Okay, okay, so she was pregnant! You're all very smart, have a cookie. And with a nod to Rowling canon in the form of the baby's name, I present the . . .


Christmas at Number Twelve


"What is it, Crash?"

"Can I use the fire?"

"What?" Harry asked with a frown, turning to face his son.

"I want to call Cristina and tell her Happy Christmas."

"Cristina Rosado?"

"Yeah. But she's still not my girlfriend," the boy added hastily. "She's crazy. I just want her to have a good Christmas, that's all."

Harry bit his tongue, hard, trying not to laugh his head off. "I'm sorry, Crash, but we don't want her to know about magic, remember? Her fireplace doesn't work like that."

"But you let her dad know about magic," he objected, wrinkling his nose.

"Hank is an adult, and he's a valuable ally for us. Cristina's too young."

Crash pouted for a moment, but he was distracted by the cries for attention from his sister and cousins, and ran off to join them in their play. Harry's attention was taken up by his wife, who pressed a glass of wine into his hand and smiled up at him.

"Aren't you glad we're through having kids?"

Harry glanced over to where Draco and Vianne sat cuddled up together on his drawing room couch, the baby fussing in Vianne's arms. The two of them looked exhausted, huge dark circles under their eyes.

"Yeah, I think I'm too old to stay up all night anymore."

Draco caught that and looked up at him, making a face. The grimace caused the scars stretching over his skin to crinkle, and the effect was rather awful. The baby suddenly stopped whimpering and made a soft cooing sound, reaching up for Draco's face with one chubby little fist.

Vianne rolled her eyes dramatically and passed the baby into Draco's arms. "Well, at least he knows who his father is."

"That's right," Draco said, sticking out his tongue at Vianne, then looking down at his son with such radiant joy that the scars seemed to disappear. "Shush, Scorpius, Daddy's here."

Hermione sidled up next to Harry, and murmured, "Where did they come up with that name, again?"

Harry grinned. "Vianne insisted that they use one of the old Malfoy family names."

Vianne shrugged helplessly, a youthful grin on her face. "Scorpius is much better than Abraxas, don't you think?"

Draco pointedly ignored the lot of them, all his attention caught up with his child, who was busily trying to catch hold of his daddy's eyepatch and pull it off.

"Harry, isn't Hagrid coming for dinner?" Hermione asked.

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Harry said with surprise. Ginny rolled her eyes and shook her head, but he just elbowed her in the side playfully. "I meant to."


"He's not going to be here. He decided to take Shawn on a trip to the mountains to visit Grawp."

"Shawn? So they're getting along, then?"

Harry smiled. "Shawn's been a huge fan of Hagrid's ever since he found out that he was expelled from Hogwarts. I think he's just finding kinship, since he won't be getting a degree, either."

"But he's okay with sitting in on all the classes, even though he won't be testing for his NEWTs?"

"He really loves to learn," Harry shrugged. "He's the one who asked if he could take the classes. But he's not all that ambitious. He kind of thinks of himself as Hagrid's apprentice. Hagrid's thrilled about having someone who appreciates magical creatures as much as he does."

"But I thought Shawn was a real Potions genius?"

"I think he wants to use those skills just to work with the animals—you know, create a better bite solve, that kind of thing. It's gotten him some friends here, though. He's moved into the room that the Wraven brothers share with Apollo Sorenson. He and Niles are always talking about some kind of Potions theory or another, or so Draco tells me."

"They told me just before the holiday that they want to start working on something new when they get back to school," Draco spoke up, looking amused. "They're going to come up with a Potion that will remove scars. They thought I'd be excited about that, for some reason."

Harry just grinned. "Well, if they come up with something, let me know. But I'd appreciate it if you'd test it out before I go slathering student experiments on my forehead."

"So, Shawn is starting to establish some moral boundaries, then?" Hermione questioned.

"Yes, he really is," Draco said with a nod, absentmindedly sticking a finger into Scorpius' mouth. "I expect Matt has something to do—ouch!" he said, glaring at his wife, who'd just pinched him.

"Don't stick your dirty fingers in his mouth," she said primly.

"Anyway," Draco said, sighing heavily and looking aggrieved, "Matt's been reaching out to him. That's sort of his thing."

"But . . ." Hermione said slowly, looking at Draco with a frown. "What's the problem?"

Draco shrugged, looking sad. "He's still trying to kill himself."

"What? What do you mean, still?"

"He's tried something three different times, since we brought him here."

"I thought he was making friends?"

"He is. I don't know, I think he just hasn't adjusted yet. Annie's death was really hard on him, and then we moved him halfway across the world, into an entirely different culture. I think he just needs some time, that's all."

Hermione pressed her lips together and looked doubtful.

"How are your talks going with Peter, anyway?" Harry asked, changing the subject.

Hermione brightened up. "I think we could really make a difference," she said in an enthusiastic tone. "He's already started introducing me to some of the heads of state. I'm just paving the way and getting some trust built up between us. I have some ideas for the education system that could—"

"Oh, no, you've gotten her started, haven't you?" Jonah said, coming up behind Hermione with a sound of mock dismay, slipping his arms around her waist. "I hope you're ready for a speech." He kissed her cheek chastely, but she turned around in his arms.

"Oh, stop it," she said lightly, and kissed him.

Ginny was smiling at them, Harry saw, but he wasn't. He never would have picked Jonah for Hermione, and he honestly didn't see whatever it was that she saw in him. He'd always been as warm and civil toward Jonah as he could be, for the sake of the woman he held so dear, but he was honestly glad that they lived so far away. Jonah was just so boring.

"She's all set to jump into U.S. politics now," Jonah said to Harry, still holding Hermione. "While our government is still telling her every day that they'd be lost without her. Did she tell you that she got the werewolf rights bill expanded to cover vampires, now?"

"I don't do all that much," Hermione protested. She shot a look over to Ginny. "Besides, Ginny's the one who's always helping me look up ancient and archaic laws to put together my proposals."

Ginny blushed, and Harry smiled at her. His wife was much more brilliant than she liked to appear to be.

"Peter says he's still talking to that boy you were telling me about, Edward, the insatiably curious one. He keeps writing Peter to ask him questions about American wizards. Anyway, he says Merry Christmas and thanks that he's not paralyzed. Did Peter get the message right?" Hermione wondered.

Harry smiled. "Yeah, he did. I'm glad Edward's all right." He shook his head, chuckling. "Poor Peter."

Remus and Tonks, who'd been talking with Jonah in the other room until Jonah came looking for Hermione, ambled in to join them, looking thoroughly snogged. Harry wiggled his eyebrows at Remus, who just gave him a superior look and squeezed his wife's hand.

Matt and Ran appeared from the kitchen, looking excited.

"Mum, your spell went off," Matt said. "I think everything's ready."

"Great, dinner," Harry said with delight. "I'm starved. Hey!" he protested, when Ginny dug her elbow into his ribs.

"If you were so starving, you could have helped cook," she said archly.

Harry shrugged. "Only if you wanted to be eating out somewhere after I'd made a mess of a perfectly good meal." Then he raised his eyebrows. "Say, that's a good idea, we could have been eating two hours ago, and I wouldn't have to do any dishes later."

Ginny swatted his backside as he ducked into kitchen ahead of her to grab up a few serving dishes to take to the table.

"Ouch! You hit hard! That's it, no more Quidditch games for you!"

"And let the broom you got me for Christmas sit in the corner and collect dust?" Ginny asked. "You just don't want the competition."

"Well, if you're not going to be using that beautiful broom . . ." Draco called out.

"When do I get a broom?" Crash whined, coming into the conversation at just the wrong moment.

"When you're older," Harry, Ginny, Matt, Draco, and Hermione all said at once.

"Besides, isn't a girlfriend better?" Charley added tauntingly.

"She's not my girlfriend!"

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who has been reading my stuff! Most especially to my wonderful reviewers, who tell me what I'm doing wrong, but also to all the lurkers who are just reading. I have no more full-length stories planned for the "Redemption" series, only a couple of short pieces that I will probably write and post sometime in the next few weeks (before the Christmas holiday). One is going to be about Maggie Weasley, and it should be good!