Title: Curiosity Doesn't Always Kill
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, past Harry/OFC
Summary: When Harry mysteriously returns to Hogwarts with a son and a new attitude, everyone seems to know more than Draco, and that is most definitely not on.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Language, frottage/snogging
Word Count: ~ 12,200
Author's Notes: All I can say is I hope I hit some of the things you wanted most, and that you like it, of course – Happy Summer Hols! (Also, a big thanks to my beta.)
"Woman pulled a fast one on you, Potter; the kid looks nothing like you."
"At least I had a woman, Malfoy."
"I believe 'had' is the operative word in that sentence."
"This coming from a man whose love of his life was his mother."
"To quote you – 'At least I had a –"
The Headmistress stood, hands firmly on her hips, glaring at the two men in front of her who had matured very little, it seemed, in the ten years that had passed since their graduation.
"Might I remind you that you are both gentlemen, and that I expect you to behave as such, especially around those as young as Jacob."
Harry blushed at being berated like a schoolboy and quickly apologized. "I'm sorry, Minerva, that was inappropriate." He turned to the small boy at his side. "I apologize to you too, Jake; I'm not setting a very good example, am I?"
The boy raised his eyes from his book and shrugged, but Minerva could tell he was soaking in every word like a sponge.
"Now, as I was saying before your little outburst, I understand the dynamic of your past, and I ask that you attempt to leave that animosity in your school-years where it belongs. You are both professors at this institution, and if I hear any reports of misconduct from a student or another professor, I will have to reconsider my appointment of you both. In short, that petty argument to which I was just witness will be the last one, do I make myself understood?"
"Yes, Headmistress," both men replied, one with shame, the other with resentment.
"Excellent." She smiled, tight-lipped. "You may go now, Draco. Come back later and we can discuss that change in the curriculum you requested."
Draco gave her a slight bow. "Thank you, Minerva." He scowled at Harry, but kept the snarky goodbye Minerva knew was sitting on his lips to himself. She sighed in relief once the door was shut and turned to Harry with a frown.
"Please try to make nice with Draco, Harry. He's been a good teacher, and I'd hate to have to spend the summer looking for two new professors all because you two couldn't behave like adults. Even Remus and Severus tolerate each other now for Merlin's sake!"
Harry grunted and shook his head. "I know, Minerva, I know, and I'll try, I promise."
"Thank you, Harry. Now," she said with a smile, "that's done and we can move on to more pleasant things. I understand that you wish to spend nights and weekends at your home in the country."
Harry nodded. "If we can, Minerva; it's really the only house that's ever felt like a home to me, and I'd like Jake to think of it that way as well, which he can't do if we're always here." He looked down and gave his son a smile as he ruffled his dark hair. Jacob made a face and attempted to straighten it, but only succeeded in making it more unruly.
Minerva chuckled, glad to see a genuine smile on a face that was once constantly unhappy. "I understand, Harry, and it shouldn't be a problem. Since you aren't a Head of House, you don't need to be present all the time, but you should keep a few hours a week open for students to come see you in your office."
"I will, Minerva, and I really want to thank you again for giving me –"
"Nonsense," she insisted, "I'm not giving you anything – you earned this position, so don't let anyone else give you any drivel about the Boy Who Lived getting special treatment. Have you ever known me to favour anyone, even you?"
Harry smiled. "No, you're right, Minerva, and I thank you for that most of all. I hope I can live up to your expectations."
"You will, I'm sure of it. Have you decided what to do with your son while you teach?"
Harry nodded. "Remus has agreed to tutor him during his free periods, and I will as well. Jake's good about studying on his own too, so it should work out, though I've asked Dobby to keep an eye on him for…safety."
Minerva had the sinking feeling that Harry's paranoia from the war had never and would never truly leave him. "Well Jake," the boy looked up from his book again, "you're welcome to use the library so long as you don't cause a ruckus. Perhaps you can even talk your father into teaching you some basic magic so you'll be ahead when you start here next year."
For the first time, the boy looked genuinely interested in something besides his book. "Magic? Really?"
Harry groaned playfully. "Oh no, now he'll be on me to go on another trip for books. He already has a library to rival the school's."
Jacob blushed. "Da-ad!"
The man laughed and nudged his son in the shoulder. "Well, I suppose there are worse things. Is there anything else, Minerva?"
The Headmistress shook her head, half in response and half in astonishment at the dynamic between father and son. Remus had warned her that Harry had changed in his absence, but she hadn't got the impression that it was a change for the better. She bid them goodbye and warned Harry again about altercating with Draco, to which he assured her that if that "self-absorbed git" didn't start anything, neither would he. Somehow, that didn't ease her nerves.
Harry turned with his son at his side and made his way out the door. As soon as she heard the grinding of the revolving staircase come to a stop, Minerva collapsed back into her chair and sighed. A grey tabby that she had adopted leapt onto the desk and mewled at her. She scratched him behind the ears and muttered, "It's going to be a long year."
Well it had finally happened. Like a particularly relentless and vexing poltergeist, Potter had returned to haunt Draco. Hogwarts had been his own domain for almost three years now, but leave it to Potter to stroll back in after ten years of being god-knows-where as if he owned every nook and cranny of the old castle, and capture everyone's attention like a talking krup. Draco would have clenched his hands into two livid fists if it hadn't been for the fact that one was cradling a parchment that he had slaved over in order to get his mind of the…Potter Problem. Instead, he petulantly stomped down the stairs and into the dungeon.
He supposed it wouldn't have been so bad if he could have at least had a few nasty words with the man every so often, but he didn't want to lose his job. He hadn't spent more than five years at universities, both Muggle and magical, studying languages, runes, and ancient communication just to forfeit one of the only jobs he could hope to find because of an arrogant, hot-tempered Gryffindor. And more importantly (and frustratingly), said Gryffindor was doing an excellent job of ignoring him. No snide comments in staff meetings, no glares down the table at lunch, not even a "misfired" tripping jinx as he walked down the hallway. Draco had never felt so insulted.
At the start of term, he had predicted Potter would only last a week trying to fill old Flitwick's shoes. Draco had never remembered Potter having a particular aptitude with Charms, but then again, his subconscious mind was rather good at suppressing memories in which the Gryffindor exceeded Draco's skills in anything (for example – hard as he tried, Draco couldn't recall playing a single Quidditch match against Gryffindor in his youth). If anything, he would have expected Potter to have an unchallenged position as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but with the werewolf having come back to take that job, Draco sincerely doubted Potter would oust his closest friend from the only good career the man could get.
It would be two months now since term started, and all his students ever talked about was how much they adored "Professor Potter." Draco was almost sure he was just coddling them instead of teaching, but when all the seventh year students passed their Ministry approved quarter-exams in Charms, he shut his mouth and started paying more attention to the man, which was, regrettably, a chore to which he'd become accustom over the years. Draco couldn't deny that he'd always had a…thing for Potter, whether it was sheer awe or utter loathing or now this frustrated grudging curiosity. Damn that man.
Draco stopped at a door and was tempted to kick it until he realized it was the very door of the office he needed to visit. He knocked.
Draco pressed his hand to the office door when his knocking went unanswered, surprised when it yielded under his palm. The Potions Master's dark office was unoccupied, but the soft glow of light shone under the door to his lab. Draco walked softly, not knowing whether or not he was interrupting something volatile. He pushed the door open and saw Severus stirring the contents of a cauldron with meticulous strokes.
He whispered, "Sev –" but was hushed before he could finish. He took a resting stance against the doorframe and waited there for over ten minutes before Severus removed the stirring rod from the cauldron and cast a stasis charm over the brew. The older man gestured towards the door and they made their way back into his office.
Draco was the first to break the silence. "I have that translation you asked me to do."
Severus raised an eyebrow as he took off his work gloves. "How…efficient; if it was anyone else, I might suspect shoddy craftsmanship, but I'm sure you were merely diligent."
Recognizing that his godfather's words were as much a threat as a compliment, he tipped his head in an appreciative nod and pushed the scroll across the desk. Severus pulled a pair of reading glasses out of his desk and scanned the document. Draco held in a derisive snicker, but only after receiving the trademark Glare of Death. He changed the subject.
"So, what potion did I almost ruin?"
Severus scoffed and continued reading. "One of Potter's, a Breathe-Easy and a sedative; calms living tissue, but is extremely unstable outside the body."
Draco frowned in genuine curiosity. "Why are you brewing something for Potter?"
Severus raised his eyebrow in a gesture that clearly stated 'We both know this is none of your business, but why waste an opportunity to gossip about annoying Gryffindors?' "He pays for them. Plus, Minerva 'asked' me to."
"Them? Why does he need potions, and such a strong healing potion at that?"
"The curse – side-affects are quite nasty apparently."
Draco's eyes widened. "Potter's cursed?"
"Yes, of course. You didn't know?" Severus tore his eyes away from Draco's flawless translation to look at him. "I believed it to be almost common knowledge by now; not the exact effects of course, but the fact that he is cursed. You really didn't know?" Draco shook his head. "An invention of the Dark Lord's, inflicted posthumously as a rebound hex. He could see the inevitability of his own end, but he didn't want Potter to get away without consequences."
"What kinds of things does this curse do?"
"Well," the older man started, "the potion I was just brewing helps him through frequent panic attacks. I believe he also has less frequent, but longer lasting, fits of pain that mimic the torture curse, for which Lupin has had to restrain him, coupled with bouts of depression that we know are curse-related only because they cannot be eased with the normal potion regimen. And…well, let's just say that I won't have to instruct any of Potter's offspring, thank Merlin."
"But, what about Josh or Jamie or whoever that kid he brought with him is? I mean, I know I mock him for the lack of family resemblance, but…"
Severus pushed the scroll aside and tucked his glasses back in his desk. "Jacob is not Potter's biological son, and they both know it."
Draco's Potter-fixation was having a field day. "Really? How do you know?"
"Weren't you listening? The curse has rendered Potter impotent, unable to produce offspring, etcetera; he has known that from the beginning."
Draco sat back with a grin. "So his woman really did cuckold him."
"Perhaps; I don't know very much of the story."
"Huh. I always knew Potter was gullible, but I assumed he'd be too temperamental to let something like that go and still keep the kid. Were they married, do you think?"
Severus rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest and Draco knew the conversation was over. "As enthralling as this gossip-session has been, Draco, I really don't know anything more and I have to go bottle those potions before they spoil. Thank you for the translation; you know the way out."
Disappointed, and curiosity no less sated, Draco turned toward the door and showed himself out. Instead of heading back up to his own quarters, however, he walked the pathway to the west wing of the castle where the Defense classes were held. There were two professors in the castle who knew the whole story, and though Draco would never approach Potter himself, there was another option…
"But Professor –"
"Really Draco, I've been telling you for three years – it's Remus, not Professor, not Lupin, not werewolf, just Remus."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Fine, Remus. You're closer to Potter than anyone; you must know the story."
The older professor looked up from the essays he was grading and gave Draco the most impatient look he could manage. "The story? It's a man's life, not the newest novel on the best-seller list."
"Whatever. I just want to know the deal with Potter. Where did he go? Why did he come back? Whose kid is he dragging around? –"
"Jake is Harry's."
"Right. Well the rest of it then. Please, Remus? Just a little bit?"
The werewolf chuckled and set his quill down next to the stack of essays. "It isn't my story to tell, Draco, and even if it were, why don't you just go and ask Harry yourself."
Draco scoffed. "Oh right, and then I'm sure he'll invite me over for tea and tell me all about it."
"You'll never know until you try. Harry doesn't have very many people he can share his life with, and you two aren't exactly enemies anymore; maybe he will open up to you a bit. Now, if you’re done prying and refusing to act like an adult, I have grading to finish."
"Fine," Draco grumbled, and headed out the door.
First Severus, and now even the werewolf had dismissed him! "Going to hell in a hand-basket" didn't even begin to describe the day he was having. It took him exactly one hour to decide to drown his troubles in a drunken stupor and an hour of said drunken stupor to really think about what the second professor had said. Precisely three hours after he left the Defense classroom, Draco decided two things simultaneously: One, he would talk to Potter and he would figure out what the hell was going on, and two, he was never ever drinking again.
Draco worked all week to gather his courage and approach Potter, but Friday morning came and he realized he didn't have nearly enough; there was a reason he hadn't been in Gryffindor. Fate, however, would soon prove that it did not have the patience to deal with Draco's fear of rejection. He was half-way through a lecture on the importance of regional differentiation translations when one of the classroom windows opened and admitted a small origami figure that fluttered its way over to his open hand. His eyes scanned quickly over the faces of his sixth-years, and finding that their eyes were either closer or glazed, he sighed.
"Get out, and take this weekend to work on improving your attention spans to those of goldfish."
Once the last of his students had shuffled out the door, Draco sat at his desk and opened the note, experiencing a brief moment of déjà vu. He didn't recognize the messy script at first, but a brief glance at the signature told him everything he needed to know, and his heart jumped. He read –
Malfoy, I know you must be suppressing the urge to throw this into the fire, but
-- H. Potter
Draco folded the note and put it in his pocket, silently thanking whatever loving soul had slipped Felix Felicis into his tea at breakfast. His classes done for the afternoon, he slipped back to his private quarters to imagine all the delicious secrets he could pry from an indebted Potter.
"Thanks for coming."
Draco nodded. "I have to admit that I was somewhat put off by such a threatening ending to such a charming note, but I was so…enthralled by the idea of your being indebted to me that I couldn't resist."
Potter chuckled. "Yes, I figured that's why you'd come."
"So," Draco started as he sat down in the nearest armchair, "straight to business?"
The other man nodded and flopped down in the chair across from him. "Alright; what do you know about the trip to Stonehenge for the N.E.W.T. students?"
"Only that I'm not going, thank Merlin. I –" Draco paused, a horrendous thought suddenly springing to his mind. "Oh, wait now, Potter, if you're thinking of asking me to take your place as chaperone, you can just forget it, I don't care if you promise me your soul on a platter."
Potter laughed, a strong, happy noise that echoed through the room. "My soul on a platter? I think all this talk of me being in debt to you has your imagination on overdrive."
Potter sighed and rolled his eyes. "Nothing, Muggle expression. Anyway, I'm not going to ask you to take my place. Everything we're doing at Stonehenge requires a certain level of magical development, and the trip isn't anything but a sightseeing trip to a bunch of rocks without the rituals that go with it. Normally, I'd ask Remus to do this, but since it's a full moon night, he's going to be a bit occupied so…"
"Oh just spit it out, Potter."
"I need you to watch Jake for me."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "And who is Jake? Your pet goldfish?"
Potter sighed in frustration. "My son, Malfoy. Remember? The one you said bore no resemblance to me? About yea high, dark hair, probably had his nose stuck in a book or a tree anytime you've seen him?"
"Yes, Potter, I remember. But what gives you the idea that I have any idea how to take care of a child?"
"Well, you're a teacher aren't you? So you can't be that horrible with kids; plus I know you volunteered at the War Orphans Shelter for a year or so –"
"Only to improve my image."
"Nevertheless," the other man paused to sigh again like a maudlin poet. "Look, Malfoy, I don't really have another choice; Ron and Hermione are in London on business, Molly's in France to take care of Bill's new baby, and any other teacher I'd trust is going on the Stonehenge trip."
Draco rubbed his chin for a moment, pretending to be deep in thought until finally he decided to give the man a break. "Alright, Potter, I'll watch the kid."
"Really?" Potter looked genuinely shocked, like he expected to be mocked and rejected.
"Yes, really. Though, as you suggested, I do have some terms."
Harry sighed, more relieved than annoyed. "Alright, Malfoy, what do you want?"
"As I'm sure you'll remember, Potter, I am a Slytherin, and seeing anyone have an advantage over me does terrible things to both my disposition and my nerves. Since information is power and power equates advantage, that's what I want – information."
"Umm…in case you've been living under a rock for the past ten years, Malfoy, we're not in a war anymore, so I highly doubt I'd have any information you want."
Draco smirked and rose from his chair. "That's for me to decide, Potter. A dinner, in which I can ask you any three questions I want that you have to answer truthfully – that is the cost of my services."
Harry snorted inelegantly and rose from his chair as well. "Merlin, you can make anything sound dramatic, can't you?"
Draco took a little mock bow. "I do try."
"Well consider it a deal then. I'll bring him over at around seven on Saturday morning and –"
"Seven? On a Saturday?!"
"Yes, Malfoy, seven. I know prima donnas need their beauty rest, so I guess you'll just have to tuck in early." Draco fumed at him, but Potter's only response was a little smirk and a wave. "See you at seven!"
Draco stood in the cold and damp outside the busy restaurant where they had agreed to meet and told himself that he would count to fifty before considering himself stood up. At forty-three, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and a small crack signalled someone's Apparition.
"I'm sorry, Malfoy; one of Jake's fingers got stuck in the door and then he spilled spaghetti sauce on his shirt and his shoes were –"
"Save it," Draco said, surprisingly without malice. There was something about a frantic, dishevelled (apologizing) Potter that made his anger vanish. "Let's just go inside."
Once they were seated, the man started in again and Draco rolled his eyes. "Really, Malfoy, I didn't mean to be late, I –"
"Do I look angry about it, Potter?" He shook his head. "Then save it. You might need to grovel later and if I've heard it all already I might not be as forgiving."
Harry looked astonished for a moment before he chuckled. "Alright, Malfoy."
Draco folded his menu and looked straight across the table. "Listen, as long as we're doing this, can we be civil?"
Harry cocked his head. "I thought things had been pretty civil so far, especially for us."
"True." Draco smiled. "But I was thinking we might even venture into the realm of first names, Harry."
"As long as you don't make my name sound like a curse every time it comes out your mouth, I think I can handle that, Draco."
They talked about Jacob for a while, and how he'd been during Harry's time away. Draco had been surprised to find that though he'd expected the boy to be an arrogant little Potter-clone, he had actually been polite, more than content to sit and read while Draco did his work, though he seemed to shine when Draco paid him the least bit of attention.
Since the volunteer work he'd done never involved entertaining the children for which he was caring, and teaching was…well, just teaching, he hadn't the slightest clue how to amuse the boy. Thinking every boy liked to spend time outside, they had ended up gathering potion ingredients in the Forbidden Forest and Draco had attempted to draw him out a bit by asking what he knew about the subject. Jacob had dived head first into an enthusiastic lecture reminiscent of Severus's class and impressive for the son of Remedial-Potions-Potter.
The topic of Harry's son kept them busy all through dinner, but when they ordered drinks, Draco decided it was time for Harry to fulfill his end of the deal.
"Alright, Harry." Draco had spent the past week strategically planning his questions, and he took a sip of his drink before starting. "Are you ready for the interrogation?"
Harry giggled, a sound that could only have been born of alcohol consumption, and he nodded his consent to Draco.
"Who was your first kiss?"
Another laugh burst from Harry's mouth, and this time Draco knew it wasn't from the alcohol. "Please tell me you didn't drag me all the way out here to play a fourth year's version of Truth or Dare, Draco."
"Did I say anything about dares? Just answer the question; better ones are coming, I assure you. Now – first kiss?"
Harry grimaced. "Cho Chang, fifth year."
Draco chuckled at the obvious disgust on Harry's face. "That bad, was it?"
"Ugh, she was crying all over me."
This time it was Draco's turn to laugh. "Why in Merlin's name was she crying? Were you really that ghastly a kisser?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "It's a long and painful story; can we skip to the next question?"
"Okay, okay, moving on…" Draco paused for dramatic emphasis; he already knew exactly what he was going to ask. "First time?"
Harry just laughed and shook his head. "God, you're so predictable, Malfoy." Then he scrunched up his nose and looked off at the ceiling. "It was a while ago, I don't remember his whole name…"
"His name?" Draco's eyes grew round as saucers, but Harry didn't notice.
"Yeah…Brian! It was Brian. We met over the summer and had a thing…" Harry trailed off as he finally noticed the look Draco was giving him. "Oh…oh! Did you mean my first time with a girl?"
Draco blinked and shook his head a bit, as the apparently misguided "Saint Potter" delusion he'd nursed for over twenty years shattered and faded into oblivion. A strange knot formed in his stomach, but he dismissed it as indigestion. "I wasn't aware that I needed to specify gender, Potter."
Harry's eyes twitched in confusion for a moment before he cringed. "Oh fuck, I've freaked you out, haven't I? I'm sorry, I –"
"No," Draco said, effectively interrupting Harry's needless apology. "No, I'm not…'freaked out'," Good lord, where does he get these expressions? "Just surprised, I suppose."
"What, that I've been with men?"
"No – surprised that I haven't read about it in the Prophet."
"Ah, well…" Harry stammered as he blushed, "there might be a reason for that." Draco raised a questioning eyebrow and Harry's shy grin turned smug. "Coincidentally, the Prophet's assistant editor gives brilliant head, if you're ever looking for that particular service."
They both burst into laughter and Draco's mind was flooded with images of Harry's head thrown back against a wall or a desk chair, an enthusiastic mouth sucking his cock down to the root. It surprised him, but not because of the person prominent in the image. Draco hadn't really thought about sex since his teenage years. He'd had his fair share of exploits in his university days, but he had never had the irrepressible urges to fuck anything that moved as some of his colleagues had had.
Living at Hogwarts hadn't made things any better; he wasn't a paedophile by any means, and living in a place where anyone remotely shaggable had parents who could easily lock him away or were old enough to be his parents put something of a damper on his libido. But now, with a relatively attractive man his own age sitting in front of him, laughing and joking about past sexual encounters, Draco was not as alarmed as he thought he should be when his mind started forming and storing other sordid little fantasies starring his previous arch-nemesis. Discovering that said man shared his sexual preferences helped. Immensely. Dammit. Time to move on to the only question whose answer he really needed to hear.
"Alright, last question then?" Harry nodded and Draco made a show of searching his mind for the perfect one, even though he'd had all three planned for a week. "Where is Jacob's mother?"
Harry blinked, a bit stunned, but answered quickly, "Dead."
Draco cringed; he'd had the playful almost friendly mood he'd been hoping for, and then he had to go and ruin it with a topic he knew would be sensitive. "Ah…I'm sorry, Harry."
The man across from him shrugged. "Don't be – I never knew her."
Draco raised an eyebrow. If Harry wasn't connected to Jacob's mother, perhaps he had been with the father. But Harry still didn't know that Draco knew the more intimate details of his curse, so he'd have to draw the answer out with ignorance. "Really? Potter, you're quite destroying the perfect image I had of you in my mind. First the men, now a child from a one-off? At least you were good enough to keep –"
Harry's sharp and infectious laughter bubbled up again and interrupted him. "I never said he was mine, did I? But that's a whole other question."
"Can I ask just one more?" After all, they were getting on well, despite their past; maybe Remus had been right, maybe Harry would open up to him without debt or blackmail.
"Oh you can ask as many as you want, I just can't guarantee answers for all of them."
Harry was smiling still, so Draco took a deep breath and dug to find his courage. "Why are you here? I mean, after the war you just disappear without so much as a trace, at least to the greater Wizarding population, and then you show up again at Hogwarts with a kid and you're…well…different. Everyone seems to know more about it than I do and –" He glanced at the somewhat fallen expression on his companion's face, and, even though he'd wanted more than anything else to know the story, he regretted asking. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked. You can tell me to keep my nose out of it if it makes you upset."
Harry laughed nervously and ran his fingers through his hair. "Ah, no…it's alright," he said. "This is just a little hard for me. I guess I'll start at the beginning then?" Draco waved him on and he began. "When the war was over, I had no idea what I wanted to do. All my life had been leading up to defeating Voldemort, you know? And then he was gone and it was like I didn't have anything to do but be Harry Potter Dark Lord Slayer, and I really wasn't up for that.
"That summer, I met one of Seamus's cousins who was studying at the American Magical University, and he talked it up so much that by fall I had said goodbye to all my mates and flown overseas. Still had no idea what I wanted to specialize in, so I took a bit of everything and found out that I really liked all the advanced Charms work. I ended up with a license in curse-breaking and Professional Domestic Integration," he scoffed, "which sounds posh, but is just setting up regular houses and buildings to function with magic.
"Anyway, those were just ways to earn a living; what I was really interested in was Magical Theory. Started studying that and met a bunch of people, friends I suppose, but nobody I was particularly close to. One night I went to a mixed party, wizards and Muggles, and I met Rachel." Harry stopped and took a long sip of his drink, more to steady himself for the rest of the story than to quench his thirst, Draco suspected.
"We started dating; she was sweet, adorable, and smart – our relationship was normal, and the best part was she was an American Muggle, so my name meant absolutely nothing to her. I was really taken in by that, somebody who didn't know anything about me or my past or my fame. It seemed like all I had ever wanted. Long story short, we fell in love and got married and we both wanted to start a family right away. Well…you know about the curse, yeah?" Draco nodded, and Harry continued. "Well, I can't have any children biologically thanks to it, and Rachel knew that before we were married. We decided to adopt, so we went through a magical adoption agency that I had volunteered for in university and we finally chose Jacob."
This time when Harry stopped, it was with a smile, one Draco had only seen when Harry raved about his son. "I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him, and I gave him everything I didn't have when I was little; Rachel always said I would spoil him, but he never got to be that way. Things were good for a while. In retrospect, I should have known that it wasn't meant to stay that way, but I thought that was it, that I finally had a perfect, normal life and would be content to live it out with my family." He sighed, deeply this time. "But of course, things didn't happen that way.
"Rachel and I started to have problems; it seemed like the more she knew about me, the more she didn't like, and she was definitely not comfortable with the fact that I'd been with men in the past. I think the fact that I had killed freaked her out a bit too, even though it was during a war. Some of the effects of the curse started to get worse, and she had a hard time dealing with my panic attacks and the little fits of depression, and I really can't believe I'm telling you all this." Harry laughed and looked up nervously.
Draco shook his head and said, "Who am I going to tell, Harry? You can trust me." He felt like reaching across the table and grabbing his hand, but thought that that might be a little far, even with the excuse of the alcohol. Harry's brilliant smile of gratitude that followed, however, clearly made up for it. He took another drink and started again.
"It wasn't even those things that were the final straw. She had never really taken to Jake; I mean, she was a decent mother, but she never had the kind of unconditional love for him that I have. I came home one day after picking him up from school and both she and all her things were gone. She left a note saying she couldn't be with a man who couldn't give her her own children, that she needed to have babies of her own and she had found someone who could give her that."
Harry's next deep breath was a bit shaky, but Draco thought he looked more angry than sad. "She wanted a divorce, and after all the she'd done to us, I did too. I was furious with her for leaving, but for Jacob's sake, not for mine. What was I supposed to tell him? That the only mother he'd ever had had abandoned him because he wasn't technically hers? It crushed him, but I had to tell him the truth. I told her that all I wanted was unchallenged full custody, and she agreed, a little too hastily. After that, well, there was nothing keeping me in the States, and I had always planned on coming back to England eventually, so I took Jake and bought a house out here where we could be away from all the drama of the divorce. When Minerva heard I was back, she invited me to come take Flitwick's old job, and," he shrugged and spread his arms out to his sides, "here we are."
Draco felt like he'd been holding his breath through the entire story. He sat back in his chair, more than a little shocked. "Wow. I…that's not at all what I expected. I'm sorry, Harry." And he was, in fact, genuinely sorry.
Harry shook his head and gestured for their waiter to bring them the bill. "Don't be. We're happy now, and I really did miss being home. It worked out…for the better, I think." They took a minute to finish their drinks in silence before Harry looked at his watch and said, "I think I have a babysitter to relieve from duty."
Outside the restaurant, the two men fidgeted with their coats uneasily for a few seconds. Draco coughed nervously, and Harry shoved his hands in his pockets, but before Draco could call on his aristocratic breeding and break the awkwardness, Harry did it for him with another of his brilliant smiles.
"Well, this was actually…sorta nice," he said, a little laugh tagged on the end as if he had never expected things to turn out as they had.
"I was thinking maybe we should do it more often."
Draco rose an eyebrow and suppressed a giddy smile. "Really?"
"Yeah well…" Harry smiled and looked down at his shoes. "Jake really likes you, and Minerva did tell us to be nice to each other. And it's good to have another person my age to talk to." He laughed. "Well, talk at anyway – next time we'll talk about you too, I promise."
Draco chuckled. "No apologies, Harry; I was the one plying you for information after all."
Harry stepped closer and looked as if he were about to say something, but instead he just shook his head slightly and held out his hand. "I know this didn't turn out well the last time we tried it, but do you think we could be friends now, Draco?"
Draco paused, a vengeful rejection only occurring to him briefly before the prospect of friendship supplied him with a much more pleasant alternative. He took Harry's hand and shook it once. "I think I could manage that."