Title: The Fitz-Potter Scandal
Rating: PG - Lots of talk about sperm. In a non-sexual way. Really!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his world are the property of J.K. Rowling and her assorted publishers. No infringement is intended and no profit made from their use.
The autumn of 1998 saw the defeat of the Dark Lord Voldemort, just after the Hogwarts school year had begun again. The final cataclysmic battle had resulted in devastating losses for both sides, and saw the deaths of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Remus and his wife 'call me Tonks – or else!' Nymphadora Lupin, along with a large number of the Order of the Phoenix and an equal proportion of the D.A. and the Death Eaters. The hero of the day, Harry Potter, was gravely injured and spent several long months in St. Mungo's, recovering from his injuries and the overwhelming depression that resulted from his own survival at the expense (as he saw it) of his friends' lives. While lying in his hospital bed in St. Mungo's, drifting in pain and misery, he was in danger of becoming a cliché of the brooding, injured hero.
Ironically he was saved from this fate by the never-ending stream of visitors he'd just as soon never see. Nearly every single Ministry toady, healer, nurse, journalist, and a wide variety of assorted crackpots managed to sneak past the inept guards that were supposed to be watching over him but spent most of their time nipping off to the cafeteria for a cuppa. Harry had taken to keeping his wand under his pillow and hexing the worst offenders, but most of his visitors took the hint after he chucked a bedpan or two at them. The anger and the throwing of objects were at once a catharsis for his psyche, as well as physical therapy.
There were a few who weathered his stormy temper and kept up their visits; Mrs. Weasley refused to lose another son, whether by birth or not, and had kept pestering him until he gave in and accepted the woman and her unconditional mothering. Andromeda Tonks dropped by to show off the newly orphaned baby Teddy, son of Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. Harry made a vow to her that if Teddy ever needed a home, he was welcome at Harry's home at any time. Mrs. Tonks thanked him gravely and forbore to point out that Harry didn't actually have a home at the time.
One of his other persistent visitors was a doctor in the Crèche Ward. Since Harry had no claim to the man's specialty, they should have had little to talk about. Healer Crandale, however, was earnest and sympathetic and completely uninterested in the Boy Who Lived or the Man Who Triumphed over the Dark Lord. Instead, his interest lay in Harry's viewpoints on Muggle technology, especially in medicine.
While the two never became bosom pals, the very distance between them allowed them to talk of all manner of things, including Harry's role as a teacher and his viewpoint and opinions on the Wizarding world's relationships with Muggles and Goblins and Centaurs. Long evenings were spent over tea and checkers, while Harry lay with his leg in a cast trying to regrow the joint in his knee. Eventually he was able to talk to his new friend about the friends he lost. In return, Crandale talked about his fears and hopes for the future. The healer was deeply concerned over the population of the Wizarding World. He confessed to Harry some truly frightening statistics he'd compiled on squib births to Pureblood families, and the decline in the M.I. in newborn children.
The M.I., or Merlin Index, was a test run on children born in his ward. It was completely harmless, and took only a moment, but it was an indication of the child's magical potential. Of course, potential was only that and many other factors contributed to that child's magical maturity in later life. But Crandale's greatest concern was being realized; that wizards and witches were tapering off on both in numbers and magical ability.
Harry listened sympathetically, and told Crandale that he was sad that his friend Hermione was no longer there as she was sure to have had a dozen ideas to help him out. Crandale hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that he had an idea, and needed Harry's help to implement it.
Later, Harry would blame the painkillers and the grief and Crandale's damned persuasiveness that reminded him far too much of Hermione for acquiescing to the request. But as it was, he was perfectly lucid when he signed a contract with St. Mungo's, putting in several codicils of his own, and became a part of the great Fitz-Potter scandal that began on his doorstep at 8:30 on a cold winter morning some three years later.
The stout woman on the doorstep jiggled the fussy baby more vigorously, and leaned on the intercom button a little harder. Finally, a rough male voice answered.
"Mr. Potter? Mr. Harry Potter?"
"Maybe. Who's this?"
"My name is Muriel Wise, Mr. Potter. I'm from the Ministry Department of Child Welfare, and I'd like to speak to you, please."
There was a long silence. "Aren't you a few years too late?" he answered finally.
Mrs. Wise frowned at the intercom. She didn't really care for Muggle devices, but she was adept at moving in the Muggle world and she could certainly understand why Harry Potter would choose a flat in London rather than living in Diagon Alley.
"No, Mr. Potter, I've only just come from the orphanage."
"Mr. Potter, really. I don't want to stand out here on the stoop arguing with your wall. May I come up?"
"Oh, sure. Hang on."
The door buzzed a moment later and Mrs. Wise was soon up the rickety stairs and found herself shown into Harry Potter's bachelor flat. It was far cleaner than most single young men's homes, in her experience, having only a minimal amount of clutter and only one box of leftover takeaway on the coffee table. A trace layer of dust lay over most of the surfaces, but it was definitely a home rather than the pigsty she would have expected.
The Man himself had obviously just woken up, which was also understandable. The Quidditch World Cup had been played in Spain just four days ago, and the game had gone on an astounding twenty hours before Potter had caught the snitch, winning the Cup for England by only ten points. She gave him a professional once-over, taking in his Muggle jeans, bare feet, and the shirt he was buttoning over the well-defined chest of a professional athlete. Although she was old enough to be his grandmother, Mrs. Wise could still appreciate male beauty. More importantly, she could detect no sign of alcohol or drug use in him, nor was there the scent of a woman in the room. All in all, Harry Potter met with her compete approval and it made her much more confident about fulfilling her professional duties this morning.
"What can I do for you, Mrs. Wise?" he said politely, blinking at her. His eyes were no longer hidden behind the ugly glasses he'd worn in earlier years, but the black hair was rumpled and sticking out in twenty different directions. His resemblance to the child was obvious.
"This, Mr. Potter, is Aldrich. Your son," she told him, turning the child in her arms so that he faced his father.
Green eyes met green eyes, and the two males exchanged dubious, confused looks.
"I beg your pardon?" Harry managed. "My son?"
"Yes, Mr. Potter. Your son."
Aldrich's face screwed up and his back arched in displeasure. He managed to cram most of his pudgy fingers into his mouth, drooling copiously, and gave his father a furious look.
"Well… look, just who is his mother? I may not be a monk, but I've always been very careful…"
"Not at all, my boy. You see, there is a bit of a tragedy, there. His parents, Noelle and Stefan Finks, died earlier this month whilst celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Bad oysters, from what I understand."
Harry transferred his confused gaze from Aldrich to Mrs. Wise. "Noelle… Finks, you said? I don't think I've ever met the woman!"
"No, I daresay you hadn't," Mrs. Wise agreed blithely.
"Then how can this be my kid?"
"Well, you see, Mr. and Mrs. Finks were patients of Healer Crandale, at St. Mungos, for several years. They had tried to conceive a baby for quite some time, and were completely unsuccessful until two years ago."
Mrs. Wise beamed at Harry, which only caused him more confusion.
"I'm sorry, I really don't understand…"
Aldrich began to fuss even more, and Mrs. Wise sat down on Harry's couch without an invitation. She removed a bag from her pocket and swiftly enlarged it, removing a bottle, a bib, and a large flannel. With the ease of long practice she swiftly warmed the bottle, tested it, and plunged it into the child's mouth.
"Little Aldrich is nearly a year old now," she continued as if there had been no interruption, "so he won't be on the bottle much longer. He's already eating cereal, and has been introduced to strained veg and mashed chicken. He had a hearty appetite, and sleeps through the night quite nicely. All of his immunizations are up to date, and he's been examined by our doctors and pronounced to be the picture of health. You should be very proud, Mr. Potter. You have a fine son."
The baby's father was still gaping at her, and Mrs. Wise decided to be firm with him.
"Some tea, Mr. Potter. Perhaps that will help you grasp the situation."
"Um, right. Tea." He started to head for the bedroom, then changed his mind and headed for the kitchen, and then turned again and looked at the fireplace.
"Do you have a house elf, Mr. Potter?" she asked helpfully, and Harry at last seemed to come out of his daze.
"Right. Yes, I do. Winky!" he called. A long moment later, a house elf appeared, her little tea towel toga neat and tidy.
"Oh, Master Harry! You is home? Winky is a bad elf, she did not know. Winky will punish herself immediately, just after she cleans the flat and does the laundry. Is Master Harry wanting breakfast? Winky will cook eggs and ham and tomatoes…"
"Not right now," Harry interrupted the menu. "Right now, I just want some tea for myself and Mrs. Wise. And it's not your fault, I told you I'd be in Spain until next week. I came home early."
The little elf disappeared, and Harry sank onto the sofa, still watching the black-haired infant in Mrs. Wise's arms. The child regarded him in the same way, staring over the top of the bottle but never ceasing his industrious pulling at the nipple.
"Mrs. Wise, I apologize for being so thick, but I've just got home yesterday and it's been a brutal season. Could you start from the beginning, and tell me how a woman I've never met has a son that looks just like me?"
"I understand, Mr. Potter. I've been to more than one of your games, and you're one of the most dedicated players that ever took the pitch. Now, to begin with, Healer Crandale, as you know, is a healer at St. Mungos."
"Yes, I remember him," Harry volunteered as he poured out the tea that had materialized on the table. "He was one of my visitors when I was in hospital after the war."
"Yes, of course he was. Now, Healer Crandale is a well respected physician, but specializes in a field usually relegated to midwives and hedge witches. He has revolutionized the treatment of infertility in witches who are past a certain age, or whose pureblood ancestry has jeopardized their child-bearing ability."
Harry choked on his tea.
"I see you've just remembered," Mrs. Wise said happily. "Healer Crandale was quite effusive in praising your generosity. His name came up while we were investigating the Finks' records, and he in turn pointed us towards you."
"I remember him talking me into donating some… samples," Harry sputtered.
"Well, what did you expect him to do with those samples?" his guest asked.
"I thought he was just going to study them," Harry shot back. "I didn't expect him to use them straight up!"
Mrs. Wise huffed at him. "Mr. Potter, you signed an agreement with Healer Crandale to provide semen samples for study and use as he saw fit, up to and including those samples being used to assist the infertility treatment. You even added a clause that should any child created using your donation, as you say, then that child could claim to be a part of the Potter family."
"Right…." Harry was unable to form a full thought at this point, let alone a full sentence. "So, you brought Aldrich here to tell me he's part of my family?"
Mrs. Wise took a firm grip of her patience, which was rapidly running out. "I'm here to give you Aldrich, Mr. Potter. His parents have died, and his nearest relative is a very old woman with a large collection of Dark Arts paraphernalia. I wouldn't leave a crup to her mercy."
The man was silent, and she reluctantly took that as a refusal. "Very well, Mr. Potter. If you do not wish to take on Aldrich, you are under no legal obligation to do so. I must say, I am disappointed. After reading the additional clauses on St. Mungo's contract, I thought you might be one of those wizards who value family above all other considerations. However, I do quite understand – you are still a very young man, and single, with a glamorous lifestyle. A child would certainly be a bother and a burden to you just now.
"Not to worry, Aldrich," she addressed the child in her arms. "The Ministry Home will take care of you."
She never knew it, but it was those last few words that completely galvanized Harry's brain from a befuddled spinning to the same diamond-hard focus that saw him through all the battles and the final confrontation with the Dark Lord Voldemort.
"Hang on. Do you mean to tell me that he's headed for an orphanage?"
"Of course, Mr. Potter. There are very few foster homes in the Wizarding world. The Ministry office for Child Welfare runs an orphanage, although most of the children there are squibs who have been abandoned. It used to be that children with confirmed wizarding abilities were adopted almost immediately, but since the war there have been fewer families who were in a position to adopt. In addition, Healer Crandale's program has been able to help many a childless couple achieve their dream, so there are fewer homes available to adopt the wizard children we do have. But we take good care of them, and more than half go off to Hogwarts when the time comes."
Harry had not really heard all of what Mrs. Wise had said. The words 'burden' and 'orphanage' had set off bells that drowned out every other thought. Here, in this stranger's arm, was a baby just a little younger than he himself had been when Dumbledore had dumped him on his aunt's doorstep.
Sensing Harry's intense gaze, Aldrich thrust away the nearly empty bottle and contemplated the man staring at him. Happier now, with a full tummy, he let loose a spectacular belch for one so small. The man watching him grinned and Aldrich grinned back at him, showing off the four small teeth set in his pink gums.
"I shan't take any more of your time, Mr. Potter. I can find my own way out. Good day."
Mrs. Wise rose, shouldering the bag of baby things and hefting Aldrich onto her generous hip.
A half-hour later, Mrs. Wise was gathering up her paperwork while Harry gingerly sat Aldrich on his lap. Wide green eyes, so like his own, gazed up at Harry while a chubby fist reached out and gripped a handful of wild black hair.
"So, Aldrich is mine, now," he asked absently.
"Yes, all yours, Mr. Potter. His birth certificate, health records, and other paperwork are in this file here, which I shall leave for you. We have another copy on file in our records. I or another case worker shall drop in on you now and again, to see how you're getting on."
"I have no idea what to do with a baby," Harry confessed. Aldrich grinned at him again, and he could not help smiling back.
"There are books available, Mr. Potter, both Muggle and Magical. You might even have time to read them, which you wouldn't if he were a newborn. Those little blighters keep you so exhausted you don't know whether you're coming or going."
Harry nodded, and Mrs. Wise smiled indulgently at the bemused new parent. "Now, don't forget that you have an appointment with the Finks' solicitor next week. Aldrich has a legacy from his parents, and it will pay you a stipend for his upkeep and be settled in whole when he's seventeen, I believe."
"No," Harry said instantly. "I'm not taking any money for caring for my own son. He is my son, right?"
"That's between you and the Finks' will, Mr. Potter, and yes, he is your son. I performed the paternity test myself. Apparently, Mr. Fink was unable to produce adequately mobile semen and that was where your donation was employed." A blush rose on Harry's cheeks, but he was unsure if it was due to the woman's blatant discussion of the late Mr. Fink's shortcomings or Harry's own contribution.
"That must have been where the oysters came in," he muttered, and was surprised when Mrs. Wise let out a rich, full laugh. When he thought of it, however, he supposed there was nothing Mrs. Wise hadn't seen while dealing with the wizarding world's various offspring as they fell through the cracks of society and ended up in her department's safety net.
"Goodbye, Mr. Potter, and good luck," she declared as she held out her hand. Harry rose and juggled Aldrich awkwardly as he shook hers. "I suggest you get out and get shopping, my boy. I've brought you enough clothes and food for the next little while, but you'll need to get him a cot and set him up a space to sleep. He'll be unsettled for a few days, since he doesn't know you, but I'm sure you'll both adjust."
"All right," he agreed absently. He saw her to the door, and said goodbye once more. And as if on cue, as soon as the door shut behind her, Aldrich let out a shriek of unhappiness at being left behind with a total stranger.
Winky proved to be invaluable in the next week while Aldrich became accustomed to his new surroundings and Harry began the never-ending task of buying baby supplies. He pored over books on baby care, dithered over the proper method to Apparate with an underage child, and argued with Winky over the timing and method of potty training. The last was a moot point as Aldrich was only now able to drag himself upright by holding onto the furniture or leg or house elf closest to him. He cruised happily around (and around and around and around again) the coffee table while Winky hovered over her new little master. Harry told her to let him be and went about sticking plastic covers over all the electrical outlets in his flat.
Harry also discovered many of the joys of parenthood quite quickly. For instance, why Winky, when changing nappies, would remove the soiled diaper from Aldrich's front and then immediately replace it. The term 'Old Faithful' crossed his mind while Winky giggled and informed him that the cool air hitting the warm skin of little Aldrich's privates was apparently a signal to let loose with an impressively high arch of fresh urine unless the old nappy was there to catch it.
There were also evenings when Harry sat in the new rocking chair for hours, rocking the boy to sleep and marveling at the sheer perfection of each eyelash and curve of the cupid-bow lips. Every whorl of his fingerprints and swirl of his thick thatch of black hair was examined, and committed to memory, every murmur and twitch and scrunch of the little round face dug its way deeper and deeper into Harry's heart as he fell in love with his son.
The visit to the Finks' solicitor was illuminating. Aldrich had a modest amount in trust for him, and arguing over the stipend did no good at all. Harry pointed out that he had a generous salary from playing Quidditch, and had spent almost none of it. He also had a modest legacy from his parents, a more than generous legacy from his godfather, and last but not least an Order of Merlin, First Class, and the monetary award that he'd received along with it. He had no need of the stipend.
Eventually Harry settled on having the money deposited to a separate Gringotts account and declared that he would simply sign it over to Aldrich when he graduated from Hogwarts. The solicitor was equally satisfied with this arrangement and they finished almost all the paperwork in very short order.
"Just one more question, Mr. Potter," the buttoned-down man ventured in his formal, officious tones. "Will you have the boy keep the name Finks, or will he be adopted to the Potter name?"
"I hadn't thought about it, to be honest," Harry replied. "I suppose… I can just add Potter to the end, right? Aldrich William Finks Potter?"
"It depends, I suppose, on whether or not you're officially adopting him."
"He's my son. What does adopting have to do with it?"
The solicitor peered over the top of his little pince-nez glasses. "You are a single man, Mr. Potter. I should be very much surprised if you do not marry at some point and produce legitimate offspring. Don't' misunderstand me, please - while your son here is quite legitimate, his legal status stands as a part of the Potter family, not as your legal heir. Should you have other children that may cause difficulties later on."
"I suppose I should go thrash this out with my own solicitor, then?" Harry hazarded a guess. "Although, he's more involved in negotiating Quidditch contracts, not family ones."
"If you need a good, all purpose family lawyer, our firm would be happy to either serve in that manner, or else provide you with the name of a comparable firm. Perhaps that would be best, to avoid any hint of impropriety."
Harry took the little card, shifted his sleeping son on his shoulder, and walked out into Diagon Alley. At first he'd been wary of being mobbed, since his public appearances nearly always caused a stir and the sight of him with a baby in his arms would be just that much worse. However, the complete opposite occurred – with a child in his arms, he was nearly invisible. Since everyone knew that Harry Potter didn't have a child, then this man with a sprog in tow couldn't possibly be Harry Potter.
The new law firm was pleased to be of service and Harry soon found himself shown to another impressive office while another buttoned-down wizard went over the situation with him. Harry had never drawn up a will before, and that took a little thought. He left bequests to Teddy Lupin and the Weasley family, and designated heirs for his prized possessions. The majority of his estate, which was actually larger than he had anticipated once the report from Gringotts was returned, was left to Aldrich William Finks Potter and any other issue that Harry Potter might have in the future.
"I'm not sure you want to phrase it quite that way, Mr. Potter," he lawyer advised. "The language should make it absolutely clear that only your acknowledged issue will inherit."
"I don't have any acknowledged issue, other than Aldrich here," Harry protested.
"Mr. Potter, you have told me that your son was the result of a… 'deposit' you left with this healer… Crandale, you said his name was."
The lawyer peered at Harry over his glasses, which this time were small rectangles. It must have been a move they taught at university whilst studying law. "That begs the question, then, of how manyother children are the product of your… generosity."
The security at St. Mungo's hadn't improved in the slightest, and Harry was able to make it all the way to the Crèche Ward before anyone even recognized him. No one even attempted to stop him until he reached Crandale's office and, finding the door locked, pounded on it heavily. The noise scared Aldrich enough to make him cry, and Harry was forced to make a choice of either soothing the boy or throwing things. He chose to take care of his son, but hissed at every healer and nurse to come by that they'd better find Crandale soon or there would be absolute hell to pay.
The healer showed up with gratifying speed not long afterwards. Harry pulled his wand and prodded the fellow into his office before setting up a silencing ward and settling Aldrich into a deep chair with his bunny rabbit plushy. Teething had set in and the baby was doing his best to remove all the hair from the bunny's ears.
"What can I do for you, Harry?" The healer was noticeably nervous, and with good reason. Only a complete fool wouldn't have been sweating whilst at the business end of Harry Potter's wand.
"How many?" Harry demanded.
"Er - 'how many' of what?"
"Children, you idiot," Harry snarled. Quietly. Aldrich didn't look up from his bunny. "How many women have you gotten up the duff using my – help?" He was no longer blushing to discuss the matter, but he still didn't want to use those words out loud – heaven help him if Aldrich's first word was 'semen.'
"Well, I don't know, exactly…" Crandale prevaricated. "I haven't got those statistics handy."
"Guess!" Harry ordered. "Five, ten… anywhere in the Quidditch pitch will do."
"Oh, I don't know…" Harry growled again, and Crandale cringed. "Maybe fifty?"
The healer shrunk even further. "Possibly more… say… sixty?"
"Maybe more… you must understand, Harry! This program, it's completely experimental, so the couples who come to me are quite reluctant to consider it, at first. But when I mention that you're a donor, why, they perk right up! It's amazing, really…." Crandale was babbling, but Harry was having a hard time understanding.
"How could you get that many women pregnant? I was only here for a week! And you said you were only going to the –mobility- or something…"
"Yes, of course, but you – you're a very fertile man! You were nineteen at the time, the peak of your sexuality… and it only takes a small number of sperm to fertilize an ova, if you have your charms right, and I pride myself on being the best in that field…. And the stuff freezes, you know… lasts practically indefinitely if you have the right preservation charm on the samples…."
"Shut up!" Harry demanded finally. "What in the name of Merlin possessed you to use me for all those women?"
"Well, of course they all wanted you, Harry. If their own husbands couldn't get the job done, who better than the Sav…"
"Just shut it, right there. You imbecile! What happens when all those kids go to school, and they're all related to each other? Dating might be something of an issue!"
"Oh, it's not just English witches who come to me," Crandale announced proudly. "I've had clients as far as Russia and Indonesia come to me for help. Once word got out that I had proven success, the news just spread like mad!"
"You're mad," Harry told him. "Absolutely barking."
Crandale looked hurt.
A deep breath, in and out, reined in Harry's temper slightly. "Here's what's going to happen," He told Crandale firmly. "You are going to destroy any samples of mine you've got left."
"And then you're going to give me the records of all the witches who've had my children."
"Oh. Oh, no. Can't do that. Confidentiality issues, and all that."
Harry paused. He was fairly certain that most of the witches treated here wouldn't want him barging into their happy lives. However, that presupposed that all the children were happy, as well. And he knew first hand that wasn't always the case.
"All right, I'll make a deal with you. I'm going to contact Mrs. Muriel Wise at the Ministry Department of Child Welfare. You'll give her the names of all the women you've helped, whether or not they received my personal contributions. She'll look in on all of them, and make sure the kids are healthy, and happy where they are."
"I'm not sure that's quite ethical," the healer stammered, but Harry wasn't having any of it.
"I'm not sure it was ethical of you to peddle my sperm for your program to get so popular, either," he retorted. "I am not asking to violate their privacy. I'm only asking that the children are taken care of. In return, I won't take you to the Wizengamot for misrepresenting what you intended to do with my contribution. And I can guarantee that if the Prophet catches wind of this, they'll crucify the both of us!"
Crandale caved immediately at the threat of being dragged into the public light. While he firmly believed in his research and the good he was doing, he knew full well that most of his clients would go childless rather than have their problems exposed for all to see.
Reluctantly he allowed Harry to follow him to the procedural room where he performed his life-altering work, and brought the remaining three vials of Harry's 'contribution' out so their destruction could be witnessed. He tried to put on a hurt expression when Harry performed several 'Accio's to be sure everything had been removed, but Harry remained unmoved. Crandale promised to contact the Ministry Department of Child Welfare immediately, and work out a system for the Ministry to check the welfare of Harry's children.
Muriel Wise tried very hard not to laugh at Harry Potter when he Flooed her with his problem, but it was quite a struggle to keep her composure. She'd dealt with a number of profligate fathers in her tenure at D.C.W., ones who had taken to spreading their wild oats with an unseemly vigor amongst a vast number of witches, but this case would set a new record. She did feel sorry for the young man, and was gratified to see him taking the children's welfare so seriously.
A quick conversation with her Department Head and the Minister of Magic smoothed the way towards hiring a separate investigator who reported to Mrs. Wise but was paid for by a donation from Harry (money, this time). The investigator, a retired healer, made an oath of secrecy and then undertook the task of checking on ALL the children conceived under Healer Crandale's treatments.
Some of the children had not been born yet, but everyone involved tried to behave in as professional a manner as possible. Not to say there weren't some snickers, late at night. However, the couples involved had agreed to provide follow-up information on their children, which the investigator obtained in a short, child-friendly visit. The healer/patient confidentiality remained intact and the Ministry (and Harry) had assurances that the children were well treated.
Everything went swimmingly, as they say, for Harry and Aldrich. The first steps were made and the first words spoken. The first serious cold survived. The scandal of Harry Potter having a son (without first going through the formality of having a wife) broke on the world, heaved, and was gone without Harry really giving a damn and without the Prophet finding out anything more scandalous than the fact that Harry had a son by a woman he refused to name and that he was very happy about it. He'd be even more happy if everyone would please just bugger off and leave them alone.
He flat out refused to commit to a full training schedule for the next Quidditch season, and offered to quit the team when the coach and the owner tried to shout him into submission. Molly Weasley happily watched Aldrich whenever Harry asked, and counted him as just one more of her assortment of grandchildren.
Aldrich had just turned two when Mrs. Wise once more knocked on Harry's door.
Harry greeted her warmly, and Aldrich threw himself at her familiar knees, demanding to be picked up.
"Hello, young man," she greeted him with aplomb as she picked him up. "Have you been giving your father fits?"
"Da!" he announced loudly.
"Of course he has," Harry told her with a smile. "He's figured out how to do doorknobs, just this week. I'm trying to decide if I should charm them all, or just the front door so he can't escape."
"I see. A valuable skill to have, Aldrich," she told him. "Highly useful, in fact." She transferred her attention to the man watching his son fondly, and knew she was making the right choice.
"Do you think you could take another one?"
Over a fresh pot of tea, with Winky entertaining Aldrich in his room, Mrs. Wise told Harry about the fragile Pureblood woman who had just given birth to one of the last "Potter Donation" babies.
"She wasn't very strong, apparently, and Crandale himself admits that he wasn't sure it was the right thing to do. But she was very insistent, and her husband made a few threats that we're considering turning over to the Auror Department right now. Poor girl carried the baby, with difficulty, but things went bad during the delivery. Fool husband of hers demanded that she have it at home, of course, because he's a Pureblood and his whole family's been born in that drafty old heap. Crandale had his best mediwitch sent over, along with everything he could think of to help, but nothing helped in the end.
"The baby's a fine little girl, a bit small, but healthy as can be," she told Harry, sipping her tea. "The problem is that the idiot husband is now blaming the girl for his wife's death. He's also made some very nasty comments about her NOT being the son and heir he was expecting, so the mediwitch took her straight out of there. A wise move, as it turns out. Man went on a rampage and killed several house elves and then went out to the nearest Muggle village and started hexing the Muggles. He's in St. Mungo's now, and if he's not insane he'll be seeing a couple of years in Azkaban."
"And is there no-one to take the baby?" Harry asked quietly.
"The maternal grandparents want nothing to do with raising yet another child, and the father's family refused to have anything to do with her once they discovered she was a girl. She'd be on the midden heap now if they had their way."
"I see." Harry paused, staring at his teacup.
Mrs. Wise put her hand over his. "What is it, Harry?"
Emerald green eyes raised to meet hers, looking worried and a little lost. "Do you really think I can handle another child? A newborn this time?"
A broad smile creased her older features. "Harry, you are a superb father. I've never seen any man take to it like you have, and I've seen hundreds of fathers in my day. You're young, but you have more love to give than I'd ever imagined. In fact," and she tipped him a sly wink, "if I were any younger I'd give you a proper push and see if I could beat you to the floor."
A blush rose on Harry's cheeks, but he smiled at her. "I imagine Mr. Wise might take exception to that," he told her.
"Ah, probably. Just as well. Now, shall I bring the girl over?"
Harry thought about it. "All right. Why not. Can you bring her tonight?"
Nora Lilly Potter was three, and Aldrich was five, when Mrs. Wise brought over Nathan. His parents had been patients of Crandale's just as Nora's and Aldrich's, but once they'd had the first child they'd quickly had two more. The family had begun to marginalize the eldest child, since he wasn't truly 'family' and eventually the Ministry, who had been keeping a much closer eye on children since Harry's time, noticed that the little boy was never as well kept, nor as well fed, nor as accepted as his younger siblings. One confrontation with Mrs. Wise later, the parents had turned over the boy like a pet that had outgrown its welcome.
By this time Harry had hung up his Quidditch uniform and had moved to Godric's Hollow, not far from where he and his parents had lived the first year of his life. He owned several tracts of land and had had a house built for himself and his two children. Nathan got to share with Aldrich, and the two boys, once they overcame the astonishment of finding themselves brothers, had become thick as thieves. Nathan was quick to pick up Nora and Aldrich's favorite game of latching on to their father in a group hug and then doing their best to knock him over.
Dierdre was orphaned at age eight, and Hydrangea, who preferred the name Heidi, was taken from her family when her mother ran off with a mysterious stranger and left her with a morose, depressed father who had no idea what to do with the independent, stubborn girl other than beat her into submission.
Michael was nine when his adopted father died. His mother decided she needed to find another rich husband and dropped him off at Harry's door with a note explaining things and promising to keep in touch. She never did. Harry welcomed the sad, lonely little boy into his growing family and promised him that he'd always have a home with the Potter family. Within a year Michael abandoned his original family name and declared himself to be 'just Michael Potter' for the rest of his life.
James and John, identical twins and one of the first Potter children, were just about to turn ten when their hysterical mother brought them to the Aurors' office. She ranted and swore at the Aurors, claiming that her husband was a born-again Death Eater and planned to sacrifice Harry Potter's children and they must do everything in their power to protect her boys. The Aurors treated her with condescending patience until she suddenly choked on nothing at all and fell down, dead.
The subsequent investigation into the mother's claim of the boys' parentage, their putative father, and his reasons for accepting his wife's impregnation by another man immediately publicized the entire situation. A would-be Death Eater organization was unearthed and wiped out, which was a good thing. However, the Daily Prophet put Death Eaters, the Savior, and a handful of children together into a heady effervescent brew they promptly dubbed the Fitz-Potter Sandal. Accusations were made and secrets were aired. Opinions flew left, right, and center.
Six years of Harry's low-profile lifestyle was ruined, and his children exposed to the public eye. The Ministry Department of Child Welfare stood firmly behind Harry, however, and endorsed the notion of a young man taking responsibility for a mess that was not of his making. Again.
Healer Crandale was dragged out into the light of day and an accounting was demanded of his methods and actions. After a shaky beginning, his work struck a chord with the Wizarding population, many of whom had actually noticed the reduced population. Before long, the subject of reproduction and population and inbreeding was not a subject for whispered, covert conversation but for loud, long-winded, and frequent discussion.
Public opinion swayed from one extreme to the other, finally settling into glowing approval when a photo spread of Harry and the children ran in the Prophet. The most heartwarming snap was one of Harry being swarmed over by all eight of his children until he was buried in a mass of giggling and obviously happy, healthy children.
Some of the old Pureblood families, of course, would hear nothing on the subject and kept to their stubborn denial of any problems whatsoever. Quietly, however, several more children were sent to the Ministry D. C. W., banished forever from the Pureblood families who had conceived and nurtured them in secret but would not keep them in the face of the scandal they represented.
Harry just smiled, greeted each one with a hug, and ordered another wing built onto his already large house. The rules at his house were simple: No hitting, no name calling. Everyone made their own bed, tidied their own room, and helped out with some of the chores. Winky had found a mate in the past few years and the two of them cooked and did the laundry. The children helped keep the inside of the house clean, and tended the three ponies and the goats. Harry kept the yard neat. Of course, with all the children having Harry's genetics, a Quidditch pitch was required and every one of them had their own broom.
Anyone having trouble, whether fitting in or otherwise, was also taken to see a child psychologist. The former Pureblood children had an especially rough time of it and took a while to adjust to their change in circumstances. Mrs. Wise had recommended a gentleman who had been born a squib but had gone Muggle as an adult. As such, he possessed both an excellent grasp of Wizard society and the professional training from a prestigious university.
On the first of September, twelve years after the defeat of Voldemort, Harry Potter led a crocodile of children through the crowds of travelers at the railway station. Strangers gaped at the sight of a man who appeared to be no more than thirty years old with so many children, every last one with a mop of untidy black hair. The four oldest each had a trolley with a trunk and a pet carrier of some type. The other children followed their father, chattering and exclaiming loudly, and complaining that it wasn't fair they had to wait another year, or two, before they could go to school as well.
A tall redhead in the crowd called Harry's name and a moment later a sea of Weasleys engulfed the smaller wave of black haired children. The hubbub was loud and chaotic, and the adults just grinned at each other through the din.
"I've only got one going this year," Fred declared loudly, allowing his younger daughter down to greet her dark-haired cousins. "Bill asked me to bring Antoinette, but all the other kids wanted to come along to see them off."
"Mine, too," Harry replied. "The last few days have been a nightmare, trying to get everyone ready."
A hand tapped at Harry's arm, and he turned to see another child with his trademark messy black hair. However, he didn't recognize this one.
"Hello," said the young man nervously. "You are Harry Potter, aren't you?"
"Yes," Harry replied, looking the boy over.
"I'm Marcus Kingston," he told the older man. "I suppose you can tell, but I… well, I'm…"
"You're my son," Harry told him with a warm smile, and held out his hand. "Glad to meet you, Marcus."
"Yeah," he replied, relieved, as he shook hands with Harry. "Marcus Kingston… Fitz-Potter, I suppose."
"Only if you want to be," Harry told him. "Are your parents here?"
"Sure!" Marcus pointed to a couple standing several yards away, nervously watching their son introduce himself to his biological father. "They weren't sure you'd want to meet me."
"I'll always be glad to meet a child of mine," Harry told him. "If your parents want to talk to me, they're welcome to, any time." He looked the couple over carefully. They were plainly dressed, but their clothes seemed to indicate they were comfortably well off. "I'm surprised they'd let come over by yourself," he commented, not quite as a question, but merely an observation.
"Well, once the story came out in the papers they didn't try to hide anything from me. They were pretty honest about the whole thing. I mean, it was obvious once I saw the pictures of you and the others," he said with a grin, trying vainly to flatten the black thatch of hair atop his head.
"Yeah, I see what you mean," Harry responded with an equal grin, running his hand through his own unruly locks. Just then, the whistle for the train blew, stirring the people on the platform into even greater activity. "I suppose you'd better get going, then," he told Marcus. "Good luck, this year!"
"Thank you, sir!" his son responded, before bounding back over to his waiting parents.
Harry rallied his own brood, along with Fred and his charges, to get their trunks loaded and themselves aboard. He managed to get one photo taken of his First Years before he was the center of a mass hug a moment later, and reached his arms around as many of his children as he could possibly reach.
"You know," said Fred in a confidential tone, "it's moments like this that make me wish Severus Snape were still alive."
"Are you barmy?" questioned Harry as he kissed each one of his departing children on the forehead. Miriam stood in line and received a kiss as well before her father realized she was one of those not old enough to go. She gave her father a cheeky grin and skipped back in line with her younger siblings.
"No, really. Just look." Fred swept his arm out and indicated the children milling about. Besides his own dozen and Marcus, Harry was sure he saw at least three more children on the platform with black, messy hair, and approximately fifteen more red heads, from age eleven down to the four-year-old holding Fred's hand.
Fred's expression nearly glowed with mischief. "Can't you just imagine what Snape's face would have been like when he saw this lot coming into the Great Hall? And almost half of them are Potters or Weasleys?"
Harry threw back and head and laughed.
Three years later, the Potter children, one and all, were dragging a trolley and a trunk towards Platform Nine and Three Quarters, followed by a veritable army of red-headed Weasleys. The children all lined up and allowed their father to take a picture of them, as per custom, but milled about in confusion when Harry did not attempt to kiss anyone goodbye.
"Well, come on," he urged them instead. "Let's find a compartment. Or two."
"Try three," added John. "But since when do you have to show us onto the train?"
"Dad," questioned James suspiciously, "is there something you haven't told us?"
Harry scratched his ear and tried to appear mysterious, with somewhat less success than he intended. "Well, your aunt Minerva did tell me she was not sure if she could keep control of you lot, so… she might have asked me to come and keep an eye on you all."
Thirteen pairs of eyes (Toby Erasmian Fitz-Potter had had several rows with his parents over his association with his undeniable siblings, and when faced with an ultimatum of severing ties with the Potters or with the Erasmians, had chosen the Potters) looked at their father accusingly.
"Give over, Dad. What's going on?" Heidi demanded.
Aldrich figured it out first. "You're coming to Hogwarts to teach!"
"You are! You are!" chorused the Potter clan. They mobbed their father, almost knocking him over as they had when small children.
"Not here!" Harry demanded, trying to keep to his feet. "These are brand new robes!"
The children reluctantly let him go, but remained clustered around him, pestering him with questions until he confessed. "I'll be the new Quidditch coach, flying instructor, and occasionally substituting for whichever professor needs me," Harry admitted.
"What about Blinken?" Dierdre asked plaintively. "And Winken? What's going to happen to them?"
"The ponies and the goats will be at the Burrow by teatime," Harry told his soft-hearted daughter. "Don't worry about them – your cousins will take good care of them. And once they're old enough to come to Hogwarts, I'm sure there will be new cousins."
"It's not like we're going to run out of Weasleys," commented Alexander in his cultured Pureblood tones. He flushed when his father shot him a warning look. "Sorry, Dad," he murmured.
"Now, let's all get on the train, alright?" Harry straightened collars and tweaked ties, ignoring the grumbles and the 'gerroff, Dads' he received for his efforts.
"We don't all have to sit together, do we?" asked one of the older girls, possibly Dierdre.
Harry just rolled his eyes and led his family onto the train, headed back to his favorite place in the world – Hogwarts.
No historical significance was ever placed on the time period that involved the Potter family at Hogwarts. Flying was not an OWL subject, so no statistics were ever gathered on how well Harry Potter did his job. The Defense Against the Dark Arts courses did score noticeably higher, but no one really questioned how an old professor with little practical experience managed to bring up the average OWL and NEWT scores by a substantial percentage after five years of mediocre service.
Likewise, no one noticed that, for a period of ten years, not one student received more than a single detention in any school year related to friction between the Hogwarts Houses. With Potters and Weasleys in every House, and eventually on every Quidditch team, the intense inter-house rivalry all but evaporated. Other children, recognizing themselves as Fitz-Potters as well, approached the siblings and found themselves unreservedly accepted into the clan regardless of their House. Students still fought with each other, of course, and fierce rivalries for highest grades were common, but prejudice based on what color of tie one wore gradually died. For years after the tenure of the Potters and the Weasleys, inter-house discord was almost non-existent.
It was, in Harry Potter's mind, one of the greatest legacies he could have left the school.
Eventually, years later, Harry Potter did meet a witch with a wicked sense of humor and broad sense of fun who revived his interest in female company his own age. Moira was blonde, and a Pureblood, and had been married against her will when she was only sixteen. Two years later, she was promptly divorced by her Pureblood husband when it was confirmed that she was unable to have children.
Having gone to Australia to escape the entire madness of Voldemort's second rise, Moira returned to England after her parents' deaths twenty years later. Originally intending to see what she could salvage from her birth family's utter mess of finances, she literally ran into Harry Potter while gazing longingly at a broom in the window of Quality Quidditch supplies.
They had laughed, and apologized, and spent some time discussing the merits of the broom. She recognized Harry's name from the World Cup matches long before she realized he was the Man Who Triumphed.. blah, blah, blah. Harry found her charming and unpretentious, and adored the Australian accent that crept into her voice when she was excited.
They had lunch together, and then dinner together, and almost fell into bed together that same night. It wasn't much longer after that that they did, indeed, become intimate. It was only when Harry mentioned taking precautions that Moira's face fell and her enthusiasm waned.
"I don't keep any handy, actually," she confessed. "I – I can't have children."
"Oh," Harry said blankly. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"Yes," Moira replied shortly, sounding resigned. "I suppose you'll be leaving, then?"
He frowned at her in confusion. "Are you kicking me out?"
"No," she responded, equally confused and just a little bitter. "Aren't you going to do a runner? Most men do. As soon as I tell them that, they all find somewhere else to be. It's like they take it personally. Since they can't get me pregnant, then there's no need to actually have sex in the first place."
"Moira," Harry murmured, taking her in his arms and placing kisses on her bare neck. "I don't give a flying damn if you can or can't get pregnant."
"Really?" she murmured, breathless with both disbelief and arousal. "It doesn't bother you?"
"Why should it?" His hands had continued with the buttons he'd started on earlier, and she was very cooperative.
"I don't know… but what if we actually work out? This is fun, for now, but if we started dating, and then got serious, you'd have to think about it, wouldn't you? You're only forty, right? You could still want to have children… "
She didn't understand why Harry burst out into laughter, and kept chuckling at the oddest times, but it didn't stop him from making her a very happy witch that night.
In the morning, after breakfast in bed and a long, leisurely bout of love-making, Harry finally got out his wallet and started showing Moira picture after picture after picture of his children.
"Fitz" was originally a prefix in the Anglo-Norman tradition to indicate 'son of,' such as 'Fitzallan' or 'son of Allan' before the use of family surnames.
Later, it became used to indicate someone who was illegitimate, such as the child of a man who already had legitimate children with the family name. Most notably, this was for aristocracy, such as a king's bastard being called 'Fitzroy.'