Author's Notes: Well, this is the last real chapter, just the epilogue to go. I started on that, but if you guys have any lingering questions, then tell that in a review, and I'll put that into the epilogue.
You may ask, what took me so long? Well, several things, actually. On the one hand I wrote the chapter, but I just wasn't happy with it. I didn't plan on ending it this way, but I worked through some issues, saw some things, and this is what I ended up with. I re-read it several times. Thought about it, but in the end, I just felt that I couldn't end it any other way. I know some people will be a bit disappointed, but oh well, can't please everyone.
The other thing that delayed was that I'm trying to write a novel right now. It's sci-fi, and happens in the future. It may be a bit dystopian, but not really. I'm writing it in Hungarian, which is sometimes difficult, because I'm so used to writing it in English. However, I'll also write it in English after I'm done. No publisher, I'll probably just go ahead with self-publishing. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :D
So after the epilogue, I may not write HP anymore. Though I do keep thinking about my Lucius / Harry story, which I always wanted to write a sequel to. Now that would be dystopian. We'll see. I also have this almost PWP idea for a series about Draco, from his POV. Though PWP needs a different kind of inspiration. :D
Still looking for likes to Zelda of Arel and Drarry Shippers on Facebook. Adults only!
Now, time to thank my lovely beta. Faye, you're always such a big help. I'd lack some serious amount of commas and capital letters without her. Also, for the life of me I can't learn that it's Floo, not Flo.
Read and review guys! Love reviews.
Chapter 18: Divorces
Harry was a bit sad to leave Rome on Sunday morning, but was also glad to see his kids again. He had sent them an owl with some of the pictures, also talked through the Floo, but it just wasn't the same. Therefore, when he was bombarded by three bodies upon entering the Manor, he was beyond happy.
They all settled down in one of the parlors. The older Malfoys and Hermione joined them, and the house-elves brought refreshments. It turned into quite the little party as with Draco's help, Harry told them almost everything about the trip. He did leave out the kissing parts.
"Didn't you visit Wizard sites?" asked Hermione.
"Do you think we wanted to be discovered so desperately?" Draco retorted a bit sarcastically.
"I see your point." Hermione blushed at missing the obvious.
"Next time." Harry grinned.
"Though don't expect a lot," the blond explained. "Because of their distaste for the Vatican, and the restrictive Roman wizarding government, most Italian wizards just have a house there, and not actually live there. Their version of wizarding Rome is tiny."
"You didn't say anything about restrictions," Harry said, hoping he hadn't broken any laws.
"That's because you hardly use any magic as it is. There are rules like no Apparition, no Legilimency, no appearance altering magics. Also, Rome is so ancient, the site has natural magic dampeners. Though some say it may be a curse. Anyway, spells seem to falter or just not work in most areas of the city. House-elves are forbidden, but they refuse to stay long anyway. They are hurt by the dampeners."
"I've never heard of this," noted Hermione.
"Oh, it's sort of common knowledge. There had been some studies on it centuries ago, but no one bothers with it anymore. You probably want to read up on it now. I'll point you to the relevant volumes in the library."
"Thank you!" Hermione's eyes lit up at the thought of research.
When Harry was done with the rest of the story of their stay, had passed the printed out pictures around, he took a deep breath, and plunged ahead with telling them what he had decided.
"Everyone, I'm getting divorced," he announced.
The children looked at him quizzically.
"The same as Aunt Hermione," he tried to explain.
"Why?" James asked.
"Your mother and I haven't been getting along as we should. She had been going away a lot, and it just doesn't feel like we're really married anymore." Harry tried to explain without including what he had seen in Thailand.
"Can't she like, I don't know, stay more?" James was clearly getting more upset.
"James, Dad's with Draco now," Al spoke up, rolling his eyes at his brother.
Everyone looked at the boy in astonishment, who looked back at them with a raised eyebrow.
"I guess it was obvious just to me then," the boy said.
"Naw, I knew it too," Scorpius said, giggling, and the boys shared a smile.
Harry frowned at them, but shook his head. He was probably just seeing things.
"Is this true then?" James demanded, his tone accusatory.
"Yes." Harry could only admit it.
"So that is why you're divorcing Mum?" He stood up, and glared at his father.
"No, James. It's not because of Draco. It's because it doesn't work anymore. If it did, then I wouldn't have looked Draco's way." Harry wanted the boy to see his reasons. "Please understand, I'm not that kind of a man. I've been faithful to your mother for all these years, but I realised that even when she's here, it's like being with a stranger. We don't make each other happy. Therefore, I've decided to get a divorce. That I found my happiness with Draco is not connected. Maybe, the two are connected just in that when I closed that chapter of my life, I realised that there was a new chapter waiting for me." Harry smiled at the blond. "I will never stop loving the three of you. I also want us all to be happy here. I think you have been this past week, and I would like to continue this way."
"So we're not going to live with Mummy?" Lily asked, looking up at her father with big sad eyes.
"No. You may go to visit, but you won't live with her."
"Yay!" she shouted, and rushed to her father, clutching his leg.
Harry had to still himself in order not to fall. He patted her head, encouraging her to let go. He was glad for her reaction. Girls usually favoured their mother, but Ginny really hadn't taken a lot of care of Lily.
"You don't mind?" he asked, crunching down to her level.
She just shook her head, and planted a kiss on his face.
"Al said you're with Draco now," she declared.
"Yes," he nodded.
"What does that mean?"
"Well, it means that I like Draco a lot, and want to give him many kisses."
"You don't want to kiss Mummy anymore?"
"Okay, I like Draco. Am I with Draco? I sometimes give him a kiss."
"No, that's different. But I'm glad that you like Draco."
"He's a blond dragon! I like dragons." She giggled. "Can I give him a kiss now?"
Off she went, to plant herself in Draco's lap, who grinned at her, apparently glad that she liked him. She gave him a big wet kiss, then rested her head on his shoulder. The man's arms went around her to keep her safe.
"Anyone else have any questions?"
"No," they chorused, but James was still looking a bit surly. He had been with his mother the longest, as she only started to travel a lot after Lily's birth. Everyone stood to leave.
Lily extracted herself from Draco's lap, and she ran after her brothers to the playroom, who were being ushered out by Hermione.
Lucius Malfoy stepped up to Harry, and he expected to be told off or something like that, but the older man just patted his shoulder and smiled. Then he joined his smiling wife, and they both left the room.
"That went better than I expected," Harry remarked.
Draco smiled and embraced him. Harry returned the embrace, then they kissed lightly, enjoying the feel of each other.
"Oh, by the way, I'm going to tell Scorpius that I'm getting divorced as well. It probably won't come as a surprise to him though," Draco revealed.
Harry stared at him, and then kissed him with more passion.
"I don't see a point in staying married," the blond explained. "Besides, I'd feel weird, carrying this around, while I was with you," Draco said, pulling down his wedding ring. He placed it in Harry's palm, who just stared at it. "It never meant much to me. It was just a way to produce a legitimate heir. I do have that. I just didn't get a divorce earlier, because it didn't seem important."
"Now it is?" Harry asked, a bit hopefully.
"Of course it is."
Their eyes meet and communicated the feelings neither of them were ready to say out loud.
HP DM HP DM
In the evening the next day, the whole family was sitting down to eat a delicious meal. Harry looked around in happiness, and briefly wondered what a turn his life had taken. Then suddenly, a house-elf popped into existence beside him.
"Master Harry Potter, sir?"
"Yes, Tinky?" he asked, hoping that he got the name of the elf right.
"There is a woman who says is your wife outside the gates. She's screaming and yelling."
Harry got up. Ginny had got the papers then. They had timed it so that she got them after they returned from Rome.
"Let her in, and take her to the green parlour," he instructed. "Excuse me." He left the table to wait for Ginny.
The time it took her to reach the Manor and then the room, allowed him to gather his thoughts. He did want the children, but he wasn't very keen on the house, and if some money could ease the process, he wasn't against that either. He just wanted the divorce to go quickly, and without much publicity.
Draco wasn't very happy about not going after Ginny, but he understood that Harry wanted to spare his children. A clean break was going to be the best.
Harry was not in a hurry to see his future ex-wife, and she was already waiting for him in the parlour. She was standing next to the large hearth in the room, snow dripping from the bottom of her trousers. She looked up from the fire as he entered.
"I see you already started the paperwork," she sneered as a way of greeting.
"Yes. Look, Ginny, I don't want to complicate this," he began, trying, but failing to keep the pleading from his voice. "I just want this divorce quickly over and done with. You can have the house and the money I wrote on the proposition. All I want is to have custody of the children. It has been me who was with them more. You can just go and maybe live in Thailand."
"Yes, well, that's not going to happen," she said, her hands on her hips. "You can forget a painless separation. I won't make it easy for you. By the time I'm finished with you, your reputation is going to be in the gutter."
"Don't do this. Think about the children. I don't want to bring up what I saw in Thailand."
"Oh, you think I can't explain that away? 'My husband couldn't satisfy me'," she began in a whining voice. "'He shuddered every time he touched me. Now that he's living with Draco Malfoy, it's obvious why.' That is what I'm going to say." Malice gleamed in her eyes as she glared at him.
"You know that no one will care if I'm gay. This isn't the Muggle world," Harry pointed out.
"They will care that you married the poor little Weasley girl only to deceive her."
"I see I can't convince you."
"No. I just wanted to prepare you for a fight." She smiled and marched out of the room, her high-heeled boots clapping on the marble.
Harry sighed. He really didn't want to fight. He was tired of it. He just wanted to be happy. He took up her place next to the fireplace, gazing into the flames deep in thought.
"I heard everything," Draco said as he stepped behind Harry and slipped his arms around the other man.
"What am I going to do?"
"Use the potion against her."
"You know I don't want to. I can't even begin to imagine what the children will think."
"I know, but you may have to. They'll understand that you love them."
"I'm afraid they'll doubt the beginning of their existence. It may also put some of their family in jail. I know they deserve that, but Ginny is still their mother and Ron their uncle. I keep remembering the boy I met on the train. All the things we've gone through. I don't want to destroy them. I don't want revenge," he said, taking comfort from the presence behind him.
"Confucius said, 'Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves'. I understand what you're saying, Harry. Though my instinct is to eradicate her from the face of the Earth for everything she's done to you. However, now my job is to release the tension in you now. You know, my mother and Hermione offered to deal with bedtime for the children." He smiled and turned Harry around. "I just know how to get you to relax."
Draco quickly cast a locking spell on the door, and then dropped to his knees. As he started to divest Harry of his trousers, the other man could just moan and think what a lucky guy he was.
HP DM HP DM
The following day passed quickly. The Wizengamot had a short session, and afterwards Harry expected to return home with Draco, but the blond had other plans. Therefore, Harry enjoyed a nice afternoon at the Manor, first with Hermione, then the children joined them. In the evening, Draco arrived home with a large grin on his face, and asked Harry to join him in his study. He sat the other wizard down on his usual place on the sofa. Harry had very fond memories of the sofa, since they kissed on it the first time.
Draco sat next to Harry, and placed a small stack of papers in front of him.
"Most of it is just jargon, the gist of it is that Ginny has signed the divorce papers. She wants the house sold and the price split, a house of her own bought for her in Phuket, and some alimony until she remarries."
Harry stared at his lover dumbfounded.
"How did you...?"
"Let's just say that I can be very persuasive. I wanted to do this for us. This way we are rid of her, and we can live our lives. Just sign on the last page."
Harry took the papers, and walked over to the desk in the room that he had never used before. He turned to the last page. It occurred to him to read the whole thing, but he trusted Draco. He trusted him with a lot of things. He took a quill, and signed at the bottom, marking the end of a chapter in his life. He stared at it for a while, put the quill down, and looked up at his future with a grin. Draco quickly stood, and rushed over to Harry, kissing him with all his passion.
The next day they filed the papers and Harry was officially divorced. He was glad that it was over, and that it was done without all the drama that Hermione was going through, who also had a big day in court the following day. However, the Slythendor trio decided to ask for a little private time with Ron before it, and he agreed to the surprise of everyone.
They chose a small room on the floor of the courtroom for the meeting. It was obviously used for interrogations, with a table and two chairs around it. Ron sat on one chair, and Hermione on the one facing it. Harry and Draco stood behind her, silently supporting their friend.
"So, what do you want, whore? I see you have your toyboys with you," Ron said, very smug and confident.
Hermione just smiled, letting the insult wash over her.
"We know about the potion."
Ron's face betrayed his surprise, but he tried to quickly hide it. He was no Slytherin though.
"What potion?" he shot back.
"We all know that you and Ginny had been dosing us with a complacency potion for all these years, but no longer. We could go to court now, and I'd have house-elf testimony for that. Thank you for that, by the way." She paused for the dramatic effect. "If the Light side wouldn't have made the law of Magical Creatures being equal in front of the law, then we wouldn't be able to use it now. But you had to have that, to allow the house-elves to testify against their former masters."
Ron visibly swallowed, and his air of confidence was diminishing right in front of their eyes.
"However, I'm willing to ignore that, if you do a few things for me." She reached into her bag next to her and drew out a stack of papers. "This is a divorce settlement. You sign it, and it'll seem like we parted amicably. I get the children, and you can see them if you want to, but under my supervision. I won't let you say bad things about me in front of them."
"You'd let me see them?" Ron was surprised.
"Yes. You are their father. They need you, but you have to be a good father. You can't expect your children to love you because they are biologically connected to you. You have to love them and care for them. You also have to respect their mother.
"Look, I haven't slept with anyone else. The Malfoys helped me, because I help them along with Harry in their endeavours to make their side strong again. I have always been faithful to you. You didn't need to give me the potion in the first place. Sure, I didn't want to settle down right away, I wanted to find my own way in the world first, but we could have progressed our relationship to marriage slowly. If it didn't work out, then we could have parted ways and stayed friends."
"I was scared. You're so smart and so beautiful, you were going to become someone important, and soon you would realise I wasn't good enough for you," Ron admitted. "Mum said that I wouldn't be able to hold onto you if I let you live on your own. She was probably right."
"I loved you, Ron, but you destroyed that with your actions." Hermione looked down on the table, saddened by what she had heard. "You should have trusted that, and me, and us. You didn't give us a chance. Now here we are, and it all ended, and I can't trust you anymore. Maybe someday. Sign it, and at least save yourself some of the dignity you have left after everything that has appeared in the papers."
Ron signed it. It was a bit of a let-down, that after so many hours with the solicitors, the changing of laws, and all the effort they have put in so that the courts would decide in their favour, it all ended in a dingy little interrogation room.
That evening Hermione got her children back. She returned to the Manor with them, grinning and the happiest she had been in months. They were both in awe of the place, and enjoyed exploring it with their three friends, and their new friend, Scorpius. They were a bit suspicious of 'Malfoy' at first, but with the urging of the Potter children they quickly saw past the name and the things their father had taught them. Only the unbreakable charms kept the place intact for the next months as six children seemed determined to test them to their limits.