When Hermione popped into her drawing room, she nearly disapparated away. For a moment, she thought she was in the wrong home.
The flat was quiet. And clean. A lot cleaner than Hermione left it. Blankets were folded and draped over the sofa, dishes were cleared, and toys put away.
She quietly made her way toward the nursery, where she began to hear a soft voice. When she opened the door, Draco was sitting in the rocker with Rose on his lap. He had a picture book open, pointing to the illustrations and speaking in a gentle voice. The baby’s eye lids were heavy as she rested her head against Draco’s chest.
He put a finger to his lips upon seeing Hermione. She backed away before Rose could see her, and silently closed the door. Shaking her head, Hermione went to the kitchen to put up a pot of tea and place Draco’s sandwich on a plate. By the time she was finished with the preparations, Draco had found his way into the kitchen after putting Rose in her cot.
“I brought you a sandwich. Harry said you hadn’t eaten.”
“Thank you. How is Arthur?”
Nodding and smiling, she answered, “He’ll be fine. But he’ll stay in hospital for another day or two. Tea?”
“Please.” Trying his best to be polite, yet very hungry, Draco took a large bite of the sandwich.
Unable to stay her curiosity any longer, Hermione asked, “How did you do that?”
Not wanting to talk with a full mouth, Draco merely cocked his head in question.
“Rose, I mean. How did you manage to straighten the drawing room and keep her happy? Much less get her to take a nap.”
He shrugged, then swallowed his bite. “She seemed to enjoy being jostled around a little in my arms as I moved about the room.”
“She does like to be rocked rather forcefully,” Hermione laughed. “Did she drink her bottle all right?”
“No problems. She must have been very hungry, though. She downed it in no time. So, I gave her a bit of the next one. I hope that was okay.”
“Are you certain?” he questioned.
“You don’t look certain,” he said, and tentatively took another bite of his sandwich.
“Can I be frank with you?” Hermione asked.
“Harry tells me you’re not interested in having children. But you’re wonderful with them. Mary Poppins herself wouldn’t make a better babysitter.”
“Never mind,” she waved her hand. “What I mean to say is that I think you would make such a good father. It’s a shame not to.”
Draco smiled. “Thank you. But as I told Harry, I didn’t have the best role model. And babysitting for an hour or two hardly compares to the daily chores of parenting.”
“True, Rose can be a handful,” she admitted.
“Do you truly enjoy it?” he asked. “Or is it something you thought was expected of you? You’ve had to give up your career for a family.”
“I haven’t given it up. Merely put it on hold.”
“Don’t you miss it?”
Hermione paused, giving the question some serious thought.
“No,” she finally answered. “I find my time with Rose to be precious. Of course, I like to hear what’s going on over at the Ministry from time to time. But would I rather be there? Absolutely not.”
“And, if it hadn’t been unexpected, would you still have chosen to start a family so soon after marrying?”
Hermione laughed. “Probably not. I don’t know if it’s fate or just the Weasley genes’ need to carry on that caught us by surprise. But it was a happy surprise. And sometimes nature chooses for you.”
“Nature will always choose for Harry and I to remain childless,” Draco said.
Hermione’s smile faded. “A lot of couples need a little help in that department. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have children.”
“There are those that would disagree. I’ve heard that squibs are nature’s way of telling a wizard couple they shouldn’t procreate.”
“A pureblood theory, no doubt.”
Draco smirked. “No doubt. But I have one more question.”
“I realize that Harry is an only child because his parents passed before they could have another, but why is it so many wizarding couples have only one? I am an only child, as are you, and several of our former classmates. If childrearing is so wonderful, why doesn’t everyone have seven children, like the Weasleys?”
Hermione opened her mouth, then frowned. She’d never really thought about it before, but he was right. Luna, Neville, Cedric Diggory, Susan Bones, Seamus and possibly Lavender were all only children, in addition to herself and Draco. She surmised there must have been students in the other Houses that were only children as well.
“I’m afraid I don’t know,” she replied. “I do know that Ron and I are planning to give Rose a baby brother or sister in the next couple of years. I suppose every couple is different.”
“Or perhaps raising a family is much harder than everyone says,” Draco chuckled. He yawned. “As much of a dear as Rose is, I should be off.”
“Thank you again for watching her.” Hermione kissed his cheek. “I do wish you’d give parenthood some more thought. I don’t think anyone who shows as much patience and caring as you do, should let it go to waste.”
“It doesn’t go to waste. Just ask Harry,” he winked. He walked out of the kitchen toward the fireplace and picked up a handful of floo powder. Instead of going home, he called out his parents’ address.
“Draco, what are you doing back? Is everything all right?” Narcissa asked, concerned.
“Yes, well, it is now. Arthur Weasley was taken to St. Mungo’s this afternoon, but he’s recovering. But that isn’t what I came to talk about.”
Narcissa furrowed her brow. “Something is troubling you.”
“Why did you have me?”
She laughed until she realized it was a serious question.
“There are all sorts of reasons,” she told him.
Looking at her expectantly, Draco waited for her to elaborate.
She sat and gestured for him to do the same.
“I suppose part of it was human nature, an instinctual need to carry on.”
“To continue the bloodline? That’s what Father wanted, wasn’t it?”
“What’s the other part?” Draco asked.
“It’s less . . . tangible, and difficult to explain. When you’re in love, you want to share it, grow it. Children are an expression of love, in a way. I don’t know if I’m putting it into the right words. It’s just something we felt.”
“Instinct,” Draco said dryly.
“You say it like it’s a science project. Your father and I love you very much.”
“Then why didn’t you have more children? Why didn’t you read to me when I was a child? Why didn’t you and father play with me? Eat with me? Spend any damn time with me at all?” His voice had risen with his anger.
He wasn’t planning on becoming emotional. He didn’t even recognize his own voice in speaking to his mother.
“Forgive me,” he said quietly.
“Oh, Draco, I had no idea how affected you were.” Narcissa buried her face in her hands. “I didn’t think you remembered.”
“Your father and I did plan to have more children. In fact, you were about to become an older brother when I fell ill.” She reached out her hand to him. “I’ll tell you the whole story.”
He moved closer and took her hand.
“You had just turned four. And I did read to you, nearly every night. But I suppose you were too young to remember it. I was pregnant. Very pregnant. I was having difficulty sleeping at night and was exhausted during the day. My healer prescribed a potion.” She paused. “The apothecary had made a mistake in brewing it. I, along with several others, became ill from the poisoned potion. I lost the baby.”
Draco squeezed her hand. “I didn’t know any of this.”
“You were too young to understand what was happening, and my health was precarious for quite a while. I fell into a coma. My body began to shut down. I was lucky though. One man died.”
Narcissa took a deep breath and continued.
“Your father was distraught. Apparently, he sat by my side every day, going home to check on you at night. The house elves were put in charge of taking care of you.”
“How long?” Draco asked.
“Nearly a year.”
He gasped quietly.
“Slowly, my body healed itself and by your fifth birthday, I had come out of it. My body was healed, for the most part, but my mind and heart were still very much broken. Learning that I had not only lost your sister, but that I was advised not to bear any more children sent me deep into depression.”
“Is it her in the family cemetery? The headstone that simply reads Beloved Daughter?”
Narcissa nodded. “Your father had to deal with that on his own. We hadn’t decided on a name at the time. And so, he left it at that.”
“I’m so sorry.” Draco felt the sting of tears for a sister her never knew he had. He steeled himself though, in order to hear the rest of the story. “What happened when you woke up?”
“St. Mungo’s transferred me to the Janus Thickey Ward temporarily. I hadn’t actually lost my mind, but they feared I would hurt myself, and kept a close watch on me. Eventually, with counseling, and your father’s dedication, of course, I left the hospital and came home. Lucius doted on me and cared for me. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know if I would have ever truly recovered.” She looked at Draco. “But you paid the price, didn’t you?”
“You were more important to him than I was.”
“Not more important. More needy. He worried about you. But the house elves were there to take care of your needs and he thought you would be fine.”
“I remember you spending a lot of time in a sitting room,” Draco said absently. “I was always told not to disturb you. I was only allowed in if I was quiet, so I made sure to find something to do. Usually reading. Father was always asking if you needed anything, covering you with a blanket, or stroking your hair. Things I wished he’d done for me. All he ever did was make me practice potions.”
Narcissa rubbed her forehead. “Oh, it all makes so much sense now.”
“You were so independent, we didn’t think . . . you were just trying to be a good boy. We thought you didn’t need us.”
“But I did.”
She nodded. “We let you down. And it’s caused the animosity between you and your father all these years, along with your need to prove yourself, the demands you’ve made of him, and his willingness to spoil you. I can almost see that there are two sides to you; the independent man who has hardened himself, and the child still seeking approval.”
Draco turned away. He didn’t appreciate being psychoanalyzed. When he turned back, his mother was softly crying.
“Mother,” he whispered. “Please don’t cry. I didn’t come here to make you feel guilty. I only wanted to understand . . .”
“Things should have been so different. We love you very much. You should have felt that every day.”
He smiled. “I know you do. I love you, too.”
She wiped away a tear and composed herself. “So, what brought this on in the first place?”
“I, um . . . nothing in particular,” he told her. “Thank you for being honest with me. It must have been very difficult to talk about.”
“We shouldn’t have kept it from you.”
Draco nodded and stood.
“Draco, you should speak to your father about this. I think there are many things you have to say to one another.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “Another time, though. I need to get back to Harry.”
“I . . . I mean, we’ll visit soon.”
“Are you just getting back from watching Rose?” Harry asked. “Hermione left a while ago.”
“I stopped back at my parents’ house,” Draco said.
“Why? Is everything all right?”
“Yes, I just needed to figure some things out,” Draco said. “Which, I think I have,” he smiled.
“Me too,” Harry said.
“Yes. I’ve realized that you’re right. I like our life the way it is. You are all I need to be happy.”
Draco frowned. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’ve come around to your way of thinking. We don’t need children to be a family. We’re already a bit unconventional,” Harry chuckled. “And apparently, I’m not good with babies.”
“So, you no longer want one?”
“I knew you’d be relieved. I won’t be badgering you anymore.”
“Are you certain?” Draco was still subconsciously frowning. “You seemed so . . . ready before.”
“Yes. I wasn’t really considering the plans we have for the future. I think you’d be great running your own potions shop.”
“Harry, my aspirations shouldn’t supersede yours.”
“They’re not. It’s compromise.”
Draco opened his mouth to protest, but Harry cut him off. “We’ll both have to compromise to make this work. Besides, I don’t see how I could be any happier than I am right now,” Harry grinned. “Plus, I’ve decided to take your advice and write my own story. Well, a version of it. There are some things I’ll leave out. So, what was it that you figured out?”
“Oh, um . . .” Draco hesitated. “My mother and I had a nice talk. She explained some things about my father. I feel I have a better picture of who he was when I was a child.”
Harry waited for further explanation.
“Did you want to hear about it?”
Nodding emphatically, Harry answered, “Yes. Of course. Draco, I want to hear about everything, always. Especially when it’s something good.
Draco gave Harry the shorthand version of the story his mother told. Underemphasizing the part about his sister.
“So, how does all that make you feel?” Harry asked as he rubbed Draco’s shoulder.
Stroking his chin, Draco replied, “Logically, I understand my father’s motives and actions. But it doesn’t change what happened, or how it shaped me.”
“No. But I asked you how you feel about it.”
“I suppose . . . I feel . . . disappointed.”
“In what way?”
“That my father didn’t handle the situation better. That he couldn’t care for his wife and his child. And that my parents kept the truth from me, then tried to make up for it by spoiling me with things and turning me into someone . . .” He clenched his jaw.
“Someone who . . .what?” Harry pressed.
“Someone you didn’t want to be friends with. Someone who acted like an arse all through school.”
“You sound more angry than disappointed,” Harry pointed out.
“It wasn’t all their fault.”
“It’s still okay to be angry. I was angry, for a long time, at Dumbledore, for the things he kept from me. I understood it was all for the greater good. But it didn’t make me feel any better.”
“How did you get over it?”
“Time, and remembering all the good things Dumbledore did and said to me. Plus, realizing that if I had known from the beginning what was expected from me, things may have turned out differently. Not for the better.” Harry smiled. “But you have an opportunity I didn’t have. You can talk to your father. You can tell him how you felt, how you still feel. And he can offer his own account, or feelings.”
Draco snickered. “You think my father will talk about his feelings?”
“He may,” Harry chuckled. “Or not. The main thing is you getting it off your chest, so you can let it go. That’s what will help.”
“Maybe,” Draco shrugged a shoulder. “My father isn’t the only one who behaved less than exemplary. I wish I had known . . . I wish I could do things over differently.”
“No. You can’t wish away the bad without wishing away the good,” Harry said. “Everything that happened to us, lead us here, to right now.”
Draco smiled. “You’re right.”
“The future is what we should concentrate on. And I’ve been thinking about this summer, and where I’d like to travel.”
“Where’s that?” Draco asked, pulling Harry in by the waist. “Have you thought of another public place we can shag?”
“Well, I don’t know about public shagging, but I thought we might go to Greece.”
“Greece? Why Greece?”
“They have a number of . . . nude beaches,” Harry told him.
Draco pulled back. “Sweet Merlin, you expect me to expose my pale bum to the sun? Not to mention my bits.” He subconsciously covered the front of his trousers with his hand.
“There is such a thing as sunscreen,” Harry smirked.
“Does it protect against unanticipated . . . excitement?”
Harry laughed. “Do you often get aroused at the beach?”
“No. However, I do get aroused by the sight of you. In fact, I think it’s about to happen right now.”
“You’re not tired after spending the evening babysitting and speaking with your mother?”
“A little. But I’m more tense. Perhaps a massage would do me well.”
Harry grinned. “Happy to oblige.”
Draco pulled Harry’s hand to his crotch. “I’m particularly tense right here.”
“Let me kiss it then, and make it all better.” Harry sank to his knees to unzip Draco’s trousers. He kissed the hard cock through the pants.
“Mm. As lovely as that is,” Draco began with a moan. “Perhaps you could massage that with your arse instead. Over to the bed.”
In no time, both had stripped down. Harry climbed on after a quick lube spell. Normally, he would have taken time to lavish attention on Draco’s magnificence. But, despite Draco’s claim to the contrary, Harry could see that the day had taken its toll on his love. A quick shag and a good night’s sleep seemed in order.
As he raised and lowered himself, Harry watched Draco’s face relax, his eyes closed and his mouth slack. He was still staring when Draco opened his eyes.
“What?” whispered Draco.
“You’re even more handsome now than you were when we were younger.”
“I don’t look like a ferret anymore?”
Harry stopped moving. “Uh, I was hoping you’d forgotten about that.”
“It wasn’t much of an insult,” Draco said. “Ferrets are rather cute and fuzzy.”
Resuming his movements, Harry replied, “Maybe I fancied you back then, but didn’t know it.”
“That would explain a lot,” Draco smiled, then inhaled sharply. “I’m getting close.” He ran his hands over Harry’s sides and hips.
Harry sped up, cock bobbing up and down. When Draco made a move for it, he gently pushed his hand away. “I’m taking care of everything tonight. Just enjoy it.”
“But I do enjoy touching you.”
“Hard to argue with that,” Harry grinned and allowed Draco to stroke him.
They moved together in relative silence, save for their labored breathing and occasional grunts.
Leaning back, Harry angled himself to get Draco’s cock to hit him just where he liked.
“Draco, let go. I don’t want to cum before you.”
“No danger there,” Draco breathed. His body tensed and he clutched at Harry’s hips, pulling him down hard. “Oh fuck, Harry.”
Harry cried out, spewing between them. He stroked himself to finish, then kissed Draco.
“I needed that,” Draco chuckled. “But now I’m really knackered.”
“Me too. I’ll clean us up, and we can go to sleep. At least tomorrow is Sunday,” Harry said. “Are you all right?”
“I don’t know,” Draco answered honestly. “I’m confused about a lot of things right now. And I’m not sure how to feel about any of them.” He gave a sad smile. “Except you. I need you more than ever.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Harry assured him.
Though exhausted, Draco lay awake long after Harry had fallen asleep, thinking about everything that had happened that day. He had many questions for his father, and he felt that his future depended upon the answers he got.