Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, written purely for fun.

Author's Notes: This is the sequel to Atonement

"You know, um, thanks. For, you know, going with me."

A year ago Draco would have said something about how by the age of forty, Potter should really get a move on and learn basic sentence structure.

"I think I'm going to have the Cornish pasty. I swear Tom's wife performs some sort of Dark Arts spell on her crusts. Not even the Malfoy house-elves can rival it. You? And do not give me your usual line about not being hungry."

Potter continued to ignore the menu. "Ron is so jovial, it actually depresses me. And if, if, you know, the numbers aren't good, I… I… I'm going to be the one telling him to buck up and, Christ, I just don't have the energy. And Ginny. Well, she's just been through so much the last year. I just can't… Anyway, thanks for coming with me. I appreciate it."

"How about some soup?" Draco pushed the basket of bread in Potter's direction.

"You don't, well, let things get to you. I mean, your hair. That… That…"

As was often the case these days, their conversations spiraled down into a series of ellipses on Potter's part and impatience on Draco.

"Potter, people have been staring at me for over twenty years. This just gives them the perfect excuse. Tom, I'll have the Cornish pasty and Potter here will have the Sheppard's Pie. Oh, and two butterbeers when you have the time. Thanks."

"Merlin's dick," grumbled Potter. "I hope that one day I'll be able to actually drink a pint of real beer and not have it taste like I'm drinking nails."

"Me, too," Draco smirked and then sighed as he spied a barmaid approaching with two butterbeers in her hand. He didn't know why, but being around Potter always made him want to drink.

His parents had an unsurprisingly aristocratic approach to alcohol and started serving him watered-down wine on his tenth birthday. By age sixteen, wine with dinner and cognac apres were standard. His friends had had this strange fascination with alcohol, mostly because their parents fetishized it and forbade them to drink it; hence, Pansy, Vince, and Greg spent much of their Hogwarts weekends getting ripped. He'd be reading Voltaire in the original French while Vince would be hurling in the loo. Seemed rather a stupid thing to do, but then Vince had been rather limited, even on a good day. He couldn't help but frown even as his raised his glass in the obligatory toast. Although now dying to pound back a Black and Tan, followed by a shot of two of Old Ogden's finest, his mother's precise sense of manners, drummed into him from the time he drew his first breath, wouldn't allow him to drink if Potter couldn't.

"It looks better on you than me." Potter first gestured to his own bald head and then in the direction of Draco's. "Ron looks bloody awful."

Draco smiled. "Yes, an unexpected benefit."

Potter laughed even as he remonstrated, "Tosser."

Draco shrugged and this time out and out grinned. "I take my victories where I can find them."

"Mine," he grimaced, "is coming back-in gray. Cheers."

"Cheers," Draco replied and clinked Potter's mug, even as he said silently, "Heal, you bastard." "Yes, well, mine is coming back in white, which I suppose I could easily Glamour back to my usual ice blond, but why bother at this point? I'm toying with keeping it shaved." He couldn't believe how many men found it sexy. Not that Draco had had any trouble pulling men before, but now? Merlin, he had to fight them off with a stick. Men and women.

The shave a head, be like Potter idea had been exceptionally brilliant.

Draco didn't have a sentimental bone in his body, but not even he could ignore the volumes of anecdotal evidence that supported the idea that one's mental state enhanced one's immune system, and those people who had a committed support network had an even greater chance of survival.

"Astoria," he said one morning over his tea and oatmeal. "I'd like to give a charity ball, here at the Manor." She gaped at him, toast in hand. He realized with a jolt that this was the first time he'd actually spoken to her in weeks other than good morning, how was your day, and good night. "That Granger-Weasley woman is putting together a new department, some sort of liaison thing between Muggle doctors and Healers. In anyone else's hands, it would be nothing more than a boondoggle, but she's remarkably efficient, if supremely irritating. It will be nothing more than paper if it doesn't have some initial financial backing. What do you think?"

She put her toast down and narrowed her eyes. "That's the way the wind blows, is it?" Draco didn't have time to parse out what that calculating stare meant before she said, "Yes, of course. I think we've made enough inroads. When?"

"Hmmm. Next month?"

The ball became legendary in wizarding circles, and cemented once and for all the return of the Malfoys to wizarding society. The cynical said it was nothing more than social climbing on the grandest of scales, some pure-bloods—the ones left after the war—bleated about the dangers of any efforts to forge a bridge of knowledge between Muggles and wizards; and everyone else said stuff it.

As much as Draco personally disliked him, he asked that Irish blowhard Finnegan to be the auctioneer. He could bully people to donate in the guise of tasteless bantering. Draco figured the chance to completely humiliate him by selling off the opportunity to cast the spell that shaved his head would appeal to a great number of people. And it did. The bidding went ridiculously high, which was so stupid because even the paltriest bid would have done, but people got into the spirit of it. Draco outbid the Weasley children by one hundred Galleons to have the satisfaction of seeing Ron Weasley's red hair hit the floor. Weasley had a very odd shaped head as it turned out. Granger—not to be outdone by her husband—came up to Draco, hugged him, sobbed onto the shoulder of his dress robes covering it with tears and snot, and then offered herself up to be shorn. That was another hundred galleons done. By the end of the evening, nearly every head in the room was bald, with donations climbing into the stratosphere.

During a particularly raucous song by the Weird Sisters, Draco took a brief moment to catch some fresh air. Merlin's pants, he was dying for a cigarette. Fall was late this year so a few flowers were still in bloom, but Draco shivered in the damp of the night air. His head was cold. An unexpected side effect. Fortunately, he looked good in hats. Tomorrow would be chilly, and, if he weren't mistaken, a storm was coming in.

The French doors behind him opened and Draco wondered if he should give into his inner git and say something cutting so they'd leave him alone. Whoever it was sidled up to him and put a hand over his resting on the stone balustrade. Potter. He smelled the faint odor of chemicals.

"Thanks, Malfoy."

Now that Potter had formally finished his chemo, there was no reason for Draco to continue to haunt St. Barts' library, but he did. In fact, he was seriously considering becoming a doctor. Making money was now as boring as all fuck, and he found to his chagrin that limiting his time in the office to one morning a week while he researched cancer treatments made no difference at all. At a certain point, money makes itself. Yes, there was the odd idiot who thought that investing in a line of clothing for house-elves was a brilliant idea, but by and large he found that one morning a week quite sufficient.

So little interested him these days. Tedious. Life was tedious. Except for his son, Potter, and the afternoon spent at St. Barts' library pouring over medical school texts, everything bored Draco. He'd restored the Malfoy wealth—decimated by war reparations—and then some. He'd shored up the family's status in the wizarding world as much as humanly possible. His marriage? Well, he couldn't work miracles. At least they respected each other, although he wasn't sure how much they liked each other by this point. Could he do a joint degree? Get his M.D. and then train as a Healer? His championing of Granger's initiative wasn't completely altruistic; he realized that if he were to shave his head in support of Potter's own chemo-induced hair loss it would be better to have a context or people would most likely misinterpret his gesture. He'd certainly donated enough Galleons to St. Mungo's over the years. It wasn't like they could legitimately say no if he requested an apprenticeship. The M.D. part would be tricky though. Lots of Imperius Curses on top of fabricating school records to actually get in, but once he was accepted, he had no doubts he'd do well. Tricky, yes, but it could be done.

Hmmm, what an interesting thought. Irony of ironies—Draco had had a few laughs at his own expense over this—the Muggle world actually liked him. He didn't have to justify his existence at all. He didn't have to ignore those knowing sneers or the occasional cut in public or endure the rude remarks of others because he had a son who would suffer if he retaliated. And whatever Draco was as a wizard, whatever poor choices he'd made in the past, he put his son first. Always. But still, it was exhausting and irritating and his recent foray into the Muggle world—beyond the trolling of Muggle pubs for a nooner—had reminded him of how life had been before the war. Where he didn't have to earn people's respect Galleon by Galleon. In the Muggle world he was that friend of Potter's. Bright fellow. Knows an awful lot about medicine for a layman. Initially, his looks were his passport, but now it was his intelligence and dedication to Potter. It was refreshing, and more than that, he didn't have to prove himself over and over.

Thank Merlin Potter's scans continued to be negative and his blood work remained normal. After the New Year, if Potter's numbers held, monthly blood work would become a quarterly chore, which meant fewer lunches. Which Draco found most unsettling, which was also most puzzling.

"I'm thinking of going back part-time. After the New Year. I'm pretty knackered by noon most days, but I think I could put in four hours at a desk." Draco noted that Potter's appetite was returning. He'd eaten more than half of his Ploughman's, a big improvement. The cut of his jaw was softening. "Nothing field-related; my magic's still a bit buggered."

The chemo had undermined Potter's magic to the point where even casting a successful Accio was a struggle; producing a Patronus was now out of the question.

"Do you want to? I'm doing my damndest to avoid my office at all costs." Even four hours a week was now beginning to rankle. He'd hoped to hold on long enough to pass the family business onto Scorpius, who had shown some interest, but only after Pi had realized one could buy Quidditch teams with a bank vault full of money.

"Yeah, I miss it," Potter admitted." Everyone's been pinch hitting for me for the last six months, working gobs of overtime. It's time to start getting things back to normal. Plus, I'm starting to feel guilty."

Draco rolled his eyes. Save him from the martyrdom of Gryffindors.

"What are they going to say? No, Harry Potter, you may not come back. Yes, there's that little matter of defeating Voldemort, but we can't really have you abusing the system by harking back to your previous triumphs. And yes, you've been a stellar Head Auror your entire tenure, but no, absolutely not. We don't want you."

Potter leaned over the table to gently cuff his head. "Git."

Draco resisted the impulse to cuff him back.

As per their custom, they saw Scorpius off on the train with a promise of an owl waiting for him when he got to Hogwarts. They'd paid for those balmy fall days. The weather went from cold to sleet in little more than a week, with the Christmas holidays seeing nothing but back-to-back storms. Even the train platform, usually immune from the weather, was bitterly cold. Draco pulled his great coat around him. He and Potter did their standard stern nod at each other. The youngest Potter—a little clone of her mother—was now old enough for Hogwarts. The hoopla was not to be believed. All the Weasley's were there, in addition to the grandparents and several other red-haired people. The word circus came to mind. He shook Scorpius' hand and watched him as he eagerly entered the train without a look back at either of them. Draco walked down the platform, following Scorpius as he searched for an empty carriage, noting with relief that the other students greeted Scorpius with affection and shouted questions at him about what he did over the Christmas hols. The sins of the grandfather and father didn't manifest themselves here at least. As the train began to move out of the station, Draco got one last hurried wave from Scorpius before he turned his attention to Albus Potter, who was sitting across from him. On the verge of Apparating home, he stopped at Astoria's hand on his shoulder.

"A drink, Draco. At the flat."

One of the first things they'd done when they had money again was to purchase a pied-a-terre in Diagon Alley. Draco didn't use it much—the Manor had always been home—but Astoria found the Manor too isolated and, well, rural; she wanted something in town. Why not.

They side-Apparated and the first thing Draco noticed was that the flat had a lived-in feel and smell to it.

"Are you living here?" he blurted.

"I left right after the ball. I only came home to spend Christmas with Pi. Clearly, you didn't see the letter addressed to you propped up on the pillow of my bed. I found it where I left it. Here." She handed him a glass of Bordeaux; his favorite vintage. What was she up to? He grasped the stem before it fell to the carpet, but raised a speculative eyebrow, letting her know that he knew that negotiations had just commenced.

"Thank you, and I regret to say no, I did not. Not that we've shared a bed for the last fourteen years so I don't feel too guilty."

Which wasn't exactly a pass, because he hadn't even realized that she'd left and come back. She raised her own eyebrow.

"All right, perhaps a little guilt is in order. I'm usually not that clueless. I apologize."

"At spring hols I want to talk to Pi about a separation. I don't want the whole world to know about it, because that doesn't benefit me at all, but he deserves some honesty."

Draco shrugged his acquiescence. Not like it would make any difference to him. Apparently. "I assume you have someone else."

"For the love of Merlin, Draco," she snapped. "There have been lots of someone elses, but this one I actually want to keep for a bit. Maybe a good long bit. I want him to move in. Here."

Ah, the crux of the matter.

Did Draco care? He took a sip and realized that they had been standing the whole time. He sat down in his favorite leather chair, the one that bore the imprint of his frame. Sadly, he couldn't even be arsed to care that his own wife wanted her paramour to move in with her.

"Stay discreet for Pi's sake, at least until he's out of school. If you want a formal separation once he's left Hogwarts, just ask."

"I might want another child."

He looked at her for the first time in months. Really looked at her. Fuck.

"When are you due?"

"The beginning of May. It's a girl."


"Terry Boot."

Ugh. Astoria's taste in men had always been abysmal. Look at her marrying a man who was clearly gay. Judgment issues aside, Boot was blonde and blue-eyed so that wasn't a factor. If Boot didn't make a fuss and do something stupid, it would work. Of course, this was Terry Boot, a first-class wanker if ever there was one. As soon as he returned to the Manor, Draco would send off an owl to his solicitor with instructions to start an investigation. Given that blackmail was inevitable, he had better have suitable ammunition when Boot sent him an owl requesting a meeting. The day he was bested by an idiot like Boot was the day he'd impale himself on his own wand. He almost felt sorry for Astoria.

"Name her after my mother."

Still standing, she put her untouched wine down on a side table. "You really don't care, do you?"

He didn't even have the energy to lie.

The idea of becoming a Muggle doctor appealed the more he thought about it. Another rainy Saturday in late January found him in the Manor's library surrounded by A-levels biology and chemistry textbooks.

"Malfoy." Potter's face appeared in fireplace.

"What's wrong?" Even in the distortion, Draco could tell Potter was crying. Oh god, all that misery, all that pain for naught.

"Ginny… Can I come over?"

Draco's answer was to immediately dismantle the wards and Potter Flooed in.

The bitch had left him. Gave him some song and dance how she couldn't stand it anymore. The ever present question if this was the day the cancer would come back. How she'd watched for years as Voldemort tried to kill him and how this was so similar and how she just couldn't go through it again. She waited until the kids had gone back to school after the Christmas hols, but now that they were back at Hogwarts she was moving back to the Burrow. She didn't know if this was it, but she needed some space.

Draco thought, "I'll give you some space, you heartless cunt."

"Do you want to stay here?"

"I… I… Will Astoria mind?"

"No. She spends most of her time at the London flat. Sweepy, make Mr. Potter up a room, would you? The one next to mine."

Draco waited until Potter fell asleep before Firecalling Weasley and insisting that he take down the wards or Draco would blast off their front door.

"Your sister! Merlin's dick! Has she lost fucking mind? Does she know what it means, how important it is that he maintain a positive attitude at all times. This. This!" Draco shouted for emphasis, "This could mean the difference between life and death. He loves her!" Draco paced the length and width of Weasley's hideously decorated lounge. Any other time, he'd have relished pointing out that that shade of purple was known to produce strokes in nine out of ten people.

"I know." Weasley murmured. Granger sat next to him, her face pale, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"What do you know? You go to your parents' house and you drag her by her fucking hair and you make her take it all back. Tell her that I'll send him home," he pointed at the house next door, "and she can make up whatever fuck she likes, but she needs—"

"I've already had this conversation with her, Malfoy, and she refuses to come back. Not now."

That stopped Draco's pacing mid-step. He actually tripped a little. "What?"

"She won't come b-b-b-back," Granger sobbed.

My god, he was surrounded by idiots.

Potter's appetite disappeared again. The house-elves went nearly spare trying to tempt him with delicacies and all of his favorite dishes. At Draco's insistence, supported by secretly written checks, they kept taking Potter's blood every month. By the end of March they actually had a pleasant routine, if Draco ignored Potter's total despondency over his wife's stupidity. While Potter went into work, Draco spent the morning studying for his A-levels. Potter would return at one and they'd have lunch. Potter would take a nap, and Draco would study some more. Once Potter woke up, if the weather was fine, they'd take a broom ride. If not, they'd play wizarding chess until tea. After tea, Draco would study a little more, Potter would stare into space, making the occasional comment about work, and then, rain or shine, Draco would drag him down to the local Muggle pub, where they'd milk a pint and play some darts. Potter could now drink, but his tolerance was non-existent, so they'd only order one, and then wipe the floor playing darts with the locals because, hello, two seekers; their hand-eye was still phenomenal twenty-five years later. Then they'd walk home, arm in arm, because Draco suspected that Potter needed the support.

"I, um, the kids are coming home for the Spring hols."

Draco looked up from his organic chemistry textbook. If he'd known how fascinating molecules were, he'd have turned half-Muggle years ago.

"Yes, I thought we'd Apparate together. To meet them at the train."

"No, I mean…" Potter blushed.

"I know. I took the liberty of assigning a couple of house-elves to keep up the yard and give the house a thorough cleaning. Of course, you'd want them home. I mean, where else would they go?"

Draco and Astoria were taking Scorpius to Paris for the holidays and laying the news on him about the separation there. His mother had said that the sting of bad news is always less when told in French, and he saw no reason to disbelieve her. Draco had insisted that Astoria tell him about the pregnancy. He couldn't imagine anything worse than coming off the train in London and seeing one's mother eight months pregnant. Scorpius didn't write to them for three weeks and then sent Draco a letter that was filled with nothing but chit-chat and gossip. Quite an intelligent boy, he'd have realized a long time ago that his parents' marriage was nothing more than a convenience, but knowing and seeing are two different things. He couldn't really blame Astoria for wanting more than a breakfast and dinner companion in a mate, but why in the hell couldn't she have waited until Pi had finished Hogwarts?

"Ginny is going to be there. At the house. Maybe at the train station."

"Of course," Draco replied but did not look up. He ignored the churning in his stomach, putting it down to the visual of him, Scorpius, and a very pregnant Astoria traipsing through the wizarding sections of Paris, pretending to be a family.

The trip to Paris went better than he expected. Some of it he put down to Astoria treating Draco no differently, which was either an indictment of their marriage or a paean to it, he wasn't sure which. Despite being a rather nice boy, Scorpius was still a Slytherin at heart, therefore, much could be inferred but not stated. By the end of two weeks, Scorpius was fully aware that Astoria was pregnant with another man's child, that this child was to be considered a Malfoy and his sister, that Draco would no sooner touch a woman than bed the Giant Squid, and that future holidays would be split between them—with the exception of Christmas, which was sacred in Draco's eyes. He insisted they spend it as a family. This was all done through innuendo, the occasional raised eyebrow, pointed looks, and well-timed coughs.

Apparating was now verboten to Astoria, so it was only Draco seeing Scorpius onto the train. Draco had timed it so that he was certain to miss Potter—as in he was early—but as luck would have it, Potter arrived just as he was about to leave. Potter looked miserable, his wife furious, and the children sullen, except for the littlest one, who was sobbing with her arms wrapped around her father's knees. Draco couldn't stand it one more second. He hugged Scorpius, whispered in his ear that he'd see him in June, Flooed to the Leaky, and got absolutely trolleyed.

The next morning was exceptionally grim, but, fortunately, Tom had a supply of Hangover Potion at the ready. After chugging down a couple of vials, his magic was robust enough so that he could Apparate home without Splinching himself over the length of Wiltshire. Arriving in the library, he nearly had a heart attack. Potter lay snoring on the sofa in front of the fire, a Quidditch magazine on the floor, as if he'd fallen asleep reading. One of the house-elves had covered him in blankets.


Potter woke up and adjusted his glasses, which had been shoved off of his face into his hair. "Hey, Draco. Scorpius get off okay? Where were you?"


Draco waited. For the announcement that Potter was moving back to Ottery St. Catchpole. Marriage the remake was on the bill. It was all a big mistake. His wife was wrong. Everybody was now happy.

Potter blinked the sleep out of his eyes and then said, "You don't look so hot."

"I drank too much and spent last night at the Leaky," he admitted. "But I swallowed a shitload of Hangover Potion so the headache's gone, but I'm knackered. I'm going back to bed." Without waiting for a response, he Apparated to his room and took an hour-long shower.

He woke up around two, thinking that he'd given Potter plenty of time to clear out. Sitting up in bed, he spelled the curtains open to see that the morning mist had cleared off. Potter was out on a broom doing somersaults. Throwing open a window he shouted, "Potter, you idiot. You'll lose your lunch."

"Can't catch me!" he teased and took off.

"Accio broom!" shouted Draco.

It was shortly after that that the touching started. Potter was a touchy feely sort anyway, which he surmised was a Gryffindor trait—he could never get within three feet of Weasley without getting a punch to the shoulder or a pat on the back—but this was beyond the pale even for Potter.

It began with his feet. Draco studied laying the width of the sofa, with his book propped up on his chest. A Quick Quill took notes for him. One night Potter came in, lifted up his feet, sat down, and then placed Draco's feet on his lap. How odd. And he continued to do this night after night, cupping Draco's stocking feet in one hand while he read Quidditch magazines with the other.

It got even odder. At their chess match one night, Potter caught Draco's knee between two of his own. Draco did nothing, even when Potter gave him a tight hug good night before they went to their respective rooms. If Draco didn't know better, he'd have sworn Potter was making a play for him.

"Ridiculous," he panted as he jerked off.

The next morning Potter was nothing short of surly to him at breakfast, told him not to hold dinner that he was going out with Weasley, then appeared at four per the usual in the foulest mood imaginable. No sooner did he Floo in than he kicked one of Draco's books across the floor, and then faced Draco with a belligerence Draco hadn't seen in over twenty-five years.

If this had been a Slytherin, Draco would have made some snide remark about someone needing to get laid; however, this was a Gryffindor. If Draco had learned anything in his forty years, it was that you had to be blunt with these people. "Potter, why are you acting like a complete arse?"

"You want to know? You really want to know?" Potter was fairly screaming.

Draco Accioed the book and floated it over to the bookshelf. "Yes, I do. Those books are expensive, and I really don't relish replacing them just because you've decided to have a mental breakdown. Now what is the matter?"

All the fight went out of Potter. He collapsed into the nearest chair and said out of the side of his mouth, refusing to meet Draco's eye, "No one touches me anymore."

Ridiculous. Potter was gorgeous.

"Don't be—"

"You don't know," he countered. "Since I've gotten sick. Molly doesn't hug me anymore. Ron doesn't put his arm around me, and Ginny, well since the surgery, she hasn't touched me. Not once. No, well, you know. I… I… I haven't had sex in a year, okay? Only the kids treat me normally. It's like I'm made of glass. Or I don't physically exist anymore. I'm shriveling up inside, like I'm dying," he finished with a catch in his breath. Bringing his knees up, he curled up into a small ball, hiding his face from Draco.

"I'll touch you, Potter." It was said before he could stop himself.

Potter raised his head.

"I don't… You know… I've never…"

"If you want me to stop, I'll stop. Say the word." Draco grabbed Potter's hand and pulled him to the sofa so that they were sitting side by side. "Just say stop."

He began by slowly moving his hands over the plains of Potter's body. He splayed his hands over Potter shirt and caressed his chest through the fabric, then traced the slope of his shoulders, the length of his arms. He kissed each and every one of Potter's fingers.

"Can I take off your jacket?"

That got a terse nod.

Oh, Potter was still too thin, but the broom rides and nightly walks to the pub had restored some of the muscle mass lost during those horrible chemo months where even going to the loo was a physical effort. He held Potter for the longest time, just wrapped his arms around him, and hugged. With a whimper, Potter hugged him back. They sat there swaying a little bit, holding each other tightly, when all of a sudden Draco found himself Apparated to Potter's bedroom.

"You sure?" Draco murmured into Potter's ear.


It was the strangest sex he'd ever had. Yes, he'd been with confused men who thought an anonymous blow in the men's might give them some insight into their potential sexual orientation, but he'd never bedded anyone who was so na&#iuml;ve and yet completely unfazed by that relative innocence. And maybe the worst of Potter's physical isolation was not so much that people didn't touch him, but that their reticence meant he didn't feel like he could touch them.

No surprise, Potter was an incredibly generous lover. Draco had never been touched so much, Potter's blunt hands mapping out the ins and outs of his body, with a tickle here, a caress there; whose mouth had been the object of such adoration; "God, you taste so good; kiss me some more." And then some minutes later, "More, Draco. More." Of course, Potter's enthusiasm could be put down to his current dry spell, but Draco didn't think that was all of it.

They kept it to hand jobs, and surprisingly even there, Potter took the lead. "I like this. Do you?" Draco could only moan his approval. Then when they were both so close their hips were jittering forward in that pre-orgasmic stutter, Draco rolled over on top of Potter so that Potter could feel the weight of him, the heat, so that every possible inch of his skin was covered by another, and then he began to slide their dicks together, lubed by the pre-cum and the sweat of their stomachs. Potter quickly matched the rhythm of this mock fucking, adding a little swivel of his own that nearly sent Draco over. A quick twist to Potter's nipples and that did it. This was familiar, the arch of a man beneath him in orgasm, but his own answering thrust and subsequent ecstasy was so far from his usual sexual satisfaction. "Happy," he thought. "This is what happy feels like."

"Don't fall asleep just yet," he admonished as he rolled off and pulled Potter into the curve of his body. He plastered his torso against Potter's back while his groin cupped Potter arse. Entangling their legs, he was almost done. He kissed the back of Potter's neck, the scar. He'd wanted to do this for, well, years. Do this when Potter was awake and fully aware of who was doing it. "Now. Now you can take a nap."

Potter never mentioned what happened over the break between him and his wife. At breakfast one morning he did say that Ginny had moved back into the house, so Draco didn't have to send house-elves for the garden or the house.

"It's no problem," Draco replied.

Potter looked up at him and smiled.

On a Sunday morning in late May, Draco was in an exceptionally good mood. He loved morning sex; it had a strangely sleepy but primal feel to it, and Potter was becoming quite the god at teasing hand jobs. After this morning's lovely go, Potter had fallen back asleep, as was his wont. Draco pulled the covers over his shoulders and went downstairs.

Potter's initial enthusiasm had morphed into a rather healthy sex drive. They'd done everything in Draco's sexual encyclopedia except for anal sex. Draco found he didn't miss it as long as it was Potter sucking his dick. Given Potter's general enthusiasm, Draco suspected that they'd be coring each other by the end of June. As with most men who were more on the hetero side of things, anal sex was the absolute gayest of all gay things and therefore the last taboo to fall. Which Draco found inexplicable. It was just another hole for fuck's sake. Even he had managed to fuck Astoria. It was the breasts that turned him off. They kept getting in the way.

Draco had already read the Sunday paper, done his usual two-mile morning walk around the grounds, and had mastered cell division by the time Potter showed his tardy arse. Potter made a grab for the front page of the paper, ignoring Draco's terse assessment: "It's the usual Sunday rot. All ads and no news. Oh, there's a bit about Astoria."

The formal announcement of the birth of Narcissa Rose Malfoy had appeared.

He'd heard from Astoria earlier in the week. It had been a relatively easy labor—compared to Scorpius who'd been breech—and the pair of them were doing well. By previous agreement, it had been deemed wise that Astoria have her baby at home; fewer prying eyes the better. Plus, if she had the baby at the London flat then that twit Boot could be at her side. The minute he got her owl, Draco owled Scorpius the good news, asked McGonagall to grant Scorpius leave to visit his mother and new sister over the weekend, and sent Astoria six dozen roses and a congratulatory card. He supposed he should make an appearance at the London flat sometime soon. Draco had paid double the going amount for the Healer to ensure silence and anticipated that he'd get the blackmail letter from Boot sometime next week.

Draco was perusing the business section when the crash of a teacup hitting table brought his head up. Potter began to shake the paper in Draco's face. Violently.

"Excuse me. Remove that paper from my face or I'll break your arm."

"Astoria's had a baby? And here I thought— I mean you were— Fuck," Potter shouted and smacked the paper down on the table.

"Yes, a baby girl. I sent her some roses and a very handsome card. I was thinking of Flooing over this afternoon. Do you want to come with?"

Potter stared at him.

"We have an…" How to put this? "An arrangement. She wanted another child and, obviously, I'm pants at that sort of thing—being as gay as a thirteen-cent Knut; begetting Pi was something of a labor of Hercules, let me tell you—so she found someone who could provide the necessary. Unfortunately, it's that tosser Boot, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers. The official word is that the child is mine, so please don't tell anyone."

Potter squeezed his eyes shut and sighed. He came over to Draco's chair and hauled him up out of his chair and hugged him. "Sorry. I thought. Just sorry."

"Whatever for?"

The owl from Weasley arrived after Potter had left for work, so Draco assumed it wasn't a casual invitation for lunch. There was nothing for it. He'd go and suffer through Weasley's undoubtedly homophobic diatribe how he was corrupting Potter's dick or some such nonsense. Draco was surprised that Weasley was that sharp, frankly, that he'd sussed out what was going on between him and Potter. Draco had always underestimated Gryffindors and no one more than Weasley.

They met at a small luncheon cafe far away from the Ministry, so far away they were nearly in Muggle London.

"I assume this isn't a social call. Bringing up the Cannon's stunning loss on Sunday a waste of time?"

The only person who could rival even Draco's love for Quidditch was Weasley. Many a dull hospital hour had been spent ruminating over the weaknesses of the current Cannons line-up. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have any strengths; which made their losing every game a frustrating certainty. But that didn't stop the two of them yammering for hours about the "what ifs."

"Just thought you deserved a warning. Ginny is going to try to get Harry back."

Gryffindors were the most baffling people on the face of this Earth.

"She's your sister; I should think you'd be championing her cause," Draco pointed out.

"Yeah," he admitted. Downing his pint in one go, he signaled the waitress for another. "They had a really good marriage, no joke. Better than mine by a long shot, and if you repeat that to anyone, I'll wring your bloody neck. But you know? She's given up on him."

"Bloody cow," Draco muttered under his breath. At Weasley's outraged face he said, "Sorry."

"She wants him back because she loves him, but I don't think it's enough. In her heart of hearts she doesn't think he's going to make it. Plus the kids are miserable and it's tearing her apart. And yeah, I want them together, but I want him alive, and I think he has a better chance with you."

Weasley reached for Draco's hand and gave it a squeeze.

Sure enough, she visited him in his office at the investment firm not four days later.

The internal memo from his secretary said: "Mrs. Potter to see you. She says she has an appointment."

Draco scribbled back, "Send her in."

She'd always been a pretty woman, not stunning but comely enough, with an air of confidence that was attractive in its own right. Some women only improve with age, and Ginny Weasley Potter was one of them. In her black, superbly cut suit, she was dressed for war. Not even Draco could complain about the cut of that suit, and he was something of a clothes whore.

He spread his hands, indicating it was her move.

She sat down and began without any preamble. "I'm having dinner with him tonight, and I'm going to ask him to come home. The children need him. I need him."

That was a blow because Potter had kissed him good-bye with no mention that he wouldn't be home for dinner. He wondered what excuse Potter would make up.

"It's his choice. It's always been his choice. I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but I haven't said two words to him about you. In fact, after you left him, I went to your brother and begged him to talk to you. To bring you to your senses. That he needed you and whatever petty angst you were indulging in at the time was immaterial compared to his health. Ask him. Ask your brother if I didn't do just that."

The reminder of how she'd been the sole architect sabotaging her marriage didn't faze her at all. She replied, "Is that when you seduced him?"

Any thought of holding back for Potter's sake went out the window.

"He seduced me if you must know."

That unnerved her for a split second, but then she decided to bring out the biggest of the guns. "The children need him."

Draco didn't even bother to respond to that because of course the children needed him.

"It's his decision. But I will tell you something. I know he's going to make it. I know that five years from now, ten years from now, he will be alive. Whether he's still with me or without me is almost immaterial. You don't. By leaving him, you told him that he's a dead man walking. That—"

"You heard the doctors! He's got less than a fifty-fifty chance of surviving. I waited for him that year. The year he defeated Voldemort. Every day I got up and said, 'Today is the day Harry survives one more day. I said that over and over.'"

"So say it over and over. Again!" Draco shouted back at her. "Make love to him! Show him that—" Draco threw up his hands in frustration. "I can't believe I'm having this conversation."

He hated it when women cried. Somehow men crying didn't bother him, but women crying always made him feel guilty. He Accioed a handkerchief and handed it to her.

"He's half wizard, you stupid woman. And even if he wasn't, he's Harry Potter."

Draco walked around London for hours, through good neighborhoods and bad, finally Apparating home when it was nearly dark. He'd come to some decisions. Even if Potter decided to return to that poor excuse for a wife, he'd carry on. He'd become a doctor, then a Healer. He'd specialize in cancers. He'd try to convince Astoria to move back in with the baby. Even if Potter did stay, he'd petition Astoria to move back home. He couldn't imagine Boot had a paternal bone in his body, and Draco was quite a good father. He'd gotten used to touching another person, and now he didn't think he could stand being isolated anymore. Being made of glass. An infant needed a ridiculous amount of holding.

He made his way into the dining room. There was a note leaning up against his wine glass.

"Having dinner with Ginny. Be home around ten. Harry"