lamerezouille: (Hogwarts)
[personal profile] lamerezouille
This is a re-post of the fic I wrote for the [livejournal.com profile] dracotops_harry fest. It is posted on an external site here, but I thought it warranted a re-post, just in case.

Title: Normal Is the Watchword
Prompt : Prompt #38 by [livejournal.com profile] drarryxlover
Summary: This story is about love and family and yes, maybe it’s not supposed to be about Jamie exactly, but Draco and Harry are very stubborn and Jamie’s just a kid, you can’t expect him to completely extract himself from a story he’s actually living, right?
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, and multiple canon pairings in the background.
Warnings: Past mpreg (nothing graphic) and a wee bit exhibitionism.
Word Count: ~30k
Author's Notes: This is my first participation in a fest and the longest fic I’ve ever written, so I’m a little bit nervous. I hope that even if my take on the prompt is a little bit unconventional, it’ll please anyway. Also, (and maybe she’s already tired that I keep repeating this) thank you to [livejournal.com profile] niteshine for the beta! (Any mistakes remaining are my own). Title from a good ol’ Veronica Mars episode.



Prologue:

If Jamie was ever to be the main character of a story, he would love for the first line of that story to be something such as “Jamie was a very normal almost-twelve year old boy”. The problem was Jamie really wasn’t the main character of this story. No, if there was to be a story, the main character would rather be his dad. And as his dad was Harry Potter, Jamie knew from his quite short life-experience that he had renounced his chances at being normal at the same time he had left the warmth and comfort of the womb (and some would argue, even before that).

There were several things, even, that made Jamie rather abnormal.

First of all, Jamie was a wizard. This could have been absolutely normal, except that, even as he had always been aware of it, he had never really lived as one. He had been to a normal school and on normal holidays, and he lived in a normal house where his dad hardly ever used magic. The word Muggle still felt kind of weird on his tongue, as if it was a foreign word.

So, when he dived head-first in the Wizarding World and visited Diagon Alley for the first time and then went to Hogwarts, Jamie didn’t feel normal at all. His dad told him he shouldn’t worry and that he would adapt easily, but then he always started recounting how he had discovered the Wizarding World himself, so Jamie’s usual response was ‘okay’ and a smile, despite not feeling confident at all.

Because of his dad being his dad (and he really was an awesome dad, there definitely was no complaining on Jamie’s part), Jamie rapidly discovered that his life at Hogwarts was never going to be normal either.

For one, he was the only first year whose classmates asked for his dad’s autograph on their Chocolate Frog cards. And he was the only one whom everybody knew even before he put one foot on school grounds. Well, to be fair, people didn’t really know him, they only knew the idea of him. They talked about Harry Potter’s son on the Hogwarts Express and they clapped loudly when they heard his name during the Sorting. To say they were disappointed when they saw him would be an understatement. Nobody expected Harry Potter’s kid to be a scrawny, elongated boy with washed-out red hair, a nose a bit too long for his face and the most unremarkable eyes ever. Also, they didn’t expect him to Sort Hufflepuff. At all.

All in all, before making any friends, he had already disappointed the whole school.

And if that wasn’t enough, there was also the thing about him only having a dad. Jamie was far from being naïve, he hadn’t waited for his dad to tell him to know that some kids only had a dad or a mum or two dads or two mums and that it was completely normal. What his dad didn’t know that Jamie knew, though, was that a few weeks before, while he was snooping in his dad’s stuff to hopefully find out whether his dad had bought him the game he’d put on his birthday list, Jamie had found a picture of his dad with an unnaturally huge belly. The picture was dated from a few weeks before Jamie’s birth.

So, yeah. Jamie knew that he wasn’t normal, and he knew it for a long time. Plus, if he hadn’t known it before, the beginning of his curriculum at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had made him absolutely certain.

Oh, and yes, there was also this weird thing about his magic. Not normal at all.

But enough about him. This story was definitively not about him, after all. This story was about his dad. And maybe a little about Professor Malfoy, too (or rather a lot).

~*~


The story really began in the Charms classroom. It was a Friday afternoon and Jamie was tired and he kind of exploded something. Again.

‘You really are the most dangerous first-year I’ve ever seen,’ Professor Malfoy said while repairing the quill Jamie had just Wingardium Leviosa-ed into ashes. The statement was clearly meant to be heard by the whole class and everybody dutifully snickered, some not even trying to hide it in their hands. ‘You’ll come and see me after class, James.’

Jamie sighed and looked down at his wand-holding hands. This could not be good. Not only Professor Malfoy’s class was the one where his magic acted up the most, but more than that, Jamie knew that Professor Malfoy didn’t like him very much.

Professor Malfoy never looked him in the eyes—or in the face, really. His eyes were always focused just above Jamie’s left shoulders, or in the best of cases, on the side of his neck. But then again, Professor Malfoy was a very changing man. Some days it seemed as if Jamie’s very existence repulsed him entirely, and some days it was just like Jamie didn’t even exist at all. What was a permanent feature was that Professor Malfoy was always weird where Jamie was concerned. For example, he was the only professor (except for Uncle Nev’ and Hagrid, whom he’d known forever) not to call him by his last name. And Jamie was the only student Professor Malfoy called by his first name.

‘I’ve spoken to Professor Scutum and Professor Grant,’ Professor Malfoy said before Jamie had time to decide if he should sit or stand. ‘They told me that my class was not the only one where you had problems with controlling your magic. It seems, however, that mine is the class where these problems manifest themselves the most. I’d only presume it was because it is where you practice your magic the most.’

Professor Malfoy was saying all of this with a very even tone, and with his gaze directed to the other side of the classroom. Jamie thought he rather looked like a robot.

‘From what I’ve seen, the problem is not from lack of work or focus on your part, and the quality of your wand certainly isn’t to blame.’ Professor Malfoy marked a pause, but Jamie couldn’t think of anything to say. ‘Do you understand what I’m saying, James?’ His voice was soft, and it was suddenly like Professor Malfoy was a completely different person. It was as if he cared.

‘Does it mean that the problem comes from me, Sir?’

Professor Malfoy just nodded and something very strong seemed to grip Jamie’s heart very hard.

‘But before any more research is done, I think it would be good if I talked to your father.’ Jamie could feel Professor Malfoy’s gaze on him now, and it was a very odd sensation after being deprived of it for so long. It was Jamie, however, who couldn’t look at Professor Malfoy anymore.

‘Am I going to be expelled?’ Jamie asked in one breath, trying to keep his voice from wavering.

‘Of course not, James. You’re Harry Potter’s son,’ Professor Malfoy answered, his voice once again cold and dismissive.

Jamie could have just blamed the harsh tone on Professor Malfoy’s natural weirdness and ignore it. But at the same time, Jamie had just learned that there was something wrong with him and it was sort of hard to take in; he was only a kid after all.

He left the room and blinked away the tears.

~

Dear Dad,

Thanks for your last letter.

I hope everything’s good at home. I miss Sultan very much and I hope he’s not going after Mrs Durham’s cats again, she seemed very serious last time when she threatened to lock him in the next time he’d come to her house.

Here, everything is not so good. It seems there’s something wrong with me that makes my magic go crazy and Professor Malfoy would like to see you to talk about it. I guess he’s sent you an owl too. Don’t worry too much about that: it really doesn’t happen that often. Also, on the good side, it means we’ll see each other soon and maybe I could show you my dorm and you could meet my friends?

The classes where I don’t have to use my wand all go very well. I received the top mark on my latest Potions essay and Professor Binns seemed to like my presentation on House-Elf history well enough (you’ll thank Aunt Hermione for her help on the subject, right?).

In other news, my friend Marcus’s brother Brutus said he would show us some Exploding Snap tricks that would guarantee us to win every game. I’m not too confident about it after the failure of his so-called “Fail proof way to know which flavour your Bertie Bott’s bean will be”, but it’s sure to be a good laugh, at least.

Hugs,

Jamie.

PS: Oh yes, and before I forget: Teddy says hi. We don’t see each other that often, living in literal opposites of the castle, but he comes to eat at the Hufflepuff table at least once a week, so we can catch up a little.


Jamie re-read his letter. It seemed all right.

He was sure his dad would eat himself with worry anyway, so there was no point in expressing how much Jamie was scared and how long he’d cried in the bathroom after leaving the Charms classroom. With a little luck, his dad would even receive his owl before Professor Malfoy’s and the worst would be averted.

~*~


That was how two days later, Jamie found himself giving up his right of lie in in order to go meet his dad in the entrance hall fifteen minutes before his eight o’clock appointment with Professor Malfoy.

Even with the need to get up early on a weekend, Jamie was still glad Professor Malfoy had made the appointment for a Sunday morning. At least there wouldn’t be too much people gawking and whispering about the presence of the great Harry Potter in the school. Couldn’t some people understand that, to him, his dad was just his dad? And would they like it if Jamie went to talk to them just to blab about their parents without even saying hello first? Some people just never learnt to be polite, as Aunt Hermione would say.

Dad arrived a few minutes later, and before Jamie could say anything, he was drowned into as strong a hug as he’d ever received (even stronger than when they’d gone to Granny Molly’s for Jamie to learn Quidditch and he’d received a Quaffle straight in the stomach).

‘Um, Dad?’ Jamie said when he finally managed to breathe out again.

Dad loosened his hold on Jamie with a muttered, ‘Yeah, right, you’re a big boy, now,’ and flattened the front of his wizard robes. Jamie found it quite odd that his dad would choose to wear his fanciest clothes for this appointment with Professor Malfoy, but didn’t say anything.

‘All right, Jamie, you’ve got to tell me exactly what’s wrong with your magic. I want to hear your version before Malfoy gets a chance to put his own spin on everything.’

‘It’s not that bad, really,’ Jamie tried to relativize. He usually could read his dad’s face quite well, and what Jamie saw now was a mix of utter worry, a hint of guilt and the fierceness of a fighter ready for war. ‘It’s just that, when I learn a new spell, it takes me longer than the others to manage it, and when I finally do, it only works a few times before it overloads and something explodes.’

This explanation was unfortunately as true as they came. Jamie only wished it was something seemingly more fixable.

‘Is Malfoy pressuring you? Is he fair to you? Is he the reason you have problems at all? I had a teacher who hated me when I was in Hogwarts; I know how it can be. If he’s like that you can tell me, you know you can.’

Jamie could sense Dad was about to give him another crushing hug, and knew that people were bound to start coming up or down for breakfast, so he decided it was time to get a move on. ‘It’s not Professor Malfoy’s fault, Dad,’ he said, making for the stairs. ‘Charms isn’t the only class I have troubles with my magic in. Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts, too. Professor Malfoy is definitely weird to me, and some days it does look like he hates me, but he’s not failing me on purpose or anything. He wants to help with this, after all,’ Jamie finished with a small voice, realising that what he was telling his dad was not only to reassure him. It was the truth, really.

Dad looked at him dubiously, but the frown on his brow eased off and he put a comforting hand on Jamie’s shoulder. ‘If you say so Jamie, I trust you.’ The I don’t trust Professor Malfoy was implied, but Jamie chose to ignore it for now. He remembered Hagrid saying things had always been complicated between Dad and Professor Malfoy, but hadn’t fathomed how much until now.

They spent the rest of the trip to Professor Malfoy’s chatting about Jamie’s friends and his other classes and what Teddy was up to with his Gryffindor friends, and it was like Dad was all right again, appeased and content. And then they reached their destination and Dad was all tense and twitchy all over again.

They entered the room after knocking but before Professor Malfoy let them in. Jamie thought Professor Malfoy would maybe say something about it, but he just stood from behind his desk, and said, ‘Mr Potter’ and, ‘James,’ with a nod for each of them. ‘Have a sit, please.’

Dad sat reluctantly and Jamie could feel the tenseness in the room. Dad and Professor Malfoy were quite explicitly glaring at each other, but Professor Malfoy seemed to be better able to rein in whatever he was feeling than Dad.

‘Mr Potter, I trust you are aware of James’s troubles with his magic. It is my belief, despite all else, that if a few tests turn out encouraging we can deal with it efficiently and perhaps even resolve it entirely. Of course, it would demand a considerable amount of time on James’s part, what with test-running and remedial classes.’

Professor Malfoy’s voice was as calm and flat as ever, but his gaze was fixed on Dad so determinedly, he could as well have been shouting. Jamie wondered how his dad could stand it; if he’d been in his position, Jamie would certainly have looked down only after a few seconds.

‘Jamie,’ Dad said without stopping his staring-contest with Professor Malfoy. ‘Do you think you’d be ready to do what Professor Malfoy just said?’

Jamie nodded, and then, realising no one was looking at him, said, ‘Yes,’ hoping to sound self-assured and grown-up-like.

‘Would you mind leaving us for a few minutes, please?’ Dad went on, his tone light but his stare on Professor Malfoy not wavering.

Jamie got up and left the room with a last look to his dad and Professor Malfoy, hoping they wouldn’t use his absence as the occasion to throw anything at each other, whether it was stationary, fists or hexes.

As soon as he was outside Professor Malfoy’s office, Jamie could hear loud voices coming from inside. Without even thinking twice about it, Jamie dragged his Extendable Ears from the bottom of his robe-pockets and hoped they were still working after Maia Mapleback’s pet rat had used them as a toothpick. It was not like he had a habit of eavesdropping or something, he just—he needed to know what was discussed inside Professor Malfoy’s office. It seemed crucial. Uncle Ron had given him the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes product in case of emergency, after all. As far as Jamie was concerned, his dad and Professor Malfoy locked in a room together definitely was an emergency.

As soon as the ear-end of the device had slipped under the door, Jamie could hear every detail of the argument that was going on inside.

‘…and please drop the “Mr Potter” act; it’s really out of character,’ Dad was saying. ‘Try to be forward for once and say what you mean. My son has done nothing to you, you don’t have the right to make him your…experiment, or plaything, or whatever you intend to do to him. If anything happens to him—’

‘Nothing will happen to him!’ Professor Malfoy cut him off, his usual imperturbable tone now vanished. ‘Can’t you understand that I just want to help? You’ve always made me more evil than I was.’ He even sounded a little desperate.

‘Have I, now? This is a very liberal reinterpretation of events, isn’t it? I remember trusting you, I remember—’ Dad didn’t finish his sentence. Jamie heard him sigh, and then go on, ‘All right, Malfoy. Whatever I might think of you, I know you wouldn’t hurt a child. I just hope you can really help him, and…not let things get in the way.’

‘I promise I won’t,’ Professor Malfoy said softly. ‘Harry—’

‘Don’t,’ Dad interrupted sharply.

There was a blank then, absolute silence, and Jamie wondered briefly if his Extendable Ears were maybe malfunctioning after all. But then, Professor Malfoy spoke again, with something in his voice that made him a lot more human than Jamie had ever heard him sound like. ‘He really looks a lot like you.’

‘No,’ Dad answered with something like a smile in his voice. ‘No, he really doesn’t.’

And then Jamie could hear Dad’s steps coming towards him and he put the Ears away.

~*~


Jamie thought a lot about the conversation between his dad and Professor Malfoy during the next few weeks. It had been so…different from what he’d expected. He’d expected insults and personal attacks, and even maybe a few threats, but what he’d heard… It made him rethink his stance on the “complicated” Hagrid had talked about.

All in all, Jamie didn’t know what made him wonder the most. There were three things that mainly bothered him, though:

First, his dad had said he used to trust Professor Malfoy. It hinted at a very different history than what his dad, or Hagrid, or Uncle Nev’, or even Teddy (who’d never been with his Grandma’s family and his godfather at the same time as long as he could remember) had ever shared with him. If Dad and Professor Malfoy really were enemies during their school days (which Jamie started doubting seriously), there had to be something else, right? Something that had happened afterward? Maybe they’d worked together, or something. Jamie couldn’t really wrap his head around it.

Second, there was Professor Malfoy calling Dad “Harry”. What about that? It seemed really weird that Jamie was the only student Professor Malfoy called by his first name and that suddenly his dad deserved the same treatment. A treatment that his dad had refused, moreover. And this was weird too, because Dad generally didn’t like being known as Harry Potter and usually insisted he was “just Harry”. He never used to be picky about who was allowed to call him by his first name.

Third, and that was maybe what baffled Jamie the most, did Professor Malfoy really think that Jamie looked like his dad? If so, there was definitely something very wrong about Professor Malfoy’s eyesight. Jamie looked nothing like his dad. If he hadn’t seen The Picture, he might even be subject to wondering whether his dad was really his dad.

The thing was there were only two people who knew what it was all about, and out of the two, the one who was the most approachable had stayed tight-lipped during the entirety of his visit at Hogwarts. His dad had refused to even broach the subject of Professor Malfoy. It seemed to be the new taboo.

So, because having this kind of discussion with Professor Malfoy kind of gave him the creeps, Jamie decided to let it drop.

He let it drop and went on living the life of a first-year Hogwarts student with magical disability. And that was no fun at all. He spent one hour every night in Supervised Wand Practice with whatever teacher lost when they drew lots in the staff room and at the weekends was probed in all places and with all kinds of devices by Professor Malfoy and Madam Pomfrey in turn, all of that leading to no progress whatsoever.

If things weren’t bad enough as they were, with all his free time devoted to homework and no hope at all to enter the Junior Quidditch League, things seemed to explode around him even more than before, making him regularly lose points for his House from no fault of his own. He might as well give back his wand and go back to live his almost normal non-magical life, for all good Hogwarts did to him.

But still, he’d made Teddy swear secrecy and was reluctant to even hint at all the things that went wrong, where his dad was concerned. Nowadays, his letters were just filled with a load of reassurance and some invented fun he could have had with his friends. He really didn’t want his dad to know how sad he really was. Hogwarts was like a home to Dad, after all; Jamie couldn’t just go and destroy a myth, could he?

~

It was on a Saturday afternoon in early November that things came to a head and Jamie knew he wasn’t far from reaching rock bottom. He was in Professor Malfoy’s office discussing his “problem” for the umpteenth time, Professor Malfoy scribbling his answers on a piece of parchment, when, out of nowhere, Professor Malfoy asked, ‘What about your mother, James?’

Jamie jerked out of the tired stupor that always took hold of him when Professor Malfoy asked inane questions about the width of his teeth and the texture of his right-hand palm. ‘Sorry?’ Jamie blurted out less politely than he’d have wished.

‘I’m starting to think that what you’re suffering of might be hereditary. It would make things easier if I knew who your mother was,’ Professor Malfoy said without looking up at Jamie and ignoring his reaction completely.

Jamie had no idea what to answer. He really couldn’t say that maybe, yes, he had a suspicion his dad was his mum. But if his dad hadn’t told Jamie, there was no way he’d want Professor Malfoy to know.

And even apart from that, Jamie was still not sure how it all worked. Jamie kind of always knew on some level that his dad was gay, but had never really thought over how it came to play in his procreation. Did his dad have him all alone, then, or was there some other person who’d intervened in Jamie’s creation? And if so, was this person a man or a woman? Theoretically, babies were supposed to come from a man and a woman, but from the little Jamie’d learnt from watching TV and listening to other kids in the courtyard, even with his dad’s preferences put aside, it seemed improbable that it was a mum who had put Jamie in Dad’s belly.

To sum it up, Jamie didn’t have a clue how to answer Professor Malfoy’s question and certainly didn’t want to reflect on his dad’s sexual life more than he ought to, so he just mumbled, ‘I don’t know, Sir. I’ll ask my dad.’

Professor Malfoy looked up at that, and something seemed to appear on his face, but he remembered to guard his expression right away. Jamie looked down and crossed his fingers for the questions to be over soon.

~*~


So yeah, when Jamie was back in his dorm that night, he’d decided that his already abnormal life had to get even less normal, and soon. He had to ask his dad if he had a mum or another dad or whatever, but he had to figure things out before. Because if it turned out that his dad had done something dangerous to get pregnant with him and that it was the cause of this whole mess, Dad would never forgive himself, even if Jamie already hypothetically had.

First thing first: Jamie had to become a little less clueless about sex, and precisely about the gay variety thereof.

‘What do you know about sex?’ Jamie not-so-diplomatically asked Marcus the next morning.

Marcus, being a very easy-going kind of person, didn’t bat an eyelid and answered just like he would have if Jamie had asked him about Herbology homework, ‘The most I know about it is what Brutus says: that it’s very good and that he’s had a lot of it. But I wouldn’t believe him on that last part, though.’

Jamie nodded and Marcus seemed to think the conversation was over, his nose already back in the latest New Adventures of Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle: Renaissance.

‘But,’ said Jamie, ‘How does it work, really? To make babies and such?’

The look on Marcus’s face was odd but he answered anyway. ‘So, from what my brother told me—and we’ve got to keep in mind his information isn’t always the most trustworthy, here’s what I understood: the man’s supposed to put his penis in the woman’s…thing, you know, and then his sperm gets somewhat nested in the woman’s womb and…’ Marcus tailed off.

‘And that’s how babies grow,’ Jamie completed. ‘All right, that seems logical enough.’ Jamie got a little closer and lowered his voice for his next question, ‘But, what about…men-with-men? How do they…you know?’

‘I don’t know,’ Marcus said with a frown. ‘Why would you want to know that? I think they get it in the butt or something.’

Wow. That was a weird imagery to have in mind. But Jamie needed to know more, and Marcus didn’t look completely disgusted by his questions yet. ‘Do you think they can make babies, too?’ he asked in a whisper.

‘I don’t know, mate,’ Marcus answered with a bewildered expression. ‘But I guess that with magic anything’s possible, right?’

Marcus shrugged and Jamie nodded and that was that.

Well, that was that, but only to some extent, because it seemed this private—thank you very much—conversation Jamie had had with his best friend had been eavesdropped on and relayed and soon the whole Hufflepuff House knew Jamie was interested in man-sex. And, like they always did, they understood everything wrongly, interpreting that Jamie was interested in man-sex, and not just inquiring intellectually.

At least, and God! was Jamie thankful for House-rivalry, the Hufflepuffs seemed to think it was a Hufflepuff matter, and thus not concerning the other Houses, so the information hadn’t leaked yet.

Marcus told Jamie to ignore the whispers and the looks, and Jamie knew he was right and was thankful that Marcus was a true friend, but it was very difficult extracting himself from all the mocking and the barbs and the piques that were meant for people like his dad.

If these kids knew that who they were really calling a poof and a perv’ was the Saviour of the Wizarding World, maybe they’d be more inclined to shut their gobs.

~

And then something happened that made Jamie realise there was still something below rock bottom. And, worse than all, it happened just in front of the Charms classroom.

Titus Tottercoombe, one of the Hufflepuff prefects who was really a pain in the butt, had greeted him with a very fake and very jovial, ‘Hello, Potter!’ and then proceeded to fake-whisper to his friends very loudly, ‘Yes, I heard it too, Jamie Potter wants to make babies with another boy. He doesn’t seem to realise that it would make him and the baby both freaks!’ He practically shouted the last word, and something in Jamie broke.

He got out of Marcus’s restraining grip and pointed his wand towards Titus before his brains had time to catch up with him. The gargoyle Titus was standing next to literally went to pieces, and bits of rocks flew everywhere in the corridor.

It was only when every stone had fallen down and nobody was hurt that Jamie noticed Professor Malfoy standing a few feet from him, wand in hand and probably still warm from the protecting spell he’d just used, and a furious expression on his face. His usually fair complexion was almost scarlet and his eyes were burning a hole inside Jamie’s forehead.

Professor Malfoy clutched Jamie’s arm in a claw-like hand and pulled him inside the Charms classroom. He slammed the door behind them and threw Jamie in a chair.

‘Do you have any idea what you could have done?!’ Professor Malfoy raged, pacing the classroom with his hands flying in the air at the speed of his words. ‘Do you have any idea how dangerous you can be? We’re not working all this time on your problem just to have a bit of fun.’

Jamie knew his own cheeks must have been red from guilt and the shame of truly being the freak Titus had described.

‘I’m not spending all my free time researching your case so that you can flaunt your exploding prowess in the middle of a crowded corridor,’ Professor Malfoy went on. He stopped in his tracks and turned towards Jamie accusatorily. ‘Or maybe you just want to stop it all so that you can be free of maiming your classmates as you wish? Have you considered what your father will think when I tell him his son is on the verge of becoming the next misfiring madman to be put away from the streets?’

Oh no, Jamie thought. Professor Malfoy had absolutely no right to play the dad card. Not when it was his entire fault in the beginning for bringing up Jamie’s supposed mother and causing Jamie to be the laugh of the whole Hufflepuff House. He had no right to talk about his dad as though he knew what his dad would feel. Professor Malfoy had no idea what Jamie’s life was like and knew nothing about Jamie’s dad.

‘What do you know about what my dad would think?’ Jamie burst out. ‘What would you think if it was your son who was harassed because you both are so-called freaks? You know nothing! You don’t even have children.’

As soon as he’d finished talking, Jamie immediately regretted answering a professor back like this, but Professor Malfoy merely looked taken aback, and his fury seemed to have totally evaporated. His face had turned alarmingly pale, and he looked suddenly completely defeated. ‘No, you’re right. I don’t know what having a son means. Your father managed where I couldn’t.’ His face hardened back to normal then, and he turned a blank look on Jamie. ‘This little stunt will cost one hundred and fifty points from Hufflepuff. And I’ll summon your father in my office again. Rest assured that it will be a lot less pleasant for you than it was last time.’

~*~


And so it was that, the next Sunday, Jamie was once again standing in the entrance hall half-asleep, waiting for his dad to show up. When he did, Dad hugged Jamie, but it was considerably less warm than usual. Professor Malfoy’s owl had obviously been very thorough, and Jamie’s half-cooked explanations had not been enough to soften the blow.

‘I’m really not happy with you right now,’ Dad said in his you’re-in-trouble voice. ‘But I’m still on your side, and I’d rather you told me what exactly happened and why on earth you would do something like that, before we go and see Malfoy.’

Jamie had known he would have to say out loud what he’d been unwilling to put down on parchment, but it was still a difficult task. He took his dad’s arm and pulled him in the direction of the stairs. This was a conversation he didn’t want to have in the open space that was the entrance hall.

‘Basically…’ Jamie hesitated and wondered how blunt he could be. Oh, well. He had totally reached the point where it didn’t really matter anymore. ‘I snapped when Titus Tottercoombe said you and I were freaks because you carried me.’

Dad stopped in his tracks and almost lost his balance on the stairs. He gripped the bannister so hard it looked like it hurt. ‘How does he—how do you know?’

‘I found a picture in your stuff…’

‘Oh,’ Dad said just before composing himself and joining Jamie at the top of the stairs. ‘Who else knows about it?’

Dad’s voice was detached and he looked as though he was about to faint.

‘No one knows, really. I just asked questions about how it could possibly happen, and it was overheard, and all the Hufflepuffs think it’s me who wants to—well, you know. It’s just that when people tease me about it, I take it as if they were talking about you, and they tease me a lot, and…’ Jamie trailed off, looking for some reaction from his dad. All he could feel coming from him was a huge relief.

‘Very well,’ Dad said, going back to normal in the blink of an eye. ‘I understand your motivations, but what you did was still very stupid and reckless. It’s a real wonder you didn’t Sort Gryffindor with this kind of reflexes.’ He ruffled Jamie’s hair and even as aware as he was of the seriousness of his situation, Jamie couldn’t help feeling a little proud.

~

Inside Professor Malfoy’s office, Jamie came back to earth quite quickly. Professor Malfoy was using his lowest voice and his fiercest glare and he seemed to be enumerating everything Jamie had ever done wrong in his life.

Jamie remembered how ashamed he was about all of this and didn’t dare look at his dad because he knew he would only see disappointment in his face, and that was the worst thing ever.

‘What punishment do you suggest?’ Dad asked in a carefully neutral voice.

‘I’ve already deducted a lot of points from Hufflepuff. I’ve talked about it with the Headmistress and James’s Head of House, and they agreed to let me take care of the punishment. I’m planning on having Jamie in detention every Sunday morning for the duration of the school year. It might seem harsh, but you have to remember James knew what casting a spell like this would result in. This was not a mere accident.’ Professor Malfoy’s speech sounded overly rehearsed, but Dad seemed to understand something that Jamie didn’t, because his eyes softened at Professor Malfoy’s last sentence.

‘It seems fair,’ Dad said. ‘And what about the students who harass Jamie?’

Jamie could feel the heat of embarrassment on his face, but he was kind of glad that something might be done about that. The rest of the year would be hard enough with all the detentions; he didn’t need any more bullshit from Titus Tottercoombe.

‘It will be taken care of,’ Professor Malfoy said, and Jamie could feel it would; his heart was already a little lighter. He smiled at his dad and Dad smiled back. Professor Malfoy cleared his throat and went on, ‘There is something else that I would like to talk to you about. It is in regard to James’s diagnosis. I need more information on his genetic background.’

Jamie knew he could have felt his dad tense from a mile away, the reaction in his body was so strong. Added to the tension that emanated from Professor Malfoy, Jamie wondered how he could still be in the room and breathe properly. Jamie turned to his dad inquisitively, but his gaze was focused on Professor Malfoy. ‘Could you please wait for me outside, Jamie?’ Dad asked in a rough voice.

Jamie had a very strange feeling of déjà vu, but he complied immediately anyway. This time, he had his Extendable Ears out and ready soon enough not to miss any part of the conversation.

‘You think what Jamie has is hereditary?’ Dad asked with a thin voice.

‘It is a possibility I need to look into,’ Professor Malfoy agreed. ‘Now, no need to sugar-coat the truth,’ he said with something that sounded suspiciously close to faked nonchalance. ‘There’s water under the bridge, I reckon. You can tell me the name of the woman you’ve had a child with less than a year after our break-up. I can take it, I promise.’

Jamie almost dropped the Ears completely. No way. There was absolutely no way—his dad and Professor Malfoy? It was just…well, in fact, it kind of made sense. It would explain some things about their history and why Professor Malfoy seemed to dislike Jamie so much, at least.

But Jamie didn’t have time to make a lot more speculations, because the conversation was still going on inside the office, and he totally needed to pay attention.

‘There was never anyone but you, Draco,’ Dad said in the saddest voice Jamie had ever heard.

‘There wasn’t—?’ Professor Malfoy was clearly as astounded by this statement as Jamie was, but then again, it was true that Jamie had never seen his dad romantically involved with anyone. Did this mean Professor Malfoy had been Dad’s One True Love or something? Or maybe Jamie shouldn’t have let Sally Green make him watch all these Sandra Bullock movies back in year four.

Fortunately, Professor Malfoy’s quivering voice brought him back to the situation at hand. ‘I—all right, so you used a surrogate mother, then? Do you still have her address, or something? Some way to contact her?’ He sounded like he desperately needed to stay in control, but Jamie could tell by the increasing trembling of his voice that he didn’t manage at all.

‘There was no woman involved in Jamie’s conception. None whatsoever,’ Dad said, with an eerily calm tone.

‘I…I don’t understand. How— Did you—?’

Jamie heard his dad gulping and taking a breath before answering, ‘Jamie turned twelve on the fifth of September.’

There was a long pause then, and Jamie could hear heavy breathing, but he didn’t know whom it came from. Maybe it was from both of them.

‘James is— I’m— Am I James’s father, Harry?’ Professor Malfoy sounded uncertain, but it was clear he knew the answer to his question, and Jamie realised he knew it too.

Jamie’s knees buckled and he felt himself slip to the floor slowly, still pressed to the office door and still listening through his Extendable Ears with all his might. There was something inside him that was rejecting the idea of Professor Malfoy being his father like it’d be rejecting an organ transplant from an Acromantula, but there was also this voice in his head that kept repeating Now you know.

On the other side of the door, the shock was perhaps as intense as it was in Jamie’s head, because it seemed to be weeks before somebody spoke again. It was Professor Malfoy who did, and he didn’t talk as much as positively scream. ‘How could you? How could you not tell me we had a son? You had absolutely no right hiding him from me! He’s as much mine as he is yours!’

‘No he’s not!’ Dad yelled back, not missing one beat. ‘You relinquished any rights you had on him when you left me, when you kicked me out of your life like you’d free a disobedient House-Elf. You stomped on my heart and made sure I understood everything I’d thought you felt for me was a lie. I was scared, and alone, and I had no idea what was happening to my body. Do you even have any idea how it felt like for me?’

Jamie’s head was spinning. He didn’t want to know all of this. He didn’t want his father to have been so miserable—especially as it was partly because of him, but there was nothing he could do now. There was nothing he could have done, ever.

Jamie took the Ears off and rolled the strings conscientiously before putting them back in his robe pocket. He didn’t need to hear any more of this. No, he needed to compose himself and learn to live with his whole world turned on its ear, because he definitely wasn’t supposed to have heard that, and his dad was upset enough as it was without Jamie breaking down too.

He’d go and fetch Teddy. Yes, that was what he’d do. Teddy didn’t know any of this, Teddy was good. He would be there for Dad. He would be his normal happy-go-lucky self and he could distract Dad. And maybe he could distract Jamie a little, too. Jamie wouldn’t have to think about any of this and after, when his dad was gone, he could maybe try to figure it all out.

~*~


Jamie didn’t figure anything out. He spent the following week in a haze, walking through the motions, going to class, and to supervised practice, and to his diagnosis session, and when he was alone in the bathroom, he looked at himself in the mirror and saw things he’d never seen before. It was weird how much knowing where he came from could change his perspective on himself.

He looked at his nose and at his chin, and he observed his long limbs and he could see how he might be a little bit of Professor Malfoy. And once he’d extracted these features, it was easier to see a little of his dad in himself: in his cheeks and his ears and the curve of his eyelashes. He looked inside his eyes and could see how this dull colour was in fact a mix between green and grey, and it was as if he was a whole new person.

Jamie’s perspective on everything seemed to have shifted a bit. He didn’t know if Titus Tottercoombe had been punished or if the rumours about him and butt-babies had gone on or not. What had been a pivotal element in his life was now just a small detail to be put on the side-lines. He was too preoccupied and too lost in his own world to notice anything, really.

Well, to be honest, there was still something he noticed—or rather someone.

Professor Malfoy seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Every time Jamie was walking through the Charms corridor or eating dinner in the great hall, Professor Malfoy was there, staring at the back of his neck. But every time Jamie lingered after Charms to talk to him, he’d disappeared, and every time Jamie waited hopefully for his supervisor to arrive for his wand practice, it was never Professor Malfoy who came.

Jamie was not even sure what he would say to him, or if he really wanted to talk. Should he tell him he knew he was his father? Should he try and act like everything was normal? This technique couldn’t work twice; he may also add that it wouldn’t have worked on his dad if they hadn’t been both equally upset at the time. And Teddy really had been the best buffer possible.

Despite everything, there were some unresolved issues Jamie wanted resolved. Like what had made Professor Malfoy leave Dad, and why had the pregnancy been such a secret after all that. And it was a very weird feeling for Jamie to realise that, for the first time of his life, when it came to a Very Serious issue, someone else seemed more reachable than his dad.

His dad had always been there for him, and Jamie knew that if he told him he knew about Professor Malfoy Dad would be honest with him. But there was this connection with Professor Malfoy, now. There was the fact that they’d both just learned about each other and there was nothing his dad could do to be able to relate to that feeling of having to redefine your entire existence in a blink of an eye.

Jamie still couldn’t think of Professor Malfoy as anything else than Professor Malfoy, but he did feel a bond with him—not something like he was feeling about his dad, sure, but that was something, right? And maybe, and that was something Jamie only dared to hope at night just before falling asleep, Professor Malfoy could feel it too.

~

His first detention was the first time Jamie had the occasion to see Professor Malfoy in private since the Big Revelation, and now that he had the certainty it would indeed happen, Jamie was sort of terrified.

He still hadn’t worked out what he should say. Should he even say anything at all? And what if he asked the right question, but got the wrong answer? He didn’t really know what kind of person Professor Malfoy was, and he’d better not start imagining things in his head about what kind of father Professor Malfoy could be, because there lay the road to madness.

In the Charms classroom with Professor Malfoy, the atmosphere could have been cut with a knife. Professor Malfoy, as usual, didn’t look at Jamie, but what was different was that instead of staring at some distant spot behind Jamie, he didn’t even turn in his direction at all. It was as if Jamie was a Basilisk, and it was dangerous to even look at him. For all Professor Malfoy could see of him, Jamie could as well have sent someone else in his stead.

Jamie’s assignment for his detention with Professor Malfoy was to put files in alphabetical orders and to tidy an old desk in the back of the classroom. It wasn’t a very hard task, as Professor Malfoy was a very neat man, and Jamie was finished after only two of his five hours of detention.

He stood next to the clean desk and wondered if he should say something or just have a sit and wait out the remaining of his detention. Professor Malfoy was bent over stacks of parchments that suspiciously looked like foot-long essays and the distinct frown on his brow didn’t make Jamie want to interrupt him at all. However, whilst he hadn’t spared him a glance since his arrival, Professor Malfoy clearly had some kind of sixth sense, because Jamie was fidgeting for only a few seconds when he heard Professor Malfoy’s stern voice say, ‘If you are finished with the desk, you can come sit over here.’

Jamie did as he was told and went to sit at the front desk the closest to where Professor Malfoy was grading his essays. With a flick of his wand but still no look in Jamie’s direction, Professor Malfoy placed ink and parchment in front of Jamie and instructed him to write an essay about why what he did was wrong.

Jamie stared blankly at the parchment and realised he could barely focus on the memory of the exploding gargoyle. It seemed so long ago, and held a lot less interest for him than the man who was just opposite him, only a few inches away, and whom Jamie could now observe as much as he liked, stubborn as Professor Malfoy was not to look back at him.

From his viewpoint, Jamie could see much more than his main features. He could see the way he wrote, discern the texture of his hair and guess at the muscles in his neck. Jamie ran a hand through his own hair and wondered how much like Professor Malfoy he’d turn out to be as he grew up. What was harder to see though, was what had made his dad fall in love with him. Everything from the set of Professor Malfoy’s shoulders to the fine tailoring of his robes screamed cold and insensitive. And yes, Jamie knew it was just a façade, and he had seen said façade crumble. It was just really hard to picture his smiling, funny, loving, warm dad with someone like Professor Malfoy.

But then again, what did Jamie know, really? ‘Opposites attract,’ Sally Green used to say while watching some shallow and fashionable woman fall in love with a dark and broody bloke on the TV screen. Who was Jamie to decide who could or couldn’t fit well together? He still wondered, though, if Professor Malfoy had been able to erase this air of loneliness that sometimes floated around Dad. And maybe Dad had been able to make Professor Malfoy a little less heartless-like, too.

Jamie wasn’t very well versed in these adult-y feelings, but from what he’d heard his dad say during The Conversation, it seemed that, in spite of everything, Dad still had feelings for Professor Malfoy. Jamie didn’t know how Dad could if Professor Malfoy had left him like he’d said, and thought it was all quite unfair.

‘Do you ever miss him?’ Jamie said, lost in his thoughts and realising only belatedly he’d spoken out loud.

Professor Malfoy’s head snapped up and his eyes were suddenly fixed on Jamie’s, burning a hole through him. Jamie wanted to be anywhere but here, and preferably somewhere deep inside the ground.

‘I beg your pardon?’ Professor Malfoy asked curtly.

Jamie had never been very good at quick-thinking under pressure, but he couldn’t afford Professor Malfoy realising Jamie had listened in on the revelation his dad had made. He was not ready for this truth to be out, for Professor Malfoy and him to have to do something about it. Things were already difficult enough as they were.

So Jamie thought, fast, of the last time he’d been alone in this room with Professor Malfoy and said the first thing that came to his mind. ‘Do you ever miss it, having children?’ It was as close to a non sequitur as it could be and too close to the truth for comfort, but it was better than nothing, right?

‘I am a teacher, I have as good as hundreds of children here,’ Professor Malfoy said, and then went back to grading his essays.

Jamie was so surprised that Professor Malfoy had deigned answer him that he forgot to think and answered back, ‘Do you, really? Because last week you said my dad had managed where you hadn’t.’

Jamie bit his lip at his cheek, but he could see Professor Malfoy was struggling between responding and telling Jamie to mind his own business. Except that it was kind of Jamie’s business, wasn’t it? Professor Malfoy didn’t know that Jamie knew, but it must be quite something, having your unacknowledged son ask you how you felt about children.

‘I…I was supposed to have children—or at least one child, yes. But I realised it would be unadvisable, given the father I had as an example.’

‘My dad didn’t have a father as an example at all, and he’s the best dad ever,’ Jamie said.

‘And I guess he was better off as he was. At least he didn’t have anybody to control his life and that of a hypothetical child.’ Professor Malfoy sounded bitter, but he was looking at Jamie again, and there was something very warm in his eyes, something wistful.

Suddenly, Jamie wanted to take the step he hadn’t thought he was ready for. There was just one more thing he had to know first. ‘Is that why you broke up with my dad?’ Jamie asked quietly, hoping he hadn’t read Professor Malfoy too wrong.

Professor Malfoy didn’t say anything at first, but took it in stride. His tone was matter-of-fact when he went on, ‘It was part of it, yes. The other part was that I was a coward and knew I would always be one.’ He marked a pause and Jamie thought that if Professor Malfoy had compared his courage to Dad’s, it didn’t give him much chance. ‘Do you also know—’ Professor Malfoy hesitated, ‘Do you know who—’

‘Do I know that you’re my father?’ Jamie cut in.

Professor Malfoy chose this moment to notice the red ink that was pooling from his quill to one of his students’ essay and went about syphoning it with his wand. When he was finished, he turned his attention back to Jamie, and looked a little more collected. ‘I only learnt about it last week. Had I known I had a son before, I assure you I would have—’

‘I overheard Dad and you last week,’ Jamie interrupted again, aware that if the truth was out, it had to be the whole truth. He couldn’t let Professor Malfoy think Jamie was suffering of abandonment issues when he had only started wondering about his second parent a few weeks before. ‘That’s how I learnt that you were…you know. Dad had never talked about you before.’

‘I understand why he wouldn’t,’ Professor Malfoy muttered, absently crossing out a wrong spell on a student’s paper. His shoulders squared a little then and he said, ‘Do you— Would you like to…learn to know each other, perhaps? I understand your father wouldn’t like it to be public knowledge and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with that either, and there’s the fact that I’m your teacher and it mustn’t influence the way you are treated as a student…’ Professor Malfoy trailed off, his eyes on his desk but his tone hopeful.

‘Yeah, that’d be great!’ Jamie said enthusiastically, and Professor Malfoy smiled at him for the first time ever. It was a nice smile.

And then he made Jamie write his essay about responsibility.


~*~


Dear Dad,

Thanks so much for your last letter (and the sweets that were with it, I was starting to miss regular sherbet lemons quite much).

If she comes again before it arrives, you can tell Sally I’ve written her a letter. And of course you can lend her any of my books.

Here, everything is going very well. Professor Malfoy has finally found out something: he says he discovered a proof that what I have comes from some kind of spell. He doesn’t know anything more precise yet but at least now he knows what to look for, right? And it’s a good thing it’s not hereditary either, it means it’s easier to cure it if it comes from outside rather than from inside.

My detentions don’t go too bad either. I usually have to do some cleaning for the first hours and then he lets me time to do my homework. It’s still a punishment because I can’t sleep in on Sunday mornings, but it could be worse, and it leaves me more free time the other days after the supervised practice. Those go better, too: my learning new spells is still disastrous, but now I don’t have any problems with the oldest spells any more. It’s frustrating that I’m always so behind everyone else, but at least what I can do, I can do very, very well.

The other classes go well, too. Potions is definitely my best subject. I asked Hagrid how come you were so bad at it when you were here, and he told me that Professor Crocker is a much better teacher than the one you had back then, so I guess it wasn’t really your fault.

History of Magic is getting tiresome, though. Each time I ask a question about something, Professor Binns seems more and more annoyed. And he didn’t let me do my presentation on Centaurs history, but I insisted he took the paper-version and marked it anyway. He didn’t seem so pleased about it. I think I’ll let drop the Goblin presentation I wanted to do.

Also, Teddy asks if you could help convince his Grandma to let him stay at Hogwarts for the hols (I think he’s got a girlfriend or something, but he wouldn’t tell me).

Hugs,

Jamie.


~

Jamie’s life at Hogwarts had settled at last and things had become very pleasant. Classes were going as well as they could, Hufflepuff was starting to come back from the loss of points Jamie had subjected it to, and the Muggle club showed a movie in the Transfiguration classroom once a week.

And there was Professor Malfoy, whom he could call Draco when they were alone together now (they’d agreed that Father or Papa or Daddy would be a bit too much given how little they still knew each other).

Draco would show up at Jamie’s supervised practice several times a week and take care of most of his diagnosis sessions and keep him a little longer than necessary during his Sunday morning detentions so that they could talk. Well, mainly it was Jamie who would talk about his Hogwarts friends and his Muggle friends and his classes and his favourite movies and books. Draco didn’t talk as much: he refused to talk about his family and didn’t think it was a good idea talking about his job and he didn’t seem to have anything else than that in his life, really.

Their conversations went from the seriousness of Draco’s regret at having missed Jamie’s childhood to idle chit-chat about Brutus’s latest shenanigans. The one subject that stayed completely and utterly taboo, though, was Harry Potter. It was a bit disappointing, as it was the main thing they had in common and Jamie considered it to be the most interesting conversation they could have, but he did understand why Draco wouldn’t want to talk about it.

However, it seemed clear, from what Jamie had learnt about Draco in these few weeks, that he still had feelings for Dad. And this information was definitely the best thing Jamie could learn, because it gave him the best idea ever.

Jamie would arrange for his dad and Draco to get back together.

It was not that he longed for a great and big family united for ever and ever so much that they just both seemed so lonely. He could feel it in his dad’s letters and remember it from some looks Dad gave Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron when they were being all lovey-dovey, and he could hear it in Draco’s tone of voice and see it in his eyes when Jamie left the supervised practice room at the end of a session.

Dad had said there’d never been anyone but Draco, and Draco had told Jamie how his own father had wanted to control his life. There was no doubt in Jamie’s mind that his parents were in fact meant to be together (and how much Sandra Bullock was responsible for this kind of thought process wasn’t something Jamie was inclined to consider).

Jamie had first thought he could maybe use their connection via Teddy and make them all spend Christmas at Aunt Andromeda’s, but it was obviously not doable if Teddy stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays. The boy really had the worst timing possible.

No, his approach had to be way more upfront. Not only was he pants at being sneaky, but he also lacked the resources and time to perfect a good secret scheme. Jamie often wondered how his dad had found time to do all the things people said he did while at Hogwarts. Jamie was often so swamped with homework he couldn’t even think of going after werewolves and Dementors and three-headed dogs.



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