The first time Draco noticed it was just before Scorpius had left him to get onto the Hogwarts Express for the first time after Astoria had died. People had been staring. Scorpius was understandably extremely anxious, although he plastered a smile on his face. Although he looked excited his hands were twitching. He was grabbing the fingers on his left hand, bending them and rubbing them. Draco recognised it as a sign of anxiety and it broke his heart. But he didn’t know what to do to help his son, especially since he was barely holding it together himself. They said their goodbyes and as Scorpius turned to walk towards the train Draco watched him pull a bag of sweets out of his pocket, look at it for a second, and then shove it back in.
People were still looking, they always looked. From when Scorpius had been little Draco had tried to prepare him as best as he could. But it was hard. How do you explain to your son that everyone is going to judge him because of the terrible things that you had done?
There was one incident that was burnt into Draco’s mind though, something he would never forget. Scorpius had only been four. It was before Astoria had become very ill, and they were out in Diagon Alley, taking Scorpius to choose a new book and get some ice cream, because even at that age Scorpius had loved reading. They had been having a wonderful time, Scorpius was talking excitedly about his new book and trying to eat his ice cream at the same time, causing him to get it all over his face and his clothes. Draco and Astoria had been looking at him with identical faces of love and adoration.
And that was when the man had marched over.
He had started screaming at Draco, harsh and hurtful words that still managed to have an effect on him. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence though, Draco was used to it. He accepted it. But he would not accept someone doing it in front of his son. Draco had pushed back his chair and stood up to face the man, blocking Scorpius and Astoria from his view. He knew that Astoria would be lifting Scorpius out of his seat and trying to shield him. The man continued his assault and just when Draco thought it couldn’t get worse the man started to bring up the stupid, idiotic rumour that continued to ruin their lives. At that point Draco had raised his wand at the same time he raised his voice to tell the man that it was enough. But that just fuelled the man’s hate further and he lifted his own wand, and before Draco knew what was happening it was pointed at his son, and he didn’t even hesitate before he leapt forward and slammed into the man, forcing him to the ground. The spell just missed Scorpius, hitting the wall behind his head and causing Scorpius to burst into tears. That had been the first and only time that someone had threatened his son. Draco made sure that nobody would ever make that mistake again.
But it haunted him to this day. How people were so ignorant to believe the rumours. Or even worse, when they hated him even when they knew they weren’t true. Because that meant people would hate Scorpius as a Malfoy just as much as they would if he was a Voldemort.
Draco regretted everything he had done when he was younger. Before he had met Astoria he had even believed that he deserved the abuse. He deserved to feel the pain that he had inflicted on others. But Astoria had helped to show him that there was more than darkness in the world, and that the past didn’t have to be a storm that blackened his future. He could never escape from what he had done, he could never change the thoughts of others. But he could try and create something with the rest of his life that would make him happy. Before Astoria happiness had just been an unreachable, foreign concept to him. It was what he had wanted more than anything in the world and yet it was the one thing that had always been entirely out of reach.
And then Scorpius was born. And Draco’s whole world shifted. He had never before smiled as much. Holding his son in his arms, watching him adjust to the world. To watch Scorpius grow up into a kind young boy had brought Draco more happiness than he had ever dreamt of.
He should have realised earlier, but he only made the connection when they were standing together at Astoria’s grave. They never said anything out loud when they were there, but Draco knew they were both speaking to her in their heads. He choked on a sob as he thought of how proud she would’ve been of their son. He was twisting his wedding ring around his finger as he often did, and that was when he glanced over to Scorpius. He was standing there, mouthing words that Draco couldn’t hear, playing with his fingers on his left hand. Bending and straightening his ring finger.
Scorpius had never really shown much interest in flying when he was younger, and Draco had accepted the fact that he was never going to get to practice with him in the summer or travel to Hogwarts to watch him play. So he had been very pleasantly surprised when Scorpius had asked if he would teach him some moves.
And now here he was, playing in his first match after making the team. Draco had come to Hogwarts early, making sure he had enough time to talk to him and wish him luck before the match started. He had found Scorpius outside the changing rooms already dressed in his Quidditch uniform, Albus by his side of course. As he walked over Albus pulled him into a tight hug and Draco smiled at the display of affection. The two were pretty much inseparable now, and Draco had gotten used to the fact that Albus was going to be a constant by Scorpius’s side.
“Dad!” Scorpius exclaimed as soon as he noticed him.
“How are you feeling, ready for the first game?” Draco asked as he reached the boys.
Slytherin were playing Hufflepuff, but from what Draco had heard it wasn’t going to be a sure-fire win for them. The Hufflepuff keeper was known to be extremely good, and so it was expected that they wouldn’t get many goals in. This made Scorpius’s role all the more important.
“I’m actually excited! I mean, of course I’m a little bit nervous, but mostly excited,” Scorpius answered with a smile, and Draco could find no hint of a lie.
“Remember what I told you about the fake dive…”
“Yes Dad. Also, make sure I keep an eye on the other seeker and if I spot the snitch try and get into an optimum position before diving for it, as far away from the other seeker as possible. I remember.”
Draco felt a swell of pride.
“And the most important thing…” he pressed.
“Don’t be reckless,” Scorpius answered straight away, and Draco was relieved that drilling that rule into him had made it stick. He’d seen some seekers make crazy leaps off of their brooms in an attempt to catch the snitch, Potter being one of them, and he did not want Scorpius to end up in the hospital wing.
Draco reached down into his pocket and pulled out the small badge that he had placed there that morning. He had debated for a long time whether he should give it to Scorpius or not, he still wasn’t completely at ease with being a good Dad, since he didn’t have anything to go by. But he thought that this would be a kind gesture, something that he wished his Father would have done for him.
“I brought you this,” he started, opening his palm to reveal the Seeker badge glimmering in the light.
“I know you already have one, but I wanted you to have it, for luck. And so you know that I’m here and that I’m rooting for you.”
“Of course I know that Dad! But thank you, I could use all the luck I can get,” Scorpius chuckled, immediately reaching out for the badge and pinning it next to his own one.
Draco smiled brightly and reached out to pat Scorpius on the shoulder. “Now get in there and listen to your captain, okay?”
Scorpius nodded. He turned to Albus and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before calling out a goodbye as he made his way inside.
Draco walked with Albus to the stands and was touched when he followed him to the visitor’s section instead of to the Hogwarts Slytherin side.
“I don’t usually watch Quidditch and I wouldn’t have any one to stand next to in Slytherin,” Albus explained so flippantly that Draco felt a pang of sadness for how accepted his exclusion from the rest of his house was. But Draco knew he was happy with Scorpius, and that was the most important thing he supposed.
“Besides,” Albus had continued, “I like spending time with you.”
Draco smiled and reached up to squeeze Albus’s shoulder. Knowing that Albus did enjoy his company made him happier than the boy would ever know. He knew Albus liked having someone who embraced Slytherin as much as he did, and he also knew how much of a rift it had caused with his own Dad. Draco would never try to get in the way of that relationship, but knowing he could provide Albus with something he so desperately needed was one of those rare moments where Draco felt like a capable parent.
“You’re not wearing anything Slytherin,” Albus had exclaimed once they sat down. “How are people going to know what house your supporting?”
And despite that fact that every single witch and wizard knew exactly who he was and exactly who he would be cheering for Albus apparently felt like it wouldn’t do, and so he unwrapped the scarf from around his neck and handed it to Draco.
“Now I’m in my robes, and you have the scarf,” he said, giving a small nod of approval.
“Perfect,” Draco replied, willing his emotions not to overtake him. It was small gestures like that one that made Albus Potter a truly remarkable young man.
They both watched the game intensely, their eyes constantly flicking from the main action to Scorpius who was circling the pitch.
At one point Draco saw Scorpius reach up and touch his chest before he veered slightly from his circuit and then dived. It was only later when he was replaying the game in his mind that Draco would realise Scorpius had been touching the badge he had given him for luck before he dived for the snitch.
They watched as the Hufflepuff seeker realised what was happening, immediately changing course. But he was too far away, he would never reach Scorpius in time.
The score was 160-30. If Scorpius caught the snitch then Slytherin would win.
He was dropping fast. Getting closer and closer to the ground.
“He’s not pulling up, shouldn’t he be pulling up by now?” Albus shouted over the roar of the cheers and screams of the spectators.
And he was right.
“Oh yes Dad I won’t be reckless, not at all, you have nothing to worry about,” Draco muttered to himself as he watched, tensing as he anticipated Scorpius’s collision with the ground.
He was only a few metres away when he finally reached out his hand, jumping off the broom just before it crashed and rolling along the dirt. Draco held his breath as Scorpius lay there for a moment, but it was only for moment. He leapt up, punching his hand into the air as the Slytherin students let out an almighty roar.
“Malfoy has caught the snitch. Slytherin win!” they heard.
Draco pulled Albus into a hug as they cheered and screamed for Scorpius.
“Look how amazing he was Draco! You taught him that,” Albus shouted above the noise.
Draco would like to take the credit, he truly would. Sure, he had passed on his tricks and knowledge of Quidditch, but Scorpius had natural talent and the drive to succeed. That was something that couldn’t be taught.
It was the night before James’s wedding and Scorpius was panicking. From the way he was racing around the room muttering to himself you might have thought that he was going crazy.
“I can’t believe I’ve known you for over ten years and you never once told me you can’t dance!” he exclaimed as he finished moving all the furniture to the side of the room.
“Scorpius it doesn’t matter, it’s not our wedding! No-one will care if I’m just bending my knees and bopping my head,” Albus replied from where was slumped in an armchair which had been transported to the corner of their living room.
“Albus Severus Potter, you did not just say that!” Scorpius cried, turning round to face Albus with a frown on his face.
“Don’t look at me like that Scorp…” Albus said, standing up and reaching out to him.
“Oh no you don’t. No kisses for you until you realise that bending your knees and bopping your head does not count as dancing!”
Albus pouted, a move that would usually earn him an eye roll or a smirk. Today he just received a glare.
“We’re not going to bed until you can do at least one dance decently,” Scorpius said with authority.
“It’s not enough that you’re making me dance, you’re not letting me stop till I’m decent at it?” Albus whined.
“You need to try Albus.”
“You need to lower your expectations Scorpius.”
“You need to grow up.”
“You need to relax.”
“You need to shut up and listen to me.”
Albus opened his mouth to reply but quickly closed it.
“So if I can learn to do one dance decently, will you give me a reward?” he smirked, flirting shamelessly.
“I know what you’re trying to do, but distractions won’t work Albus,” Scorpius replied with a roll of his eyes, but Albus saw him fighting down a smile.
Albus didn’t really mind, and he knew that Scorpius could tell he was only joking around. The truth was Albus did want to learn how to dance, and he wanted the love of his life to teach him.
“Okay, teach me Mr Malfoy,” Albus said with a chuckle, moving so he was standing directly in front of Scorpius.
He looked directly into Scorpius’s grey eyes but what he saw confused him. There was elation and excitement but also sadness laced in there too. Scorpius reached out and grabbed his arms, manoeuvring them to the right position. When they locked eyes again Albus gave him a look, and they were so accustomed to each other, so in sync, that Scorpius knew the question Albus was asking without him having to voice it.
“My mum used to dance with me a lot, before she got too ill. When I was little she’d hold me on her hip, put on some music and float around the room with me.”
“Like in the frame you have on the fireplace,” Albus replied, understanding straight away. He glanced at it now, taking in the look of pure joy on Astoria’s face and watching baby Scorpius laugh delightedly. Albus knew that sometimes when Scorpius missed her a lot he would just sit and watch it, again and again and again.
Scorpius glanced over at it too before looking back at Albus with a smile.
“My Dad taught me when I was old enough, I was eager to learn so I could show Mum. I used to go up to her room and stand in position, pretending I had someone else there with me and I would do the steps and dance around her bed. I must have looked ridiculous, but it always made her smile.”
“You never told me that before,” Albus whispered reaching out to cup Scorpius’s face, wiping away a solitary tear that had fallen.
“It’s hard to talk about her sometimes, even after all these years,” Scorpius replied with a shaky voice, reaching up to place his own hand over Albus’s, closing his eyes for a second. Albus moved forward so that their foreheads were touching and he felt Scorpius’s sigh. When he opened his eyes again it felt as if Albus was staring straight into his soul. It was so intimate. Even when he thought he knew everything about his boyfriend something would crop up that proved him wrong. But Albus hoped he would never stop learning about him. He hoped he would live the rest of his life getting to know Scorpius as well as he knew himself.
As Scorpius started to explain the movements Albus felt as if he was falling more in love with every word. He had been amenable before, but now he was determined. Determined to be even better than just decent. Determined to be the best he could be. For Scorpius.
As they spun around the room together, albeit quite ungracefully, Albus could see why dancing meant so much to Scorpius.
And at the wedding they danced. Albus was aware of everyone watching them but for once he didn’t mind being the centre of attention.
“Hey! You’re stealing my spotlight, save it for your own wedding,” James had joked.
Scorpius had pulled Albus off the dance floor, his eyes crinkling as he let out a laugh, the smile not leaving his face as they sat down.
“Wow!” Ginny exclaimed as they both fell into their seats at the table, Scorpius smiling and Albus breathing heavily. “I didn’t know you could dance like that Scorpius, where did you get that talent?” she asked, sounding impressed.
“I got it from my Dad,” Scorpius replied, looking over at Draco who was sat to his right. They smiled at each other and Albus knew that they must have both been thinking of Astoria. Draco placed his hand on Scorpius’s shoulder as Albus placed his on his knee.
And Scorpius sat there, soaking in the love from the two people who meant the most to him. Surrounded by the Potters and the family that now treated him and his Dad as one of them.
He took Albus’s hand and laced their fingers together. He couldn’t wait until they had a wedding of their own.
“Albus no, I won’t come any closer,” Scorpius insisted, resisting the tug as Albus tried to pull him forward. He planted his feet on the ground, eyeing the creature warily.
“Why are you looking at him like that? He’s not going to hurt you,” Albus chuckled, giving Scorpius’s hand a squeeze.
“They are dangerous Albus,” Scorpius insisted, causing Albus to roll his eyes.
“Don’t tell me your Dad passed his hatred of hippogriffs onto you,” he asked with a hint of amusement to his voice.
“He almost lost an arm Albus!” Scorpius bit back, “He told me never to get too close to them and I’m going to stick with his advice.”
Albus was laughing fully now, removing his hand from Scorpius’s as he took a few steps closer.
“Feathers is completely harmless, as long as you take the proper steps and don’t insult him then he’s actually very sweet,” Albus explained, stopping a few feet away and bowing.
“I still can’t believe you named a hippogriff Feathers. I’m married to a mad man,” Scorpius muttered, watching as the creature bowed back within a matter of seconds. Albus straightened and reached out a hand, stroking the creature’s head like it was a cat.
“Mad,” Scorpius muttered again with a shake of his head, “Completely mad.”
But he couldn’t help but smile at the ease at which Albus dealt with him. Here he was in his element. There wasn’t a creature that Albus couldn’t befriend, and Scorpius was proud of him. Proud that he had followed his dreams and had never compromised with his happiness.
And although he himself would never get close to a hippogriff he loved watching Albus do what he did best. Maybe his fear was irrational, built up from one sided stories that his Dad had told him when he was a child. But Albus didn’t care. In fact Scorpius had a suspicion that his quirks just made Albus love him even more.
When Scorpius walked into the living room of the Manor he saw his Dad sitting on the floor with his legs crossed, cardboard boxes strewn around him. This was unusual for two reasons. One: Scorpius had never seen his Dad sit on the floor. Ever. It wasn’t something he had ever thought about before, but now that he was seeing it he realised just how strange the sight was. Two: his Dad hated clutter. He hated having a mess in his house, it was why he frowned every time he entered the Malfoy-Potter household which seemed to just get messier and messier as the years went on. They were going to have to have a big clear out soon though, just as soon as he was able to persuade his husband. They were going to need the space, and they couldn’t have things lying all over the place with a baby roaming around.
“Hey Dad,” Scorpius greeted, pausing at the doorframe. His Dad jumped slightly, knocking him out of whatever trance he had been swept in to.
“Scorpius, come in. Have a seat. I thought we could go through these today,” Draco said, a strange quality to voice. Scorpius noticed that it was strained slightly, as if he was struggling to speak.
He wandered in and moved a few boxes so that he could clear a space next to his father. As he picked one up the lid flopped open and Scorpius got a glance of what was inside. Baby clothes, toys, books. No wonder his Dad was finding it difficult to get the words out. Scorpius knew well the lump that appeared in his throat whenever they talked about his Mum.
“I would like that,” Scorpius said softly as he sat down.
“You might think it’s just a load of junk, but I just thought…” Draco trailed off, “Well I just thought you might want to have a look. See if you wanted any of it, now that you’re going to be a Dad yourself in a few months.”
It was a lovely idea. Scorpius was truly touched. He couldn’t even pretend to grasp how difficult this was going to be for his Dad. Every item here must hold a story, a memory of his Mum.
“Which one should we start with?” Scorpius asked, turning to look at his Dad. Draco smiled at him before moving his gaze to the boxes.
“How about this one,” Draco answered, reaching out and pulling a cardboard box over that was marked ‘Clothes 0 – 3 months.”
“Seems like a perfect place to start,” Scorpius agreed.
Draco’s hands stopped just short of the flaps of the lid, shaking slightly. Scorpius reached out and covered his Dad’s hand with his own, hearing the exhale that his Dad released. And they opened the box together.
They sat there for hours. By the time they had gone through everything Scorpius felt like he had more than enough to keep his baby warm, fashionable and entertained for the first few years of her life. He had no doubt that the Potters would have their own baby things they would pass to Albus, and had a thought that they probably didn’t need to buy anything new at all. He knew they would though. Albus had been giddy with the thought of going shopping for baby things, and although Scorpius tried to keep a tighter lid on his excitement he too couldn’t wait to experience that.
They were sitting in a comfortable silence, their minds thinking about other things. Scorpius – what his life was going to be like with a daughter, and Draco – how he could’ve been a better Dad to Scorpius.
“I wish I could have taught you more than just what being afraid felt like,” Draco spoke quietly, breaking the silence that had fallen over them.
“Dad, what are you talking about?” Scorpius huffed with a snort of disbelief.
“You must remember Scorpius, when you were younger. We used to take you out and people would hurl insults at us, grown witches and wizards would pull their children away as they stared at us with wide eyes.”
Scorpius watched as his Dad sat there, eyes trained on the small soft owl toy he was holding and fiddling about with in his hands.
“Honestly Dad, I don’t remember that at all,” Scorpius replied, which caused his Dad’s head to turn and look at him. Scorpius’s heart almost broke as he took in the completely defeated look that was plastered on his Dad’s face.
“You don’t? Really?” Draco asked as he looked back down at the owl, a vulnerability to his voice that Scorpius had never heard before. He wondered how he hadn’t seen it before now. How he hadn’t noticed the guilt that his Dad still harboured. Scorpius told him all the time that he loved him, but perhaps he should have been doing more.
“No. Nothing. But even if I did, the way other people act isn’t your fault.”
Scorpius wasn’t a stranger to this situation. He was good at giving comfort, he knew he was. He did it with Albus and he did it with his patients, but he had never done it with his Dad. He acted so well put together, so strong all time that it was easy to forget that he was still quite broken. That he was still always piecing himself together.
“But they were only doing that because of me,” Draco answered.
Scorpius didn’t know the rules here. With Albus it was easy, there was never a situation that physical affection – fingers running through the hair, a long embrace, a hold of the hands – couldn’t fix. But Scorpius didn’t know what his Dad would welcome.
So Scorpius decided to use his words. Words had always been his most powerful weapon and his most profound form of comfort. Words had the ability to change everything.
“Do you know what I remember about my childhood?” he started, waiting until his Dad lifted his head up to look at him so he could see that what Scorpius was saying was the absolute truth.
“I remember you teaching me how to read. I would sit in between you and Mum and we’d read two books every night before I went to bed.”
Draco remembered. He remembered moving his fingers across the page as Scorpius stuttered out each word, his small hand resting upon his so he could follow along with the words too.
“You taught me how to play chess and how to tie a tie, how to do up my shoelaces and how to fly. You taught me to be kind, to always do what I thought was right and not to let other people control me. You taught me how to meet cruelty with kindness, how to not judge people before I knew them. You were a great Dad.”
Draco supressed his sob as the tears escaped from his eyes. He didn’t look away from Scorpius, he couldn’t. He sat there and he let his words wrap around him as if they were weaving some sort of protective cocoon. But his doubts were still there.
“Scorpius… please. I may have done all those things but I still deserted you when you needed me most. I let you go back to Hogwarts without even talking about how losing her affected you. I couldn’t talk to you because I didn’t know how to even think about her without breaking down, never mind put into words what I was feeling, or voice the memories that played through my mind.”
“I’ve never blamed you for that,” Scorpius replied earnestly, and all Draco could feel was the love and truth spilling out of his son.
“And yet I feel the weight of the guilt every day,” he responded, reaching out to grab Scorpius’s shoulders. Anchoring himself to his son, to his light.
“I’m sorry Scorpius. I’ve never said it before, Merlin I should have a long time ago. I’m sorry,” Draco choked out.
Scorpius pulled him into a hug, and Draco almost collapsed into it. Scorpius had always been his source of strength, had always been his light in the darkness. When it felt as if the crushing despair would swallow him whole all he had to do was think of his son and he’d remember that the world wasn’t so cruel. The world had gifted him with the beauty and love that having a son bore.
“I forgive you,” Scorpius replied. Draco exhaled deeply, feeling as if years and years of guilt were escaping his body with the breath. He didn’t realise how much he had needed it. Not until now.
They sat there crying for a while. It was the first time that Draco had felt better with every tear rather than worse.
Once he managed to pull himself back together they sorted the boxes into piles of what was going back in the attic and what was to be transported over to Scorpius’s house.
They said their goodbyes with promises of dinner someday that week.
Scorpius took a few steps out of the door before pausing and turning back.
“Do you know what the most important thing I learnt from you was?” he asked, hurrying back up to where his Dad was hovering in the doorway.
“How to love,” he stated simply. “How to love deeply and fiercely and to cherish all the moments together. I watched you and Mum together and you showed me what a life full of love was. You showed me the type of the relationship that I deserved. I’m going to be a great Dad, I know I am. Because how to be a good Dad, I learnt that from you.”
His Dad looked like he was going to cry again, which wasn’t what Scorpius had wanted. But he needed to say it. He needed his Dad to know that sure, he may have gotten his nose and his hair and his name and all the other things that had been passed on. But his heart, his kindness, his ability to love one person more than the entire world – they were the most important things he had been given from his Dad.