Chapter 2

‘Daddy!’ Scorpius yells, flinging his little arms about Draco’s neck in a strangling hold. ‘Daddy, Daddy!’

Draco squeezes him tight, pressing his face into his son’s fine fair hair and breathing in his warm little-boy smell. He likes to feel those small arms around his neck, the unashamed affection Scorpius always shows him. It makes Draco feel like a good person, a normal ordinary six-year-old’s father who plays Gobstones and holds his son carefully in front of him on his broom so he doesn’t fall.

‘Hello,’ he says, and rubs his nose against the child’s ear. Scorpius giggles and pulls back a little so that they can touch the tips of their noses together, which has been their special greeting ever since he was a baby.

'It was so much fun, Daddy, and Grandmother took me all around the greenhouses and we picked yellow roses for Mummy, and Grandfather showed me how to play Wiz’ding Chess, and did you know the libr’y’s heaps and heaps and heaps tall, all shelves up to the top and you have to have looooong long ladders to get to the top?’ Scorpius adjusts himself so he’s snuggled comfortably on his father’s lap, and then picks up Draco’s hand, playing with it.

‘And Grandfather wouldn’t let me touch all the books, he said I had to always be careful and nevrevrevrever go in there without him because some of the books were dang’rous! Did you know that books could be dang’rous Daddy? None of our books are dang’rous, are they? I told Grandfather that Mummy wouldn’t let us have any dang’rous books and he said that was very sensible and his were part of… part of,’ Scorpius’s forehead wrinkles, 'the Malfoy family – Het-er – Her-i-tage, I think, so he had to keep them in his libr’y! Poor Grandpa!’

'Poor Grandpa,’ Draco murmurs, slightly sardonic. Scorpius looks at him enquiringly, and he says hastily, ‘No, none of our books are dangerous, Scorpius, but you must always be very, very careful about the ones at Grandfather and Grandmother’s house.’

Scorpius squishes his hand reassuringly between his two small paws. ‘Don’t worry Daddy, I was really truly careful the whole time like you said. Every single little tiny moment!’

Draco brushes a strand of fair hair out of Scorpius’s eyes. ‘Did you have your milk at bedtime?’

‘Yes, Grandmother gave it to me and sat next to my bed and even told me a story which was about a phoenix and a boy and a Lef-Lef-if-old.’

‘WHAT?’ Draco says, aghast. 'She told you that story? The one where the Lethifold hides in the suitcase…?’

Scorpius nods happily. ‘Yes, and it’s lonely, and the phoenix and the boy make friends with it and go on adventures to Switzerland!’

‘Uh,’ Draco says weakly. ‘Er – yes, that one, of course.’ Clearly the story has undergone significant changes since he was told it as a child.

‘Oh and Daddy, the peacocks! Did you know that they eat out of your hand, and that Grandfather can get one to fan its tail out, and it’s all lacy and white like a wedding dress or something! And one of them pecked me but it was all right because Grandfather fixed it with his wand, and…’

‘One of them pecked you?’ Draco says dangerously, and Scorpius looks suddenly shamefaced.

‘Um,’ he says guiltily. ‘I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, Daddy, but don’t worry! It was fine, it hardly hurt at all and Grandfather did a spell and there’s not even a mark! See?’

Draco inspects the little finger carefully. There is no mark on it, but still. His father is going to hear about this.

Scorpius hugs him again, rubbing his silky little head into Draco’s neck. ‘It was fun, Daddy,’ he says, and then squeezes harder. ‘But I like being home best of all really because I missed you heapsnheapsnheaps, and,’ he pulls Draco’s head down so he can whisper in his ear, ‘I love you’n’Mummy most of everything at all.’

And if Draco has a slight lump in his throat, he swallows it quickly and hugs Scorpius extra tight.

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