Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Breakpoint :: 07 :: Reveal

07 • Reveal

The holiday was fast approaching and after a shopping trip the small family was enjoying themselves at the park. Lucius had joined them as before, and Saiph knew his presence afforded them an additional layer of safety.

He and the twins were building a little snowman, there not being enough snow for a full-scale effort, and Sirius, as Padfoot, was bouncing around hyperactively, frequently given to dashing off after something that caught his eye, or canine nature as the case may be.

Discreet warming charms kept them all from suffering a chill, and Lucius was content to sit on a nearby bench and soak up the atmosphere. And then Saiph heard a peculiar yelp and looked over to see the beginnings of an awkward situation. “Oh dear. That’s not good.”

“What’s wrong, daddy?” asked Altair. “Snuffles being bad?”

“Um, no, peapod.” Saiph shot Lucius a vaguely desperate look.

“I will keep an eye on the twins while you retrieve your pet,” he offered. “It might be wise for me to not call attention to myself.”

Saiph took a deep breath and nodded. “Twins, please stay with Lucius, okay? I’ll be back in just a minute.” He got to his feet and dusted himself off, then marched off to his father’s rescue.

He stopped a foot away, mentally rolled his eyes, and said, “Excuse me, sir, but do you think you could explain what you’re doing to my dog?”

Remus Lupin looked up, did a bit of a double take, then furrowed his brow in mild confusion. “You look. . . .”

“Yes? And would you please unhand my dog?”

“Oh, yes.” Lupin released his grip on Padfoot’s collar almost absently. “You look so much like someone I knew.” He eyed the dog and added, “Know. May I inquire as to your name?”

Saiph wasn’t sure how to handle that, but Padfoot was wagging his tail. “My name is Lesath Black, but I go by Saiph. And you are?”

“Remus Lupin.” He paused. “My best friend’s name is Sirius Black. I don’t suppose you’re a relation?” Lupin glanced down at the dog again, who was still wagging his tail, and had produced the doggy version of a smile.

Saiph decided to just be brave and said, “Quite possibly. Sirius Black is the name of my father.”

“You have a very handsome dog,” Lupin said admiringly. “What’s his name?”

Saiph choked up on that, and hesitated for so long that Lupin began to smile in satisfaction.

“Would it be . . . Padfoot, by chance?”

Sirius, the wretched traitor, barked, and Saiph shot him an exasperated look. He retaliated after a moment, inspiration hitting him like a ton of bricks, and said, “Hm, that sounded pained. I wonder if it’s time I gave him another flea bath.”

Sirius whined and scooted behind Lupin, peeked around the man’s leg, then gripped Remus’s sleeve with his teeth and started tugging him in the direction of the rest of their group.

Saiph followed, feeling rather helpless, and they were shortly with the twins and Lucius. “Um, yeah,” he said. “Mr Lupin, please allow me to introduce Lucius Malfoy. Lucius, this gentleman is Remus Lupin, who seems to think there’s something peculiar about my dog.”

“You forgot us,” said a small voice. Saiph crouched down to gather his twins up in his arms and had a seat with them on the bench, and then suffered through the question, “Snuffles okay, daddy?”

Lupin, hardly a fool, and quite likely insanely curious at that point, said, “What an interesting name. It brings to mind a nickname my friend had. His godson used to use it.”

Saiph once again shot a look at Lucius, a silent entreaty for help.

“This is hardly the place to be having this discussion,” Lucius said. “I’m sure we could find somewhere to chat. As it is, the children should not be exposed to the cold for much longer, and it was nearly time to go anyway.”

Lupin eyed him warily, but nodded.

Lucius appeared to consider for a moment, his eyes scanning the area. “Please follow me. There is something I must check first.” He relieved Saiph of Adhara and stood, then headed off to the tenuous privacy of a spot between two hedges. Once there he summoned a house-elf. “Where is Narcissa?”

“Mistress is out for the day, master, as usual, and is not expected back until evening.”

“Splendid. Make ready refreshments in my study, as we will be arriving shortly.” The elf popped back out and Lucius led them on the walk back to the manor, which passed in stilted silence. Once inside his study Lucius immediately said to Saiph, “Do you wish to return the children to their room, or shall they nap here while we talk?”

“Can my elves pop them up there?” When Lucius nodded he summoned both. “Ouzo, Arak, I need you to take the twins for me. They’re already half asleep, so I think a nap.” To Ouzo he surrendered Altair, who roused himself enough to put up a token protest at the horrible fate awaiting him, and Adhara went to Arak; they disappeared a second later.

Sirius changed form at that point, pulling Lupin into a rough hug. “I missed you.”

Saiph sat down and fixed himself some tea, and smiled when Lucius sat beside him, glad for the support given that he expected his father to be a bit preoccupied with his friend.

“C’mon!” Sirius eventually said. “Sit down.”

“I am trying to keep an open mind,” Lupin said as he took a seat, “but I’m having a bit of trouble here. For one thing, we’re sitting in Malfoy Manor.” He glanced at Lucius and said, “No offense,” then continued, “For another, you’re dead, Padfoot. And how is it that you have a son old enough to have his own children?”

“Well. . . .” Sirius said with wide eyes and a tilted head.

“Can he be trusted?” Saiph asked. “I know he’s your best friend, dad, but he’s. . . .”

Lupin developed a faint frown.

Sirius laughed and shook his head. “He doesn’t mean the werewolf thing, Moony. No, he’s concerned because you’re in Dumbledore’s pocket right now.”

“Dad!”

“What? If things go bad we . . . obliviate him?”

Lucius pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Oh, do carry on, Sirius. After all, I did not bring us here so we could discuss our favorite quidditch teams.”

“See?” Sirius shot a ‘look’ at Saiph. He opened his mouth to speak again when Lucius cut him off.

“Sirius, you will remember that certain information is considered classified?”

“Then what can I tell him, because without certain bits of the story, he’s never going to understand what we’re doing here.”

“That sounded almost logical,” Saiph murmured, and arched a brow when his father frowned at him.

“I allow, it is a bit of a quandary. Without being given leave. . . . And I cannot obtain that while sitting here, which would mean trusting that Mr Lupin would behave himself while I was gone, for however long that took. And you cannot bring him to your quarters.”

“Right. I’ll work around it,” Sirius assured him. “Remus, can you accept when I tell you that Dumbledore isn’t what he seems, and he isn’t the paragon of Light he makes himself out as? And can you accept that the Dark Lord also isn’t quite what he seems? For that matter, can you accept when I tell you that Lucius here is a trustworthy, honorable man?”

“Since when have you used that term? Only Death Eaters say that. You haven’t gone and gotten yourself marked in a fit of insanity, have you?” Then he looked at Lucius and again said, “No offense.”

“Well, I’ve met the man, and quite frankly, I’m not sure what would be most polite. And no, I’m not a Death Eater. However, I have had the opportunity to learn some things, thanks to my son, and by the way, Saiph is the reason I’m still around. What went through the veil was a golem, after Saiph pulled off a spectacular switching spell, saving me from certain death.”

“Okay. Tell me something that only you and I would know, to start.”

Sirius got a shifty look on his face and glanced around, then leaned over and whispered in Lupin’s ear. By the time he was done the man was actually blushing and had a rather fond smile on his lips.

“All right, I can accept that you are Sirius Black. Now how about you show me you’re not marked?”

Sirius promptly pushed both sleeves up to display his forearms. “Check for glamours if you want. And if you’re worried that it would be someplace else, we can nip off behind that screen over there and I’ll go you one better.”

Lupin, who had only just recovered, promptly blushed again. Saiph couldn’t help but laugh softly, and then said something rather foolish. “I don’t remember you being so prone to embarrassment.”

Remus pinned him with an intense look that made Saiph want to squirm. “Oh dear, I shouldn’t have said that. I think I know now how Hagrid often feels. I’m sorry, Lucius. Please forgive me.”

Lucius sighed again and shook his head. “Mr Lupin. If you will give me your oath not to do anything foolish while I am away, I will show you all to a more remote location in the manor where it is very unlikely that Narcissa would happen upon you should she return home before I get back.”

There was silence for a time. “I pray I’m not making a huge mistake, but I’ll give you that security, Mr Malfoy. It may be my downfall, but I’m consumed with the need to understand what’s going on here.”

Lucius nodded and led him through a fairly simple oath, covering only what was absolutely necessary, and then showed everyone to the same section of the manor that Saiph’s suite was in, but away from the warded area. A house-elf had already been through to give it a quick cleaning, and had left behind more refreshments for them.

Saiph fixed himself another cup of tea, having abandoned the first, and after a long, awkward silence said, “Dad, um, were you two. . . ?”

Sirius blinked at him a few times before realization dawned. “Oh. You want to know if Remus and I were a couple?”

He nodded and had a sip of tea.

“We were. Are?” Sirius shot a soulful look at Lupin, who nodded. “Are.”

“Okay, dad. I like Mr Lupin. He—I shouldn’t say that, either, should I.” Saiph took refuge in more tea and let his eyes wander over the biscuit selection.

“Padfoot, what cabbage leaf did your son pop out from under? Because he looks to be as old as twenty, which is a touch strange given that those twins must be at least four, and you have never once alluded to the fact that you had a son, never mind grandchildren.”

“Er, I can’t really answer that just yet, sorta like I can’t answer how he knew I needed rescuing, or why I’ve never mentioned him.”

“All of this ties into whatever it is Malfoy is off to seek permission for, presumably from Voldemort?”

“Yeah, that about covers it.”

Lupin released an exasperated sigh and turned to Saiph. “It’s fine if you call me Remus or Moony.”

He smiled. “As I said earlier, I go by Saiph. I think Lesath is a bit stuffy.”

“And what are your twins named?”

“Well, in keeping with the general theme the family seems to be fixated on, I decided to call them Altair and Adhara.”

“You must be very proud of them,” he commented, then turned his attention back to Sirius when Saiph simply smiled and reached for a tart. “Padfoot, I don’t know if you’re actually aware of this, but. . . .”

“Harry is dead, I know,” his father said bluntly.

“Yes, he is,” Remus said angrily. “Brutally tortured and killed at Voldemort’s hand if the intel on that is to be believed. And you want me to accept that he isn’t what he seems?”

“I can’t explain that yet, I’m sorry. Please just trust me a while longer.”

“Well, there’s got to be a really interesting explanation seeing as how you don’t seem all that torn up about it, and I’d expect better from you. He’s your godson!”

Lucius re-entered the room at that point. “Gentlemen, if you would, we can move things to the suite now.”

“Thank you so much, Lucius,” Saiph said. “I’m sorry we’re being such a bother.”

“Do not concern yourself, and you are welcome.”

So they relocated a third time. Saiph was surprised to see that Voldemort was sitting near the window when he entered. Remus, right behind him, reacted by trying to backpedal frantically, but was brought up short by Sirius, who pushed him into the suite, then entered himself, followed by Lucius.

“What is the meaning of this?” Remus asked, his voice admirably steady. He did not draw his wand, as that would have contradicted the part of his oath that called for no violence unless in self defense.

“Have a seat, Mr Lupin,” Voldemort said. “Because I am passing fond of my young friend here, I am giving permission to Lucius, Saiph, and Sirius to explain matters on my behalf. However, the price of that is an oath of secrecy. If you feel unable to bring yourself to do so, you will be obliviated and returned unharmed to your previous location. What is your decision?”

Remus agonized over that for a while, casting looks every so often at Sirius, then nodded, and was led through his second oath of the afternoon. Voldemort departed via floo a minute later.

Saiph immediately turned to his erstwhile professor and said, “Remus, the reason dad isn’t torn up over Harry’s death is because I used to be Harry, so he’s not dead, either. I mean, er. . . . ”

Remus collapsed into a chair with a pained groan.

“That was sorta blunt, kiddo.”

“I am not a politician,” Saiph objected. “Fine, you explain things, then. Er, wait. Let me fetch something first.” He ducked into his room and searched out his planner, retrieved Voldemort’s letter and the notes, then emerged and offered them to Remus to start him off with.

And thus began a very long explanation, though given the number of questions Remus asked, it was more like a discussion. Saiph had long since reclaimed his twins from their nap and was sitting with Lucius, content to let his father do the talking. And besides, given that they were a couple, it was probably just as well that way.

“I feel kind of bad,” he said quietly.

“Why?”

“Well, it was one thing with just dad and I. But now Remus is in the picture, and I’m okay with that, really, but it makes me wonder. Where does it stop? Is Tonks next? At what point does your master become really irritated with the whole situation?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know. In some respects I’m almost surprised that he did not even hint at the idea of Lupin spying on Saxeten.”

Saiph wrinkled his nose. “But that would be dangerous.”

“True. Your father is signaling you, by the way.”

“Huh?” Saiph looked over his shoulder. “Please excuse me for a minute.” He stood and wandered over to see what was up.

“Good. Saiph, Moony is curious about the whole Ron and Hermione thing. You okay with me spilling that part? And about the squirts?”

“Oh, sure. Better you than me, actually, as I don’t like to think about it. And I’m not going to leave Lucius at the mercy of the twins, so I’m off over there again.” And back he went, crouching down along the way to rescue a crayon that had tried to escape.

“I really hope this works out somehow,” Saiph said. “It seems that dad and Moony are a couple. I sort of wondered about that at Christmas the year I was fifteen. They gave me a present from the both of them, you see. And now they’re sitting there talking, and I’ve seen how happy they are to be reunited. I suppose dad will be popping out on a regular basis now. I mean, he’s said he won’t leave me, but now that Remus knows, it would be really selfish of me if. . . .”

Lucius did not immediately respond, instead helping Altair with the recalcitrant crayon box. “I can add Lupin into the protections on the fireplace, so that he might visit easily.”

Saiph blinked slowly. “That’s a lot, though. You’ve done so much already. I know, you’re helping your master that way, but this is sort of what I meant before about where does it end. I . . . I hope you didn’t think I was hinting.”

Lucius looked at him squarely. “Saiph, it is true that some of what I have done and will do is to facilitate my lord’s wishes, but I have come to genuinely appreciate your company, so if it would put you more at ease to know that Lupin can visit your father here, so be it. And there would be less risk of anyone noticing Sirius out and about, not to mention being alive, prior to a point where he might wish to openly walk the streets again.”

“Oh. You do? Okay, then I’m going to say thank you, and admit that I really would feel a lot better about things if that were the case.”

*

There had been some uncertainty at first, but Draco had chosen to come home for the holiday. Lucius had to wonder if it had anything to do with the knowledge that Severus would be quite busy doing some work for their lord, away from the school entirely, and therefore not available for his son to moon over.

He was waiting at Kings Cross when the train arrived, not at all surprised that Narcissa was nowhere to be found, and was shortly greeting Draco and leading him off to a quiet spot. A house-elf was summoned to deal with the trunk, and Lucius side-along apparated Draco to the manor.

It was there that he dropped his public mask and gave his son an assessing look. “Draco, you seem a bit subdued. Did you make the mistake of staying up too late last night?”

“No, father. It’s just been a very busy year so far. Some of the professors seem to think that sixth year is an excellent time to really pile on the work.”

Lucius arched a brow, not entirely happy with that seemingly believable explanation. Still, he nodded. “I expect that you can catch up on your sleep during the next few weeks. And, although I would like to spend time with you, talking, you look tired, so if you wish to go rest before dinner, I will not be offended.”

The look Draco gave him was unreadable. “All right, father. I think I will go have a lie down. Perhaps after we eat?”

“Certainly.”

It had been a couple of days (days in which Narcissa seemed to have completely forgotten where she lived) and Lucius’s concern for Draco was increasing, especially given a vague indication from his master that he should keep a close eye on the boy.

In consequence, and because Draco had been unusually reticent, Lucius decided to search his son out, and found him in his bedroom. There was . . . a vial in Draco’s hand, and the look on his son’s face at seeing his father appear showed nothing less than abject fear.

Lucius swiftly strode forward and smacked the vial away, then grabbed Draco by the shoulders. He was shocked when, before he could even speak, Draco twisted away from him and practically dove for the potion.

He reacted without thought and summoned the vial to his hand, then tucked it into his robes. “Draco! What is this behavior?”

“Father, I need that,” Draco said tersely, and approached with an outstretched hand. “Give it to me.”

“No. You know very well my thoughts on self-medicating. I don’t care how good of a Potions student you are, you should be seeking a professional opinion if you feel unwell.”

Draco nodded agreeably, then tried to shove his hand into Lucius’s pocket to retrieve the vial. He again reacted swiftly, stunning his son and catching him before he hit the floor, then placed him on the bed. “I had hoped, Draco, that your letters this year indicated you’d given up on your foolish admiration of Severus what with the complete lack of mention for him, and that would have pleased me. But when I said for you to look to things more appropriate, I surely did not mean this.

“Does this vial contain drugs? Are you addicted to some new concoction I have not yet had the misfortune of hearing about? I’m not sure what else would explain your behavior. I did not raise you this way! Now, I’m going to dispel that stunner and we are going to discuss this.”

The second Draco was free he lunged toward him saying, “I must have that, father.”

Lucius stunned him again, completely at a loss, and put his son back on the bed. Draco was acting as though the world would end if. . . . Then a thought came to him, regarding his most recent audience with the Dark Lord. Could his son’s present behavior be at all connected with the warning he had received? He cast a somewhat despairing look at Draco, then did something he had never, in sixteen years, considered doing; he began a thorough search of Draco’s room and possessions.

When he was done a small crate was resting before him, packed with vials similar to the one in his robes. He fetched that one out and removed the stopper, then cautiously sniffed at the contents; it was not something he recognized, nor did its scent bring anything particular to mind. Lucius capped it again and placed it in the crate with the others.

“Draco, I am truly at a loss, though obviously I need to find out just what this . . . stuff . . . is. We are going to go pay a little social call, I think.” With that he shrank the crate to the size it was when he found it and tucked it into a pocket, then levitated Draco and led him off to the floo. There he wrapped his arms securely around the boy and departed.

Lucius had only just closed the antechamber’s outer door when the inner swung open, so he moved through without pause, Draco once again floating along behind him. “My lord.”

“Lucius. I see you brought a guest.”

“Yes, my lord. Please forgive me, but I am unsure what to do, and I remembered your words to me last, regarding Draco. May I explain, and ask for your counsel?”

“Sit.”

Lucius did so, then recounted the last half hour or so, though he did think to put Draco in a chair so that he would not have to continue expending energy keeping him aloft.

“I see. And you brought the vials with you, good. Lucius, I noticed suspect behavior from Severus during the last assembly with respect to you, more so than usual, and his report to me also raised my curiosity. You are aware that I have tasked him with the creation of a potion intended to prevent key figures in the ministry from hindering or blocking my agenda.

“That is to say, while otherwise not interfering in their daily lives. Severus has informed me that he is just about ready to test a version of that potion which would permanently enslave the target. And perhaps he was excited enough at his accomplishment, and the possible reward, that he was not quite as careful as he should be. I detected something in consequence.”

Lucius was getting a very bad feeling about his master’s words, and darted a look at his son. “My lord?”

“You will confiscate your son’s wand and bind him, then release him from that stunner.”

He did so, his stomach churning with anxiety.

Voldemort stared unblinkingly at the boy. “What are those potions?”

Draco’s gaze slid aside and he declined to answer.

“You will look at me when I speak to you, young Malfoy.”

Lucius logically assumed that if his son would not or could not answer questions regarding the substance, his master would simply use legilimency. And he did; his lord held Draco captive within his gaze for some time, then blinked a few times and looked away.

Voldemort discreetly made his wand disappear up his sleeve again, then said, “Rest assured, Lucius, that your son will be quite unencumbered shortly. It seems that Severus has taken it upon himself to test his experimental work on students. And if I am not mistaken, on students he does not particularly care for.”

Lucius began pacing.

“Draco has been dosed on a daily basis with the lesser version of that potion to ensure his obedience, and was sent back home with strict orders to dose himself at the same time each day, before the effects of the previous one wore off. Severus also, with the cooperation of your wife, signed your son to an apprentice contract.

“By the way, Narcissa is one of Severus’s doxies, but that appears to be entirely willing on her part. Theodore Nott was a similarly-styled apprentice. Also of note is that Severus allowed Blaise Zabini to torture your son, and was in the process of negotiating with Pansy Parkinson to force your son to marry her. Had this not been caught, Severus most likely would have gone through with his threat of testing the permanent version of the potion on Draco.

“And, Lucius, sit down! Your pacing is driving me quite mad.”

Lucius did not. Instead he threw himself to his knees in front of his master. “Please, my lord, I beg you. I will do anything you ask, anything, but please, tell me that Severus will die for this! Give me that satisfaction, let me see him suffer the torments of his own work.” He was so distraught and so angry that he was extremely close to tears, and his voice cracked unattractively.

He felt a gentle hand come to rest on his head briefly. “Lucius,” his master said quietly, “this sort of behavior from you is most displeasing. Now get up off your knees and sit in a chair like a civilized person.”

“I apologize, my lord,” he said softly and moved to obey.

“Much better. Now, your immediate concern is that your delightful wife may seek to harm your son should she find out that something has gone amiss with Severus’s plans for Draco.”

He thought for a moment that his heart had seized up on him.

“Therefore, I will make some alterations at the manor. You know that of which I speak. It will be an uncomfortable adjustment, I’m sure, but it will only be temporary, and your son should not be left alone for some time.”

“Yes, my lord.” Lucius was almost certain that Saiph would be accommodating, despite the bad history between him and Draco, simply to honor his word to Lucius. And, of course, because Saiph was not by nature a spiteful man.

“Regarding Severus, I am inclined to grant your plea, though that discussion will wait until you have rested and regained your usual calm demeanor. You will leave that stock of potions here where it will be safe. No doubt it will feature heavily in Severus’s fate.”

Voldemort rose, waving a hand to keep Lucius seated, and said, “Bring your son home in ten minutes, to the suite. You will need to explain, as I shall do my work from outside the confines of that sanctuary.”

“Thank you, my lord. I am indebted.”

Ten minutes later Lucius was headed toward the usual floo, and brought his son through directly to Saiph’s suite. Draco had not yet spoken a word, but his expression had altered to one that bespoke relief.

Saiph and Sirius were playing some muggle children’s board game with the twins, and Saiph looked up to speak, but never got past opening his mouth.

A heartbeat later Lucius said, “I apologize for this intrusion, but I need your help, and your understanding.”

Sirius seemed to think it was a brilliant idea to move the game into the twins’ room, and promptly did so, flipping each child over a shoulder to make them laugh, the board and they disappearing in less than a minute.

“Um, yes, of course. You know I said if there was anything I could ever do for you. . . .”

Lucius stepped away from the fireplace and claimed the couch that Sirius had abandoned, setting Draco down beside him. “Draco,” he said softly, “are you feeling well yet? Whatever happened, I am your father, and I love you. I will find a way to make things right.”

Draco’s expression crumpled and tears began streaking down his cheeks, so Lucius pulled him close in a hug, practically onto his lap, and took a moment to remove the bindings. “It will be all right,” he soothed, stroking his son’s hair, that much more upset that Draco was sobbing, nearly hysterically.

He noted, absently, that Saiph had risen and wandered off, and his attention was caught again when the young man returned. Saiph set a tray on the table, it bearing a bowl of water along with several cloths, plus the usual sorts of things like a pot of tea and some biscuits.

“Would you like me to give you some privacy?” Saiph asked.

Lucius shook his head. “It’s all right, Draco,” he soothed again, “I’m here, and you’re safe. None of them can get to you now.” He reached out to grab a cloth and dip a fold in the water, then used it to wipe his son’s face, a futile effort as Draco kept right on sobbing.

“Should he have a calming potion?”

“I think he needs this release, but if he cannot regain control after some time, I may give him one.”

Draco choked out, “No. No more potions,” then began rambling somewhat incoherently about events of the past few months, interspersed randomly with bouts of apology to his father.

Lucius just held him close and stroked his back or hair, much like he had done when Draco was just a little thing and scared or in pain. Over the years his son had distanced himself, rebuffing attempts that he made, and as much as he would like to blame Narcissa for that, he knew that all children tended to go through a stage where it just wasn’t done to be so close.

He became alarmed, however, at something Draco choked out, and turned his head sharply toward Saiph to see if he had heard as well. And judging by the incredibly stiff posture the young man was sporting, he had. “Saiph,” he said in gentle warning.

“Lucius,” Saiph replied stiffly, his eyes blazing, “perhaps Draco is tired and would like to lie down for a while? He may use my bed for the moment. I don’t mind.”

Perhaps that was a good idea under the circumstances. Lucius hefted his son up off the couch with him somewhat awkwardly and led him away, then settled him under the covers of Saiph’s bed and tucked him in. “Draco, try to get some sleep. You’re safe here, and I will be right in the next room, close at hand.”

Draco nodded and did not protest when Lucius wiped his face again. “Stay, until I do?” he whispered.

“Of course.” Though, really, he was quite concerned about what might be going on in the sitting room during his absence. Still, he gently brushed the hair back from Draco’s forehead and placed a kiss there, then held his hand until he drifted off.

Only once he was sure his son was asleep did he rise and quit the room, only to see unmistakable proof that Saiph really was a powerful wizard.