Their Father's Children
Chapter 1: Papa and Dillon
The Burrow was chaotic. There were children in the kitchen helping Mrs. Weasley begin preparations for dinner. There were children outside chasing the chickens on low-flying brooms. There were children upstairs bothering the ghoul in the attack, there were children downstairs coloring with toy wands, and there were children somewhere in-between, running up and down the stairs. There was also one small boy with wild black hair, sitting alone in the living room, doing nothing. A soft pop should have alerted this boy to the sudden appearance of two people in the entry just off to his left, but the sound was so quiet compared to the noise in the house that he did not notice. His parents watched him as he stared at his reflection in the shiny grate covering the fireplace. Ginny Weasley-Potter poked her husband softly in the side. "You want to get him while I tell mum we're here?" she murmured. Harry Potter merely nodded.
"All right there, Dillon?" he asked his nine-year-old son as he walked to the armchair where the child sat.
"Hi, Papa. I'm fine," the boy replied as he looked up for the first time. "Mum here?"
Harry held a hand out to his son to help him out of the large chair. "She went to the kitchen to tell Grandma we were taking you home. Let's go find her so we can get back to the Hollow and get dinner. I'm starved." Dillon ignored the offer of help and scrambled out of the chair. Harry dropped his arm to his side and followed his son to the kitchen, the smell of Mrs. Weasley's cooking making his stomach growl.
To Harry's surprise, his wife and mother-in-law were the only two people in the kitchen. There were potatoes peeling themselves over the sink. A cloth was trying to dry dishes but was repeatedly interrupted by a small cat jumping and clawing at it. Mrs. Weasley was removing a pan of biscuits from the oven and Ginny was closing the back door having chased an assortment of nieces and nephews out to the garden. "Harry, mum wants to talk to us for a few minutes."
Dillon sighed. "I'll go back to the living room."
Harry glanced at Ginny, making sure she agreed with what he was about to say. Ginny smiled at him, her eyes signaling her approval. "We should only be a few minutes. You can floo home if you want. Just stay in the house and behave until we get there."
"I'll be in my room," Dillon said before turning back to the living room and the waiting fireplace with the pot of floo powder hanging beside it.
"What's he done now, mum?" Ginny asked as Harry came over to lean on the counter next to her.
Molly Weasley smiled as she pushed a few wisps of graying hair off her forehead and towards the red-and-gray knot of hair gathered in a bun at the nape of her neck. "Nothing wrong, dears," she assured the worried couple. "Ever since school started for the year he has just been quiet." Mrs. Weasley had home-schooled all of her children when they were young. She had hoped to do the same for all of her pre-Hogwarts grandchildren but they were too numerous for one person. Instead, she served as general babysitter for all of them and teacher for the youngest while Remus Lupin came to the Burrow to instruct the older children. It was a good solution for all considering the anti-werewolf legislation still in place that prevented Remus from teaching at Hogwarts. "He doesn't want to play with the others and he will barely do the work Remus gives him."
Harry frowned. "Dillon always has been the quiet one of our three but you've never mentioned problems with him doing his work before."
Mrs. Weasley continued almost as if she were talking to herself. "Do you know, today Fred's Michael cut in line at snack time and Dillon didn't care. Dillon has certainly broken his share of the rules but cutting just…"
"Isn't fair." Harry and Ginny chorused the last two words with Mrs. Weasley. They looked at each other, more concerned by this revelation than anything else Mrs. Weasley had said.
"Any ideas…" Harry began but was interrupted by Mrs. Weasley hollering out the open window.
"Samantha, fly lower or get off that broom! Do you want to be seen by the Muggles? Sorry, Harry dear, you were saying?"
Harry cleared his throat to keep from chuckling. Even with everything that had happened in their lives, some things would never change and he was glad Mrs. Weasley was one of those things. "Any ideas what is wrong with Dillon? Things have been a bit quiet at home the past few weeks but he is the only one left there so we haven't noticed it as much."
"I suspect that is what is wrong. With Annie gone to Hogwarts this year, he is lonely. Why I remember when Ron went for his first year. Ginny was so heartbroken and missed him terribly."
Ginny blushed, the color of her cheeks almost matching that of her hair. "I wasn't that bad, mummy." Harry grinned at his wife's reversion to her childhood name for her mother.
"Of course you weren't, dear." Mrs. Weasley comfortingly patted her only daughter's cheek on her way to shoo the cat from the dishtowel.
Harry reached for Ginny's hand. "We should get out of your way so you can get on with dinner and we can get home and check on Dillon."
"Don't hurry off on my account. You're certainly not in my way."
Ginny began leading Harry back toward the living room. "We really do need to get home to talk with Dillon."
"Off with you then."
Harry and Ginny returned to the entry way before disapparating. While it was possible for adult family members to apparate and disapparate anywhere in the Burrow, it was deemed polite to arrive and leave from the front hallway rather than randomly appearing or disappearing about the house. The couple arrived in the hallway between the front door and the main stairs of their own home. "Dillon?" Ginny called.
A hollow voice drifted down the stairs. "I'm in my room."
"Just making sure," Ginny replied as she hung her outer cloak on a hook by the door.
"Do you think your mum is right?" Harry asked as he hung his cloak next to hers.
"No. If he was bored and missed his sister that would explain being quite and mopey at home but at the Burrow he can play with all his cousins. He and Sean in particular usually play more than he did with Annie and Sean was outside on the brooms when we arrived." As she talked, Ginny walked to the kitchen with Harry following her.
"Maybe he and Sean had a fight and this has nothing to do with Annie?" Harry suggested as Ginny began rummaging in the pantry in search of dinner. "But I don't think your mum would have missed that. She knows everything that goes on in that house."
"Not everything," Ginny laughed thinking of some of her juvenile exploits that had gone unpunished. "Though she surely would have noticed a row between those two. Besides, Sean didn't seem upset."
"Maybe his sister leaving this year made him realize he will be a year ahead of Sean at Hogwarts?" Even as the words left his mouth, Harry knew the idea was ridiculous. Ginny turned from the cabinets to face him with an arched eyebrow. "Right. Not bloody likely," he admitted, ignoring the mild glare his language choice elicited.
"Perhaps he doesn't understand the lessons Remus is giving him this year and is embarrassed to admit it and it's upsetting him?" Ginny guessed.
"Ginny, this is Dillon we're talking about. I could believe that about Ben or Annie either one but Dill is never ashamed to admit when he needs help."
Ginny's temper flared. "I know my own son, thank you very much, Mr. Potter. But something is clearly bothering him and he hasn't asked for help with whatever it is."
Harry held his hands up placatingly. "I know you're worried about him Gin. We both are. Maybe he just hasn't asked for help because he honestly doesn't need it. Or maybe he doesn't think anyone can help him."
"Or those 'I'm the hero and I'll do it all myself' Potter genes are finally kicking in." Ginny muttered to herself as her anger cooled.
Harry lifted his wife and set her on the edge of the counter. He pinned her in place with an arm on either side of her and his nose pressed against hers. "What was that last comment?" His attempt at a menacing tone failed due to the grin he could not suppress.
"Nothing, darling," Ginny said before giving him a quick kiss. He pulled back from her slightly and watched as her brow furrowed, her thoughts again returning to the boy upstairs. "There is really only one way to find out what is bothering him," she said with a sigh.
"Right. You want to go chat with him while I fix something to eat?"
"It's a plan. I'm hungry enough to eat a hippogriff."
Ginny turned slightly, pretending to closely examine the contents of the cupboard behind her. "We are fresh out of hippogriff but I'll see what I can do."
Harry gave her another quick kiss before turning to leave.
The journey from the kitchen, up the stairs, and down the hall to Dillon's room took but a moment and Harry spent the entire time considering and dismissing possible explanations for his son's odd behavior. Ginny was right. There really was only one way to get an answer. He rapped lightly on the bedroom door and frowned when he got no answer. "Dillon," he spoke loudly and clearly to be heard through the door, "in this house privileges come with responsibilities. Your mother and I have promised not to enter your room without your permission or a very compelling reason but you have to fulfill your end of the bargain." He paused and still received no reply. "Let's try this again." He knocked.
"Who is it?" came the soft reply from the other side of the door.
Harry had to chuckle at that, hoping the sound did not carry to Dillon. "Your father," he answered keeping any hint of amusement from his voice.
"I would prefer to be left alone right now."
"And I would prefer to enter. Which of us do you suppose is going to get his preference in the end?" Harry waited. He glanced at his watch and saw six seconds tick by.
Harry opened the door. Dillon sat on his bed, his legs dangling over the edge. He had one arm bent, his elbow digging into his thigh and his chin propped on his fist. His other hand idly stroked the humming puffskein curled at his side. For the moment he was content to ignore his father's presence and instead to stare at his shoes. Harry walked over to Dillon's desk, pulled the accompanying chair closer to the bed, and sat down. Dillon ceased his examination of his shoes and looked his father straight in the eyes. "Am I in trouble?" he asked simply with no trace of fear.
Harry looked into vibrant green eyes that exactly matched his own. "Have you done anything you should be in trouble for?"
"Not that I know of. But when Grandma asks to talk to you and mum alone after a school day it usually means someone's gonna catch it."
"You're not in trouble. You're grandma just doesn't think you've been acting like yourself the past few days. She is worried about you. We all are."
"I'm fine," Dillon huffed, returning to a study of his shoes.
Harry reached out with a finger and gently lifted his son's chin so they were once again looking at each other. "What's bothering you, Dill?" he asked gently.
"I'm not sure I can explain it, Papa."
Dillon's mournful plea made Harry want to cheer. At least Dillon was now admitting something was wrong. Even if Harry did not yet know exactly what that something was, this was progress. "Why don't you try?"
"I'm not sure you'll understand."
Harry ruffled Dillon's hair, making the unruly black mop even wilder than before. "Again, why don't you try?"
Dillon pulled his head away from his father's hand. He sat in silence, chewing his lower lip and looking anywhere but at his father. Harry could do nothing but wait while his son struggled to make up his mind. Dillon finally broke the silence so suddenly Harry was a bit surprised. "I don't want to be Harry Potter's son," the words practically exploded from the distraught child.
If Harry had been surprised by his son's sudden decision to speak, it was nothing compared to his shock at the actual words. Harry had gone from being adored to reviled and back again by the Hogwart's student body and the entire wizarding world so often he didn't think such fickle changes could affect him as deeply anymore. That was before his baby turned against him. He did not trust himself to speak. He was barely winning the struggle to keep his pain from showing on his face and knew his voice would betray him. Dillon finally looked at his father and his eyes grew large. Apparently Harry was not winning the battle to hide his emotions. "Oh, Papa, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I love you, Papa. I'm happy to be your son. I wouldn't want any other father." Tears were slowly beginning to trickle down Dillon's face.
Harry automatically wiped them away with his thumb. "I love you, Dillon. But I need to know. What did you mean?" he whispered.
"I don't want to be the Harry Potter's son," Dillon repeated helplessly.
Harry wasn't sure if it was the minor addition of the article before his name or the emphasis Dillon placed on those three words, but this time he understood. "Ah. I get it," he said as relief washed over him.
"Do you?" Dillon sniffled.
Harry nodded. "Yeah. I'm pretty sure I do." He quickly stood and sat down on the bed next to his son. He wrapped one arm around the child, pulling him close. "What brought this on?"
"Remember the week before Ben and Annie left? We all went to Diagon Alley to get their stuff and we went to Madam Malkin's. Mum was talking to Annie while she got measured for her new robes and you were chatting with Ben while he got measured for his. You had asked me to sit quietly and wait."
"I remember. We offered to let you stay at the Burrow or with one of your cousins but you wanted to come along so you could use the money you'd been saving to buy Kiki."
Dillon looked down at the puffskein he was still absentmindedly stroking. The boy had always been amused by Hagrid's tendency to give wild creatures cute names and had decided to reverse that by naming his adorable little butterball Killer, though at his sister's insistence the family had taken to calling her Kiki. He lightly tossed Kiki past his father to land among the stuffed animals congregated at the other end of his bed. Harry flinched slightly, still unused to the idea that puffskeins did not mind being thrown as long as they had a soft landing. Dillon turned to lean against his pillow and the headboard of his bed, his legs curled up and his shoes resting where Kiki had just been, so he could better face his father. Harry tapped the tops of Dillon's sneakers and pointedly looked at the boy. "Sorry," Dillon murmured before quickly removing his shoes, throwing them across the room in the general direction of his wardrobe, and resuming his former position with his feet now curling just under Harry's leg.
"So we were at Diagon Alley?" Harry prompted when he was sure Dillon was comfortable.
"We were at Madam Malkin's." Dillon corrected. "Anyway, these three people came in while I was sitting up front waiting. One of them was a girl, probably a first year. The second was her Muggle mother and I'm not sure who the third one was. Seemed to be some wizard who was explaining things to them and helping them. Madam Malkin was talking to Mum and she called to you. When the wizard-guy heard her say 'Mr. Potter' he started going on about how it just couldn't be. Then Mum called you Harry and I thought he was going to explode. He told the other two all about how you defeated Voldemort twice and saved the wizarding world and you were just the greatest thing since the invention of the racing broom, maybe even greater. He told them that you must be there with your family but he was getting things wrong. He said you were only three months old when Voldemort came for you the first time and he called Mum 'Minny' and he said you had a third kid, a little girl, who must not be there." Dillon wrinkled his nose in particular disgust at this last.
"I tried to correct him whenever he said something really wrong like that but he ignored me. When he called me a girl I really had to make sure they paid attention. He told me I should stop annoying them when I didn't know what I was talking about and I said I thought I knew my family better than he did and I was certainly not a girl. He was ready to yell at me for pretending to be related to you but then he really looked at me. He couldn't stop looking over at you and then at me and saying how I looked just like you. Then he was all nice to me and asking me to forgive him. He told the girl that I must be a very powerful wizard and she should try to make friends with me or my sister as soon as she could. Papa, he didn't care about me. He didn't trust me when I was right and he was wrong. He only cared that I was your son and he expected things from me and wanted that girl to use me or Annie to get close to you. And he wouldn't stop prattling on about how I looked so much like you when the other two didn't so I would be just like you. And he's right. I do look just like you. I'm never going to get to be me. I'm just a younger copy of the great and wonderful Harry Potter but I'll never be as great as you. I can't do everything you did. They expect me to do something amazing and I can't measure up to that. I'll only disappoint everyone." Dillon had run out of words. He reached behind him and grabbed his pillow. He hugged it to his chest and pulled his knees up tighter against it.
Dillon looked so upset that Harry wanted to wrap his son in his arms and assure him everything would be fine but he knew that would not help solve Dillon's problem. He compromised by turning so that he was more fully facing Dillon. Harry's left leg now dangled over the edge of the bed but his right was bent and laying flat on the bed between him and his son. He placed one hand on Dillon's knee. "You have always and will always be your own unique person. It doesn't matter what some git in Diagon Alley has to say. You are an individual. You are right that you will never do some of the things I've done but you will also do things I never will. Besides, I'm not sure I've done half the things they say about me."
Dillon smiled slightly at the last but his grin quickly faded. "But you have done all these amazing things. And I'll never do anything like that. And even if I do manage to do something good it will never be as great as what you've done so it won't matter."
Harry found himself wondering if a talk with his Uncle Ron might help the child. But since Ron wasn't here at the moment, Harry would have to help Dillon see his own worth as best he could. "Dillon, just being you is a great and wonderful thing. Besides, you're nine. Give yourself some time to find your own strengths and your own greatness."
"I don't have anything of my own. I look and act just like you!"
"Why do you call me Papa?"
Dillon looked confused at the sudden change in topic. "Uhhh, I don't know. I've always done."
"Nope. When you were little, all three of you kids called me Daddy. Now Ben calls me Dad, Annie Daddy, and you Papa."
"I guess I don't know why. I just do."
"When Ben was about the age you are now he decided he was too old to call me Daddy anymore. He started calling me Dad. You were four or five, I think. I was in my office one day and you came in and said you needed a new name for me. You said it wasn't fair for Ben to have Dad all for himself and for you and Annie to share Daddy. We talked about it and you settled on Papa. I figured you would forget in a day or two and go back to Daddy but you never did. Why did you do that, Dillon?"
"You just said. I didn't think it was fair."
"Exactly. How many other kids do you know would fight for what they thought was the fair thing in something as simple as a name for their father?"
"But Papa that is still just like you. You always stand up and fight for what you believe is right no matter what."
"I try to," Harry conceded. "But right and wrong can have many definitions. For some right is obedience to all the rules. For you it is the belief that everyone should be treated equally or should get what they deserve. I guess that is justice and fairness. For me it was usually protecting people I saw as innocent from getting hurt. I was certainly not raised with the belief that people should share equally and that was never as important to me." A brief image of his cousin surrounded by Christmas presents while he had received a bit of dryer lint flashed through Harry's mind.
"Fairness isn't important?"
"It is to you. It is a very admirable quality to pursue and the one you have chosen as your own. Just because it wasn't mine doesn't mean it isn't worth it. It just makes it yours."
"Still seems an awful lot like you. Besides, that is a silly story. Me picking a name for my Papa at age four doesn't even begin to live up to what is expected of Harry Potter's son."
Harry sighed. This was going to be tough. "I'm supposed to give you advice when you have problems. It kind of comes with the father job title. Unfortunately, you've left my area of expertise. I know absolutely nothing about being the son of Harry Potter." Dillon almost smiled at that. "You know, you do have a big brother. You could always write him and see if he has any words of wisdom."
Dillon snorted. "Ben? I might finally get an owl back by the time I'm ready to go to Hogwarts. Besides, he doesn't look like you or act like you. He's more Weasley than Potter."
"Not entirely true. He has some of my personality traits. They are just not the same ones you have and they are not my more famous ones."
"So I got stuck with the hard ones. And I still look just like you."
Harry turned so that both his legs were dangling off the edge of the bed and pulled Ben around so the boy was sitting on his lap. They were both now facing the bureau against the far wall. "Look in the mirror and tell me what you see."
"Two Harry Potters. One old with glasses and one young."
"Older, not old," Harry corrected. "And it isn't two Harrys. It is one Harry and one Dillon." Dillon shook his head sadly. Harry gazed at their reflections for another moment. Four bright green eyes crowned by two untamed manes of black hair gazed back at him. "Come on," he said giving Dillon a slight push off his lap and towards the floor.
Dillon obligingly hopped down. "Come on where?"
Harry stood and took his son's hand. "The library."
Dillon looked confused but did not say anything as they went downstairs. Harry ushered his son into the large library with the two small offices off the back. He went straight to the bookcase nearest his office door and removed an old and worn photo album. Harry and Dillon sat down on the rug in front of the fire, Harry flipping through the book on his lap. It was the album Hagrid had given him his first year and still contained most of the few photographs he had of his parents. "What do you see here?" he asked, handing Dillon the book, open to a picture of James Potter holding his infant son.
"Grandpa Potter and you."
"So with my father and I, you see two different people even though I look exactly like him, but with you and me you can't?"
"You don't look exactly like him. He didn't have green eyes."
"True. I have my mother's eyes. But you don't wear glasses while he and I both do. And you have your mother's nose." Harry lightly brushed a finger across Dillon's cheeks and over his nose. "Complete with freckles."
Dillon pulled away, unappeased. "So you look like your father. So what? Not everyone in the wizarding world knew who he was. Everyone didn't expect great and amazing things from you just because he was your father."
"Dillon, we've already covered that I don't know anything about being Harry Potter's son. But I do know a great deal about being Harry Potter."
"What do you mean?"
"Did I ever tell you about my first trip to Diagon Alley?"
"You remember that?"
"Raised by Muggles, remember? I didn't go until I was eleven."
Dillon blushed slightly. "Oh. I knew that."
"I had just met Hagrid the day before. He had to tell me I was a wizard. Hagrid also told me about Voldemort. How he killed my parents and tried to kill me but he couldn't. That I had somehow caused him to lose his power and disappear and I was famous for it. I only had a few hours to think about all this. When we went to Diagon Alley, as soon as we stepped foot in the Leaky Cauldron, everyone knew who I was and lined up to shake my hand and thank me. They were all bowing to me and telling me how excited they were to meet me. All day people kept telling me that I would do wonderful things. Everyone expected amazing things because of something I had supposedly done as an infant and I couldn't understand any of it. I only got through that first year in the wizarding world because I made two wonderful friends who expected me to be Harry Potter not the Boy Who Lived."
Ginny's voice suddenly echoed through the house. "Boys, dinner is ready."
Harry looked toward the library door. He could tell from the sound that she was standing at the base of the stairs calling up to them. "We're in the library," he called back, knowing his voice would be coming from the opposite direction she expected. "We'll be there in a few minutes." Harry turned his attention back to Dillon.
"But you did do wonderful things after that," the child protested. "You were able to live up to their expectations. I can't do that."
"Everyone expected me to fight Voldemort again because they thought it was fate or destiny or even prophecy. But a wise and great wizard, Albus Dumbledore…"
"My Albus?" Dillon interrupted though he knew the answer.
"Yes, Dillon Albus Potter. The Albus you were named for," Harry teased.
Dillon grinned and Harry continued his story. "Professor Dumbledore helped me see that it didn't matter what anyone expected me to do. What mattered was what I wanted to do. I had to do what seemed right to me. It just so happened standing up to Voldemort was what people expected and what I thought was the right thing to do, but I had to do it for my reasons not because everyone else thought I should. It took me a while to realize that. And there have been many times I didn't do what people expected and they have hated me for it. But I have to be true to me and not their expectations."
Dillon looked like he was seriously considering Harry's words. Harry decided he was finally getting through and kept going. "Maybe someday you will do such wonderful things that a century from now I'll only be remembered as Dillon Potter's father. Maybe not. It doesn't matter one way or the other. All that matters is for you to figure out what you want to do with your life and what will make you happy. You have plenty of time to discover all that. For now, why don't you stop worrying about being Harry Potter's son and what everyone else thinks? You should try just being Dillon Potter, nine-year-old wizard, and worrying about what he thinks."
"It really is getting cold!" Ginny's voice again cut into the conversation in the library.
"And maybe worry about what Mum thinks?" Dillon asked with a smile.
"It would probably be a good idea if we both did that."
"I'll give it a try, Papa."
"Good. Now, last one to the dinner table is a flobberworm!"
In a squeal of childish laughter, Dillon was on his feet and running for the dinning room, his father not far behind him.