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Paradox

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Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

Part 3

 

His nerves returned when the floo flared and his aunt asked to come through. He’d never actually seen Andromeda Tonks, and he was shaken badly when she stepped out of the fireplace. Fear caught him at the back of his throat and he startled backwards. “No,” he breathed. “No, you’re dead.”

Harry caught him around his arms and chest, holding him in place while whispering into his ear. “It’s not her, Draco,” he said. “It’s not Bellatrix, look.”

His warmth felt safe and soothing and he calmed down enough to see the difference. Andromeda’s eyes weren’t radiating madness, nor cruelty. They were not the eyes of the woman who’d tortured him and his mother after Draco failed to kill Professor Dumbledore. These eyes were softer, more gentle and careful.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “My resemblance to my older sister must be quite shocking to you, Draco. I hope you’ll come to realise that appearance is where the likeness ends.”

“Yes, of course,” he replied still a little shakily. “If you’ll allow me to get to know you, Mrs Tonks.”

“None of that, dear boy,” she said. “You’re family, so call me aunt Dromeda, or Andromeda until you’re more comfortable.”

He nodded at her and gave her a small smile. “And who’s this?” he asked, dropping into a crouch to face the eight-year-old clutching his Grandmother’s skirts tightly.

If he wasn’t positively sure this was Teddy Lupin and not Harry’s secret child, he would’ve sworn they were related. The boy had the exact same green eyes and messy black hair as the older man had, and even the shape of their mouths was very similar.

“Draco, meet your first cousin once removed; Teddy!” Harry said proudly as if presenting his own child. “Did I get that right?”

Andromeda chuckled. “That’s exactly right, Harry. He’s been nagging for you to take him up on your broom all day.”

“Brilliant!” Harry cried out and messed up the unkempt black hair of the small boy even further before he leaned into him and whispered conspiringly. “I love an excuse to go flying.”

Teddy beamed up at his Godfather and let go of his Grandmother.

“Teddy,” he said. “Would you like to meet your cousin Draco? He’s a really good friend of mine.”

The boy looked up at him shyly and then turned back to Harry. His mouth formed the word ‘no’, and even though the sound couldn’t be heard, the shaking head said everything. Draco felt his heart drop a few feet. It hurt to be so easily rejected by a child.

Harry patted the boy on the shoulder and turned to face him. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “He’s always like this. Takes him a bit to warm up to new people.”

Draco nodded his head in comprehension, but he couldn’t help but feel it was something to worry about. Teddy was one of the two people who could be considered as close relatives, his family. The last family he had.

Andromeda tapped his shoulder and he turned to face her. “Draco, I’m sorry I didn’t contact you sooner,” she said. “Frankly, I was afraid you wouldn’t welcome the chance.”

“I understand, Mrs- Andromeda,” he replied. “I could say the same for myself. Until this morning, I was afraid you’d see nothing but my parent’s son.”

“I brought something when I learned you would be here,” she said. “I don’t know if you’re interested, but your mother secretly kept writing to me when my family disowned me for running off and marrying my Ted. There are few letters, for she wasn’t able to write often, and most of them are about her marriage with Lucius, but there’s five or six about you.”

Draco’s eyes started stinging, but he was dead set on holding back the tears.

“She stopped writing around your second birthday,” she continued. “I think your father found out about our communication. However, I’d like you to have them.”

“I, I can’t take them,” he replied. “They’re yours.”

“They’ve done all they can for an old woman like me,” Andromeda said kindly and lifted his chin for him to meet her eyes. “It’s time they moved on and healed another wounded heart.”

Draco’s eyelids fluttered closed and he breathed in deeply before he opened his eyes again and looked at his aunt gratefully. “Thank you,” he whispered and she let go of his chin, handing him a stack of envelopes which he quickly shrunk and slid into his pocket. “Thank you,” he repeated and smiled.

During supper, he sat next to Harry, who made him feel welcome and wanted at the table. They brushed their hands every now and then, and each time Draco felt overwhelmed, Harry would know and rest his hand on his knee in a supporting fashion. Each time he did, Draco looked up at him warmly, thanking his lucky stars for a chance with this man.

He could feel those young green eyes on him though, their studying gaze never faltering. He felt scrutinized by the eight-year-old, wondering what standards the boy would measure him to. He was scared he wouldn’t hold up to whatever the boy felt his Godfather deserved.

During desert, the most amazing thing happened though. Hermione gasped out loud and bumped her elbow into Ron’s arm, pointing covertly at the boy. Ron proceeded to alert both Angelina and George. By the time Angelina tapped on Audrey’s shoulder, almost every head was turned towards Teddy, who now only had eyes for his food.

Draco’s mouth was gaping and Harry reached out his hand to gently close it with a broad grin. “I guess you passed his test,” he said and Draco could just blink.

“How did he do it?” he asked an amused Harry. He blinked again, but the sight hadn’t changed. On the opposite side of the table sat a boy with startling green eyes and long platinum blond hair.

“He’s a Metamorphmagus,” Harry answered. “Though we all joked he was stuck. He hasn’t changed a thing since he settled on his resemblance to me.”

“Blimey!” cried Blaise, who’d only just noticed the cause of the disturbance around the table. “He looks like a lovechild of you and Harry, Drake. Wait till I tell Pansy!”

Draco groaned, knowing exactly what Pansy would do with information like that. “Please don’t,” he said, making everyone at the table laugh.

“What’s it worth to you?” Blaise answered with a mischievous grin.

“Anything!” Draco pleaded. “I’ll give you my firstborn!”

This caused a wave of gasps and horrid cries around the table.

“What?” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “As far as I’m aware, wizards can’t bear children. And besides, I wasn’t really planning on passing on these faulty pureblood genes anyway.”

The adults around the table were still eyeing him warily, while the oldest children were trying to figure out what was going on. Everyone was staring at Draco.

“Oh come on,” he said. “Stop expecting me to stand up and flash you my Dark Mark!”

And just like that, Harry leaned in and pressed his lush lips against Draco’s cheek. “There’s the snarky Malfoy I’ve come to like,” he chuckled and Draco’s recently kissed cheek flushed red. As did the other.

"So that comment earlier was complete bollocks," Ron stated. " You don't want any children.

Draco glanced at Harry, who looked equally wistful and curious for his answer.

"I do, eventually," he said, his gaze fixed on those emerald eyes. "I don't know what good I'd do as a father, but I imagine there's much I could give a child that would otherwise have nothing."

"Adoption then, rather than surrogacy," George added. "What, our Harry's genes aren't good enough for you?"

Draco sighed, hoping this family would look at him with anything other than contented mistrust.

"They are, and should we progress to that stage, I'm sure Harry and I will discuss all options," he answered while turning to face George. "Though I don't see the point in going through all that trouble to bring a child into this world, while there are orphanages filled with children who have very little chance of being adopted.

Harry reached out and squeezed his thigh in quiet support. "I agree," he said, something close to awe colouring his voice.

"You don't mind the child wouldn't be magical?" Andromeda asked.

"No," Harry answered quickly. "A child's magical ability is not important to me, at least. Not really. I just want a family."

Though Draco was convinced of the sincerity of Harry's words, he couldn't help but hear the quiet resignation.

"Actually," he said. "There are a lot of magical children who have no parents, their need is much greater for parents such as ourselves."

"Bullocks," Ron replied a little angrily. "You know as well as I do, that magical children are very well cared for within our world."

Harry winced and Draco returned the comforting squeeze to the man's thigh. He didn't know the details, but he was aware Harry's childhood hadn't been all happy. Even the man's short posture and the showing of his ribs all through school was proof of that.

"Magical children with magical parents, yes," Draco replied. "However, muggle-born orphans do not usually come into view until they receive their Hogwarts letters."

"Because the registry that tracks down magical children doesn't work until they're eleven," Mr Weasley said.

"There are ways around the registry," Draco clarified. "We wouldn't be entirely sure, but the muggle papers report stories every once in a while that indicate a magical child is involved. Freak occurrences and such."

Harry winced again, and though he wasn't entirely sure what he'd said wrong, he received a glare from Ron.

"I think it's the wizarding world's job to take care of these children as well, they are at risk of growing up in the worst of situations if we don't."

"What do you mean?" Hermione said. "There's nothing wrong with growing up in the muggle world. I had a very happy childhood.

"Yes, but you were raised by loving parents weren't you?" Draco replied. "The children we are talking about are being raised in orphanages, with next to no chance of adoption. They are feared and shunned, the caretakers are always very thankful when an offer for education in a fully paid boarding school arrives."

"But we do take charge at that point," Mr Weasley said. "It surely couldn't be that bad?"

"Too little, too late," Draco said. "Don't you ever wonder, what Tom Riddle would've grown up to be, had he spent his youth in a loving home? If he would've been the same sadistic bastard if he'd grown up in our world? This isn't about the muggle vs the wizarding world. It's about the right of every child to be loved and cared for, whether they're magical or not."

"He's right," Harry said in a small voice. "You all have no idea what it's like to grow up with people who fear and hate you."

Harry squeezed Draco's thigh again, looking for some sort of strength and Draco lay his hand on top of Harry's, curling their fingers together and holding on. He understood the other man better than anyone else at the table could. Maybe he hadn't been feared or hated by his parents, but Draco sure didn't have the kind of love growing up as the Weasleys did. And he'd seen the children from those orphanages, the desperate longing in their eyes as he explained to them that they were special and that he would help them find a family.

So far Draco had managed to have eleven children adopted into loving homes, with parents who understood what magic was and knew to cherish rather than fear it. Seeing as he didn't yet know how to bring this idea to the wizarding public, he'd placed 9 children with squibs and 3 with muggle families who already had older magical children. The last few he'd found through headmistress McGonagall, the only person who knew about his so-called adoption agency.

Now it wasn't really an agency, it wasn't like one could walk in and ask for a child. Draco found both the children and the families by himself, trying to find the perfect match. It was his payment, his making up for his family's crimes, his atonement for the choices he made himself.

It didn't go fast enough though. Eleven children in three years and he'd found almost forty children in Europe at the same time. He needed to find more families willing to take them in, but he didn't have a clue how. He was Draco Malfoy, unemployed, unworthy and unliked. Who would give him the time of day long enough to listen to what he had to say?

Maybe he should hire someone, he had enough money. The one thing his father had unconsciously done for him was to safeguard his own assets by placing almost all his galleons in his mother's vault. The Malfoy vaults had been confiscated, but his mother could keep her own vaults as she had been cleared of all charges. Draco had enough left to live the rest of his life in luxury, and then some.

Little rich orphan, just like Harry. Maybe they were more similar than he thought, in some ways. Everything else they'd just have to overcome if it could be overcome.

At least his future with Harry looked more bright than his chances with Severus had ever seemed, and he realized that there were things he wanted to share with him, secrets, hopes and dreams. Harry would listen to them, maybe even share some of his own.

"Well, I think your plans for family expansion are very honourable, Draco," Molly said with a smile. "Every child deserves a loving home, and I'm sure you'd be able to provide one, with or without our Harry."

"Thank you, Mrs Weasley," he answered. At least she accepted him, maybe even liked him.

"Talking about providing for a child, what do you actually do, Malfoy?" Ron grumbled.

"Ron!" Hermione and Harry called out as one.

"What?" Ron said. "We all know Harry's got money, and as far as I know all the Malfoy assets were taken. I just want to make sure he isn't planning on living off our Harry."

"What's with all this 'our' Harry?" Harry asked exasperatedly. "I am not a child, you know? I'm very capable of deciding for myself what I plan to do with both my money and my lovelife. I didn't bring Draco to have him scrutinized by all of you, I brought him because..."

He rubbed his forehead with his left hand while his right hand was still clutched in Draco's. "I brought him because I really like him, and I wanted you all to meet him as someone I like."

Arthur looked at the man with a glint in his eyes. "We know you're very capable, Harry," he said. "But this is what a family does. We give your romantic interest the third degree and pester you about grandchildren."

"But I'm not, you know, family," Harry said in a broken voice. "Ginny broke up with me, I'm not anything."

Draco saw Ginny looking down at the table with a guilty look on her face. He didn't know what was actually happening, but something in her look and the tone of Harry's voice made the hairs rise at the back of his neck.

"Whatever made you think that?" Mrs Weasley cried out. "You're not my son because you're Ron's friend, and certainly not because you were dating my daughter! I met a scrawny little thing at Kings Cross years ago, and I instantly felt responsible for him as no one else seemed to feel that way. And I've grown to love you, Harry James Potter! Do not ever doubt that! You're family!"

"Yes Mrs Weasley," Harry said, peeking at Ginny over the rim of his glasses. The girl was still staring at the table looking very pale.

Draco wasn't the only one who noticed. "Ginny?" Mr Weasley asked. "Is there any particular reason that Harry has the idea he isn't part of our family any longer?"

“I didn’t mean it, alright?” she cried out. “You know I didn’t mean it, don’t you, Harry? I just said that because I wanted you to stop being so-”

“What?” Draco said. “So him? He’s only ever been himself, Ginny. It would be foolish to even try to change him into something he’s not. And I happen to think he’s just perfect the way he is.”

He was so angry to think she tried to blackmail Harry with the only family he ever had, he didn’t even stop to think what he was saying. This was probably the most unMalfoyish thing he’d ever said. He blushed, furiously.

“You do?” Harry asked. The goofy smile on his face was so freaking adorable, that Draco didn’t even bother to hide the way he felt.

“Yeah, I do,” he answered with a foolish grin himself.

Ron cleared his throat and cut straight through the tension. “So you’re not just with him for his money?” he asked, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Oh, please,” Draco said rolling his eyes. “You really don’t think my father would’ve let the Ministry take all his money, do you? Only the Malfoy vaults were taken, my mother’s vaults remained untouched. I just hope Harry here isn’t interested in me for my money.”

Ron snorted and threw one of his Brussel sprouts at Harry. “He hasn’t got a clue, does he?”

“You don’t even have a clue,” Harry grinned. “How would he?”

“Boys, this really isn’t a polite conversational topic,” Mrs Weasley said. “How’s Teddy doing in school, Andromeda?”

The rest of the conversation was mostly taken over by Audrey, Andromeda and Mrs Weasley, who were comparing wizard preschools with homeschooling, but Draco didn’t mind. He had a feeling that the Weasleys accepted him, if only a little, and if not, Harry liked him anyway.

After dinner, they stuck around long enough for Harry to take Teddy up on a broom, and Draco felt only slightly jealous. Even if he wasn’t exactly sure which of the two he was jealous of. He both wanted that easy kind of relationship with his cousin and with Harry. Though he’d have his chance at both if he had a say in it.

They Flooed back to Harry’s quarters at Hogwarts, but Draco thought it best not to stay. It had been a long and somewhat emotional day, and maybe it was better for them to have some breathing room before things went too far, too fast.

He did steal a kiss, despite Harry’s strict rule of no kissing. It wasn’t a very long one, nor a deep one. Just a faint brushing of lips against lips, barely even noticeable if Draco weren’t so very aware of every single cell in Harry’s body. But it was okay, enough, for now.

 

.

 

Of course Pansy would be in his kitchen when he got home. She clapped and squealed, though she would never ever admit to it, when she saw the smile on his face.

“I take it it went well?” she stated more than asked. “Well, come on, tell me about it! You got the Weasleys to like you then?”

“Poor me a drink, sit down and ‘maybe’ I’ll tell you about it,” Draco replied dryly, making himself comfortable on one of the stools around the breakfast bar.

“Get your own damned drink!” Pansy snapped and sat down beside him. “If you want someone to serve you, get a bloody elf! And don’t even think about withholding anything, this would’ve been a horrible day if it weren’t for me.”

Draco lay his head on her shoulder and sighed minutely. “I’m in love, Pans. I’m completely, head over heels, out of my mind in love with Harry Bloody Potter.”

“Yes, yes, way to state the obvious,” Pansy replied, rolling her eyes at the sappy state Draco had reverted to. “But how did it go?”

Her voice rose higher toward the end of the question, making Draco wince slightly, as it was said only inches from his ear.

“Fine, it went fine,” he answered in a bland tone. “Did everything you said, behaved myself even when Blaise went on and on about how much better Slytherin was than Gryffindor, and I even kept myself from hexing Ginny into next week. The nerve of that girl! Can you believe she tried to blackmail Potter into being who she wanted him to be?”

His voice was angry and Pansy just raised an eyebrow. “She said he wouldn’t be family anymore if she left him. He actually believed it, the annoyingly insecure git. Sometimes I could just punch him, if I thought it would make him open his eyes and see himself clearly.”

Pansy chuckled. “Good Merlin, we are talking about Harry Potter. The Saviour of the wizarding world! Boy-who-bloody-well-wouldn’t-die! What would he be insecure about?” she asked heatedly.

“Oh, I don’t know. Everything?” Draco replied with a sigh. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I think he’s got the lowest self-esteem in the universe.”

“You would be wrong,” Pansy answered dryly. “That title is yours.”

“I do not have low self-esteem!” Draco replied angrily.

“Sure, Drake,” Pansy replied. “That’s why you let yourself be fucked and used by a man twice your age and with enough bile to fill an ocean.”

“He’s not that bad!” he sputtered.

“Come on, Draco!” Pansy cried out in frustration. “Even the man’s sarcasm uses sarcasm!”

“Just- don’t, okay?” he replied, rubbing his palm over his forehead and letting out a defeated sigh. “I just want to forget about him, not further extend on the dubious feelings that man brings out in me. Potter. Harry . I should be thinking about Harry, as he’s- Well, actually, I don’t know what the hell he is to me. If you would believe the Weasleys, we’re already married and preparing to raise a Quidditch team.”

Pansy chuckled and stepped away from the breakfast bar, pulling a bottle of Firewhisky from one of the cabinets and pouring two drinks. “That bad, was it?”

“Yes,” Draco replied, taking the tumbler Pansy reached out. “ No! It wasn’t really bad, except-”

He sighed.

Pansy sat back down and lay a hand on his shoulder. He stiffened automatically. She’d been his best friend and confidante for years, but she was one of those tough love people. Not one for hugs and kisses. He wasn’t used to being comforted. Still, it felt kind of nice, in a disgustingly sappy way.

“You do realize that I will be brutally murdered by no less than twenty Weasels, and probably even Blaise if I count the fact that he introduced little Weaslette to his mother , if Harry and I don’t work out?” Draco said, his head bumping against the breakfast bar, only to tilt to the side to catch his friend’s eyes at the mention of their school mate's mother.

“He introduced her to the Black Widow?” Pansy asked, mouth gaping. “She does realise Mrs What's her spousal name this week most likely killed all her husbands and never got caught, right?”

Draco shook his head, the corner of his mouth perking up against his will. “Only you would say that out loud,” he said and Pansy huffed.

“I don’t understand why, though. She’s been brought in by Aurors more often than your father was. Everyone knows she did it, we just don’t know how ,” she replied pulling her hand away and leaving a strangely cold void behind.

Draco winced and turned his head back to gaze at the fine grain of the bar top from closer than he could focus on what he saw. He pulled his head back slightly and bumped his forehead against the hardwood a few times. “What on earth was I thinking?” I muttered.

“About Blaise’s mother?” Pansy asked with a confused frown. “And stop acting like a house-elf!”

“No!” Draco cried out, sitting up straight again and facing the window. “About my father.”

“You’ve lost me,” the woman said and took a sip from her tumbler. “What’s he got to do with anything?”

“Different worlds!” Draco spat. “Potter and I are from two completely different worlds.”

“Yes, worlds you each left behind,” Pansy answered. “You’re the little rich kid who can’t thrive on pure luxury any longer and sits around on his arse all day, he’s the little poor kid who grew into a fortune and doesn’t know which way to turn after he completed what he sees as his life’s goal. There’s only one world now, Draco. One uncomplicated world in which you both muck about without having the faintest idea what you’re doing. Stick together and you both might end up somewhere! And practice calling him Harry, Drake, it’s a bit disconcerting to not be on a first name basis with your lover.”

“He’s not my lover,” came Draco’s snappy retort.

“Yet!” She replied. Her mouth held such a wide grin that her teeth were actually showing menacingly.

“I should just give up while I’m ahead,” he said and rested his chin on the breakfast bar, simply eyeing his untouched tumbler.

Pansy punched his shoulder.

“Auw!” he cried out in shock. “What was that for? I bruise easily, you hag!”

“Wear it proud!” she said sternly. “A reminder of how stupid I think you are! What silly little thing is making you say that anyway?”

“Graaah!” Draco bit out in frustration, sitting up again.

“Words, Draco. Use words, because I do not understand caveman frustration,” Pansy said.

“Children, Pans,” Draco snapped. “We’ve been discussing children the entire fucking day!”

“Language,” she admonished. “What do you mean, discussing children?”

“Discussing children, it’s not a hard concept, even for you!” Draco growled. “From the first moment I got there, Weasel went on and on about how Harry wanted a house filled with them. Then that bloody annoying mini-Granger, too adorable for words. I swear , Pans, she’s a Siren or something equally mind warping. She had these watery blue eyes that wouldn’t let go. Magic , Pans, it’s the only thing that can explain! And then the rest of those children, they were everywhere ! And of course Teddy Lupin, who had the audacity to look like a carbon copy of Potter until he changed his hair to look like mine! My hair, on a mini-Potter! And then the conversation switched to me and him having children. Having children! I’m not even sure if these feelings for him will last! I’m not ready to discuss children, Pans! I’m not!”

The hand returned to his shoulder and he calmed unwillingly. “But the worst thing was that I liked it, talking about having children with him. I could see myself, you know? Changing nappies and playing with Harry and a bunch of kids in the garden. When I saw him with Teddy, I was honestly not sure which of them I was more jealous of.”

“It’s alright to have dreams, Drake,” Pansy whispered. “Everyone has dreams.”

“No!” He said stubbornly.

“It doesn’t matter if they are about a distant future,” she tried again.

“No!” Draco repeated. “Dreams hurt! I used to have dreams, but I can’t handle having them now! They’re too fickle, too prone to go astray! I won’t do it, won’t let them take over!”

“And what did little Draco used to dream about? Hmmm? That cute little Malfoy prince?” Pansy purred and Draco shook his head. “You can hide it all you like, sweetie, but I know your secrets. You’ve been telling me the little wonders of your heart for your entire life.”

“Fuck off, Pans,” he bit back.

“Maybe you should dream again, seeing that the dreams of your youth seem to be coming true,” she teased.

“I did not dream about Potter!” he said.

“You can’t have him, Pansy! He’s mine! Malfoys always get what they want!” Pansy whined in a high childish voice.

“I was four ! And it wasn’t about Potter, not really! I just wanted the jewel that shone the brightest while my mother read me those stories. I was over it once she started on the founders, then I wanted to marry Helga Hufflepuff. That should emphasise my diminished capacity as a child!” Draco replied angrily.

“Oh, grow up!” Pansy said. “You were besotted well into our Hogwarts years.”

“I was not besotted!” he yelled.

“That’s why you moped around for weeks after he turned you down the first day?” she asked innocently.

“My father said I would get a Nimbus 2000 if I befriended him, I was mourning the broom!” he replied.

“Say what you will, Drake,” Pansy said, clearly letting it go for now. “I don’t buy it. And as for your dreams, don’t push them away. You will never be happy if you continue to let your fears rule your life. You’ve always chosen the certain path, the path guaranteed to bring you pain and suffering. You think it’s the safer path, but you misunderstand. Guaranteed pain, despite the predictability of it, is still pain, and it will ruin you, Drake. I worry for you.”

She kissed the back of his head lightly, shocking him to his core, and walked towards the door.

Draco blinked, once, twice, before he pulled himself together. “Stop reading about Muggle Psychology!” he yelled as the front door closed behind her.