Sunday morning, Jacob was glad to be going back to Hogwarts. He would be out from underneath Lucius and Narcissa. He would be happy to get back to his routine, such that it was. There were good things about his routine - exercising in the mornings with Draco, defense lessons with his father, and Hermione on Saturday mornings, studying with Hermione and Draco Saturday afternoons… and the snogging sessions with Draco every night after they finished homework were certainly nice, too.
After a stiff breakfast with Draco's parents, the two of them double-checked their rooms before Jacob packed up Moriai again. The black cat was quite upset at being locked up again after just getting used to her new room. "I'm sorry, I know, it's awful, but you'll be back at the dorm soon enough," he said, remembering that the train ride from Kings Cross was several hours long. "Maybe I'll let you go in the train car, as long as I keep a close eye on you, so you don't run out when the door opens."
She mewed at him again, and he grabbed her cage, shaking his head at her. After that, the trip to King's Cross was relatively silent. They made their way to Platform 9 ¾. It seemed like so long since he'd been here, but it looked exactly the same. Lucius and Narcissa were right behind them.
Looking around, he spotted many of their classmates. Pansy Parkinson was standing with her parents. He saw Theodore Nott and Astoria Greengrass standing and talking to a man that must be his father. He saw her sister, Daphne, talking to two people who had to be their parents. He didn't see Zabini or Millicent, figuring they must be on the train already. He saw Marcus and Salenia, along with their significant others, talking to two people who looked to be Salenia's parents.
Hermione and the Weasleys came in around that time. To her credit, she didn't acknowledge them except for a nod of her head while they were still standing with Draco's parents. "Now, Draco, your O.W.L.'s are coming up, so it's important to keep your grades up," Lucius said firmly. "Remember, you are a Malfoy."
Draco gave a wave of his hand. "Yes, I am well aware of what I am, Father," he said. "We study every day. I am doing my best, and am still top of the class, just as I always have been. I'll be fine, and I'll get all O's, and make you both proud. Don't worry."
"See that you do," said Lucius. "You should get going. Don't want to miss the train."
It was true. Eleven was clicking closer, and Jacob had learned the hard way that the train waited for no one.
Narcissa leaned forward, giving Draco a small hug. "You two behave now."
"We always behave," Draco said, but his parents looked like they didn't believe that at all. Hand in hand, they were soon on the train and looking for their friends. It took a few minutes but they found Pansy, Daphne, Theodore, Astoria, and Blaise sitting there. It was a little cramped, and he was half tempted to tell Draco for them to find their own compartment. He certainly wouldn't mind being alone with him, either. "Where's Millicent? And Marcus and Salenia?"
"Millicent had another room already, and when she saw all of us, she said there wasn't enough room for everyone, so we found another one. We haven't seen Marcus and Salenia, but they're probably with Walton and Teale." A smile crossed her face. "So, how was everyone's Christmas?" said Pansy, though she was looking at them as they squeezed in next to her and Daphne. Theodore and Astoria were sitting on the other side, next to Blaise.
"Just fine, thank you," said Draco.
"Just fine?" said Daphne, and she and Pansy had identical incredulous looks on their faces.
"Jacob was with you. Did he stay with you?" Pansy asked. "What happened?"
Jacob wanted to remind them that he was sitting right there, but on the other hand, everyone was staring at them. He wanted the seat to swallow him up. He was more than willing to let Draco handle it, as his boyfriend did with most social situations.
"Of course he did," he said. "My parents thought he should experience the train since he has never ridden it before. So he stayed with me for a few days. Besides, my parents wanted to get to know him a bit better since we are dating now."
"Oh?" said Pansy, sounding quite interested, and Jacob had to wonder if she was only interested in anything if drama was involved. "Please, do tell."
"Nothing to tell," Draco said, shrugging his shoulders. "My parents liked him well enough. They think we're a bit too serious, but they'll get used to us."
"They didn't leave us alone after they caught us snogging," Jacob said. He knew he didn't really need to remind Draco; the blonde would remember that afternoon quite well. However, he had felt the need to remind him of that, to point out that they had not had any time alone at all since that first day.
The girls giggled. "Oh, and what happened?"
"They caught us," said Draco. It was obvious they were not satisfied with that response. Theodore was the only one who looked like he couldn't care less. Even Astoria was looking interested in the conversation. "What? We were snogging in the jacuzzi, and - "
"Oh, my, you were snogging in the jacuzzi?" Pansy asked, a big smile on her face, as both the Greengrass sisters giggled. Blaise had a smirk on his face, and Theodore just looked bored.
A deep blush crossed Jacob's face, and he wanted to talk about something else. Anything else. He deeply regretted saying anything now, and in hindsight, he should have known to keep his big mouth shut about such things around the Slytherin Gossip Girls.
"Yes, I'm allowed to kiss my boyfriend," Draco said, brushing off the girls' comments. "Besides, Pansy, we need to go." Jacob gave his boyfriend a confused look. "Prefect, remember? We still need to go meet with the other Prefects and monitor the train, but I'll be back." He kissed him, before slipping out, Pansy waving as she left behind him, sliding the door shut.
"So, come on, Jacob, what else happened while you stayed with Draco?" Daphne asked, turning towards him slightly.
"Nothing," he said, honestly. "After they caught us, he interrogated me, and then we didn't get more than five minutes alone for the rest of the time I was there."
"If it makes you feel any better, Astoria's parents didn't like me, either," Theodore said. Jacob was glad for the distraction and to talk about someone else's love life and not his. He must have seen something on his face because he continued. "Think she's a bit too young to be dating, and that we have too much of an age difference. They calmed down a bit after getting to know me, but they're not fond of it."
Astoria rolled her eyes. "As if we're not only two years apart. I don't see what the big deal is."
"They're just looking out for you," her sister said. She seemed to warm up to them as a couple because he remembered when they started dating a few months ago she had not been pleased. Jacob was just glad that after that they changed the subject because he really wanted to talk about something else now.
Draco and Pansy returned a while later, Pansy sliding in on the other side of Daphne while Draco took his spot next to him. Jacob was glad because while he didn't mind the company of the others, it wasn't the same without Draco around. They weren't really his friends, and they often wanted him to talk more when Draco wasn't around. Normally, he had no problem talking at all, but he didn't have much in common with the others. Daphne and Astoria did most of the talking. Theodore seemed content to just sit there and listen, and Blaise chimed in.
When Draco and Pansy got in, at least he knew that he could count on Draco to help monopolize the conversation, so he didn't have to talk if he didn't want to. The conversation quickly turned to Quidditch. The general agreement seemed to be that they were curious about how Gryffindor's new Keeper was going to fare, but first was their match against Ravenclaw, which took place right before Valentine's Day.
While Ravenclaw had a solid team all around, no one in the compartment thought they stood a chance against Slytherin. Jacob had to agree. While Cho was a good Seeker, he didn't think she could beat Draco, not the way he had been flying lately. The Ravenclaw chasers were decent, but they were not aggressive enough to play against Slytherin, especially not with him on the team. He wasn't sure how Crabbe and Goyle - speaking of which, where they had gone off to? With Marcus, Salenia, and Millicent, he guessed - would fare against their new Beaters. Draco seemed to think that Bletchley was miles better than their Keeper, Johnson.
Jacob was content to talk about Quidditch - it was one of his favorite things about the Wizarding World and Hogwarts after all - when Draco suddenly changed the subject. "So, any thought of what you're going to do for your father for his birthday?" he asked.
Jacob blinked at him, because he had meant to ask Severus when his birthday was, but it had slipped his mind. His father hadn't mentioned it, either, so he had figured it wasn't coming up yet. "Birthday? Don't tell me that's coming up soon."
"He didn't mention it, did he?"
Jacob suddenly got a little annoyed and offended. "Six months I've known the man was my father, and he didn't mention it once. Sure, I could have asked, I should have, but… especially if it was coming up soon, why didn't he say anything!" Things had been coming along, and he knew that Severus was a private person, but… did he hate his birthday that much that he didn't even want his own son to know?
"You know how private he is," Draco said, shrugging his shoulders. "I just figured he would have told you. Just ask him about it."
"Yeah, but still, he should have mentioned it to me. When is it?"
Draco paused for a second before speaking. "Tuesday."
Jacob was floored. It was close, so close and Severus hadn't said anything about it. He knew he was a private man, but surely he understood that Jacob would want to do something? He wasn't sure what to say, but it was Daphne who spoke next. "Wait, it's two days away! Why did you never mention this to us before, Draco?" she asked. "And how do you know when it is? How old will he be?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "I'm his godson; he's friends with my dad. Of course, I knew, I've known him long before Hogwarts," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I knew he wouldn't want anyone else to know, so I never said anything. He'll be thirty-six, by the way, and you are all sworn to secrecy. One word out of any of you, and he'll know who told you. I'd rather not have that conversation, thank you very much." Regretfully, they all agreed not to say anything, even though he was their favorite teacher.
Now, Jacob just had to decide how he was going to talk to his father about this.
By the time they arrived at Hogwarts, everyone was starving. They got off the train, finally spotting Marcus and Salenia. Marcus's boyfriend had an arm around his shoulders, his best friend walking behind him, and Salenia and her girlfriend had one arm around each other. They waved to each other, and Daphne asked where the two of them had been. "Oh, we had our own compartment, the five of us."
Pansy elbowed Daphne, who giggled before Pansy cleared throat. "So, Walton, Loughton, I had a question for you." The two Hufflepuff Beaters raised an eyebrow. "I heard a rumor, and I was hoping the two of you could help me out. I heard a Hufflepuff got into Professor Snape's N.E.W.T's class, and he kicked them out. Is that true?"
"Oh, that was me," said Walton, a smirk on his face. "I was never a good student, but for some reason, I got an O on my Potions O.W.L. I don't know why it was just… the best Potions work I've ever done. Everything just sort of… clicked, you know? When Snape saw me, he flipped his shit, said, 'Very funny, Walton, get out.' I showed him that I belonged there, and he was furious. Made me sit alone because he was afraid of me blowing up someone else's cauldron or something. But it's okay because Adam said he got a shocked reaction from Professor McGonagall when he got into her N.E.W.T's class." He thumbed towards his best friend, standing behind him.
Both girls laughed as they came upon the carriages. "Thanks for clearing that up," Pansy said as she, Daphne and Blaise piled into one of the carriages, both girls still giggling. Of course, knowing them, they would want to know everything about everything because somehow, everything concerned them. Loughton ended up having to sit in there, which he did not look pleased about. Marcus, Walton, Salenia, and Teale all piled into another carriage.
Now, he saw the Thestrals pulling them. He froze for a second, looking at them. "What is it? What's wrong?" Draco asked, squeezing his hand before he seemed to remember. "Oh. Don't worry about it. Come on, let's get in one so we can get inside. I'm hungry, and it's freezing."
Jacob nodded, allowing Draco to pull him into the nearest carriage, which happened to have Theodore and Astoria in it. He had his arm around her, and she was leaning into him, pulling her cloak around her. He didn't mind Theodore as much; he was one of the least draining of Draco's friends.
As the carriage pulled off, Theodore met his eyes. "They freaked me out at first, too." He didn't have to ask what he meant. They both knew. Astoria and Draco, who couldn't see them, were quiet. "Even more so since no one else could see them but me, or so I thought at the time. It didn't take me long to realize that, and I didn't say anything. No one wants to hear that you see something no one else can."
Jacob knew that all too well. He remembered in his second year when he could hear the Basilisk in the walls - he had been sure was going crazy until Hermione had helped him figure out what it was. "Yeah, that's understandable," he said. "Did you figure out what it was, or…?"
Theodore nodded. "Yeah, I did some research in my spare time. Luckily, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them is pretty handy, so I figured it out," he said. "I kept my mouth shut still, but it was nice to know I wasn't crazy."
He understood that. At least he wasn't the only person who could see them, but at the same time, he didn't think anyone his age should be able to see them. Experiencing death when you were only a teenager wasn't something anyone else should go through.
Everyone headed for dinner, eager to eat a full dinner after an afternoon of eating only treats from the trolley on the train. He saw his dad up at the big table, who gave him a nod. His mind went back to the bombshell Draco had dropped on him earlier. He couldn't believe that he hadn't told him that his birthday was coming, so soon after Christmas. He was sure there was a reason - like Draco said, he was a private person. Who just forgets to mention something like that to their own son, though? It wasn't as if he would have known about it before.
After dinner, as they were headed back to the Slytherin Common Room, Jacob stopped. "I'm going to go talk to my dad," he said, reluctantly dropping Draco's hand.
"Are you sure you want to do that now?" his boyfriend asked him. "I'm sure there's a good reason."
"I know, it's just… bothering me, so I'm going to ask him about it before his birthday comes around in two days, and I end up saying something I'll regret," Jacob said. "I'll see you in a bit, okay?" Draco nodded, and Jacob continued down to his father's rooms. He had left the Great Hall earlier than them, so he was sure that he would be here now.
Jacob knocked on the door, actually feeling a bit nervous, though he wasn't sure why. A moment later, his father answered the door. He looked annoyed as he was opening the door until his eyes fell on him, and the look passed. "Why are you still knocking? You should know by now that you can just come in." He ushered him inside. "It is good to see you, but I admit I am a bit surprised that you came tonight. Is something wrong?"
"Er, sort of…" Jacob wondered how he was going to say it. Surely, there was a way to lead into the conversation. "Why didn't you tell me your birthday was in two days?" Great lead up there , he thought to himself. Seeing the confused look on his father's face, he elaborated. "Draco told me."
Severus nodded. "I apologize. I didn't mean to withhold that information from you," he said. "I am a private person, you understand -"
"I thought we'd gotten past some of that," Jacob interrupted.
"Let me finish," Severus said. Jacob nodded. He was just anxious. "Now, as I was saying, I didn't mean to withhold it from you. I just… do not see it as something important. It has not always held pleasant memories for me. It hadn't occurred to me that I hadn't mentioned it, though I should have realized it would be important to you. I apologize."
Jacob paused for a second before speaking. "Yeah, I mean… you're my dad, so of course, I would think your birthday was important. It's the first of either of ours since everything went down, you know." His last birthday was when the glamour making him look like Harry Potter had failed. "Draco just… assumed you had mentioned it to me, and maybe I should have asked, but I just figured you would have mentioned it was coming up, so I'm sorry, too. I would have gotten something for you - "
"That is not necessary."
"But - "
Severus put up his hand to silence him. "I already have everything that I need at the moment."
Jacob nodded. Was he talking about him? He had to be. A lot had happened in the last six months, and even though Severus said he had everything he needed, they should at least do something, right? He didn't want his father to spend his birthday alone. He had done that more times than he cared to remember; it was not a pleasant feeling. "Maybe we could have dinner together for your birthday. I just feel like we need to do something, you know? I want to do something."
Severus nodded. "I would like that."
"Okay, then… I'll see you on Tuesday?"
Severus gave another nod. Jacob then made his way back to the common room. He felt better now that they had talked. Yes, he should have asked, and his father should have told him, but it was fine. They would eat dinner together. It was a small thing, but it was another big step for them. He knew now how silly it was for him to have been nervous about that conversation, because honestly, what could have happened? He just hadn't been sure of what Severus's reasons were. A part of him had thought maybe he hadn't wanted him to know. That was ridiculous, though. His father wanted him in his life; he had said as much more than once, including once tonight.
For him, that was more than enough.
Jacob felt good getting back into his routine the next day. Monday night meant the first practice of the new term. As usual, Montague was a taskmaster. The next game was against Ravenclaw and was just over a month away. While no one was worried, they had made a major statement with their win against Hufflepuff. Their Captain wanted to keep the momentum going.
Tuesday was his father's birthday. He half expected Daphne and Pansy to say something even though Draco had sworn them to secrecy, but to their credit, they had listened to him. He didn't want to think about the bad mood that might have put him in, and with them having dinner that night, he didn't want them to fight again because they had put him in a bad mood.
After classes, Jacob parted from Draco and their friends and made his way to his father's quarters. He was about to knock on the door when he remembered what Severus had told him last time - that he hadn't needed to knock. So, he just went in, which felt kind of weird. His father wasn't there. Now, this felt even more strange, being here while his father wasn't. He was about to leave and go look for him in his classroom or his office when the door opened behind him.
"Oh, I was hoping that you hadn't beat me here," Severus said. "I apologize, but I had some things to do before I came here." He had a stack of papers in his hand, most likely homework that he needed to grade. He set them on the desk in the corner. "Are you hungry?"
"Starving, actually, it feels like it's been forever since I had lunch," he said.
Severus lead him into the eat-in dining room and waved his wand. Some chicken, rice, and vegetables appeared before them. It must be what they were having dinner in the Great Hall. The two of them sat down and started eating. "You looked uncomfortable when I came in. Why?" His voice was even, but he looked up at him over his food.
"Er, yeah, just… felt weird just walking in, and then even weirder when you weren't here."
"Why?" Severus asked. "Jacob, you are my son. Why should you feel weird in my rooms still?" He said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and Jacob couldn't help but smile.
"No, it's not that, it's just… not knocking. I mean, the only time I haven't was because it was in the middle of the night." He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, just felt weird without you here, too." It was a reminder of how far they'd come, though. Severus told him that there was no reason for him to feel weird coming in his rooms or being here, even if he wasn't. Because he was his son. He remembered a time when it had been weird hearing him say those words.
"So, do you usually do anything for your birthday?" Jacob asked. Severus shook his head. "Why not?"
"No reason to for the most part," he said. "My mother tried, but my father didn't think my birth was something to celebrate. Don't feel bad, he was an arsehole, and I survived. Your mother felt the need to, and always made a point while we were friends to come and tell me happy birthday." He shrugged his shoulders. "After we stopped speaking, I fell back into old habits. The rest of the staff always gives me some alcohol and well wishes, though."
Severus motioned the counter where a few bottles sat. "See, other people think it's worth celebrating," Jacob said, but Severus just rolled his eyes. "For the record, I think it's something to celebrate, though I haven't always felt like that, either. My Aunt and Uncle, well… it was something to be ignored."
"Perhaps you are correct, then, and we will make an effort to celebrate our birthdays, even in a small way," he said.
Jacob liked that idea, the idea of them making plans together for future things, things that might become a tradition for them. Families had traditions. Maybe this was the first step. It seemed they had a lot of those, but considering where they started off, they had come a long way.
Jacob had some homework to catch up on, so he didn't stay as late as he would have liked. "We still have our Sunday, don't we?" It was good that they had a day that was theirs even while they were at Hogwarts.
Severus nodded. "Yes, we do, but it's time to get back into the routine now."
Jacob groaned. "Yeah, I know. It's fine. I'm ready to get back into the routine again. While I hate Occlumency and I don't understand where we're going with the memories yet, it was something I got used to, you know?"
"I do know," he said, "and while you're still here, I think tonight was - in the realm of birthdays - one of the better ones."
Jacob wondered how hard it was for Severus to open up to him the way he had, and although it was slow sometimes, it meant a lot that he was trying. It was always hard, though. He hugged him goodbye, knowing he disliked physical affection for the most part, but it seemed like a good time to do it. "Goodnight, Dad," he said. "See you tomorrow." Severus said his goodbyes, slowly hugging him back before Jacob made his way back to the common room.
Jacob felt like they had made some progress, and albeit it had been small, he would take whatever he could get. They were figuring it out together, step by step.