The children’s ward at St. Mungo’s was quiet for a Friday night when Harry walked in for the third of his six nights on shift. Waving at Helena, the mediwitch on duty, he went to claim his stack of case files and go in search of a good, strong cup of milky Earl Grey before he started his rounds. He flipped through the files, catching up on the changes from the previous shift. There were two new patients. First, a young girl who had fallen, but her injuries were minor and healed easily. However, the dizziness that caused her to fall was a concern and warranted further examination. The second child was a 4 year old boy with an undiagnosed high fever. As he read the name, Harry’s eyebrows lifted under his fringe. Scorpius Malfoy. Draco’s son? That was interesting. He knew Malfoy had married and moved abroad; apparently they were back. Harry didn’t obsess over him anymore but he had thought about him from time to time, wondering...well, just wondering. What would it be like to see him again after all this time? He and Draco weren’t enemies anymore but they weren’t exactly friends either. Still, it had been 5 years since the trials and he’d certainly grown and changed; perhaps Malfoy had too. Time would tell. Rinsing his cup and taking up his files, he headed to room 206 to find out.
Draco’s back was to the door when Harry approached and he was holding the hand of the small child in the bed. From his vantage point, Harry realized how much his son looked like him. Standing back, Harry observed the man. He looked much the same from the back, though perhaps less stiff, his hair longer and less styled. He bent and kissed the boy’s forehead and ran his fingers through Scorpius’ hair. There was no missing the affection in every gentle touch. Harry pushed open the door.
“Malfoy?” he said, entering the room and walking toward the bed, his voice quiet and practiced. Draco’s back stiffened before he turned slowly to look at Harry.
“Potter?” he said, his voice both surprised and strained. Draco’s eyes seemed to scan him intently down and back up. “You’re the healer?” There was none of the old disdain, just surprise and possibly insecurity.
“I am,” Harry replied cautiously, conscious of the child watching their interactions. “It made sense for me, after everything,” he said quietly. He was a bit more affected by seeing Malfoy than he had expected. Giving himself a mental shake, he moved to the other side of the bed trying to act like the trained professional he was.
“Your son, I take it” Harry said, his eyes moving from Draco’s nod to the small child.
“Scorpius,” Draco affirmed, then turned to look at his son. Harry did not remember a time he had ever seen such a tender look on Draco’s pointed features. When those slender fingers reached out again to caress his son’s face, Harry noticed the chewed fingernails that he remembered as always being perfectly manicured.
Harry moved closer to the bed, his lips curling into a soft smile as he reached out to brush back Scorpius’ hair, using the motion to check the warmth and dampness of his skin.
“Hello Scorpius,” Harry said quietly, noting the pupil dilation and manner of breathing. “I’m Healer Harry. I’m going to try to make you feel better, ok?” Harry continued to touch him gently, looking for winces of pain or signs of distress. The child had only been here a couple of hours, so little had been determined so far, save the high fever. He was on fluids and a potion to help bring the fever down but Scorpius was still flushed, clammy and lethargic.
He nodded, his bottom lip caught between his teeth.
“Good,” Harry said with a smile. “I need to talk to your dad for a few minutes before I examine you, ok?
Scorpius looked to his dad and back to Harry, looking more unhappy by the minute. “Don’t leave me, Papa” he pleaded in a raspy voice.
“I’m not going anywhere, son,” Draco said firmly, his fingers brushing gently over his son’s face,
Harry gave them a moment, watching their interaction. It was like watching someone he barely knew. Gone was the haughtiness, the defiant tilt of the head. He no longer held himself proud and sneering. Instead, there was a softness Harry had never seen on him before and something vulnerable. This child appeared to have changed Draco in ways Harry had never imagined possible. Something inside him reacted to the tenderness he saw there.
“Scorpius,” Harry said quietly. “I have no intention of taking your papa anywhere. I only meant over there,” he said, pointing to the sofa. “Only for a few minutes. Would that be ok?”
Looking anxiously from Harry to his papa and back again, he finally nodded, still worrying his bottom lip.
Draco looked at Harry, obviously sizing him up and making a decision before looking back at his son. “I will be right there, alright? If you need me, just call. We need to make you better ok?”
Harry watched, his heart aching at the look on Draco’s face. He saw the furrowed brow as the man fought for control of his emotions. Draco kissed his forehead again. “Papa won’t let anything happen to you. I promise. I’ll be right over there talking to Healer Harry. Here,” he said, plucking a small teddy from the bedside table and placing it in Scorpius’ arms, “keep Leo close until I get back, alright?”
Scorpius nodded and cuddled the bear close. He didn’t cry but he never took his eyes off his papa.
With a last look at his patient, he gave an incline of his head, motioning Draco over to the small sofa across the expanse of the vip room. Settling down, Harry waited for Draco, then erected a privacy spell.
“You ok?” Harry asked, allowing his honest concern to show. That interaction had pulled at his heartstrings.
“Not really,” Draco admitted honestly, “He’s terrified.” The quiver in Malfoy’s voice spoke volumes about how hard this task was for him. He took a deep breath to pull himself back together before looking back at Harry.
“So, what can you tell me about his illness?” Harry asked quietly.
Draco took a deep breath, looked back over to his son and began. “We returned from abroad four days ago and he was acting normally. Day before yesterday he woke up with a headache and a touch of fever. I called my mother in, she managed to talk me down off the walls. She felt that the travel and stress of moving and leaving home behind had upset his system, so I brewed him a very mild version of pepper up and it seemed to work for most of the day. He was cranky at bedtime but again we figured he needed sleep and time.”
At this point, Draco stood and began pacing back and forth in front of Harry, unable to sit still. “Yesterday he was fussy and didn’t eat well but Mother was certain that it was nothing serious. I tried not to worry overmuch and gave him another mild potion. I put him in bed with me, hoping it would ease his fussiness. He slept on and off; his fever didn’t go away but it didn’t rise either. This morning when he still felt bad and had a headache and an upset stomach, I began to panic a bit and watched him carefully. When he became clammy and lethargic mid afternoon, I realized his fever was climbing and I brought him here. We haven’t been back long enough to get him assigned a physician yet, so Mother suggested it. They gave him something to try and bring his fever down a bit but because it was so high, they wanted to admit him to watch him closely. I managed to get him to eat a little broth and they told me the healer would be in to see us soon...” Draco sat again, rubbing his hands on his trouser legs.
Harry watched Draco, feeling for the man so obviously distressed about his son.
“Potter,” Draco started, his voice breaking. “Harry,” he continued nervously, “I know we’ve had our differences, but please,” he paused, taking a deep breath and looking directly into Harry’s eyes. “He’s all I have.”
The intensity in that gaze just broke Harry’s heart. He swallowed hard, knowing that this man’s future and that of his son rested in his hands. Despite their past, Harry reached out and touched Draco’s hand briefly. “I will do everything I can, Draco, I promise.” The small smile he got in return warmed Harry’s heart and he returned it freely.”
“Can you fill me in on his history? His, his mother’s, yours, as it relates to health in any way.”
Draco nodded, appearing to relax just a bit. “He has been a healthy child. No problems before or during birth. The occasional cold or skinned knee. I’m not one for illness either really. His mother, however.” Draco paused, pain clear on his face. “She died a year ago, a blood infection. They never really determined how she got it, only that as far as they could tell, it manifested after Scorpius was born. It was their estimation that it would not affect him but,” Draco paused, his voice breaking slightly, “this is how her illness started too.” Frightened eyes looked up at Harry.
When Draco’s hands brushed roughly over his face and he sighed heavily, Harry felt the depth of Draco’s despair. He’d counseled many frightened parents before but something about seeing Malfoy so broken got to him. Harry sat the files on the coffee table and shifted, putting his hand on Draco’s shoulder. Draco’s voice cracked with emotion. “I thought losing Astoria was hard, but this,” his voice trailed off. “I can’t lose him too.”
For several long minutes, the two men just sat there, Harry lending Draco all the support he could before he finally responded. “I give you my word, I will do anything and everything I can to make your son well.”
“Thank you,” Draco said as he took a deep breath to calm himself.
“Now, let’s take a closer look at your son.”
The two men approached the hospital bed and Harry smiled at the boy as he drew close.
“Are you hurting anywhere?” A small nod of the pale head. “Where?” Scorpius pointed to his stomach, his head and his legs. Harry grinned, trying to distract the child from how bad he was feeling. “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” Scorpius shook his head and Harry looked at him like he doubted him. “I dunno, you seem pretty tongueless to me, all that shaking and nodding.” Scorpius gave a weak smile. “I guess I’ll have to check on it. If it’s missing, I might have to order you a new one.” With that, a small pink tongue darted out from between puffy lips. “Well, what do you know, you do still have it. That’s good, then I don’t have to worry about whether or not the new one will fit, yeah?”
“So,” Harry continued, turning back to his examination. ”Is the pain bad?”
Scorpius shook his head. “Worse yeserday.”
“That’s good,” Harry said with a smile. “Is your tummy upset? Are you hungry?“
Scorpius shook his head.
“Not at all?” Draco asked quietly.
“No Papa.” He looked quite serious.
“Not even for ice cream?” When Scorius shook his head, he frowned. “Well, that is dire,” Draco said teasingly, trying to keep his son’s spirits up.
Harry smiled. “I need you to do your best to eat when your food comes ok? It’s important.”
Scorpius nodded. “I twy”.
“Good boy,” Harry said, touseling his hair. “I’m going to do a few spells to check you out, alright?” Scorpius nodded, his eyes darting around the room and over his head where Harry’s wand was spelling test results..
Harry took a step back, then waved his wand through numerous diagnostics, making notes in the case file of his findings. Draco held his son’s hand and occasionally ran his fingers through the baby fine blonde hair.
“You said you had been abroad,” Harry said to Draco as he made some notes. “Where exactly?”
“We were in France where we’d been living until last week,” Draco responded, “then we were in the states. Astoria’s parent’s were on holiday and asked us to join them for a few days. They wanted to take Scorpius to Yellowstone Park.”
Harry’s eyebrows raised at that and he thought quietly for a few moments.
“I’m going to look over his skin - I have a hunch.” Draco nodded and watched anxiously as Harry began a physical exam. He uncovered Scorpius and looked over every inch of the child’s body. “Do you know anything about this rash,” Harry asked Draco as he examined the red rash on the back of the child’s neck, under the hairline.
Draco came closer, shaking his head. “It wasn’t there two days ago, I know that. I bathed him two days ago.” Harry nodded and looked up at Scorpius. “You ok there buddy?” The child nodded and Harry smiled at him. “I’m going to need to look at your head really closely, ok? I’m going to try not to hurt you.”
Harry looked at Draco first and appreciated the fact that Draco moved up to engage his son’s attention while Harry moved the pale hair out of the way and examined every crevice and fold near the rash area. “There are a number of moles here,” Harry muttered under his breath. Finally he huffed out, “there you are.” Harry pulled a vial from his pocket and motioned Draco over to join him and when he did, Harry pointed to what looked looked a dark mole. “Watch it carefully,” he said as he pulled his wand and touched it. Tiny legs wiggled and Draco made a quiet choking sound.
“What is that?”
“A tick,” Harry confirmed, pointing his wand at the back of Scorpius’ head. His wand made an intricate swirl and the small, dark mole detached and dropped into the vial Harry had in his other hand. There were also a few drops of blood as well and Draco paled. “Unless I miss my guess, he’s got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Dangerous, serious but treatable. There’s a medication regime developed specifically for this,” Harry replied, pocketing the vial. “Rather common out there which is why there’s a clear treatment if it’s caught early enough.”
Relief flooded Draco’s face and he looked at Harry intently for a moment, unable to really speak. Harry returned his gaze for a moment, then turned back to his patient.
Harry cleaned the wound area and then moved to pull the covers back up over Scorpius. “Hey buddy,” he said quietly as the boy’s eyes locked onto his. “I figured out the problem. You’ll be here for a while but you should be good as new after, ok?”
“OK, Healer Harry, fank you,” Scorpius said between wheezy coughs.
“You’re welcome, Scorpius.” Harry said with a smile. “Rest now. I’ll check on you later.” Harry smiled at Draco as he made his way toward the door.
“Welcome home,” Harry said quietly, placing his hand on Draco’s shoulder as he passed by. “I’m going to go now and get his meds ordered. Try not to worry, keep his spirits up. We’ll work to keep his fever reasonable until the medication kills the bacteria.”
Draco nodded, following Harry to the door with a grateful smile. “I was so scared,” he admitted, reaching out and holding Harry’s arm for a moment. “Thank you seems so inadequate but thank you.”
Harry hesitated, trying to ignore the flutter in his belly when Draco touched his arm then smiled. ‘You’re welcome, truly. I’m really glad I could help your son.”
Harry checked on them twice more during his shift but both times he found them sleeping. The meds were already making a difference by the time his shift ended. Harry went home and dropped into an exhausted sleep.
Harry's next shift started calm enough but he should have known a Saturday this quiet couldn't last. He had just started his examination of Scorpius when an emergency call came over the system. He apologized as he ran out the door and it was several hours later before he returned. Draco was reading in the chair by the bed, Scorpius was coloring in a book about animals. “Sorry about earlier,” he said as he entered the room.
“Everything alright?” Malfoy said, looking up from his book.
“Finally,” Harry said with a tired smile. “Was touch and go for a while.” It wasn’t even halfway through his shift and he was already fighting fatigue. He put on his best happy face as he turned to his patient. “Hello Scorpius. Are you feeling better today?”
Scorpius nodded, still coloring.
“Scorpius,” Draco said quietly, “manners please. Remember we look at someone if they are speaking to us.”
“Sowwy,” the child said quietly, putting down his crayon and looking up at Harry.
Draco touched the child’s hand and gave him a pleased smile. “That’s my boy.”
“Did you eat your breakfast and lunch,” Harry asked.
“Yes, I ate good,” he said, looking pleased.
“Well,” Draco corrected kindly, “I ate well.”
“I ate well,” Scorpius repeated with a grin.
“Very good. I’m very pleased to hear that.” Then, Harry ran his diagnostics, pleased at the numbers before looking at Draco. “He’s already responding to the medications.”
He walked Harry to the door, his body language much more relaxed than the day before. “Will there be any lingering problems from the illness?”
“I’m not anticipating any, no,” Harry assured him. “We caught it early, thankfully. I’ll check in again before I leave today,”
“Thanks,” Draco said as Harry left, then returned to his chair.
Just after 1pm, Harry made his way to room 206 with three takeaway cups and a bag. He smiled and held up his offering, “I just got off shift and thought you guys might like a treat.”
Draco’s smile warmed him and made him feel less weary. Scorpius looked at the bag and smiled, tired but not as sickly looking. “What is it?” he asked.
“I brought you hot chocolate, little man,” Harry grinned, offering Scorpius the smallest of the three cups, “with marshmallows.” Both men laughed as he grinned delightfully. “I luf hot chocolates.”
“I wasn’t sure your preference,” Harry said, turning to Draco, “so I got one Earl Grey and one Darjeeling. There’s milk, sugar and lemon on the side. Have either you prefer, I like both. I also brought biscuits.” The two men moved to the sofa and Draco chose the Darjeeling, adding sugar and lemon. Harry added milk and sugar to the Earl Grey and took a sip, sighing as he sat back on the sofa. “I love this,” he said with a smile. “I love the smell almost as much as the taste. It relaxes me.”
“It’s the bergamot,” Draco said as he also relaxed back into the sofa cushion. “The scent is lovely. Thank you, Potter, for the tea and chocolate.”
“It’s Harry,” Harry said with a smirk, “and you’re welcome. I fancied tea before sleep and I figured here I had a captive bit of company.”
“Oh, so you have to ensnare people to convince them to have tea, do you?” Draco’s voice had that old sneer to it but his grin and eyes showed only good natured ribbing.
Harry grinned in return. “What can I say? Obviously my appeal isn’t what it used to be.” Harry was enjoying his time with Malfoy and really didn’t want to leave. He searched for something, anything to draw this out, then he glanced over at Scorpius and an idea came.
“You said you two just returned,” he began. “Does that mean you are planning to stay?”
“Yes,” Draco said nodding. “At least we’re going to try. It remains to be seen whether the wizarding world will let me move on from my past. I won’t let it hurt my son, even if it means leaving again.”
“The war is over. You were cleared at your trial.”
“But will everyone be as forgiving,” Draco mused. “I’m not sure but I want to try.”
“I hope it goes well,” Harry said, looking into those pale eyes. “If there’s anything that I can do…”
“Thanks,” came the quiet response. ‘I appreciate it. I’m sure we’ll be ok,” his voice trailed off. “I just want to be a good father.”
“You already are,” Harry said quietly as he drank the last of his tea. Harry didn’t miss the lifted eyebrows or the slight lift of Draco’s lips. Unfortunately his fatigue was growing quickly. “I need sleep. I’m due back in 8 hours.”
“Of course,” Draco said, standing. “Thanks for taking the time to visit with us.”
Harry gave a tired smile and headed home to crash.