then they all sang carols and exchanged gifts. Jamie went to bed late with a big smile on his face.
But then, just before falling asleep, Jamie thought about the longing look Dad had when he looked at all his paired up friends and about how lonely Draco must be right now, and knew in his guts that he didn't want next Christmas to be the same -- and hopefully, if The Plan worked, it wouldn't be.
The next morning, when he woke up from a very weird dream where Draco was losing his hair and Dad had replaced Jamie with a little clone of himself, Jamie's first thought was for the little box waiting for him in his trunk, the box his dad wasn't to see and that Jamie had wondered about on and off since he'd arrived home.
Jamie jumped from beneath his quilt and kneeled on the floor to pull his trunk from under the bed. He took out the clothes, books and sweet wraps he'd put on top in the hopes that it'd hide Draco's gift if Dad was ever to look into his stuff. After checking one last time that there was absolutely no sound indicating Dad might be awake, he opened the tiny box.
He didn't immediately recognize what was inside. At first, he thought earrings because it did look a bit like earrings, but why would Draco give him that? And it didn't seem to be able to fit in anyone's ears anyway. There were two pieces and it was jewellery, this he knew, and it looked to be very precious, maybe silver or platinum or something, and each piece was shaped in embroidered M. It was very shiny but looked kind of old and Jamie knew it must mean something, or else Draco wouldn't have given it to him.
He'd resolved to ask Draco what it was exactly when he'd see him again back at Hogwarts and picked up the lid to close the box when he noticed a piece of parchment attached inside the lid. Jamie unfolded it and recognised Draco's neat handwriting.
These cufflinks are family heirlooms, that is to say they've belonged to the Malfoy family for centuries and can only truly belong to a true Malfoy heir. They used to be my grand-father's. They're yours, now.
Jamie looked closer at the cufflinks again, recognising them as what they were and traced the edge of the left one with the tip of his finger.
He'd known Draco had wanted to know him, to be part of his life, and he knew for certain Draco still had a thing for Dad; so it was some kind of shock that it hit him so violently to realise that Draco actually wanted to be his father. Not just by blood or by circumstances or maybe as Dad's other half, but a father-father. A father who'd be legally responsible for him, who would be at odds with him when he'd be a teenager and do all the stupid things teenagers were wont to do, and a father who would pay part of his wedding despite grumbling about it. And they wouldn't be just relatives, no, they would be half of each other.
Jamie may still be quite young, but he definitely knew when to pull his head out of the sand when he needed to. He'd convinced himself he hadn't devised The Plan just to have a happy family and a second parent to turn to when the first said no, but it wasn't entirely true. There was no doubt he wanted both Dad and Draco to be happy together, no doubt whatsoever that it was one of his main goals in life, but he couldn't deny that once he'd had a taste of it there was no going back: he had a wonderful dad but he wanted a father, too -- he wanted Draco to be this father. And he wanted this as much as Draco did.
Jamie put the cufflinks back in the bottom of his trunk with a huge smile on his face.
He put on his dressing gown and went downstairs for breakfast. Dad was already there, standing at the stove, humming something absentmindedly and making Christmas pancakes, and Jamie felt really foolish realising how rubbish he was at detecting noises of his dad getting up. But then he wondered what would have happened if Dad had found him with Draco's gift, whether he'd have been angry or just realised what a great addition to the family Draco could be...
He shook himself out of his thoughts, said, 'Merry Christmas, Dad!' jovially, and went to scratch Sultan's tummy -- the dog was still half-asleep in his basket but Jamie knew he'd never object to belly-scratching.
'Merry Christmas, Jamie,' Dad answered, looking over his shoulder at where Jamie was crouched down with Sultan. 'I didn't realise Sultan would still come before me even after half-emptying my vault for your Christmas present... Maybe I shouldn't have bothered.'
Jamie gave Sultan a last pat on the head and went to squeeze beside his dad over the pancakes-in-the-making. 'No need for the dramatics, everybody at Hogwarts seem to think you're way more loaded than you let on so I don't think your vault is close to be half-empty yet. Besides, I doubt you'd like having your tummy scratched as much as Sultan does.'
This got a startled laugh out of Dad and he put down his wooden spatula to ruffle Jamie's hair. 'Go wash your hands and set the table, please. The first batch of pancakes is nearly done.'
Jamie did as he was told and Dad resumed humming, slipping in a few lyrics of Winter Wonderland, and seriously if that was what Dad was humming from the beginning, it was really worrying how he could still think it was a good idea to sing at all.
When Jamie was finished with the plates and the cutlery, when the orange juice was in a pitcher and Dad's back was still on him, his thoughts went back to the cufflinks, to Draco, and to the image of most of Dad's friends being paired up and so happy. And even if he was singing off-key while making pancakes, Jamie knew his dad could be happier and deserved to be happier.
Jamie fiddled a little with his glass and after taking a deep breath, he said with the most serious tone he could muster, 'Listen, Dad...Christmas is a time for family, right? And you're totally free to not answer and just say that you'd rather not talk about it because I'd totally understand, I promise, but you can't really grudge me for asking either, right? So yeah, I just -- I wanted, well kind of needed really, to know about...about my father. I mean my...other father, obviously. Because, yeah, it never really bothered me before, but you can't keep me in the dark forever, right? And -- I'd really, really like to know. You've got to tell me something someday, so why not today, right?'
Jamie had kept his eyes on his glass during his whole speech and when he lifted his gaze to his dad, he was looking back at him with his mouth slightly open and a pancake threatening to fall from his spatula. Sultan darted where the pancake would certainly fall with his tail flapping violently behind him and his tongue dangling out of his mouth. Dad snapped back into it just in time to save the pancake with a quick wandless spell and took the pile of pancakes to the table.
He sat down and said with his fists still clutching the pancakes plate quite hard, 'I'd rather not talk about it quite yet, Jamie.' Jamie made an assenting noise and was ready to change the subject and make pancakes help him forget about it, but Dad added, 'I understand you want to know, though. And I promise I'll tell you. I just...I've got to get ready first, all right?'
Jamie looked into his dad's eyes and could see the fear and the honesty in them and he nodded with a tight smile. 'Thanks, Dad.'
Dad smiled back and put half the pancakes pile into Jamie's waiting plate.
When they arrived at the Burrow a little before noon, things were as rushed and cramped as always. All the Weasley family was there (and it was a lot of people), even Charlie had come back from Romania this year and Victoire and Dominique were back from Beauxbâtons and Jamie didn't really have time to think much at all before he was swept into a game of hide-and-seek with all the Weasley kids.
He only felt he could settle a little when they were all called for lunch and even if there was first a little worry at not knowing where Lucy was hiding at all and Audrey had to cast a spell to find her, the buffet lunch was as enjoyable and good as ever.
Jamie decided to stay inside for the first part of the afternoon and spent some quality time with Bill's impressive old collection of comic books with Louis, and then everybody went outside to have the traditional Christmas Quidditch match, either to play or to cheer for a team. Jamie wasn't allowed to play yet -- and really, when he knew he'd have to play against people like Dad and Ginny and George with all his Bludgers, he didn't have any regret. Victoire was deemed old enough to play, though, and Jamie decided to cheer for her because it couldn't be too easy to be a chaser opposite Angelina Weasley, twice World Champion.
The dinner was even more delicious and sumptuous than usual (and Jamie secretly suspected it was because Granny Molly hadn't had to give one or two dishes to Dad this year) and Jamie received a lot of awesome presents and played great games with the other kids and was so sleepy at the end of the evening that Dad had to carry him up the stairs once they were back home.
And then Jamie was in his bed and already half-asleep and Dad was planting a kiss on his forehead like he did when he was feeling especially nostalgic that Jamie wasn't a baby anymore. All Jamie's sleepy brain could process was the fact that Dad had spent a whole day with a lot of married people who all had several kids, so Jamie said, because he didn't have the energy to wonder why he wouldn't, 'Dad?'
'Yes, Jamie?' Dad answered softly.
'Did you love him, at least, my other father?'
'Yes, Jamie, I did. Very, very much.'
And then Dad was closing the door behind him and Jamie was a shiny bauble on a tree and discussing which cheese was the best with a tiny Father Christmas who looked strangely like Uncle Ron.
With the New Year rolling and all the resolutions taking place here and there, Jamie knew he only had one to make. He would make sure Dad and Draco would pass some time together at all costs, even if Jamie had to lock them together in an empty room.
The first Monday of the spring term, Jamie knew Draco would take charge of his supervised wand practice. The occasion was ideal to take the next step in The Plan. When he walked towards the usual practice room at five to eight, he had the cufflinks box in one robe pocket (so that Draco could show him how to put them on), a New Year's card he'd hand-made for Draco in the other, and a very definite idea in his head on how Draco would spend his free time this term.
Once inside the transfigured classroom, Jamie thanked Draco for the gift, gave him the card and decided not to let Draco any time to ask him about his holidays, but to cut right to the chase:
'I don't really care about what you think Dad would want or not, or what you said and did before my birth, because I've decided that you are now officially wooing him, starting tomorrow and ending only when it finally works.' Jamie's tone and expression were determined and Draco's face seemed frozen, hesitating between disbelief and rebuttal. 'Because I want both of you to be happy and I also really want you to be my official father and it's really not as difficult as you might think.'
Draco opened his mouth to protest, but Jamie didn't let him talk. 'And obviously you'll have to talk of what happened back then and I understand it's difficult for you and that things are very complicated, but you don't have to let it be this big impediment to something that could work very, very well.'
Draco's eyes were still very big and incredulous but he slowly nodded and it made Jamie quite smug with satisfaction. Maybe if he'd been as assertive earlier, things could have been wrapped up weeks ago.
'So that's decided, then,' Jamie said confidently. 'You'll start maybe with a New Year's card, and saying that you'd like to see him to talk about me or something. Maybe you two could meet on the next Hogsmeade weekend.'
Draco's right eyebrow was arched and his lips quirked in a smirk and Jamie smiled a very wide smile because Draco looked rather amused, and almost proud, like he was seeing some of himself in Jamie. Jamie really didn't mind it one bit.
'Very well,' Draco said at last. 'I'll do it: I'll try to get back with Harry. And I'll have you know I'm not just doing it because you demanded it. I've thought about it during the break and it is something that I want very much. But you've got to expect things to take time, and maybe to not even work out in the end, right?'
The question was more an end to the conversation than waiting for an answer, and Jamie could hear the untold I'm absolutely terrified about this, so he just nodded and took out his wand to begin practice. Draco seemed to be on the same page and took his supervising position.
'Have you used your wand at all since before the holidays?' he asked.
'Of course not. Dad takes the under-age restriction very seriously. And I didn't have any classes including wandwork today.'
'Very well, let's hope you're not too rusty, then,' Draco said with a smile.
Seeing a smile on Draco's face was definitely something Jamie could get used to. He waved his wand to do the first warm-up spell, still content with the good turn things seemed to be taking and --
Everything went black.
Jamie heard his name whispered and thought it'd be nice if he could just open his eyes and see who was talking to him, but his eyelids felt very lazy and were very nice and cosy all closed and stuff so he didn't insist. All of his face wanted to go back to sleep in fact. Except his ears maybe because they kept hearing these whispered voices. But his ears had always been kind of outsiders where his face was concerned, weren't they? They should just bow to the majority's will and stop their nonsense. His ears didn't pay any mind to the others and kept on hearing whispers, which sounded louder and louder. And, curiously, his nostrils seemed interested in what was happening outside his head too, now. It was enough for his brain to be too curious to keep being shut to the exterior.
Jamie opened his eyes groggily. The first thing he saw was a lot of white. He then recognised it for the ceiling of the hospital wing, which he'd only seen once when he'd accompanied Marcus to visit Brutus, who had been too carefree with a Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes product.
He then heard the whispers again and realised they were coming from his dad and Draco who were standing a few feet away. Jamie's first reflex was to smile because they were whispering but not arguing-whispering and that was good. The problem was that his face hurt too much to smile properly. In fact, a lot of his body parts were hurting quite a lot. That must be why his dad was here -- because he hurt a lot.
Jamie managed to make a sound escape from the back of his throat and Dad and Draco instantly stopped whispering and came closer to the bedhead, quickly followed by Madam Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall and two other people Jamie didn't know.
'How are you, Jamie?' Dad asked, one of his hands pushing a lock of hair out of Jamie's face. 'I was so scared -- ' He sounded as if he was about to cry and Jamie wanted very much to tell him not to, but he didn't have the strength to. He saw Draco put a hand on Dad's shoulder, though, and Dad turned to him with a surprised look on his face which softened quite rapidly --
And then Jamie was distracted by one of the strangers running her wand over his head. It was a woman about his dad's age, with her hair pulled so tight behind her head she almost looked bald. She had a very stern face and robes so green it hurt Jamie's eyes.
'This is Healer Fawcett, Jamie,' Draco said in a soft voice, noticing Jamie's focus. 'And this,' he said, pointing at the other stranger who, Jamie noticed, had a similar green robe but was a much older and quite burly man, 'is Healer Jones. They came from St Mungo's and are here to help us with your case.'
'If he'd been sent to St Mungo's at the first symptoms, maybe we wouldn't have had to come here,' Jamie heard Healer Fawcett mumble under her breath. He thought it was quite unkind -- he wouldn't have wanted to spend his first year in hospital, this was certain. Dad took hold of his hand and Jamie almost-smiled at him.
'He was not sick,' Draco said through his teeth. It seemed he had heard Healer Fawcett's remark too. 'He just had a problem with his magic's focus. There was no need to take him away from school when he could follow perfectly all the classes which didn't need wandwork.'
'Well, Squibs could do that too, now, couldn't they?' Healer Fawcett's tone was dismissive as she turned her attention back on the slow movements of her wand around Jamie's head. It was not the thing to say though, because Draco's look turned murderous.
'Jamie is obviously not a Squib,' he said. His voice was venomous and hardly kept from trembling. Jamie wondered briefly if his dad would find it weird for Draco to call Jamie -- well, Jamie. 'And the individual and supervised wand practice sessions he was following were having very positive results.'
'You should know that curing the symptoms but not healing the cause wouldn't bode well for anyone,' Healer Fawcett snapped.
'Stop this useless argument right now,' Professor McGonagall said authoritatively, covering what would have been Draco's response, which, Jamie was sure, wouldn't have been very polite. Jamie didn't miss Dad's hand flying to Draco's elbow to keep him from jumping on Healer Fawcett, though.
Things with his magic might be terrible and all he could physically feel might hurt quite a lot, but Jamie couldn't help feeling a little happy that his dad and Draco seemed so much on the same side in all this.
When things had calmed down, Healer Jones explained that what Healer Fawcett was doing was in fact the setting up of a spell that would measure Jamie's real-time magic levels. They hoped it could help them identify what curse had been used in the first place.
The use of the C word made Dad stiffen next to Jamie and he saw him exchange a worried look with Draco. 'Are you saying you're positive this was a curse? Somebody would have wanted to hurt Jamie?'
'Well, we don't know if there was indeed a malicious intent or if your son was the actual target,' Healer Jones said calmly, 'but with such results, the origin cannot realistically be totally harmless.'
Jamie could distinguish quite clearly the This is my fault forming in his dad's eyes and squeezed his hand as much as he could (that was to say: not much), wishing he could shake his head without developing a killer headache. He managed to extract a few sounds from his aching throat, though, and hoped Dad could interpret them as Of course it's not your fault, Dad, it's the fault of the crazy person who did this.
'Do you recommend calling on the Aurors, then?' Professor McGonagall asked with her lips even more wrinkly than usual.
'There's no use to do that yet,' Healer Fawcett answered. 'If we have no idea what the curse is, there is no way for them to discover who cast it.'
The two healers cast a few more spells on Jamie, gave a few instructions to Madam Pomfrey and were then accompanied outside by Professor McGonagall. Madam Pomfrey retired to her office and Jamie was left with his dad and Draco. Draco rounded the bed to be on the other side of Jamie's head and they were soon each clinging one of Jamie's hand. It hurt a bit but it made Jamie feel better inside, too, so he didn't try to take his hands back.
Now that his attention wasn't captured by green robes and hovering wands and curse tales, Jamie noticed that there was a white bandage around Draco's head blending with the light colour of his hair.
'The moment you tried to cast a spell in the practice room,' Draco explained, 'there was an explosion bigger than what had happened in the Charms corridor. Luckily, there wasn't any gargoyle around or any other students and the explosion was contained inside the room. I only had time to cast a shield charm on you though, so I fell and knocked my head on the wall. You were unconscious for several hours and we know it was linked to your trying to do magic. It seems it not only exploded outside your wand, but also inside you.'
Draco let go of his hand then. He straightened up, glanced at Harry briefly and cleared his throat. 'I'll leave you two alone...in family,' he said with a tight expression on his face. Dad watched him leave but didn't say anything. It made Jamie a little sad.
'So,' Dad started, looking back at Jamie and sounding a little unsure. 'It seems you're rather close with Malfoy, aren't you?'
Jamie hoped he could blink his answer, but his eyelids were uncooperative and weren't inclined to go back up.
The next time he woke up, Jamie generally hurt so little that he had to wonder for a moment if he had imagined the whole thing. There was little doubt on the reality of things though, because as soon as his eyes were open, he could see the unchanged hospital wing and his dad half-asleep on the chair beside his bed.
Either there was some kind of very discreet monitoring charm on Jamie or Dad was very acutely tuned in to Jamie's wakefulness because a few seconds later, he'd taken Jamie's hand back in his and said softly, 'Are you feeling better?'
'Loads,' Jamie croaked, almost surprised at the sound of his voice.
'I guess so,' Dad said with a smile. 'All the potions have taken effect. And the measuring spell is now operational, too. One of the St Mungo's healers will come back later in the morning to take a few notes about the first data.'
Jamie nodded. He could see blinking colours above his head and wondered how ridiculous it must look from another perspective.
'I have to pop in back home to take care of a few things -- including checking Sultan didn't completely destroy the kitchen while I was gone -- but I'll be back soon, all right? I'm just so glad you're better.'
Jamie smiled and squeezed his dad's fingers before they left his hand. 'You know it's not your fault, right?'
Dad's smile faltered for a few seconds and came back a little less bright than before. He patted Jamie's knee a little, but didn't answer before leaving the room.
Jamie dozed a little more and was roused again by the click-click of Healer Fawcett's shoes on the floor tiles. She didn't look better disposed than she had been during the night and was now carrying a dark brown leather bag which looked rather heavy. She set it down on the next bed and pulled out of it what looked like a very old camera. She directed it on Jamie's head and snapped a shot without uttering a word.
She then put the camera down and sat on the bed beside her bag, forcing Jamie to turn on his side if he wanted to look at her while she talked. 'The measurement spell we used on the power-levels of your magic has a clearly defined colour-code going from cold to warm colours. A normal magical individual would have a constant green colour above his head, with varying degrees depending on his activity: it would go from light turquoise while unconscious to an amber colour during a duel. Of course, everybody is different. Squibs' power level would show a very dark blue and for a very powerful wizard, such as the late Albus Dumbledore or even your father, it could go as high as scarlet or burgundy.'
Healer Fawcett had a very no-nonsense tone and Jamie didn't know if he could say something or if he just had to wait for her to give out information as she wished. She stood up and turned her wand on the camera, which produced a small square piece of paper. Healer Fawcett caught it from the air and put it in Jamie's hand. On it, he could see the top of his head and, a few inches above, a weird opaque cloud that was blinking regularly from sky blue to bright yellow.
Jamie looked at the healer askance, but she already had her back to him, putting the camera back in her bag. 'As you can see,' she said with the same clinical voice, 'there are two main abnormalities with you magic levels. First, the fluctuation between two colours is something I've never seen before. Second, the blue colour indicates a too low level for you to be able to do much, whereas the yellow one gives you abnormally high powers for a bed-ridden first-year.'
She looked at him with very piercing eyes and Jamie felt a lot as if she was accusing him of the most evil things. 'Okay...?' he said feebly.
'The curse has obviously tempered with your magic level but it is unknown whether it was its main goal or whether the power fluctuation itself was intended. I will need to collect a few more facts on your general health. Get up, please.'
Jamie untangled himself from his sheets with difficulty and a loud sigh he hoped Healer Fawcett would interpret correctly and stood next to his bed, suddenly devoid of his warm cocoon and feeling quite chilly in just his thin striped pyjamas.
Healer Fawcett took back the picture and slipped it in a thick folder held tidily close by a piece of string, then started a few spells Jamie recognized as some of the ones Draco had done during his diagnosis sessions. Jamie couldn't help rolling his eyes and hoped for all this to be over before he turned completely blue.
The healer proved herself to be not that insensitive though: when Jamie's teeth started chattering, she barked at him to, 'Put something on, for Merlin's sake!', so Jamie complied with relief. The minute he slipped his school robe over his pyjamas though, she gasped and forcefully tore the robe away from him.
'Excuse me!' Jamie cried, quite pissed off. He was through being polite with this woman who had the worst bedside manners possible. It was a wonder how they let her into the profession. 'What's wrong with you? You can't order me to put on my robe and then take it from me. What kind of healer are you, anyway? Do you want all your patients to die of cold, or something?'
Despite Jamie's anger, Healer Fawcett couldn't have been more inattentive to his protestations, busy as she was moving his robe around, closer and then farther from Jamie.
'What are you doing?' Jamie demanded to know.
For only answer, the healer conjured a large hand mirror and placed it in front of Jamie's face, without stopping the robe-movements. Jamie realised at once what had made her react this oddly. While the cloud above Jamie's head didn't stop blinking from one colour to the other, every time the robe was closer to him, the yellow colour was replaced by a very bright orange and the sky blue whitened a little. And every time the robe got farther again, it went back to the yellow-sky blue alternation. It was freaking weird.
'I suppose you were wearing this robe when the explosion happened yesterday night?' Healer Fawcett asked with inquisitive eyes firmly fixed on Jamie's cloud.
Jamie's gaze was on the house-crest sewed onto his robe when he answered, 'Yes, I was. Do you think the curse is linked to my robe?' Jamie almost asked if perhaps someone had wanted to punish him for Sorting in Hufflepuff, but this idea was maybe a little too unrealistic.
'It depends,' Healer Fawcett answered thoughtfully. 'Were you not wearing them when you had what Professor Malfoy described as positive spell outcomes?'
Jamie thought about it. He did have two sets of robes and it was hard to remember when he'd wear one or the other, as they were both quite identical. But no, it was impossible that he was always wearing the other for all these practices where he managed Alohomora and Wingardium Leviosa without a hitch.
'I don't think so...' he said worriedly, wondering what it meant then that this robe suddenly seemed to affect his magic. 'Maybe we should check my other robe, too?'
Healer Fawcett didn't answer his question, as her attention was snatched by the sound of the hospital wing door and the arrival of Draco, who looked as poised as usual but whose eyes did reflect a great dose of worry. His pace was purposeful and he got closer to them swiftly.
And then things happened very quickly. Jamie barely had time to see in the mirror his orange-blue cloud turn red-turquoise before Healer Fawcett's wand was at Draco's throat and Jamie's school robes on the ground.
'Poppy!' Healer Fawcett yelled, 'Call the Aurors! I found our culprit!'
'What?!' Jamie shouted at the same time Draco did and Madam Pomfrey appeared in her office's doorway.
'How could I be responsible for this curse?' Draco tried to make her see sense. 'I was the one trying to help Jamie, weren't I?'
'How convenient!' Healer Fawcett said with a snarl. 'No surprise then that you concentrated on the symptoms rather than on the cause, as I pointed out before. It does make sense. You were a Death Eater after all, and Harry Potter's school rival to boot. No wonder you'd try to take it out on his son!'
This woman was barking mad, that she totally was. Jamie tried to grab her arm to stop this nonsense. 'Don't hurt him! He didn't do anything!'
'Oh, you've manipulated the child well enough,' Fawcett accused, the only sign she'd noticed Jamie's complaints. 'But you didn't expect the measuring spell to react to your presence, now, did you?'
And then everything changed very fast again.
Fawcett's wand flew out of her hand and Jamie felt a very strong shield charm form around him. His dad had appeared from nowhere and was making his way towards them one wand pointed at Fawcett and the other firmly tucked in his breast pocket.
'Are you all right, Jamie?' Dad called in his direction.
'Yeah, yeah,' Jamie answered, still quite shaken by Fawcett's outburst.
'Poppy?' Dad addressed Madam Pomfrey, who was still looking on the unfolding scene with a confused expression, in the gap between the door of her office and the hospital wing. 'Would you be so kind to hold back this call to the Aurors you were about to make? I don't think we need them quite yet.' He then turned back towards Fawcett with the same fierce expression he had coming in. 'Let's all calm down, Healer Fawcett,' he said in a calm voice that resonated in the room with great authority. 'I can assure you personally that there is no way Malfoy is responsible for any of this.'
'Why the hell would you trust him?' Fawcett asked as if she thought Dad had turned a little soft in the head.
Dad glanced at Draco almost imperceptibly and squared his shoulders before answering, now at the foot of the bed next to Jamie's, 'Let's just say I do, all right? Could you explain why you'd think he did anything, please?'
He handed the healer her wand back and they all sat down -- Jamie on his bed, Healer Fawcett next to him but far enough for a large space to remain between them, and Dad and Draco opposite them on the neighbouring bed. They were not within touching distance either, but there was obviously something there, Jamie reckoned. If not, why would have Dad intervened in Draco's favour?
Healer Fawcett didn't seem too thrilled to have to explain herself, be it to Harry Potter or to anyone, but she did tell him about the colour code and how Jamie's magic-levels had heightened with Draco's proximity. She did sound like she wanted to convince Dad of Draco's culpability.
'But what if -- ' Dad began after she was finished. He glanced at Draco and then at Jamie but didn't finish his question.
Draco cleared his throat and ran his hands on his trousers, and then appeared to decide on something. 'Jamie knows, Harry,' he said in a small voice.
Dad turned to him suddenly. 'Excuse me?' He was beginning to send murderous waves to Draco, so Jamie thought he should intervene.
'I heard you tell him in his office back when you were here because of the gargoyle thing,' Jamie said, trying to hold his dad's gaze. It wasn't easy and he looked down to his hands before the end of his sentence.
Dad didn't say anything at first, but when Jamie looked at him again, his dad's features were schooled back in the calm expression he was sporting before. 'Very well,' he said with a slightly strangled voice, 'if it's out in the open, then...' He cast some kind of bubble charm around the two beds, took a deep breath and focused on Healer Fawcett, rolling his wand between his fingers ostensibly. 'I guess that if we want your help healing Jamie, you need to know the truth, but I will demand that this information stay between the four of us at all costs. I believe you can guess what could happen to you if the information I'm about to impart were ever to hit the newspapers, right?'
Dad waited for Healer Fawcett's nod, and he dropped the bomb. 'Draco Malfoy is my son's other father.'
Jamie could see Fawcett's body going all tense and her face blanching, but she didn't say anything. She didn't exclaim on the impossibility of the thing or on it obviously being a lie. If it had been the time for this and Fawcett had been a little nicer, he'd have asked her how it was all biologically possible.
'Would it be conceivable that the reaction of Jamie's magic to my presence is simply linked to my being his father?' Draco asked.
'I'm sorry to say that it doesn't seem quite likely,' Healer Fawcett said, with a tone implying she really didn't like being imposed conclusions to her cases. 'Scientifically speaking there is no other link that I can think of except the one between the curser and the cursed.' She ended with a sneer directed at Draco.
'Would you stop implying -- '
'But, what about my robe?' Jamie asked, trying to steer the conversation out of troubled waters.
Dad reacted right away. 'What about your robe, Jamie?'
'Well, it heightens my magic levels too.'
Draco picked the robe from the floor and started rummaging through the pockets. 'Is it your robe, Jamie, or is it this that influences your magic?' Draco pulled the cufflinks box -- which Jamie had to admit he'd totally forgotten about -- out of the robe and placed it near Jamie's head.
Jamie didn't see it but the effect on the others' expressions seemed quite immediate. Dad's eyes rounded and Healer Fawcett's face got very smug and Draco looked rather downcast.
'All right,' he said with a sigh. 'So, this is definitely Malfoy-related, then.'
Draco spent the rest of the day in the hospital wing, on the bed next to Jamie's, being probed and tested the same as Jamie.
Nobody could keep Healer Fawcett from checking Draco's magical signature to make sure he wasn't responsible for the curse. The result was that Draco's magical signature indeed had similarities to the one used on Jamie, but without more information on the curse itself, even Fawcett had to dismiss it as just another proof that Draco was related with Jamie.
The measurement spell was cast on Draco too, and it only revealed a very rich but very normal green colour, so Fawcett's theory that maybe Jamie's magical level was linked to Draco's had to be dismissed as well.
Jamie received lunchtime visits from Marcus and Maia Mapleback and a little later from Daisy Dearborn, a first-year Ravenclaw whom he had only talked to once and who was unhealthily shy. Dad kept Jamie company all afternoon, and said afternoon trying not to glance at Draco, while Draco spent the same time trying to hide his own glances to Dad. This behaviour led Jamie to spend this whole time alternatively rolling his eyes and trying to silently communicate to Draco to get over himself and just say something to Dad.
All in all, the whole day ended up being a total waste, as neither his parents spared more than three words for each other and Healer Fawcett didn't make any progress discovering the nature of the curse.
In the evening, Draco and Jamie were both assigned to stay in the hospital wing for the night, the two of them being the lucky recipients of a very new and innovative monitoring charm, which could maybe help them figure something out by morning. Jamie was dubious, but didn't really have a say in any of this, so he stayed in bed and considered it lucky that nobody had forced homework on him in this dire situation.
Dad insisted he could stay if Jamie needed him to, but Jamie convinced him it really was unnecessary. Nothing bad would happen as long as Jamie didn't try to use a wand after all, and Dad certainly needed some rest after spending the entire previous night worrying about Jamie.
Healer Fawcett left at the end of the day too, assuring them she would leave Jamie's parentage out of his official medical file and inform Healer Jones she'd take on the whole case, so that nobody else had to know Draco was Jamie's father. She didn't seem too happy about it -- mainly because her dislike towards Draco seemed very genuine and very, very profound -- but she was a professional and couldn't not respect the patient-healer confidentiality, even if she wanted to.
'So, you can tell me, now,' Jamie said, once there was only Draco and he left in the hospital wing.
'Tell you what?' Draco asked with an arched eyebrow.
'Don't act like you don't know. Last night you talked with Dad, right? I know you did, what did you talk about?'
Draco sighed and settled more comfortably in his bed, looking intently at the ceiling. 'Nothing, really. He asked me to repeat two or three times what had happened in the practice room exactly, and he asked some precisions about what I'd found on your problem. It was all very civil, really.'
'Well, that's good, right? That you can be civil and stuff, right?'
'It is,' Draco agreed solemnly. 'And he thanked me about using Protego on you, too. Which is ridiculous, really. Of course I'd use Protego on you; you're my son, after all.' He ran a hand through his hair, a clear sign he was at least a little distressed. 'Sometimes he's just so...infuriating!' He exclaimed, sounding more frustrated than angry.
'But that's way more than just good, he thanking you, isn't it?' Jamie pointed out. 'And he protected you too, when Healer Fawcett attacked you. There's totally something there. I only wish you'd talk to him this afternoon. I'm sure he'd say yes if you asked him out.'
Draco's response to that was a weirdly loud chuckle. 'You're really unbelievable,' he then said. 'Only you would still think about romance and dating after what's happened to you. My mind really isn't on wooing Harry right now, and I rather think he's in the same case. We're both very worried about you, you know.'
'Yeah, I know, I know,' Jamie tried to dismiss it, wondering when they'd finally both think of themselves for once. 'And you both feel really guilty about it, too. Dad because he thinks the curse was meant for him and you because it seems to be a "Malfoy thing". But what you forget is that love always manifests itself in situations of danger or drama or intense pressure...'
'Please, we're not in one of your Muggle films. This is real life, Jamie. Things don't normally happen like that.'
'Really? That's your argument?' Jamie asked in disbelief. 'It can't happen because that's not what normally happens? Tell me one thing about this whole situation that could be considered normal. And what's normal anyway, really?'
'All right, all right,' Draco tried to calm Jamie's outburst. 'I guess you've got a point. But I still don't think Harry would have been very receptive to my advances when you're lying in a bed with an unknown curse on you,' Jamie wanted to say something to that, but Draco quelled it with a simple look. Things might have been easier for Jamie if his new father hadn't been Hogwarts's most dreaded teacher. 'I don't know if things can happen right now,' Draco went on, 'but I do hope this...experience can somewhat bring us closer...as a family.'
'Do you want to know what I honestly think, Draco?' Jamie asked, being a little fed up with stalling and half-measures where something as important as love was at stake.
'I don't think I do,' Draco said with a smile. 'But I guess you'll tell me anyway, so go on.'
'I say: who cares about family? Go and snog each other and then we'll see about family. This really shouldn't be about me at all.'
The next morning, Jamie woke up with the remnants of a very pleasant dream he couldn't really remember but he was sure had included his dad and Draco being together and very sweet and cute. He could feel a ray of winter sun on his face and before he decided to open his eyes, he heard someone talking.
'Is he still asleep?' the voice Jamie recognised as Dad's asked.
'Yes,' Draco's voice answered. 'He's been sleeping very soundly. I guess yesterday was very tiring for him.'
'I guess so,' Jamie heard his dad agree.
'You know, he -- ' Draco began, and Jamie could hear something in his voice, something that made him want to keep pretending to sleep very much. It was something brave and decisive and it sounded like the hardest task Draco had ever undertaken.
'Yes?' There was a little expectation in Dad's voice, almost hope.
'He...talks a lot about...you.' Draco was hesitating, but Jamie still believed he would do it. He had to. 'I mean -- about you and me, that is. And about you and I...getting back together.'
'Oh,' was Dad's only answer. Well, Jamie couldn't really fault him for not being more eloquent. Draco hadn't been the most suave in his approach.
'Do you -- ' Draco swallowed loudly and began again, 'Do you ever think about it?' He sounded fragile and vulnerable and Jamie didn't dare open his eyes and risk interrupting them, but he so wished Dad was looking into Draco's eyes and seeing this thing Jamie sometimes could see in Draco's eyes and which was a clear proof it would never be over for them.
'I -- ' Dad stopped, and Jamie felt for a bit like he wouldn't go on, but he did. 'Do you?' he asked.
Draco swallowed again and Jamie could hear the faint sounds of him fidgeting with his bed sheets. 'I do,' he finally said, very quietly. 'I mean -- even before Jamie, even before I knew about him or anything, I sometimes wished...'
Draco didn't sound like he was going to express aloud what exactly he'd wished and it seemed he couldn't anyway, as that was when Madam Pomfrey's voice resounded in the room, saying quite loudly that it was time to check on their monitoring charms.
Healer Fawcett arrived back in the hospital wing by mid-morning, and she went to look at the monitoring results before even saying hello. It didn't really surprise or bother Jamie, but he thought that after sharing a day with them, even if she still loathed Draco, she'd have maybe warmed up to Jamie at least a little.
She read the data-filled parchments, inches after inches with a frown gradually marring her face from between her very neatly plucked eyebrows to the beginning of her hairline.
'Poppy!' she called, not lifting her eyes from the parchment. 'Are you quite sure this is Professor Malfoy's results? I do think there must have been some kind of mix up...'
Madam Pomfrey came to stand behind her and looked at the parchment over the healer's shoulder. 'No, there is absolutely no mistake whatsoever. I think after more than forty years in this position I would know how to properly fill a result form.'
Madam Pomfrey had accepted quite diligently Healer Fawcett invading her hospital wing and asking for her collaboration without much explanation about why Professor Malfoy had switched from being a terrible threat to just another patient, but she didn't seem to take it well having her professionalism brought into question.
Healer Fawcett completely ignored her though. She was looking intently at Draco's results, then at Jamie's and back again. Madam Pomfrey huffed in annoyance and went back to her office with a look on her face expressing quite clearly how she was too old to have to deal with every other wannabe Dilys Derwent.
After scrutinising their results parchments for a few more minutes, still without acknowledging them even once, Healer Fawcett then alternated it all with looking up to them, then back to the parchments, then back to them. She finally, after what looked a lot like neck-muscles working-out, put both parchments down and strode towards them determinedly. She waved her wand above Draco in what looked like very complicated patterns twice, then did the same to Jamie, put her wand back in her pocket and joined her hands behind her back.
'Very well, I've just understood why we weren't doing any progress and certainly why you couldn't find out anything yourself, Professor Malfoy.' She said in a very uninterested voice, almost bored. 'There has simply never been any curse cast on your son.'
'It's a simple charm, then?' Dad asked. 'A normal spell?'
'Of course not, Mr Potter,' she went on, as if it was the most ridiculous idea since singing earplugs. 'There is indeed a curse. But the curse is not on Jamie, it's on Professor Malfoy.'
Their collective gasp and 'What?!' and whitening of skin and widening of eyes didn't faze her at all and she went on, her tone still very neutral, 'From what I've understood in my readings of the test results so far, the curse had in fact been cast on Professor Malfoy with the goal of influencing his progeny's magic. I don't know anything more quite yet, but now that we actually know what to look for, I expect more precise and practical results soon enough.'
While Dad was busy expressing how outraged he was at someone targeting innocent children just because they had had at one point a different with someone, Jamie chose to focus on Draco's reaction. The muscles in his face seemed all frozen and his skin had turned so white it looked almost translucent, but there was something in his eyes showing that if his body was immobile, his mind was on the contrary racing at breakneck speed.
There was suddenly a lull in the conversation -- or rather in what summarized as Dad's indignant exclamations -- and Draco cleared his throat loud enough for Dad to relax his clenched fist and to turn to him.
Draco fixed his gaze to Dad's for a little while and Jamie wondered if they weren't maybe using Legilimency, because Dad's face seemed to relax minutely before Draco opened his mouth to speak.
'I think I know where the curse might come from, then,' he said with a voice much more sober than the look in his eyes. 'Or rather, who the curse comes from.'
When Draco had finished telling them his theory, Jamie couldn't help but think he really had a messed-up family tree. But, well, from what he'd previously known of Lucius Malfoy, this wasn't incredibly big news.
What was big news though was that, contrarily to what Draco had thought until now, during all the time Dad and Draco had been together, Lucius must have started suspecting something at one point. He hadn't discovered what had been really going on, but he'd known Draco was involved with someone. And in the mind of someone who desperately wanted his son to marry Aste-or-Asto-something-or-other (Jamie couldn't be bothered remembering her name), this information had turned out quite dangerous.
At the time Lucius had said it, Draco said he hadn't thought much of it, but now he couldn't get it out of his head. 'A bastard in the Malfoy line might as well be a Squib, as far as I'm concerned.' These were the words Draco had heard from his father one night at the dinner table and they seemed to take so much sense now. What had sounded like a casual remark at one time had resulted in a true wrecking of Jamie's academic life, and incidentally in a threat on a bunch of kids' security.
'I would say it needs more thorough research and verification, but this theory at least explains why the magical signature we found on the young Mr Potter was so similar to Professor Malfoy's,' Healer Fawcett reluctantly agreed once Draco had got it all off his chest, not showing one bit of empathy.
Jamie wondered why she'd become a healer if she cared for her patients so little, but then again, maybe it was doing the healer job of watching a lot of people suffering on a daily basis that had thickened her heart so much.
'If it is really Lucius Malfoy's doing,' she went on after a little scribbling pause on a tattered parchment, 'the curse must have been linked with the Malfoy bloodline very intricately, or it would have risked fading away with the caster's death, which serves the purpose of the spell doubly better in its locating of the hypothetical illegitimate children.'
Jamie didn't really understand everything Healer Fawcett said but Draco was nodding slowly and Dad was looking on with a convinced expression, so Jamie reckoned that even if her answer wasn't too definitive yet, she knew what she was talking about, so he asked the question that was the most important to him:
'So why am I not a Squib, then?'
'That's what the next few rounds of tests will be trying to figure out, Mr Potter,' Healer Fawcett answered with a stern voice, implying quite frankly that they'd better go back to business lest she had to stay there past her work-hours.
For the next hour of allegedly innovative magical medicine, not only Jamie was alone again, Draco having quit his guinea-pig status, but the tests didn't consist in only wand-waving anymore. There seemed to be taken samples of everything that could be sampled, from Jamie's hair, to his saliva, to some of his dead skin.
Jamie had no idea how the content of his sweat could explain why Lucius's curse hadn't worked on him as intended, but he didn't complain much because Dad and Draco were still at his sides and Jamie could see them exchange looks at regular intervals, looks that Jamie was wont to qualify as meaningful.
It was like Dad was more aware of himself than usual and Draco was constantly forgetting to school his features into their usual blank mask, and Jamie would catch his dad trying to straighten his clothes or flatten his hair or adjust his glasses, and the corners of Draco's mouth weren't ever immobile anymore, always trying to trace a smile on Draco's face.
Well, at least this could happen when they weren't fussing over him, Dad with all his worried looks and petting of hair and Draco with his guilty expressions and demands for Healer Fawcett to justify one procedure or another.
At one point in the afternoon, Fawcett said she had to leave for an hour or so to begin brewing a revealing potion on Jamie's cut fingernails and Jamie took it as the golden occasion to pretend to have a nap. It would leave Dad and Draco alone and maybe they'd finish their aborted conversation (which Jamie was sure would have been very deep and very romantic and maybe would have ended in a desperate declaration of love) from this morning, and Jamie could even hear everything they'd have to say to each other through his pretend-sleep.
'Er...' Dad began, not very promisingly. But Jamie had faith in him, and enough experience being comforted and scolded and taught about life to know that his dad had a very good experience with Saying The Right Thing. 'I guess I'll take advantage of this little time off to head home for a bit.'
Okay, not the right thing at all, then.
And Draco, who was supposed to be a good talker, whose job it was to talk to people and keep them interested, didn't even say anything at all. Jamie guessed he must have nodded though, because the next sounds were of Dad leaving the hospital wing.
'Why didn't you tell him to stay?' Jamie burst out of his covers, startling Draco enough for him to let out a very small and very dignified shriek. 'Or at least follow him or something! I can leave you time alone to sort things out, but I can't do more.'
Jamie knew he must be flailing like a loon, but he was too frustrated to care. He let himself fall down on his mattress with a loud sigh. When he turned back to look at Draco, he was treating Jamie with The Eyebrow, so Jamie just rolled his eyes and sighed again.
'I thought you were supposed to be a Slytherin! Can't you be sneaky or something? What does a boy have to do nowadays to get his parents to snog it out?'
Draco's eyebrow went even higher at that, but it at least produced a spoken answer from him. 'Snog it out, really? We're hardly teenagers anymore. If you want us to have a real relationship, I don't think snogging it out would be any solution at all.' Jamie almost started to protest, but Draco went on with a sharp look, 'And you couldn't have seen it because you were, I quote, "having a nap",' -- Jamie guessed he was supposed to feel guilty but just wanted to roll his eyes again -- 'but the look on Harry's face when he departed was positively skittish. It took us more than a year to properly get together the first time around and I know this skittish look very well. Harry had it a lot back then. It's very difficult to choose something as big, something that can change your life forever. Especially now that he's been burnt once before.'
Jamie wasn't too happy about it and knew it was obvious in his demeanour, but it was only fair that Dad would not to be pressured into anything, so Jamie thought he could agree to Draco's unbearably slow wooing method, even if Jamie knew that deep down his dad wanted it perhaps as much as Jamie did.
'But you think it'll work out, right?' Jamie couldn't help but ask to reassure himself once more of the viability of The Plan.
Draco took a very faraway look for a few moments, and then he answered as if he was trying very hard not to get distracted. 'I do,' he said. 'And this morning, I got to talk to him, and -- '
'But Dad didn't even say anything!' Jamie interrupted, without thinking it through very much.
Draco pursed his lips and yeah, the pretending to sleep thing wasn't going to work anymore after that, but Draco didn't comment on it. 'Our almost-conversation from this morning did give me hope, in a way.'
Draco lay on the bed next to Jamie's, with his hands crossed behind his head and his gaze fixed on the white ceiling. He was smiling. 'Does Harry still like treacle tart as much as he did before?' he asked with a dreamy quality in his voice.
In these exact time and place, where they took a break from mentioning his magic and everything that could go wrong with him, the happiness Jamie was feeling was so absolutely perfect that it burst out of Jamie's chest in a hysterical laugh. Draco turned to him abruptly and with a worried look, but after watching Jamie's face for a few seconds, and seeing the tremendous joy Jamie couldn't keep inside, he laughed too.
When Healer Fawcett left that night, no progress had been made to discover why the Squib-curse (Draco absolutely abhorred the name used for it, so Jamie used it even more so he could see Draco wince each time he did) hadn't worked properly on Jamie or how it could be lifted.
According to Healer Fawcett, there were very high probabilities that, as it was linked to the Malfoy line, if Draco were to die, the curse would disappear, as Lucius Malfoy wasn't fool enough to deprive of magical powers the last of his bloodline and this, even more if the illegitimate child happened to be a pure-blood. They all agreed on not being too keen to test that theory, but Healer Fawcett a little less enthusiastically than the others.
The only thing they were sure of with undeniable scientific proof was that Lucius Malfoy had cast a curse on his son so that any and every child he would have out of wedlock wouldn't be able to practice any magic. As far as Jamie was concerned, the test-spells Healer Fawcett had run to prove that had been quite useless, as they'd already known all this.
Draco had brought dinner for three from the kitchens and Jamie noticed with a beaming smile that there was a full plate of treacle tart for dessert. Dad smiled at Draco and said, 'Thank you very much, Draco,' and Draco smiled too because Dad has used his given name deliberately. And then there was this moment where Draco had a bit of whipped cream on the side of his mouth and Dad told him and Draco licked it off with a flick of his tongue and Dad stared at him way longer than he should have, and Jamie would have begun singing Kiss the Girl at the top of his lungs if only Dad or Draco had been a girl and Jamie had been certain it wouldn't have made them worry it was a side-effect of the curse.
So yeah, the evening had gone very well, and Jamie was starting to purposefully yawn and let his eyes get closed and better settle in his bed in the last hope that maybe he could try the pretend-sleep technique after all, but Draco just looked at him with a sharp gaze and suggested to accompany Dad to the closest Floo because it was on the way to his private rooms, but didn't say anything about Dad maybe sharing the aforementioned private rooms.
They said goodnight to Jamie and left the hospital wing in silence and without their cloaks touching each other, but Jamie could feel in his guts and in what he'd guessed from the look in Draco's eyes that something was going to happen.
Draco had maybe thwarted Jamie's pretend-sleep plan, but Jamie had more than one trick up his sleeve -- or rather down his cloak pockets. He fetched his faithful Elongated Ears and dashed to the infirmary main doors the most quietly possible.
He could hear sounds from the other side before reaching them and slipped on his spying device immediately. They were making it way too easy for him, not even waiting to be a few corridors away.
' -- holding up very bravely. He's quite a Gryffindor,' Draco was saying, no doubt making small talk about Jamie.
'Except he's really not,' Dad answered with a smile in his voice. 'I really wonder how he ended up in Hufflepuff. When he was growing up, I was sure he'd be Sorted in Slytherin, actually.'
'Tell me about it!'
'Yes, he often made me think of you.' Dad went on, with an unexpected serious tone and his voice becoming gradually quieter. 'When I left you, I tried my best to stay away from the Wizarding World, from everything that'd remind me of you. I went to live with the Muggles and I took a stay-at-home job and I stopped following Quidditch, but...once he was born, from the first time he opened his eyes and looked at me...I wanted to escape you so badly, but you were here with me all the time -- you were in him.'
Dad was only whispering now, but he sounded so forlorn, Jamie could feel it seep through the door and through his chest. He would never have suspected how hard it was for his dad to love him so much when Jamie was the human incarnation of heartache.
'What I told you this morning,' Draco said in the same hushed voice, as if they knew they were listened on, 'I meant it. I really do. I -- my father, back then, he was -- he...' Draco didn't seem to be able to finish his sentence, but Dad answered anyway.
'He was the one who made you leave me, wasn't he?'
'How did you know?' Even through his whisper Draco's voice was hoarse and Jamie wondered whether he'd planned to have this conversation, and how much what they were saying now was veering off what he'd intended.
'I guess I'd always suspected in one way or another, but with everything we learnt about the curse, it seems quite obvious, now. I don't know what he said to you, but if he was enough of a bastard to curse you with this curse, I have no doubt in his abilities to convince you to dump me.'
Jamie could hear in his voice -- heck, even if the sounds of his breathing -- how difficult this was for his dad and Jamie had his eyes closed now, and his fingers crossed in his fists. He was encouraging his dad mentally with all he had. Jamie hoped he could give him all the strength he needed, but above all, all the hope possible.
'It wasn't exactly -- ' Draco tried to intervene but Dad didn't let him. Draco's voice was louder, but there seemed to be more amplitude in Dad's murmur than in a trumpet's cry. 'I don't need to know the reasons, now. After twelve years I think it wouldn't make sense to me anyway. There's one thing I need to know, though. The one thing I couldn't get out of my head for all this time. Something I was able to think about even when there was a leak in the kitchen's sink or Jamie's knee was scratched or Hermione announced she was pregnant.'
A sharp breath was taken and Jamie couldn't tell if it was Dad bracing himself for the question the most important of his life or Draco for the answer.
'Did you mean it? Everything you said, when -- Did you really -- ?'
Draco didn't say anything and Jamie wondered what the thump thump he was hearing could be before he realised it was the sound of his own heart beating inside his head, and gosh, he hoped Draco's answer would be good enough, if only he could answer. How much time had passed since Dad had finished talking? Why wasn't Draco saying anything? Jamie had this irrational fear everything was about to crash down and he wished he hadn't come up here to eavesdrop on this conversation. He didn't know if he could handle it if things turned bad now.
But when Draco finally said something, Jamie realised that not five seconds had gone by. 'No. I didn't mean a thing -- I promise you -- what I said, what I said -- the most awful things...I wanted so much to make you go away. I was so certain it was the only solution to protect you. I'm so sorry and none of it was true, none of it made any sense for me. Of course I didn't -- You were the best thing that had ever happened to me. You're still -- well, there's Jamie now too, isn't there? I promise you, I...' Draco trailed off.
'All right,' Dad said -- and Jamie wasn't even entirely sure he said it and it wasn't his imagination, because his voice was so close to silence.
There was real silence for a few beats and Jamie could hear only his own breath loud and clear and he thought that maybe Dad and Draco could hear it too, but then there was a shuffling of feet on the other side of the door, and a ruffle of clothes and --
All right, Jamie was less than a specialist when kissing was concerned. Movies put aside, he'd never seen a kiss for real except from a few pecks on the lips from all of Dad's paired up friends and family, and he'd certainly never heard one before. But this -- the sounds that came from the corridor right now -- this was not wishful thinking. It was honest-to-god kissing and Jamie could have sworn it. Well, he couldn't really hear it anymore now that his head was filled with swelling violins, but he knew it.
Jamie smiled to himself, happy from a job well done, and went back to bed.
The next morning, when Jamie woke up, Dad and Draco were already in the hospital wing. They were sitting around his bed, one on each of his sides, Draco keeping himself occupied with a pile of essays and Dad with what looked like a crossword puzzle.
It was all highly suspicious.
Jamie looked very, very attentively. None of them wore the same outfit as the day before, their hair was not more or less rumpled than usual and nothing unusual marked their skin.
There definitely was something there, though. Something Jamie couldn't quite put his finger on, but something that was undeniably there, and that wasn't going away.
Jamie didn't have much more time to ponder it, as a loud click-click announced the arrival of Healer Fawcett at great speed. When he looked up to her, she seemed even more stern than ever, a deep frown wrinkling her forehead, and a few strands of hair escaping her bun the only thing spoiling her business-like appearance.
'I have received the results of yesterday's potion-tests. You'll be happy to know they are very conclusive.'
Jamie sat up in his bed. Draco put aside his quill and essays and Dad dropped his crossword in his coat pocket. They all watched Healer Fawcett in silence and she seemed almost surprised to have so much of their attention when she looked up from the official-looking parchment she was reading.
She cleared her throat and went on, 'The reason the curse didn't rob James of all his magic has been precisely determined and all other hypothetical causes clearly ruled out. It is you, Mr Potter,' she said, looking at Dad with a piercing gaze. 'It is quite simple, really. When your very high level of magical capacity was transmitted to your son, it was strong enough to overrule the power of the curse. The fact that you actually gave birth to him only enhanced this transmission, officially marking James with your magic, in a certain way. Thanks to this great magical power, which is so not only in quantity but also in quality, the curse was very effectively incapacitated.'
Jamie felt his dad's hand on his and turned to him. He was still listening to Healer Fawcett very attentively and smiling slightly. It was maybe ironic (Jamie wasn't really sure because this Alanis Morissette song had confused him a lot on this word's actual meaning) that after worrying so much and feeling so guilty about what happened to Jamie, his dad being his dad was what had saved him from being a Squib.
'This is basically why no problem had ever manifested with Jamie's magic before he went to Hogwarts. It is indeed my understanding that, prior to arriving here, James had had no contact with Professor Malfoy?' They all nodded and Healer Fawcett ticked something on her parchment. 'It seems then that, arriving in Professor Malfoy's proximity, the curse, which was only dormant, rejuvenated. It then started to fight with Mr Potter's magic, its closeness to the Malfoy bloodline not only making it stronger but also in some way "reminding" the curse of James's illegitimate status. You did say in early interrogations that your magic acted out the most in the Charms classroom.'
Jamie nodded, but she was obviously not waiting for an answer from him, because she was ready to go on when she was interrupted by Draco's question: 'So why was I able to reduce the curse's effects if being close to me made it stronger?'
'I'm coming to it, if you'd let me finish?' Healer Fawcett's tone was severe and Jamie wouldn't have liked being on the other end of the look she was giving Draco.
Jamie wondered briefly if her animosity maybe came from an unrequited love and if things would have been different for her had Dad and Draco never split up, but then she was going on with her explanation, so he needed to focus.
'Things changed, as far as the curse was concerned, when you started to get emotionally closer to your son, Professor Malfoy.' Jamie only realised now how she used Draco's title more as an insult that as a form of respect. 'When you started accepting James as your son, because you didn't make any difference out of his illegitimacy, the curse got -- how to put it? -- confused, and this, in addition to the Potter magic that was still there to fight it, made it gradually less potent and permitted the young Mr Potter to learn new spells without inconveniences.'
Yes, Jamie might have seen more romance than any other genre, but he'd seen mystery movies too, and Healer Fawcett's speech was totally reminding him of the detective or private investigator about to announce that the butler did it.
'The reason why it all came to a head a few days ago was in James's robe pocket. The Malfoy cufflinks you so generously offered him as a Christmas present caused the curse to absolutely go berserk, for lack of a better term. It was a clear and official sign of James's belonging to the Malfoy line while he was still illegitimate and the Potter magic was stronger than ever after James's renewed exposure to the original Potter magic during the break. James's magic core couldn't bear it anymore and it all exploded when he tried to cast his first spell.'
Healer Fawcett's tone was signalling the end of her speech. Jamie had found her very convincing and clear and interesting and if he had to mark it as an oral presentation he'd certainly go for the top mark, but there was still a question she hadn't answered, and which seemed quite crucial (at least from Jamie's point of view).
'How can we cure the curse, then?'
Healer Fawcett put her parchment down and sat on the nearest bed with a sigh. 'Well, unfortunately, the curse itself cannot be medically removed; it is much too attached to the magical core for that. Otherwise, apart from ending the Malfoy line -- which it seems you have regrettably ruled out,' (Draco scowled, but Jamie found Healer Fawcett's sincere hope they'd choose to kill off Draco quite funny) 'there is little else that can be done. The only solution I can see would be to come back to the situation as it was before your coming to Hogwarts, that is to say, being as far as Professor Malfoy as can be and stop any sort of contact with him.'
Jamie was absolutely, completely, utterly crestfallen. How could the solution to his magic problem be not seeing Draco ever again? How could it, when Draco being around seemed to be the solution to everything else.
It was the solution to Dad's loneliness and to Draco's loneliness -- and Jamie had seen the look they addressed each other when Healer Fawcett had announced the verdict and if there wasn't love in it, then Jamie agreed to become Hara-Kiri (he didn't know what it was exactly be he knew it was something very painful). He knew for sure they'd found each other again last night and there was no way they were going to get separated by something as stupid as their child's health. This would never have worked in a Sandra Bullock movie, that was for sure.
It was also the solution to this aching need Jamie always had without realising it to have a second parent, a need that was unbearably painful now that he'd had Draco for a while and that he'd have to give him up.
And really, it could have been the solution to Jamie's life, because everything could have been so much better with Dad and Draco and Jamie all together as a family. Nothing could have gone wrong and it would have been the happy ending to the movie, shortly followed by a happy montage on a happy music about everything they'd do together for the few years afterwards, showing their successes and their laughs and most of all, a great deal of love.
And so he was in his Hufflepuff dorm room packing his stuff all alone because the others were in class, and despite pleading and trying very, very hard not to cry so he could persuade his parents it was the worst idea ever, Dad and Draco had decided he was to leave Hogwarts. The decision was made because Jamie was the most important thing in his dad's life and Draco found it was the best time to become a sacrificial hero. As far as Jamie was concerned, it was a lot of rubbish.
Jamie would have to go to Beauxbâtons, and wouldn't he like it there? Victoire and Dominique were there already and everyone said French food was really good and certainly Jamie would like it. But Jamie hated it already, and if you asked him, he'd even say he had always hated France, with its moustaches and silly hats and bread and dogs and accordions, and really, people saying they liked France were either completely mental or the most lying liars ever.
And it was all very confusing because at the moment he wished he was a Squib, but if he'd been a Squib he'd never come to Hogwarts and he'd never met Draco and he'd had no reason to want to be a Squib. Life was very unfair, but it wasn't life's fault, really, it was mainly Lucius Malfoy's and Jamie hated him with all his guts and maybe he hated him more than he hated France and that was a feat, but then again, he'd heard the Malfoys were part French so it was all linked, really.
He wished Lucius Malfoy had never been born, that was what he wished -- except, except that without Lucius there was no Draco and the point of all of it was to have a Draco so no, he'd have to wish for something else. He wished Lucius had let Dad and Draco just be together, let them be in love, and have their happy ever after, where they'd get married and have a lot of children and --
When it struck his brain, Jamie's idea was so monumentally great that it almost hurt.
He dropped his Herbology textbook where it was and ran the fastest his legs could humanly run. He went through corridors, climbed up stairs and crossed intersections at breakneck speed and when he reached the hospital wing, his parents and Healer Fawcett were blissfully still there.
Dad and Draco were holding hands and talking quietly with their foreheads almost touching and when they looked up upon his arrival, Jamie could see the red around his dads' eyes. Even Healer Fawcett seemed a little disgruntled, but it was maybe more because Draco was staying than because Jamie was leaving.
'I know how else to lift the curse!' Jamie was too breathless to exclaim properly, but he hoped his EurÉka! feeling had been conveyed well enough. He went to sit next to his parents and said with the more Hercule Poirot-level of certainty he could muster: 'You just have to get married!'
But Jamie didn't get all the whoops and yays and elated hugs he'd hoped for. Dad just looked at him sadly and Draco put a comforting hand on his shoulder and said sombrely, 'Even if we did, Jamie, we still weren't married when you were born, you still would be illegitimate. Adoption doesn't work for purebloods.'
Jamie felt something crush inside of him, it was something very faint and it made his breath ragged but for only a short moment, and when it was over, Jamie felt so completely empty that he realised what had just happened, and it was the worst thing that could happen, really. He'd just lost his last thread of hope.
And looking into his parents' eyes, he could see how they'd lost theirs too. And at the same time, they'd never looked as close together as they did now. Dad was slightly leaning into Draco and his hand was closed around Draco's wrists, stroking it with soothing fingers. There were a lot of feelings in this little gesture and Jamie had never been witness to so much intimacy and sense of belonging, and just the idea that it would be torn apart shortly --
How could they let it happen? Dad had slain the darkest of dark wizards, hadn't he? Jamie had always believed there was nothing his dad couldn't do, but realising he'd been wrong now, on top of everything, just made him want to slip in one of the hospital wing's beds and never wake up.
'Wait -- '
It was Healer Fawcett who'd said that, breaking an intense silence that was smothering Jamie's insides. Jamie turned towards her instinctively but without much expectation.
'Of course a marriage wouldn't make Jamie suddenly not being born out of wedlock anymore, but -- ' She stopped abruptly and Jamie wanted to throttle her for not being more to the point, but at the same time there was this "but" and Jamie couldn't help but feel it was meant to imply there was something that could be done.
Jamie tried to keep his emotions in check though. As Draco had told him, false hope was the worst kind of hope.
Healer Fawcett went to look at some results parchments again, everybody in the room hanging on her every word but not really, because if she'd produced this little spark in them just to crush it again Jamie didn't know if they could stand it. When she gasped and her face contortioned itself in what seemed to be her version of a smile, Jamie's heart stopped.
'James's main problem is the competition inside his body between the Potter magic and the Malfoy curse, isn't it? It would need further justifications, but it seems that a very strong and deep magical bond between the Potter magic and Malfoy blood would keep them from trying to overcome the other. Some tests need to be run first of course, but it is my belief, that -- '
Healer Fawcett couldn't finish her sentence because Dad was now smothering her in a very fierce hug. Jamie knew this kind of hugs very well: it was the best ever.
There was a little emotional havoc when Dad felt he maybe shouldn't be so glad to rush into a life-long and somewhat unbreakable bond when the relationship had only just rekindled, and then promptly felt guilty for thinking it. And then Draco tried to convince himself Dad was only accepting the bond for Jamie's sake and that he'd trap Dad forever in a loveless marriage.
It was all resolved by Jamie taking them apart and knocking sense into them and things could take their rightful path.
Healer Fawcett was indeed true to her words and she first ran a few more magical tests on the three of them before concluding unequivocally that a bond between Dad and Draco would be enough to calm Jamie's intern magical turmoil.
Jamie tried to convince them to do a huge wedding ceremony where they could invite all their friends and eat delicious food and receive a lot of gifts but Dad and Draco categorically refused. It seemed they thought such an event would make the front page of the Daily Prophet and they weren't too comfortable with that.
Besides, Draco seemed a little too happy to remind him that he'd missed too many classes as it was and they needed the bonding to happen shortly so that his studies could take their regular pace back.
Jamie would have liked cakes and balloons better, but he didn't complain too much because each times their eyes found each other, Dad and Draco had this undiluted besotted expression on their faces and what could be better than that, really?
A very official-looking wizard came to the hospital wing to perform the wedding in the evening, and it was all a bit anticlimactic, but Teddy was there, and Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione and were there too, as well as Draco's mother (and when Jamie realised it was his grandmother it frightened him a little but he guessed marriage needed concessions, even on Jamie's part, so he made it okay), and they'd brought nicer wizard robes for Dad and Draco to wear and even if Uncle Ron's face was abnormally red for the whole ceremony, there was so much love irradiating from Dad and Draco that Jamie didn't mind it one bit.
Dad and Draco kissed at the end and Jamie thought maybe he should close his eyes and concentrate on the sounds so he could verify his theory on what they'd been doing the other night, but he couldn't detach his gaze from them. They totally deserved the inspirational music and the spinning of the camera around them and some Princess Bride reference, because Jamie was still not a specialist on the subject, but on a scale from one to ten, this kiss totally deserved a three-hundred-and-nine mark.
After that, things weren't sunshine and roses all the time.
Dad and Draco decided to wait a bit and do a bit more traditional dating before living together and even then it was logistically a little complicated with Draco living at Hogwarts and everything.
Jamie's magic problems didn't disappear all at once and he still had to go to practice sessions for a few months before being able to use it normally, but then there were the exams approaching so it was all a lot of stress.
At one point the papers found out about the whole story too and there was a whirlwind of owls and botched interview attempts from overzealous journalists and Draco actually almost maimed one and it was all very distressing for Dad, who seemed to really, really hate journalists.
But in the end none of the bad things really made any mark in Jamie's memories, because the story might not close with "Jamie was a very normal twelve-year old boy", and Jamie still wasn't really the main character, but there totally was a happy ever after, and that was what really counted, first and foremost.
Epilogue: Nineteen years later
'Don't worry, they'll love you,' Jamie said confidently while searching for the door key in his jeans pocket. He emptied them of the Elongated Ears he still carried everywhere, and when he turned back to Daisy, she didn't seem too reassured by his statement. 'Draco can be a little frightening at first, I'll give you that, but once he'll realise how much I care about you, it'll go like a dream.' Jamie pulled a tangled wool ball from his pocket and went on, 'And Dad might be Harry Potter, Vanquisher of Voldemort and all that jazz, but he's truly the less scary man I know -- he's more of a serial hugger than anything, really.' Jamie marked a short pause so that he could Vanish the two broken quills he'd just found. 'Well, he's a little scarier when Draco forgets to close the freezer or to empty the bathtub, but I don't think you'd do that, right?'
He turned to her and she was nodding slightly, her face still a little pale, and her arms full of Jamie's rubbish. 'It's just -- They love you so much and I know how they made Dahlia Abercrombie cry back in fifth year -- '
'In their defence,' Jamie cut in, 'Dahlia really was a stuck-up bitch who was only interested in me because she thought she'd get better Charms grades. I highly doubt that's your motivation,' he finished with a smile.
He leaned down to kiss her and she did this thing with her tongue and the roof of his mouth, and when they separated again, he was a little dazed and only noticed belatedly that he was the one now holding all the contents of his jeans pockets. She smiled sweetly at him and reached for his jacket's breast pocket.
'No, that's definitely not what I want of you,' she said, holding the door key in front of his face. 'I do think it's more you who needs me than the contrary, don't you?'
Jamie agreed with a wide grin and a last peck on her lips and promptly put everything back in his jeans, eliciting an eye-roll from Daisy. He opened the door at last and was greeted by the very disturbing thought of Gosh, that's a lot of skin.
He stayed rooted to the spot for interminable seconds, watching his parents grunting and moaning and sweating and being way too naked and too energetic for their age, and it seemed a little too enthusiastic for what the couch could bear, too.
While Jamie was getting scarred for life, he could only be thankful that Daisy was behind him and that she could maybe escape the atrocity of seeing his parents having sex. It was her poking him in the back that made him fully react and he realised just how much she was right when she said he needed her to live.
'DAD! DRACO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?' he bellowed, provoking an instant halt to what was happening in his childhood's living room. His parents both turned to him with what he deemed were not mortified enough expressions and scrambled for their clothes with very annoying knowing glances and smiles towards each other. 'Daisy is here! Hell, I'm here! What were you thinking?!'
'We weren't thinking, really,' Dad said while pulling his trousers up. 'We were really happy you were visiting us, and we got to remember how it was thanks to you we got married and -- '
He shut himself up, a blush blooming on his cheeks and Draco took over his lazy justifications with a drawl, 'I do remember a time when spying on us was your speciality.'
Jamie knew he was turning quite red himself and he gripped Daisy's hand, hoping for a little physical comfort in the face of adversity. 'I certainly wasn't spying on this kind of activities! I was twelve, for god's sake's!'
Dad coughed something like hospital wing door very loudly and very unsubtly while tying his shoes.
'I thought you were kissing!' Jamie burst out, absolutely not amused by his parents' gleeful looks. 'And I didn't even stay that long! How could I have -- Well, just drop it! You were the ones perverted enough to do it in a public corridor. In a school! Where children lived!'
But Dad and Draco were obviously doing their best not to giggle like school-girls and Jamie let it go. It seemed that after almost twenty years, his parents still weren't done with their exhibitionist streak.
'So, Daisy,' Draco said, holding his hand to her as if they hadn't just been witness to where in Dad this hand had just been. He seemed to rethink it quickly enough and cast a wide Scourgify on the whole living room area (Dad included). He then went on with a smile, 'I hear from Teddy you and Jamie have been together for a few months, now. I remember you from Hogwarts, though. Ravenclaw, right?'
Daisy nodded and they all sat down and tea was served (and only a little was spilled) and the rest of the conversation was rather pleasant, actually. Jamie's parents seemed to have no objection whatsoever towards Daisy, which made her relax considerably, and she showed them exactly how she was the perfect girl for Jamie, the one he fell in love with so desperately, and from the little glint in his dad's eyes, Jamie could tell that maybe they were falling in love with her a little too.
Everything was absolutely perfect and Jamie was the happiest he could ever be, with his favourite people in the whole world all gathered together in the same place.
And then Daisy and he announced that they were getting married and things went crazy. Draco asked Daisy whether she was pregnant and then proceeded to interrogate her on every dead or living member of her family who could have been liable to cast any sort of curse on anyone, while Dad was positively suffocating Jamie in a hug before he started to cough a little himself and it turned out Dad was actually choking on a peanut, but Daisy managed to escape Draco's hysterics and saved the day by using the Heimlich manoeuvre on Dad, and --
Well, Jamie suddenly thought very clearly through all the crying and thanking and hugging and relieved nonsense that was happening: he would never be normal, and his family would certainly never be either, but it was all better than fine, actually, because Jamie had never heard that happy was the same as normal, after all.
And Jamie was a very happy thirty-one year old man.
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