Harry didn't seem to notice the passage of time. It seemed like they'd just started the term, and it was already Christmas, with Millie getting rounder, and before he even noticed, it was the end of March. Millie woke up in the middle of the night, feeling pains. Harry didn't wait. "Blacky, ask Madam Pomfrey to come here. I think Millie is going to give birth."
"There's no hurry, dear. It may still take many hours before our child is born," Millie told him as soon as her pain subsided.
This didn't change Harry's mind.
The healer came almost immediately. She checked Millie over and smiled encouragingly at her. "There's still time. Won't you like to move to the Hospital Wing, where I can give you better treatment? It looks like we may also have another birth soon."
Millie agreed. She put on her dressing gown and walked slowly, leaning on Harry, more for moral support than for real need. Harry was surprised to find Hermione and Ron already sitting on another bed.
As the contractions were still quite far apart, the two women started talking, almost forgetting their husbands. Harry looked at Ron and shrugged. They were both very anxious, much more than their wives.
An hour later, the contractions became stronger and closer. Millie hugged Hermione, giving her some last moment advice, before each moved to her own private partition. Harry joined Millie at once, sat at the side of the bed and held her hand reassuringly. He didn't really know what to expect, despite all the books both Millie and Hermione made sure that he read. He just tried to make his wife feel his support and his love in any way he could.
Things started moving quicker after a while. A young nurse joined them, instructing Mille when to breath and when to push. Between contractions, Harry could hear Hermione being instructed just the same. Madam Pomfrey peeked in a few times to monitor the progress, smiling encouragingly at Harry.
Then, more than three hours after the first contraction, everything started happening almost at once. Millie's water broke, the contractions became much stronger, and a moment later, so it seemed to Harry, the baby was crowning. A few pushes later, Harry heard his baby's first wail, as the newborn took her first breathes of air. Harry took the baby that someone handed to him and looked at the tiny face, that was still red from the effort of birth, feeling his heart melt for this little bundle of joy. He then passed the baby to Millie and sat down, suddenly feeling dazed.
By the time he returned to his senses, he heard another baby's first cry, as a new Weasley boy was born. He turned his gaze back to his wife and child, who fell asleep with a nipple in her mouth, and smiled.
Too soon, he was sent out, as the healers needed to take care of the afterbirth and his presence was not welcome. Harry was surprised it was already broad daylight. He was joined by Ron, who looked just as overwhelmed. "I never knew it was such a painful process to give birth. I must admire Mum for having done it so many times," Ron said.
"Yes, it is painful, but the reward is so great that women usually don't mind too much. Millie was enthusiastic to learn of her pregnancy, and she actually tried to calm me down during delivery."
Ron smiled. "Hermione did the same. I think it gave her a sense of control over the process, or part of it, helping her calm down as well."
Harry looked at Ron with evident surprise. "Who are you and what did you do to Ron?" he asked with a smile.
Ron shrugged. "It's probably part of finally growing up, you know. Besides, I need to be more observant if I want to keep Hermione happy."
Magical healing proved to be very efficient. Two days after giving birth, both young mothers resumed their normal schedule, only slightly adjusted to allow for breast feeding their babies. Both seemed determined not to let the new motherhood interfere with their studies, and both made sure their husbands would do the same.
Despite studying more seriously than ever, Harry did his best to spend as much time as possible with Charlus and to pay attention to baby Lily as well. He felt happiest when sitting with Charlus on his lap and Millie cuddling at his side while feeding Lily. He finally had his own loving family and there was nothing that could make him happier.
It was a sunny weekend. The new mothers took their babies out, to get some fresh air. Ron sat with Harry and talked, both watching Charlus as he ran to and fro. "It's a pity that McGonagall didn't renew the Quidditch games. You would have done very well, I'm sure, making you able to choose whichever team you'd like to join."
Harry shrugged. "I don't really mind. I liked playing, that's sure, but it was only an excuse for flying, most of the time. Now, with a toddler and a baby, I don't think I even have time for that."
"Won't you like to teach Charlus how to fly a broom?"
"He's too young. Maybe when he's a bit older," Harry said protectively.
"I remember Sirius telling us that you flew a toy broomstick before you had your first birthday. Charlus is already older than that."
Harry squirmed in place. "He's still too young. Maybe when he reaches his third birthday..."
Ron smiled. "I didn't buy him a present for his second birthday, as we were too busy with the pregnancy and the upcoming birth, yet I bought something for him a few days ago. You may say it's a belated birthday present."
He put his bag down and took a longish package out of it. "This is a toy broomstick. It's limited to rise no higher than three feet and fly no faster than an adult can walk. I think we need to train the Quidditch player of the next generation."
Harry seemed to have mixed feelings. Charlus was already coming closer, curious of the gift-wrapped package. Ron handed it to the boy. "Open it," he encouraged him. Charlus still looked at Harry to see his reluctant approval before tearing the wrap paper and taking a first look at the tiny broom. He seemed confused, unable to comprehend what this object was meant for.
Harry finally came to terms with this new development. He summoned his own broom, rarely used since returning to Hogwarts, and demonstrated how one rides the broom, staying low and slow, for the benefit and safety of his child.
Charlus was quick to understand. He straddled the broom and it took him only two tries before he rose up in the air, giggling loudly. Harry made sure that the boy was holding the broom safely, and then patted his shoulder, as if giving him a "go away" sign.
The small courtyard that they were staying in was quickly filled with laughter, as Charlus urged his broom to fly higher and faster, not seeming afraid at all. Millie was watching with mixed feelings. She was proud of her son taking so naturally to flying, just like his father, yet feared that he could fall and get injured, mirroring Harry's feelings.
Luckily, Charlus was already tired of his earlier running. He soon got down, took the broom in one hand and cuddled to his mother, falling promptly asleep.
Harry finally looked at the two mothers. Each was holding a sleepy baby to her breast, none minding being seen that way. As Hermione's baby let go of her nipple, she just shrugged, wiped her breast dry and rearranged her clothes, not minding that Harry was just a pace away. Millie was a bit shyer. As her baby let go, she covered herself with a napkin while making herself presentable, although Ron was still able to see most of it.
"We're really lucky to have such fine wives," he told Harry, who just nodded.
Way too soon they had to sit for their NEWT exams. Neither young mother asked for any special treatment, except for requesting a side room where each could feed her baby, if their feeding times happened during the exam. Millie felt confident in her ability to achieve good grades. Associating with "the brightest witch of her generation" paid her nice dividends. She was sure she would do much better than she could ever hope for, had she acted differently that time, when she encountered Harry.
Hermione, as was her way, felt extremely stressed. Only taking her baby and hugging him to her chest could calm her. Although she was sure she had failed each and every exam, once it was over, she still got the highest grades possible, making both Ron and Harry proud of her. Millie did quite well, lagging only a bit behind her husband, whose scores were almost as high as Hermione's.
With the exams over, only the graduation celebration was separating them from their adult lives.
"I'd like you to say a few words at the graduation ceremony," the headmistress told Harry.
"I'm not sure I'm the right choice. Hermione would be able to give a better speech, I'm sure," he said.
She smiled and shook her head. "Harry, you may get her help to prepare your speech, and you may ask others to give some input as well, but only you can pass the right message, being the one who defeated Voldemort."
"It was mere luck," he insisted.
"I don't agree, but it doesn't really matter. The public wants to hear you, and whatever you say will have much more impact than if somebody else said it. You set an example even in your private life, overcoming the house prejudice and marrying a former Slytherin. Never underestimate yourself, Harry."
He felt obliged to agree.
When the time came, he took the podium with his wife and children at his side. "A little more than a year ago, this place was a battlefield. Now, we can all see and appreciate what we've been fighting for. I wanted to give my friends and my future family, although I wasn't sure I'd live to have one, a chance to live in peace and not be bothered by prejudice. As you can see, I managed to get the family I wanted so much. I have a wonderful wife, that I love dearly and I don't care which house she'd been sorted to when she first arrived here. She already gave me two children that I'm happy with and am looking forward to raise into responsible and affectionate adults. I'll do my best to make this world better for them, and I hope each and every one of you will do the same, for the benefit of our children and the generations to come after them as well. If we all work to make our society better, then we may never again have to suffer any dark lords, whatever their agenda may be."
It was a peaceful ride back to London. Harry hugged his wife and children on one bench, while Ron was doing the same on the facing bench, all looking content. They had some visits, as expected. Neville came, hugging Ginny closely and smiling sheepishly at Ron. "I proposed, and she accepted," he told them all. Ginny just beamed at his side, looking happily in love.
Draco Malfoy also visited, with Astoria Greengrass at his side. "Lord Potter, I believe I need to apologize to you for years of bullying and badmouthing you and your friends. I was evidently a spoiled, immature child, who only spouted what his father told him. It took the war, and you trying to save me and my friends, along with the influence of a certain young lady," his eyes wandered to Astoria before he looked back at Harry, "that made me realize my mistakes and try to correct whatever I could. I fully agree with what you said at the celebration and I hope we can cooperate to further those goals."
Harry nodded, yet Draco had some more to say. He turned to Hermione, making Ron tense. "Mrs. Weasley, I first need to apologize to you as well, for my behavior since I first met you. There was no excuse for my words and my actions, except for juvenile stupidity. I hope you can forgive me and give me a new chance to prove myself."
Hermione, just as surprised as Harry, nodded silently.
Draco seemed to relax a bit. "It's still not official, but I'm going to marry Astoria next summer. I'd like you all to participate in our wedding celebration as guests of honor. We shall send you invitations after we set the date."
Astoria didn't wait for him to finish speaking, as she was already making faces to the babies, trying to make them smile. Harry remembered her being sorted to Ravenclaw. She seemed to have a very good influence on her intended.
They were left alone after a while. Harry hugged Millie tighter. Charlus had fallen asleep, using Harry's lap as a pillow and the babies were sleeping peacefully in their mothers' embrace. He didn't know what the future would be, but he felt ready to face it with a loving family and good friends at his side.