Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Romance Slash
Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 06/17/2003
Updated: 07/25/2005
Words: 99,146
Chapters: 29
Hits: 317,001

Second Chances


Story Summary:
For the first time in over a decade, Harry Potter crosses paths with Draco Malfoy. Both have changed a great deal, but what do those changes mean to them - and to each other? **slash**

Chapter 14

Chapter Summary:
For the first time in over a decade, Harry Potter crosses paths with Draco Malfoy. Both have changed a great deal, but what do those changes mean to them - and to each other? **slash**
Author's Note:
A great big 'thank you' to everyone who had read and especially those who have reviewed. *big hugs* for MissCora - it's good to have you back :)

On the walk back to Hogwarts, Harry and Draco talked of Quidditch and other inconsequential matters, chatting more easily than in the past. When they reached the castle, Harry bypassed the main doors, leading Draco into the castle through a smaller, well-hidden entrance farther along the front of the building. By entering the castle there the two men were able to avoid the students who were gathered in the Great Hall for the evening meal.

Following Harry down deserted hallways and dusty back passages reminded Draco of his school days. Of course, in their student days, Draco had followed unnoticed and with the goal of getting Harry into trouble. He grinned to himself and thought that getting Harry into a different kind of 'trouble' might be even more fun.

At last they stopped in the middle of a hallway. Harry stepped nearer the wall, pressing one hand to the smooth stones. "Amiculus," he said, and a section of the wall slid aside, forming a doorway. Leading the way inside, Harry lit a lamp and then turned to smile at Draco.

"It isn't much, but it's....well it isn't really home, either," he finished lamely.

Draco chuckled as he surveyed the room. Harry's quarters consisted of only a combined sitting room and bedroom, but the room was spacious and there was a private bath visible through a partially open door on the opposite wall. A few photographs of Harry's friends and family personalised the space.

"I've managed with much worse," Draco said. "This is rather nice, actually."

"It's all I need," Harry acknowledged, eyeing the room critically. "I can't imagine you living in any place that could be described as worse than this, though."

"Have you ever spent the night in an American Muggle hotel room? Or shared one with three small children? Believe me, Harry, this would have seemed like Nirvana at that point in time," Draco replied as he took a seat in one of Harry's battered armchairs. The fond smile playing at the corners of his lips told Harry plainly that not all the memories connected with that Muggle hotel room were bad ones.

Wishing that his quarters contained a sofa, Harry sighed softly and made to move past Draco to take the other chair. As he passed the other man, however, Draco caught his hand and gently pulled him closer until Harry had a choice between crawling into Draco's lap and falling over. He chose the former, pausing a moment to toe off his shoes before settling in the chair, facing Draco.

"Thank god for Muggle clothes," Harry said, grinning. "I don't think I could manage this in robes."

"Of course you could," Draco replied. "You might have to pull them up a bit first, though."

"In which case I'd be better off to just discard them altogether," Harry countered.

"That doesn't sound too horrible."

Harry smirked. "If you want me naked, just say so," he said. The strange expression that flitted across Draco's face made him wonder if he'd put his foot in it again.

"Harry," Draco began uncertainly. "I don't know what it might have sounded like I meant when I said I could accompany you back here..."

"What it sounded like," Harry said, cutting him off, "is that you wanted to sleep next to me in my not-entirely-comfortable bed so that we could find out if we've anything to say to one another when we wake in the morning. I know you're not ready for more than that, and to be honest...." Harry paused, considering. "Well, to be honest, I'd love to stay awake the entire night learning what makes you moan, but I realise that rushing into that sort of relationship isn't what either of us needs. I'm willing...no. I'd really like to take things slowly with you."

Draco raised his hand to cup Harry's cheek as he searched the man's eyes, trying to discern the thoughts going on behind them. He knew Harry meant what he had said. Satisfied, he nodded. "I'd like that as well," he said softly, slipping his hand up to drift lazily through Harry's hair before coming to rest on the back of his neck. He pulled Harry down for a kiss.

The kiss began as a mere press of lips on lips, but in less than a heartbeat, Draco deepened it, lapping at Harry's lips before thrusting his tongue inside to slide wetly against Harry's. Harry's hands gripped his lover's shoulders tightly as he lost himself in the feel of Draco's tongue tangled with his own. They had kissed, but this...this was more intimate, more passionate than anything that had passed before.

All too aware of the effect Draco was having on him, Harry broke off the kiss and clamoured awkwardly to his feet. To his surprise, Draco stood as well, forced to stand incredibly close to him due to the lack of space between man and chair. There was hardly a breath between the two of them, and the nearness made Harry giddy.

"There is a difference between 'slow' and 'dead stop,' Harry," Draco said in a near whisper. "I'm not going to panic again; you don't have to worry so much, though I appreciate that you do."

"I feel like I'm walking a tightrope," Harry admitted.

"Well, you shouldn't," Draco huffed, dramatically throwing himself backward into the armchair. "Do you need a rulebook?" he asked acidly.

Swallowing his hurt, Harry simply turned and walked away. Willing himself to remain calm, he stripped to his boxers, folded his glasses and laid them and his wand within easy reach, and crawled into bed to burrow beneath the quilts. He heard a quiet 'nox' as Draco dimmed the lights, followed a moment later by a good bit of rustling fabric. His heart beat a little faster when he felt the mattress dip and knew that Draco was crawling into the bed beside him.

"Forgive me," Draco whispered in Harry's ear as he curled around the smaller man.

With the intoxicating feeling of Draco's skin against his own, how could Harry not forgive the other man anything at all? He turned to face Draco, twining his legs with Draco's longer ones and wrapping his arm around his lover's waist.

"Forgiven," Harry said, his lips brushing Draco's collarbone as he spoke.

Draco tightened his arms around Harry, tucking the dark head more firmly beneath his chin. "This is never going to work," he said levelly.

For a moment Harry's heart stopped as he heard his worst fears voiced in such a matter-of-fact tone. Then Draco shifted beside him, and he realised that Draco hadn't been referring to their relationship at all. His heart still hammering wildly, Harry curled against Draco as the other man arranged them in a more comfortable position.

"Will this work?" Harry asked softly.

"You know," Draco replied after a moment, "I think it might."

This time, Harry knew, Draco was talking about their relationship. With a relieved sigh, he closed his eyes, content and totally at peace for the first time in longer than he cared to remember.



Harry awoke next morning to the incessant bleating of his alarm clock. He turned over and buried his head beneath his pillow, unwilling to wake enough to turn the thing off. After a few minutes, the mattress dipped as Draco shifted beside him, swearing incoherently. There was a loud crash, and then blessed silence.

Wide awake now, Harry emerged from beneath the pillow and fumbled around for his glasses. Blinking owlishly behind the lenses, he stared across the bed to the spot where the alarm clock was supposed to be. Frowning slightly, he leaned across the pile of bedding that concealed the man lying next to him and peered over the edge of the bed.

"You're crushing me," Draco complained breathlessly, his voice muffled by the layers of bedding.

Harry considered for a moment, and then began to burrow under the quilts in search of his lover, finally giving up in impatience and tugging all of the blankets aside. Draco swore again as he fought to untangle himself from the sheets. Harry managed to extricate a single blanket. Tossing his glasses aside, he spread the blanket over the two of them and snuggled up against Draco's back, wrapping his arm around the other man.

"How long before you have to be in class?" Draco asked, draping his arm over Harry's.

"I'm supposed to put in an appearance in the Great Hall in an hour. My first class is a half hour after that."

"Mmmm. Plenty of time then," Draco murmured as he turned to face Harry, propping up on one elbow and looking down at the other man with a sleepy smile playing across his lips.

"Plenty of time for what, exactly?" Harry wanted to know.

"For this," Draco whispered, leaning down to brush his lips across Harry's forehead. "And this." His lips grazed Harry's cheek. "This," he breathed. Cupping Harry's face in his hands, he pressed a kiss to each of Harry's closed eyelids and then at last let his mouth claim Harry's slightly parted lips.

Harry responded eagerly, curling one hand into Draco's sweat-tangled hair and tugging at his hips with the other. Draco gave in to the silent demand and lay down atop Harry, holding some of his weight off the smaller man. With a slight sound which was more than a whimper but not quite a moan, Harry shifted beneath Draco, pressing their bodies more firmly together. Draco gasped and let his eyes fall closed.

The shrill tone of the alarm clock sounded from the floor beside the bed, causing both men to jump.

"I thought I'd done away with that damned thing," Draco grumbled as he rolled off of Harry and reached for the offending object.

Harry scrambled for his wand and waved it in the direction of the alarm clock, shutting off the noise just as Draco reached for the clock. Draco paused a moment, then picked up the clock and shoved it into a drawer in the bedside table.

"I shut it off properly this time," Harry said.

"Better safe than sorry," Draco insisted, flopping over onto his back on the bed.

Grinning, Harry straddled Draco's hips. Ignoring for the moment the feel of Draco's body beneath his, he retrieved the clock from the drawer and set in back in its place on the table. In the periphery of his vision, he saw Draco roll his eyes.

"It isn't broken, it's back in its rightful place, and you've still got time before your first class," Draco pointed out helpfully, managing to keep most of the irritation from his voice. "Can we go back to not having sex now?"

Harry stared at Draco for a long moment and then began laughing helplessly.

Draco frowned. "I don't think that's what I was trying to say."

Harry leaned down and pressed his lips briefly to Draco's. "Whatever you were trying to say, the answer is 'no.' I have to get out of bed now," he said as he moved to slip away.

A strong arm wrapped around Harry's waist to hold him still. With his other hand, Draco tugged on Harry's arm, causing him to lose his balance and fall forward against Draco's chest.

"Not going anywhere," Draco murmured against Harry's ear.

Harry shivered. He wanted nothing more than to stay in bed with Draco, but he had responsibilities. And he didn't fancy trying to explain to Minerva McGonagall why he hadn't shown up to teach classes.

"I really honestly have to get up now," Harry said regretfully. This time when he pulled away, Draco let him go with a small sigh. "You could join me in the shower if you'd like," Harry offered with a mischievous grin.

"Not if you intend to get to your classes on time," Draco replied.

Still grinning, Harry kissed Draco lightly and headed for the shower. When he emerged some time later, Draco was sleeping soundly. He scribbled a brief note telling Draco to make himself at home, and then he hurried down to the Great Hall, where he had just time enough to grab some toast and coffee before rushing to his first class.


Done with classes for the day, Severus Snape stalked across Hogwarts' grounds, headed to the greenhouses in search of potions ingredients for a personal research project. His stride was a bit slower than in the past; he had insisted on returning to work with the Order sooner than the healers at St. Mungo's would have liked, forever forfeiting his health in the process.

It has been ten years now since the Dark Lord had discovered Snape's treachery and turned him over to his more loyal followers for a bit of sport. His mind had thankfully chosen to blank out most of the torture he'd undergone that night. Mostly he only remembered resigning himself to the certainty of death as darkness closed in on him and then waking in St. Mungo's.

Albus had gotten a whisper of information somewhere, and, fearing for Snape's life, launched another in a long line of desperate rescue missions; those engaged in said missions had always had the same orders: go in, locate and grab whoever was in danger, and portkey out; take no chances, and save yourself first. Snape had been involved in a few such efforts himself, once he'd recovered enough.

After what seemed like an eternity of lying idle in the ward at St. Mungo's, Snape had had enough. All outward signs of his ordeal had long since healed, and he felt he could dose himself with potions as well as the Healers could. While the Healers might not be willing to admit defeat, Severus felt they had done as much as they could, and the rest was up to him and time to heal. Time was one commodity which Snape simply did not have. There was a war raging all around him, and despite losing his status as a spy in the Dark Lord's camp, he could still play a valuable role. Taking advantage of a rare moment of solitude, he had risen shakily and dressed, and gripping his wand firmly, he had walked out the front doors of St. Mungo's, daring anyone to try to stop him.

Snape's arrival at Grimmauld Place had heralded many admonitions as half the present members of the order kicked up a fuss about him being out of bed - and out of hospital - against orders. Lupin had understood, however; he had seen Black slowly going mad from being idle while others risked everything in the fight against Voldemort, and he took Snape's side, arguing long and loudly in support of Severus' right to choose his own path. The damnable Potter brat had taken Lupin's point quickly enough and settled the matter by telling everyone to 'shut the fuck up about it, already' and calling in Dumbledore to back up him and Lupin. The old man had been worried about Snape's health, but he had been on Severus' side; with a caution to keep a low profile and to not take on more than he could handle, Albus had welcomed Snape back into the fold with open arms. Literally. The old fool had hugged him right there in front of everyone. He had hated Albus for that at the time, but he'd give anything to have the manipulative old bastard back at Hogwarts, alive and well.

Snape's step might have slowed a little in the last ten years, but the trademark scowl had diminished not at all. The man still inspired fear in his students, though he had become somewhat less biased, softening ever so slightly toward the Gryffindors and becoming infinitesimally harder on his own house. The terror-inducing scowl was fixed firmly in place now, hiding the myriad emotions that constantly danced inside of him.

As Severus passed by a stand of honeysuckle, inhaling deeply of the sweet fragrance but never slowing his step, a slight movement just beyond the bushes caught his attention. Pausing, he turned in the direction of the movement. There, half-hidden by the shrubs were two students.

The two of them, a dark-haired girl and a flaxen-haired boy, were so caught up in exploring one another's mouths that they never heard Snape coming.

"Mister Malfoy," Snape said, his silky voice dripping venom. "Miss Weasley. What an unpleasant surprise. Ten points from Slytherin...." he began.

"Ten points?" Damien cried indignantly. "Ten points for snogging? What are you, queer or just a eunuch?" he demanded hotly.

"Damien, shut up," Eleanor Weasley hissed beside him. The sheer fury in Snape's eyes frightened her more than anything had in all her thirteen years.

"That will be another twenty points, Mister Malfoy. And a week's detention," Snape responded coldly. "You will return to the castle immediately, and if you are wise, you will stay well out of my sight."

Glowering, Damien turned on his heel and marched defiantly toward the castle, leaving Ella alone with Snape. She trembled, but stood quietly, waiting for him to dole out her punishment. If he had taken thirty points from his own house, she was truly frightened of what he might do to Gryffindor.

Snape watched Damien stalk off, reminded unpleasantly of Malfoys past. The brat's words unsettled him, and he couldn't help wondering if they'd simply been a product of his quick temper or if he'd picked up on some of his grandfather's prejudices. Shaking himself mentally, Severus pushed his anger away, knowing it would only make him weak and sick; since the war, he'd had to give up his favourite vice of stewing in his own venomous fury and had long since learned to push even the hottest of his anger aside quickly. He turned to continue his journey to the greenhouses and was startled to find the Weasley girl still standing there.

"Why are you still here?" he snapped.

"I was waiting for you to take house points, sir," she said. Her voice was quiet, but she held her head high.

Snape sighed. "Very well," he said. "Five points from Gryffindor for having execrable taste in men. You've broken no rules, Miss Weasley. You are free to return to whatever it is that you children do."

"With all due respect, sir," Ella said, "if I wasn't breaking rules, and Damien wasn't doing anything different from what I was doing, why did you take points from him, sir?" She felt incredibly stupid the moment the words left her mouth, certain Snape would say something scathing and take more points from Gryffindor. To her surprise, he merely sighed and answered.

"Mister Malfoy has been confined to the castle and was therefore out of bounds. Had he better control over his emotions, you both would have known that some minutes ago. Now, if you'll excuse me..." He turned once again towards the greenhouses.

Ella watched Snape move up the path, wondering what the man wasn't saying. Shrugging, she headed back to the Gryffindor common room. She smiled smugly to herself, glad that she had made Damien promise to pay for her information services with a kiss. Kissing Damien had been an interesting experience, and she now had something to brag about to the other Gryffindor girls.


Returning to his office after his last class of the day, Harry was a bit startled to find Adrian Malfoy waiting for him. Since Draco was already at Hogwarts, he hadn't expected to see Adrian this afternoon. He hid his confusion and greeted the boy with his customary smile and hug.

"I have something for you," Adrian announced, withdrawing an envelope from his pocket. "You said if I asked properly that you'd come to my birthday dinner. This is your invitation."

Beaming at the boy, Harry tucked the envelope into his own pocket. "Thank you, Adrian. I'm looking forward to it."

Seeing no sign of Draco, Harry started off in the direction of the entrance hall with Adrian by his side, as he had before each of Adrian's previous therapy appointments. Adrian was chattering on about the day's Charms lesson, and Harry did his best to listen attentively even as he searched the corridors for the boy's father. When they reached the entrance hall with no sign of the elder Malfoy, Harry began to worry. He felt an incredible wave of relief a moment later when he found Draco sitting on the front steps talking to Sera and Eleanor Weasley.

"Detention?" Draco asked. "What did he do now?"

"He called Professor Snape a...well, I don't know what he called him. It must have been something awful, though. He's in detention for a whole week," Ella supplied helpfully. She honestly didn't know what a 'you-nick' was, and she certainly wasn't going to repeat the part about being 'queer.' The fact that Damien had uttered that word in such an insulting way made her think less of him; her parents had raised her to not have such prejudices, and she couldn't bear the thought of even speaking the slanderous word aloud.

Draco looked perplexed. "I can't imagine what he could have said to get Snape that riled."

"I think it was more his attitude. I mean, even if he'd been complimenting Professor Snape in that tone of voice, he'd have gotten into trouble," Ella reasoned, not entirely certain she believed the logic she was spouting. "I've never heard him sound so full of himself."

"He was showing off," Seraphine pointed out.

"I'm not impressed," Eleanor replied haughtily.

"What am I missing here?" Draco asked. He felt as if the girls were engaged in an entirely separate conversation.

Sera smirked, causing a look of sheer terror to cross the Weasley girl's face. "Snape caught Damien and Ella kissing," she said. "Damien fancies her, and I think he was showing off, trying to prove what a big, impressive man he is." She shook her head slightly.

"Proving what a big, stupid git he is, more like," Adrian added as he joined the others on the steps. He manoeuvred himself in between his dad and Ella, allowing the girl to hide her red face behind him.

Adrian's gesture was lost on neither Draco nor Harry, and they shared a grin as Harry gave Draco a hand up.

"Ready to go?" Draco asked, very deliberately tousling his son's curls.

"Sure," Adrian replied calmly, trying to mash his wild hair down again.

Seraphine pushed Adrian's hands aside and gently tamed the curls. She gave him a warm smile and a motherly hug. "The wind will muss it again, but at least you're all right for now," she told him.

Adrian said his goodbyes and set off with Draco for Hogsmeade.

"I asked Professor Potter properly, like you said," Adrian said, apropos of nothing, as they made their way across the grounds.

"Asked him what, exactly, Adrian?"

"To come to my birthday party," Adrian replied. "You said I should ask him properly, remember?"

"Ah, yes. I do seem to recall that, now that you mention it," Draco replied teasingly. "Did he respond?"

"Yeah. He wants to come. It is okay, isn't it?"

Draco stopped and turned around to face his son, who'd stopped walking. Adrian wore a look of longing and just a hint of fear that made Draco's heart flip-flop in his chest.

"Its fine, Adrian," he assured the boy. "Why wouldn't it be?" he asked cautiously.

"I don't know," Adrian replied with a slight shrug, looking at the ground instead of up at his father.

With a tired sigh, Draco enveloped his son in a loving hug. "I think you and I need to talk, man-to-man," he said, taking care to keep his tone light. "I'll Floo Dr. Ponsford from the house and let her know there's been a change of plans, all right?"

Adrian nodded slightly, and Draco pulled the boy tightly to his side as they resumed their walk into Hogsmeade. All during the walk, Adrian remained eerily quiet. He said not a word until after they had arrived home and Draco had contacted Dr. Ponsford.

"Am I in trouble?" Adrian asked at last, breaking the silence and startling his father.

Draco abandoned the seat he had just taken across from Adrian to sit beside the boy on the sofa. With the gentlest of touches, he raised his son's face so he could look him in the eye. "You're not in any trouble, Adrian," he said softly. "Is there any reason you should be?"

"No, sir. I don't think so. I've been trying to stay out of trouble," Adrian replied honestly.

"I thought so," Draco replied with a smile. "You've always tried so hard to be good."

"I like it when you're pleased with me," Adrian replied in a near whisper, snuggling into his dad's arms.

Draco just held his son for a long moment before he spoke again. "Adrian, I need to ask you a question, and I need you to be completely honest with me. Can you do that?" he asked, looking into Adrian's eyes.

"Yes, sir," Adrian answered meekly.

"Adrian...are you afraid of me?"

The curly head bent so that Adrian was staring at the floor once more. "Sometimes," he whispered.

Draco swallowed thickly around the lump that had formed in his throat. "What did I do to make you afraid?"

The pain in his father's voice twisted Adrian's heart. "Nothing!" he cried, throwing his arms around Draco's neck. "I take it back. I didn't mean it," he said as tears spilled down his cheeks.

Draco pulled his son onto his lap, rubbing his back and stroking his hair as he murmured comforting words. When Adrian calmed, he leaned back, settling the boy more comfortably in his lap. "You did mean it," he said gently, still rubbing Adrian's back reassuringly. "I need to know what's wrong, Adrian, so I can fix it."

Adrian sat quietly, contemplating. "Do kids always grow up to be like their Mum and Dad?" he asked.

The question caught Draco by surprise. He had wondered the same thing once, a very long time ago, though, so at least he had an answer.

"No, Adrian, they don't. Not always. Usually a person has certain of their parents' characteristics - I, for example, have Father's quick temper and Mum's ability to adapt. Even those things aren't exactly the same, though. I've learned to control my anger much better than Father ever did," he explained.

"So you won't ever be just like Grandfather?" Adrian asked, his voice so low that Draco barely caught his words.

"No, Adrian," he replied quietly. "I promise you that I will never be like your Grandfather."

Adrian burst into tears, clinging desperately to his father. "He...he says I'm not wo-worthy of the name 'Malfoy,'" he sobbed. "He says I'll never a-amount to a-anything if I don't get my he-he-head out of the clouds and gr-grow up. He says it's a g-good thing Damien's the fir-fir-first born, 'cause I'm not...I'm not good enough to b-be his heir. He...he says I'm weak."

"Shush, Adrian," Draco said soothingly, cradling the child against his chest. "Hush, now. It's all right. Everything's going to be all right, love. Your Grandfather is wrong. You're a good boy, Adrian. You're smart, and talented, and you're certainly not weak. You're a very brave boy. You were brave to try to carry this all alone, and even more brave to tell me. I'm very proud of you, Adrian," he said.

When at last Adrian's sobs had turned to hiccoughs, Draco shifted the boy to the sofa. He disappeared into the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with a bottle of golden liquid and two glasses. Popping the cork on the bottle, he poured out into the two glasses, and, settling the bottle aside, handed one of the glasses to Adrian.

Adrian's eyes went wide as he took the goblet from his father's hand. He stared at the yellow liquid in awe, afraid to actually drink it.

As he settled into the chair nearest Adrian's end of the sofa, Draco chuckled at the expression on his son's face. "It's only wine, Adrian, and not very strong, at that. It can't hurt you, and it might help," he explained, sipping from his own glass. "I don't want you to think I'm encouraging you to turn to alcohol as a way of solving your problems, or any such rubbish, but under the circumstances, I felt it appropriate."

In truth, this particular bottle of mead they were sharing contained just a little more alcohol than butterbeer, which might intoxicate a house elf, but had never in history given a human so much as a mild buzz. Browsing in Diagon Alley one day, he had come across the practically non-alcoholic wine side-by-side with a variety of similar products; he had purchased the mead with Harry in mind, both to tease him with and to enjoy with him on some future night together. He made a mental note to replace it for the children's use, as well as for Harry's.

Cautiously, Adrian sipped at the wine. He'd tasted wine once before, the previous summer, when Grandmere had let him have a sip from her glass. It had been bitter; this was different. "It tastes like honey," he noted, taking another sip.

"In essence, it is," Draco replied. Despite the low alcohol content of the mead, he rather instinctively chose to treat it like the real thing and begin his son's education in social drinking. "Drink it slowly, or you'll be sick. Remember moderation, and know your limits," he instructed, smiling fondly at the memory of what exactly had happened the last time Harry had forgotten his limits.

Brushing the thought aside rather reluctantly, he focused on watching his son. Now that Adrian was preoccupied with savouring his treat, Draco could resume their conversation without worrying overmuch about sending the child into another fit of hysterics. "Has your Grandfather ever hurt you, Adrian?" he asked, fighting to keep his emotions from both his voice and his face.

"No, sir," Adrian answered. "But he gets really angry sometimes, and I thought he was going to hit me once, but he kicked a house elf instead. He's really mean to them."

Sitting his goblet down, Draco leaned forward to look his son in the eye. "You don't ever have to see him again if you don't want to, Adrian. We aren't going to spend time at the Manor like we did last summer, and he isn't allowed in our house any longer."

Adrian's hand trembled, and he nearly lost his grip on the goblet. He took a large drink of the mead before responding. "Damien will be angry with me. He likes spending time with Grandfather. And Sera will want to see Grandmere," he said.

"Your Grandmother can come here if she wants to see us, and I'm certain that she will. If Damien is angry, he'll be angry with me. I believe that your Grandfather is a negative influence on the lot of you, and what you've told me only confirms that. Damien doesn't have to know you told me anything, Adrian. I can keep this to myself," he assured him.

"Like Dr. Ponsford does?" Adrian asked.

"Exactly like that," Draco replied with a reassuring smile.

"Please do," Adrian said into his goblet as he finished off his wine.

"You have my word on it," Draco promised.

"Thanks, Dad," Adrian replied with a smile. "And, Dad...thanks...for treating me kind of like a grown-up, instead of a little kid," he added, his eyes straying to the bottle of wine and then back to his dad.

Draco smiled fondly at his son and reached out to smooth his tumbled curls. He was determined not to point out to the child that the wine was non-alcoholic. "You almost are all grown-up," he said a bit wistfully "You'll be twelve in a couple of weeks. Next thing I know, you'll be a man instead of a boy."

"It's okay, Dad," Adrian assured him, moving from the sofa to cuddle in his father's lap again. "Even when I'm all grown up, I'll still be your little boy."