Thank you again for all the reviews! This is the last chapter of Starfall. Thanks for reading along.
Chapter Fifty-Choices He Can Live With
"Do you remember what the nightmare was about?" Harry asked Scorpius the question casually, with his eyes fastened on the paper in front of him as though he was entirely absorbed by the scandal that had erupted between the Falmouth Falcons' Seeker and the new Chaser for the Chudley Cannons.
"I didn't have a nightmare." Scorpius sounded as small and stuffy as though he was the perfect little Malfoy Draco had tried to train him to be.
Harry laid the paper down on his lap and regarded Scorpius for a moment. Scorpius was crouched over a wizarding chess set, moving back and forth as he randomly shoved both black and white pieces around the board. They were complaining in a steady chorus, but Draco had cast some kind of spell on them that muted their voices.
Probably when he was still a kid, Harry thought, his amusement carefully hidden, and said, "Then what was it? A bad dream?"
But Scorpius's shoulders had tensed and hunched, and Harry knew what that meant. He concealed a sigh and nodded. "All right. Then I suppose I can't tell you about my nightmares. I was going to, because I thought they might be similar to yours. But they're not going to be, I can tell." He picked up the paper again and turned the page. At least here were actual results of Quidditch games, instead of a story that he had a hard time reading.
"Wait! Uncle Harry! You had nightmares?" Scorpius's hand appeared around the edge of the paper.
Harry hid a smile and allowed his eyes to flicker towards the doorway that led from the drawing room to one of the side rooms in Malfoy Manor used for making guests wait. Draco stood there, out of sight from Scorpius. He had wanted to listen to the conversation Scorpius and Harry would have about the nightmare, but he had agreed that he shouldn't be there. "Yes. About the war. You know about the war?"
Draco was under a Disillusionment Charm, but Harry could still tell he had shifted. Yes, of course Draco didn't want Scorpius to know everything about his own family's past yet. But Harry had promised to contain the talk of the war within reasonable boundaries. That would have to be enough.
If Harry couldn't talk about the war at all, then he would have an extremely hard time talking about his nightmares.
Scorpius nodded, his attention less on the question than on what was going to follow it, Harry knew. "Yeah," he added, when Harry evidently wasn't speaking fast enough for him. "The war that the Dark Lord fought against you?"
Well, Harry supposed it would have been hard to keep knowledge of Harry's part in the war away from Scorpius even before he'd accidentally crashed into the Malfoys' lives. "Yes," he said. "I had all sorts of nightmares. About things that went wrong, things that went differently." He reached out and scooped Scorpius onto the couch beside him, absently wondering when that sort of thing had made his back start to hurt. "I had one particular nightmare about running across a field and not being able to reach my friends."
"That doesn't sound scary," said Scorpius. "Maybe you tripped on something that was in the way, or someone had set up a ward and you couldn't get to them."
Harry hid a smile with difficulty. Scorpius was really transparent when he wanted to hear more about something and was trying to make someone else say it with mockery. That was probably something Draco hadn't even deliberately taught him.
"Maybe it wouldn't have been," he agreed. "But in the nightmare, there were people standing behind my friends and holding wands on them."
"Did that really happen?"
"Maybe it did," said Harry, with a shrug. "Or part of it. My nightmares put parts together from different things I faced." He leaned in. "But no matter how hard I ran, the field got bigger and bigger, and I never got there. And I knew every moment I didn't get there, my friends were suffering pain."
No need to discuss the torture that Ron and Hermione had actually suffered in the dreams. That would wait for when Scorpius was older, if it needed to be mentioned at all. Harry didn't think children necessarily needed to know about torture.
"Wow," said Scorpius. "And you had other nightmares?"
Harry nodded, thinking back to his first year. "I was Sorted into Gryffindor at Hogwarts, you know that?" Scorpius nodded back at once. "But I was almost Sorted into Slytherin. The Sorting Hat told me I could have gone there. And it turned out the-You-Know-Who was already at the school, hiding inside a turban that the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher had on."
Scorpius looked as though he was about to wriggle himself off the couch. The ripple of movement by the doorway came into the corner of Harry's eye again. He thought Draco was uncertain whether he wanted his son to hear this or not, and Harry knew why. Scorpius might wake up with different bad dreams tonight.
Not if I make the description of the nightmare less frightening than it actually was, though.
"Was the nightmare the turban smothering you?" Scorpius whispered.
"No," said Harry, startled. At least that gave him a little clue about Scorpius's nightmares, though: it was probably things he'd imagined rather than things he'd lived through, like his parents' divorce. Not that imaginary things couldn't be plenty scary. Harry remembered a few of them from his own childhood. "But I imagined I was wearing it, and it was telling me that I had to go to Slytherin. It was very important for some reason. And I couldn't get it off."
"That does sound bad," Scorpius muttered, and leaned against Harry's side. "I'm glad that you didn't die, Uncle Harry."
Harry gently smoothed back Scorpius's hair. "Me, too," he said, and they sat in silence for a while. If Scorpius was going to tell him about the dream, then he thought it would be now.
But nothing happened, except that Scorpius went to sleep after a while, breathing loudly while cuddled into Harry's side. Harry lifted a finger to his lips when Draco ended his Disillusionment and stepped into the room, which made Draco roll his eyes at him.
"It's a start," Draco murmured, and spent a moment gazing at Scorpius with such a tender expression that Harry felt a warm tide of relaxation spread through him. Draco had changed a lot from the man who had reached out in desperate hope of some help with his son.
"He'll tell you eventually," said Harry confidently, and reached for the newspaper again.
"Ginny told us what happened when she came to your office, mate."
Harry leaned back. He had spent the evening at Ron and Hermione's, playing with Rose and singing to Hugo, and he'd eaten a big dinner that he thought Molly had had some hand in preparing. Right now, he was pleasantly exhausted, and he had thought he and Ron and Hermione would only reminisce about Hogwarts and talk about the children without having to mention Ginny at all.
"Did she," said Harry, and Ron flinched a little from his tone, turning to look at Hermione with a pleading expression.
"She did," said Hermione, putting down her plate of cake and cocking her head at him. She looked sad and wise at the same time, and Harry found himself relaxing. He didn't think blame for him was what would come out of her mouth. "She said that your words gave her a lot to think about. And she isn't going to go to the papers anymore."
"Good," said Harry, and since he was feeling so full and content and warm, he decided he could be generous, too. "I think she should move on and enjoy her life with her husband and child."
"Can you enjoy yours as much, though, Harry?" Hermione's voice was gentle. "Is Scorpius Malfoy going to be enough to make up for not having blood children of your own?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "I assume you think Teddy and Rose and Hugo wouldn't be enough, even when you were urging me to consider their claims superior to Scorpius's?"
"But you know them," Ron explained earnestly. "They're the children of your friends."
"And Scorpius is the son of my lover," said Harry, and shook his head when Ron flinched a little. "You'll have to accept it sooner or later, Ron. Besides, there have always been differences. Teddy is older than Rose and Hugo, and he isn't the son of someone who was a schoolmate of mine in the same way you were. Do you feel like I love Rose and Hugo less because I've known Teddy longer?"
"No," Ron murmured, with Hermione following suit a second later.
"So." Harry spread his hands. "Sure, this is new and everyone is going to need some time to accept it. But you can't think that I'm going to suddenly 'wake up' and decided that I never loved Draco or Scorpius."
"I still don't understand exactly how you decided that it was a good idea to date each other!"
Harry raised his eyebrows. "I can explain part of that, but it involves Ethan, and a few things that Draco probably wouldn't want me to tell you. Say that I wrote to Draco as Ethan, and eventually he found out the truth, and decided that he really wanted to know why I'd done it. And it also involves Teddy, and Draco contributing some blood to a potion for him. We decided to give each other some second chances, and they worked out."
"Blood for a potion?" Hermione looked a little faint. "So it was blood magic? You didn't mention that before, Harry!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "It wasn't blood magic, it was a legal potion, but yes, the Ministry might look a little askance at it. Are you going to go out and tattle on me to the Ministry, Hermione?" He put his hand beneath his chin and considered her. "If I thought you would, I wouldn't have told you," he added.
Hermione sat back in her chair and looked flustered for long enough that Harry had to wonder if his trust had been misplaced. Then she smiled, reluctantly. "You know I won't, Harry. I'm only a little shocked, that's all."
Harry nodded. "Well, I'm tired of having enough distance between us for you to get shocked. I'm tired of acting as though Ginny is the only one entitled to have you as part of her family." He locked eyes with Ron. "And I'm tired of tiptoeing around everything because you love Ginny or don't like Draco. Can we stop that? Can we start talking about what's really going on, and you can stop hoping that Ginny will divorce Michael and remarry me, and I'll walk away from Draco?"
Ron coughed, with a red face. "I knew that wouldn't happen," he muttered. "She does seem happy with Michael."
"And I'm happy with Draco," Harry said. "I know you don't believe that right now, but I hope you will."
Ron hesitated, then shrugged. "Bloody hell, mate. If you are, then I'll try to accept it. It'll just take some time."
Harry relaxed. "If I wasn't willing to give you that, I wouldn't be here at all."
The conversation went more smoothly than that, and Harry went home that night feeling happier than he had in a long time. He felt as if he was really getting his friends back, not people whom he loved but had to censor himself in front of all the time because he might offend something they felt for Ginny.
Telling the truth was the right thing to do. I didn't even realize how much I was reining myself in, just in case some bad memory of my marriage came up.
But his marriage was permanently dead, and Harry had a life to live.
Draco knew his face was flushed; it was probably the reason Harry had glanced at him in concern more than once while they were waiting for the Floo to open. But he could only shake his head and take Harry's hand in his, hard, which seemed to be all Harry needed to understand some of his anxiety.
Harry smiled, and then the Floo connection opened and they stepped in and were whirled through it into his parents' house. Harry actually stepped gracefully out of the Floo, and caught Draco before he could stumble, instead of the other way around.
"If this is too hard for you, we'll leave," Harry murmured into Draco's ear while he assisted him back up. "I don't care if they are your family. We'll have plenty of time for me to formally meet them."
"No," Draco hissed. He'd come this far, and he was furious at himself for his stumble as well as for the heat that wouldn't leave his cheeks. "We made it all this way. I'll be damned if I'll turn my back now."
Harry smiled, his approval so bright that Draco thought he could feel it heat him the way the sun would. Maybe it was only approval of Draco's courage, but Draco found it hard to give a-a shit about that, either.
"Draco." There was a slight pause that Draco knew was the height of rudeness for his mother, but he also thought it unlikely that someone unfamiliar with his mother would notice it. "Mr. Potter."
"Mrs. Malfoy." Harry turned to Narcissa as though she was someone he was meeting at a Ministry party, smiling and bowing over her hand when she extended it. "Thank you for inviting me."
His mother gave Draco a bewildered stare. Draco lifted his shoulders in silence. He and Harry hadn't discussed how Harry was going to greet his parents, or frankly, anything other than subjects they shouldn't bring up and hoped his parents didn't, either.
If Mother is so startled Harry was polite, she must have a low opinion of him.
Or of Gryffindor, or of people who had fought the Dark Lord, or of people who had been involved in the trials, even if it was mostly as a witness. Draco stifled a sigh. He still sometimes found it difficult to understand his parents' priorities, even though he had spent so long trying to live up to the "example" his father had set when he was raising Scorpius.
"Mr. Potter." His father strolled slowly into the room. Harry stood there and regarded him with calm eyes. "Welcome to our home."
"Thank you, Mr. Malfoy." Harry had no ice in his voice, and Draco watched in amusement as his father's jaw tightened anyway. Lucius would take the lack of ice as worse, in some ways, than an outright insult, as it said Harry didn't care enough about Draco's parents to bother with coldness. "What are we having for dinner?"
"We leave such decisions to our house-elves." Lucius paused for long enough that Draco knew what would come next, but he didn't know how to prevent it. Probably on purpose, Lucius was far enough away that Draco couldn't step on his foot. "The ones we have left."
"Oh, yes, it was nice of you to leave so many with Draco when you gave him the Manor," said Harry cheerfully. "I think he needed a lot of them to help deal with Scorpius. The tantrums he has sometimes!"
Lucius forgot himself, and stared. Hell, Draco was on the verge of doing that himself. He bit his lip savagely to stop from doing so, and nodded to his mother. "Shall I lead the way, Mother? Or were you planning on doing that?"
"I can," said Narcissa, and bowed her head as she swept off. Draco relaxed, especially when he saw his mother make a small beckoning gesture with one finger, and his father follow at once. Narcissa knew when a social trap had failed and it was best to prove one could go along to get along. Lucius respected her judgment in such matters enough that he wouldn't try to make this dinner more awkward than it had to be later, either.
"That was magnificent," Draco breathed into Harry's ear as they followed. "How did you come up with a retort that quickly?" He hadn't known his father would bring up the loss of Dobby. It was something that might happen, but he had trusted more in his father's society manners than that.
"I've had lots of practice with boring people at Ministry galas." Harry shrugged one shoulder. "I still blame him for a lot of what he did while we were in Hogwarts, but if I couldn't be polite to him, I would never have agreed to come here."
Draco nodded. "And I apologize for the fool that he made of himself."
Harry gave him a slashing smile. "I helped him make it." His hand curled inside Draco's. "But I won't deliberately embarrass him, just foil the way that he tries to lash out at me."
Draco nodded. "Do that as well as you did just then, and you'll have my mother on your side. She can't stand it when my father brings up old grudges so ungracefully."
In fact, the rest of the dinner-roasted duck in a delicate berry sauce was the main course-went as well as could be expected. Lucius sat stiff-lipped at the head of the table, but Narcissa engaged Harry in conversation about people he'd known at the Ministry, the details of his new business, and even how he had come to like living in Malfoy Manor and helping Draco raise Scorpius.
Draco had calmed down by the time they went home. Yes, not every evening would flow as smoothly as this one, and perhaps it wasn't smooth unless you ignored the bump of Lucius in the corner, but it was a beginning.
"Are you really over it, then?"
Draco's voice was gentle behind him. Harry didn't turn his eyes away from Teddy and Scorpius, who were circling on practice brooms in front of them. Andromeda had enchanted the brooms not to be able to go more than six feet from the ground, after a particularly adventurous "accident" had happened last time they were here. Harry personally thought it wasn't an accident at all, more a sign of Teddy trying to perform a Wronski Feint for his little cousin, but Andromeda's reaction at least wasn't over the top.
"Not being able to have blood children?" Harry felt Draco nod behind him, and he leaned back into him. Draco shifted his posture a little. Andromeda's outside chairs really needed a renewal of their Cushioning Charms. Harry redid the ones on their chairs while he thought about Draco's question.
He would probably always regret some things about the curse: that it had meant he had such arguments with his friends and Ginny, for one thing. And he would regret the way he and Draco had hurt each other over him writing as Ethan. But it was hard to regret other things, and when he leaned against Draco and murmured the words, that was the essence of what he had to say.
"I can't regret the chance to get to know you and Scorpius. I can regret the way it started."
"Yes," said Draco, and looped one arm around his shoulder. He smiled briefly as Teddy dived and Scorpius followed him, but his gaze remained on the side of Harry's face. Harry could feel it burning there. "I just wondered...if there was a chance to adopt a child, would you want to do it?"
Harry blinked and glanced at Draco. "Are you thinking of that?" He hadn't thought Draco was really interested in raising more than one child, especially when Scorpius was still a challenge on a regular basis.
"I might think about it more seriously, if you wanted it."
Harry shook his head slowly. "Right now, it's not a deep-rooted longing." More work in his business had convinced him that not only would most wizarding orphans be adopted by more distant family at once, but that most of those families did a pretty good job taking care of those orphans. "Maybe when Scorpius is older? Maybe when he goes to Hogwarts? Then we can change our minds if we want to."
Draco smiled slightly. "Of course we can. We can change our minds about all sorts of things." And they turned around again, to watch Teddy and Scorpius play.
Harry changed his mind about something that night.
He reached up and caught Draco's wrist as he leaned in to kiss him. Draco blinked when he saw the way Harry was staring at him. "What?" That was the look Harry would give him when he thought they needed to discuss some tantrum of Scorpius's.
"I want you," said Harry, and Draco started to nod, because that was pretty obvious at the moment, given that Harry was sprawled naked and hard on his bed. "On top, this time."
Draco felt his eyes widening and his smile softening, meaning he probably looked like a sentimental idiot, but there was no one here except someone who would never think he was an idiot for it. So that was all right.
"Yes," he offered, and took Harry's mouth in a kiss again, urging him up towards the pillows.
He had intended to go through a gentle, smooth seduction, taking as long as they both needed, but from the way Harry spread his legs and snorted when Draco started talking about the right amount of lube, that wasn't what Harry wanted. Draco hooked his fingers into Harry's hole, smeared with lube but still faster than he would have taken it otherwise, and Harry arched his back and tapped Draco's arm with one heel.
Well, all right, then, Draco thought, his own spirit rising to the challenge. And we'll see if this is the way he wants it when he realizes what it entails.
He slid his fingers in and spread them wider, and Harry abruptly gasped. Draco would have backed off and apologized in most situations, but this time he held still, stroking, until Harry looked at him and nodded.
After that, Draco lost track of time. There were his fingers, and Harry's eyes, and the warmth waiting for him, and the eagerness visible in the taut lines of Harry's body, and then there was the warmth actually embracing him as he slid inside, and Harry was so shiningly wide-eyed beneath him that Draco had to reach out and stroke his forehead.
Harry grinned back at him and tilted his head challengingly to the side. "Going to fuck me or not?" he whispered.
"You're far too coherent," Draco whispered back, and started moving.
Or maybe it was moving. Every motion he made was repeated and fluttering between the both of them, the beat of Draco's heart in his ears echoed by the beat of Harry's heart beneath his hands, the slam of their hips echoing each other's, and Harry's gasps matched by the sensation, if not the sound, of the grunts in Draco's own chest. He couldn't hear his own gasps with his heartbeat going so hard.
It went harder and harder for both of them, Draco spiraling higher, Harry right behind him, until the moment Harry arched and came with maddening slickness against Draco's stomach. Draco followed so quickly it was almost humiliating, except that Harry stroking his back and whispering soft nonsense in his ear could never be humiliating.
Then Harry relaxed against him and said, "Yeah. That was more than worth it."
His voice was so contented, so satisfied, that Draco knew the answer to the question he had asked earlier. Are you really over it, then?
Part of Harry probably would never cease regretting that he couldn't have blood children. He might want a child later in life, after Scorpius had gone to Hogwarts, exactly as he said, or even earlier.
But the rest of what Harry wanted, his happiness, was right here, in the bed with him, and sleeping down the corridor.
And so was Draco's.