MALFOY MANOR, Aug. 23, 2036
A knock on the door startled Lily out of her thoughts, and she managed an unconvincing grin for her dad when Harry stuck his head around the door.
"Aw, Lils," Harry said, quickly sliding inside and shutting the door behind him, blocking out the voices in the corridor.
"I'm fine, Dad," she protested, swiping at a stray tear.
"Oh, sweetheart. It's normal to be nervous," Harry murmured, gathering her up into a tight hug as best he could without crushing her dress. "You know, your brother was just like this on his wedding day, too. In fact, your father had to –"
"Nice try, Dad," Lily interrupted, giving him a watery smile. "Score's allergic to Valerian. I think I would have remembered if Scorpius had been sporting a purple rash during his vows."
Harry grinned, and the way his eyes lit made him look decades younger.
"Jamie never could get one past my observant little Slytherin," he said fondly, squeezing her affectionately before letting go and stepping back.
"Your observant Auror," she corrected archly, the twinkle in her eye giving her away. She was proud of being the Slytherin of the family. Everyone had assumed Score would be sorted into the house because of their father, but he'd gone Ravenclaw. James had surprised the entire family by being a Hufflepuff, and Albus, who took after their dad as much as Lily took after their father, temperament-wise, had been the family's token Gryffindor.
Harry sighed, his teasing smile softening into something more wistful. "You look beautiful, Lily."
She touched the tiara in her hair tentatively, suddenly feeling shy. She'd been trying to work up the courage to talk to her dad about some of her fears about marriage for weeks, but every time she tried the words felt heavy and wrong on her tongue. And the night before, when Andrew had said that her parents were the happiest married couple he knew while giving his speech at the rehearsal dinner, both her dad and her father had looked stricken for a moment before blushing and waving away the applause. At the time she'd wondered if it had simply been because they'd felt bad for Andrew's parents, who were both in attendance at the dinner but had divorced before he'd even gone off to Hogwarts.
It was one of the things that had gotten her thinking that morning, going over all the memories she had of her parents in her mind. Memories that she hadn't thought about in years, like her first Ministry ball and the tension in her family when Aunt Luna had given birth to Score, had a different flavor to them now that she was older. Things she'd missed suddenly stuck out at her, like the fact that Lucius had said her parents had stayed at the family flat in Paris for their honeymoon – even though it had been sold long before they'd adopted Lily and gotten married.
Andrew was right – her parents really were the happiest married couple around. But why were there so many memories that didn't feel quite right, then? What if they hadn't always been so happy? What did that mean for her own marriage, especially since her bond with Andrew wasn't anywhere near as strong as the one between her parents?
"Is it normal, to be so unsure?" she asked, her throat closing up as thing she'd been so afraid to ask slipped off her tongue.
Harry hesitated, glancing toward the door as if he expected it to open at any minute. Before he could answer, though, she rushed on, the weight that had settled on her chest earlier lifting somewhat as she forced all the words out.
"I love Andrew, I do. But you and father – you're so perfect for each other. Even after what, twenty-six years? I'm just so scared that Andrew and I don't love each other like that. What if I wake up in ten years and I hate him?"
"Oh, baby girl," Harry murmured, wrapping his arms around her and letting her bury her face against his shoulder, just like she used to when she was young. He sidestepped them over to the sofa, urging her down onto it and sitting beside her, both her hands in his.
"You might," he said, and his stark honestly shocked Lily. She'd expected him to tell her that she and Andrew were in love and always would be. "Some day you might hate him. You might decide that your goals aren't the same anymore. You might grow apart. You might leave."
Lily took a shuddering breath, the panic rising again. If her own dad thought her marriage was bound to fail –
"But it doesn't happen overnight," Harry continued, and Lily looked up, realizing for the first time that his gaze was locked on a spot on the carpet, not her. His eyes seemed unfocused. "You don't wake up one morning hating him. And if it does happen, and baby girl, I'm not saying that it will, you'll have plenty of notice. Problems like that don't just crop up – they brew, and you know they're brewing."
Lily frowned. No one in her family had gotten a divorce, and most of her parents' friends were either single or in their first marriage. How could he sound so sure? How could he know?
She heard a slight rustle in the doorway, and her dad's gaze trained up slowly, like he'd known the person was there. Lily turned around, unsurprised to see her father standing just inside the threshold. Her parents were like magnets – they were drawn to each other. It had taken quite a bit of adjustment to get used to seeing her dad by himself when they were at work; it seemed unnatural to see him without seeing her father beside him.
"Even then, Lils, you can work it out," her father said, and it took her a second to realize he was picking up the conversation seamlessly. "Even when it means admitting you were wrong and spending the rest of your life making up for it."
Lily looked to her dad, perplexed and slightly frightened by the shadow of hurt and unhappiness she saw ghost across his face.
"You never needed my forgiveness, Draco. There was nothing to forgive. You weren't wrong, we'd just –" he broke off, floundering for words. "– reached an impasse."
"In twenty-six years, I've never seen you have a fight that lasted more than a day or two," Lily said, looking between her parents.
"You'd hardly have been old enough to know that when you were little," her father said gently, shaking his head. "But you're right. In twenty-six years, we haven't. But in thirty-one? Yes. We have."
Lily frowned. "So you two fought a lot before you were married?"
Harry shook his head, waiting until Draco had joined them in the small sitting room, closing the door on his way over. Lily looked at her father, who'd perched on the edge of the ottoman in front of them, perplexed by how solemn both her parents seemed.
"No," Harry said, taking a deep breath and swallowing when Draco intertwined their fingers.
"We were married in 2005, Lily. Not in 2010."
Lily balked. "No. There are pictures," she said, shaking her head, brow furrowed. "You and father in dress robes, and me with flowers in my hair, with all our relatives at some Muggle courthouse. And later, in the same clothes, there's a gigantic cake, and everyone's smiling and dancing and when I asked you about it, you said it was the happiest day of your life."
The words came out in a frantic rush, becoming jumbled at the end as Lily realized that when she'd been eight and found the album, her father hadn't said it was of their wedding day – he'd said:"It was the happiest day of my life, Lily, because it was the day our family started."
She had just assumed it was her parents' wedding day. She already knew that her dad had adopted her by himself; her parents had shown her the Ministry paperwork just a few years after she'd learned to read. She'd always known she was adopted, just like she'd always known that her dad had adopted her first, and then her father had as well, after they'd been married.
Or maybe not.
"It was the happiest day of our lives, Lils," her dad said, a pained smile on his lips as he watched her blink back tears of confusion and hurt. On a soft sigh, he tightened his grip on Draco's hand and launched into a tale that would change the way Lily looked at her parents – and marriage – forever.
THE MALFOY LONDON FLAT, Sept. 18, 2009
"The baby is leaking again," Draco said, lips curved into a moue of disgust as he held Rose out in front of him, her small legs kicking and flailing.
Harry snorted, rolling his eyes but taking his niece anyway. "It wouldn't kill you to change a diaper, Draco."
"It very well might."
Harry shook his head, telling Rosie in a sing-song voice that her Uncle Draco was a selfish bastard who would be shown the error of his ways when he was a father himself. Rose giggled and babbled back, oblivious to the thunderous look on her other uncle's face.
"You know the Ministry would never approve a same-sex couple adopting a child," Draco said, his tone edged in steel. They'd had this argument many times, and Harry was always convinced that he was right. Draco didn't want children. He'd never wanted children. And that had been alright with Harry, at least until Ron and Hermione had started a family of their own. The naked longing Draco had seen in Harry's expression when he'd first held Rose had caused nothing but icy panic in Draco's own heart.
"Besides, you know I have no interest in having children. Isn't it enough that we babysit the Weasleys' stable of monsters?"
"Are you a monster, Rosie? Are you?" Harry asked, widening his eyes comically and kissing her belly. The toddler laughed. Harry finished fastening her clean diaper, kissing her on the nose before putting her down on the floor. She tore off at full tilt toward the kitchens, no doubt looking for Kreacher, who always had a cookie for whichever child was staying at Grimmauld at the time.
"I'm serious, Harry," Draco said, gritting his teeth and trying to sound civil so the conversation didn't turn into the screaming match it usually devolved into. They'd had this fight too many times to count. "I don't want to be a father."
"No problem. I'll be the father, and you can be the mother," Harry said snidely, his eyes on his niece, who had run back into the sitting room, clutching a cookie and spreading crumbs across Draco's antique carpet.
"Oh, that's helpful," Draco shot back, using his wand to Levitate Rose back onto the hardwood. The toddler squealed in delight, oblivious to the way her other uncle's face darkened. Draco wasn't, though, and he merely shrugged, flicking the wand back into its wrist holster when his carpet was once again safe. "No food on the rug."
Harry clenched his jaw, striding across the room and scooping Rose up. She giggled again, not catching the undertone of tension in the room.
"Children aren't pets, Draco."
"Damn it, Harry, that's exactly my point!" Draco squeezed his eyes shut, taking a deep breath before opening them and continuing calmly, "I don't want children. I like our life the way it is. I don't mind babysitting the brats your friends keep popping out, since it makes you so happy, but I don't want children of our own."
Harry shot him a hard look, tucking Rose more securely against his side before bustling toward the Floo with her.
"I'm finally beginning to believe you on that."
Draco couldn't help but feel guilty at the look of absolute misery on Harry's face, but he stood his ground. They'd weathered a lot of fights in their five years of marriage and had an even rockier courtship before that. Harry would come around. He always did. And Draco was sure that if Harry just stopped to think, he'd see that Draco was right. They were dogged by the press whenever they appeared in public together, and that wasn't even counting the glares and epithets they had to endure from strangers who didn't approve of their relationship. Just last Christmas at the Burrow, he and Harry had begged off before pudding with a thin excuse of other commitments because Angelina's parents, who'd joined them for the meal, had been so uncomfortable having a gay couple dine with them. George had been full of apologies for his in-laws, and they'd heard later that Molly had dug into the Johnsons for their behavior after Harry and Draco had left, but it didn't change the fact that their relationship wasn't generally accepted. They weren't generally accepted. How could Harry want to bring a child into that?
"Harry," Draco said after a long moment, "Don't go away mad."
Molly had been the one to give them that advice when a fight on their first anniversary had turned so vicious that Harry had stormed out and spent the night at the Burrow. They'd held fast to it ever since, doing their best to make sure that angry words weren't the last things they exchanged before leaving the house or going to sleep. It didn't always work, but usually the attempt at least lightened the mood.
Harry just shook his head, jaw clenched.
"I have to get Rose home," Harry said quietly, locking eyes with Draco as he hitched Rose higher on his hip and tossed his handful of Floo powder into the grate.
Draco wasn't sure if it was because of the memory of Harry spending their first anniversary sleeping in the guest room at the Burrow or because he was still more than a little angry himself, but he wasn't concerned when he woke in the morning and found that Harry hadn't climbed into bed beside him overnight.
They worked different schedules, so going to bed or waking up alone wasn't new to him. As an Auror, Harry was called out at all hours of the day and night. Draco often missed dinner himself, either because he was caught up at the office or because he was wining and dining clients, something Harry had made perfectly clear he had no intention of helping him with.
He looked at the clock, wincing when he realized his alarm was about to go off. A long day of meetings beckoned, capped off with a cocktail reception for the latest merger and a charity auction his parents had arranged for one of their pet charities. Draco groaned, hauling himself up and heading for the shower, wondering when he'd get a chance to Floo Harry and apologize.
Harry squared his shoulders, forcing himself to stand upright and look every bit of the vaunted war hero the Ministry was always touting him as. In truth, being inside the Ministry building, even after all these years, made his skin crawl. The interior had been completely redone after the fall of Voldemort, but it still felt claustrophobic to Harry. He exited the Floo, walking quickly to the elevators, where Blaise had said he'd meet him. The other wizard, punctual as always, was already there, head tucked down as he studied a folder full of paperwork.
Blaise was looking up at him by the time Harry joined him, the parchments all neatly stowed in the briefcase that Harry was certain must have an Undetectable Extension charm on it, since it always looked so sleek and slim but carried untold numbers of things.
"All set then?" Blaise asked, his jovial tone not matching the hard look he was giving Harry.
Even though Blaise strongly objected to what they were about to do, he'd never air Harry's dirty laundry in public. He was a good friend and an even better law wizard, and above all else, Harry knew he could count on Blaise to do what needed to be done, regardless of his own opinion. Not that Blaise hadn't done his damndest to talk Harry out of it – he had. They'd stayed up more than half the night arguing, and then after he'd seen Harry safely tucked away in the guest room, Blaise had brewed a pot of coffee, liberally dosed it with potions to keep himself awake and alert, and completed all the paperwork they were about to file.
Harry had not been there when he'd woken up that morning, not that Blaise had been surprised to find him gone. He'd located him on the first try – the Burrow – to let him know when their appointment at the Ministry was scheduled.
The two of them waited in silence as the crowd in front of the elevators grew. Blaise wasn't sure he'd ever had a call returned as quickly as the one had been from the Ministry earlier that morning. And he hadn't been shocked at all when the secretary had informed him that although the usual wait time for an appointment with the office was six to eight weeks, the director herself could see Mr. Harry Potter at noon that very day.
As much as Harry hated using his name to garner favors, Blaise knew this wasn't one of those times. He'd graciously accepted the appointment, Floo'd the Burrow to remind Harry to wear the ridiculous medals the Ministry had insisted on bestowing on him after the war, and disappeared back into his office to finish his filings.
Harry gritted his teeth when they stepped into the elevator, ignoring the unabashed stares of those around him. The Aurors had been moved off-site after the Ministry had been rebuilt after the war, which meant the sight of Harry Potter at the Ministry was an odd one. And he was sure that tongues would be wagging all over Diagon Alley when he and Blaise, who was dressed in his formal green robes that announced him as a law wizard, stepped off on the eighth floor, home to only one department: The Office of Magical Adoptions.
THE BURROW, Dec. 25, 2009
"Was it a potions accident?"
Harry quirked a brow at Teddy. His ten-year-old godson was sporting green hair that matched the Christmas tree in the corner, his cheeks flushed with too much excitement and sugar. He and Andromeda had eaten Christmas dinner at Malfoy Manor before she'd dropped him off at the Burrow so he could open presents with his cousins, but that hadn't stopped "Grandma Molly," as she'd insisted Teddy call her, from serving him up an extra large helping of pudding.
"Was what a potions accident?" George asked, bouncing Rose on his right knee while carefully holding onto the auburn-haired toddler on his left, bouncing her at a much slower rate. Lily wasn't used to the rough sort of play that dominated Weasley family get-togethers, and as a result, everyone was being extra cautious with the eighteen-month-old.
Harry looked over at his daughter – his daughter, the words still made his heart speed up – giggling on her uncle's knee before turning his attention back to Teddy.
"You know, whatever happened to Harry and Draco. Narcissa was talking to my grandma about their 'painful separation,' but I couldn't figure out how they got joined. So was it a potions accident? Did something go wrong and you got stuck to him? Is that why you're not living with Draco anymore? Does it still hurt?"
The room went silent, and Harry struggled to breathe normally. It felt like a hippogriff was sitting on his chest. Harry swallowed past the lump in his throat, desperate to find the right response.
"Everyone knows Harry's horrible at potions," George said easily, still bouncing the giggling girls on his legs. "Can't say even Draco's stupid enough to take him into a lab."
And just like that, the moment passed. The answer was enough to distract Teddy, and sensing that the tension had been dispelled, everyone else in the sitting room resumed their own conversations. It was just like any other Christmas, except that this year, Harry was there with his daughter instead of his husband. And he wouldn't be going home to the flat he and Draco shared, the one they'd fought over because Draco wanted a trendy home and Harry just wanted someplace cozy in a neighborhood that had a corner curry shop and a bakery.
No, he and Lily would be spending the night at the Burrow, sleeping in Ron's old room. And tomorrow, he'd take her home to Grimmauld Place, which was just barely habitable at the moment, thanks to the complete renovation that Harry had started the day he brought Lily home and realized that it didn't even have a proper nursery. The architect, a man named Downsley who'd been a few years ahead of Harry at Hogwarts, had promised it would be done by New Year's, something Harry accepted with great skepticism. Still, it would be great to have it all finished. Even in its chaotic state, it was much improved. Floor to ceiling windows had replaced their tiny counterparts, and every bit of carpeting and wallpaper had been removed, replaced with buttery oak and inviting paint. Fleur was working on the nursery as her housewarming gift, painting animals that would twirl and dance across the walls at the flick of a wand.
Harry sat still, his heart rate still racing, as he watched everyone return to normal around him. The sound of Lily's laugh helped, as did the warm smile Hermione shot him from across the room and the wink from George. But it wasn't until he was tucking a sleeping Lily into her cot that Harry realized he'd never answered his godson's question.
His throat closed as he thought about Draco, who Harry hadn't seen since he walked out three months earlier. It didn't matter that the separation had been his own idea, or that Draco had tried everything possible to get him to change his mind. The constant Owls and Floo messages had stopped once the Daily Prophet had run a story about Harry adopting Lily, the child of magical parents who'd died in a Muggle car accident, about a week after Harry had left. All attempts at contact from Draco stopped after that, and it had become crystal clear that Draco had meant every word of what he'd said about not wanting to be a parent. Harry had known that walking out and adopting a baby on his own likely meant the end of his relationship with Draco, but part of him had expected Draco to come running after him, willing to accept Lily if it meant they could all be together.
Now, every time the mail came, Harry held his breath, expecting a divorce summons. Their marriage wasn't legally recognized by the Ministry, which was the reason Harry had been able to adopt Lily as a single father. They'd never have let the two of them adopt a magical child together. Divorce was common in the Muggle world, though, and Harry was half-tempted to start the proceedings himself just to put an end to the agonizing wait. He'd already walked out on Draco and very publicly ended their relationship by adopting a child on his own. He wouldn't take the decision to get a divorce out of Draco's hands, too.
So yes, Teddy, Harry thought as he turned the night light and set a monitoring spell on in the room Molly set aside for her grandchildren to sleep in. The separation? It does still hurt.
THE MALFOY LONDON FLAT, Feb. 25, 2010
"Darling,all this brooding can't be good for you. You'll get wrinkles."
Draco glared at his mother, who laughed and tipped her silver cigarette holder down, dropping ash on his coffee table. He Levitated a bowl over to her, but she merely arched a brow and flicked the cigarette again, indiscriminately raining down another small pile of ash.
"Seriously, Draco. I want to meet my granddaughter. Get over this churlishness and apologize."
"Get over this churlishness?," Draco repeated, incredulous. "Mother, he left me. He adopted a child, knowing my views on it. The only thing I don't understand is why he hasn't sent me the divorce decree yet."
Draco tried to sound indifferent, but his voice cracked halfway through, making him swallow and grimace. He'd been desperate when Harry had disappeared, frantic that he'd been hurt or kidnapped. A Floo call to the Burrow had confirmed that he was still alive, and that evening Draco had come home to find Blaise packing a box for Harry. The photo album of Harry's parents, a necklace that had belonged to Sirius, his clothes. Harry hadn't asked for any of their wedding gifts or mutual possessions, and somehow that had been worse for Draco. It was as if Harry was walking away from everything – from Draco and everything that could possibly remind him of their life together.
He'd pressed Blaise for explanations, but his friend had shaken his head, telling Draco that Harry was his client and he couldn't divulge any information. That had made Draco nearly insane with fear that Harry had already started divorce proceedings until he'd calmed down enough to realize that Blaise didn't practice Muggle law. His curiosity had been answered a few days later when the Prophet had devoted its entire front page to Harry Potter and his desperate loneliness and desire for children, which had been fulfilled when he'd adopted an eighteen-month-old orphan who had been in the care of the Ministry's Child Services Division ever since the death of her parents four months earlier.
After that, Draco had stopped trying to contact Harry. Nothing could have made it clearer to him that Harry had moved on, and that he'd obviously been planning to do so for some time. Even with the kind of money and fame Harry had, he couldn't possibly have adopted a child in the span of a week and a half. No, Harry would have had to apply to be an adoptive parent months in advance. There were background checks and interviews and psychological tests. Draco knew because he'd looked into it himself when Harry first began talking about wanting a child.
Not that the Ministry would have allowed two gay men to adopt a child together. Though Harry had certainly found a way around that, hadn't he?
"And do you wonder why he hasn't asked for a divorce, Draco?"
"Because our marriage is only valid in the Muggle world, so unless he plans to marry someone else, it doesn't matter?"
He knew his answer was flip and contrary, but Draco didn't care. He'd been enduring these weekly visits from his mother ever since his split with Harry had gone public, and he was tired of putting on a brave face and pretending that he'd had any say in it at all.
"Don't sound so scandalized, Mother," he said peevishly, focusing on using his wand to Banish the ashes she was dropping since it was easier than looking her in the eye.
"Draco, if for one second I thought you believed that Harry doesn't love you, I'd never bring it up again," she said, taking a delicate pull on her cigarette for emphasis.
"Mother, if Harry loved me, he'd never have left."
Narcissa narrowed her eyes, putting her cigarette down in the bowl Draco had put out and leaning in closer to her son.
"Draco Abraxas Malfoy, you are either a fool or an arsehole. I would hate to think I had raised someone who was the latter, so let's hope you're a fool."
Draco gaped at his mother, not sure he'd ever heard her curse before.
"Harry loves you, and you love him. The only thing you two ever really fought about was children, but you didn't even really have a disagreement there," she said, and Draco felt like a fish out of water, his lips moving but no sound coming out.
"I know you, Draco. You want children. I see you with the Weasley brood. You act indifferent, but you aren't."
Draco tried a weak smirk, hoping to head her off. "You're projecting. I'm not the one desperate for a kid, you're the one who wants me to have one because you want a grandchild."
"That may be," she said calmly, refusing to take his bait. "But I also know that you are not your father. He made some terrible mistakes, Draco. Unforgivable mistakes. But he loves you now, and he loved you then. You are nothing like the man you remember him to be, and you will be nothing like him as a father."
Draco felt his throat tighten, his eyes aching with a sudden and unexpected prick of tears. Most of the time his mother liked to pretend she was a mindless socialite, but he knew better. She was extremely intelligent and had moments of shocking intuition. How had she known the real reason he'd been so adamant about not having children?
"The real question isn't whether or not you would be a good father, Draco," she said gently, retrieving her silver cigarette holder and standing. "It's whether or not you're willing to give up everything simply because you're afraid."
THE NOTT ESTATE, March 2, 2010
If Pansy Parkinson-Nott was surprised to find Draco in her entryway, she didn't let it show. Heavily pregnant with her third child, she had a little boy perched on one hip and another trailing behind, leaving sticky footprints that looked suspiciously like grape jam on the otherwise immaculate white marble flooring.
"Ebbie will clean that," Pansy said, catching Draco's horrified gaze and waving his concerns for the floor away.
It wasn't the fact that the house-elf could clean the floor that had him so worried – it was the fact that the house-elf would need to. How in the world had the child managed to step in jam? And why was he so unconcerned about trailing it all over? Hell, why was Pansy so unconcerned?
"You said you wanted to talk to me?" As she spoke, Pansy eased herself down into a chair, putting the toddler who'd been on her hip onto the armrest.
"I just had some questions. About, erm, children," he said, transfixed by the sight of her older son, who had finally noticed he'd been trailing purple jam everywhere and had plopped down on the floor to draw designs in it with his pudgy little fingers.
"If you're expecting advice about how to avoid having them, you've clearly come to the wrong place," Pansy said, sparing a self-deprecating glance at her belly and surprising a laugh out of Draco. She's mellowed since school, even more so since she and Theo started having children.
"I just–" Draco sighed, unsure of what exactly he wanted. "You know about Harry, I'm sure? And the baby he adopted?"
Pansy nodded, absently steadying her younger son as he wiggled his way off the armrest and toddled over to join his brother fingerpainting the floor.
"Lily? Of course. The boys loved her."
That gave Draco a jolt. Pansy had already met Harry's daughter?
"We had them over for dinner a few months ago. She and the boys go to the same preschool playgroup. It's just a few hours every Friday, but they seem to love it, and you'd never catch me complaining about a few hours of quiet."
It seemed unfathomable to Draco that Harry had the little girl in things like preschool already. Of course, he'd have returned to work by now and must have her in some sort of daycare. Or, knowing Molly, probably spending her days at the Burrow. But who took care of her when Harry was called in on a case in the middle of the night? Who made sure she got to bed on time and wasn't spoiled rotten with sweets and toys when Harry had stakeouts and late nights?
"Your questions, Draco? I'm sorry, love, but I have to get the boys down for a nap soon."
Draco personally thought they needed to be hosed down before they came into contact with anything else in the house, but he supposed Pansy was used to living with grape jam stains.
"How did you know?" he blurted, instantly wishing he could take the words back.
"How did I know what?"
"That you and Theo would be good parents. How did you know, Pans?"
He couldn't quite keep the edge of desperation out of his voice, and it was embarrassing. But Pansy's sharp look softened when she saw how worried he was.
"We didn't. And sometimes we aren't. You can't be a good parent all of the time. The only thing you can do is try," she said, snapping her fingers at her sons to stop the fight that was budding between the two of them over a broken toy they'd found under one of the sofas.
"Listen, Draco. You never know what kind of parent you'll be until you already are one. I swore I'd never yell like my mother did, but I scream at them every day. But I love them more than anything, and every day I try to be better. And maybe I do still yell, but we also play and laugh and cuddle. It all balances out."
Draco nodded woodenly. He wasn't worried about yelling at a child. He was worried about being an absolute failure. He remembered cold, silent dinners and afternoons spent in his room quaking in fear because he'd done something that his father had promised punishment for. It had been no way for a child to live, and he was terrified that he'd end up doing the same if he had a child.
"When Alfie was nine months old, Theo took him out with him to the store. And left him there, right in the shopping trolley. Came home with the shopping but not the baby. He realized when he was putting the milk in the cold cupboard. He Apparated back to the store so fast he actually Splinched himself – lost all the toenails on his right foot. I was so mad I could have killed him," she said, but instead of looking murderously angry, Pansy's lips quirked into a smile as she shook her head. "Last week I gave Gus a Pepper Up Potion instead of a juice. The packaging was the same color. Took him to St. Mungo's in a panic and they told me it would work its way out of his system and not to worry, that it happens all the time."
Draco looked perplexed at how any of that applied to him, and Pansy grinned.
"All you can do is love them, Draco. There's no one way to be a good parent, just like there's no one way to be a bad one. The only thing that really separates the two is that a good parents loves their children unconditionally and will do anything for them."
GRIMMAULD PLACE, March 16, 2010
"Look, Harry, are you sure this is a good idea?"
Harry stopped mid-stride, his arms full of the toys he'd been racing around the room to corral. No matter how often he cleaned, he was no match for the clutter that a toddler could spread. At twenty-one months, Lily seemed to be pitching headfirst into the Terrible Twos a few months early, and Harry felt as though he was doomed to spend his entire life cleaning up dumped bins of toys and scrubbing tossed plates of food off the floor and walls.
She'd only been part of his life for six months, but it felt like so much longer. Especially since those had been six months that Draco hadn't been in his life. It had been hard, but Lily was worth it. But that didn't mean that Harry wasn't going to jump at the chance to reconcile with his husband, which was the reason behind the frantic cleaning.
He and Draco had been exchanging letters and Floo calls for two weeks, working up to today: Draco finally meeting Lily. Harry was unaccountably nervous, especially since he now understood why Draco had been so reluctant to have children. He was certain that Draco would love Lils; it was impossible not to. But would Lily take to him? And what if after all these months, they'd grown too far apart? What if Lily got attached but he and Draco couldn't work things out?
"For Merlin's sake, Harry, sit down! You're making me nervous, and I'm just here to make sure you two don't end up throwing your wedding china at each other."
Harry glared at Blaise, who was sitting on the sofa, a cherubic looking Lily perched on his lap. She'd refused the outfit Harry had tried to dress her in and was instead wearing a pair of thick purple tights, a sparkly pink tutu and one of Teddy's sweaters from when he'd been a baby with a menacing looking skull and cross bones.
At least he'd tamed her hair, Harry thought with a resigned sigh. No one could resist Lils in her pigtails. They were so tiny. And that wasn't even mentioning the bows!
He dropped his armload of toys behind the coffee table, sinking onto the sofa next to Blaise. If the entire sum of his plan to win back Draco included flaunting a not-quite-two-year-old's pig tails, he didn't have a prayer.
When the Floo roared to life a minute later, Harry swore his heart stopped beating. Draco emerged, looking slightly anxious but still gorgeous, and immediately strode into the room, squatting down on the floor between Blaise and Harry. He reached a hand out, making eye contact with Harry for a split second before grabbing his hand and holding it tightly, and then reached his other out to Lily.
"Hi Lily," he said, lips curving into a smile. "I'm Draco."
MALFOY MANOR, Aug. 23, 2036
Everyone jumped when the door banged open and Al stumbled inside without an apology for not knocking.
As the baby of the family, they'd never chastised him enough about manners, in Lily's opinion, and it definitely showed. What had been cute for a two year old was decidedly less so for a twenty year old.
She remembered Albus as two. He'd been precocious and adorable, though she doubted he remembered anything at that age. She certainly didn't, or else she'd have remembered how much trouble her parents' marriage had been in.
"Lils, we doing this or what? I was hoping to be out of here by eight. There's this girl I said I'd meet."
She scowled at her brother, but her dad was up and on him before she could respond. Harry exchanged a look with Draco before dragging their youngest son from the room, lecturing him on propriety and manners.
"So you and dad, you divorced?" Her voice squeaked, and Lily swallowed, taking a deep breath. She'd always thought her parents were perfect.
"No, we didn't. I met you and the rest is history," her father said, grinning. "Your dad was right when he thought that I wouldn't be able to resist you. No one could. You were a beautiful child, and you were always so full of smiles and energy. I didn't stand a chance."
Lily smiled weakly. "But the pictures, with the cake and the flowers and that Muggle judge?"
"Your adoption. The Ministry doesn't allow same-sex couples to adopt, but your dad already had custody of you by the Ministry's laws. So we took you to a Muggle court and I adopted you there. It doesn't hold for the wizarding community, but at least in the Muggle world, you and your brothers are ours. There was no way we were letting anyone split up our family."
Lily felt like crying. "But I already did."
Draco wrapped an arm around her, pulling her head against his shoulder.
"Sweetheart, you didn't. Your dad and I, we were on a bad track. Things needed to change or we'd have been headed for divorce. And you are the best change I could possibly have hoped for. You didn't split up our family, you gave us a family. You and your brothers, you're everything we've ever done right."
Lily's breath hitched, and Draco squeezed her.
"Do you want me to get Andrew?"
"No," Lily said, pressing a quick kiss to her father's cheek before straightening. "But you'd better send Aunt Fleur in here. She's going to kill me when she sees my make-up, and Narcissa would faint if I walked down the aisle like this."
"That's my girl," Draco said, kissing her on the nose like he used to do when she was a child. "And Lils? Never doubt that I love you. I always have."
Lily nodded, throat hot with unshed tears.
PARIS, Aug. 23, 2036
"I still can't believe our baby girl is married," Harry said, collapsing into an overstuffed love seat near a the fireplace, which was crackling merrily despite the August heat. It had been spelled not to be warm, of course, since an overly hot room wouldn't have detracted from the ambiance at the self-proclaimed Most Romantic Wizarding Hotel in the World.
"I still can't believe she booked into this hotel for her honeymoon and then foisted it on us," Draco said, scowling at the heart-shaped bed that sat next to the only good thing about the room—the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over Paris.
Harry laughed, kicking off his shoes and nearly sighing at how good it felt to be out of them. Lily's wedding had gone beautifully, despite the shaky start it had gotten off to when the bride and her fathers showed up twenty minutes late. She'd been absolutely gorgeous, and Harry's heart had ached when he'd had to turn her over to Andrew.
The reception had been wonderful as well, hours of dancing and fabulous food, starting off with a champagne toast from George that had left all of the guests blowing confetti out of their ears. Everyone, even Lucius and Narcissa, had seen the humor, and it had set the tone for the evening. The levity perfectly suited Lily and Andrew, especially after the traditional ceremony that they'd agreed to because it was what his mother – and Narcissa – had wanted.
"It was a sweet gesture," Harry said, wrinkling his nose as he looked at the bed. Someone had strewn rose petals across the satin slipcover. "She said she booked it because she remembered that we'd spent our anniversary here."
Draco snorted, using his wand to Levitate the shiny bedspread and dump it in a heap in the corner. The sheets were the same material, though, and he cringed visibly. He and Harry hadn't actually stayed at the hotel when Lucius and Narcissa had booked it for them all those years ago. They'd Flooed home and taken advantage of the fact that the boys had been staying at the Burrow to have some rare alone time at Grimmauld Place before Flooing back in the morning to join Lily and Draco's parents for breakfast at the Georges V.
"We're not sleeping on those sheets," Draco said, eying them dubiously.
"On that we agree," Harry said, opening the bottle of Shiraz he'd snagged from the reception and pouring it into the champagne flutes the hotel had supplied. Neither one of them was eager to try the cheap bottle of bubbly wine that had come with the room. He grinned at the look of mock outrage on Draco's face at the horror of drinking red wine out of the slender glasses, toasting him with one before handing it to him.
"Should we check out and go home, then?" Draco asked, taking a sip of his wine.
"Al would tell on us. He's staying at the house tonight."
"Ah. Another hotel, then? The Georges V never disappoints."
"I don't know," Harry said coyly, putting his wine on the table and standing so he could stretch. He'd shed his formal robes earlier, and the move made his thin undershirt ride up, exposing a tanned belly that was still flat and muscled, honed from years of keeping fit as an Auror."We never did get the typical Parisian honeymoon, you know. Your parents' flat was awful, and we ended up going home after two days."
Draco watched Harry's languid stretch with interest, settling into the chair he'd taken. Harry still moved with an athlete's grace, and he used every bit of it as he stalked forward until he was straddling Draco's legs, looming over him.
"That's true," Draco said, his breath catching as Harry settled into his lap and took the wine glass out of his nerveless fingers, placing it safely on the table. "But I'm still not getting in that bed."
Harry threw his head back and laughed. Over the years he'd come to find Draco's snobbishness endearing, and he personally couldn't have agreed more that the tacky satin sheets were the last things he'd want touching his naked body – or Draco's.
"Even you can't object to the very clean, very large shower we saw when we came in," he all but purred, nuzzling against Draco's neck. The bellhop had given them a very enthusiastic tour of the honeymoon suite when they'd arrived, pointing out the many amenities, including the extra large steam shower and jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.
"Sex in the shower, Potter?" Draco drawled, the breathy sigh he gave as Harry nipped at his Adam's apple canceling out the scorn in his tone.
"Best kind," Harry answered, trailing wet kisses up Draco's jaw and sucking on his earlobe.
The day Draco had met Lily, they'd had sex in the shower after Harry had tucked her away in her cot for the evening. Draco had been so worried about her overhearing them that he'd refused to have sex with Harry in Harry's bedroom, which adjoined the nursery. Ironically, that had been the thing that had truly convinced Harry that Draco was back for good and really did want to be a father to Lily – his concern over their not-quite-two-year old hearing them have sex. The sex itself had been too frantic and rushed to actually be mind blowing, but it had been full of tentative touches and wordless apology and overall, perfect. And by some unspoken agreement, it had become their thing. Whenever they'd been angry with each other, they had shower sex. On anniversaries and birthdays, they had shower sex. And now, after an emotionally trying day that included not only their daughter's wedding but also recounting their own very private, very painful near-divorce while trying to save her wedding, Draco was more than willing to engage in a little therapeutic shower sex.
"You were listening when Gillaume mentioned the flavored lubes in the shower, right?" Harry whispered, barely choking back a snicker. After that particular amenity had been pointed out, Draco had stuffed a handful of Galleons into the man's hand and hustled him to the door. The bellhop had smirked knowingly, assuming they were anxious to get started tasting the lubes, but Harry had seen the look of undisguised horror on Draco's face.
"Don't push it," Draco muttered menacingly, jiggling his legs so Harry had to stand.
It felt almost like they were newlyweds again, chasing each other into the well-appointed marble bathroom, leaving a trail of clothing behind themselves. By the time the glass shower walls had steamed up, they were already inside, ignoring the scented lubes in favor of the vial of slick that Draco always carried, brewed in his own potions lab at home.
Draco gasped out as he felt Harry slide into him, the warm, welcome fullness both familiar and thrilling. Harry responded by sharply thrusting his hips, leaving Draco scrambling for purchase against the slick wall, trying to stay on his feet as Harry slammed into him. There were no soft touches or whispered endearments, only the frantic rush toward completion that always marked their shower sex encounters. It was always just like it had been that first time, rushed and hard, except that the tentative wariness they'd once had to fight through was now replaced with warm, possessive familiarity.
Harry mouthed kisses against the wet skin of Draco's neck as he drove deep inside him, his breath coming in harsh pants as he felt the tingle of his orgasm building in his belly. He wrapped his hand around Draco's cock, not pausing to use any of Draco's carefully crafted lube to ease the way as he stripped it with a pressure that was almost painful. Draco responded instantly, his muscles trembling as he came. Harry gritted his teeth, thighs burning with the effort of keeping them both upright through the waves of his own orgasm.
Harry eased out of Draco, wrapping his arms around his torso and spooning up behind him as they let the water wash over them as they caught their breath. Harry had often thought over the years that if they could just stay in the shower forever, their lives would be perfect. Their showers had seen them through many rough patches, and it had always been tempting to stay inside their little cocoon of peace for as long as they could.
Tonight, though, Harry was eager to turn the water off. He had every intention of being the consummate honeymooner in Paris, and that meant leaving the confines of the shower and hitting the streets. There were cafes to visit, gardens to stroll and alleys to steal kisses in. Not to mention the Georges V hotel key that Andrew had slipped him after Lily had announced they'd be staying at Malfoy Manor for the night instead of heading to Paris, letting her parents take their hotel room at the top of the Eiffel Tower. After all, Lily took after Draco in just about every way imaginable, and Harry had to give her new husband credit; he did know their family well – including the fact that neither Draco nor Lily would actually spend the night in a hotel with satin sheets.
NOTE: If you enjoyed this, you might like some of the slash offerings on my original fiction site. Visit me at www[dot]bru-baker[dot]com, and be sure to drop by the feedback section to say hi! *g*
To Euclidian: I'd have responded in a PM, but you have those disabled, babe! You were right about the discrepancy in part I - I had changed the timeline later in the writing process and forgotten that one. Oops. I'll change it in the text. Here's the official timeline - it should help:
Since future!fics can be hard to imagine, especially one that have so many flashbacks, here's a helpful timeline:
Hogwarts leaving ceremony: 1999
Harry and Ron go through Auror academy: 1999-2001
Harry and Draco start dating: 2002
Ron and Hermione marry: 2002
Harry and Draco marry: 2005
Rose Weasley born: 2005
Lily born: 2008
Harry leaves Draco: 2009
Harry adopts Lily: 2009 (Lily, age 18 months)
Harry and Draco reconcile: 2010 (Lily is now 21 months)
Draco adopts Lily: 2010
Scorpius born to Luna: 2012
James born to surrogate: 2014
Albus born (adopted at 4 months): 2016
Lily attends her first Ministry ball: May 2, 2018
Lucius and Narcissa take Lily, Harry and Draco to Paris: April 2025
Present day: 2036 (Lily is 28)