Harry knew that it was considered rude to speak ill of the dead but he did wonder exactly what Remus Lupin and Nymphodora Tonks were playing at when they decided that in case of their death, he should be the one to get custody of their infant son.
Yes, ok, so technically Tonks' mother Andromeda was meant to help but after the death of her husband and only daughter, she was not in a position to do so and had promptly signed her share of custody to Harry. So now here he was, not even eighteen, not yet finished school and father to a 6-month-old baby. He wondered briefly if he could get Andromeda's custody turned over, as she was quite obviously not in any right mind.
Shuffling around at three in the morning feeding his crying godson with a bottle that Kreacher had provided, Harry really wished that his father's late friend had picked someone else.
The floo flared green and a slim girl with bushy brown hair stepped through dusting off her jeans and T-shirt.
"Morning Harry," she greeted cheerfully. Harry looked up at her and attempted to smile. He was not feeling particularly cheerful this morning. His godson apparently had colic as Mrs Weasley had warned him and Harry had had no sleep.
"Have you registered as Teddy's guardian at the Ministry yet Harry?" Hermione asked, concern for her best friend showing in her voice. She could see he wasn't sleeping well but wasn't sure how to help.
"No, I'll go later on today," Harry said. "Would you like some breakfast?" he said gesturing at the food on the table. Hermione sat down and poured a goblet of orange juice but didn't eat anything. They sat there in companionable silence for a while until the wailing of a baby disrupted the peace of the house. Harry groaned and laid his head on his arms. Hermione squeezed his shoulder as Kreacher came in.
"Master Teddy, sir" Kreacher said depositing the wriggling mass in Harry's arms. Kreacher took one look at Hermione and then fled the kitchen. Harry started to warm a bottle and sat down to feed Teddy.
"I'm going to Australia to find my parents," Hermione finally said into the silence of the room. Harry looked up from the baby in his arms.
"Do you need help?" he asked her. She shook her head.
"No, it's probably better I do this alone,"
"If you need money or anything…" Harry trailed off. Hermione smiled at him. "When are you going to leave?"
"This evening, I haven't told the Weasley's yet but I just need to do this. I need my parents back," Hermione said. She stood up, squared her shoulders and move to stand next to Harry. Harry placed Teddy on the table and stood up. Even after his growth spurt, he only stood an inch taller than Hermione.
"I'll miss you," he said at last. "You've always been my best friend. More so than Ron,"
Hermione sniffed and threw her arms around him holding him tight. Harry hugged back with equal fierceness. Having been tempered by years of war, every goodbye felt like it could be the last. Hermione sniffed one more time, nodded and left through the floo with one last look over her shoulder at her first and best friend.
Harry sat down heavily in the table. Teddy grunted and Harry picked him back up and cradled him in his arms. Harry looked down. He supposed Hermione was right; it was time to register as Teddy's guardian.
Harry had attached Teddy to him by way of the muggle sling that Hermione had procured. This kept Teddy up close to him and allowed him to floo into the atrium at the Ministry of Magic. The atrium had finished the renovations now but building noises could be heard throughout the building.
The welcome witch had smiled happily at Hero Potter and directed him towards Children's Services with a flirtatious smile.
On the way to the right office, Teddy had started crying again and Harry pulled him out the sling to hold him in his arms. This was how he entered the office of the harassed witch that ran Children's Services. She took one look at him and sighed.
"You need to take the orphans to St Mungo's before registering them here," she said before returning to the paperwork she was explaining to the couple in front of her who were obviously doing just that. Harry stuttered.
"This is my godson," he explained gesturing to the crying baby. "I need to register as his guardian."
The elderly witch looked at him doubtfully but with the overload of orphans she had come through, she was just glad not to add to the children she needed to look after. Getting the required paperwork out from the first drawer of her desk, she passed it over to Harry.
"Fill in the appropriate parts and sign please. I need three copies." The witch said before turning to greet a man who had five children trailing behind them.
"You need to take the children to St Mungo's before coming here to register the paperwork," Harry heard the women sigh.
"St Mungo's refuses to take them," the man said gruffly. Harry looked up. The man had two boys and two girls behind him. The oldest girl had a baby in her arms. All looked scared, tired and hungry. It had been a month since the war had ended so he supposed they must have been living off scraps. "They said they have too many and they've run out of space,"
Harry heard the elderly witch sigh and he took a closer look at her. She was older than Molly Weasley and Professor McGonagall but not as old as Griselda Marchbanks, then again, very few people were. She looked as tired as Harry felt and he felt sorry for her. Many people were killed in the war so there were probably a number of children now looking for homes.
"You best fill in this paperwork then. Children come here. If you sit in that office there I'll see if I can find somewhere for you." The woman sighed again and passed the man a stack of paperwork.
"I'll take them," Harry spoke up before the children had made it to the room. They turned and looked at him and Harry felt his heart constrict at the heartbroken looks on their faces. "I'll take them." He said again with more force.
"Are you sure Mr. ?" the witch said.
"Potter. I'm Harry Potter. I have enough money to never work again and I have the help of a house elf. I'll take them." Harry said to her. The man who had brought the children in slid the completed paperwork over the counter and left without looking back. The elderly witch sighed again. She really had no other options and couldn't afford to turn down a willing home. Besides, he was Hero Potter so she could guarantee that they'd be treated right.
Removing more paperwork from the drawer, she called the children over to her. The girls made their way forwards whilst the boys were more hesitant.
"Can you tell me your names, how old you are and what your parents were called?" she asked them. The eldest girl spoke up. Harry looked over her closely. She had an aristocratic look to her and would probably grow up to be quite beautiful. She had what was probably brown hair but now matted and black. She was dressed in robes, tattered as they were, so she was probably a pureblood.
"I'm Octavia Harrow," she said. "This is my sister Arianne and Ursula. I'm seven, Ursula is four and Arianne is a year old. Our parents are, were Tabitha and Darius Harrow,"
Well, Harry thought, that made sense then. They were the children of dead death eaters.
"I'm afraid your parents were killed," the elderly witch said to them as gently as possible. The eldest shrugged. She had already guessed that. The baby had no recollection of her parents, not really. It was Ursula who didn't really understand but then she would probably forget about her parents in time. The elderly witch gestured to the boys. Both were probably blonde underneath the dirt and looked too thin to be healthy. They were in jeans and t-shirts so probably halfbloods. Harry briefly wondered if he'd have to negotiate blood purity issues on top of caring for his six new children.
"I'm Tom. This is James," the eldest said. "I'm eight, he's six. We were in Diagon Alley when our parents were killed. They were Hank and Lisa Kibbs."
The elderly witch finished scratching out their answers and handed the forms to Harry to sign. He did so, in triplicate.
"You're all done Mr Potter," the witch said. Harry looked at his new charges. Clothes shopping first it would seem.
"Follow me then," he said tucking Teddy into the sling about him and taking Arianne from her sister. He moved back through the Ministry towards the portkey desk. There was no way he would get this many children through the floo and he didn't dare apparate.