(A/N: And, now the epilogue. Or, IOW, The End.
Time is going to skip around a bit... but hopefully it'll flow nicely and end things satisfactorily. Thanks for reading.
Harry waves as the school bus pulls away, holding William a little tighter than he probably should as he watches Sarah's bus disappear from view. He sighs softly, feeling a bittersweet sort of happiness. It's his baby's first day of school and he suddenly feels old (and the urge for another baby; but he squishes that last impulse).
He went through the morning as usual, managing to keep himself from dwelling on the fact he was sending his oldest child off to school.
He helped Sarah pick her outfit and pack her lunch. He made a massive breakfast (a unanimous shout of joy over pancakes too hard to ignore) and he made sure everyone had backpacks (Natalie and Teddy catching the bus from his this morning) and their school things. But it didn't really hit him until he saw the bus pull away that his eldest is officially in school.
Officially a Big Girl and no longer his precious little baby girl.
He's proud, of course, but he's going to miss having his Sare-Bear home with him.
It didn't help he hadn't been able to deny her firm request to ride the bus 'like a big girl'; he didn't often give into her big, green puppy-eyes but he had been powerless when it came to something so 'normal'. (And if he checked the bus register and route before agreeing, Sarah didn't have to know.)
He probably would have embarrassed her with hugs and weepy eyes at the drop-off, so it was probably for the best. He's a bit envious Draco got to drive Joey, the little boy too nervous about his first day to argue when Draco made it clear he was being dropped off, his face set in the stern expression that Joey (as well as all of the children) knew not to bother arguing with.
"What should we do all by ourselves, Willy?" Harry murmurs, snuggling the toddler, smiling a little when his snuggles are enthusiastically returned.
After weeks of deciding, he and Jake both liked William James as the name for their first born son. A name that combined both of their fathers names, even if Billy tried to protest that Harry's father should have the honor since he was (as Billy put it as respectfully as he could) 'still kickin',' and it wasn't hard to agree to. He still isn't sure about the nickname 'Willy', but 'Billy' just confused his son since that's what everyone calls his grandfather.
He's hoping William takes advantage of the chance of his full attention and the opportunity to do what he wants. Sarah usually comes up with activities since William didn't seem to care and he didn't care what they did either, as long as they spent time together.
William looks up at his mum, smiling around the thumb in his mouth, and shrugs. "Park?" he offers with another shrug. He doesn't whine when his thumb is gently pried out of his mouth and just settles back against his mum's shoulder.
"That might be nice," Harry says with a hum as he closes the door. It's not yet too cold to play outside and he knows how much William likes the big slide at the local park. "Right, well, in that case we need our shoes and jumpers." He sets William down on the floor and watches with a smile as his youngest hurries to get his shoes on. "Scorp!" he calls out.
Scorpius runs to the top of the steps, holding the railing before Uncle Harry can remind him. "Yeah!?" he hollers, giggling when he sees Uncle Harry's head pop out by the end step. He didn't wanna go with father to drop off Joey; he wanted to stay here with Uncle Harry and Willy and he's glad he did.
He holds the railing as he hurries down the steps. "Yeah?" he asks again, jumping down the last two steps.
"We're going to the park. Get your shoes on," Harry says, chuckling when Scorpius punches a fist in the air with a whoop and scrambles towards the closet alongside William. "Should we bring lunch?" he asks as the boys concentrate on getting their shoes on. They haven't mastered tying laces, but they can usually manage slip-ons on their own with little problems.
Both boys wriggle around, their tongues poking out of the corner of their mouths as they concentrate on working their feet into their shoes. He squats to help Scorp get his shoes on the right feet. He watches William for another moment before helping him, too; glad his hands aren't gently pushed aside so William can do it himself. He's latched on to his older sister's way of thinking: he's a big kid that can do anything. All by himself. More often than not, it's not as true as he wishes it to be and cause for a fair amount of frustration and occasional tantrums.
Scorpius and William share a look before they both grin and shout 'yes!', bouncing and eagerly agreeing to a picnic. They follow Harry into the kitchen, bouncing and whooping as their picnic basket gets filled with sandwiches, treats and juice boxes. They watch, wide-eyed, as things float around and land in the basket. Magic is so cool!
"Don't forget the cookies!" Scorpius pipes up when he notices the basket being closed without them.
Harry rolls his eyes but adds a small packet of biscuits to their picnic lunch. "Right," he says, casting a cooling charm on the food. He ruffles each of their heads, one pale blonde, one a messy dark brown, and sets the basket to float behind him. He passes out jackets, helping both boys with their zippers.
"Let's go tell daddy we're leaving, yeah?" He gets two nods and they all head out to the garage, both boys running ahead since they know the way.
Jake pauses, mid-turn of his wrench, when he sees two pairs of little feet scamper past the car he's working on. He slides out from under the car with a chuckle, attention on the boys and nearly knocks Harry down. Before he can offer an apology, the air whooshes out of his lungs with a grunt when two little boys land on his stomach and chest.
"Oomph!" Wiggling little limbs and giggles take up all of his attention. "Did you come in just to abuse me?" he asks, grabbing both little squirming boys so they don't tumble off.
"No, we're headed to the park. I just wanted to let you know," Harry says, watching Scorpius and William bounce on Jake as they giggle like maniacs. He winces a little when a small foot comes dangerously close to Jake's crotch, but otherwise, he's amazed (as he usually is) Jake manages to roughhouse with the boys in such a way no one gets hurt and they're kept off of the dirty garage floor.
Jake nods and pries both little boys off of him, and sets them on their feet. He smiles when Harry Vanishes the small greasy spots he's put on the little troublemakers.
He's a little concerned; the park is close enough to the rez, he worries Harry and the boys might run into one of the old pack. They're stalled in a tentative truce at the moment but that doesn't mean he trusts most of the pack members any further than he can throw them. He has no doubts Harry can take on any of the old pack, even without magic, but he can't help feeling a niggle of worry.
Actually, it's probably more realistic to worry about whichever dumbass approaches his husband... It's worse than poking a momma bear with cubs, really. Well, just about literally, he muses with a private grin.
He sighs when Harry, obviously having some idea of his thought process (and seeming not at all hesitant or bothered), gives him a smug look. "Yeah, alright", he mutters to the silent chastisement. "You monkeys have fun!" He gives each little boy a poke in the belly, making them go into a fresh bout of giggles and squirming. He gives both a playful pat on the butt so they'll get moving, wanting a moment alone with Harry.
Jake waves as they run off, Scorpius leading the way as both boys race to the car. He watches them climb into the car, small heads bouncing for a moment before they settle in their seats, before he turns to Harry.
He wipes his hands off as best he can and cups Harry's cheek. "Be careful, okay."
"I will," Harry says seriously, knowing better than to joke about the issue at the moment. Jake looks really concerned. "Nothing will happen and if it does—" He shrugs carelessly, raising one hand. "I'm really not helpless this time around." He's got full use of his magic and he's fit enough after chasing after 4 kids (6 when Teddy and Natalie visit) daily. He's not at all concerned.
He leans up on his toes, pulling Jake down the rest of the way, and kisses his husband, giving him a reassuring pat on his chest as he pulls away. "We'll be back by twelve thirty or so, I don't want to miss Sarah's bus."
Jake didn't think Harry was helpless the first time around, either. He's glad it wasn't tested, but he has every confidence Harry would've given Paul a new orifice to shit from if he'd actually pushed hard enough. Even without the use of magic, Harry would have been vicious... which is an oddly arousing thought, even after all this time.
"How did that go, by the way?" he asks, pulling Harry close when he sees that proud but sad look on Harry's face.
He'd watched the bus pull away from the garage, his chest feeling full with pride but tight with a hint of sadness; Sarah started her first day of school. He had waved, just in case Sarah was watching, and grinned happily when he saw her little hand waving enthusiastically from one of the rear windows. He knows Harry is proud as well, but missing their little girl being home. And a baby. And all theirs. He does too but he's excited to see her grow, as well.
"It was fine," Harry says with a sigh. "She was so excited, didn't even give me a hug good-bye," he says morosely, fighting a pout. He had bent down, arms out, only to have Sarah run from the house when the bus came into view. At least she yelled 'Bye mum!' over her shoulder...
Jake chuckles softly at the mournful look and holds Harry for a moment, forgetting about his greasy overalls. "She'll burst through the door and give you two hugs when she gets home. You know she will," he says soothingly. Harry just nods, gives him another quick kiss and leaves the garage with a wave. He doesn't go back to work until the car pulls away and he can no longer see it as it passes the curve in the long driveway.
Hopefully, he's worrying for nothing and his boys will just have a normal, fun day at the park.
By the time everyone is finally in bed; all four kids tired after a long day at the park and their first day at school (Sarah did indeed burst through the door, nearly knocking Harry over in her zeal to give him two hugs to make up for her missed chance that morning). He's not sure why he had been worried earlier. Harry's already asleep, his body still cooling from their lovemaking and pressed against his side in his usual spot and snoring softly. He sighs quietly, content and tired, and gathers Harry closer, looking forward to tales of a second day of school.
Harry winces as a loud crash sounds from upstairs. He looks towards the ceiling with a quiet sigh and gets up, marking his spot in his book. He knew the quiet was too good to last... He should know by now that kids and quiet usually equals bad things.
(The last memorable time he had found Sarah covered head to toe in marker 'tattoos', curtsey of a helpful Joey. In hindsight it was rather adorable, even if she had a green tinge to her skin for almost a week.)
He checks make sure the noise hasn't roused Amelia—Luna and Hermione's adopted daughter. Thankfully, the 10-month-old is a sound sleeper and she's still asleep, absently sucking on a dummy every so often. He quickly casts a muffling charm around the bassinet (just in case there's any more loud bangs) and heads up the steps, not even trying to be quiet.
He snickers when he hears hushed voices and scurrying feet just on the other side of Teddy's door. He lets the door drift open and stifles the urge to laugh. "What's all the ruckus?" he asks, leaning against the doorjamb.
Teddy, Natalie, Sarah, Joey, and William all freeze, their heads swiveling around at the same time to look up.
Scorpius looks around the gathering of kids as they all still, confused as to why they've all gone quiet. He looks up too, realizing an adult is now in the room and smiles up at his uncle when he sees him standing in the doorway.
"Hi!" he chirps, wobbling unsteadily as he twiddles his fingers in a wave. He grins, recognizing the expression on his uncle's face as one he makes when he's trying not to laugh. He waves again, pin wheeling his arms a little when he wobbles again.
"Hi, Scorp," Harry says, trying very hard not to laugh.
Scorpius is absolutely adorable! Even if (or maybe because) he is dressed in his aunt Gloria's old wedding gown—complete with shoes and veil. He sees Natalie tucking something behind her back and can only assume the make-up painted on Scorpius' lips, pale cheeks and eyelids is her handiwork.
"So, what's going on?" he asks, looking at each kid. They've all got a slightly guilty expression on their faces, which are rapidly melting as they all take in his own trying-not-be-amused-but-failing look. He's not upset, at all really. They've managed to keep the make-up on themselves and there isn't a mess to speak of, except for the dress-up clothes scattered around the room.
It's all rather funny actually. Especially since Scorpius is happily going along with the whole thing. He supposes there are worse ways they could be spending a weekend afternoon...
Natalie steps forward, glaring over her shoulder at a pushy Sarah when her cousin nudges her forward, making her the group's spokesperson. Being the oldest kinda stinks sometimes. "Uh, hi Uncle Harry. We was playing dress-up."
"So I see. And why is Scorp the one dressed up?" Harry asks, merely out of curiosity. Natalie adores wearing Angela's heals and make-up and is usually the one toddling around in grown-up clothes and declaring herself a princess. Sarah tends to prefer helping Natalie get into her various costumes, but she can't resist anything that's frilly and overly girly. He's rarely seen the boys get in on the activity unless they were wearing costumes of superheroes or soldiers and whatnot.
He stifles another snicker when he realizes Scorpius has on a wig that he's pretty sure is meant to be worn with the Thor costume. On closer inspection, he snorts softly, realizing it's actually one of the many princess wigs—the tiara tangled in the yellow plastic strands a dead giveaway.
Natalie shrugs, gaze sliding over to look at Scorpius for a moment. The little blonde is positively swamped in the billowing fabric, the thin straps of the gown falling down to his elbows. He looks so cute! "He wanted to."
"I see," Harry says, allowing a smile this time. He doesn't know the proper way to respond and fights the urge to snicker again. Or take pictures. He doesn't think Draco or Joe would really care to see Scorp in a dress (and wearing make-up) but he's probably supposed to gently steer them towards something more... appropriate. Or something. He can't seem to bring himself to do it though; they all look so cute and happy playing together.
He's also curious about something else... "Where did you get Aunt Gloria's dress?"
Natalie bounces over to fluff the thin, wispy layers of fabric, giggling when Scorp dutifully spins around, wobbling a little. "She let me use it for dress-up!" she gushes, still unable to believe Aunt Gloria could be so absolutely cool.
It's so awesome! Her mom thinks Aunt Gloria is nuts to let her old wedding dress be used in such a way, but Aunt Gloria had only shrugged claiming she was only going to wear it once. And since that one time had passed, why not let the girls have fun with it. Auntie 'Mione put a charm on it so they can't rip or stain it, though. Just in case.
"And the shoes?" Harry asks, rolling his lips together to keep from laughing again.
Poor Scorpius is wobbling and shuffling around in the too-big shoes. The heels are modest, Gloria doesn't wear them habitually, but they're still high enough to have Scorpius wobbling around as he tries to balance on them.
"Get those off, Scorp. You'll break something," he says gently, watching as Scorpius does a bunny-hop out of the shoes and shuffles over towards him. He plucks the wig off his head, laughing softly when the little boy's fine blonde hair frizzes up in a puff around his head. He helps Scorp smooth the fly-away strands.
"How about you lot find something else to do, yeah?" he asks. He fights a frown, realizing he's completely forgotten to investigate about the crash earlier. He looks around the room, quickly, unable to see anything that might have made the noise on the floor. He wonders if it had only been a wobbly Scorpius... but the little blonde doesn't look hurt, so he probably didn't fall down.
They all share looks, Sarah stepping forward and giving her mum the I Want look. "Can we make cookies?" she asks slyly.
"Sure," Harry says, barely even thinking about it. Biscuits are a fun way to get the kids attention for awhile, even if they tend to go into sugar overdrive for a few hours. "Help Scorp out of the dress." He snickers, unable to believe he's had to say such a thing.
The kids all gather around the little boy, carefully helping him out of the dress before running out of the room and down the stairs in a cacophony of pounding little feet. He grabs a change of clothes for Scorpius, he doesn't want the little boy in just his Captain American underpants. He manages to catch Scorpius before he can bounce down the steps and gets him dressed.
He snickers again, amused more than he probably should be that Scorpius is still wearing make-up. Draco is either going to laugh or refuse to allow him to watch his kids ever again... He's just relieved Leah and Neville's twins, Frank and Bobby, aren't amongst the group at the moment. They're good boys but they tended to like more active ways to entertain themselves.
The mental image of the boys rough-housing in dresses is amusing, though.
Another check shows Amelia still peacefully sleeping and he gently relocates the bassinet in the spare room since it's the closest once with a functioning baby monitor. He sort of hates the damn thing, but he always feels better when he can hear rousing babies. Especially since Amelia isn't all that used to sleeping here with all the other kids banging around the house.
Of course, he couldn't say no when Luna asked him to baby-sit, even if they had been a little nervous leaving her to go on a trip for their anniversary. He only had to remind them of the hoard of kids he kept alive, on a daily basis, four times before they finally relented and actually went.
He doesn't mind keeping an eye on the little girl, especially since Natalie and Sarah adore her and help out frequently. He's only a little nervous with Amelia because Amelia is nervous. She's still settling into the large family and the chaos they bring. Her favorite people (besides her mums) so far are him and Joe—the only people she's completely calm with and able to sooth her when she gets a mind to scream and cry. She's growing to adore Teddy, dazzled every time the little Metamorphmagus amuses her with a color show, his rapidly changing hair color and styles captivating the little girl.
He's pretty sure the little girl will be able to do magic, even if the adoption agency had labeled her a squib, because there are small wild bursts of magic when it's just him and Amelia. He's waiting before telling Luna or Hermione until he's has concrete proof, though. He knows they don't care either way; the adopted and love her regardless of her magic status (and earning more of Gloria's adoration, somehow) but he knows they'll be pleased.
Harry makes sure Amelia is comfortable, checks that the monitor thingy is working and heads into the kitchen. He enters with a flourish of his wand, laughing when the gathered kids all whoop and clap. He waves his wand to gather ingredients, grinning when the kids whoop and cheer even louder as things bounce and dance over towards the counter.
He starts mixing, using mostly his hands instead of magic now, and the kids all start whispering excitedly amongst themselves about the day they can get their own wands.
"I get to go tomorrow!" Teddy says in an excited whisper. He puffs his chest out when he's given looks of pure awe by the younger kids. Sometimes being the oldest is pretty cool. "Dad says I should have one before I start my magic classes."
He thinks it's cool that the American schools have schools for magical kids starting from kindergarten, even if you don't learn any of the real magic stuff until you turn 11 and can finally get your own wand (like Hogwarts).
He feels like he's been learning about everything but magic until now and he can't wait. Math and reading is fun, but he wants to know how to make flour and butter float around like Uncle Harry.
Natalie nods, her curls bouncing. "Mine too!" she says, bouncing on her toes a little. "My dad says I'm getting mine next week," she says, bouncing a bit more. Her bounces pause, as she remembers her mom can't go. It's so dumb that Angela can't see the stupid store just because she's a Muggle. So lame.
"Oh!" she gasps, grabbing Teddy's sleeve. She giggles softly behind her hand when his hair changes into a soft pink to match his cheeks and he leans in closer. "Do you think we'll still be in the same classes?" she asks in a whisper.
She's nervous about being split up from Teddy when they get sorted for their magical courses; they go by groups from this point on. So far, she's had him at her side and it's been reassuring. She doesn't know how they sort the groups, probably by magical strengths or something, and she's worried they'll be separated.
School, magic classes or not, will totally stink without Teddy.
"I dunno," Teddy says sadly, realizing for the first time they very well could be separated. He doesn't want get split up from Natalie, either. He knows they'd still see each other around (and have lunch together), and he does have other friends at school, but he's closest with Natalie. Plus, she's pretty shy and he doesn't like the thought of her being all by herself.
"I heard they give you a choice if you got more than one group you fit in." He's not sure how they test you (probably not a manky old hat, though) and he's suddenly wishing he knew, not that he'd try to fudge the test or anything.
Natalie perks up, a small smile on her face. "Really? I hope so," she whispers. Teddy being a Metamorphmagus will probably effect his magical sorting but she hopes she can still be grouped with him.
Her daddy said she has quite a strong magical core (Healer Smith said so—and she would totally know because she's a super smart doctor), so maybe she's worrying for nothing. She twists her fingers in Teddy's sleeve, giving him a shy smile of gratitude when he shuffles a little closer.
"C'mon," Teddy says, wrapping an arm around Natalie's shoulders and leading her into the kitchen. Scorp and William are already sneaking bits of cookie dough whenever Uncle Harry turns his back to get ingredients, soak something in the sink or check the oven. He doesn't want to miss his chance at getting his (and Natalie's) share before Uncle Harry wises up or bakes it all. "We'll find out at school Monday and we'll see there was nothing to worry about."
Natalie nods and hops up on a stool, grabbing some dough so she can make it into a cat. She loves cats and hopefully her cookie will turn out better this time. Last time, it looked more like a lumpy bear.
"Dad!" Natalie bursts through the door, a wide smile on her face. She skids to a stop as she sees him lounging on the sofa, her mom's head in his lap. She covers her mouth and tip toes in the rest of the way into room. Thankfully, she didn't wake Angela with her exuberant entrance. "Oops," she whispers.
Greg just smiles and pats the seat next to him, waiting patiently as Natalie settles herself—primly smoothing her jumper, skirt and even her stockings with prissy precision.
"Alright," he says as loudly as he dares. "What's so exciting that has you bursting in the house, screaming like a wild banshee?" he asks with a smile.
"I'm in the same group as Teddy!" Natalie says in a hushed squeal, waving her fists around. "The test was so easy! We had to try to float some string. Or change it into something else," she says, leaning forward in excitement. She's glad she didn't have to wear some moldy, talking hat like her daddy and uncles did. It sounds creepy knowing accessories can read your mind and soul. "And mine turned pink!"
Greg laughs quietly. He doesn't understand how that sorts the children into groups but he's happy Natalie is grouped with Teddy; she had been worried about being split up from her friend for weeks. Truth be told, he'd been a bit concerned too; his daughter is sweet-natured, but still reserved around strangers. He doesn't know if it's exactly healthy for her to only spend time with Teddy (and her other 'family') almost exclusively, but he fears her being all alone even more.
He smiles warmly at his daughter, pleased to see her so happy. "That's wonderful, sweetheart," he says warmly, smoothing a hand over her hair and kissing the top of her head
"Yeah," Natalie gushes. "And Teddy, his string did this little loop thing and then it turned yellow," she says with a giggle, clapping her hands over her mouth to stifle the sound. "It was so funny," she says in a whisper between her fingers.
Greg just nods along, not having a clue what she means but happy to hear the news anyway. "So, that all means... What?"
"We're both in Bradbury*!" Natalie says with a small eye roll. Really; she's had the paper stuck to the 'fridge for weeks. It lists the different magical focus classes and the six possible groups. She's excited to be in Bradbury because Sarah is that group, too. Joey is in Howe**, but they still see each other around school and at lunch.
Also, unlike her daddy and uncles' old school, each group gets along just fine. They don't fight and argue about which group is better, 'cause they're all good and have different strengths. She's really happy there isn't a house just for mean little gits—whatever that means.
She's super excited to be in Bradbury because her teacher, Mrs. Poplar, says most of the registered Animagi in America come from that group. It's so cool to think she could be one, too. Hopefully she'll be a cat... Or a lion! Or maybe a tiger. Just any kind of kitty would be excellent. Her and Leo could climb trees and pounce on moles and the wolves together. Teddy would probably be a big ol' happy puppy or a wolf like his dad and uncles (which sounds OK, too, but she hopes she's a cat).
She giggles, rocking delightedly on the sofa next to her daddy. "I love magic," she sighs happily, leaning against his arm, snuggling in when he lifts it to cuddle her close.
Greg just hums softly in agreement, completely content to just sit there with his girls.
Harry sits down heavily on the bed, still feeling lightheaded and a little nauseous. He presses a hand to his stomach and closes his eyes. "Damn," he mutters.
He's not upset, he's just not sure how to tell Jake. He wrinkles his nose, the lingering taste of the nausea potion still slicking his mouth and the back of his throat. He hates the vile stuff but it does work and he's relieved he had some in the cabinet. He jumps a bit when Jake enters the room, a towel covering his head, the door banging against the protective wall-plate in his exuberance.
"'Damn', what?" Jake asks, walking out of the bathroom, rubbing a towel over his hair. He pauses, one eye peeking out of the towel when Harry just looks up at him, looking slightly pale and a little worried. He gets the impression he isn't supposed to have heard that but it's not his fault his husband forgets he has really good hearing—especially from one room away.
"You alright, babe?" he asks, shuffling closer and leaning in to look at Harry a little closer. He drops his towel carelessly, his concern for his husband's welfare over-riding the annoying habit of damp towels on the floor at the moment.
Harry nods, gulping when the motion makes his stomach roil. Nerves twist his guts and the potion sloshes around in his stomach and he's tempted to just throw up as a distraction. (Or maybe he should just distract his conveniently naked husband with slick hands.)
Damn potions are supposed to work faster than this...
"Mhm," he answers, keeping it short. He shifts on the bed and wrings his hands together. He doesn't know if it's a good idea to say anything right now without seeing Healer Smith first; to make sure before they both go into panic (or planning) mode.
Harry takes one look at the worried expression on Jake's face and sighs, laying back on their bed. The look on Jake's face is a clear indicator he's not going to be able to avoid voicing his suspicions; his husband will only start fussing and fretting now. He wants to snicker at the euphemism, but Jake can be like a dog with a bone—not letting something go until he's satisfied he's seen it through.
"I need to see Charlotte."
There; that's honest without giving Jake guesses and half-baked ideas. Belatedly, he realizes that's entirely the wrong thing to say. Did he honestly think him talking about their healer would calm Jake? He groans softly when Jake goes still, his eyes widening with alarm.
"Why?" Jake asks in that slightly high-pitched tone that says he's now edging into worried, and crawls onto the bed next to Harry. "What's wrong?" He shifts to straddle Harry, bending over enough to look his husband over again, closer this time. He notes Harry's pale face, the subtle but noticeable (even if only to him) stink of a nausea potion still lingering and the slight change in his scent and things click together rapidly.
He gasps softly as he sits up in surprise and his gaze slowly slides down Harry's body to settle on his stomach. Any feelings of concern puff away and are quickly replaced with a cautious sort of joy.
"Really?" Jake asks excitedly, reaching out slowly. He gently strokes a hand over Harry's t-shirt, lifting the hem enough to touch the warm, bare skin just above Harry's waistband. He sees a flutter of muscle as Harry's abdominals twitch at the contact.
He feels a giddy excitement rush through his body and he flattens his palm over Harry's lower stomach, ready to turn into a quivering puddle of goo when Harry's hand covers his for a moment. He looks up, meeting Harry's eyes and waits as patiently as he can for an answer.
Harry can't help but glare a little at his enthusiastic husband, but the intensity is reduced when Jake gently strokes his belly with his fingertips. There's a soft look on his husband's face, absolutely radiating adoration, and he can't hold on to even that little bit of earlier irritation. Leave it to Jake to react in the complete opposite way he had expected him to. He was sure Jake would be pleased, at some point, but they hadn't planned... There is so much going on and he thought Jake would only get stressed out with even the hint of another baby on the way.
"Probably," he stresses, a hand sliding down his chest to rest on his stomach, wrapping his hand around Jake's wrist. He waits until Jake looks up, meeting his eyes. "I have to check with Charlotte first."
"But still," Jake says slowly. He's not at all convinced they need Charlotte's expertise at the moment. He can just tell. And by the way Harry's acting, he can too but he's trying to be realistic and rational. Responsible or some shit. But he's too excited to worry about being a mature adult (and soon-to-be father of three).
"We've been through this twice already, you have some idea," he points out, trying not to bounce around with excitement. Harry is still looking pale and a little green around the edges and he'd probably get a mild hex somewhere if he jostled him around too much.
He carefully leans in to get closer again and rubs his hand along Harry's stomach, thrilled and mentally squeaking like a complete dork when he hears Harry sigh softly and relax at the contact. He watches Harry's eyes flutter closed and a smile pop up on his face and he grins; in his opinion, that reaction is as good as Charlotte doing the charm thing and announcing a positive result when things go all purple.
Harry is always receptive and sensitive to his touch but more so when pregnant; especially his lower stomach, right by his belly button. He wants to bury his nose against his husband's skin and inhale deeply. And kiss him all over. Maybe nibble him in those spots that always has Harry making the best noises. He doesn't—for now—because Harry is giving him that look (just before his eyes flutter closed again) that says he's thinking Jake is his loveable idiot.
He grins goofily at his husband, making sure it's clear he is Harry's loveable idiot—his lovable idiot that's thrilled they're having another baby.
Harry smiles a little. "Yeah," he admits. He opens his eyes and slowly turns his head. "We really should be better at planning this sort of thing by now," he says, his lips twitching. He's not exactly looking forward to the upcoming bouts of nausea, swelling and mood-swings, but it's a small price to pay in the long run. And it doesn't last forever (though it might feel like it at the time).
He gives Jake a warm look and he's sure Jake is thinking along the same lines when he sees a string of emotions flicker across his face. None are bad, thankfully, but he's probably remembering urgent needs of sweet and sour pork and hot sauce at 3 AM. The poor baby. He'd feel bad, honestly, if Jake ever complained or looked less than thrilled to be helping out (even in that small way).
"Maybe," Jake says, shrugging. He doesn't care, not really. He'd have a dozen kids if Harry is willing (and able). He strokes along Harry's stomach again, smiling. He's happy, ecstatic really, at the thought of another baby. It doesn't completely banish his worries about his dad's failing health, but he's still thrilled. "So, we'll call Charlotte to confirm," he says, nodding.
He shares a long, warm look with Harry and grins again.
Harry rolls his eyes with a smile when Jake puffs up a little with pride, a definite preening sort of vibe coming off his husband. Goofy Alpha werewolf. He's relieved Jake is happy, though.
He slowly sits back up, pressing up close to Jake's chest. He's no longer feeling nauseous and by the heated look that immediately pops up on Jake's face, his husband can tell. He gives Jake a push, just a gentle nudge against his chest, and grins when his husband rolls off of him and flops down to lay next to him. He props himself up on an elbow and slides a leg up Jake's—stopping to rest on his hip in a half-straddle.
He shifts a bit closer, pressing his growing arousal into Jake's hip. "You are some sort of pervert, you know that," he says softly, amused and suddenly turned on. He'd blame the (possible) hormones but it's really just down to that sexy arse look on Jake's face. And the fact that his husband is completely naked and ever-so warm. He'd probably have to be dead not to be affected.
"Mhm," Jake hums, not caring; even if he's a pervert, he's Harry's pervert. It's arousing on every level to know Harry is having another baby—his baby. He just can't seem to help it. It's not like all pregnant people turn him on; just Harry. "It's probably all that... testosterone and wolf instinct," he murmurs, sliding a hand over Harry's hip and using it to pull his husband into a kiss.
He intends for it to stay adoring and loving, a sweet, soft press of lips, but Harry's licking into his mouth and nibbling in no time, making him groan with his own quickly rising need.
He goes willingly when Harry pushes against him, rolling them both, and lands on top of him. He groans softly, unable to help it, when Harry's knee works between his legs and presses against him rhythmically while a wicked tongue and fingers work him all over at the same time.
"Fuck yes," Jake moans, grabbing at Harry's hair and pulling him into another kiss.
He's not sure when Harry was on top last, but he's more than willing. He's missed it, actually. He pulls back, his face flushed. He grins when Harry gives him that 'you sure?' look and wraps his legs around Harry's waist, his heels hooking around the back of Harry's calves.
He's pleased to notice the nausea is entirely gone and Harry's bulging jeans are pressed against his naked groin. He grins again; he's missed Harry's Horny Hormones, too.
"Fuck yes," he murmurs again when Harry's hips roll, bringing their erections together. The friction of denim against his naked flesh is amazing and he grunts out a moan at the feeling. The pressure is just right and the friction is just shy of chaffing.
He groans at another quick, hard press and knows Harry isn't in the mood for tender lovemaking or even playful shagging. The look in those green eyes says he better hold onto the headboard and prepare himself for a thorough fucking. He mentally nods; he's so ready.
"Hold on," Harry says, Vanishing his clothes with a whispered wandless twitch of his finger. He grins when Jake moans and twitches, the other man still very much affected by his magic. Probably more so now—the effect has only seemed to intensify over the years.
"More?" he whispers, nipping at Jake's neck where it meets his shoulder. He doesn't even leave a mark but it's enough to make Jake almost purr and buck up against him.
His hands are already sliding down Jake's firm chest, pausing a moment to briefly tug and tweak each pebbled nipple, to wrap around his fully hard cock. He pumps, hand already slick, and he sweeps his thumb over the flushed tip, spreading the large sticky bead of pre-come around. In no time at all, there's a slick-sticky mess between their bodies and the slick-wet sound is only turning him on that much more.
Jake nods, trying to prepare himself for another burst of magic. But he can't, not really. Between Harry's ministrations and magic, he's moaning loudly as the tingling, pleasurable wash of magic sizzles over him again as Harry's hands slide under his thighs, pushing him wide open. He eagerly spreadi as far as he can go. Harry's warm, slick finger slides up and down between his cheeks. He pushes into the probing finger, silently urging Harry to continue.
He sucks a breath in between his teeth when two fingers are immediately wriggling inside. He arches and pushes back, loving the sensation. There's no burn, just a slick heat that makes him want to groan and beg. Goddamn does that feel good.
"Fuck," he moans, arching into Harry and pulling him down sharply for a messy kiss.
Harry knows Jake adapts faster than he does so he doesn't pause to double check when Jake's hands dig into his arse cheeks, pulling him closer and urging him to continue. He stops at three fingers, knowing that's how Jake likes it, and teasingly brushes the head of his cock along Jake's slicked crease. They both grunt at the sensation and he repeats it a few times, in the mood to tease—even if only briefly.
He smirks when Jake's hands wrap around his hips and try to shift him; make him move, go faster or do anything else but tease him into a panting mess. It's not often he sees Jake like this and he takes a moment to just enjoy it. He rolls his hips just right and Jake's next frantic pull on his hips, both feet sliding up the bed up to add more oomph behind his shoves, has him sliding inside in one smooth glide. He tries to pause but Jake is impatient, his hips are already moving in an effort to just go already.
Harry chuckles breathlessly, shifting his arms so he can hold himself up better. He works to still Jake, sliding his hands up Jake's lightly trembling thighs and squeezing gently.
"Fuck, Jake, I need a moment." Jake nods and he lets his forehead rest on Jake's chest, needing a little more than 'a moment'. It's been some time since he's wanted to bury himself inside his husband and it's a little overwhelming to be surrounded by the slick, tight heat of him. But, fuck, it feels amazing.
"Yeah... 'kay," Jake sighs, tucking his feet back behind Harry's legs and resting his hands on his husband's hips. He gently strokes along the lightly muscled ridge of Harry's lower stomach. They share a warm moment, leaning into each other for a kiss. Identical soft sounds of pleasure and affection are muffled in each other's mouths. Mumbled 'love you's, and gentle nuzzles seem only appropriate in the calm moment.
He runs his hands down Harry's back, his touch slow and reverent... until he pinches that still-perky ass. He laughs softly when Harry rears back with an indignant squawk, eyes slowly narrowing. The tender moment is gone (for now) and he grins up at the heated, challenging look that quickly settles on Harry's face. He slowly reaches up and wraps both hands around the edge of the headboard and smirks.
He's long ago stopped wondering how Harry is able to move and shift him to his whims; he just goes with it. Harry's hands slide down his legs in a quick fondle before returning to his calves, shifting and adjusting him to Harry's desired placement. He allows himself to be spread wantonly, and his entire body jumps with the force of Harry's thrusts when he starts to move. 'Hng' is really the only semi-coherent sound he makes as Harry moves.
Jake watches through half-lidded eyes as Harry leans back, hips working in a fluid rolling motion that has Harry slamming perfectly against that fantastic spot inside of him. His toes curl when Harry's head turns and kisses the sensitive part behind his knee. He shivers as Harry's tongue slides along the delicate skin in an slow, erotic swirl before he peppers kisses along the length of his leg that can be reached. He has no idea why that sends sparks through his body, but it does and he moans.
His legs are gently dropped and Harry bends forward without pausing. Their chests and bellies press together, slick and hot and perfect. "Oh god," he moans again, his eyes rolling back. The slick friction is trapping his cock perfectly. He's this close to wrapping a hand around himself, even if he knows Harry would have smacked his hand away with a growl.
Harry watches Jake's head arch back, nearly disappearing into his pillow, and he can't help but latch his mouth onto the tempting column of his neck. He clamps his teeth lightly around Jake's Adam's apple, nipping and licking over the hot, sweaty skin.
He groans and buries his face in Jake's neck, inhaling the intoxicating scent of warm, musky sunshine. A continuous babble of 'fuck's, and 'Jake's are muffled so he can hear grunts and the bed smacking the wall over his own harsh breathing and Jake's keening, growling (almost whimpering) sounds.
He moves up enough to find Jake's lips, a passionate kiss muffling Jake's loud sound of pleasure as he comes. He's too keyed up to last any longer—he just can't hold out against the rhythmic tightening and that hot splash. He stills, his hips twitching a little, and he just grinds up against Jake as he rides out his own orgasm.
His sags as they both calm down and he finds himself stifling the urge to giggle for some odd reason. He flops down, draping himself over Jake's flushed chest.
"Goddamn Harry," Jake breaths, a breathy chuckle bubbling up as he wraps heavy, limp feeling arms around Harry's shoulders.
He pokes his husband when there's no response, other than a heavy sort of breathing. "You alright?" he whispers, trying not to laugh when Harry squirms weakly and makes a breathless giggling sound. How can the man be so adorable after so thoroughly liquefying his brains and body with sex like that? It should be totally contradictory... And illegal.
Harry hums and tilts his head just enough to flutter a line of kisses down Jake's neck and chest. "Yeah. I think that came from my fucking toes," he mumbles, pausing half-way through to yawn. He feels Jake nodding in agreement and hums happily, a smug smile on his face.
He hums again, already half-asleep when Jake's sleepy voice reminds him to call Charlotte later. "Mhm."
Later is better.
It comes as no surprise when Charlotte tells them the good news. It also comes as no surprise when Charlotte offers the same good news to Draco and Joe (since the pair have made it a regular thing to weasel in on the healer's visits).
Harry stares blankly at the wall, trying to focus on the faded pea-green color and not the reason why his small family is gathered in the stuffy waiting room at the local Muggle hospital. The entire pack (Remus and Nigel, having returned early from their anniversary/holiday trip) has been squeezed into the small-ish room for hours.
Even if he's tired of being here, he's relieved they've all gone home for some food and proper rest a few hours ago. Leah had to practically drag her mother back to her house, only able to budge the older woman with promises of being able to stay with her and Neville in their spare room and coming back bright and early tomorrow. Sue's sheer exhaustion helped, since Leah was able to manhandle her mom easier when she was too tired to fight back.
Harry comes out of his thoughts and he absently shushes William, the little boy making a half-asleep fussy noise and perched awkwardly in his lap. William still hasn't gotten the hang of how to sit in his lap around his growing belly (made more awkward because he's forced to wear a glamour over it and there's the added annoyance of the lack of a visual reminder) and he's tempted to switch kids with Jake. Sarah is asleep, though, and he really can't bring himself to risk waking her.
He shifts carefully to lean his head on Jake's shoulder and nuzzles him softly. He can feel the tension in his husband's shoulders and he wishes he could do more to help. "Did you want anything?" he asks, breaking the quiet after a few minutes.
He needs to get up and move or he'll seize up into one big body cramp. Or go mental. He's ready to go out of his mind from the boredom and stress. His bum is falling asleep and his lower back is starting to twinge.
"No, I'm good," Jake says, his hand unconsciously going to sooth Sarah in his lap when she stirs at Harry's voice. He watches Harry stand with a bit of an effort and maneuvering and gently place William on his vacated seat. He's tempted to do the same with Sarah so he can pull Harry close and massage his, no doubt, aching butt and back. Harry isn't wincing or making it known, but he knows his husband well enough to know it's an issue.
Plus, he could use the extra comfort right now and he's not all that embarrassed to admit it. He knows Harry would willingly crawl into his lap if it was empty, but he's content enough to hold and subtly snuggle his daughter for now.
He realizes Harry is just standing there, giving him a patient look, and he manages a small, sheepish smile. "Maybe some coffee?"
He's running on adrenaline at this point and even that is starting to ebb away. He's exhausted but jittery and restless. The thought of falling asleep before the doctor can come out makes him want to pace around and rub his gritty eyes until they're stuck open. Everyone else has gone home by now, not that he blames them, and leaving it all on Harry doesn't sit right with him.
Jake rubs gentle circles on William's back when the little boy stirs, probably aware on some level he's no longer on Harry.
Harry nods and leans down and gives Jake a soft kiss, cupping his cheek for a moment. He feels terrible that they can only sit here and wait but he'll do it. And no matter how badly he wants to be in his own bed, he refuses to leave Jake to wait alone.
He wants to offer encouraging words but he can't quite manage it—none come to mind. Telling Jake that his father will be fine just doesn't feel true, so he can only be here for his husband and hope for the best.
He slides his hand back along Jake's jaw to gently squeeze the back of his neck. "Be right back," he murmurs and tries not to waddle as he walks away. Since the hallways are deserted, he doesn't refrain from massaging the small of his back, rubbing some feeling back into his bum. He wishes Jake's hands were doing the job but it helps a little.
He doesn't know how long he stares at the hot beverage vending machine, sort of in a half-asleep trance as he studies the pictures and options with a half-hearted concentration. Honestly, it all looks dreadful and he longs for a proper cuppa. He eventually pushes enough change into the slot for two coffees (which smells burnt) and a hot chocolate (that's a weird, rather 'unchocolatey', brown color but smells palatable enough). He sighs and carefully balances the three cups in his hands and makes his way back to the waiting area.
Harry nearly drops the cups when he hears the distinct sound of both of his children wailing. He hurries as fast as he can, which isn't very fast considering his glamoured-but-still-there belly and trying not to slop the scalding liquid on his hands. He hastily sets the cups down and pulls a sobbing William up and off an overwhelmed Jake.
"Shhh," he murmurs, soothing a hand down Willy's back.
"I'm sorry," Jake says looking up at Harry miserably, his voice coming out hoarse and choked. He doesn't know why he wasn't able to calm his kids down; he's usually able to. Sarah's sobs are down to sniffles now that she sees Harry and she's straining in his arms to get to him. He gently lets her go, feeling absolutely useless as he watches her carefully climb into the remaining part of Harry's lap and bury her face in his neck, her hand fisting in his t-shirt.
Harry shushes Sarah, rubbing at her shoulder with his other hand. "It's alright, love. What happened?" he asks, looking to Jake. He wants to smack himself when he sounds tired and overwrought (well, he is, for fuck's sake); like he's blaming Jake, instead of merely curious.
He hates the guilty look that settles on his husband's face and gives an apologetic smile. He really doesn't blame Jake, not even for panicking or having a moment of trouble with their kids—he's had his own such moments.
He manages to free a hand and slots their fingers together, ignoring the pain when Jake squeezes his with panicky tightness. He just sits quietly, waiting patiently for Jake to speak.
"Willy had a bad dream or something and woke up with a jump. He ended up kicking Sarah and woke her up. They started fighting, so I yelled at them. Then they started calling for you and... then they started crying. And I... I couldn't get them to calm down."
Harry nods, feeling terrible for spacing out and being gone for so long. "Oh, Jake," he sighs when he sees Jake's eyes get shiny and his chin wobble a bit. "I'm sorry, love. I'm here." He manages to scoot over a chair and pulls Jake against his free shoulder. "I shouldn't have left," he murmurs, smoothing down Jake's shaggy hair and kissing his forehead.
"Go ahead," he says softly, feeling Jake tremble with the effort of holding back. He lets go of Sarah when she wriggles and he smiles at her proudly when she snuggles into her daddy, patting Jake's cheek in an effort to calm and comfort him.
"I'm just so tired," Jake chokes out. Harry murmurs "let go" and he does—he's just too tired and stressed out not to. He probably couldn't hold it back any longer even if the little, dreary waiting room was full of strangers (or his pack). He tries to let the tears out silently, but he sobs a few times, his chest hitching almost painfully. He buries his face in Harry's neck, relaxing as much as he can when a hand gently slides into his hair.
He's so tired—of waiting, of sitting in hospitals, of trying to reassure Sue that she won't be left alone. He realizes even Sarah is now murmuring soothing words to him, patting him where she can reach, and it opens the floodgates. He should probably feel ashamed he's crying like a baby in front of his daughter, but he can't help it.
Harry sits quietly, letting Jake have a moment. He remembers the crying fit he had his fifth year and he can only imagine how much worse Jake feels; he's on the verge of losing his remaining parent, the one that's raised him since he was a little boy. He doesn't know what else to do, so he just rubs on Jake's back, kissing his head gently and softly murmuring soothing sounds and words as his husband slowly calms down.
He figures the stress and exhaustion have caught up with Jake when he realizes the tears and harsh sobs have only stopped because he's fallen asleep.
"Will you snuggle daddy?" he asks a now wide-awake Sarah. The angle he's bent at is starting to hurt.
"I will, momma," Sarah says importantly, nodding. She's confused why daddy is sad but she knows snuggles and hugs always make her feel better, so she'll do that for daddy. She works her way into daddy's lap and wraps her arms around his waist as best she can and presses her cheek tightly to his belly.
She hums a nonsensical tune she learned from Aunt Luna, patting daddy's back gently to make sure he stays asleep.
"Is daddy sad because gran'pa is sick?" she asks in a whisper, looking up at her mum with sad eyes. She vaguely remembers hearing about grandpa being sick. She shifts to look up at her daddy; she'd be very sad if her daddy got sick, so she sort of gets why he is so sad now.
Harry nods sadly, soothing William back to sleep. Thankfully, his fitful shifting stills and the little boy goes limp and snores softly once more. "Yes," he says simply. He strokes a hand down Sarah's wild hair, absently trying to tuck the loose fly-aways back into her barrettes. He feels his eyes burn and prickle when she buries her face into Jake's stomach and squeezes him tighter.
"Is gran'pa gonna die?"
Harry blinks, and a small sad smile quirks his lips for a second. He sometimes forgets just how grown-up his daughter is. He sighs softly, nuzzling against Jake when he shifts a little in his sleep. "I don't know, sweetheart. He is sick, but I don't think he's going to die just yet."
He's tempted to outright lie—tell her grandpa will be fine and dandy—but he'd never forgive himself if Sarah got mislead and hurt by it. He hated hearing that sorta shit when he was growing up and he doesn't want to do that to his own daughter. She's old enough to have a basic understanding of things.
And if not, they'll have to talk about it. He idly wishes it was only a small brush with death, a hamster or something, but lets the thought go just as quickly.
"Oh," Sarah says. "Good. I like gran'pa," she declares, squeezing daddy and patting his back gently when he makes a sleepy noise. "But Teddy said he's really sick and would probably die," she says in a whisper. Teddy had been really sad since her grandpa was almost like his grandpa, too. Grandpa Billy even lets some of them sit in his lap as he wheels around, but she's way too big now. "Can't we just give him a potion?"
Potions are so gross, and she's totally lucky she doesn't have to take them very often, but they can do anything. Even make you turn into an animal for a whole hour!
Harry shakes his head sadly. He wishes it's that easy. "No, baby. Magic potions don't work on Muggles, remember?"
"Oh," Sarah says quietly. She worries her bottom lip. She forgot grandpa is a Muggle, even though daddy isn't (not really, but kinda sorta in a really confusing way). It's so not fair! Magic should work on Muggles!
"Can we see gran'pa?" she asks after a few minutes of silence.
Harry looks down the hall, towards the nurse's station. He can't help send a glare in the general direction; they've been waiting for hours! Someone should have come out at some point, even with just a 'no change'. "Not yet."
"'Kay," Sarah sighs sadly.
She wiggles a hand free and gently rubs mummy's belly. Even a kick from the baby doesn't get her smiling as big as it usually does. "I hope it's a girl," she says, for probably the hundredth time. Every time she rubs mummy's belly, she wishes for a sister. Aunt Luna said she was silly for doing it, babies aren't boys or girls from wishes she says, but she still does it. Just in case. "Don't you?"
Harry chuckles softly, rubbing his belly too. The room is deserted, so there's no one there to wonder why he and his daughter are, essentially, rubbing air. "I guess that would be nice, yeah? Too many boys in our house," he says, laughing quietly, when Sarah's nose wrinkles and she nods as enthusiastically as she can with her cheek against Jake's chest.
He hums thoughtfully, rubbing at his belly as he thinks. He's pretty sure it's a boy but he really doesn't want to squash Sarah's hopes. "But one more boy won't be so bad, right?"
"Ugh. So gross!" Sarah says dramatically and huffs, her dark bangs fluttering. Boys smell funny (like dirt and farts—gross) and they do the dumbest things!
She goes still when a nurse pops her head into the waiting room and taps mummy's arm. "Nurse lady," she whispers when mummy turns to look at her. If she isn't so worried about seeing the nurse, she'd giggle at how quickly mum's eyes widen and his head whips around.
Harry struggles under his pile of sleeping bodies, but thankfully the nurse rushes around to stand in front of him, laying a hand gently on his shoulder to keep him seated. He stills, watching the woman pull the chipped table closer and perching on the edge carefully.
He swallows a few times, but his words still come out in a hushed whisper. "How's Billy? Mister Black?" he adds, just in case she isn't directly involved and wouldn't know the first name.
"He's fine, for now," Anna says, smiling warmly. The relieved expression that Mr. Black's (Harry, she reminds herself; he'd been politely insistent since there are two other 'Mr. Black's present) face slowly settles into is heart-warming. "He had slipped into a diabetic coma but he's now just resting."
She looks at Jake and her smile falters. "I'm sorry we've kept you waiting for so long, but Doctor Weber had hoped for good news and waited a bit longer..." she trails off, suddenly feeling really bad. Billy Black's vitals had jumped around for the past two hours and she understood Dr. Weber's optimism and she's very relieved she's out here with good news.
Harry waves a hand gently. "It's fine," he whispers. "I'm really glad there's good news. I reckon it was worth the wait," he says with a small smile. "Do you know when he'll be allowed visitors?"
Anna shifts nervously, knowing she's about to give less-than-good news. "He'll be out until the morning, he's been sedated to make sure he doesn't shift around too much," she says, not having to say aloud he's attached to machinery and various life support systems. "Why don't you go home and get some sleep?" she asks gently, smiling wanly at the sleeping group leaning on the man. It's really rather adorable but sad at the same time—a sight she's no stranger to, unfortunately.
"And, I'm really sorry, but children aren't allowed in the ICU." She looks between the two small children. They're both gorgeous and she's amazed the couple were able to adopt siblings (and even more amazed the kids look like they could actually be theirs). The little girl's green eyes are almost identical to Mr. Black's, only with warm golden flecks around her irises.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," she says, realizing the little girl is awake and giving her full-blown puppy-eyes. (Good lord—those are dangerously powerful!) She quickly looks back to Harry. "Once he's moved out of the ICU, it won't be a problem if you want to bring them for a visit, though."
Harry nods in understanding. "Alright, thank you." He gently nudges Jake awake, snickering quietly when he starts, quickly sitting up with a snort. He lays a calming hand on Jake's thigh, squeezing gently. "The nurse is here, love."
Jake blinks rapidly, trying to banish the remnants of sleep and he looks around wildly until he realizes the nurse is right in front of him. "How's my dad?" he asks in a rush, rubbing at his eyes. They're all gritty and puffy and he's sure it's obvious he'd been crying. Thankfully, the nurse (Anna—he thinks that's her name) doesn't mention it. She's probably seen it lots of times.
"Hello Jacob. Like I told Harry—" Anna gives a small smile, "He's fine at the moment. He had slipped into a diabetic coma, it was a little rough there for awhile, but he's stabilized and resting comfortably now." She leans forward and pats his hand twice. "He'll be out until the morning, so why don't you head home and get some rest?"
Jake nods dumbly, relieved beyond words his dad is OK. Even if only for now. He smiles warmly at Harry, bringing him close and kissing him gently. "You weren't gonna leave me sleeping on these chairs, were you?"
"Probably not," Harry snickers. He smirks when he notices the nurse watching them with wide eyes. The pink in her cheeks is a little discomforting but he finds he prefers slightly-creepy staring over glares or nasty words. His smirk melts into a warm smile when Jake gently cups his cheek and he leans into it with a little nuzzle.
"C'mon, let's get the monsters home," he says, shifting William to his shoulder with a soft grunt. "I got him," he says pointedly when Jake goes to take him. He nearly rolls his eyes, as if he can't handle his child. Even with a bulging baby belly. "You get the heavy one," he says with a smirk, pointing at a drowsy Sarah. Her eyes are blinking slowly, the blinks becoming longer as her head droops a little every so often.
Jake huffs good-naturedly but scoops Sarah up gently, easing her head against his chest. "Thank you," he says, nodding at the nurse. "When do visiting hours start?"
"Normally at eight AM, but we're a bit more... relaxed in the ICU. So, whenever you'd like to stop in. I wouldn't expect him to be up until about—" She checks her watch, "ten AM or so, so there's no real rush. We'll call if it's sooner," she adds quickly. "And, like I told Mister Black," she says, nodding at Harry before turning back to Jake with an apologetic look, "Visitors must be over eighteen."
Jake nods. He's disappointed but he understands. His kids are noisy little germ machines on a good day... And while he wishes they could see their grandfather, he'd rather wait until his dad isn't attached to lots of machines. That would probably only freak them out, anyway. He knows he's going to be freaked out and he's an adult for crying out loud.
Plus, it seems like a morbid thought; like it would be the last they'd see him. He is not going down that thought path right now. He simply can't.
Anna watches them go, sighing sadly. This is the fourth time in as many months that Billy Black has come in and she's starting to get worried one of these days he won't be leaving. She waves, smiling a little, when she notices Sarah peeking over her daddy's shoulder at her with sleepy eyes. Sarah waves back and she just watches the small family leave with a heavy heart.
Harry tucks William in and eases out of the boys' room, gently tucking Scorpius' stuffed dragon back into the little blonde's arms on the way. He shuffles down the hall towards his own room with a wide yawn, rubbing at his hair tiredly. Merlin, it's been a long day and he's sure they're going to be up early. If it isn't to see Billy, he'd grumble and refuse.
He absent-mindedly scratches at his belly and shimmies out of his sleep pants the second he closes his bedroom door. He crawls into bed, draping himself along Jake's side and sighs with contentment and the utterly wonderful sensation of finally being in his own bed and pressed comfortably against his husband.
It's a week before Billy is home again. Thankfully, they hadn't had to bring the children into the hospital to visit their grandfather (at his insistence; as much as Billy loved to see the kids, he didn't want them in a hospital).
Jake paces the hallway, his hands shoved in his hair. He grunts softly when he sees Harry staring at him from their doorway. He thought everyone was in bed.
"Sorry," he murmurs, pausing long enough to give his husband an apologetic look.
"Don't be," Harry says, waving a hand dismissively. He puts himself right in Jake's pacing path and wraps his arms around his waist, resting his cheek against Jake's chest. "He's home and doing fine, love."
He can only guess that's what has Jake up, pacing the hallway, at this hour. He's been a right mess since Billy was admitted into hospital and it's only gotten worse; even after the older man was discharged and sent home in relative good health. He hasn't seen Billy's cheeks this pink in awhile and he's feeling optimistic. He wishes Jake could as well.
Jake nods, swallowing past a lump in his throat. He sighs softly and rests his cheek on top of Harry's head. "I know. But for how long? I'm so fucking scared, Harry. I'm terrified it won't last," he whispers. "It's getting shorter and shorter," he adds, referring to his dad's healthy periods.
"However long he's meant to be here, is how long it'll be," Harry says quietly. He hates saying that—he knows it's not at all comforting but he's at a loss of what to say. He squeezes Jake a little tighter when he feels a shudder work through his body. "I'm so sorry, love." He doesn't know what else to say. He's never really had to wait like this before. It almost seems worse than someone dying suddenly. "I'm terrible at this," he says with a wet sniffle.
"No," Jake murmurs, running a hand along Harry's back. He knows so few people that's dealt with death as often as Harry and he appreciates his efforts at soothing him. He feels a bit like a dick, but he appreciates the honesty and lack of bullshit he hears from other people. He knows his father will die (even if it tears him apart inside) and he doesn't appreciate when people try to skirt around the issue.
He heaves a heavy sigh, a small smile fluttering across his lips when he feels Harry's rounded belly pressing against him as he does. "You're fine at this. I'm just terrible with death."
"Everyone is," Harry mutters. "No one takes it easily, no matter how many times you go through it. Well... sociopaths might do, but they don't count." He leans back and looks up at Jake. "Did your dad say anything about his final wishes?"
Jake nods. He appreciates that Harry gets he needed to know that. With the exception of Draco and Joe, most of his pack tried to have him think 'positively' and not dwell on it. Right. Like that's possible.
"Yeah, I talked it over with Sue and she said we could sorta trade off? I mean, I know I'd probably flake out on like the memorial service and shit, so." He pulls Harry back against his chest and lets loose a shaky sigh.
He's still not sure which parts Sue will need his help with, but he's not going to flake out on her when she needs him. He knows he can always have Harry help. That's definitely one of the perks of marriage; roping one's spouse into shit like that.
"Yeah, we got it all figured out. My dad is a sick bastard, did you know that?" He feels Harry shake his head and chuckle softly. "He picked his own urn. He didn't want nothing fancy, he said. I'd like to know how black marble isn't fancy," he says with a scoff.
Yeah, it's an expensive one (probably the most expensive one they saw) but he had to laugh when his dad preened and said he looks good in black. He just nodded and went along with whatever his dad wanted. How could he not?
"I bet Draco talked him into it," Harry murmurs against Jake's chest. Billy deserves black marble, but he's not the sort of bloke that would automatically pick something so... ostentatious.
"Probably," Jake says, chuckling despite himself. He's quiet for a long moment, just standing there holding Harry and enjoying his warmth and comfort. "Are you sure Charlotte can't do anything?"
Harry closes his eyes, willing them to stay dry. "I'm sure," he says quietly.
He had asked Charlotte about it the first time Billy wound up in the hospital. The healer hated to give him the bad news, he knows that, but she had said there was little Magic could do for a Muggle disease. Especially one as progressed as Billy's. He wholeheartedly agrees with his daughter: it really sucks Magic can't heal Muggles.
"I'm sorry, love."
Jake nods. He knows—he just had to check. Again.
Eventually he pulls himself from his thoughts and leads Harry back to bed.
Harry pauses as he enters the kitchen. Draco is sitting at the table, a slip of parchment clutched in one hand, a clump of tissues in the other and his eyes are red-rimmed. His blonde hair is sticking up like he's been running his fingers through it a few times.
"Everything alright?" he asks, rubbing a hand along his belly and scratching in gentle circles. God, he forgot how badly it could itch. He shuffles closer to Draco, already anticipating the answer when Draco looks up.
"No," Draco says, his voice thick with tears and wavering even on that short word. He wordlessly hands Harry the letter from his mother and has to hide his face in his hands when he feels the threat of tears hit him again. Hard.
He hadn't expected to be so affected and he can't blame it all on pregnancy hormones. He's just as far along as Harry this time 'round and—embarrassingly—he's the more weepy one (this time 'round). A flurry of kicks has him smoothing a hand over his own rounded belly, sniffling wetly and trying to compose himself.
Harry reads the elegant sloping script, his eyes widening as he gets to the end. It's surprisingly short and he's a little offended on Draco's behalf his friend had to hear about his father's death in such an aloof way. He's not sure if that's because Narcissa hadn't cared to add more or if she'd been unable to—unwilling to let her emotions show in her words or a messy hand.
"Oh fuck," he whispers, rushing to sit next to Draco. "Oh, Merlin, I'm so sorry, Draco," he says softly. He runs a comforting hand down Draco's arm.
"Thanks," Draco whispers, his voice muffled with his hands. He chokes out a sob and he's not at all surprised to feel himself being pulled against Harry.
He doesn't even care his hair is being further mussed when the other wizard's hands caress and pet at him like he's one of their sobbing children with a stolen toy or a skinned knee. He sort of feels like one, so he doesn't protest or kick up a fuss.
"I can't believe it," Draco mumbles against Harry's shoulder, sniffling wetly.
He's mostly upset he'll never have a chance to see his father again so he can smugly parade his amazing husband and wonderful kids in front of the judgmental old bastard. Or, maybe, even try at reconciliation (if Lucius ever became addle-brained enough with age). He squeezes his eyes shut, a fresh wave of pain going through him when he realizes he shouldn't think that way about a dead man.
Harry just nods, quietly soothing Draco as best he can. "Why didn't your mum floo or come tell you in person?"
"I think—" Draco pauses to lift his head and wipe at his eyes. "She's too upset to be able to tell me in person." Harry gives him a flat look and he scowls lightly. "You know how my parents are. Were. Whatever... You know my mother isn't one to allow herself to be seen as weak," he says quietly.
He understands why Harry is asking, and a part of him wishes his mother had floo'd over and they could have holed themselves up somewhere and grieved together. In private.
"She loved him, Harry," he adds, quietly. "I'm sure she's devastated and will need some time to herself."
Harry can only nod. Whatever else he could say about the elder Malfoys, they had loved each other. It was hard to deny when he remembers the hardships they both put up with to remain a family. He still thinks it's an odd way to tell someone their father has died, but then again... Narcissa knows Draco wouldn't be alone; he has a large family to comfort him and he won't be left to grieve alone.
Suddenly, he feels terrible for Narcissa. "Draco, is your mum— Is there anyone there for her?" he asks, looking at Draco with a sad expression. He can't imagine how terrible it must be for the witch to be all alone in Malfoy Manor.
"No," Draco murmurs, rubbing at his eyes again. He hates knowing his mother is all alone in her grief, but he also knows that's how she wants it. She takes stoic and coolly aloof to insane measures and there isn't a damn thing he can do about it. "She'd even kick the house-elves out if she felt the need for a cry."
Harry sucks his teeth lightly. "That's absolutely ridiculous, Draco." He also swallows the urge to ask how Lucius had died—the letter didn't say—but he knows Draco doesn't know, either. Even if his opinion of the man isn't the best, he hopes it wasn't too horrible. If only for Narcissa and Draco's peace of mind.
"Maybe, but that's just how my mother is," Draco says with a slight shrug. He turns to give Harry a look, "So, do not get any stupid Gryffindor Ideas about showing up on my mother's doorstep and trying to hug her. Or giving her one of those bundt cakes. She'd probably keel over from shock and horror."
Though, she'd find a way to manage if Harry made one of those chocolate chip bundt cakes; those things are amazing. Even his mother would consider accepting a hug for one.
Harry smiles a little sheepishly. He had been thinking of doing almost exactly that. "Fine," he huffs when Draco only gives him a smug, knowing sort of look. Git. He doesn't know everything. "She said there'd be a funeral on Friday."
"Yes, I had noticed..." Draco trails off.
He's not worried about the timing, or being able to attend. But he is worried about the trip itself. He's going to go, no doubt, and so will Joe and their two boys. He knows Harry will want to come. Which means Jake will come and that automatically includes their two children. The Manor has space, naturally, but he's not sure how comfortable his mother will be with sudden guests—noisy guests, at that.
"Do you think the entire pack will come?" he asks dryly, but he's half serious.
He wouldn't put it past the entire group wanting to come to support him. The thought warms him thoroughly but he can't imagine his mother's reaction to that. He knows such a large, boisterous group would test even his mother's iron-strong mask of indifference.
She'd either crack a smile or be forced to make them leave so they didn't know how affected she was.
Harry thinks for a moment, then shrugs. "No, they didn't know your father. They'd go if you wanted them to, though." He knows Draco doesn't want that, mostly so they don't completely overwhelm the Wizarding world with their numbers. Or his mother with handsy, hug-demanding Americans. "Hermione and Luna will probably only go if you ask," he adds, quietly.
"I know," Draco says with a soft sigh. Both witches are dear, close friends but he can't imagine asking such a favor from either of them. Neither hold especially warm memories of either of his parents and there is no way he'd ask such a thing. "I wouldn't ask that of either of them. Even if they get along with Mother a bit now, I can't imagine they'd be comfortable at the Manor or amongst my father's peers."
Harry just nods. He's not exactly looking forward to going but there's no way he'd let Draco go through this alone— well, without him. He knows Draco's boys and Joe will go no matter what. He gives Draco another comforting squeeze. He hadn't expected to be getting such news.
Honestly, he thought they'd be mourning Billy before Lucius, but Jake's dad has been doing wonderfully since his last visit to hospital. He doesn't think anything Charlotte has offered (mostly just to feel like she did something to help) by way of Healing charms, salves or potions (none foul, he had noticed with a little jealousy) had actually helped, but he's happy for the perk in the man's health.
"Well, I should tell Joe," Draco sighs, wobbling from side to side gently as he tries to get his mobile from his back pocket. He ignores Harry's snicker; the bastard is just as ungainly!
He stares at his mobile for long moments, contemplating just what the hell he's going to say. He knows Joe won't be a bastard about it, even if he never had any warm and fuzzy feelings for his father, but he's temporarily at a loss.
He looks up when Harry's hand settles on his arm again. "Hm?"
Harry takes the phone from Draco's relaxed hand and finds Joe's number. He taps out a quick message and hands it back to Draco. At the blonde's questioning look, he shrugs. "I only said to come home. I didn't say why."
"Fine," Draco huffs, trying not to be annoyed. He still has to tell Joe what's going on and he's not all that sure how long he can keep from crying all over his husband. Joe is working with Jake today and he's walking into the house in moments. He takes a deep breath as he hears Joe approach the kitchen.
Joe peeks into the kitchen, curious as to why he's being called home in the middle of the day. Not that he minds. But since Draco is in the kitchen, and not their room, he's sure it's not for a romp to settle his horny husband down. He briefly glances at Harry, giving the other man a smile, before looking back at Draco.
He then notices the redness around his husband's eyes and he's at his side a moment later. "What's up?"
Harry looks to Draco and sees the blonde merely bury his face in Joe's stomach and looking at him expectantly. He nearly huffs, a little annoyed at the Draco's willingness to let him do the dirty work. "Draco got some bad news. His father passed away."
"Okay," Joe says slowly, unsure how he's supposed to react. In all the years they've been together, Draco hasn't had a kind word to say about his father and he certainly didn't have a high opinion of the man himself. But still; it's Draco's father. He knows he'd still be affected if his own bastard of a father were to pass away.
He rubs at his eyes and sighs softly, his hand dropping to gently caress the back of Draco's neck. The very idea of his heavily pregnant husband being in a grief-induced stress makes him panic a little.
Harry shrugs, looking at Draco again. The blonde is still silent, content to let him and Joe talk about his father without his input. Git. "I think he's more concerned about his mum, honestly." He looks to Draco again and he just stares back passively. Harry rolls his eyes; like he'd think less of the git if it were true? "Well, It's true, right?"
Joe just hums thoughtfully, carding his fingers through pale hair. Draco isn't speaking so he's content to just quietly give his support. He's used to his husband's quirky ways and the tight grip on his waist lets him know Draco needs him, even if he's not saying anything.
Draco's mother, on the other hand, he almost likes. The witch has made an effort to get to know him and their children and he can't think badly of her, regardless of her prickly, proper personality.
Any time he thinks the woman is made of stone, he catches a smile on her face when she thinks no one is looking. He doesn't get her urge to seem aloof and proper even when it's just them, but he's stopped pestering Draco about it when his husband only shrugs and mutters 'it's just how she is'.
"When's the funeral? Uh, you guys do have funerals, right?" He knows it's a dumb question, but he's curious. He wonders if they do some sort of weird magic ritual over a dead body... or something. He hears a snort and shrugs to himself. He doesn't feel dumb; he's learned to not assume a damn thing when it comes to magic and the things wizards do.
Harry laughs softly, despite himself. "Yes, we have funerals. And it's Friday." He looks towards Draco again, and he's contemplating leaving the room if Draco doesn't open his mouth soon.
"Alright," Joe hums thoughtfully. He can easily take the time off, even if it is extremely short notice. There isn't any chance he'd let his pregnant husband go across the world, alone, for a funeral. "Wait— Is it safe for you both to be traveling?" he asks nervously.
As much as he realizes this is important, he'd have to refuse if there is any risk at all to either wizard, but especially his Draco or their baby. If it is and Draco is that worried about his mom, he'll go get her and bring her to him if needed.
"It's safe, as long as we're flooing," Harry says. He wants to roll his eyes, as does Draco, at the over-protective nature of their husbands. With the exception of the nausea inducing vertigo flooing tends to cause, it's the safest way to travel. He's relieved Charlotte has lifted that restriction with his last pregnancy after it was deemed safe. "It's safe until we're in our last month."
Joe nods. "Yeah, right. Okay," he says distractedly, waving a hand dismissively. He expects his blonde to shift away or slap at his hands when he starts rubbing his back and smoothing his hands through Draco's hair. On the contrary, Draco presses closer and soaks up the attentions like he always does.
Draco hums with appreciation and presses closer, reveling in the warmth. He should probably be annoyed Joe is mussing his hair, but it feels too good to complain. "I haven't told Mother we'll be there, yet."
"So, tell her. We're going, so she should prepare herself," Joe says with a small smile.
He knows Harry and Jake (and their kids) will want to come along, too. It'll be quite the group. He didn't think he'd ever see the house his Draco grew up in and he's a little nervous.
"Uh, are there a lot of breakable things?" Joe asks hesitantly. The kids are pretty well behaved, but accidents happen... and the very idea of something happening to anything really old (or really really expensive) has him feeling rather reluctant all of a sudden.
Draco snorts. "The entire house is filled with priceless heirlooms," he says dryly. He can't even count how many times he was scolded for touching something that a great-great-great aunt owned or something his great-great-great-great uncle was gifted from some sort of royalty. "But there are charms on anything worth keeping," he says with a snicker when Joe stiffens. "Honestly, love, don't worry about it. I'm tempted to point Scorpius and William at some of the more horrendous things and hope for the best."
Joe doesn't look amused but at least he relaxes. A little. Draco sighs softly and just rubs his back, hoping his husband doesn't spend the entire visit poised to catch things or with both boys in a firm hold.
Dinner that night is oddly quiet. Harry finds himself looking around the table a few times, his brows moving closer together each time.
"Alright, what's going on?" he finally blurts out the third time he sees Leah and Gloria look at each other with odd expressions on their face. They both start and give identical guilty expressions that only make his frown deepen into a scowl.
Leah's gaze slides over to Gloria again and they both sigh with resignation at the same time. As soon as they'd heard about Draco's father, they'd mutually decided to keep their good news to themselves for a little longer. Harry's intense stare intensifies, somehow, and she sighs again. "We're pregnant," she says, jerking a thumb between herself and her sister-in-law. She shrugs in a matter of fact way when Harry gapes.
There is pure chaos for over three minutes as shouts and screams of joy fill the dining room. Questions are being fired off to each expectant-mother-to-be but getting lost in the absolute chaos.
"For fuck's sake," Leah says loudly, laughing. "One at a time!" She points at Harry, smirking. "You first."
"I only said congratulations!" Harry says, smiling widely as his head whips between Leah and Gloria. "Oh. Wow... So, how far along are you?" he asks, rubbing his own belly.
It's not exactly a new thing to have babies coming in a flood but he's still surprised. He hadn't known Leah and Neville wanted more kids and he didn't think Gloria and Seth were even planning on starting a family yet. He laughs with delight when both women blush lightly, making the 'surprise' of the situation clear.
Leah shrugs, looking at Neville. It's probably weird, but Neville seems more aware of this sorta shit than she is. He holds up 4 fingers and she grins. "Four months for me," she looks at Gloria again and cackles evilly. "Glor is only 2 months along."
"I only saw the doctor yesterday," Gloria says softly, blushing lightly when she realizes the entire room is looking at her. Everyone. She gratefully squeezes Seth's hand in a death grip when he slides his into hers. It's a little embarrassing to admit they hadn't been trying for a baby, but it's the best news she's had in a long time.
She looks at Billy and Sue and relaxes when they're both beaming proudly at her. "I meant to tell you in private," she says quietly. She doesn't mind that everyone knows, but she had hoped to share the news in private in case she did anything embarrassing. Like now. She wipes at her tearing eyes sheepishly.
Sue waves a hand and bounces out of her seat. "Oh, who cares! These gossips woulda known sooner or later anyways. I'm gonna be a grandma again!" she gushes, rushing over and squeezing her daughter and then rushing over to give her daughter-in-law and gentle but fierce squeeze.
"So," she says, standing upright and crossing her arms with a mock-scowl at her son. "Mister I-Don't-Think-We'll-Have-Kids-Until-We're-Ready— Are you ready?" she asks, smirking. It's all she can do to keep from laughing in her poor son's face, since they'd only had that conversation just a few weeks ago.
"No!" Seth says, staring up at his mom wide-eyed. "I've only just now got that promotion!"
Gloria beams proudly at her husband, thrilled at his accomplishments. Seth's career options varied for awhile after they got married but he finally settled on being a lawyer, of all things. She still doesn't know why he chose it—he's just too sweet in her opinion—but he's very good at it.
She snuck into the court room the first time he argued a case, on the prosecuting side (she thinks; she's really rather ignorant of it all quite honestly), and it had been amazing watching him work. He looked so handsome in a suit (of course) and his handsome, sweet face was fierce as he argued and made his case. It wasn't a surprise to see him so knowledgeable and passionate, but it took seeing that to realize Seth finally found what he wanted to do.
She blushes lightly and giggles to herself, remembering the way she had literally pounced on him the moment he had stepped in the door. She still feels a little bad they ruined the suit...
"We'll be fine, love," Gloria says softly, looking at Seth. "It's not like we don't have any practice with kids and babies."
Seth nods. Yeah, it's true; but this... this is so different. They didn't have to pay for his nieces and nephews. And they got to give them back when they got to be a real hand-full. "I know, but..." he trails off when he sees that doubt flicker across Gloria's face again. He notices Gloria has a hand resting on her lower stomach and he hates himself for making her feel uncertain. Or that he doesn't want the baby.
He pulls his wife close. "I'm sorry, you know I'm thrilled, right? I can't imagine any of those kids being better lookin' than our gorgeous baby," he whispers, hoping no one else can hear him.
Because, really... all his nieces and nephews are fucking adorable. It's not a competition but he grins when Gloria giggles and nods against his cheek. He sighs softly and runs a hand through the hair at the nape of her neck, ignoring the few murmured 'awws' from around the table. "I'm just panicking... but I'm totally psyched about this. I swear. Okay?"
"Alright," Gloria says quietly. "Me too, but I'm excited too."
"Alright! Knock that shit off already!" Leah yells across the table, laughing when Seth and Gloria quickly separate but give each other sappy smiles. "You're both gonna be kick-ass parents, alright? God, like there's any doubt," she says and rolls her eyes. She grins when Seth and Gloria both aim their sappy smiles at her. Like she would say it if it isn't true? "Well, now that that's over..."
Harry holds his hands up, "Wait a minute. Why the secrecy then? I mean... It's wonderful news and it's not like we've never shared the baby spotlight before," he says, pointing between himself and Draco.
Draco, the first time round, got a bit of a prima-donna attitude near the end but otherwise it wasn't a big dramatic thing. He's pretty sure their assorted husbands have come to begrudgingly accept the multiplied 'baby hormones', but he likes having someone to share the experience with.
"Well," Leah says slowly, looking at Draco apologetically. "Uh... We... fuck..." she trails off with an awkward shrug, unsure how to finish.
Draco scoffs and waves a hand dismissively when he realizes the problem. "I get it, and I appreciate the thought and effort, but it's unnecessary. My father's death isn't any reason not to celebrate a growing family." He glares when Joe leans on him and coos at him, fluttering his lashes over-dramatically. Merlin, how he could he forget what a git his husband can be? "Shut it, you. I'm allowed to be sweet."
"Yes," Joe immediately agrees. "You're allowed but it doesn't mean I'm used to it." He grins and dodges the pointy elbow aimed at his ribs. He dares to lean closer and grabs Draco's chin and quickly kisses his volatile husband before he can try with the elbow again.
He smiles when Draco immediately kisses back and seems to forget he's annoyed. Until he's nipped rather harshly. "I deserve that," he murmurs, licking at his already healing lip.
Harry chuckles, looking around the table. He almost wishes the kids hadn't already finished and run off to play; they'd go just as mental over the news of more babies. "Well, fantastic," he says and claps his hands together. "We've got a baby-shower to plan," he says, looking at Gloria and laughing when her eyes widen.
He rubs his hands together. He's sure they'll be seeing three shopaholic vampires in short order, knowing they'll be there moments after he tells them the good news.
Harry stumbles a little as he pops out of the floo. He looks up with relief when he's caught by Jake, smiling as his husband gently pats him off (his hands lingering, unsurprisingly, on his arse and belly). He sticks his tongue out playfully when Sarah and William both giggle at him.
"Thanks, love," he murmurs. "And for the record; I'm always that clumsy flooing, it has nothing to do with my big round belly."
He rubs a hand down his belly in an effort to calm his somersaulting child. He's not as nauseous as he usually is thanks to a preemptive nausea potion. He turns when the floo flares again and steps back just before Draco pops out.
"Git," he says with a not-so-playful scowl when Draco saunters out gracefully, not even a hair out of place.
"Jealous," Draco taunts with a smirk. He turns and helps Joey through the floo, easing his eldest over the hearth. "Wasn't that fun?" he asks, patting the soot off Joey's bum.
He chuckles when Joey turns to him, his dark brown eyes wide. His children have all been exposed to magic over the years, but this is the first time they've traveled through the floo system. He almost feels bad; international flooing is quite an experience even when one is used to it.
Joey's eyes are still wide as he slowly shakes his head. "No, it wasn', papa," he breathes. He's never gone through the fire before and he never wants to again! He'd only remembered at the last minute not to open his mouth to holler or he knows he'd have a mouthful of ash and sooty stuff. Blech. "I was spinnin' around and nearly whacked my head!" he says, pointing to his forehead. "And I think—"
"Back up!" Draco says, scooting them both back when the floo flares for a final time and Joe pops out, Scorpius clinging to him like a monkey. "What did you think Scorpius?" he asks, brushing off his husband and son. He can't help give Joe a quick kiss, mostly in reward for going through the floo without complaint or problems. He laughs when Scorpius' nose wrinkles and he's gently pushed away, a silent request for him to stop fussing.
Scorpius looks up and beams excitedly. "It was so fun!" he says bouncing in his daddy's arms. "I wanna go again!" he gushes. He still when he notices the huge room they're standing in. "Wow." He didn't know grandmum had such a huge house! He leans into daddy, afraid if he lets go he'll get lost. The floo was fun, but getting lost is not.
"Right," Draco says, standing with a soft grunt and dusting himself off. He takes Joey's hand and, after a quick headcount to make sure they're all accounted for, sets off to find his mother. It's rather worrisome they haven't been greeted and he's a bit apprehensive.
He's able to find his mother's personal study fairly quickly. It's not as big and imposing as his father's so he's been there countless times before. He knocks softly on the closed doors, hoping his mother has sequestered herself in there and they don't have to keep searching.
The door opens swiftly by Narcissa herself. She blinks a few times, taking in the large group of people and hurries out, closing the doors behind her, and envelops her son in a tight hug. "Draco, my darling," she says softly.
She smiles to herself as she presses against the rounded belly, the smile flitting across her face briefly when she can feel a tiny foot pressing into her stomach. It's a very clear reminder that life continues.
Draco's arms immediately rise up and he hugs his mother back, even if he's taken by surprise. "How are you?" he asks quietly. He's very aware of everyone watching but he can't send them off; they haven't a clue where to go and he's a little eager for them to see his mother is human, after all.
He leans back and takes in his mother's appearance. She doesn't look too terrible, especially considering he's rather sure she hasn't spent much time out of her study or dry eyed.
"I'm well, thank you for asking."
Draco just nods, not at all willing to argue with his mother even though he knows she's lying through her pearly white teeth. He clears his throat and gives a sheepish smile. "Well, we're here."
"Yes, I had noticed, darling," Narcissa says dryly, offering a small smile. She looks around her son to see who is included in the 'we'. She smiles warmly at Joe and their boys. "And you've brought your boys!" she says, hurrying forward and taking Scorpius from his father's arms.
"How are you, my little love?" she coos, reveling in the warmth of the small child as he clings to her. She melts into the little boy's hug when small arms eagerly wrap around her and squeeze.
"I got to floo, grandmum!" Scorpius gushes. "But—" He pauses, his smile dropping off his little face. "We only came 'cause granddad died, so, it's not as cool." He hadn't met his other granddad, but he's sad because father and grandmum are sad.
He gently pats his grandmum's cheek when she frowns a little, her pretty face going sad again. Even if she isn't frowning or anything, he knows she's sad. "But we're here!" he chirps. "We'll cheer you up!"
Narcissa can only nod weakly, touched at her grandson's sweet nature. She stumbles just a little when Joey hugs her around her legs, his little face pressing into her thigh. "Thank you, my darlings," she says, rubbing Scorpius' back as she pats Joey's shaggy hair. She turns when she hears a throat being cleared and sees Draco looking at her oddly. Oh. Right.
"Yes, well," she sets Scorpius down. "Come along, I'll show you to your rooms." She nods at Harry and his family, pleased he came to support her Draco (and probably her as well, knowing the big-hearted wizard). "Sarah, a pleasure as always," she says warmly. She offers a conspiratorial wink; they are the only women and should stick together.
Sarah curtsies, remembering her manners at the last minute. "Hi!" she says. She just watches as her mum and dad say their hellos, both of them a little awkward, and then they all follow Mrs. Malfoy through the huge house.
"Wow," she whispers, looking around. The walls are all shiny and there are pretty vases and statues everywhere! Her steps falter as she notices a painting move. Oh! They all do! A few of the people in the pictures wave or at least offer a small head nod. Some make faces at her or just ignore her.
The pictures that are just of trees or something move, too; the leaves move like there's a gentle breeze or the surface of the water ripples gently. She kinda likes those better. "Wow."
Harry just nods, ushering his daughter along so they aren't left behind. He has no idea where the hell he is and he does not want to get lost. He's not at all surprised when they're lead to a private wing in the Manor; it's close enough to where Narcissa is but far away enough to give privacy.
Merlin, there are enough rooms for each of them to have their own! He's happy to take only one, though, mainly just to keep his children close.
By the time the funeral service is over, he's worried and a little hesitant to go home. Draco looks lost. Joe looks pensive. And Mrs. Malfoy just looks sad and lonely, even if she's trying her best to hide it. Everyone is picking at their dinner and he's itching to find something to say to break the awkward silence. He's ready to elbow Jake into action when Joe is the first to say something.
"Would you consider moving in with us?" Joe asks, looking at Narcissa.
He spent half of the night trying to console his distraught husband, soothing his worries and fears about his mother being left in the massive home all on her own. Especially after they found out she hadn't actually ventured out of the many walls in years. Things are still settling down in their world and the name Malfoy still tended to rile people up.
He's grateful his mother-in-law hasn't been physically harmed, but he agrees with Draco; it was probably only a matter of time. (He's also sure they wouldn't even know if it happened until much later but he doesn't mention that.) And he hates the thought of her cooped up inside, for who knows how long, just as much as his husband does.
That's no way to live.
Narcissa's eyes widen and dart to Draco. He looks just as surprised... but hopeful. "I don't know," she says honestly. She can't imagine leaving the family home—even if it isn't her family any longer. She hasn't gone anywhere in years (besides France, there they only care about how many Galleons she spends) and it is starting to get to her. She'd never admit that, however, and she's quite sure she hadn't made it obvious to anyone.
"Why?" she asks, narrowing her eyes at Joe dangerously. She will not accept charity. Or pity.
"Because I'll feel better knowing you're safe and happy. I happen to think that'll occur if you're close. With us," Joe says with a light shrug. He's mostly able to ignore the look on his mother-in-law's face; if he hadn't seen such a look from his husband over the past few years, he'd probably piss himself. As it is, it's still an intimidating look but he's able to bear it.
He looks over to Draco when he feels his hand being tightly held. He gives Narcissa his attention again. "The children adore you," he adds, not at all above bribing the older woman.
Narcissa looks between Scorpius and Joey, both looking at her eagerly and smiling identical hopeful smiles exactly like the one still on her Draco's face. Even Harry's children, William and Sarah, are looking at her with happy little faces; just waiting for her to agree. It's rather shocking to realize she's not at all willing to refuse and see all those happy, hopeful faces crumple.
She'd point out that there'd be another body in the way but she knows it wouldn't at all deter this group; they've all gotten used to the large gatherings. As much as she's still adapting to the noise level, she's not exactly opposed to being in the mix, as it were.
"What would I do with the Manor?" she finally asks, raising her chin proudly.
"Sell it," Draco blurts out. He nods at his mother's incredulous look. "Or donate it. I'm sure the Ministry wouldn't pass up another large home they could put to good use," he says quietly. He's not sure why his mother cares, it's not her ancestral home, but he can respect her dedication. "And that is beside the point, Mother. You can just leave it here until you've a later use for it. The house-elves will make sure it doesn't rot and crumble to the ground."
Narcissa stares down into her dessert, thinking. When did they finish dinner? "I don't know, darling," she says quietly. She nearly winces, horrified she's reduced to mumbling and feeling uncertain. "Where would I go?" She looks up and squares her shoulders. "I won't be a burden."
"With us," Joe says without pause. "We've room. Or you could find a place close-by. Please? I know it's driving Draco insane being so far and not being able to check on you. And the children adore visiting with you, they'd lose their little minds if they could visit more often," he adds, piling on more guilt-inducing incentive. Prickly and aloof she may act, he knows Narcissa fiercely loves her son and family.
He mentally grins when he sees Draco giving him an approving (and heated) look. He's not as sneaky as his husband, but he's learned a thing or two over the years. He winks at Draco and looks back to Narcissa.
"You don't have to answer now," he finally says. "But... will you at least think about it?"
Narcissa nods slowly. She will.
They finish dinner and she's in her rooms, in her nightclothes, before she's really aware of it. She's spent nearly every moment since that 'think about it?' doing just that. She looks around her ornate bedroom, taking in the rich fabrics and ancient appointments. Even the bed has been in the Malfoy family for generations.
She doesn't feel like it's hers, if she ever did... And she'd be lying if she tried to convince herself that the very idea of being closer to her son and grandbabies isn't appealing.
The next morning, she's at the floo with a large trunk. Everything she wants from the Manor is shrunken down and carefully packed inside. "After you," she says to Draco, smiling a little. His answering smile has her certain she's made the right choice. She rubs her son's belly just before he turns away to go home.
She sighs quietly, watching as her son practically floats through the floo, belatedly realizing just how worried he had been. It's a moot point to tell him, again, not to worry. It's just what family does, after all.
Yes, she's definitely made the right choice.
It's a thought that echoes in her mind over the next few weeks. Every time she visits the Black household for a large family dinner and she's welcomed warmly and stuffed with (delicious, homemade) food. Every time she enjoys a proper ladies' tea with Sarah, Natalie and Gloria (and occasionally Angela, if the woman isn't working). Every time she falls into bed, tired and smiling after a long day filled with chasing children or from just talking to any of the various extended family she suddenly found herself with.
And she knows she definitely made the right choice as she cradles her newest grandson, openly smiling down into his still pink-from-birth face.
Harry winces at the ear-piercing squealing shriek. "Calm down," he says laughing a little.
"No!" Sarah screams, bouncing a little in place. "It's finally a girl!" she shouts, pumping a fist in the air. She grins unapologetically when her mum winces, rubbing at his ears. Too bad. She's waited years for a little sister and she's so not going to be calm about it.
Her nose wrinkles a little, reality setting in. "Oh. Ew," she says, mocking a gag when she thinks about her parents doing... that. Eww—so gross!
Harry laughs, shoving at Sarah lightly. She's going to be 12 soon and is, apparently, a little more aware of the whole 'where babies come from' thing than he originally thought. And going by the look on her face, she's trying valiantly not to picture how things work.
He snickers softly at her still pinched off expression. "What?" he asks innocently.
"Nothing," Sarah mutters. She restrains the urge to rub her mum's belly, since it's still mostly flat and that would be totally creepy. Somehow, the idea of rubbing a tiny bump isn't as acceptable as a large belly. She can wait. "I didn't even see Healer Smith," she says instead, pouting a little.
Harry shrugs, kicking his feet up. So far, he's the only one pregnant this time around and he's actually pleased to have the sole focus for a bit. He smiles warmly when Sarah shifts the ottoman for him and fluffs the pillow behind his back. He wants to hug and snuggle her for being so sweet and thoughtful but he knows she'll just wiggle away; she's too mature to be snuggled by him, apparently.
"She popped over while you lot were at school."
"Oh," Sarah says, deflating a little.
She likes visiting with Charlotte. She wants to be a Healer some day and she likes picking the older witch's mind. So far, nothing she's heard has reduced her zeal for Healing yet. Even knowing she knows she'll have to see other people naked. Because. Uhm. Ew. But she's hoping by the time she's old enough to be a Healer, it won't be a big deal. Or that embarrassing. She's seen most of her family naked (too often for her liking at times—a hazard of having a large family of boys and shape-shifters with little to no sense of modesty), and it's really no biggie.
Except when her parents get handsy when they think no one is looking. Ugh. So gross. But it does remind her... "So, how do you know it's a girl this time?" she asks, turning towards her mum and leaning against the cushions as she gives him an intense, 'tell me everything' kind of look.
Harry grins, well aware Sarah is asking both to be sure and for academic reasons. He's proud she's already sorted out what she wants to do with her life, even if he's not looking forward to her leaving for college and medical school bills. It's silly, but he's on the verge of fighting tears at the very thought of his baby leaving... A stern reminder that Sarah is only twelve has him calming down.
"She was able to tell from the scan. Apparently, this one isn't as shy as the rest of you lot and we could see."
"Wow," Sarah sighs, amazed. "Did you get pictures?" she asks excitedly, leaning forward. Even if the pictures are just grainy, grey little blobs, it's exciting!
Harry laughs, pulling a small stack from his pocket. "I did!" He hands one to Sarah, pleased she takes it carefully even in her excitement. He leans forward, pointing to various spots and describing what's visible. He still can't make heads or tails of the image but he's going by memory of what Charlotte had pointed out. "See? That's her head. And that's her spine. And that—" He points to a vaguely shaped, dark grey spot. "—is how Charlotte knew you were getting a sister this time 'round."
"Oh, wicked," Sarah breathes, pulling the photo close enough until it's nearly touching her nose. She rotates it a little, trying to make sense of the blobs and spots. It doesn't magically make sense just because it's closer, but she takes her mums' word for it.
She blushes a little, realizing she's trying to see her unborn sisters parts (even if they're completely unrecognizable) and pulls the picture away a little. "I still can't make heads or tails of these things!" she huffs, dropping her hands into her lap.
Harry shrugs, carefully taking the picture back. He had copies made, but he doesn't have enough to give Sarah one. Unless she insists... then he'll just have to ask Charlotte for another copy.
"Charlotte says it's not that hard once you learn how. I bet you'll pick it up in no time."
"True," Sarah says smugly, lifting her shoulders a little. She is a quick learner; all of her teachers say so. She flops over to lean against her mum's side. "So, who else knows?"
"You're the first to know," Harry says. "After your dad," he adds, grinning when Sarah pumps her fist with a hissed 'yes!' again. "And it's not a secret, so feel free to blurt it out." He grins when she groans softly.
The teasing reminder of her shouting out the news of her second little brother makes her want to hide her face. "Mum," she says sharply. "I was little. I didn't know it was a secret." She slowly grins and points a finger at him, "It's partly your own fault for trusting a blabbermouth little kid."
"Very true," Harry concedes, grinning wider. It takes a minute for his daughter to realize she's insulted herself and when her eyebrows pinch, he laughs. "And it wasn't a secret so much as your dad wanted to wait until grandpa was feeling better to share the news. It was a rough time," he says softly.
Sarah nods, still remembering the time everyone thought her grandpa wouldn't make it home from the hospital. He still has his bad days, but grandpa Billy is nearly as spritely as he was when she was a baby.
Her eyes light up and she bounces in her seat. "Oh! We gotta tell Alice!"
"I was thinking of doing just that," Harry says with a nod. He leans over just enough to get his mobile free and hands it over to his still bouncing daughter. If anyone can handle an excited Alice, it's Sarah. Luna is a close second but the blonde witch is currently somewhere in Germany with Amelia and Hermione. He's not exactly sure what creature Luna is looking for, but he knows the small family is having fun regardless if she finds anything or not.
He winces when he hears a loud squealing come through the mobile the second it connects. Apparently Alice has improved her methods of focus and there's no need for Sarah to even tell her why she's being called.
"Tell her I say 'hi'," he adds before Sarah can go into a long winded rant about babies, pink things and stupid boys. He grins when Sarah flaps a hand at him, mutters a quick 'mum says hi' and she's settling against the cushions, lost in conversation with the bubbly little vampire.
He rolls his eyes a little and settles into the sofa, enjoying the bits of the animated conversation he can hear. He knows Sarah loves her brothers and cousins, but he can't blame her for wanting a little balance to their family. Sarah, Amelia and Natalie are the only girls and he can only imagine how overwhelming it must be, especially since Sarah is at the age boys are repugnant (or disgustingly fascinating in Natalie's case now that hormones are affecting her thinking a little more).
He nods along with Sarah asks him random questions until he pauses, "What?"
"Baby-shower," Sarah repeats, rolling her eyes a little. She knew her mum wasn't listening. "Alice says it's important because all our girl stuff is old and it's rude to ask for whatever you gave to Aunts Luna and Hermione back."
"I wouldn't ask for it back, but they're going to offer it," Harry says with a shrug. It's common to share baby-things, especially since half of it barely gets used before it's too small or unneeded. And he's pretty sure the entire group isn't done having babies just yet.
"And besides, you're only supposed to get one baby shower. It's not like I can't just buy anything we'll need." He laughs when he can hear Alice's indignant scoff from where he's sitting.
Sarah rolls her eyes, agreeing with Alice. Her mum is always trying to wiggle his way out of parties and stuff. "Pah-lease, mum, no one says no to a party—or gifts." She lifts her chin, doing a passable imitation of her uncle Draco, "It just isn't done." She giggles when she's only shoved lightly and then promptly ignored. Whatever.
She goes back to her conversation with Alice, pleased the vampires are going to come for a visit; sooner rather than later and for longer than they'd originally planned. She hasn't seen them in a while, since they decided to move around again.
Apparently with the two wolf packs settled and their presence in the town no longer a focus, they wanted to slip away for awhile so they could return to Forks again that much sooner. She squeals softly when Alice says they're all coming. Well, all meaning 'everyone but Bella and Edward'. Which is cool; they tend to stick to themselves and are not as fun. "Even Emmett?"
"Even Emmett," Alice says with a tinkling laugh. It's not a surprise; all of the kids love Emmett. She'd feel left out if she didn't know all the kids liked her, too. "We're a bit far at the moment so it'll probably be a day or two before we're actually there."
"That's cool. Where are you guys now?"
"Alaska," Alice says with an eye roll. It's nice to see her other 'family' and the cold doesn't bother her, but all the snow gets boring after awhile. It's nice to be isolated enough to actually venture out when the sun shines, but all there is to see is snow. White, bright, snow. "I know there's no rush, but it's been so long since we've seen all you guys, I bet you've all grown!"
Sarah hums, nodding. "Oh yeah," she says proudly. She's grown at least a foot since she remembers seeing Alice. Even her shrimpy little brother is tall enough to reach the counters now. "Mum says we're like weeds," she says with a giggle. She looks over to get his reaction and notices he's asleep. It's a tough call: be quiet and snuggle in or take the call to her room.
She's missed talking to Alice, but she doesn't get the chance to sneak in a snuggle with her mum very often either. She's either competing with one of her brothers (usually a whiny Ben) or refusing an offer because she's 'too old'.
"I gotta go," she whispers. She's grateful Alice doesn't ask any embarrassing questions or try to make her talk longer and giggles quietly when the vampire disconnects with a girly squeal. She carefully eases herself against her mum's side, smiling a little when he immediately shifts his arm and hugs her close.
She shoulda known she couldn't sneak in a cuddle. But it's too late now; her mum knows what's she's doing but she still goes with it. She closes her eyes with a soft sigh. Homework can wait.
Less than a week later, the entire group of vampires is back at the large white house. Emmett and Jasper seem to draw all of the children's attention and most of their time spent visiting seems to have both vampires acting as a jungle gym. Not that they're complaining.
Jasper, especially, looks to be pleased with the arrangement as he carefully monitors the kids wriggling around his body. He hasn't let a single one drop and he's not going to. He's also, more than once, had to talk Emmett out of playing a game of 'catch' with any of the small humans. He clearly remembers the reaction that got last time when Emmett allowed Scorpius to talk him into it.
Alice, Esme and Rosalie spend most of their time flitting between the various houses of the pack members, dropping off gifts after hours spent shopping. Narcissa had been a bit taken aback by the strange group but soon found herself getting along with Esme. It didn't hurt she could shop like a woman possessed with the best of them, either.
One of the cloudy days has the entire group at the local park; the vampires enjoying the quirk of the weather for a day spent outside with the entire pack. If the weather was nicer, he's sure Emmett would be clamoring for a game of baseball (or 'fetch'; always said teasingly to the closest werewolf as he tosses a bright, new tennis ball lazily). Even with the drizzly weather, it's tempting to get everyone running and playing, even if they all end up covered in mud.
Harry can't help but grin at the large gathering; he almost feels bad their group seems to take up the entire park. He stills when he sees another large group emerge from the trees, recognizing them instantly. He's not sure what to feel since they don't appear to be aggravated. He's not at all surprised to see Remus is the next to notice the group but he's not sure what to make of the older werewolf's reaction; he merely shrugs and goes back to speaking with Nigel.
Jake looks up, lifting his arms and making Ben and Marcus squeal with delight as they're lifted off the ground and they dangle, their feet kicking at the air. He turns to give his husband his attention, the smile sliding off his face when he takes in Harry's expression. He follows Harry's gaze and stiffens.
He gently pries the kids off his arms. "Go to Leah," he says softly, patting their butts so they won't argue. He watches long enough to make sure they're headed for their aunt, nodding once when Leah pulls both kids behind her, before he looks back towards the woods.
He slowly stands taller and glares as he recognizes Sam and Paul, the pair standing in front of the other pack. He smothers the urge to growl and deliberately makes his way over to his husband, standing close and wrapping an arm around his waist; protectively, possessively.
"You don't think they're going to do anything, are you?" Harry asks softly, looking between the approaching pack and their own scattered groups. He wants to cringe when he realizes the other pack's presence is becoming known. Even Seth is looking stiff and a little uncertain as he gathers Gloria and their child close. Harrison goes willingly, climbing up Seth's legs with a muted giggle.
He looks to his husband and smooths a hand down his chest, concerned when he feels Jake's entire body is tense. "Jake." He hears his husband merely grunt in reply. "Relax."
Jake nearly scoffs; like he can relax? He hasn't seen Sam and his pack in years and he has no idea what to expect. He's not all that concerned; his pack is bigger and still stronger. But he really doesn't want any confrontations, in public or in front of the children.
He keeps Harry close when Sam is finally close enough for them to speak without shouting or having to rely on their sensitive sense of hearing. "Sam."
"Jake." Sam nods his head politely. He's a little surprised to see Jake's entire pack. Both the size and the fact that they're just out and about in public with vampires (he hadn't realized they were in town). He shifts his feet awkwardly, feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Jake is definitely still the stronger Alpha. He hasn't any interest in fighting or arguing, though. "How are you?"
Jake narrows his eyes a little, wishing he could read Sam's mind. He looks to an equally tense Paul before returning to regard Sam again. "Fine, thanks. You?" he asks, trying not to sound snide or sarcastic. He thinks he does a pretty good job of it until he feels Harry's elbow digging into his ribs with a subtle jab.
"We're well," Sam says. He rocks on his heels, unsure what to say or do now. Walking away isn't really an option, not yet anyway. "I'd like to apologize," he finally blurts out after a few tense moments. He wants to cringe at the way his voice sounds, but he can't take it back. He senses Paul's irritation, but there's not much he can do. Their pack owes Jake's pack an apology. Especially now that he's figured out a few things...
Even if it's too late to reconcile, hopefully things can stop being tense and awkward every time they see each other. It really is too small a town to have to worry about avoiding each other.
Jake studies Sam, his lips slightly pursed. "What for?" he asks carefully.
"A few things, actually," Sam admits with a sigh. He runs a hand through his hair and gratefully leans against his wife when he feels Emily come to stand next to him. He owes a lot of his more rational thoughts to her and he almost wishes he could have her speak for him; she's more articulate and soft spoken. Also, she's definitely not on Jake's shit-list.
He turns to look at the rest of his pack, pleased only Paul looks ready to argue. Thankfully, Paul's been his Beta long enough to know better than to blurt something out or lose control of his temper. It's taken years, but the other man isn't as short-tempered as he'd once been. He looks at Cassie, Paul's imprintee, and he gives her a brief, grateful smile. He knows she's the main reason for Paul's growth.
"Such as?" Jake asks through gritted teeth when Sam makes no further attempt to specify. He knows what he'd like to hear 'I'm sorry' for, but he really doesn't know if Sam's list and his are the same.
He raises an eyebrow when the entire pack shifts with unease and they stare at Sam expectantly. He ignores Quil's attempts to catch his eye and stays focused on Sam.
Sam sighs softly and steps closer to Jake, raising his hands when Jake visibly tenses. He lowers his voice to a near-whisper, "Easy, I just don't need the entire park hearing me admit what an asshole I've been, alright?" he says, offering Jake a small smile. To his shock, Jake chuckles and inclines his head, urging him to continue. "So, yeah, sorry about the kicking you out thing," he mutters, rubbing at the back of his neck. It's really a piss poor apology, he knows that, but it's the best he can offer.
Sam pauses for a moment, unsure if Jake really expects a thorough listing of all the bone-headed things he's done over the years. He really doesn't know if they have that kind of time... Then he sees Jake glare at Paul and he nods slowly.
"And for the harassment your Imprint suffered."
"My husband," Jake corrects.
Sam nods, less bothered by the whole issue than he was years ago. He feels like an ass about it, especially for not taking it more seriously when it happened, but it's just another thing he can't change. He's glad Emily's hand is in his, squeezing gently and offering her encouragement and courage.
"Yes, your husband. And I'd like to apologize for that whole... thing," he adds awkwardly.
"Alright," Jake says slowly. He looks at Harry, scowling lightly when he only gets a shrug in response. Really? He's certain his Harry has more of an opinion on it than that but he doesn't push. Mostly because he's still surprised to hear an apology (and a sincere one at that) coming out of Sam's mouth.
He looks at Sam thoughtfully. "Have you had another pack member with the same issue?" he finally asks, wondering what's caused Sam's change of heart (or thinking).
Sam shrugs. "Not that either of them have Imprinted, but yeah." He looks back at Embry, offering him and Kevin a small smile. He wants to cringe as he remembers the pain he caused both men, only realizing how big of an ass he was after the fact. He gives Jake a small shrug, unsure what else he can say. He can't help but notice the way Jake is standing and touching his husband. It doesn't bother him, not like it would've years ago, but he's curious.
"Is it true?" he asks, gaze on Harry's mid-section. There's a slight bulge there but it could just be a slight weight gain that comes with age... But, no; no other part of the wizard is bigger. It's just his mid-section, just how he'd expect on a pregnant woman. Er... person. Plus the way Jake's hand is covering the area is another hint. He's seen that possessive, protective gesture before with other pack members and their expecting spouses.
Harry and Jake share a look. They both briefly contemplate playing dumb, but decide against it. It isn't exactly a secret.
"Yeah," Jake says, shrugging one shoulder. He sees Harry's hand settle on his lower belly and he wants to cradle Harry protectively but he settles for giving Sam a hard look, daring the other man to comment or do something.
"Well, congratulations then," Sam says with a small smile. He really wants to ask all sorts of things; mainly, how. But he's very aware that he has no right to ask such a thing, no matter how curious he is. He look around at the scattered children, most having escaped from their parents' protective hold when it became obvious there wasn't a threat from him (and he tries his best to ignore the painful pang that he's causes such a reaction at all). He wonders how many are Jake's... or Joe's. It's a little hard to tell, honestly since most of the coloring of the children is similar enough to make them all look related.
Huh. They're all cute kids, though.
Then he notices a pale, blonde man standing close to Joe, glaring at him hard enough to make him want to shiver. He hadn't been sure the blonde kids he saw belonged with Jake and his pack until now. As he looks a little closer, the resemblance to the glaring blonde (and Joe) is easy to spot and he's again hit with that lingering feeling of remorse.
If he hadn't been such an asshole, they all could have been a part of his pack. His strong, supportive, intact pack...
Harry is the first to recover. "Thank you," he says, elbowing Jake lightly when his husband just continues to stare, narrow eyed, at Sam.
He sighs and runs a hand through his hair, unsure how to continue. They've spent years at odds with the other pack; it almost feels surreal to have that suddenly puff away. He's hesitant to accept the olive branch, as it were.
"Are you serious right now? Because I can assure you, we won't hesitate to—"
"I'm serious," Sam says, holding up his hands and interrupting Harry before the other man can get into what they won't hesitate to do. He has an idea... And being on the receiving end of the man's magic or Jake's fury isn't his goal. "I'm sure we'll never be friends, but I would like to try to at least get along. I don't think either of our packs are going anywhere any time soon."
Jake just narrows his eyes further, trying like hell to read Sam's mind. It doesn't work, of course, and he growls softly. "When did this all happen?"
"Hard to say, really," Sam says sheepishly.
Emily had been on him about Jake and Joe since the pack split. He hadn't wanted to listen—truly listen and take her words to heart—until Embry came to him. He'd been devastated to realize a member of his pack had been terrified of him; the man had actually been trembling when he approached him that day. Embry had been terrified he'd be kicked out and hated, but it didn't stop him because he knew the pack would find out sooner or later.
Apparently, sooner was the best option; get it over with so Embry could find another place to stay that much sooner. Sam had been upset, guilt when he realized Embry's fears were well founded; it wasn't like there wasn't a reason for that kind of thinking. It made him realize how shitty an Alpha he'd been.
He vowed to do right by Embry. It didn't fix things with the other pack, but at least he'd been able to get his own pack back to rights. Even Paul got off Embry's case after he'd explained some things. Emily, god love her, had helped a lot there too. It took a stronger man than Paul (or even himself) to go against Emily when she got her mind set on something.
So, really, he couldn't exactly pin-point a moment.
"A while ago?" he offers, shrugging and giving Jake a sheepish smile. It's the best he can do and he wants to sigh when the other Alpha merely scowls at him and hugs his husband closer. He can't blame Jake at all. And really, he should've expected this.
"I see. Well. Good, I'm glad you see you've pulled your head out of your ass."
Sam merely nods, chuckling; he can't argue with that. He offers Jake a grin and sticks his hand out. "I have. So—" He sticks out his hand, keeping it steady as he holds it out to the other Alpha, waiting.
Jake stares at the hand. His first instinct was to slap it away. But he knows that childish impulse is wrong. He slowly reaches out and grips Sam's hand in his. He's pleasantly surprised when Sam's squeeze is light and almost friendly. He shakes it twice and lets go.
"Well, now that that's settled..." he trails off, waving the rest of his pack over.
It takes a while, but Sam's pack is introduced to Jake's, mainly just the children since they're really the only ones that don't know Sam and his pack. Jake notices Emily and Sarah sneak off shortly after introductions are made, but the low murmurings of 'healing potions and salves' passing between the pair has him relaxing. He's never had a problem with Emily and he certainly can't stifle his daughter's urge to help people (or her growing interest in healing).
He can only hope Sarah can actually help... knowing his Sarah, she's probably intrigued by Emily's scars and offering some sort of potion or scar salve. She's gotten quite adept at brewing, taking to Potions like a natural. It amuses Draco and Harry; both for different reasons. But at least he knows it's one less thing Sarah will struggle with when she goes to become a Healer. She's already going through material suited for someone in their junior year (according to Hermione, anyway).
Harry blinks, taken by surprise when he's approached by two men. It's obvious they're a couple and he's suddenly pissed off. He'd like to think it's merely hormones, but he can't help thinking with how unfair it is that Embry and his man have been welcomed when Jake wasn't.
He stays silent as they approach. It's only when Embry offers a quietly spoke, heartfelt, offer of apology does his anger puff out. He merely nods and allows the couple a seat next to him.
After a few quiet moments, he turns and tries not to glare. "So, you didn't imprint?"
Embry slowly shakes his head, giving Kevin a side-long glance. He hasn't imprinted but they're serious enough he's told the other man all about him and the pack. He'd been relieved when Kevin didn't run off, screaming for a rubber-padded room.
"No, but—" He shrugs. He doesn't think he'll ever imprint, and he's OK with that. As long as he doesn't lose Kevin.
"I see," Harry murmurs. He turns away when his shirt is pulled on and slides Ben onto his lap, gently pushing the toddler's thumb from his mouth. "This is Ben," he says, nodding at the shyly smiling little boy perched on his knee. He bonces his knee when Ben remains silent. It's not uncommon for Ben to be shy around new people, but he squashes the spiteful voice that hopes Ben doesn't say hello.
He leans down, whispering in his son's ear, "These are friends of daddy's."
Ben's eyes widen and he looks at the two strangers. Most of daddy's friends come to their house. He's never met these two before. "Really?" he asks, leaning forward with interest. "You don' visit."
"No," Embry says, immediately feeling like a jerk. He stares at the kid, amazed he even exists. It's obvious he's Jake and Harry's kid; he's the perfect mix of the two men—Harry's messy hair and eyes and Jake's... well, everything-else. "We live far away and can't visit," he says, feeling lame.
It's the best excuse he can think of that doesn't involve telling the kid they were all a bunch of asses to his dads.
Ben gives both men a look. "So? Emmett and Jasper live far away and they come see us," he says, matter-of-factly. He knows the vampires live far away, but they can run really fast. He narrows his eyes at the strangers. Mummy said they were daddy's friends, so they should be big wolfs, too.
"Were you bad?" he finally asks. "'cause when you're bad, you get stuck in the corner. Is that why you din' come?" he asks, eyes huge. He can't imagine how naughty you'd have to be for that long of time-out time. Wow...
Embry snorts a laugh, unable to help himself. Good lord, the kid is adorable. "Something like that," he says, nodding along. "So. You've got some toys there," he says, hoping to distract the kid when he notices the arm of an action figure sticking up from the bulge in his pocket.
He's not sure what to do when the little boy then spends the next 10 minutes (without taking a moment to breath, it seems) talking about the action figures he has clutched in his hands. He mocks a fight or two as he's explaining, but mostly, he just talks.
Jake leans against the closest tree, unsure how to take the entire situation. He moves over when Joe comes over and props his foot on the tree, resting his hand on his bent knee.
"What do you think?" he asks, eyes in constant motion as he looks at each family member talking with one of Sam's pack.
It's a little unnerving... but so far, no one is really being an asshole or causing problems. He can't help his gaze returning to where Sam's son, Max, is playing with Scorpius and William. So far, the trio is getting along, probably because they're all about the same age with matching passion for the same cartoons.
"Honestly?" Joe sees Jake nod once. "I think it's about fucking time."
Jake snorts softly and finally gives Joe his full attention. "Really? You aren't at all concerned?"
"Not really," Joe says simply, shrugging one shoulder. "You'd be able to smell bullshit and I don't think he'd be that good at pretending if he didn't mean it. I'm not saying we have them over for dinner any time soon, but don't go lookin' for something that isn't there, man."
Jake nods slowly; Joe has a point. "It doesn't bother you?" he murmurs, his gaze settling on where Embry and his boyfriend are talking with Harry and Benny. He doesn't want to find it adorable that Benny has Embry (and Kevin) completely smitten and wrapped around his little finger. His son has the knack for that.
He smiles when he can hear Benny's explosion noise and two action figures go flying. He laughs when Embry, obediently and without being asked or given a boo-boo face by Ben, gets up and retrieves them.
"A little," Joe says honestly, shrugging again when Jake looks at him. "But it's not like we can change it. I'm actually a little glad Embry didn't get as much shit about it. I wouldn't have wanted to have him join us and Sam needed the wake-up call."
Jake nods thoughtfully. Again, Joe has a point. "Damn, man," he says, looking at his friend with a wide smile. "When did you get so smart?"
"Shut up, asshole. I've always been smart."
Jake just hums. Wisely, he doesn't comment on it further and just goes back to watching.
He's pleased to see Sarah, Leah and Emily talking. He hadn't been worried; his daughter wouldn't let the older woman's scars bother her, but they've spoken enough about Sam and his pack, he's glad his daughter didn't immediately react negatively. Leah smiles and he knows she's just as pleased to see the other woman, as well.
He'd almost forgotten they were close before all the shit with Sam happened.
As Harry straightens up from placing Jasmine in her crib, he sees two blurs rush past the doorway, the bright sound of giggles following. He grins and hurries over to the doorway to peek down the hallway, laughing quietly when he catches sight of the two naked, wet little boys streaking past instead of in the bath where they belong.
He snorts with amusement; bubbles still cling to the dark and pale hair on each little head.
"Marcus Joseph! Benjamin Jacob!" Jake hollers, chasing the naked boys down the hallway, soaked from head to knee. "Get back here!" he growls, ignoring the spectators in the doorways as he hurries after the still giggling boys.
He stifles a grin when the boys squeal and the slapping cadence of wet little feet get faster.
Harry quiets another laugh as he takes in Jake's appearance. It isn't a new thing to see him chasing after naked, wet little boys. Neither one of them could resist making a break for it as soon as their hair had been washed and making Jake give chase.
He glances up and grins when he sees BJ and Scorpius in the doorway across the hall, both with smiles on their face as they watch the scene as well. BJ notices him looking and his grin dissolves into a scowl before he slinks back into the dark cave of his room. Harry rolls his eyes; well used to his second-born's new 'teenager' attitude. Even if he doesn't have the excuse of being an actual teenager.
BJ—he still giggles like an adolescent at his son's newest self-imposed nickname. He's gone through so many, it was honestly hard for him (or Jake) to really keep track anymore.
(Apparently, abbreviations were passé but initials apparently were acceptable. WJ didn't sound right so he went with 'B' for Billy and 'J' for James, earning twin eye rolls from his dads at the unneeded explanation followed by another round of completely immature giggling. Jake will still chuckle like an immature idiot when calling him BJ, and usually glance at Harry with a suggestive grin.)
"Hey, Scorp," Harry says, shutting the door to Jasmine's room quietly. "Bed in fifteen."
"Yeah, alright, Uncle Harry. Uh—" Scorpius pauses, nibbling his lip as he looks down at his feet.
He doesn't know if he should say anything or not, not wanting to have Bill pissed at him. He's pretty much the only one that doesn't call the git BJ, much to his cousin's annoyance. He thinks 'William' is too old, so he went with 'Bill'; it sounded mature enough to him so he didn't bend to Bill's incessant whining on the subject and he'd finally got the other boy to quit rolling his eyes when he addressed him as such.
Honestly; he didn't whine about his annoying name (he really wonders what his father was thinking the day he named him Scorpius—stupid family traditions), and it's annoying to hear Bill bitch about his nice, normal name. Idiot.
"What's up, Scorp?" Harry asks quietly, cupping his elbows and leaning against the door frame. He and Scorpius talk a lot (about all sorts of things) so the nervous fidgeting is unusual. He smiles; Scorpius is a lot like Joe in that regard. He might be the spitting image of Draco but he has Joe's personality—like a freakin' clone.
Scorpius fidgets some more, playing with the frayed hem of his favorite t-shirt. "Well, some of the kids are being assholes—"
"Language, Scorp," Harry automatically scolds, fighting a smile. He can't stop it and just grins unabashedly at the boy with a shrug. It doesn't help Scorpius spends a lot of time with Leah and her boys, so he naturally gets reminded about using improper language. A lot. He gets the feeling that Jake or Joe don't make a habit of reminding Scorpius of it nearly as often as he or Draco do.
Scorpius sighs, trying not to roll his eyes at his uncle. "Sorry, Uncle Har. I meant, jerks."
He shuffles out of the doorway, closing it after peeking in the room to make sure Bill isn't listening. Thankfully, he is in full 'brooding tweenager' mode; laying on his bed with his tiny music player ear-buds crammed into his ears and no doubt blasting depressing, angst ridden music. He rolls his eyes; they're barely 12, but Bill has to just be ahead of the curve in everything.
"Some of the kids are starting to tease Bill..."
"About?" Harry asks as he slowly straightens up from his slight slouch.
He tries not to jump to any conclusions. Or stomp into his son's room and demanding answers so he can cuddle his son and fix all his problems. That will get him nowhere but a pissed off, mortified son that will probably refuse to talk to him for years. He wants to roll his eyes; he's really hating teenage angst. He wryly realizes he was just as bad (even if the reasons were different) and he's going to have his hands full if BJ takes after him.
So far, BJ's school experience has been boringly average (as far as he knows). No one teased him for anything unusual but they are getting older now and kids can be, as Scorpius succinctly put it, assholes. Both boys are starting middle school in the fall.
Harry loves the fact that American magical schools aren't boarding schools. The average American magic student went to school for a few hours during the day, came home every day and holidays sprinkled throughout the year. He didn't have to say goodbye to his kids once or twice a year and miss them for months on end and wait for holidays to see them.
He loves it and he knows Draco feels the same way. Sure, it was nice to live in a castle, but it's better to have his babies home, safe, with him.
He had been pleasantly surprised to find two wizarding schools close enough for the kids to attend without having to move or spend hours getting there (since most had pretty extensive apparating wards for security). Both had minor focus on magic until middle school when the focus shifted, like Hogwarts, and they learned more involved spell and wand work. He still remembers the bright smile that lit each child's face when they got their wand.
"His annoying new nickname," Scorpius says with a heavy eye roll. "I know he didn't realize what... uh, you know. But other kids do."
He scratches the back of his neck in a tell-tale gesture of embarrassment. He doesn't have to tell his uncle that he knows, if the wide eyed but amused expression is anything to go by. He's still surprised Bill isn't more aware. Of all the things his cousin isn't ahead of... he's still in the 'girls are icky' phase with him.
"And, well, they're starting to tease him about a lot more than just the nick name."
Harry sighs and walks down the hallway towards the stairs, gesturing for Scorpius to follow. This sort of conversation probably needs to be over tea, or hot chocolate in Scorpius' case since he didn't share his or Draco's fondness for tea. "Like?"
"Don't make me say it, man," Scorpius pleads, flopping into a chair and letting his arms dangle at his sides. Father isn't around to remind him of posture and, thankfully, his uncles don't pester him about it. "I don't wanna get in trouble."
"I asked, you aren't going to be in trouble," Harry assures, waving his wand to heat the water for the tea and hot chocolate instead of going through the hassle of making it the Muggle way. He doesn't want to take his attention away from Scorpius that long. "I officially guarantee no trouble." He watches Scorpius wave his wand and Accio marshmallows, a grin on his face as he does so.
Scorpius enjoys doing magic at home even more after Harry and Draco lamented the unfairness of the American Wizarding Bureau not having any laws against underage magic use outside of school as long as they are in the presence of a parent or guardian. He thought it was brilliant; how much better would he have been at Scorpius' age if he was able to practice outside of Hogwarts?
Scorpius groans and wraps his hands around his mug as soon as it's set it front of him. "Fine," he looks around, verifying they're still alone before he speaks. "They're making fun of him because of you and Uncle Jake," he finally says morosely.
He's getting the same kind of crap about his fathers but he really doesn't care. American wizards are enlightened and accepting enough when it comes to same sex couples. But the fact that his and BJ's dads are considered 'creatures' however, not so much.
It only got worse when it became known who their other dads were: Famous war heroes. He winces when his uncle sags in his chair, a look of dejected misery on his face. He was afraid that would happen... and he feels like a jerk for putting that expression there. But he can't take it back, and he does feel a little better having mentioned it...
"I mean, like Aunt Leah says, fuck 'em, right?"
"Scorp! Language!" Harry corrects automatically before a short bark of laughter bubbles up. "But, yes." He rubs a hand over his face, trying to think. "Shit," he mutters and eases back in his chair. "What... what does BJ say?"
Scorpius shrugs and takes a quick sip of his hot chocolate. "Nothing really. He doesn't care what those fu—people say. Most times, he doesn't even seem to notice, anyway," he says with an eye roll, both of them aware of his brooding habits. BJ either had his nose in a book like Aunt Hermione, or his ear buds plugged into his ears, drowning out the world.
Harry smirks for a moment, catching the correction. It doesn't last long and he sighs heavily. "Well, bugger," he mutters, running a hand through his hair, rubbing it back and forth in agitation. He doesn't know what to think or do and it's starting to make him twitchy.
He looks over to see Scorpius staring into his mug. "How about you?"
Scorpius rolls his eyes and snorts. "Yeah, but I don't give a sh—crap," he hastily corrects before his uncle can scold him again. "I mean, dad always told me what to expect. And father, well he's not going to be happy about it but..." he trails off and scratches the back of his neck again.
He had heard a little bit of his father's past (from both his father and uncle; his grandmother refused to say anything), so he's not completely ignorant his dad was a dick in his youth. Even so, he's not a complete bastard and he wishes more people knew that; even if it would embarrass his father.
"But, he's already taught me a few spells that aren't in the curriculum," Scorpius admits with a slight blush, his left leg swinging freely and tapping the chair leg.
The few spells his father taught him aren't Dark but not quite Light either. He is really looking forward to the others his father promised to teach him when he gets older, too. Especially since they made Sarah's eyebrows perk and she'd made his father promise to include her in the lessons.
Harry chuckles. "Well, as long as Draco teaches those to BJ as well, I don't really care." He pats Scorpius on the shoulder affectionately. "Draco wouldn't have taught you if you weren't mature enough to handle them. And you're a good kid, you won't show off or misuse 'em."
Scorpius smiles and ducks his head sheepishly, blushing harder from the praise. "I already tried to teach him, but he got all—" He waves a hand around for a moment, trying to find the words, "Bill on me and refused unless an adult or teacher taught him."
Well, Bill had refused unless his mum taught him, his chest puffing up with pride and a little bit of worship knowing his mum is skilled with his wand and magic. It's true, but it wasn't like his uncle was going to teach them the same things.
"I bet!" Harry clutches his stomach and laughs. "I don't understand that child of mine," he laments fondly. He would have jumped at such a chance at BJ's age.
They both turn towards the doorway as Jake walks through, a pajama'ed and dry wiggling little boy under each arm.
"Mum!" Benjamin wails, wiggling under dad's arm. He goes limp when he realizes it's useless; his dad is holding on tightly and he can't wiggle free. "Do we haveta go to bed?" he whines, looking up with (what he hopes) his best puppy-eyes.
Harry grins as he hooks a finger in Jake's belt loop, pulling his husband and the children closer. "Yup," he says brightly, kissing the still damp, messy dark hair. "You do. It's already past your bed time."
"Awww," Marcus whines, wiggling under Jake's arm as well. "Uncle Jake, can we get down to give hugs?" he asks, turning slightly to peer up at Jake, flashing his uncle his big brown eyes as he looks out from under his light blonde fringe. It isn't as light as Draco's, darker highlights running through it courtesy of Joe, but it's just as fine. He smiles sweetly and bats his eyes repeatedly when he sees his uncle tilt his head slightly and narrow his eyes a little in thought.
Jake sighs, feeling defeated. "Alright," he agrees, loosening his hold on the boys. "You bolt. I chase. Then it's early bed for a month," he says firmly.
When both boys huff and shuffle over towards Harry with defeated postures, he feels a little bad but knows he's finally gotten the little buggers to believe him when he scolds them. He nearly rolls his eyes; it only took almost 5 years. Some Alpha he is... letting kids walk all over him. He can't help it though, one look of Benny's green eyes and he's as helpless against him as he is against Harry. So not fair. He grumbles quietly while the boys make their (drawn out) good night rounds.
"G'night, mum," Benjamin mumbles, climbing up into Harry's lap and hugging him tightly around his middle. He smiles when he's hugged back tightly, warm hands smoothing over his back and the back of his head. He loves his mum's hugs, they always make him feel warm and loved. He turns and hugs Scorpius briefly, not wanting to be called a 'baby' by the older boy like BJ does. He grins when Scorp just squeezes back and ruffles his hair. He squawks merely as a formality; it's expected, so he does it.
Marcus pounces on Scorpius, giggling. "Good night, Scorp!" he chirps, giggling when Scorpius rubs his knuckles along his head, messing up his pale hair almost as badly as Benny's. He smooths it back down with a scowl, playfully kicking at his big brother's shin with a pajama clad foot.
"Night, little bro," Scorpius says with a smile. He doesn't care what Bill says; he is not too old to adore little kids. Especially his little brother or his little cousin. He loves that he's the favorite 'big brother' and rubs it in everyone's face whenever he can.
He ruffles Benny's hair again and winks at them both when uncle Jake scoops them both back up, tucking them both up in his armpits. He wrinkles his nose and looks away when uncle Jake stoops down to kiss Uncle Harry. Ugh, right on the lips, too. Gross.
Harry watches Jake walk upstairs with a smile, two sets of little legs kicking and wiggling as he goes. He glances back at Scorpius and laughs at the boy's averted gaze and disgusted grimace. Scorpius is in the phase where kissing (between any couple, apparently, but worse when it's your parents/relatives) is gross and to be avoided.
"We're done," he informs Scorpius, fighting the urge to smirk.
"Good. So gross. Ugh," Scorpius says, wrinkling his nose again and sticking out his tongue to drive the point home. It's so gross! All of his aunts and uncles do that. His parents are the absolute worst with it; always kissing and touching each other. Aren't they all too old to still be kissing like that? He doesn't see the appeal of kissing (thinking all the adults are full of shit when they claim he'll 'change his mind one day'), he doesn't care who's kissing whom; it's just gross. Didn't they know what other people did with their mouths? Just ew.
"Anyway," he says, running a finger along the handle of his mug. "I just wanted you to know since I was sure Bill wasn't going to say anything."
"And why not?" Harry asks, his brows slightly furrowed. He still has a good relationship with William, even if his son pretends it's like being interrogated when they talk; they still talk. He doesn't like the idea of being kept out of the loop, for whatever reason.
Scorpius shrugs, a habit he can't stop no matter how many times his father tries to correct him. "I think he wants to either ignore it or handle it on his own." If he's even aware of it, he thinks but doesn't say. He's seriously not sure how connected Bill is to the outside world at times and if he's even noticed the taunting.
Harry sighs and runs a hand over his face. Everything with Sarah had been so much easier; when she'd started school, no one had really known who her parents were. And she didn't take shit from anyone. His eldest daughter is close to BJ, so maybe... "Has he said anything to Sarah or Joey?" he asks, hoping Draco's eldest might know if Sarah didn't.
BJ thought the sun shone out of Joey's ass, probably because he's officially a teenager and the very definition of 'cool'.
"No," Scorpius says sounding miserable.
Sarah is like a big sister to him as well and he adores the older girl. She's only about 3 years older than him and Bill, so they get along really well when Bill isn't being a complete knob. Joey tries to avoid Bill when he can, annoyed enough by the kid at home but he doesn't want to tell his uncle that. Joey isn't a dick to Bill, but he doesn't go out of his way to hang with the guy at school, either. He couldn't blame his older brother, not really; Bill can be a little much at times.
"She knows though, we do go to the same school, you know. Joey... just does his thing."
Harry chuckles. "I know," he says, nodding.
He doesn't want to assume that the boys and Sarah spend time together in school as well as out of it. He also doesn't blame Joey for hiding whenever he could. BJ can be... overly enthusiastic when he isn't doing his best 'emo tween' impression.
He fidgets in his chair a little, suddenly feeling awkward and inadequate. "This sucks," he whines, fully aware of Scorpius' amused expression. "What's Sarah's opinion?" he finally asks.
"Well," Scorpius says slowly, a grin stretching his face. Times like these, he really loves his honorary cousin. "She's already hexed a few of the more vocal guys."
His grin grows as he remembers the hex Sarah had perfected two years ago. It was painful but not something that really harmed you. Well, permanently, anyway. Aunt Luna taught it to her and she's promised to teach him later this year once he is officially 12. He can't wait.
Harry struggles not to laugh for a long moment before giving up and letting it bubble up. Scorpius won't tell on him. "Really?" he asks when he's finally under control. "Oh my," he whispers, wiping a tear from his eye. He doesn't envy anyone that gets on the wrong end of his Sarah's wand.
"She didn't get in trouble?" Scorpius gives him an expression that clearly says 'duh' and he chuckles again.
Magic is permitted in school but there are rather strict rules about which spells and charms the children can use, depending on their grade. He can only guess at what sort of monitoring charms or wards the school employs to keep track.
"So, what, exactly, is the issue?" he finally asks, worrying his lower lip. He's concerned this is the first he's hearing about there being a problem, but he'll focus on that later.
Scorpius stares for a moment before he realizes what's making his uncle so worried. "Oh, it's not about you guys being married to other guys. I mean, there are enough kids in school with that sorta thing, so it's not a big deal," he says, waving a hand at his uncle.
He sighs when he notices it hasn't eased any worry from him. "I think it's because they know who you are," he finally says, his voice quiet. He hates the stupid nicknames he hears for both his father and his uncle. "Were? Whatever, you know what I mean."
"Oh," Harry says quietly. He closes his eyes and curses. "I had hoped..."
Scorpius giggles, unable to help it. "He looks just like you, Uncle Harry. Not to mention he's got a crazy big magical core," he says with a careless shrug. "I don't know who found out, but it went around school in no time."
Between Bill's impressive magical strength and resemblance to Uncle Harry, there was little chance people wouldn't notice him at some point. Of course, he expected the attention to be more... positive. And it is; for the most part.
There is also the small matter of his Uncle Jake being a well known shapeshifter, an Alpha werewolf shapeshifter at that. It just combined to make people notice and it isn't always a good thing. He knows he's more like his dad, not being comfortable with the hoopla. His father, on the other hand, adores it and laughs his blonde head off when people stare or make a fuss.
Plus, he still had troubles occasionally if he saw any of the kids from the rez, the offspring of his dad's old pack. (They supposedly 'got along' but it's a strained sort of truce that never went back into friendship.) Not that he gave a shit. He already knows he'll be shifting at some point, he could feel it tingling in his core as he gets older, and he'd take those punks if it came down to it.
He just hates hearing the crap and stupid names. Bill, as usual, didn't care. The dork even jokes about imprinting on one of them and laughing his ass off about it. Though, it would be hilarious...
"I don't understand then. If they know who I am, why tease BJ?" Harry finally asks, truly confused. It doesn't make any sense. "And why bring you into it?"
"I dunno, they're dumb-asses," Scorpius says with a shrug. "Butts, dumb-butts," he says trying not to roll his eyes at the very lame alternative. "They know about our dads, too. I don't get it either. Maybe they want to fight him? Claim some weird macho boast? And me? Well... when they found out about father... it wasn't exactly a secret you and he didn't get along well at school."
He was just a baby when some jerk wrote a book all about what happened during the whole crazy war in England. He vaguely remembers them taking a long vacation, enjoying a solid month with his entire family on a private beach. He misses Teddy and Natalie since the pair went off to college (Teddy going to MIT like the nerd he is and Natalie went to some college in Virginia that specialized in literature or something). He'll see them at Christmas with any luck.
Harry frowns. He doesn't get it. "I really... I don't get it." He sighs and runs a hand over his face again before taking a long sip of his tea. "So, between both of your dads, for both of you, this is a problem?"
"No, well... It's why they say stuff, but it ain't a problem, Uncle Har. We're cool about it."
Harry smiles and shakes his head, leaning forward to ruffle Scorpius' hair. "I get that. I don't suppose my interfering will help any?"
"No way," Scorpius says, shaking his head, grey eyes going wide and horrified. The mental image of Uncle Harry stalking down to his school, while bad-ass, is so embarrassing he wants to hide. It's so not cool to have your dad (uncle; whatever) fight your battles for you. So weak. "You'd make it worse, man."
Harry nods, snickering. "Yeah, I thought so. I just hate the idea that you boys are being picked on."
"Picked on... may be the wrong phrase. It's only talk and stupid jerks trying to act tough. I mean, a girl beats them, I'm not really all that worried about it," Scorpius says with a chuckle. Of course, Sarah isn't exactly a kitten but still. "I just wanted you to know... Just in case." He shifts a bit in his seat. "I'd rather you didn't say anything to... well, any of them," he says, meaning practically any adult in a 10 minute radius. They'd all go all protective and be completely embarrassing. He winces. "Especially Aunt Luna."
Harry nods, understanding (especially about Luna; the witch still knows some terrifying hexes and curses) but not quite liking it. "Alright, but if it gets worse, I'm telling."
Scorpius nods with a sigh (and working not to laugh at his uncle's childish warning) and drinks the rest of his hot chocolate, not even minding the luke-warm temperature. He feels better for having said something, even if Bill over-reacts and is a complete shit, refusing to talk to him for a while. It wouldn't last forever and he won't apologize for erring on the side of caution.
Harry coos adoringly when Jasmine finally burps, her little legs kicking as she gurgles happily. He shifts the 7-month-old to his other arm and lets her finish her bottle. He grins when Draco waddles in, huffing slightly, and lowers himself into the nearest comfortable chair.
"Two days," he says gently, rocking lightly when he notices Jasmine's eyes start to drift closed with increasingly slow, lazy blinks.
"I know," Draco grumbles, running a hand over his huge belly. He's so over being pregnant, he's miserable and counting the days before he can safely have his child delivered. He's not sure if he wants this to be the last time he's cut open, but right now he'll say a firm 'fuck yes', if asked.
He smiles as he watches Jasmine drift off to sleep, her bottle sagging and drooping down to her chest. Just like all of the kids, she's a healthy eater. He rubs his belly some more, marveling at the fact this is the only pregnancy he's had to go through alone.
He shifts in his seat and grumbles, his lower back twinging. "Did I honestly look forward to this?" he mutters quietly. Jasmine isn't a light sleeper, the little girl can sleep through anything, like her brothers, but why chance waking her? He answers himself with a disgruntled sound but doesn't say anything else. He rubs his belly again, sinking into the chair with a sigh. He leans his head back and closes his eyes.
"Did you ever think we'd end up like this?" he asks softly after a long, comfortable silence. The soothing sounds of Harry's rocking and Jasmine's soft baby-snores nearly had him falling asleep, even in the uncomfortable chair.
Harry laughs softly, patting Jasmine's padded bum softly. "No, never in a million years. I can't say I'm disappointed, though."
"No, me either," Draco says softly.
He wouldn't trade his life for anything. The past few years have flown by and he still pauses occasionally to look around in wonder. He never expected to find his true love (clichéd as it might sound). Or to have such a large family, both his own and the large extended family.
It has it's own set of headaches but it's so worth it— especially knowing his children haven't been raised in a emotionally detached, lonely environment like he had been.
The first time he saw his mother since moving to America had been tense but ultimately wonderful. Joe, naturally, had been a perfect gentleman and greeted the pale, cool woman with warmth. He hadn't bothered coaching his husband on 'appropriate' protocols only because he didn't want to change his Joe for anything. Not even for his mother. His mother had the grace to compliment his family, her tone polite (verging on formal) but he saw her eyes warm at the sight of his gathered little family.
Now, of course, things have changed once again and he really can't be happier. Even if his mother being so close does make some situations tense or uncomfortable, he wouldn't have it any other way. And he loved that Joe felt the same way. He isn't blind to the times Joe has offered to bring the children to his mother's house, even if his mother is still reserved and cool around him.
She isn't like that with the children, though (all of them; not just his boys). And he knows that's why his husband makes the effort and doesn't bitch and whinge about his mother's less-than-friendly nature.
Harry finally gets up and sets Jasmine in her crib, patting her bum when she shifts. It doesn't take long for her to pull her legs up under her and drop off into a deep sleep, her little bum in the air and her arms splayed out.
He takes a long moment to look at his daughter, the familiar feeling of his heart expanding still able to make his eyes prickle and his hands clench together. He jumps a little when Draco is suddenly by his side and leans into the friendly hug. He pats the blonde's belly and grins.
He's really pleased with their happy ending.
(A/N: *Mary Perkins Bradbury [1615-1700]. She was tried for witchcraft in Salisbury, MA; convicted, but not executed.
**Elizabeth Jackson Howe [1637-1692]. One of the women accused and hanged at Salem's famous witch trials.
I figured it would be nice to name the school groups after some [sort of famous] American 'witches'.
Thanks for reading! （⌒▽⌒ゞ)