Disclaimer: See first chapter!
Author's Note: You know how they say that time flies when you're having fun? Well, it also flies when you do nothing while you should be doing something that you absolutely don't want to do. That's what happened to me and it's one of the reasons why it took me so long to finish this story. The other is that I had some trouble writing this epilogue; I had several ideas for it, but it took me a while to settle on one and then I wanted to answer so many questions and it got really confusing and messy. So I decided not to answer all those questions, but to focus instead on the main characters, namely Harry and Fenrir and by extension Michael...
For those of you who don't speak Italian, the chapter title is an Italian saying equivalent to "good luck" and means as much as "in the mouth of the wolf"... I had originally planned to use it as a story title, but well, I didn't :)...
Anyway, I hope you like it and I want to thank you all for reading, favouriting and reviewing this story. Thank you!
Thanks also to IaminlovewithVegetaandTrunks (well, enjoy the epilogue), 107602 (glad you liked Michael), lalaland (sniff, and now it's over), Sofia Ottoman (I think there's some sweetness in this chapter as well) and Travis (nope, no sequel, but I hope I'll be able to answer some of your questions with this chapter)
55. EPILOGUE: In Bocca Al Lupo
About Eleven Years Later
Harry could feel the tension thrumming through Fenrir's large body and he pressed back a little into the tall werewolf while he surveyed the horde of children running and laughing and talking excitedly to each other, loading heavy trunks into the waiting train, hugging their family good-bye and greeting their friends.
"He'll be fine, you know?" he whispered, his eyes fastening on a black-haired young boy, tall for his age, tan skin, golden eyes, sharp teeth flashing when he grinned at the girl next to him. Michael.
Fenrir grunted unhappily, but didn't say anything because they both knew he had already exhausted all his arguments against this.
"We'll see him in two weeks at the latest," Harry offered conciliatorily, grabbing Fenrir's hand and pulling it to his chest. "Now, try to smile or our son will think you're mad at him."
Fenrir sighed, his breath tickling teasingly against Harry's neck. "I don't like this, Harry, I can't protect him when he's away for school."
"I can," Harry said softly, tilting his head up to look Fenrir in the eyes. "The wards I have around Michael are unbreakable and they will alert me at the first sign of trouble. There's absolutely no one on this planet that can get past my protection spells and harm Michael."
"You told me this before," Fenrir grumbled, and it almost sounded accusing.
Harry laughed. "Obviously you didn't believe me, wolfie. Or were you... distracted?"
"You blackmailed me into this," Fenrir growled. "You and Michael both."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, wolfie," Harry replied with a bland smile and mirth in his eyes. "You realised how much going to Hogwarts meant to Michael and you were finally convinced by our arguments. That's what happened."
"What happened is that you and Michael collaborated to make sure I got absolutely no sex until I agreed to this," Fenrir snapped, thinking back on weeks of sex deprivation and interrupted make-out sessions.
Not that Harry had been so overt about what he was doing. It had always started with Harry happily reciprocating his attention, sweet increasingly feverish kisses, slender hands roaming over his chest and unfastening their jeans. And then he had started talking, about how he could see where Fenrir was coming from but how important this was for Michael, how much he wished their son was allowed to go, if perhaps they should weigh the pros and cons once more? Or Michael would storm into the hut, pull a disgusted grimace and then start ranting about how unfair it was that he wasn't allowed to go, and that Remus and Sirius had told him so many amazing stories about their time in Hogwarts and that he wanted to spend time with people his own age for once and that Sarah was going, so why wasn't he allowed to go? And so on and so forth, until any and all thoughts of sex had evaporated from his mind.
Then there was the sulking. The silent treatment. The pouting. The pleading puppy-dog eyes, and damn if Michael hadn't inherited that special ability from Harry. So it wasn't his fault that he had finally given in, and it certainly hadn't been his idea.
But Harry knew of his reservations, just as Fenrir knew that going to Hogwarts, claiming his wizarding ancestry was as important to Michael as it was to Harry. It wasn't even like the day that damned owl had delivered the acceptance letter had come as a surprise to him, Harry had hinted and cajoled and tried to convince him for years. But still he had wanted nothing more than to burn that letter and pretend that Hogwarts was just another one of Sirius' outrageous bedtime stories.
And it wasn't the magic. Harry had magic - good, warm, friendly, playful magic – and so did Michael. He could accept that. He had accepted that. But that didn't do away with his reservations concerning the wizarding world as a whole - deceitful, prejudiced, hectic, unsafe – and he didn't want any of them to be drawn into that world any more than they already were.
"I know you'll protect Michael," he finally offered, gently cradling Harry's face in his palms. "I'd just feel better if I was there protecting him, too."
"Me too," Harry admitted, soft sigh puffing against Fenrir's chin. "But I think we have to allow our son to grow up so he can learn to protect himself. That's what good parents do, right?"
Fenrir huffed, pushing himself harder against Harry's body because he knew how important being a good father was to Harry and he had read the slight insecurity in Harry's gaze, the plea to be reassured. "We've earned enough brownie points over the years, little one," he grumbled, earning himself a smile. "And I'd be happy to take the blame."
Harry laughed, snuggling for a moment into Fenrir's broad chest before he pulled back. "Thanks, wolfie. But I think we'll put your brownie points to better use. We'll have the hut all to ourselves after all..."
He lifted onto his tip toes to press a chaste but promising kiss to Fenrir's lips, twining his fingers through Fenrir's hair and tugging lightly.
"Uh, do you have to do that? There're children around, you know?" Michael chose that moment to interrupt, rolling his eyes good-naturedly.
Fenrir reached out to his son, drawing him to his chest with a curious mixture of werewolf roughness and fatherly gentleness, bumping his nose against Michael's temple and taking a deep sniff of his hair. Harry was as always in awe at how Michael all but melted in Fenrir's sure embrace, putting all that teenage rebellion and adolescent recalcitrance aside and soaking in all the love and protection that Fenrir so willing gave. A soothing growl rumbled up in Fenrir's chest and Michael answered with a growl of his own, not quite as deep, almost a purr.
"You be good now, you hear, cub?" Fenrir demanded, smoothing his hand over the young werewolf's back. "Don't make your papa worry."
"Promise," Michael said earnestly, meeting Fenrir's eyes. "Thanks for letting me go, dad."
"Yeah, well, the two of you can be remarkably persuasive," Fenrir grumbled, reluctantly releasing Michael from his hold.
"Michael, why don't you and Fen take your trunk and Minnie on the train before all the compartments are occupied?" Harry spoke up before Fenrir could add something. "Please, wolfie."
"Come on, cub," Fenrir said, hoisting Michael's large trunk up with ease and smiling as Harry surreptitiously wiped at his eyes. "Minnie doesn't seem very happy, maybe she'll settle down once she's out of the hustle."
"It's the carrier," Michael pointed out, picking the barking feline up. "She doesn't like it. It's for cats, and she knows that."
"That must be pretty offensive to her," Fenrir agreed lightly. "You better let her out during the train ride, then, or you won't have a moment's peace..."
Harry looked after them until they disappeared into the Hogwarts Express, Fenrir lecturing Michael about eating the lunch Maya had prepared for him on the train ride and not only sweets from the trolley lady, while Michael discreetly rolled his eyes, laughing when Fenrir affectionately ruffled his hair.
"Does it not unnerve you that he is so persistently happy?" Voldemort suddenly appeared at his side, also looking after Fenrir and their son.
"Personally, I like to take it as a compliment of our good parenting skills," Harry answered. "Didn't expect you to show up today."
"It was on my way," Tom replied nonchalantly. "And I was wondering when you could have a look at the wards around my castle."
"You don't trust me with your wards," Harry pointed out wryly.
"That does not mean that I don't value your opinion," Tom answered easily. "I always enjoy sharing my paranoia with you."
The corner of his mouth lifted when Harry chuckled. "It's not paranoia if..."
"Indeed." Tom nodded, and they stood next to each other in silence for a while. "Has seeing it for yourself changed your opinion?"
"Three first-years with possibly abusive backgrounds," Harry said softly, closing his eyes briefly.
"Four, actually. All of them raised by Muggles," Tom corrected, finally turning towards Harry. "Severus and Minerva will sit them down and discuss their options with them immediately after the sorting, like they have done with all the abused children that have come to Hogwarts in the last decade."
"You can't apprehend all Muggle children as soon as the exhibit the first signs of magic," Harry stated, leading Tom over to one of the benches and sitting down. "I want to do more than damage control as well, but you can't generalise that all Muggle parents are abusive or neglectful."
"Statistics speak against them, though," Tom insisted, stretching out his long legs and starting to swirl his wand between his fingers. "We could obliviate all the parties concerned and place the children with adoptive parents, magical parents."
"How would you have reacted if you found out that someone had erased your memories and created a new identity for you out of thin air?" Harry demanded, smiling slightly when he saw Fenrir and Michael heading towards Emily, Frank and their youngest daughter Sarah. "And you know as well as I do, that changing one's memories does not change the past or do away with pain already suffered. Would you really have children feeling hurt, disappointed, angry and scared but not knowing why?"
"May I enquire what you suggest?" Tom asked politely.
"Hogwarts registers all the children as soon as they show the first signs of possessing magic, correct?" Harry asked. "That's how the letters are issued."
"So you intend for us to make our move then," Tom concluded, looking pleased.
"Those families are left alone for too long after their world view has been tilted upside down," Harry said softly. "Maybe we can stop some families from deteriorating and if not we can at least get the children out before things escalate."
"There's no equivalent of child services in the wizarding world," the Dark Lord reminded Harry.
"About time that changed, don't you think?" Harry demanded. "There's already the mentorship programme for Muggleborn Hogwarts students. Just let it start earlier. Have regular check-ups on the families of Muggleborn children and send a pureblood wizard or witch to help both parents and children adjust to having magic in their lives."
"You realise of course that there will still be some children who will need to be removed from their parents' questionable care," Tom cautioned, and Harry sighed.
"What are the options?"
"The four students we noticed today will be given the option of becoming wards of the school and will be allowed to stay at Hogwarts during the summer break. Meanwhile, Minerva and Severus will also be looking for suitable foster or adoptive families," Tom explained, his eyes fixing on a small eleven-year-old girl with a bruise just peeking out under the sleeve of her wide sweater. "I don't believe, however, that opening Hogwarts to younger children is advisable."
"An orphanage then," Harry suggested.
"While I do realise orphanages must hold a certain romantic connotation for you I can assure you that they are very dreary places," Tom answered. "I set one on fire when I was seven."
"Geez, Tom, don't tell me stuff like that." Harry got up almost hastily. "I'm about to send my son off to school; I don't need to hear about how dangerous you were already as a kid."
"My apologies. It was my understanding that you wanted me to be more open about myself," Tom said immediately, also standing up.
"Yeah, favourite colour, food preferences, hell, your first crush," Harry retorted. "But I prefer to remain blissfully ignorant of all your crimes."
"My first romantic interest was the house mistress of that very institution. She called me the devil's spawn, but I'm afraid I was too young to appreciate the compliment then, which led to me losing my temper," Tom replied. "But I remembered her fondly in later years..."
"Okay, let's change the subject," Harry interrupted. "Or better yet, let's end the conversation. I'll see you in a few days, we can talk about everything else then... and yes, I'll have a look at your wards as well."
"Perfect, I'll expect you Tuesday at 3 p.m. Enjoy your day, Harry," Tom agreed before he turned and walked towards the portal with long strides and no backward glance.
Harry rolled his eyes, startling a little when strong arms wrapped around his waist from behind, pulling him against a hard chest. "I still don't like it when you do that."
"I don't like it when you leave my sight," Fenrir grumbled back, pressing a kiss to Harry's neck. "Michael is all packed up and we also helped Sarah with her things, so I guess all that is left for us to do is say our goodbyes."
"I don't like that part," Harry mumbled. "Fen..."
"I'm pretty sure no one does, sweet little wolf," Fenrir replied. "Just keep breathing and smiling and being happy for Michael and once we're home we can wallow in self pity and distract ourselves with sex."
"That might work," Harry whispered and reached for Fenrir's hand. "Just don't let go of me."
"Never," Fenrir replied, tightening his large hand around Harry's smaller one before tugging him over to their son, who had turned away from Sarah and her family and was coming towards them.
In the matter of seconds, Michael had found his way into Harry's waiting arms, allowing the slender man to pull him in and sighing softly when Harry tried unsuccessfully to flatten his hair. "I'll miss you, papa. I really want to go, but I'll miss you."
Harry smiled a little sadly, cradling his baby boy to his chest and noticing not for the first time that Michael was quite a bit more careful with him than with Fenrir. Werewolf strength was something to be enjoyed in small amounts as they had all learned when Michael had tackled Harry in a hug when he was five and broken two of Harry's ribs. It was a fond memory, in spite of the pain. Michael had been glued to his side for weeks afterwards and had played his nurse maid with all the enthusiasm of a five-year-old, bringing him soup, telling him stories and watching intently as Rudolphus healed him.
"Don't, okay? Let us do all the missing and you go and have a wonderful time, make a ton of new friends and learn everything they have to teach you," Harry said softly, pressing a kiss to Michael's forehead and smiling at his son.
A whistle signalled that all Hogwarts students should board the train now, and Fenrir drew both Harry and Michael against his chest, taking a deep, deep breath of their mingled scent, holding the core of his pack close and feeling a lump build in his chest that was mirrored by a hitch in Harry's breathing pattern.
"We'll see you on the day before the full moon," Fenrir reminded, releasing both of them before drawing Harry away from Michael and into his own arms. "But if you want to come back earlier - "
"I know, dad," Michael interrupted. "I'll write you soon and I'll - "
"Michael, come on, you're going to miss the train!" Sarah shouted, already on the train but holding the door open for her friend.
"Go," Fenrir said in that voice that did not allow room for discussion or even hesitation, and Michael turned away and took a few fast steps towards Sarah, jumping onto the train and carefully bumping shoulders with the small blonde girl as he turned around to face his parents.
The second whistle was followed by steam billowing around the train, the sound of heavy wheels being set into motion as the train slowly pulled out of the station as parents and children alike waved and shouted farewells, threw kisses and last minute advice at each other.
Harry raised his hand tentatively, not feeling like he could muster up the necessary strength to wave at his parting son, and rested himself more firmly against Fenrir's strong form. They remained like this until the train was not even a tiny pinpoint on the horizon anymore.
"The first time is always the hardest." Emily sighed and Harry only then really noticed that she and Frank were standing next to them. "The house always seemed so silent and lonely after they were gone, but now that Sarah also fled the nest..."
"I half expected you to tell me how peaceful and relaxed it would be, now that the kids are out of the house," Harry commented, trying not to think about how difficult it was to breathe right now.
"Oh, that too, but the first few day are a little hard," Emily answered with a gentle smile at the young man. "Let me know if you want to be lonely together, okay? Maria told me about this little Italian restaurant that just opened in a side street of Diagon Alley; we could go and check it out next week?"
"I'd like that," Harry agreed. "How about Thursday? That should give Fen and me enough time to get over the worst of missing Michael."
"Great, I'll send you an owl with the address," Emily answered, intertwining hands with Frank, who had been engrossed in a conversation with Fenrir.
"Ready to go home, honey?" he asked, turning towards her.
She smiled and nodded and after a last round of goodbyes, Fenrir and Harry were alone on the now deserted platform.
"You okay, little wolf?" Fenrir asked softly, trailing a hand over Harry's side.
"I don't know," Harry admitted. "I really wanted to be the cool, non-clingy father, who's happy that his son is growing more and more independent with every day and that he won't be needed for much longer, but..."
"Michael will always need us, we're his parents," Fenrir declared firmly. "And you know better by now than to assume that being independent does mean you can't rely on someone or can't still want them to take care of you."
"Yeah, I guess," Harry answered with a small, grateful smile and took a shuddery breath. "Still hard to see him go."
Fenrir grumbled in agreement. A part of his pack was missing, there was no way to sugarcoat that fact. But Lin had left the pack for a while, too, travelling around Europe and spending time with Marrock's pack. They had received postcards every now and then until one day she had shown up in person and declared that she was there to stay. She had fit herself back into the pack's life as if she had never left and a couple of weeks later she had introduced them to Robert, a shy young man, who owned a bookstore in Muggle London and who was so obviously smitten with the tall brunette that Fenrir hadn't been able to hold up his scepticism for long.
Michael would come back as well, maybe with a few more stories to tell and most likely a few inches taller, but still the same Michael. Still their son.
"Let's go home, pretty little one," Fenrir said instead of voicing his thoughts. "I know of a way or two to make us feel better about Michael not sleeping in the next room over anymore."
"I like the way you're thinking. I'm all yours." Harry laughed a little, lifting onto his tip toes to brush Fenrir's lips in a short kiss. "Portal or apparition?"
"Portal," Fenrir answered immediately, feeling his blood pump a bit faster at Harry's quick agreement, but then groaned. "What now, Travers?"
"David?" Harry asked in surprise, peering around Fenrir's broad form and spotting the grey-haired wizard. "Everything okay?"
"Yes, I just... Can I talk to you for a minute?" David asked before adding towards Fenrir. "It won't take long."
"Fine," Fenrir grumbled. "Why would today be any different after all?"
"I'll make it up to you," Harry promised softly, caressing Fenrir's stubbled cheek.
"You always say that," Fenrir snapped, knowing that he was being unfair and a little childish, but not in the mood to care very much.
"And I always do," Harry pointed out, leaning up for a tender kiss. "Look, wolfie, you can be grumpy about it and sulk or you can take the time to think about what exactly you want us to do once we're home because I will fulfil all of your wishes. Your choice."
"I can do both," Fenrir grumbled with a small smirk, slapping Harry's bottom as he passed him. "I'll multitask."
"You do that." Harry laughed before gently bumping his shoulder against David, the wards around the older man reaching out to greet him and telling him that David didn't feel threatened or afraid but only a little nervous and confused. "Let's walk."
"Sorry," David murmured when they were a good distance away from Fenrir.
"Don't worry about it." Harry grinned. "The sex is always the best when Fenrir's a little frustrated. He get's creative. But I doubt you came here to talk about my love life..."
"I knew you'd be here," David explained. "I was here earlier, thought I could say goodbye to Michael, but there were too many people around."
"I'm sure Michael will understand," Harry said softly. "But I know you too well to believe that you came here for Michael, either."
David sighed, running a tense hand through his grey hair. "It was a foolish decision to make me his godfather."
"I never regretted it," Harry answered firmly.
"Not even when I attacked him after he pulled that prank?" David asked carefully, glancing briefly at the younger wizard.
"Nothing happened and Michael knew better than sneak up on you like that," Harry replied. "Though, I did like his costume."
"He looked more cute than scary," David admitted with a self-deprecating half-smile. "Rather embarrassing to go into panic mode because of eight-year-old in a bear costume, isn't it?"
Harry laughed lightly, but didn't respond, knowing that David had needed time to gather his courage to say whatever he came here to say, but also knowing that Fenrir was not a man of patience.
"Draco gave me this," David finally said, reaching into the pocket of his robe and retrieving a little square velvet box.
Harry carefully took the small box and opened it. "He proposed?" he asked, a little surprised and mostly happy. "What did you say? Please tell me that you didn't say you had to talk with me about it."
"Not exactly," David murmured, grimacing. "He didn't propose. He gave me this ring, a Malfoy family heirloom, so that I could propose."
Harry furrowed his brow in confusion. "Huh? That's taking this following-your-lead-thing a little too seriously, isn't it?
"Quite the opposite," David answered with a small sigh and took the box back, slipping it into his pocket. "Draco is from a more prestigious family than I am and he covers most of our expenses, so if he were to propose to me and I were to accept, he would automatically be considered the dominant partner – the one who's allowed to make all the decisions concerning our living arrangements, our professional occupations, our married life, including the question of children."
"His parents still want him to procure an heir, don't they?" Harry asked, sighing as well when David nodded. "And they want you to marry?"
"Yes. Lucius and Narcissa have accepted that Draco wants me in his life, but they aren't going to accept that he remains childless," David explained. "They're very much in favour of Draco or I bearing our children. I can't expect Draco to stand up against his parents, again."
"But if you propose to Draco you can claim the dominant role and Draco's parents will have to go through you," Harry concluded. "It's not a bad plan."
"Draco wants children," David pressed out. "I don't. Even if I liked children I still couldn't risk having a defenceless, dependent little human being around me. Draco sacrificed so much already, I don't want him to give up even more."
"First of all, I don't think Draco considers anything that he has done for you a sacrifice and he wouldn't have given you the ring if he didn't want you to propose," Harry stated calmly. "And secondly, if you ever decide that you do want children, I'd be more than happy to help with keeping them safe."
"Like you have been keeping Draco safe?" David asked softly, and his voice sounded pained. "I'm not good for him, Patronus. I'm not good for anyone."
"I disagree," a new voice interrupted them and Draco stepped around one of the tall boards that doted the platform and offered railway schedules, advertisements and instructions about how to behave in the Muggle world. "Thanks, Harry. I'll take it from here."
"No problem. Let me know when congratulations are due." Harry smiled encouragingly at David and briefly rested a hand on his shoulder, squeezing lightly. "I'll see you tomorrow, after Draco had time to set you straight, okay?"
David returned his smile more hesitantly, but took Draco's hand when it was offered to him, letting himself be drawn against the tall blond. As always, Harry marvelled a little at how far David had come, that even though the older man still didn't like touch as a general rule he seemed to find comfort in Draco's careful and always tender hold and even sought it out more and more often. And Draco had made considerable progress as well, no longer relying solely on Harry to help David, but greedily latching onto every bit of trust David was willing to give him and proving himself worthy of it time and time again. Harry still was David's safety net, but Draco had grown with the responsibility of being David's partner, and frankly, Harry was impressed with both of them.
"I came up with some ideas," Fenrir greeted him, quickly grasped Harry by the hand and pulled him through the gateway back to the Muggle world, as if afraid that someone else would pop up and lay claim to Harry's time. "We'll start with your sweet little butt naked and at my disposal."
"That sure sounds like it could be fun." Harry hummed appreciatively, laughing happily when a possessive growl rumbled up in Fenrir's chest. "Lead the way, my Alpha."
*sniff* That's it, folks! This is really the end...
Oh, no, wait, there was one more thing... REVIEW! :)
Thank you all for reading!