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It was a Tuesday night and Jamie knew Draco usually arranged to be his supervisor on Tuesdays because he didn’t have any classes until ten o’clock the next morning and could afford to take a break from his prep work.

When he arrived in the practice room, Jamie greeted him with, ‘How would you feel about getting back together with my dad?’

Draco’s step faltered and he kind of spluttered, which was a very entertaining sight, mostly due to the fact that it seemed so out of place on Draco’s face. ‘Do you have any idea what you’re suggesting, James?’

Jamie cleared his throat as an answer and said, with what he hoped was a good approximation of a posh accent, ‘Yes, Sir.’

Draco rolled his eyes and Jamie smiled guilelessly. Forcing the “James” out of Draco’s mouth was one of the funniest things to do.

‘Anyway, Jamie,’ Draco went on, and then took a more serious tone, ‘there is no way this could happen between Harry and me. You have to understand, I have hurt your dad very much. I’m very glad we can learn to know each other, you and me, but realistically, Harry would never stand for that if he knew.’

‘So you’re saying you do have feelings for him, right?’ Jamie said, considering it already a done deal. He’d learnt at a too young age that there was nothing love couldn’t overcome.

‘This is really not the point,’ Draco answered sharply, getting his wand out of his holster and making for the corner of the room he usually occupied during practice.

Jamie followed suit the getting-ready-for-practice bit but couldn’t help insisting, ‘But it is totally the point, though. If you have feelings for him and he has feelings for you…’ Jamie tailed off with a hopeful tone, but Draco didn’t seem convinced at all.

‘Very well,’ Draco said after a long-suffering sigh. ‘I don’t see you concentrating for practice anytime today anyway, so we might as well fill our timeslot with valuable information. But hear me out, Jamie. This is the one and last time this will be discussed, all right?’

Jamie nodded. This was what he’d been waiting for since he’d first eavesdropped on Dad and Draco, and it wasn’t his style to look a gift horse in the mouth. Draco came next to Jamie in the centre of the room, conjured two fancy-looking armchairs, and gestured for Jamie to sit down.

‘I suspect you may have already heard this from people who knew us back then, but it bears repeating: Harry and I hated each other in school. I did nasty things to him and he reciprocated dutifully. We were on opposite sides in the war. We did save each other’s life, yes—and frankly he did more of that than I did—but it didn’t mean we liked each other that much more, when it was all over.’

Draco’s tone was dark and he really didn’t seem happy about having to tell this story to Jamie. Jamie reckoned it was maybe because he didn’t like the person he’d been at that time and had tried to forget about it.

‘The first time we met again after all the hubbub of celebrations and trials was over, life had more or less taken back its normal course. We were not even aware we were gay at that time. We just knew something wasn’t right about the expectations people had of us. For two people who had tried for a very long time to be the opposite of each other, we were in very similar situations. I wouldn’t know what Harry was precisely feeling at the time, but I guess it was similar to the feeling of entrapment my father was making weigh down on me. He wanted me to marry in a good family and have children right away, but I didn’t feel ready for that. I felt I had grown up much too fast during the war… Bottom line is Harry and I were trying to find ourselves, and we found each other.’

Jamie wanted to smile at that, but the look Draco sent him was dark.

‘Things were not easy at all between us. Our relationship—if you care to call it that—was rocky at best most of the time. We were constantly taking little steps forward and big steps back. I was utterly scared of admitting I was gay—even to myself, sometimes—and Harry didn’t want people to know about me. But we never really stopped what we had, and it arrived a time when it had become…part of ourselves, maybe? We stayed together for three years, but it never stopped being a secret from everybody else. And to answer your main question: yes, I loved him very much for most of that time. But it was I who ended things, and I never once regretted doing it.’

Their eyes met, but nothing in Draco’s demeanour indicated he wouldn’t have broken up with Dad if he’d known he was pregnant. Jamie waited a bit for Draco to go on, to explain what had happened that made it so necessary for them to separate, but he didn’t seem to want to add anything.

‘Is it your father who forced you to break up?’ Jamie prodded, hoping it was more a case of Hollywood-like misunderstanding than Draco just being a bastard.

‘No,’ Draco answered after a long pause. ‘My father never knew about Harry and me. It would have been the worst thing that could happen. He just gave me an ultimatum: either propose to Astoria Greengrass, marry and eventually carry on the Malfoy line, or lose everything.’

Jamie glanced briefly at Draco’s ring finger. There was no sign he’d married this Astoria person, so why had he left Dad anyway?

‘You have to understand, Jamie, I couldn’t lose everything. I couldn’t decide to say goodbye to my father and go live happily ever after with Harry. Had I done something so out of character, my father wouldn’t have failed to discover the truth about Harry and me. And if he had…he would have been very happy.’

Jamie was taken aback by this last statement, but Draco didn’t seem to notice Jamie anymore, he was thoroughly involved in his story and, looking at his face, Jamie could tell he was reliving all of it.

‘Oh yes Lucius Malfoy would have loved it, because his greatest dream would have come true and he’d have had Harry Potter under his thumb. Of course Harry wouldn’t have been pushed around by my father but I would have, like I always had, and this would have ended either of two ways: Harry hating me or being completely manipulated and controlled by my father. I chose the former. I broke up with him and made sure he’d never come back. And looking back now, knowing he was pregnant with you, I’m absolutely ecstatic I did it, because if my father had known your existence, you would never have been free of him.’

Draco took in a big breath and went on, ‘So I proposed to Astoria Greengrass. We stayed engaged for a long time and I kept pushing back any wedding date she might have had in mind. And then my father felt sick and it was kind of his last wish to see me married so we finally fixed a date that was in the realm of the possible. I still didn’t want to do it but I didn’t want to upset my father much more. He died before we got to it, though, and Astoria called it all off. She said I had been pretty obvious and that she’d gone along with the marriage sham because I seemed to need it, but she really didn’t mind not marrying me, and that was that.

‘A few months later I became a teacher here, and I’ve tried ever since not to think about what I’d done to Harry too much.’

Draco looked sad and Jamie wanted maybe to comfort him or something, but then Draco was standing up and Vanishing the chairs, so Jamie was standing up too, and Draco acted as if the conversation was over. But Jamie was definitely not ready for the conversation to be over.

‘But if you still have feelings for Dad, you can explain this to him, or apologize to him or something—’

‘I cannot apologize,’ Draco cut him off. ‘It would mean putting the blame on my father; it would mean making him the evil incarnate everybody already thinks he is. And it would just remind everybody, and especially myself, that I was the one who pleaded and begged the Ministry for him not to be sent to Azkaban. I’m responsible for everything he’s done since the end of the war and I can’t even blame myself or be regretful because he’s my father and I can’t be sorry he wasn’t sent to this hell-hole.’

Draco was almost as angry as he’d been after the gargoyle incident, and it was a sight to behold, especially because he seemed angrier at himself than at Jamie.

‘Don’t you think I never thought about contacting Harry again during all these years? But all I could’ve said to him was that it definitely was my entire fault and that I didn’t regret anything. He wouldn’t have understood what it was like to have a father like Lucius Malfoy. And you certainly can’t really understand either, what with having grown up with Perfectly-Perfect-Potter as a father.’

But, Jamie thought, taken over by a feeling of hopelessness, but this was so very unfair. Draco didn’t really know Dad anymore and he barely knew Jamie, and he had no right to just assume what they would understand or not. He had no right to victimize himself and keep other people from being happy just because he was such a coward—because a coward he definitely was, and he’d been absolutely honest when he’d said it was the reason he had broken up with Dad. What made Jamie angry the most, though, was that Draco insisted on keeping his own self from being happy, even after all this time, even when his father was long dead and Dad’s memories of the events must surely have mellowed a lot.

‘Oh, but you’re very wrong there when you say I wouldn’t understand what it’s like to have a father like Lucius Malfoy,’ Jamie shot back. ‘Because I discovered very recently that I have a father who can be a right bastard, Sir.’

And Jamie left the room without having practiced anything and without realising he had talked like that to a teacher.

~*~


The next day, Jamie was in a right state and knew he couldn’t let things just lie a bit.

He went to Draco’s office after an excruciating wand practice supervised by Professor Vertere, who taught Ancient Runes and was as boring as the subject sounded like. He went there because he had this visceral need to make up with Draco, only to be sure never to be subjected to Professor Vertere anymore.

When he fought with his dad, Jamie knew he could always count on Dad coming to see him in his room and check that he was okay and that even if they were both angry and/or hurt, he knew that things would get better soon. And because he knew that Draco had certainly no experience of this kind—given the portrait he’d made of his father—Jamie decided there was nothing against taking the lead by himself. He had to initiate Draco into the family, or something.

Jamie knocked on the door and waited to hear Draco’s, ‘Come in.’ before stepping inside. He made his way towards the desk, Draco’s gaze fixed on him, and sat on one of the chairs intended for visitors.

‘Hello,’ he said, quite unsure of himself now that he was faced with a Draco who wasn’t inclined to give anything away.

‘Good evening. What may I do for you?’ Draco asked, returning his attention to his work.

This really was something Draco was doing a lot: when he was somewhat distressed, he focused his attention elsewhere so as not to let even a glimpse of his emotions show on his face. It was very effective and Jamie wondered if he’d been doing it all along.

‘I still like you, you know.’ Jamie said.

Draco looked up with an astounded look, but didn’t seem to want to answer anything to that.

Jamie figured that’d be as good as he’d get so he went on, ‘And I’m sorry I called you a bastard, because you’re obviously not, or else all this pure-blood crap wouldn’t have been so important to you—yes it’s Uncle Nev’ who told me about this part of your past, but don’t blame him…’ Jamie knew he was rambling, and from the look on Draco’s face, it didn’t seem to help matter much. ‘So yeah,’ he went on, ‘I’ve known for a while about that, but it doesn’t matter to me because I know you’ve changed. And about this complicated thing with your dad and my dad, I know it’s in the past too. And maybe you don’t feel you can apologise, but it doesn’t have to keep people from forgiving you, right?’

Jamie looked Draco in the eyes and tried for a smile. He got no explicit reaction from Draco, but could sense Draco was somewhat mollified. He didn’t seem relaxed enough for Jamie to suggest Dad could be one of these forgiving people, though, so he didn’t.

‘So, could it, maybe…? Could it go back to where it was? I don’t promise I won’t still want you and Dad to get back together, but I won’t try to push you into anything you don’t want to.’

Jamie thought he must sound quite reasonable and grown-up and stuff. Draco must have thought so too, because there was a tiny smile on his face and the skin of his cheeks didn’t look as pale as usual.

‘I’ve thought a lot about the conversation we had yesterday, Jamie. I’m glad you came to see me today and I have to admit that I would have missed learning to know you.’

Jamie heard him gulp and take a deep breath, like what he’d say next was something very difficult to say.

‘I won’t hold against you your will to bring Harry and me back to each other. To be truthful...’—another deep breath—‘…I’ve wanted it too. The moment Harry told me, it was my first thought. And I got angry at you the same way I get angry at myself when I let myself wish…’

Draco sighed, glanced at Jamie and put the stuff he was working on aside.

‘False hope is the worst kind of hope, Jamie.’

~

The few weeks left before the Christmas hols went as well as ever. Jamie still felt like he was pressed for time on all sides but he didn’t mind it so much.

The promised treats of more time speaking to Draco and having fun with his friends motivated him to finish his homework with more and more punctuality and he even made some real progress with his problem. Things didn’t explode around him as much as they used to, and when they did it was with minimal damage. Jamie didn’t learn new spells quicker or better, but it was already something, right?

December snowfalls and the glorious snowballs fights they brought were at this point the icing on an already cream-filled cake.

Plus, the more he talked with Draco, the more Jamie felt Draco open to him. Draco talked a little about his family now and then, and the Harry Potter subject was not as taboo as before. Jamie would talk about his latest achievement in Potions and Draco would jokingly ask what his horrendously-bad-at-Potions dad thought about it and just like that, Jamie could slip more and more info about his dad to Draco and squeeze out of Draco a little of what he thought about Dad.

Once, when Jamie had complained about eating a cod-liver oil flavoured Bertie Bott’s bean, Draco had even reminisce about him and Dad bonding over their shared love of the sweet at the beginning of their relationship.

And sometimes, when he thought Jamie wasn’t paying attention, Draco had this odd look in his eyes… Maybe it was just his imagination, but Jamie reckoned there was something very fond and very soft in this look; something that didn’t seem entirely directed at Jamie.

So yeah, not only were things going superbly well, but also, whatever Draco might have said about it, Jamie knew there was still hope—the good kind of hope. There was hope in this little spark that sometimes appeared in Draco’s eyes and the careful way he tried to hide his interest when Jamie talked about his dad. There was hope because Draco would smile more than he’d ever smiled since the beginning of term and there was hope because his face muscles seemed so unused to it that Jamie guessed he hadn’t smiled as much for longer than that.

In fact, there was so much hope that during their last supervised practice before Christmas, Jamie found the courage to ask, as nonchalantly as possible, ‘So, what’re your plans for Christmas?’

‘Nothing else than a quiet Christmas dinner with my mother,’ Draco answered while Transfiguring the room back to its normal classroom-state.

‘Oh, I guess it’s going to be kind of lonely for you, isn’t it? Me and Dad—’

‘Dad and I,’ Draco corrected, still concentrated on Vanishing the latest scorching marks on the floor.

Dad and I,’ Jamie repeated, ‘we usually go to the Weasleys’ for Christmas day, but on Christmas Eve we invite friends and such. I’m sure there’d be enough room for one more person.’

‘Would there, now?’ Draco asked with a smirk showing on the part of his face Jamie could see from his current point of view. ‘And I can very well imagine how thrilled Harry would be if you were to invite people in his home without telling him first, especially if this “one more person” was me, don’t you?’

Draco’s eyebrow was arched in amusement, but Jamie could tell from the tenseness in his eyes that it was one inch from being a you-promised-me-not-to-interfere-again eyebrow.

Jamie sighed in defeat and muttered, ‘I thought Christmas was supposed to be a family holiday…’

‘Harry wouldn’t have me there, Jamie,’ Draco said softly but firmly. ‘And I won’t go where I’m unwanted.’

Jamie felt his spirits go down but tried to tell himself that he’d expected a refusal after all, that it was still too soon. Maybe being alone with his dad for a few weeks would help Jamie try and know better how Dad felt about Draco? Yeah, that was how it’d go. Jamie just had to be a little patient. With his magic problems, he knew how to wait and work hard for things to work, after all.

‘All right, then,’ Jamie said with a shrug. ‘I get it. I just…I think I’ll miss you during these holidays…’

When Jamie glanced up at him, Draco had stopped casting and was looking at him with an odd look. He smiled then, a small and sincere smile. ‘I’ll miss you too, Jamie. I—’ He stopped abruptly and went to rummage through his satchel, finally pulling a little wrapped box out of it. He straightened back and faced Jamie, the box in his outstretched palm. ‘I’ve brought a Christmas present for you. I think it would be advisable not to open it in front of your father, though.’

Jamie pocketed the box with what he hoped was a smile that reflected how much it made him happy. And then, when it was a little wanted but absolutely unexpected, Draco bent down and hugged him.

It was a stiff hug, the polar opposite of the ones Dad gave him, but it was a hug from Draco Malfoy and that, that was definitely something.

~*~


Dad’s hug when Jamie got off the Hogwarts Express was so strong and so joyous it felt almost as if he hadn’t visited Jamie at Hogwarts twice during the term. Jamie didn’t mind though, because he had missed his dad very much too. Dad had been at the centre of a lot of his thoughts after all, being a major feature in his “Get His Parents Together Plan”. Plus, thinking about Dad’s personal life so much without being able to talk to him about it had taken its toll on Jamie, so having him close again felt like a real breather. Besides, refusing a hug just for appearances’ sake was way more hypocritical than anything Jamie was capable of.

Dad had not planned extravagant things for them to do during the hols, just normal, quiet (or not-so-quiet) stuff they used to do all the time. Like watching movies together under a thick blanket and heaps of marshmallows, having very long walks around the neighbouring hills with Sultan, or inviting some of Jamie’s friends for full afternoons of board-games time…

It was all really nice and warm and Jamie absolutely loved these things they did together, but when he finally got down from his high of being home again, he had to think again of The Plan, and realised that five days had already gone by and he’d not made one inch of progress in talking Dad into falling back in love with Draco.

Well, maybe he wouldn’t talk Dad into it, per se, but at least try to test the waters and see how much Dad would admit to feel for Draco.

So, on his sixth day of holidays, while they were doing a breakfast-for-dinner kind of thing, Jamie decided to broach the subject.

‘Don’t you ever not want to be single anymore?’ he asked with the most casual expression he could manage.

Dad froze with a toast half-way to his mouth and looked at Jamie with big, big eyes. ‘Why,’ he asked carefully after setting his dripping toast back on his plate, ‘do you feel like you need…another parent?’

There were worried undertones to his question and Jamie almost rolled his eyes—it was always thinking about Jamie before himself that had brought Dad into this whole loneliness mess, wasn’t it?

‘I wouldn’t mind having another dad, no,’ Jamie answered seriously, letting his dad know he didn’t have to use the word “parent” and that Jamie was okay with it. ‘But it’s more about what you want, though. I’ve never seen you date anybody. Don’t you miss, just—having someone?’

Dad looked at him with something of a bittersweet smile, and a threatening brightness in his eyes. He sighed then, but didn’t lose his smile. ‘Of course I feel lonely sometimes… And I would love to have someone to be your dad with, but you’ve always been my priority, you know that? And you’ve got to understand that men my age don’t usually want to have a relationship with a family. And from the moment of your birth, I haven’t been just me anymore, Jamie. I’m—’

A family,’ Jamie mouthed at the same time Dad said it. It wasn’t the first time Dad said something like this and it usually made Jamie feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know his dad loved him so much. Now though, even if he was still very pleased to hear it, he felt a little sad to realise that perhaps, without Jamie being aware of it, Dad had tried. And that it hadn’t gone well at all.

Jamie could picture in his head Dad on some kind of romantic date with a Hollywood-like kind of bloke (thanks again Sandra Bullock) with roses and candles and a fancy restaurant and when on his doorstep and waiting for a kiss, the bloke telling him that he didn’t like kids so much.

It was not just sad, it was heart-breaking. And that was only in Jamie’s imagination—he didn’t dare think what could have happened for real.

‘Not everybody’s like that, though,’ Jamie said quietly.

‘I guess you’re right,’ Dad said after munching on his toast for a little while. ‘But I guess that after a while, I just…’ He seemed to search his words.

‘You gave up?’ Jamie suggested.

Dad gave him a wistful look and a sad smile. ‘No, I just, I learnt to satisfy myself with what I’ve got, I guess.’

Jamie nodded in understanding and thought he’d let the subject drop for a while. It wasn’t time yet to bring up Draco. If Dad had had so much trouble trying to find someone who’d like him enough to like Jamie too, it must have fed a lot of resentment towards Draco for leaving him in the first place.

Jamie dug in his cereals and changed the subject.

~

For Christmas Eve dinner, Dad had invited everybody for a home-cooked dinner. He did it every year, but usually didn’t quite manage the whole home-cooked part of the dinner. This year seemed to be the year, though. Dad had placed the bar not as high as the year before (managing a stuffed turkey plus a traditional gratin dauphinois plus crèmes brûlées for dessert had been kind of unrealistic) and with Jamie’s help, he was well on his way to manage everything without needing to place an emergency Floo-call to Granny Molly.

This year he’d opted for one dish of lasagne and one shepherd’s pie accompanied with different kinds of salad for the main course, tasty and creamy vegetable soups for starters and a regular trifle cake for dessert. The trifle was not done yet, but Jamie had good hope they’d be done with cooking and ready to greet everyone by six thirty.

Jamie was proved right when Uncle Nev’ and Aunt Hannah arrived, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and Dad was all ready and had even had time to force Jamie into the Sunday-shirt he hated (it wasn’t that it was ugly or anything, but when he wore it he always felt like he had to be careful of everything in an effort not to stain it).

Aunt Hannah hugged him and gushed on how he’d grown up since the last time she’d seen him and Uncle Nev’ ruffled his hair, said ‘What’s up squirt?’ like he always did when there were no other Hogwarts student around and then jokingly asked if he’d finished his Herbology homework.

Jamie tried not to stare too obviously when they deposited a huge and brightly-wrapped gift under the Christmas tree.

The next to arrive were Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione with Rose and Hugo and Jamie was tasked with entertaining the kids (even if he considered himself a little too old to play with a seven and a five year old), so he lost count of the arrivals of the other guests.

When the kids were called from Jamie’s room to start dinner, Aunt Luna and Uncle Rolf had arrived, as well as Uncles Dean and Seamus and Jamie realised that cooking all afternoon had made him absolutely ravenous.

He ate a lot and listened to the adults talk about some kind of new Ministry policy from one ear (Uncle Seamus seemed to think it was utter bollocks but Aunt Hannah said it had good points) and to Rose and Hugo argue about the latest Babbity Rabbity Wireless-novel they’d heard (Rose said Babitty was the best character and Hugo thought her new Kneazle-kitten was the best thing ever, even if it didn’t seem to do anything at all) from the other. Jamie realised he usually had Teddy to talk about more interesting things with him, but didn’t miss him that much because it also meant there was more for him to eat without Teddy’s giant-sized stomach at the table.

All in all, the evening went really great. People started to ask him about Hogwarts and then they all sang carols and exchanged gifts. Jamie went to bed late with a big smile on his face.

But then, just before falling asleep, Jamie thought about the longing look Dad had when he looked at all his paired up friends and about how lonely Draco must be right now, and knew in his guts that he didn’t want next Christmas to be the same—and hopefully, if The Plan worked, it wouldn’t be.

~*~


The next morning, when he woke up from a very weird dream where Draco was losing his hair and Dad had replaced Jamie with a little clone of himself, Jamie’s first thought was for the little box waiting for him in his trunk, the box his dad wasn’t to see and that Jamie had wondered about on and off since he’d arrived home.

Jamie jumped from beneath his quilt and kneeled on the floor to pull his trunk from under the bed. He took out the clothes, books and sweet wraps he’d put on top in the hopes that it’d hide Draco’s gift if Dad was ever to look into his stuff. After checking one last time that there was absolutely no sound indicating Dad might be awake, he opened the tiny box.

He didn’t immediately recognize what was inside. At first, he thought earrings because it did look a bit like earrings, but why would Draco give him that? And it didn’t seem to be able to fit in anyone’s ears anyway. There were two pieces and it was jewellery, this he knew, and it looked to be very precious, maybe silver or platinum or something, and each piece was shaped in embroidered M. It was very shiny but looked kind of old and Jamie knew it must mean something, or else Draco wouldn’t have given it to him.

He’d resolved to ask Draco what it was exactly when he’d see him again back at Hogwarts and picked up the lid to close the box when he noticed a piece of parchment attached inside the lid. Jamie unfolded it and recognised Draco’s neat handwriting.

Dear Jamie,

These cufflinks are family heirlooms, that is to say they’ve belonged to the Malfoy family for centuries and can only truly belong to a true Malfoy heir. They used to be my grand-father’s. They’re yours, now.

Love,

Draco.


Jamie looked closer at the cufflinks again, recognising them as what they were and traced the edge of the left one with the tip of his finger.

He’d known Draco had wanted to know him, to be part of his life, and he knew for certain Draco still had a thing for Dad; so it was some kind of shock that it hit him so violently to realise that Draco actually wanted to be his father. Not just by blood or by circumstances or maybe as Dad’s other half, but a father-father. A father who’d be legally responsible for him, who would be at odds with him when he’d be a teenager and do all the stupid things teenagers were wont to do, and a father who would pay part of his wedding despite grumbling about it. And they wouldn’t be just relatives, no, they would be half of each other.

Jamie may still be quite young, but he definitely knew when to pull his head out of the sand when he needed to. He’d convinced himself he hadn’t devised The Plan just to have a happy family and a second parent to turn to when the first said no, but it wasn’t entirely true. There was no doubt he wanted both Dad and Draco to be happy together, no doubt whatsoever that it was one of his main goals in life, but he couldn’t deny that once he’d had a taste of it there was no going back: he had a wonderful dad but he wanted a father, too—he wanted Draco to be this father. And he wanted this as much as Draco did.

Jamie put the cufflinks back in the bottom of his trunk with a huge smile on his face.

He put on his dressing gown and went downstairs for breakfast. Dad was already there, standing at the stove, humming something absentmindedly and making Christmas pancakes, and Jamie felt really foolish realising how rubbish he was at detecting noises of his dad getting up. But then he wondered what would have happened if Dad had found him with Draco’s gift, whether he’d have been angry or just realised what a great addition to the family Draco could be…

He shook himself out of his thoughts, said, ‘Merry Christmas, Dad!’ jovially, and went to scratch Sultan’s tummy—the dog was still half-asleep in his basket but Jamie knew he’d never object to belly-scratching.

‘Merry Christmas, Jamie,’ Dad answered, looking over his shoulder at where Jamie was crouched down with Sultan. ‘I didn’t realise Sultan would still come before me even after half-emptying my vault for your Christmas present… Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered.’

Jamie gave Sultan a last pat on the head and went to squeeze beside his dad over the pancakes-in-the-making. ‘No need for the dramatics, everybody at Hogwarts seem to think you’re way more loaded than you let on so I don’t think your vault is close to be half-empty yet. Besides, I doubt you’d like having your tummy scratched as much as Sultan does.’

This got a startled laugh out of Dad and he put down his wooden spatula to ruffle Jamie’s hair. ‘Go wash your hands and set the table, please. The first batch of pancakes is nearly done.’

Jamie did as he was told and Dad resumed humming, slipping in a few lyrics of Winter Wonderland, and seriously if that was what Dad was humming from the beginning, it was really worrying how he could still think it was a good idea to sing at all.

When Jamie was finished with the plates and the cutlery, when the orange juice was in a pitcher and Dad’s back was still on him, his thoughts went back to the cufflinks, to Draco, and to the image of most of Dad’s friends being paired up and so happy. And even if he was singing off-key while making pancakes, Jamie knew his dad could be happier and deserved to be happier.

Jamie fiddled a little with his glass and after taking a deep breath, he said with the most serious tone he could muster, ‘Listen, Dad…Christmas is a time for family, right? And you’re totally free to not answer and just say that you’d rather not talk about it because I’d totally understand, I promise, but you can’t really grudge me for asking either, right? So yeah, I just—I wanted, well kind of needed really, to know about…about my father. I mean my…other father, obviously. Because, yeah, it never really bothered me before, but you can’t keep me in the dark forever, right? And—I’d really, really like to know. You’ve got to tell me something someday, so why not today, right?’

Jamie had kept his eyes on his glass during his whole speech and when he lifted his gaze to his dad, he was looking back at him with his mouth slightly open and a pancake threatening to fall from his spatula. Sultan darted where the pancake would certainly fall with his tail flapping violently behind him and his tongue dangling out of his mouth. Dad snapped back into it just in time to save the pancake with a quick wandless spell and took the pile of pancakes to the table.

He sat down and said with his fists still clutching the pancakes plate quite hard, ‘I’d rather not talk about it quite yet, Jamie.’ Jamie made an assenting noise and was ready to change the subject and make pancakes help him forget about it, but Dad added, ‘I understand you want to know, though. And I promise I’ll tell you. I just…I’ve got to get ready first, all right?’

Jamie looked into his dad’s eyes and could see the fear and the honesty in them and he nodded with a tight smile. ‘Thanks, Dad.’

Dad smiled back and put half the pancakes pile into Jamie’s waiting plate.

~

When they arrived at the Burrow a little before noon, things were as rushed and cramped as always. All the Weasley family was there (and it was a lot of people), even Charlie had come back from Romania this year and Victoire and Dominique were back from Beauxbâtons and Jamie didn’t really have time to think much at all before he was swept into a game of hide-and-seek with all the Weasley kids.

He only felt he could settle a little when they were all called for lunch and even if there was first a little worry at not knowing where Lucy was hiding at all and Audrey had to cast a spell to find her, the buffet lunch was as enjoyable and good as ever.

Jamie decided to stay inside for the first part of the afternoon and spent some quality time with Bill’s impressive old collection of comic books with Louis, and then everybody went outside to have the traditional Christmas Quidditch match, either to play or to cheer for a team. Jamie wasn’t allowed to play yet—and really, when he knew he’d have to play against people like Dad and Ginny and George with all his Bludgers, he didn’t have any regret. Victoire was deemed old enough to play, though, and Jamie decided to cheer for her because it couldn’t be too easy to be a chaser opposite Angelina Weasley, twice World Champion.

The dinner was even more delicious and sumptuous than usual (and Jamie secretly suspected it was because Granny Molly hadn’t had to give one or two dishes to Dad this year) and Jamie received a lot of awesome presents and played great games with the other kids and was so sleepy at the end of the evening that Dad had to carry him up the stairs once they were back home.

And then Jamie was in his bed and already half-asleep and Dad was planting a kiss on his forehead like he did when he was feeling especially nostalgic that Jamie wasn’t a baby anymore. All Jamie’s sleepy brain could process was the fact that Dad had spent a whole day with a lot of married people who all had several kids, so Jamie said, because he didn’t have the energy to wonder why he wouldn’t, ‘Dad?’

‘Yes, Jamie?’ Dad answered softly.

‘Did you love him, at least, my other father?’

‘Yes, Jamie, I did. Very, very much.’

And then Dad was closing the door behind him and Jamie was a shiny bauble on a tree and discussing which cheese was the best with a tiny Father Christmas who looked strangely like Uncle Ron.

~*~


With the New Year rolling and all the resolutions taking place here and there, Jamie knew he only had one to make. He would make sure Dad and Draco would pass some time together at all costs, even if Jamie had to lock them together in an empty room.

The first Monday of the spring term, Jamie knew Draco would take charge of his supervised wand practice. The occasion was ideal to take the next step in The Plan. When he walked towards the usual practice room at five to eight, he had the cufflinks box in one robe pocket (so that Draco could show him how to put them on), a New Year’s card he’d hand-made for Draco in the other, and a very definite idea in his head on how Draco would spend his free time this term.

Once inside the transfigured classroom, Jamie thanked Draco for the gift, gave him the card and decided not to let Draco any time to ask him about his holidays, but to cut right to the chase:

‘I don’t really care about what you think Dad would want or not, or what you said and did before my birth, because I’ve decided that you are now officially wooing him, starting tomorrow and ending only when it finally works.’ Jamie’s tone and expression were determined and Draco’s face seemed frozen, hesitating between disbelief and rebuttal. ‘Because I want both of you to be happy and I also really want you to be my official father and it’s really not as difficult as you might think.’

Draco opened his mouth to protest, but Jamie didn’t let him talk. ‘And obviously you’ll have to talk of what happened back then and I understand it’s difficult for you and that things are very complicated, but you don’t have to let it be this big impediment to something that could work very, very well.’

Draco’s eyes were still very big and incredulous but he slowly nodded and it made Jamie quite smug with satisfaction. Maybe if he’d been as assertive earlier, things could have been wrapped up weeks ago.

‘So that’s decided, then,’ Jamie said confidently. ‘You’ll start maybe with a New Year’s card, and saying that you’d like to see him to talk about me or something. Maybe you two could meet on the next Hogsmeade weekend.’

Draco’s right eyebrow was arched and his lips quirked in a smirk and Jamie smiled a very wide smile because Draco looked rather amused, and almost proud, like he was seeing some of himself in Jamie. Jamie really didn’t mind it one bit.

‘Very well,’ Draco said at last. ‘I’ll do it: I’ll try to get back with Harry. And I’ll have you know I’m not just doing it because you demanded it. I’ve thought about it during the break and it is something that I want very much. But you’ve got to expect things to take time, and maybe to not even work out in the end, right?’

The question was more an end to the conversation than waiting for an answer, and Jamie could hear the untold I’m absolutely terrified about this, so he just nodded and took out his wand to begin practice. Draco seemed to be on the same page and took his supervising position.

‘Have you used your wand at all since before the holidays?’ he asked.

‘Of course not. Dad takes the under-age restriction very seriously. And I didn’t have any classes including wandwork today.’

‘Very well, let’s hope you’re not too rusty, then,’ Draco said with a smile.

Seeing a smile on Draco’s face was definitely something Jamie could get used to. He waved his wand to do the first warm-up spell, still content with the good turn things seemed to be taking and—





Everything went black.

~

Jamie heard his name whispered and thought it’d be nice if he could just open his eyes and see who was talking to him, but his eyelids felt very lazy and were very nice and cosy all closed and stuff so he didn’t insist. All of his face wanted to go back to sleep in fact. Except his ears maybe because they kept hearing these whispered voices. But his ears had always been kind of outsiders where his face was concerned, weren’t they? They should just bow to the majority’s will and stop their nonsense. His ears didn’t pay any mind to the others and kept on hearing whispers, which sounded louder and louder. And, curiously, his nostrils seemed interested in what was happening outside his head too, now. It was enough for his brain to be too curious to keep being shut to the exterior.

Jamie opened his eyes groggily. The first thing he saw was a lot of white. He then recognised it for the ceiling of the hospital wing, which he’d only seen once when he’d accompanied Marcus to visit Brutus, who had been too carefree with a Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes product.

He then heard the whispers again and realised they were coming from his dad and Draco who were standing a few feet away. Jamie’s first reflex was to smile because they were whispering but not arguing-whispering and that was good. The problem was that his face hurt too much to smile properly. In fact, a lot of his body parts were hurting quite a lot. That must be why his dad was here—because he hurt a lot.

Jamie managed to make a sound escape from the back of his throat and Dad and Draco instantly stopped whispering and came closer to the bedhead, quickly followed by Madam Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall and two other people Jamie didn’t know.

‘How are you, Jamie?’ Dad asked, one of his hands pushing a lock of hair out of Jamie’s face. ‘I was so scared—’ He sounded as if he was about to cry and Jamie wanted very much to tell him not to, but he didn’t have the strength to. He saw Draco put a hand on Dad’s shoulder, though, and Dad turned to him with a surprised look on his face which softened quite rapidly—

And then Jamie was distracted by one of the strangers running her wand over his head. It was a woman about his dad’s age, with her hair pulled so tight behind her head she almost looked bald. She had a very stern face and robes so green it hurt Jamie’s eyes.

‘This is Healer Fawcett, Jamie,’ Draco said in a soft voice, noticing Jamie’s focus. ‘And this,’ he said, pointing at the other stranger who, Jamie noticed, had a similar green robe but was a much older and quite burly man, ‘is Healer Jones. They came from St Mungo’s and are here to help us with your case.’

‘If he’d been sent to St Mungo’s at the first symptoms, maybe we wouldn’t have had to come here,’ Jamie heard Healer Fawcett mumble under her breath. He thought it was quite unkind—he wouldn’t have wanted to spend his first year in hospital, this was certain. Dad took hold of his hand and Jamie almost-smiled at him.

‘He was not sick,’ Draco said through his teeth. It seemed he had heard Healer Fawcett’s remark too. ‘He just had a problem with his magic’s focus. There was no need to take him away from school when he could follow perfectly all the classes which didn’t need wandwork.’

‘Well, Squibs could do that too, now, couldn’t they?’ Healer Fawcett’s tone was dismissive as she turned her attention back on the slow movements of her wand around Jamie’s head. It was not the thing to say though, because Draco’s look turned murderous.

‘Jamie is obviously not a Squib,’ he said. His voice was venomous and hardly kept from trembling. Jamie wondered briefly if his dad would find it weird for Draco to call Jamie—well, Jamie. ‘And the individual and supervised wand practice sessions he was following were having very positive results.’

‘You should know that curing the symptoms but not healing the cause wouldn’t bode well for anyone,’ Healer Fawcett snapped.

‘Stop this useless argument right now,’ Professor McGonagall said authoritatively, covering what would have been Draco’s response, which, Jamie was sure, wouldn’t have been very polite. Jamie didn’t miss Dad’s hand flying to Draco’s elbow to keep him from jumping on Healer Fawcett, though.

Things with his magic might be terrible and all he could physically feel might hurt quite a lot, but Jamie couldn’t help feeling a little happy that his dad and Draco seemed so much on the same side in all this.

When things had calmed down, Healer Jones explained that what Healer Fawcett was doing was in fact the setting up of a spell that would measure Jamie’s real-time magic levels. They hoped it could help them identify what curse had been used in the first place.

The use of the C word made Dad stiffen next to Jamie and he saw him exchange a worried look with Draco. ‘Are you saying you’re positive this was a curse? Somebody would have wanted to hurt Jamie?’

‘Well, we don’t know if there was indeed a malicious intent or if your son was the actual target,’ Healer Jones said calmly, ‘but with such results, the origin cannot realistically be totally harmless.’

Jamie could distinguish quite clearly the This is my fault forming in his dad’s eyes and squeezed his hand as much as he could (that was to say: not much), wishing he could shake his head without developing a killer headache. He managed to extract a few sounds from his aching throat, though, and hoped Dad could interpret them as Of course it’s not your fault, Dad, it’s the fault of the crazy person who did this.

‘Do you recommend calling on the Aurors, then?’ Professor McGonagall asked with her lips even more wrinkly than usual.

‘There’s no use to do that yet,’ Healer Fawcett answered. ‘If we have no idea what the curse is, there is no way for them to discover who cast it.’

The two healers cast a few more spells on Jamie, gave a few instructions to Madam Pomfrey and were then accompanied outside by Professor McGonagall. Madam Pomfrey retired to her office and Jamie was left with his dad and Draco. Draco rounded the bed to be on the other side of Jamie’s head and they were soon each clinging one of Jamie’s hand. It hurt a bit but it made Jamie feel better inside, too, so he didn’t try to take his hands back.

Now that his attention wasn’t captured by green robes and hovering wands and curse tales, Jamie noticed that there was a white bandage around Draco’s head blending with the light colour of his hair.

‘The moment you tried to cast a spell in the practice room,’ Draco explained, ‘there was an explosion bigger than what had happened in the Charms corridor. Luckily, there wasn’t any gargoyle around or any other students and the explosion was contained inside the room. I only had time to cast a shield charm on you though, so I fell and knocked my head on the wall. You were unconscious for several hours and we know it was linked to your trying to do magic. It seems it not only exploded outside your wand, but also inside you.’

Draco let go of his hand then. He straightened up, glanced at Harry briefly and cleared his throat. ‘I’ll leave you two alone…in family,’ he said with a tight expression on his face. Dad watched him leave but didn’t say anything. It made Jamie a little sad.

‘So,’ Dad started, looking back at Jamie and sounding a little unsure. ‘It seems you’re rather close with Malfoy, aren’t you?’

Jamie hoped he could blink his answer, but his eyelids were uncooperative and weren’t inclined to go back up.

~

The next time he woke up, Jamie generally hurt so little that he had to wonder for a moment if he had imagined the whole thing. There was little doubt on the reality of things though, because as soon as his eyes were open, he could see the unchanged hospital wing and his dad half-asleep on the chair beside his bed.

Either there was some kind of very discreet monitoring charm on Jamie or Dad was very acutely tuned in to Jamie’s wakefulness because a few seconds later, he’d taken Jamie’s hand back in his and said softly, ‘Are you feeling better?’

‘Loads,’ Jamie croaked, almost surprised at the sound of his voice.

‘I guess so,’ Dad said with a smile. ‘All the potions have taken effect. And the measuring spell is now operational, too. One of the St Mungo’s healers will come back later in the morning to take a few notes about the first data.’

Jamie nodded. He could see blinking colours above his head and wondered how ridiculous it must look from another perspective.
‘I have to pop in back home to take care of a few things—including checking Sultan didn’t completely destroy the kitchen while I was gone—but I’ll be back soon, all right? I’m just so glad you’re better.’

Jamie smiled and squeezed his dad’s fingers before they left his hand. ‘You know it’s not your fault, right?’

Dad’s smile faltered for a few seconds and came back a little less bright than before. He patted Jamie’s knee a little, but didn’t answer before leaving the room.

Jamie dozed a little more and was roused again by the click-click of Healer Fawcett’s shoes on the floor tiles. She didn’t look better disposed than she had been during the night and was now carrying a dark brown leather bag which looked rather heavy. She set it down on the next bed and pulled out of it what looked like a very old camera. She directed it on Jamie’s head and snapped a shot without uttering a word.

She then put the camera down and sat on the bed beside her bag, forcing Jamie to turn on his side if he wanted to look at her while she talked. ‘The measurement spell we used on the power-levels of your magic has a clearly defined colour-code going from cold to warm colours. A normal magical individual would have a constant green colour above his head, with varying degrees depending on his activity: it would go from light turquoise while unconscious to an amber colour during a duel. Of course, everybody is different. Squibs’ power level would show a very dark blue and for a very powerful wizard, such as the late Albus Dumbledore or even your father, it could go as high as scarlet or burgundy.’

Healer Fawcett had a very no-nonsense tone and Jamie didn’t know if he could say something or if he just had to wait for her to give out information as she wished. She stood up and turned her wand on the camera, which produced a small square piece of paper. Healer Fawcett caught it from the air and put it in Jamie’s hand. On it, he could see the top of his head and, a few inches above, a weird opaque cloud that was blinking regularly from sky blue to bright yellow.

Jamie looked at the healer askance, but she already had her back to him, putting the camera back in her bag. ‘As you can see,’ she said with the same clinical voice, ‘there are two main abnormalities with you magic levels. First, the fluctuation between two colours is something I’ve never seen before. Second, the blue colour indicates a too low level for you to be able to do much, whereas the yellow one gives you abnormally high powers for a bed-ridden first-year.’

She looked at him with very piercing eyes and Jamie felt a lot as if she was accusing him of the most evil things. ‘Okay…?’ he said feebly.

‘The curse has obviously tempered with your magic level but it is unknown whether it was its main goal or whether the power fluctuation itself was intended. I will need to collect a few more facts on your general health. Get up, please.’

Jamie untangled himself from his sheets with difficulty and a loud sigh he hoped Healer Fawcett would interpret correctly and stood next to his bed, suddenly devoid of his warm cocoon and feeling quite chilly in just his thin striped pyjamas.

Healer Fawcett took back the picture and slipped it in a thick folder held tidily close by a piece of string, then started a few spells Jamie recognized as some of the ones Draco had done during his diagnosis sessions. Jamie couldn’t help rolling his eyes and hoped for all this to be over before he turned completely blue.

The healer proved herself to be not that insensitive though: when Jamie’s teeth started chattering, she barked at him to, ‘Put something on, for Merlin’s sake!’, so Jamie complied with relief. The minute he slipped his school robe over his pyjamas though, she gasped and forcefully tore the robe away from him.

‘Excuse me!’ Jamie cried, quite pissed off. He was through being polite with this woman who had the worst bedside manners possible. It was a wonder how they let her into the profession. ‘What’s wrong with you? You can’t order me to put on my robe and then take it from me. What kind of healer are you, anyway? Do you want all your patients to die of cold, or something?’

Despite Jamie’s anger, Healer Fawcett couldn’t have been more inattentive to his protestations, busy as she was moving his robe around, closer and then farther from Jamie.

‘What are you doing?’ Jamie demanded to know.

For only answer, the healer conjured a large hand mirror and placed it in front of Jamie’s face, without stopping the robe-movements. Jamie realised at once what had made her react this oddly. While the cloud above Jamie’s head didn’t stop blinking from one colour to the other, every time the robe was closer to him, the yellow colour was replaced by a very bright orange and the sky blue whitened a little. And every time the robe got farther again, it went back to the yellow-sky blue alternation. It was freaking weird.

‘I suppose you were wearing this robe when the explosion happened yesterday night?’ Healer Fawcett asked with inquisitive eyes firmly fixed on Jamie’s cloud.

Jamie’s gaze was on the house-crest sewed onto his robe when he answered, ‘Yes, I was. Do you think the curse is linked to my robe?’ Jamie almost asked if perhaps someone had wanted to punish him for Sorting in Hufflepuff, but this idea was maybe a little too unrealistic.

‘It depends,’ Healer Fawcett answered thoughtfully. ‘Were you not wearing them when you had what Professor Malfoy described as positive spell outcomes?’

Jamie thought about it. He did have two sets of robes and it was hard to remember when he’d wear one or the other, as they were both quite identical. But no, it was impossible that he was always wearing the other for all these practices where he managed Alohomora and Wingardium Leviosa without a hitch.

‘I don’t think so…’ he said worriedly, wondering what it meant then that this robe suddenly seemed to affect his magic. ‘Maybe we should check my other robe, too?’

Healer Fawcett didn’t answer his question, as her attention was snatched by the sound of the hospital wing door and the arrival of Draco, who looked as poised as usual but whose eyes did reflect a great dose of worry. His pace was purposeful and he got closer to them swiftly.

And then things happened very quickly. Jamie barely had time to see in the mirror his orange-blue cloud turn red-turquoise before Healer Fawcett’s wand was at Draco’s throat and Jamie’s school robes on the ground.

‘Poppy!’ Healer Fawcett yelled, ‘Call the Aurors! I found our culprit!’

‘What?!’ Jamie shouted at the same time Draco did and Madam Pomfrey appeared in her office’s doorway.

‘How could I be responsible for this curse?’ Draco tried to make her see sense. ‘I was the one trying to help Jamie, weren’t I?’

‘How convenient!’ Healer Fawcett said with a snarl. ‘No surprise then that you concentrated on the symptoms rather than on the cause, as I pointed out before. It does make sense. You were a Death Eater after all, and Harry Potter’s school rival to boot. No wonder you’d try to take it out on his son!’

This woman was barking mad, that she totally was. Jamie tried to grab her arm to stop this nonsense. ‘Don’t hurt him! He didn’t do anything!’

‘Oh, you’ve manipulated the child well enough,’ Fawcett accused, the only sign she’d noticed Jamie’s complaints. ‘But you didn’t expect the measuring spell to react to your presence, now, did you?’

And then everything changed very fast again.

Fawcett’s wand flew out of her hand and Jamie felt a very strong shield charm form around him. His dad had appeared from nowhere and was making his way towards them one wand pointed at Fawcett and the other firmly tucked in his breast pocket.

‘Are you all right, Jamie?’ Dad called in his direction.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ Jamie answered, still quite shaken by Fawcett’s outburst.

‘Poppy?’ Dad addressed Madam Pomfrey, who was still looking on the unfolding scene with a confused expression, in the gap between the door of her office and the hospital wing. ‘Would you be so kind to hold back this call to the Aurors you were about to make? I don’t think we need them quite yet.’ He then turned back towards Fawcett with the same fierce expression he had coming in. ‘Let’s all calm down, Healer Fawcett,’ he said in a calm voice that resonated in the room with great authority. ‘I can assure you personally that there is no way Malfoy is responsible for any of this.’

‘Why the hell would you trust him?’ Fawcett asked as if she thought Dad had turned a little soft in the head.

Dad glanced at Draco almost imperceptibly and squared his shoulders before answering, now at the foot of the bed next to Jamie’s, ‘Let’s just say I do, all right? Could you explain why you’d think he did anything, please?’

He handed the healer her wand back and they all sat down—Jamie on his bed, Healer Fawcett next to him but far enough for a large space to remain between them, and Dad and Draco opposite them on the neighbouring bed. They were not within touching distance either, but there was obviously something there, Jamie reckoned. If not, why would have Dad intervened in Draco’s favour?

Healer Fawcett didn’t seem too thrilled to have to explain herself, be it to Harry Potter or to anyone, but she did tell him about the colour code and how Jamie’s magic-levels had heightened with Draco’s proximity. She did sound like she wanted to convince Dad of Draco’s culpability.

‘But what if—’ Dad began after she was finished. He glanced at Draco and then at Jamie but didn’t finish his question.

Draco cleared his throat and ran his hands on his trousers, and then appeared to decide on something. ‘Jamie knows, Harry,’ he said in a small voice.

Dad turned to him suddenly. ‘Excuse me?’ He was beginning to send murderous waves to Draco, so Jamie thought he should intervene.

‘I heard you tell him in his office back when you were here because of the gargoyle thing,’ Jamie said, trying to hold his dad’s gaze. It wasn’t easy and he looked down to his hands before the end of his sentence.

Dad didn’t say anything at first, but when Jamie looked at him again, his dad’s features were schooled back in the calm expression he was sporting before. ‘Very well,’ he said with a slightly strangled voice, ‘if it’s out in the open, then…’ He cast some kind of bubble charm around the two beds, took a deep breath and focused on Healer Fawcett, rolling his wand between his fingers ostensibly. ‘I guess that if we want your help healing Jamie, you need to know the truth, but I will demand that this information stay between the four of us at all costs. I believe you can guess what could happen to you if the information I’m about to impart were ever to hit the newspapers, right?’

Dad waited for Healer Fawcett’s nod, and he dropped the bomb. ‘Draco Malfoy is my son’s other father.’

Jamie could see Fawcett’s body going all tense and her face blanching, but she didn’t say anything. She didn’t exclaim on the impossibility of the thing or on it obviously being a lie. If it had been the time for this and Fawcett had been a little nicer, he’d have asked her how it was all biologically possible.

‘Would it be conceivable that the reaction of Jamie’s magic to my presence is simply linked to my being his father?’ Draco asked.

‘I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t seem quite likely,’ Healer Fawcett said, with a tone implying she really didn’t like being imposed conclusions to her cases. ‘Scientifically speaking there is no other link that I can think of except the one between the curser and the cursed.’ She ended with a sneer directed at Draco.

‘Would you stop implying—’

‘But, what about my robe?’ Jamie asked, trying to steer the conversation out of troubled waters.

Dad reacted right away. ‘What about your robe, Jamie?’

‘Well, it heightens my magic levels too.’

Draco picked the robe from the floor and started rummaging through the pockets. ‘Is it your robe, Jamie, or is it this that influences your magic?’ Draco pulled the cufflinks box—which Jamie had to admit he’d totally forgotten about—out of the robe and placed it near Jamie’s head.

Jamie didn’t see it but the effect on the others’ expressions seemed quite immediate. Dad’s eyes rounded and Healer Fawcett’s face got very smug and Draco looked rather downcast.

‘All right,’ he said with a sigh. ‘So, this is definitely Malfoy-related, then.’


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