"We'll take questions, now," Harry said, running a hand through his hair. "Yes, you first."
"Do you think your successful execution of the Magia Nelle Vene spell was due to extenuating circumstances or could this be used more widely spread?" A wizard asked, standing up in the third row of the lecture hall in the Ministry of Magic.
"I don't recommend trying this at home, no," Draco chimed in, standing up and crossing toward Harry. "Blood magic is dangerous; it is unruly and unstable. I very well could have died if even a little mistake had been made. Fortunately, the group performing the spell was comprised of the most talented witches and wizards of this generation, likely this century. The fact that the spell is still holding two months later is somewhat of a miracle."
"You mentioned that your son helped complete the spell- isn't he only an infant? Doesn't that mean he is of extraordinary magical capability?"
"He probably is, but that's really of no concern to the Department of Mysteries," Draco answered, his voice dropping lower.
"Well, he'd be classified as a Person of Potential Interest. I'd like to set up a meeting with you and his mother…"
"No," the blond growled. Harry put a hand on Draco's chest to stop him; they met eyes and Draco backed down slightly.
"I think that's an inquiry for another time," Harry said softly, slowly taking his hand away. "Any other questions?"
At this moment, an owl came swooping down from the rafters, landing neatly on Harry's shoulder. He unwrapped the message, scanned it quickly, and passed it to Draco.
"We have to go, ladies and gentlemen," he announced, picking up his bag and swishing his wand to clear the stage again. "It's been lovely to talk to you, any other questions can be owled to us at your convenience." The crowd began to murmur and adjust in their seats, but Harry was already halfway up the aisle, Draco close behind.
"But wait! What about the…" But the voice trailed off as the doors shut behind the two men, already rushing to their apparation spot.
"She's not due for another two days, how is she going into labor now?" Draco asked, grabbing Harry's arm and flicking his wand. They disappeared with a snap and landed just outside of Malfoy Manor.
"I don't know, but fuck, Draco, what am I supposed to do?" Harry paused, grabbing his friend's arm. His eyes were frantic, slightly blurred behind his glasses. Or were those tears?
"You go up there, and you hold her through it, and you welcome your child into your family. The rest you sort of learn along the way." Draco squeezed Harry's shoulder tightly for a moment, and then continued on. "Just don't worry about it yet."
"Oh, right, that's going to work," the brunette grumbled, following into the manor. Up three flights and down a few hallways until they reached that all too familiar door.
"Here we go," Draco whispered, and pushed it open.
"Oh, gods, I'm so glad you two are here," Hermione gushed, rushing into her husband's arms. "Can you watch Tristan a moment? Harry, come with me." She shoved the baby at his father and pulled Harry away. "Poppy's not here yet, but I gave her the initial potion. She's in a little pain, but she'll be fine for the moment. Here," she said, pushing back a curtain. "Go to her." With a little nudge and a smile, Hermione left. Harry took a deep breath and stepped inside, letting the fabric fall softly behind him. The bed was sectioned off and the resulting room was warm and lit with soft violet light.
"Hey," he whispered, coming to sit on the bed. Cosette was lying there, amidst bundles of white sheets, breathing shallowly. Her hair was splayed out in a fan behind her, her normally porcelain skin was flushed, and her eyelashes fluttered gently on her cheekbones. "How are you doing?"
"Mm, Harry, I'm so glad you're here," she said, reaching for his hand without opening her eyes. "I'm doing just fine, waiting for the nurse is all." He squeezed her hand. "I didn't think this would be today, I'm sorry I interrupted your hearing."
"No, no," Harry answered, leaning down to kiss her fingers. "That's not important. I wouldn't miss this for the world. I love you." There, she opened her eyes, that striking cobalt blue even more vibrant in the light. She smiled.
"Love you too," she breathed. Madam Pomfrey came bustling in then, a whirlwind of spells and potions and 'Step back, Potter!' Harry tried his best, but wouldn't let go of Cosette's hand to save his life.
"Come on, love, breathe deep now," she was saying, her voice comforting. "Just one more little push and…"
"Oh, gods," Cosette sighed, collapsing back on her pillows. Her breaths were uneven and heavy.
"Drink this now," Madam Pomfrey instructed, thrusting a vial at her. Harry helped her pour the liquid down. "Well, congratulations you two. You have a healthy, beautiful baby boy."
"Ron, come on!" Vivi called, grabbing up her purse. "We have to hurry, the next bus comes in ten minutes and then not for an hour after that!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming, hold your thestrals!" Ron yelled back, still milling about upstairs.
"I don't know what a thestral is, but I think you'd be in more of a rush! Your best friend is having a baby!"
"No, his fiancée is. And besides," Ron continued, coming down the stairs. "We already did this with Hermione, we're old hands at this baby thing."
"Still," Vivi responded, pulling him out the door. "This is one of the most important moments in his life, you need to be there!"
"Right then," the redhead responded, grinning mischievously. "Hold tight then!" And with a flick of his wand, they apparated to the front garden of the manor.
"What was that!?" Vivi exclaimed, still grasping onto Ron. "I told you, no magic without warning me first!"
"Oh, sorry," Ron answered, kissing her briefly before heading inside. "I thought we were in a rush."
"We are," she responded, swatting him away as they raced up the stairs. "But a two second warning would have been appreciated. I'm new to this whole magic thing, remember?" They paused just outside the bedroom door.
"Next time I'll tell you," Ron said softly, leaning down to kiss the blonde again. "Promise."
"Ron, Vivi!" Hermione exclaimed, rushing over to hug them both. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here." Draco stepped up, Tristan cooing in his arms.
"They're still in there with Poppy," he explained. "Your sister and Dillon are downstairs with Severus and my mother, they're preparing dinner. Despite the staff of house elves, which Hermione has insisted get full wages, benefits, holiday hours…"
"Oh, I know that trick," Ron sighed, rolling his eyes. "Some things never change, I suppose."
"I think quite a few things have changed since second year, thank you very much!" Hermione scoffed.
"Yeah, you're ignoring the fact that Malfoy is a complete and total tosser. Before you could see it quite clearly."
"Watch yourself, Weasley," Draco warned. "I'm not above dueling you for the honor of my family's name."
"Yeah? I could take you!" Ron challenged, his lips turning in a half smile.
"Especially since you stopped using Spell-o-Tape to hold together that pathetic excuse for a wand."
"Oh, it's on, Malfoy! You miss being a ferret?"
"Guys!" Harry called, peeking his head out of the curtains. "Come here!" The two stopped instantly, pausing only to look at each other before heading across the room. Filing in one by one, they all stopped to look at the bundle cradled in Cosette's arms.
"It's a boy," she whispered, looking up. Harry leaned down next to her, taking the baby into his own embrace. He stood again, crossing to the group. A shock of blue black hair peeked out from the blanket.
"Oh, Harry," Hermione breathed. "What's his name?"
"Haven Aurelius," he answered, stroking a finger down his son's cheek. The baby opened his eyes and looked up. One emerald green eye, one cobalt blue.
"He's beautiful," Draco said softly. "Congratulations."
Days turned to weeks, and before anyone noticed, the leaves had begun to change and drop off the branches one by one. September was warm and sunny, unusual for England, but welcomed by the students at Hogwarts, who could be found lounging across the grounds for most of the autumn. Harry had reclaimed his position in Defense Against the Dark Arts when the new year started; he and Cosette had bought a small house in Hogsmeade, outfitted with a nursery for their new baby boy, that he went home to every night. Two weeks before the wedding, they invited over Draco and Hermione for dinner.
"I just can't believe it's so soon," Cosette breathed, sipping on her glass of wine and rocking Haven in his cradle. "This whole year has been so…so…"
"Chaotic?" Harry chimed in, coming to sit down after doing the dishes. The other three laughed softly.
"Tiring, I'd say," Hermione offered.
"Worth every second," Draco said, looking down at his one-year-old son sleeping in his arms. "I won't say I wouldn't change anything, but where we are now…this is perfect."
"I'll agree with that," Harry sighed, leaning back. "After the wedding, everything will be just right." All four looked at each other, smiling slightly. Quiet descended for a moment, a comfortable, familiar silence. The earthy smell of leaves drifted in through the window, seeping into their clothes; the breeze was warm where it danced with the curtains.
"Harry," Draco began, his voice low and almost soothing. "How do you like your job?"
"Oh, I love it," Harry answered, smiling. "Hogwarts was my first real home, it feels right to be teaching there. Especially Defense…after all, who knows more about it than we do?" he laughed. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, my mother wants Severus to retire, and he doesn't want to leave the position in the hands of someone less than capable, so he and Dumbledore have asked if I would like to step in as the new Potions teacher and Head of Slytherin House."
"Oh, Draco, that's wonderful!" Cosette exclaimed. "Are you going to do it?"
"I hadn't decided yet," Draco said, shrugging. "Albus said that he'd be fine with letting me Floo home to the Manor every night and on weekends, and he'd set up an apartment of sorts here in case I needed to stay some nights. But Hermione, would you be all right all day alone with Tristan? We could get a nanny for him. Or I can always stay home."
"Draco," Hermione began, turning to her husband and smiling. "When Tristan gets older, I may want to get out and get a job, but the only thing I want to worry about is my family. We've been through so much, the simplicity of what we have is enough for me. If you want to do this, I'm behind you fully. Besides," she continued, her lips curling into what may have been a smirk, "It'll be nice to get rid of you for a few hours every day." Draco arched an eyebrow, but soon leaned over to kiss his wife.
"I agree with the women, Draco," Harry said. "For once, they may have it right."
"For once?" Hermione interjected. "Oh, you've gotten cocky haven't you? I remember when it was 'Hermione, help me with my potions!' or 'Hermione, can you write this History of Magic parchment for me?'"
"Or how about 'Hermione, help me with this lesson plan!'" Cosette added. "And that was just last week!"
"Well, you know what?!" Harry said indignantly.
"No, Harry, we don't. Why don't you enlighten us?" Hermione purred, breaking into laughter with Cosette.
"Oh, forget it," Harry sighed, throwing up his hands in defeat. "I agreed with you, isn't that enough?"
"For now," Cosette said softly, lacing her fingers with Harry's and leaning her head on his shoulder. "For now, this is enough."
"Are you boys ready yet?" Hermione asked, poking her head into the room Ron, Draco, Dillon, and Harry were dressing in. "I mean, honestly, how long can it take to put on clothes?"
"Its hard work, looking this good," Dillon said, straightening his tie. "I mean, you think we just roll out of bed looking this devastatingly handsome?"
"Speak for yourself, Rossi," Draco chimed in, leaning back in his chair and swirling his glass of whiskey. "Some of us were born this way." Hermione scoffed.
"Well, you have five minutes to be out there. Hurry!" She shut the door sharply and hurried off.
"It's just you left now, mate," Harry said to Ron, who was leaning against the wall next to the mirror. Harry took one last glance at himself, ran a hand through his hair, and turned to face his best friend. "You better buckle up or else she'll get cold feet, too."
"I know, but I'm taking this one slow. I don't exactly have the best track record." He shook his head; he'd never get used to the eerie feeling of déjà vu his premonitions gifted him.
"Don't we all know it," Draco said, finishing his drink and standing. He crossed to stand with Harry and Ron, Dillon following. "Well, Potter, are you ready?"
"I hope so," he answered, his smile crooked and his cheeks flushed. "I've never felt so sure of anything in my life, but I don't have the best track record either." They all laughed.
"Take care of her," Draco said, grasping Harry's shoulder tightly. "I know you will." A sweet silence descended over the four men, as they all looked from one brother to the next.
"Let's go," Harry said finally. "I'm ready." They filed out the door and into the waiting room outside the chapel. With one last glance back, Harry pushed open the double doors and strode confidently to stand at the altar, with his best friend Ron at his side. Draco and Dillon stood next to him, filling out the ranks. The music began; Ginny, Vivi, and Hermione walked down the aisle to meet their counterparts. There were very few people in the pews; Severus, Narcissa, Remus, Dumbledore and a few Hogwarts teachers and past students, but it was intimate and quiet and just the way they wanted it. The music pulsed into a crescendo and the doors opened for Cosette, standing at the end of the aisle in a soft, flowing white gown. She walked slowly, her eyes riveted on Harry the whole time. The first half of the ceremony was blur; the two stared into each other's eyes, speaking on a different level than the words of the priest could convey.
"Harry, do you wish to share your vows?" Harry looked up sharply, fumbled for a moment, reached into his pocket to pull out a scrap of paper, and nodded.
"Where there has been cold, you have brought warmth; where my life was dark, you have brought light. Time may pass, fortune may smile, trials may come; but no matter what we may encounter together, I vow here that this love will be my only love. Because of you, I laugh, I smile, I dare to dream again. I look forward with great joy to spending the rest of my life with you, caring for you, nurturing you, being there for you in all life has for us, and I vow to love you with all I have to give and all I feel inside in the only way I know how... completely and forever." Harry looked up, meeting Cosette's eyes. She smiled.
"Cosette, do you wish to share your vows?" Cosette nodded, pulling out a piece of paper from her bodice.
"From this day forward I promise you these things: I will laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow. I will listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement. I will help you when you need it, and step aside when you don't. I will remain faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health. I promise to give you the best of myself and to ask of you no more than you can give. I promise to keep myself open to you, to let you see through the window of my personal world into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams.
And finally, I promise to love you in good times and in bad, and to be true and faithful for as long as we both shall live." Harry grabbed her hands, lacing her fingers with his.
"Harry James Potter, do you take this woman as your wife?" Harry smiled, taking a deep breath.
"Cosette Genevieve Lestrange, do you take this man as your husband?" She bit her lip, her eyes glossy with tears.
"I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride." And Harry did, sweeping her up in his arms and kissing her softly. The whole company stood and cheered, the couple's kiss falling into sweet laughter as the music began to play again. And they all filtered out, pictures being snapped, hugs and kisses shared in abundance, and for once, they all forgot the darkness of their past. They let the terror and the death melt away in the pure ecstasy of the moment, and looked ahead. Tomorrow was a new day, as with each after that, and each of those days held a new gift and new love and new life, such things they had never gotten to take for granted before. Everything was just fine, but then again, they were more than fine. Everything was blissfully, beautifully perfect. And maybe it wouldn't stay like that forever, but for now, that really was enough.
A/N: That's it. The sequel is done. I apologize that it took so long, and if I write a third (Tristan/Haven based?) I won't post it until I have the time to finish it. Thank you all so much for taking this ride with me; I appreciate the support and continued interest. As always, please review with any questions/concerns/criticisms and I will try to correct any errors. xo.