Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Breakpoint :: 10 :: Parenting

10 • Parenting

The new suite was lovely. The twins had a playroom and the adult bedrooms each had their own bathroom. There was again a small kitchen, though Saiph wasn’t sure how much use it would see given that they would be able to eat in the family dining room with the Malfoys. The suite did contain a room for Remus, as well, but Saiph had the feeling that any nights Moony stayed over would find him sleeping with Sirius.

They wouldn’t actually be moving into it until after the first. The best part of all, though he did admit it would be slightly peculiar to be living on the ground floor in such a huge mansion, was a set of French doors leading out into a private garden. He was sitting outside watching the twins play when Lucius took a seat next to him.

“They look happy.”

He looked over and smiled. “I think they’re happy that daddy can make snow magically appear.”

Lucius nodded and said, “When you feel they’re able for it, there are a few small hills on the property. You could take them sledding.”

He was thoughtful at that. “Plenty of cushioning charms.”

Lucius chuckled softly. “Of course. While I can and will patch up any injuries, it is best the children not suffer any to begin with. I might even be persuaded to show off my excellent sledding technique.”

Saiph blinked in astonishment and started laughing at the image in his head of a long-haired Lucius crouched on a sled and practically flying over a snowy landscape. “I’d love to see that,” he said a bit breathlessly.

A brow was arched at him, and then a smile aimed his way. “My father did not approve, but I showed him. I’d sneak out, you see, and enjoy all sorts of innocent pleasures behind his back.” Lucius paused a moment, then added, “Probably part of why I learned to be a healer. It was helpful to be able to hide the evidence.”

Saiph laughed some more, then checked to make sure the twins were not becoming too cold.

“Phobos has become corrupted by your two elves, and has convinced the kitchen staff that they ought to rotate through a cultural extravaganza for dinner each night.”

He looked over and blinked. “Should I be happy or upset for you?”

“You will be happy, naturally, as you are once again cordially invited to take your meals in the small family dining room from now on.”

“You’re not doing anything for New Year’s?”

Lucius shook his head. “Just family. No guests, no parties, no balls. I was thinking of sitting in front of a fire with a glass of champagne, from which I shall sip as I contemplate what has gone before, and what might come to pass. And then, as the clock ticks over into a new year, I shall throw my glass into the flames, feeling pleased to do so.”

Something about the way it was said made him curious. “Why?”

Lucius’s mouth twitched in amusement before he said, “For one, I greatly dislike champagne. For two, I shall be using a glass from a set I cannot stand, and will be happy to smash.”

Saiph grinned. “Maybe you’ll be rebellious with us, then? I don’t like champagne, either.”

*

Draco was muttering under his breath when Sirius came to a stop at his side, then spoke. “Problem?”

He glanced over and furrowed his brow. “I get the distinct impression my father is flirting with your son, and I don’t have the least clue how to feel about it.”

Sirius chortled and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, yanking him close in a sideways hug. Draco scowled at the familiarity and said, “I notice you’re not denying it.”

Sirius shifted him around so they were facing each other and smiled. “Should I?”

Draco glanced out the window again and watched as Saiph began laughing once more at something his father had said. “And this doesn’t bother you?”

“Should it?” was the annoyingly cheerful response.

He huffed softly and stared directly at Sirius, who then said, “Does your father keep a secret dungeon he lures innocent and unsuspecting people to so he can torture them by wet noodle flagellation?”

Draco did a double take and barely prevented himself from gaping. “What?” He found himself being led off toward a couch and pushed down, then Sirius sat next to him, angled to better face him.

“Okay, kid, look.”

“I’m not a kid,” he protested.

Sirius arched a brow and stared. “And you’re not an adult yet, either. Though, I do think you’re old enough to act like one, so let’s talk about this. No, the idea of your father flirting with my son doesn’t bother me. Why should it? At this point in time both of them are unencumbered, adults, and capable of taking care of themselves. You might not like what I’m about to say, but I have to wonder if you’re feeling a touch of jealousy and just might not recognize it for what it is.”

“Jealousy!” Draco scoffed. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Is it?” Sirius tilted his head. “Let me give you an example, okay? Saiph is a grown man with two children of his own, but I know he got a bit wibbly when he realized that Remus and I were together. He was worried, though I doubt he’d ever admit it to me, that I wouldn’t be there for him, that I’d always give my time over to Moony.

“That Saiph is a grown man doesn’t change the fact that he wants his father in his life. You might have a similar reaction, despite being just shy of adult, at the idea that your father may actually be interested in someone. After all, you’ve only just got him back, in a sense. You know what I mean?”

Draco had to admit, loathe as he was to do so, that the man had a point. He had never considered his mother competition for his father’s attention, but then Lucius had never actually cared for Narcissa, and indeed, avoided her whenever possible. But he might actually like Saiph, who was—“He’s older than you.”

Sirius shrugged. “Which, as you know, doesn’t mean a whole lot to magical folk.” He hesitated, looking thoughtful for a few seconds, then shook his head.

Draco could feel his face heat up as it hit him that he had been perfectly willing to spread his legs for a man over twice his age. He found himself feeling grateful that Sirius hadn’t actually said it. “Bad point,” he mumbled.

“Look, kid, I don’t think it’s in Lucius’s head to hurt you, okay? He’s free for the first time in decades. I know about that arrangement, and I expect he considered Narcissa the lesser of evils at the time. I don’t really know what Lucius would do if you kicked up a fuss, but I do think it would be horribly selfish if you didn’t have a damn good reason for doing so. Try to see things from his point of view, okay? And if it really worries you, then talk to him about it. Or. . . .”

He frowned, once again awash in conflicting thoughts and emotions. “Or what?”

“Or you could become my partner in crime!”

Draco groaned softly.

*

Lucius watched as Saiph turned away from the doors with a puzzled look on his face and said, “I wonder what they’re talking about. Draco almost looks like he’s in denial about something.”

He had a sneaking suspicion, but preferred not to voice it. “Sirius is probably trying to convince Draco that we two are not insane for spending time out here in the cold.”

Saiph snorted. “Maybe. Or he’s trying to convert him into being a prankster. I’d be willing to bet that Moony would never suspect one launched at him by Draco.” He paused, then said, “I suppose we should go back in. The monsters are looking sleepy.”

“That just makes them easier to capture.” Lucius slipped off the bench and swung Adhara up into his arms, and waited for Saiph to get Altair, then headed over to open the door and allow the younger man to enter ahead of him. “Draco, I will be back down shortly,” he said.

And he was, thereabouts, after having assisted in getting the twins set up for a nap time story from Saiph. Sirius had by then disappeared, and his son was found at the French doors, staring out at nothing in particular. “What holds your interest so, Draco?”

His son glanced back over his shoulder for a second. “I’m your heir.”

“Yes. What of it?” And what brought on such a peculiar statement of fact?

“Am I going to be forced to marry someone I barely know or like?”

Lucius moved to stand next to his son and join him in staring at nothing. “Like I was, you mean?” When Draco nodded faintly he said, “I would rather that not be the case, though I suppose things could become very awkward if you chose someone completely unsuitable.”

“And what . . . is unsuitable, father?” was his son’s quiet question.

“I won’t know that until you present me with a candidate, though I can say now that should you bring home a slovenly and ill mannered girl, I would of course object.”

“Or a boy?”

“That is a foolish question, Draco. You know very well you cannot sire an heir on a male, not unless you have aspirations of impressing members of certain magical races.”

“Like werewolves?” Draco said in a half-joking tone.

Lucius decided to treat that more seriously than his son intended it to be. “Time for a history lesson, it seems. Have you ever considered just how they come to be? Take Remus Lupin as an example. He was cursed when he was just a small boy, because his father offended a werewolf. Some people, and by that I mean those like Dolores Umbridge, would be overjoyed if Lupin had, when he was old enough to comprehend just how much people fear his kind, promptly committed suicide.”

“But it wasn’t his fault.”

He nodded, pleased that Draco at least seemed to understand that much. “Correct. And unlike the werewolf who bit him, Lupin has led his life as inoffensively as he can, and that includes being voluntarily caged during the full moon so that he cannot harm others should he not have access to wolfsbane.

“Now, in a similar vein, let us take a look at one of your peers in Slytherin, Millicent Bulstrode.” Movement caused him to glance over and smirk. “Not as an option for you, Draco, so please refrain from making that face. Bulstrode is a half-blood. Again, this is no fault of her own, as no person has the choice of who sires and births them.”

Draco turned away from the window, to face him. “Father, is it true that the Dark Lord is a half-blood?”

“And where did we hear this?”

“At school. I think it originated with Potter’s little pack of Gryffindors, or maybe that really strange Ravenclaw girl. I passed it off as being spiteful gossip, but . . . now I don’t know. Too many things have changed so quickly that I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

“All right. And if my master is a half-blood? What then?”

His son had no response to that, and looked to be deep in thought, with a multitude of expressions flashing across his face. Suspicion took over as the dominant cast just before he accused, “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”

Lucius shook his head. “I will neither confirm nor deny. Consider this an exercise, Draco, in learning that the world is not so simple a place as childhood leads you to believe. You must decide for yourself how you feel for each side of the equation, and in consequence, what might be truth and what falsehood. But do not concern yourself, as you will become used to it in time.”

Draco sighed. “This is very confusing.”

“This is life. Now, what brought on this whole line of discussion, anyway?” he asked, hoping his son would actually be willing to tell him, to be open to him after so long of having shut him out.

His son frowned. “Pansy, for one, trying to make a deal with Snape to become my wife, and mother, because I know you were unhappy, and something that. . . .”

Much as he might have liked to pursue that, Lucius chose to let the temptation pass. “Yes, Draco, a part of me would find things all very neat and simple should you find a nice pure-blood girl you can secure some measure of happiness with, if not love. Odds are, you’ll be married for a very long time, and that is an eternity if you’re unhappy.”

After a minute Draco said something that somewhat shocked him. “You’re not going to ignore me because of him, are you?”

Lucius arched a brow inquiringly, not wishing to make a fool of himself if his suspicions were off target.

“Saiph,” Draco clarified. “I’m not completely self centered. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about a lot of things. And most importantly, I’m pretty sure you’ve been flirting with him.”

“I see.”

As he was attempting to formulate a proper response Draco burst out with, “Do you have any idea how irritating it is that you so rarely lose your cool, father?”

Lucius unleashed a true smile on his son. “And that is the boy I once knew, someone who wasn’t afraid to talk to me. Draco, I love you deeply. I have loved you from the moment you were born, and I will love you until the day I die. Nothing and no one will ever take your place in my heart.”

Draco appeared momentarily stumped by that, then said, “You’re trying to tell me you’ve got room in your heart for others, is that it? That you won’t ignore me just because there might be someone you could care for like you couldn’t care for mother?”

“In a word, yes.”

Draco went all thoughtful again, then suddenly made a noise of frustration, so Lucius took pity on him and said, “Yes, Draco, I have, after a fashion, been flirting with him.”

“You’re not just playing with him, are you?”

“I beg your pardon,” he said with a hint of ice in his voice.

Draco shook his head. “He’s—” There was a pained groan, and then, “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this. He’s nice, and he doesn’t deserve to be played with. I know, I know, had he gone to Hogwarts he’d probably have hated me within five minutes, so why am I defending him. But he’s being so nice, even now having some idea of what most people think of me. And I know, it’s probably because of you, father, but not once have I ever felt like it’s all a thinly veiled front. It’s not normal, for Merlin’s sake, but. . . .”

“But this is life, not an adolescent school drama,” Lucius said.

“I’m not sure I’m ready to grow up yet, then.”

Lucius stepped close to pull his son into a hug. “You’re only sixteen. You’ve got time.”

*

Saiph was faintly suspicious, but not over anything he could pin down. Dinner had gone well enough, so that wasn’t it. He did find it slightly odd that Draco was sitting with Sirius and Remus off a ways, leaving the chairs before the fireplace to him and Lucius. And they were sitting there, each with a glass of champagne, talking quietly as the minutes ticked by and midnight crept that much closer.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, idly swirling the contents of his glass around. “I feel like I ought to have a hobby or something. I mean, I know I don’t need to work. I also don’t have a clue what to do with myself aside from being a father. What do you do in your spare time?”

“Well, it depends on my mood. When I am not attending to . . . business, I read quite a bit, and I also keep fit physically and magically.”

“Oh? How so?” He took another sip of his champagne, mainly because it was there and traditional.

“There is a stable on the grounds, for one, and I do enjoy riding. I also have a room where I can indulge in mock duels,” Lucius explained, then asked, “Would you like to join me now and again?”

Saiph half smiled. “I don’t know how to ride, not really. I don’t think it really counts to say I’ve been on a hippogriff briefly, and on a thestral.”

“It is different, I allow, from riding a broom. Steeds have minds of their own, after all, and each their own personality. However, should you wish to learn, I will be happy to teach you. My stable contains normal horses, not winged beasts of any sort, though I suppose I could acquire some.”

“I think that might be nice, so long as you promise not to laugh too hard if I make a fool of myself.”

Lucius gave him a faint smirk and replied, “I shall laugh only as much as you do at what befalls you. In any case, my offer extends to both riding and dueling. I know you gained a great deal from my lord that night, so I should think you’d be an exciting and challenging opponent.”

He cocked his head to the side, considering, then asked with faint cynicism, “And one you could actually trust?”

Lucius laughed softly and nodded. “Yes.”

Saiph was just about to respond when he was nearly startled out of his seat by a rude noise. He looked back over his shoulder to see his grinning father holding a noise maker in one hand. Sirius then leaned over and bussed Draco noisily on the lips and said, “Happy New Year, kid!”

Remus chuckled and captured his lover’s chin to guide Sirius’s head around, then planted a kiss on him. “And Happy New Year to you, Padfoot.”

Saiph’s earlier suspicion returned with a vengeance, causing him to set down his glass and stand up. After giving Lucius a faint wink he skipped over to Remus and kissed him quickly. And when his father gasped he turned to him and said with innocently wide eyes, “Dad, what? If you two ever marry, Moony will be my dad, too, right? I can’t give him a kiss?”

Sirius huffed and looked a bit put out, then looked away as Draco rose and crossed to stand next to Lucius. A second later Draco had given his father a brief kiss and murmured, “Happy New Year, father,” then returned to his spot.

Saiph pivoted at the sound of Lucius clearing his throat, who then waggled his glass and nodded at the fireplace. “You’re forgetting something.”

“Oh!” He moved back to retrieve his glass, then faced the fire with Lucius. As one they threw their glasses in, smiling as they shattered and the fire flared in response. “That was rather satisfying, actually,” he commented, then turned his head to smile directly at the blond. And at that moment his breath caught in his chest.

The look on Lucius’s face was the sort to send shivers down his spine, but not from fright. And then the man spoke in a soft voice. “It seems, Saiph, that I have yet to welcome anyone into the new year, and you have yet to be welcomed.”

“Er. . . .” Strange how he could not quite seem to say anything intelligent just then.

Lucius moved so that he stood between Saiph and the others, blocking their view, then reached out to curl his hands around Saiph’s shoulders, the last two fingers of each hand sliding down to caress his biceps. “Happy New Year, Saiph,” he murmured, then tilted his head and leaned in to touch lips.

It was chaste, but that did not prevent Saiph from closing his eyes and releasing a brief, barely there moan. It was chaste, but it was heavenly, and he felt cold when Lucius pulled away, despite the fire at his back. Saiph opened his eyes to look up at his companion, breath once again stolen from him at the expression the man bore. The world slipped away, and from somewhere beneath the comfortable safety of the past few months Saiph dug out his courage and said, “Do you intend to seduce me, Lucius?”

“No.”

Saiph felt the sharp slap of disappointment strike him, the sting of which eased when he heard a soft, “I plan to court you.”

He blinked several times before responding. “Court . . . me?”

“Yes, court you,” Lucius repeated, then slid his hands down Saiph’s arms. Each wrist was caged within a circle of long, slender fingers, and Lucius drew them upward so he could plant a soft kiss on one of his then exposed palms. “If you will permit,” was added.

“I—you’d . . . want me? I’m—” He shrugged, unable to find the right word.

“You’re you,” Lucius said, as though it explained everything adequately. “Will you permit?” he asked.

Saiph crinkled his brow, torn between his own selfish desires and how such a thing might affect others, then nodded. “Yes, I permit.”

Lucius dropped another kiss on one of his palms, then said, “Thank you.”

Memory tugged at him until he understood. “I don’t remember this sort of thing coming up in my lessons.”

Lucius smirked, ever so slightly. “A shocking lapse on my part, I allow. I shall certainly remedy that in the coming days.”

Suspicion reared its ugly head again, causing Saiph to frown. “Am I the girl in this scenario or something?”

The blond threw back his head and laughed. “No, Saiph. You are most assuredly a man. And I am hardly going to object if you decide to court me in return.”

“So I guess it doesn’t bother you that I’ve got two kids, huh? That would make most people run screaming.”

“Not in the least,” Lucius assured him. “I find your twins to be delightful, and think that you are an excellent father to them. If anything, it makes you . . . more attractive.”

Due to a comparison with Narcissa? Saiph had to wonder if Lucius was trying to tell him he appreciated that Saiph took his responsibilities seriously, and even found joy in them. And that reminded him that there were others in the room, so he leaned sideways to peer around Lucius’s form.

The other three were ostensibly engaged in dividing up a cake that had appeared, paying him and Lucius absolutely no attention. Granted, that his father was squabbling with Remus over whose slice was bigger wasn’t unexpected, and made him rather grateful that he wasn’t seeing a beaming Sirius giving him a thumbs-up.

He shook his head slightly and straightened. “I know they set this up.”

Lucius shrugged and pursed his lips for a second. “An opportunity, perhaps.”

Saiph let out his breath gustily and smiled, then thought of something and frowned and leaned in close, not caring that his hands ended up pressed flat against Lucius’s chest. “It’s rude, but I need to know. Does any of this have anything to do with . . . with my identity?”

“No,” Lucius whispered. “You are you, regardless of what we call you. And it is as you, as Saiph, that I have come to know you, even if we first met under very different circumstances. You might have held my attention then, for various reasons, but it is you, the man, I have designs upon.”

He could feel his face heat up. His father had told him his suspicions, and Saiph had even seen for himself what might be proof, but he had never dared to hope that Lucius would seek out his company as more than just a duty to his lord. And he knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that too many people had gazed upon him with interest purely due to a single moment in time, one which he was almost incidental to.

“And if I were him again?” he whispered.

Lucius shook his head. “You’d still be you. There was every possibility then that you might have stayed as you were. It changes very little except things like the name you answer to and what colour your eyes are.”

He felt comforted by that, and smiled softly. Lucius had earned his trust, after all, and apparently, that of his father. Even Remus seemed at ease around the man. And then a thought struck him, causing him to smile mischievously. “Do you remember, when you were helping me? My arm was broken?”

“Yes, why?”

“Lucius, am I wrong when I think you were . . . enjoying yourself more than a healer ought to?” He arched a brow, then grinned when a faint cast of pink flushed the man’s cheeks. “I see. Well, I still permit. And now I’m wondering, do you want any of that cake before it’s all gone?”

Lucius nodded, so Saiph stepped back and reclaimed his hands, then sidestepped and made for the food. “I see you guys were nice enough to leave at least some,” he said as he took a seat and served up a plate. That he handed over to Lucius as he arrived, then served one for himself. “Black Forest, mmm.”

As he ate he basked in the bizarre comfort that Lucius really had seen him in a certain light even when he had been fifteen. While on the surface a person might be tempted to frown in disapproval, it told Saiph that his appearance and name really did not matter. Lucius wasn’t asking to court him based on a myth mostly created and propagated by Saxeten.

Of course, if it came down to a situation where he really was fated to destroy Voldemort. . . . Saiph shook his head and had another forkful of cake. He had not made it through the previous five years worrying himself to a frazzle over what might be . . . with the exception of his father, that is. He had to give his heart to have it broken, and he hadn’t quite lost it yet.

A half hour later the Malfoys quietly retreated from the suite, leaving Saiph to face two grinning men. “What?” he said a bit shortly.

“So,” said Sirius. “That was cozy.”

“Very cozy,” Remus agreed.

Saiph ignored them and took the last sliver of cake.

“That was one heck of a long New Year’s Eve kiss,” Sirius decided to say. “I can’t imagine what took so long.”

He stoically refused to respond and had a third of his cake in one bite.

“Well, I do have exceptional hearing,” Remus said, “and—”

“All right! It was a nice kiss, okay?” Saiph wolfed down another third of his cake.

“As nice as the ones on your hands?” Sirius inquired. “What on earth was that about, hm?”

He scowled and finished off the cake, setting the plate and fork aside. “As I’m sure will come as no surprise to you, dad, Lucius asked my permission to court me,” he said with as much dignity as he could, then crinkled his brow. “Me. He asked me. I’m not anything special.”

Sirius thumped onto the couch beside him in a heartbeat, pulling him into a sideways hug. “You’re you.”

“Why do people keep saying that to me!?”

His father squeezed him and said, “Because it’s true? Okay, time to be a parent, huh? Saiph, why do you love me?”

“Huh? That’s—” That was a stupid question in his opinion. That is, until he tried to actually answer it, and realized he was grasping aether for words to suit.

“And why do I love you?” his father added. “It sure as hell isn’t because of who you were. I love you because of who you are. I loved James like a brother, and Lily like a sister, and all that did was predispose me to love you, their adorable little sprog. But for all anyone knew, you might have grown up to be a total brat. James probably would have spoiled you senseless, actually.

“And why do I love Moony?”

“Because he’s sensible,” Remus said dryly, earning himself a frown from Sirius.

“Are you trying to tell me I’m being a bit silly?”

“Not especially,” Sirius said with a shake of his head. “I do think you’re looking too hard at this. Trust me, Saiph, you’re more than deserving of love. You just seem to lack a bit in self confidence at times.”

Saiph frowned and went to respond, but was cut off by Remus. “My turn to be a parent,” Moony said rather cheerfully. “And if anyone ought to understand what Siri just said, it’s me. Intellectually, I know I’m deserving. But there’s always a part of me that says, ‘But you’re a werewolf, Remus. Nobody with any sense would want to be near you, never mind love you. You’re not special, you’re irreversibly flawed.’ ”

“That’s not true!” Saiph protested. “You’re a wonderful man, and dad’s lucky you care for him. So what if you’re, er, not yourself every so often?”

“All right,” Remus said equitably, “so flip that around. Apply it to yourself? You might not understand it, but Lucius obviously sees something special in you, just like I expect you see something in him. But don’t try to analyze it too hard. You’ll only give yourself a headache.”

“Ah, but then he could ask Lucius for a potion,” Sirius said with glee. “So did you say yes?”

“Uh huh. You were right, by the way.”

Sirius released his hold and shifted sideways. “About?”

Saiph bit his lip, then grinned. “I asked him, about when he was patching me up. When I first came here? I asked him if he was enjoying himself more than a healer ought to, and . . . he blushed, dad.”