Title: Twelfth Night, or Harry Potter Is A No-Good Tosser
Pairing(s) Harry/Draco, OC
Summary: There is only one thing a 13-year-old can do to protect his father, and that's to sneak, snoop, and bury my nose into things where it most certainly does not belong. But Harry Potter is up to no good, and with my father's probation almost at an end, I have to make sure Mr Potter doesn't ruin it. It would help if my dad would stop giving me so many chores, though.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: First Person POV, Original Character
Epilogue Compliant? Hayden's read the Epilogue and does not approve.
World Count: 8,300
Author's Notes: I took several of your prompts, penguin474, and melded them into something different. I hope the emphasis on plot and character focus makes up for it and you can forgive me. Thank you to all my betas for all your fantastic help! Hugs to all!
My father is a good man, no matter what the history books say. Since the day I was born, my father has always protected me and loved me, and that is more than I can say about pretty much anyone else in the wizarding world, including my mother.
I'm a war baby, a child born a year after the death of Voldemort. There are a lot of us, for various reasons. We were acts of celebration, proofs of triumph, and last gasps of desperation from those who had nothing else. You can imagine which category I fit in.
My father knew my mother for exactly three days before she became pregnant. It was a chance meeting between two previous socialites who had been shamed out of their social scene; my father because he allowed Death Eaters into Hogwarts, and my mother because her father was found guilty of funneling money to Voldemort. They were a distraction for each other, one that didn't last very long.
I overheard my mother, in the midst of one of their many arguments, claim that my father refused to believe that I was his, at first.
I don’t blame him. Perhaps I can say that because my father has claimed me publicly in so many other ways - that a few months of doubt before I was even born seem insignificant.
But once my father recognized that he was to have a son, everything changed for him, or at least that’s what he says.
To me, I think everything changed that fateful day at Ollivander's.
My father was always the type of man that would love his son. That's the Malfoy way. Sons are precious heirs, bred to be pillars of the pureblood community. They are a father’s pride, a tiny child to mold into greatness. They are reflections of their father, their father’s father, and all the generations of Malfoy men that had come before. They are tools as much as they are objects to be paraded, a feather in a father’s cap, so to speak.
But once Ollivander confirmed what my family had feared for years when I failed to manifest any signs of magic, my father became the type of man who loves his Squib son.
And to me, that distinction changed the world.
My father and I moved to the Muggle world when I was eight.
"Hayden, I need your help with these boxes!"
That’s my father, the notorious Draco Malfoy, as he claims. When I was very little, my father would spit out the word notorious before his name like it was a piece of gristle stuck between his teeth. I had no idea what the word meant, but I could sense it meant something bad. I was confused as to why my father used such a word to describe himself, and when I heard him say it, I would curl behind his legs and pull at his trousers to get him to stop.
"I know you’re your awake, Hayden. If you were asleep there'd be strange roar-like snores coming from your bedroom."
It was worse when we visited my grandfather and grandmother. My grandfather would curl his lip until it reached his nose when my father said it, and my grandmother’s eyes would fill with tears. My father would grab my grandmother’s hand, squeezing it in sympathy, until my mother gave an annoyed sigh and he let go.
My mother called my grandmother ‘weak,’ and that was the last time she came with us to my grandparents’ house.
"Come on, Hayden, move your lazy bum. I let you sleep in long enough."
As the years ran by, the word became softer, said with a flippant air and a flick of the hair until both of us fell into giggles. It was such a funny word, and hard to say, notorious. It sounded like a foreign language, or perhaps something a fine lady would say while drinking tea in tiny china cups. I didn't learn the word’s definition until I was much older, and by then my father had stopped saying it altogether.
"Well since you aren’t there, I might as well take all those striped boxers you begged me to buy you and hang them on the oak trees out front instead of the ribbons. I’m sure all the girls on the street would love to see your pants flying in the wind."
I fly from my bedroom and into the hallway, my hands waving in front of me, my yellow-socked feet slipping on the hardwood floor. Had I not steadied myself on the wood banister I might have knocked over my father, who is currently balancing on the shaky pull-down steps that leads to our dusty attic. He gives me an aggravated sigh and hands me a box.
That’s me, Hayden Malfoy, currently thirteen years old and definitely not looking forward to the work my father has planned for us.
"Place this one on the floor gently. The glass candelabra are in there."
I take the box with my large clumsy hands and slowly walk down the hallway toward the stairs.
"Take your socks off or you’ll slip on a step and break your neck!"
I skid to a stop, but the weight of the box is too much. I trip forward, the box precariously rocking in my arms. In order to save the box from a large, dangerous drop to the floor, I throw all my strength into my feet in order to move backward. I overcompensate and fall bum-first onto the hardwood floor.
After regaining my breath, I open my eyes to see my father hovering over me with a smirk on his face. He reaches down, swipes my socks from my feet, and pats my head.
"Valiant effort," he snorts and then returns to his rickety steps. I huff a strand of hair out of my face and curse my gangly body for not doing what I want it to do.
My father and I have been living in the Muggle world for five years.
After the incident at Ollivander’s my mother wanted to send me off, like a broken toy, to an Orphanage for Squibs, and try again for a real son. My grandfather agreed with her, and my grandmother stood by her husband. It was only my father who disagreed. Against the wishes of his wife and his parents, my father moved me to the one place where I wouldn’t be a failure or a dud, and that was the Muggle world.
Our house is small, perfect for two people. It wasn’t until we moved into this cottage that I realized how much I hated my old house. This home is cozy, warm, friendly, with soft colors and light wood. My old house was too big, with many empty rooms and scary paintings that scoffed at my appearance and taunted me for being a Squib. It was an exact replica of my grandparents’ house, and both sent shivers down my spine.
In our cottage there are three bedrooms upstairs, the largest room for my father and his big dressers that smell like cedar, the second-biggest for me, which I decorated myself with posters of all the best cyclists, including Lance Armstrong, and a guest room that is used mostly for storage.
Downstairs is a large kitchen with a windowbox full of herbs over the sink and a variety of cereals in plastic containers on the counter. I’m a Frosties man, but my father likes the Cornflakes, and on Sundays we both like the ones with raisins, so it’s imperative that all three are available for easy access.
The dining room is small, but it’s right off the kitchen so I don’t have to go far when setting the table. The china cabinet is completely off limits and filled with dishes and knick-knacks mailed to us by my grandmother. We haven’t seen her since we moved here, but my father says this is her way of reaching out.
The living room has a large fireplace that my father always keeps lit, even in the summer, which is just one of the wizarding habits he can’t break. There are a few of those, like keeping his wand with him at all times, even though he doesn’t use it. He used to keep it up his sleeve, but now he just jams it into his back pocket or behind his ear, and if we go out he shrinks it and wraps it around his wrist like a bracelet. He thought it looked girly, but I reminded him that Lance Armstrong wears bracelets, albeit yellow rubber ones, which I wear as well, not because my favorite cyclist wears them, but because yellow is my favorite color. And yes, I realize Lance Armstrong is a bloody Yank, but he's a damn-good cyclist, pardon my language. And when my mates give me shit about it, I just yell back, “You win seven Tour de France with one testicle, then!”
I place the box down next to the others in the living room and wipe my brow. All the work has made me thirsty and I make a mad dash to the kitchen for some orange juice.
"You can’t possibly think you’re done?" My father shouts from the top of the stairs.
I roll my eyes and put the orange juice back in the fridge. Sometimes I think my father uses his magic to figure out what I’m thinking.
But I know he doesn’t. Even though It’s perfectly legal for my father to do magic in his own home, he doesn’t, unless it’s necessary.
I bound up the stairs two at a time, making as much noise as possible. My father dumps another box in my arms before I can get a word in and kicks me back toward the stairs. This one smells like salt and brine. It must be the seaweed.
"Put that box near the front door. I want to do the outside decorations first."
"Yeah, yeah," I mutter, adjusting the weight of the box to rest on my right arm rather than my left.
Most Muggles have their decorations down by the sixth of January, lest some evil witch or wizard comes to curse them with bad luck, but in the Malfoy home we do the exact opposite.
You see, the Muggles have it all wrong, for Twelfth Night has nothing to do with exaggerated punishments for lazy Muggle decorators, and rather is a celebration of the ending of the twelve day Grindylow Infestation of 1212. There is caroling and children playing with their new brooms outside their homes, and plenty of scrumptious desserts and cookies suspiciously shaped like green underwater creatures.
Considering Christmas was similar to what we were used to back in Wiltshire, we were quite surprised to find ourselves the only ones in our street with ribbons on our trees and grindylow-like scarecrows on our front lawn. But my father and I enjoy the celebration and it proves to be a great talking point with our neighbors, so it stuck.
And for me, well I love bragging to my friends that my house is the best-looking one in the street, although, it really doesn’t get me very far.
I drop the holly and mistletoe near the door and clamber up the steps once more, laughing at my father, who unknowingly sports spiderwebs in his hair.
I smile and bounce the box on my hip.
"Afterward, you should get dressed. As I said, I want us to do the outside decorations first."
Groaning, I take my time heading downstairs, poking my head around the boxes already on the floor and attempt to calculate in my head how many hours it will take to put everything up. Too long is the final answer and my stomach is growling.
"Dad, what about breakfast? A boy’s got to eat!" I yell up the stairs, not waiting for my father’s answer before I take down a big red plastic bowl from the shelf.
"Make it quick. And don’t touch my Cornflakes."
I have no desire to touch his Cornflakes, but I move the plastic container and hide it behind the toaster, just to mess with his head. I reach into the fridge to pull out the milk and there is a note attached.
Buy more milk
Indeed the milk bottle is almost empty, so I pour out the last of it and shake it a little over my bowl until I get every last drop. I then place the bottle back in the fridge.
"Did you just place an empty milk bottle in the fridge?"
I jump, not expecting my father to be downstairs so fast. He pokes me in the shoulder and lifts his eyebrow. I lift mine back to say, ‘I can do that too, you know.’
"You put a note on it. I figured this is the place where you’d see it."
My father laughs and pulls the Cornflake container out from behind the toaster without missing a beat. How did he find it so quickly?
"I had meant to put the note in my pocket, but I left it on the bottle. We’re both hopeless."
I nod and jam a spoonful of Frosties in my mouth. I moan in appreciation.
My father shoos me into the dining room and forces me to sit down. He grabs two mugs, filling mine with orange juice and his with black coffee.
After a few minutes, I realize my father has yet to take a sip of his drink. Instead, he continues to run his hands over the warm sides and stares into the black substance as if it’s telling him something.
"Did they teach you at Hogwarts how to see the future in the ripples of black coffee?"
"Tea leaves, actually," my father replies, sighing before finally taking a sip of his drink. "I have something to tell you and I’m not sure how you are going to take it."
I drop my spoon. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my father so serious.
"I’ve invited someone to spend Twelfth Night with us. I hope you don’t mind."
My stomach drops. I had thought much worse, thought perhaps my father had decided to take me back to the Wizarding world. Having a guest over wasn’t so bad, except I don’t really feel comfortable with someone else in the house for our celebration.
"Anyone I know?"
I run a list of possible visitors through my head and can’t come up with anyone who would want to spend Twelfth Night with us. My mother hasn’t written us for five years and my grandparents would never willingly come into a Muggle neighborhood.
"No, I don’t believe you know him, but you may have heard his name back when we lived in Wiltshire."
Oh, so he was magical. My palms itch and my heart speeds up. I don’t feel comfortable around magical people, especially ones I don’t know.
"Why is he staying with us?"
My father pauses, biting his lip. He opens his mouth and then closes it again.
My usually eloquent father seems to be at a loss for words. I fiddle with my spoon and wait for his answer. My father is very open with me, most of the time, but when we venture into his past or into anything magical, my father clams up faster than an actual clam. I remember the wizarding world and how it treated my father. I remember being called names and turned away from shops. My father has told me the basics of what happened, what he did, but I still don’t quite grasp it all and I know he’s left a lot of details out.
"Well, you know I’ve been on probation since the war?"
My feet begin to bounce on the floor.
"I went to the Ministry of Magic a few months ago to meet with my probation officer to sign all the necessary paperwork. We’ve been spending a bit of time together on my case and…" My father stops and looks away before starting again. "We've known each other for a while, he's been my probation officer since we moved here, and he's heard me prattling on about our Twelfth Night celebrations year after year…"
My eyes grow wide, putting two and two together. "You invited your probation officer? Isn’t he an Auror?"
Flashes of men with red robes raiding our home unannounced fly through my mind. The Aurors came often when I was little. I was always so frightened as they yelled at my father, threatened to take him away, and broke everything.
My father’s probation stipulates that Aurors can come at any time to ransack through his home. They also have the right to haul my father off to the Ministry for questioning whenever there are suspicions of wrong-doing or, in other words, whenever the mood strikes. When my father moved us to the Muggle world the searches had stopped, but my father’s probation status felt like a constant reminder that while the Aurors had left us alone, for now, it didn’t mean they always would.
"Well, yes, but he has some time off. He seemed very intrigued by our Twelfth Night traditions."
I shove my bowl away from me. "It doesn’t mean you invite an Auror into our home."
I emphasize the word home by jamming my finger into the table. I’ve learned from watching cop shows on the telly that the gesture shows you mean business. "What if he sees something that he doesn’t like? What if finds something here and uses it against you and keeps you on probation?"
My father shakes his head, a strange smile on his lips. He reaches out to grab my hand but I don’t want to be comforted, I want my father to see how foolhardy this all is.
"I told you already we’ve been working on ending my probation. The paperwork has already been filed. Come tonight, I will be a free man."
My father laughs. "So Twelfth Night this year will be extra special. We’ll celebrate both the end of Christmas and the end of my Probation. Sound good?"
"I guess so," I grumble into my cereal. Suddenly the sugar-coated cereal doesn’t seem so tasty.
My father slurps the rest of his coffee down and goes to put the empty mug in the sink. He comes back around to gather my dishes as well. "Finished? Or do you plan on poking at your cereal for the rest of the morning?"
I hand him the bowl but keep the orange juice. "So what’s the name of your probation officer? What’s this guy like? Is he fat and bloated with a large mustache? Thin and sallow with sunken-in cheeks and ratty teeth?"
My father laughs and pours my mushy cereal down the drain.
"His name is Harry Potter and he’s a four-eyed git." My father replies, and laughs even more. I don’t get the joke, but if the guy can make my father laugh this hard, I guess I can stand to have him stay for a while.
Mr Potter is not what I expected.
"So, er, you're an Auror?"
The burly man grunts as he throws his suitcase into the now furnished guest room.
Mr Potter is large, not in height, but in width. He's not fat, just bulky, full of muscle and gruffness, an ogre of a man compared to us pin-thin Malfoys. He looks like a bull in a china shop in our small cottage, constantly bumping into the walls and almost knocking over the ceramic bowl I made in art class. His figure takes up most of the guest room, barely squeezing through the space between the bureau and the bed.
He's not exactly a "four-eyed git" like my father said. He does wear glasses, but the frames are thick, sleek and black, and Mr Potter wears them like a war mask. When my father had first mentioned the phrase I imagined Mr Potter to be some stuck-up nerd with taped up specs and a pocket protector to shield his shirt from leaking pens, but this man doesn't seem the type to care much about a stray stains or the ability to make a quick mathematical calculation.
He's wearing a black robe, loose and long. It's been years since I've seen something like that, and never in this house, my father trading his own fashionable robes for more casual wool cardigans and twill trousers. Mr Potter's robe has no shape other than billowy and over Mr Potter's wide shoulders it looks like a cape, the kind that comic super villains wear.
"Is that the Auror uniform? It's different from what I remember."
Mr Potter drags off his robe and throws it on the bed. "I don't really like wearing the uniform," he replies, his voice muffled by the jumper that has ridden up over his chin.
"He speaks!" I say, thinking it a funny joke, but Mr Potter doesn't laugh. He just pulls down his jumper and stares at me until my giggles turn to nervous laughter.
Mr Potter continues to just stand there, beside the bed, twirling his wand. Robes, wands, all these magical objects are making me nervous.
My socks are loose on my feet and I toe the extra material, flipping it back and forth.
"Where’s the loo?"
"What?" I reply, thrown by Mr Potter's sudden question. "Oh, um, down the hall. Third door from the left."
Mr Potter grunts again and heads toward the loo. I watch him walk down the hallway, and I find his shuffled stomping distracting. His trainers are dirty and his wrinkled vest is sticking out in the back of his jumper.
Adults these days.
After that thrilling conversation, my mind starts to wander, and I wonder if Mr Potter wears a badge like the cops do on television. I don't remember any badges on the Aurors when I was little, but that was a long time ago and perhaps times have changed.
Taking a last look down the hallway, I creep into the room and poke at Mr Potter’s luggage. It opens, and I take that as a sign from above to continue. I poke some more, swishing around the balled up socks and wrinkled T-shirts. My father would have a snit if I packed a suitcase like this guy did. I should tell him about the dirty mess, if my father could miraculously overlook the fact I was snooping.
Underneath a stack of large blue boxer shorts I hit the jackpot. I curl my lips, trying not to think of the state of Mr. Potter's pants, and peal back the shorts to reveal a manila folder with paperclips attached.
I pause, looking behind me again, before I lift the folder out of the suitcase. I bet this is a case file, full of criminal acts and bad guys. My hands itch to open it and I'm not very good at controlling my impulses.
My hands shake as I peel open the folder. I do have a sliver of a conscience. There is a voice running through my head, one that sounds suspiciously like my father, that says what I'm doing is wrong. But my hand is already opening the folder. Can't stop it now.
My father's picture flashes before me. He's frowning, wrists in shackles. He looks so young, so angry. His skin is pale and slightly green and his eyes are red, but he still manages to sneer at the camera. The robe he's wearing is simple and black but it looks two sizes too big for him. My father's thin now, but in this picture, he looks like he's about to break in two. Seeing that picture I regret instantly what I am doing, and my stomach is churning, but I can't stop. I can't close the folder.
Mr Potter is also in the picture, although he looks really different. He's standing beside my father, his hand on his shoulder. He's less bulky, scrawny actually, and he's blinking ridiculously underneath the flash of the cameras. His glasses are more like the nerd-specs I had imagined, but Harry still wears them like a weapon, and less like a tool to help him see.
I turn over the picture quickly. I don't want to see Mr Potter or my father like this. This is not who my father is anymore.
The next page in the file looks more promising. It's a piece of parchment with an official seal on the bottom. It's an order for Mr Potter, to begin an investigation on my father for use of Magic in front of Muggles.
On the bottom of the letter, in a big black font, it states:
If found that one Draco Lucius Malfoy, hereby referred to as the suspect, is using Magic in front of non-magical folk, hereby referred to as Muggles, and as such breaking the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy, Harry Potter, Head Auror of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, with full rights hereby given by the Wizengamot court, may arrest said suspect, Draco Lucius Malfoy forthwith for being in breach of his probation at this time, keeping in full standing of the law of this land.
A door slams and then I hear heavy shuffling in the hallway. I throw the folder back into Mr Potter's suitcase and flee downstairs, slipping on the hardwood floor again and banging into Mr Potter. He tries to help me up, but I can't face him.
I run down the stairs, shaking the pictures on wall and the seashell lined ribbon wrapped around the banister. My heart is beating out of my chest and I'm having trouble breathing. I stop when I reach the kitchen and take a moment to catch my breath. My father takes one look at me and shakes his head.
"Go back upstairs and take a shower. You’re sweating like a pig and you probably smell. I won't have a smelly teenager in front of company."
I grip the door jam and open my mouth to spill everything to my dad, to warn him, when Mr Potter shuffles behind me, poking his head into the kitchen.
"Smells good. When do we eat?" he says, as if he's not here to arrest my father. I narrow my eyes. My father catches me and frowns.
"Not for a few minutes. I was just suggesting to my son that perhaps he should wash off all that teenage smell."
Mr Potter laughs and my father smiles, a bit shyly, his cheeks turning red. How could he smile like that when this man is about to take everything away from him?
"Take a shower, Hayden."
My father isn't even looking at me. I'm tempted to blurt out what I saw, but I keep my mouth shut. The document said "if" my father does any magic, and I know my father won't. I just have to keep an eye on Harry and make sure he doesn't do something fishy like framing my father.
I run up the stairs, taking two at a time, determined to protect my father from the beefy idiot who has invaded our home.
My favorite dinner of the whole year is a total disaster. The roast turkey my father had prepared to perfection tastes like sawdust in my mouth, and the scrumptious mashed potatoes I piled onto my plate still tower over my picked-at meal, threatening to topple over at any moment.
The only saving grace is Mr Potter’s obvious love for my father’s cooking, as he has yet to utter a word since his plate was put in front of him. It’s like watching a competitive eater, his fork-strokes from plate to mouth are continuous and at a record speed.
Would I be rude to ask Mr Potter if he’s earned any medals?
Mid-bite, Mr Potter’s blissful silence ends. “You’re a fantastic cook.”
My father blushes, again, and tucks his hair behind his ear. “Thank you, Harry. Although I would have preferred you compliment me after you finished eating.”
Mr Potter stares at my father blankly. The man’s as thick as a slab of concrete.
“He means don’t talk with your mouth full,” I helpfully explain.
Mr Potter looks vaguely contrite, although it’s hard to picture the man thinking anything beyond, “food, sleep, angry.” He’s like a caveman with all the black hair on his arms and his thick eyebrows.
My father kicks me in the shins and gives me a look that threatens to turn into a lecture if I don’t keep quiet. I sigh and stab a piece of carrot with my fork, imagining it to be Mr Potter’s arm.
Finally fed up with this farce of a dinner I place my napkin on the table and settle my fork on the edge of my plate. I’m about to start interrogating Mr Potter when my father interrupts me with ridiculous small talk.
“So, Harry, what do you think of our decorations?”
Mr Potter, still chewing loudly on a piece of bread, takes a look around the room. The dining room has been turned into an underwater winter wonderland. My father trimmed the ceiling with white lights and hung seaweed from the top of the bay window. The china cabinet is covered in paper Grindylows my father and I made the first year in our cottage, and the dining room table has a beautiful underwater centerpiece we bought from Harrods last year. While he was decorating the dining room, my father had sent me outside, in the cold, to tie all the red and gold ribbons to the tree and stake the Grindylows. I had been quite annoyed to be standing in the cold while my father enjoyed the cozy warmth inside.
“You sure you didn’t use any magic?” Mr Potter replies, a breadcrumb flying from his mouth.
I shoot up, my ninja-like reflexes failing me as I knock into the table, banging my knees and shaking the gold china plates and the fancy gravy boat my grandmother sent us for Christmas. My mind explodes into worry and I blurt out the first thing that comes to me.
“No!” I yell, “I did it! I did the decorations and I can’t do magic, see?”
I pick up my fork and wave it around madly, exaggerating the movements I’ve seen my father make, a strange manic laugh falling from my lips.
“I wouldn’t even know how! I’m a Squib. A very smart Squib, but a Squib no less.”
I must look like a daft drunkard, but my body worked faster than my mind and right now seems as good a time as any to bring up the whole Mr Potter’s here to arrest you issue.
“So, no magic here, none whatsoever. No sticking charms, no fairy lights, not even a house-elf to do the cooking. Just me and my dad, living like Muggles with absolutely no magic anywhere in sight. None for miles even! It’s just tape and twine and paper cut out with scissors. The Muggles don’t even realize we're celebrating a magical holiday, they just think we’re daft!”
Mistakenly, I look over at Mr Potter, whose mouth has gone slack-jawed. It only fuels my lunatic raging, leading me off topic and far off the point.
“My father's a good man, see? He knows I can't do magic, but he never makes me feel like I'm missing out. It's been so long since I've seen anything magical, even from him, that sometimes I forget it exists! He does everything the Muggle way, and even though he's never said, I know he does it on purpose, to make me feel comfortable. Do you know he rides a bicycle everywhere? And he purchases copies of my school books and reads them all before the start of the year so he can help me with my homework.”
I dare not look at my father. He thinks I don't know he's got copies of my maths and history books underneath his bed.
“But the point is my father doesn't do any magic. So you can leave now. You've done your duty, checked up on us, and we're fine. I'm sure you have spies all over the neighborhood and I'm sure they'd tell you the same thing. Leave my father and me alone. We don't want you here, you ill-mannered Neanderthal!”
The table grows silent. I can practically hear my own sweat burst from my face. My father is frowning again, deep lines etching on his forehead and around his mouth. He throws his napkin onto the table, a dramatic gesture I’ve learned to fear quite a bit, and stands up, much more gracefully than me.
While my speech certainly could have been better, Mr Potter is in for a real treat. When my father gets angry he's a scary sight to behold, and while I wandered a bit, the point was clearly stated. There is no way my father will allow Mr Potter to stay with us any longer.
“Hayden Draconis Malfoy, what in God’s name are you prattling on about? Are you making a scene on purpose?”
I open my mouth wide. I'm in shock, I really am. My tongue wags in my mouth, but I can't get it to move properly. I'm ready to spill everything, own up to the fact that I snooped around Mr Potter’s dirty underwear and smelly socks and found a very incriminating piece of evidence that proves that Mr Potter is up to no good, and not actually here to visit my father, but the tosser has the audacity to lay his hands on my father’s shoulders and smile at me as if I’m a poor simpleton child who can’t save his father from his inevitable fate.
“It’s all right, Draco. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy.”
Easy? My father knew he was going to be arrested and instead of ranting and raving, like I would expect him to do, he invites the stupid sod to dinner and yells at me for wanting him to leave!
My father sighs and places his hand on top of Mr Potter’s. I can feel my organs turn in my belly.
“Hayden,” my father rubs the space between his eyes and his nose while Mr Potter rubs his shoulders, “do you wish to ruin this dinner? Do you hate having company so much that you would sabotage this night?”
“But… but…” I sputter, my mind is not able to comprehend what my father is saying. I want to argue, shake my father until he sees reason, but the sudden closeness between my father and Mr Potter is sending my thoughts whirling.
Mr Potter reaches down and grabs my father's hand, linking his chubby, greasy fingers with my father's long and tapered ones.
I completely lose it. I'm usually more calm and collected, cool as a cucumber with a rogue smirk that comes out once in a while, but right now it feels like everything has been pulled back taut and then let loose, like a springboard. I'm furious, confused, worried, fearful, and a whole lot of other emotions I'm not even sure how to label.
But the worst is seeing my father touch someone else, someone who isn’t me, willingly. I've never seen my father affectionate with anyone else, besides the cordial cheek kiss he gives my grandmother when we go to visit, and it hits me right in the gut.
My face must have shown my agony because my father lets go of Mr Potter's hand immediately and reaches out for mine, but before he can touch me, I'm off, running towards the stairs to hide in my room.
I trip over a side table, sending a kelp wreath flying to the floor. My cheeks feel hot and my eyes are suspiciously wet, so I'm having trouble seeing where I'm going. I hear my father shout my name, but I ignore it.
I reach the stairs and make my way up, slipping and sliding the whole way, my yellow-socked feet finding even less grip than usual on the recently polished wood. I make it all the way to the top, even with the slips of the ankle, and I think I'm in the clear. My body lurches towards the bedroom, but my socks, my damned too big, now dirty yellow socks have caught on a stray nail at the top of the stairs.
I can feel my body falling back, but I'm willing myself to go forward with my mind. I pinwheel, and roll my eyes, hating every second this delays me from running into my room and slamming my door. I'm frustrated and tired and I need some time to myself.
But fate has something else in store for me, as my usual flailing is not working and gravity has finally come to collect on all those near misses. I reach out to grab hold of the banister, as a last ditch effort, but my hand catches on a sharp piece of seashell and I let go: a mistake that costs me dearly.
I'm falling backwards, with no hope of stopping, my center of gravity shifting to my head. My back hits a step and it hurts like hell.
And then, before my back connects with the next step, I'm floating. My mind, still anticipating the next hit, shuts down completely when what was expected does not happen. I'm either saved or dead, and I'm placing my bets on dead. I throw an arm over my eyes, horribly embarrassed to have died falling down the stairs. Not much cachet in death by socks.
“Petrificus Totalus, Locomotor.”
From the sound and feel of the spells I'm guessing I'm not dead.
My body is frozen and then carried down the stairs. I can feel what's going on around me, but I can't move my head to look around. I feel the magic, circling my body in waves. While Squibs can't do magic, we aren't considered Muggles because we can still feel magic. We know, instinctively, that it exists and yet we can't perform it ourselves. We contain a magical core, it's just completely empty, like a wooden bowl without the decorative plastic fruit. Seems rather pointless.
I'm dropped to the ground. My arm is still over my eyes, so I can't see anything. I can hear voices, but underneath the spell they seem hazy, their timbre obscured.
“Is he all right?”
I can't tell if the voice belongs to my father, as it currently sounds like a regretful house-elf begging to iron his ears with an added hiss of a bike tire running out of air. My brain throbs, my back aches.
“A little banged up, but nothing serious. Tergeo, Episkey, Reparo”
My socks are mending. I can feel the material underneath my toes re-stitch itself. My back aches less, though not by much, but my headache remains.
“Damned socks. I'm stealing them all from his drawers and banishing them to Antarctica.”
There’s laughter and then a sigh. “Have you ever smelled a teenager's shoes after they've spent a day in them without socks?”
I'm a thirteen-year-old boy, of course I know what that smells like. My best friend Brian wore the same flip-flops during the entire summer. Come August, I could recognize Brian from his foot odor alone.
“I don't care. He's lucky you were here, or else…”
By this point, my headache has begun to clear, and with it the voices start to make sense. Had I thought logically I would have realized towering above me were my father and Mr Potter, but it is hard to think logically after a brush with certain peril and death. I want to yell out that I'm okay, a bit scared, but generally all right, but I can't move, can't speak.
“He's more lucky to have you as his father.”
It's true. I love my father. I wouldn't be where I am, or who I am, without him. I try to yell it out, but the magic around me is too strong.
I hear a muffled sob. “But, he was so angry at us. Did you see his face? I don't think I can do this.”
I hear shuffling and a few muttered shhs.
“Draco, did you actually listen to his babbling? He wasn't upset about us, not really. In fact, I don't think he quite caught on until the very end. He was upset about that stupid letter in my suitcase, the one he found in your case file.”
Finally, someone understands what I have been trying to say, and I'm quite surprised to hear it from Mr Potter. Perhaps he was hiding a brain underneath that unruly mop of black hair atop his head.
“We both know it’s a formality, Ministry red tape that ends the moment we release your probation, but he doesn't know that.”
There is a silence. Every muscle in my body loosens as relief floods through my body. So he's not here to arrest my father. I thank every god and goddess I can think of that I know, and some made-up ones, and promise them all my left kidney if they ever need it.
“He was worried about me.”
There's a sound I don't recognize. It's soft, and a bit wet. After it happens a few times I figure out it's the sound of kissing. Gods, why do they have to do that in front of me?
Did my father really fall for this beast-man?
“Don't you think you should release my son?”
“Oh!” Mr Potter exclaims, “Finite.”
The magic stops swirling around my body instantly, leaving me cold. I shiver, and cough, my body curling into one side, the shock of what happened catching up with me. My father wraps his arm around me and hugs me close.
“Are you all right? Does anything else hurt?”
I shake my head and curl up closer to my dad. It's been a long time since he's held me like this. It used to be a more frequent occurrence, me wrapped up in my father's lap in front of the fire while he read to me. But once I was old enough to read books on my own, it stopped.
The cuddling is nice, for a while, until my father pushes me away and hits me upside the head, my brain knocking into my skull.
“Don't ever do that again! This is our new number one rule, no running around this house in socks, do you hear me?”
I duck my head, completely shamed at my behavior while rubbing the back of my skull. My father has quite an arm on him.
“You're very lucky, Hayden. Had Harry not yelled out the Levitation charm in time, you might have been more seriously hurt.”
I pause and stare at Mr Potter, whose normally stern and stoic face has a bright smile. I'm not sure what to say. I'm surprised he saved me, surprised he cared enough to even bother. I'm also surprised that the beefy man has dimples. Who knew?
Mr Potter's arm is around my father and my dad is leaning into him. I take a long look at the pair of them and make a decision.
“How long have you been together?”
My father opens his mouth to speak and then shuts it again, turning to the man next to him. Mr Potter just shrugs back, as if he can read what my father is saying. Without them telling me anything, I can already tell this relationship has been going on for a while, probably even years.
I slump down, peering at them from underneath my shaggy blond hair. They fit together, in a weird way. They seem to be opposites; blond hair and black, thin and wide, tall and short, and yet together it matches, like a black stripe down a yellow racing bike.
“Forget it,” I say, pitying my father's struggle to think of the right words. “That doesn't matter. I'd rather know when Mr Potter plans on releasing your probation.”
Mr Potter smiles more broadly and takes out his wand in his giant hand. “You heard us, didn't you?”
“Yes, and I ask that you please refrain from tonguing my father in front of me.”
My dad chokes as Mr Potter laughs. It's a big laugh, one that comes from his belly. I like it.
“Only if you call me Harry.”
He sticks out his hand in front of me. There's black hair on his knuckles and calluses on his fingertips. After a few minutes of staring, I tentatively reach out my own hand and Mr Potter, no Harry, grabs it and shakes it, his grip crushing my poor delicate bones. I smile half-heartedly when he releases my hand, hiding it behind my back and shaking out the pain.
“You heard the man,” my father states, puffing out his chest. “End my probation, Officer.”
I lift my eyebrow at my father's spoiled behavior, but Harry seems to enjoy it, sporting a smitten, indulgent smile.
“As you wish, your majesty,” he replies, lifting his wand, gripping the end in his fist, and places the tip against my father's wrists.
“Finite Piaculum1 ” he whispers. A thin gold line lifts off my father's wrists, hovering above him, and then it dissolves into a burst of light. We all stare at the short light show until the last twinkle disappears into the ether.
It's then that we all realize we are still sitting on the floor.
“Anyone up for dessert?”
My mouth waters. Currently sitting on the kitchen counter is a large, luscious, juicy, tasty, flaky, wonderful apple pie, which my father baked this morning. I've been craving it since I smelled the cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the cottage, my father slapping my hand every time I tried to sneak a taste.
But, to my surprise, I'm not the one most excited at the prospect of dessert. Growling loudly, Harry's stomach shows his appreciation by conducting a rock concert of rumbling noises. He shrugs and winks at me, his thick eyebrows attempting to wiggle, but not really working.
“Where does all that food go?”
Harry grunts in response and walks toward the dining room, but before he leaves, he turns and comes back, giving a quick kiss on to my father's cheek.
He smirks and then stomps into the dining room, his growling stomach leading the way.
He leaves my father and I alone in the hallway. Without thinking, I start toeing my socks. My father pointedly stares at me until I reach down and yank the socks off my feet.
“I thought I hid those textbooks pretty well. What were you doing underneath my bed?”
I bite my lip before answering. “Um, cleaning out the dust bunnies?” I change the subject. “So, how long?”
My father looks wistfully into the dining room. I can't imagine what he thinks Harry is doing in there, but I'm sure he's stuck his bear paw into the middle of the pie and is stuffing the mounds of baked apples into his mouth.
When I cock my head and put my hand on my hip, my father caves.
“About four years, but we've known each other a lot longer than that. We… I didn't want to tell you until I was sure this was serious. Plus, his superiors wouldn't really like it if they discovered Harry had anything less than a professional relationship with me while I was still on probation. Now that I'm not… it seemed like a good time to come out, so to speak. Harry's convinced me he's serious.”
I shiver, unwilling to think about how Harry convinced my father of his seriousness. I make a face, sticking my tongue out and making a gagging noise.
Snorting, my father ruffles my hair before pulling me into a tight hug. “I don't like when you call yourself a Squib.”
I'm confused. Isn't that what I am? “Then, what should I call myself?”
My father smiles at me, his eyes clear and soft. I'd been creeping up ever so slowly to his height, but today I realize we're finally at the same eye level. He lifts his eyebrow, I lift my eyebrow, he pulls his hair behind his right ear, I pull my hair behind my left. But then my father surprises me by sticking out his tongue so I use my finger to lift up my nose.
In the midst of my father's laughter, he whispers in my ear. “My son.”