The 2nd of May, 1998. Voldemort had died, his followers defeated, and the war ended. It should have been a new start, but it had been foolish of Harry to think everything could go back to normal so soon.
To begin with, Harry had attended all the funerals he could physically cope with.
Colin Creevey's had been first, and the boy's parents had tearfully thanked him for bringing so much light to their son's life.
Harry had been one of three people in attendance when Severus Snape was laid to rest. Ron and Hermione had only come because Harry asked them to. Though he and Snape hadn't got on, it pained Harry that nobody else cared enough to pay their respects to the Potions master.
Fred Weasley had been buried next, and Harry had stood awkwardly to the side as the Weasleys grieved, feeling guilt tear him apart from the inside each time he looked over at the distraught family. They had assured Harry they didn't blame him in the slightest, but he couldn't believe their words; it was part of the reason he couldn't stand to get back with Ginny.
Andromeda Tonks had stood with her arms protectively around Molly as her son's coffin was lowered into the ground, and only two days later the roles were reversed, with Andromeda sobbing into Molly's shoulder as her daughter and son-in-law were laid to rest.
And even when things seemed like they were starting to go back as they once were, they should have realised it wouldn't be so easy.
Countless volunteers had helped to rebuild Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. Harry, Ron and Hermione had helped a lot with Gringotts, considering it was mostly their fault it was in ruins. The school would be re-opening in September, but Kingsley Shacklebolt had offered Harry and Ron a place on the Auror programme, also starting in September; apparently their practical experience was far more beneficial than school grades.
Andromeda had been granted custody of Teddy Lupin, but she asked Harry to drop by almost every day. She told him he deserved to know his Godson, but he could hear her cries through the walls as he held the baby in his arms and fed him his bottle.
By the middle of August, Harry had become increasingly worried about Andromeda. Harry seemed to be babysitting more and more, while Andromeda became more withdrawn and distant, refusing to speak even to Molly. The Weasley matriarch tried to assure Harry that she just needed time to grieve alone, and how Harry was so lovely by helping her out with Teddy, but he still couldn't shake the feeling of unease off.
The tension seemed to have been building up over time, and one day, while having tea with Ron and Hermione, it became almost unbearable, so he quickly excused himself to check on Andromeda and Teddy. Camping in the wilderness for all those months, with danger all around, had given Harry a good sense of knowing when something was wrong, and as soon as he Apparated into Andromeda's home he knew something was very wrong.
Teddy was screaming his head off in his cot, tears streaming down his reddened cheeks, and his nappy was soiled. Harry quickly changed the nappy, and gathered Teddy into his arms.
"Andromeda?" Harry called through the now eerily quiet house, balancing Teddy with one hand and holding his wand steady in the other.
He tapped on her bedroom door with his wand, his eyes darting around to check for danger. "Andromeda?" he repeated, pressing lightly against the door; he was taken aback when it opened. He pushed it all the way, and gasped at the sight.
Andromeda was collapsed on the floor, an empty potion vial smashed on the ground beside her, and with foam pouring from her mouth.
Taking care not to jostle Teddy, he rushed into the sitting room and fire-called the Weasley household, begging Molly, or anyone, to come over immediately.
Arthur, Molly and Ron answered right away and Apparated over, where Harry quickly explained the situation to them. Molly and Arthur ran to attend to Andromeda, while Ron seemed to study Harry intently.
"She'll be alright, Harry," the tall red-head said quietly, while Harry tried to rock Teddy to sleep in his arms. "I heard Dad say she was still breathing; St Mungo's will soon get her better."
Harry just nodded; he didn't really know what to say. He stayed silent as he followed the Weasleys and Andromeda to the hospital, keeping his focus on the tiny baby in his arms. He just couldn't imagine Teddy losing his grandmother too; he knew himself how tough it was growing up without family. Granted, he had had Sirius, if only for a little while, and Teddy would have him, but the more family the better, in his opinion.
Sitting in the waiting room of St Mungo's seemed to drag on for hours. Teddy had become restless, refusing to settle, almost as if he knew something was wrong. Hermione and Ginny soon turned up as well, only adding to the tense atmosphere.
"Andromeda Tonks?" a Healer said eventually, calling their group outside the room.
The Healer cast a critical eye over Teddy, who thankfully seemed to settle as the Healer led them up the stairs and to what Harry recognised as the Janus Thickey ward.
"Mrs Tonks managed to pull through," the Healer stated, but the serious tone suggested that was not the end of the story. "The potion she drank was intended to kill the drinker painlessly by shutting down their brain cells. It was impossible to tell how much damage had been done, and only after clearing her system of the potion did we know. Unfortunately, she was discovered too late, and the brain damage was rather severe; I'm sorry."
Harry felt as though he had been drenched in ice cold water; as though time had frozen still. "Mr Potter?" he heard a voice saying, and the light weight was lifted from his arms. "Perhaps a bit of shock; I understand this is difficult news to hear, but there is a possibility for a cure one day, when further research is done."
An arm wrapped around Harry's shoulder, pulling him down the blinding white corridor and pushing him gently onto a soft seat.
"Harry?" a soft voice – Ginny, muttered.
"I should have been quicker," he heard his voice croak.
"You couldn't have known," Ginny said, rubbing his back soothingly. "You saved her life; the Healer said there's chance for a cure someday."
Harry could only nod, trying to fight against the heavy weight that was trying to drag him down. Was that wetness behind his eyes?
"Oh, Harry," Ginny sniffed, pulling Harry into a tight embrace. Harry stiffened in her arms, feeling wetness soak into her shirt, and for just a moment Harry felt okay.
There had been no time wasted in getting Harry down to the Department of Family Affairs in the Ministry of Magic.
A Healer had come across him and Ginny, and asked Harry if he would mind going as soon as possible for the benefit of Teddy. The Healer had sent word ahead of his arrival, and he was ushered into the Head of Department's office almost right away.
The Head of Department was a middle-aged woman by the name of Marigold Triste, who had greying hair tied back in a tight bun, and wore a grey suit beneath simple black robes. Despite her harsh exterior, she smiled kindly at him upon his arrival.
"Hello, Mr Potter," she greeted, gesturing for Harry to take a seat opposite her desk. "I've just had word from St Mungo's; how tragic. I remember Mrs Tonks from school, the poor lady, but it's understandable given her recent losses." She paused, examining Harry curiously. "You know why you've been asked here, don't you?"
"About the custody of Teddy?" Harry guessed, and the woman nodded.
"Yes; though you are legally an adult, you are still only eighteen, and full custody of a child is not something to be taken lightly. In their will, Mr and Mrs Lupin requested that should anything happen to them, Andromeda Tonks was to be the first choice for custody, and you second, so if you are happy to accept, you will automatically be awarded full custody."
"I am more than happy to accept," Harry cut in, and the woman's lips tightened.
"I am required to give you all the information before you accept," she stated, giving him a warning look not to interrupt again. "If you chose to reject it, normally custody would then be awarded to the next in line of family, who, in Teddy's case, would be Narcissa Malfoy. Although she was pardoned from Azkaban, her involvement in the war automatically rejects her from having sole custody, and the same goes for her son Draco. In this case, if you were to reject it, Teddy would be put up for adoption within the magical community, and you would lose your status as Godfather and any access rights. I know this may be tough to hear, but I urge you to consider it; it may be better for Teddy to be raised by an older, more experienced couple."
"No," Harry said firmly, shaking his head. "Teddy is my family, and Remus and Tonks named me Godfather for a reason; I'm not about to abandon him now."
Triste sighed, but nodded in defeat. "Very well," she stated. "As I said earlier, because you were named in the will, there can be no argument if you wish to have custody. Now, if you can sign here?"
She shuffled about, bringing forth a piece of parchment, and scrawled in black ink were the words 'I hereby accept full custody of Ted Remus Lupin'.
Harry brought out a quill, and scribbled his signature at the bottom of the parchment. He slid it across the desk, and the Department Head studied his signature for a second before nodding.
"Thank you, Mr Potter. If you ever need any advice, please feel free to see me anytime," Marigold said with a small smile, and Harry managed one back.
"Thank you; I don't suppose you know if Kingsley Shacklebolt is available, do you?"
The woman did in fact know, and Harry was soon seated in a chair behind Kingsley's desk. This would be his second meeting of the day, with one more to go afterwards.
"Hello, Harry; I heard about Andromeda. She seemed a wonderful woman; Tonks adored her. It was fortunate you managed to find her in time," Kingsley said, his deep voice somewhat comforting to Harry; it made him feel secure, in a strange way.
Kingsley was the new Minister of Magic, and Harry thought he would do an excellent job. Kingsley was also over-seeing the new recruits to the Auror service, and only after he trusted both the new and old Aurors were working efficiently, would he retire from that department altogether.
"I guess," Harry shrugged. "Er, I don't quite know how to say this."
Kingsley looked at him patiently, as Harry struggled to find the words. Being an Auror had been a dream of his for years; in fact, he had never considered doing anything else, but the job was incredibly high risk, and seeing as he was all Teddy had now…
"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to turn down my place in the Auror training programme this year. I got custody of Teddy, and I can't risk my life when I'm all he has," Harry said finally, looking at Kingsley with a determined look.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Harry; you'd have been an excellent Auror," Kingsley replied, and Harry didn't miss the disappointed look in the man's eyes. "I understand your reasoning however. Perhaps when Teddy is a bit older you'll reconsider; there will always be a place available for you, after all, you've more than proved your capability."
"Thanks, Kingsley," Harry said, sending the man a genuine smile. "Do you know if Professor McGonagall is at Hogwarts? I'll need to have a word with her."
"Of course; I imagine she will be. Feel free to use my Floo," the Minister smiled, gesturing to his fireplace.
The Minister's office now had a direct Floo connection to the head teacher's office at Hogwarts. Only they were permitted to use it, unless they gave somebody direct permission. It was supposed to be a new safety feature, and while it was in the hands of Kingsley Shacklebolt and Minerva McGonagall, Harry could see no issues with it.
McGonagall didn't even look surprised when Harry appeared in her fireplace, and she simply gestured for him to sit down. She had made the office her own already, replacing Dumbledore's trinkets with her own. There was a slight overload of tartan, and a few cat figurines, which thankfully didn't have the same effect that Umbridge's had had on him.
Harry really couldn't imagine anyone better for the job than McGonagall; of course, they had had to find a new Transfiguration professor, as well as a new Head of Gryffindor. They hired the same person for both jobs; a fellow named Isaac Baines. Harry had only met him once, but he seemed nice enough; apparently he did a Transfiguration apprenticeship under McGonagall - the only one she had ever accepted.
"Hello, Potter," McGonagall said, and her gentle expression meant she already knew what had happened.
"Please don't say you're sorry about Andromeda; I've heard it too many times already," Harry said bluntly; McGonagall just inclined her head.
"Molly sent word," she said through pursed lips. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Maybe," Harry answered, glancing briefly at the portraits who were watching him curiously. "I got custody of Teddy, so I turned down my place in the Aurors; it's not safe enough." McGonagall nodded for him to continue. "I know I have money from my parents and Sirius, and Teddy has some from his parents, but I don't want to live off what other people have worked for; I want to provide for Teddy as honestly as I can, and I'll need N.E. for that."
"I'm not condoning it, but are you aware that there are some jobs you will be able to get by simply using your name?" McGonagall commented, her voice stern, as though warning Harry not to be happy about that.
"I know," Harry sighed; he certainly wasn't happy about it. "I want to get a good job, and I want to get it fairly."
"Excellent," McGonagall stated, looking as though she was a proud grandmother.
"So I'm okay to come back to school this year? I'll need to sort out something for Teddy though," Harry said, making the headmistress nod.
Hermione and Ginny had said that every student had the option to repeat a year if they so wished, meaning there would be almost twice as many first years, and an extra year group; Harry's, which had been dubbed as 'eighth year'. To accommodate the extra students, the new first years would be getting the dorm rooms on the usual rotation, and those who were returning for seventh year would get a new common room, joined on to bedrooms for each house and gender.
"I'd like to see anybody stop you coming back," McGonagall said amusedly. "I don't think it would be suitable for an infant to be around a large group of students, but there is a private dorm available for you and Teddy to use; it was intended for student parents, and thankfully we have only had to use it once before. When you are in lessons, your friends may have free time to watch Teddy for you, and if not, I'm sure we can find a suitable child-minder; I wouldn't be surprised if Molly offered, and if it comes to it, female House-Elves are naturally maternal towards human infants; Pureblood families often use them."
It was finally the first of September, and Harry was ready to go back to Hogwarts with Hermione, Ginny, Luna and Neville. Ron had been a bit put out when Harry told him he wouldn't be joining the Aurors with him, and the redhead had sulked at first but soon got over it; it would be a time for Ron to shine without being shadowed by any of his brothers or Harry.
Teddy had been living with Harry for just two weeks, and for those two weeks Teddy had done nothing but cry. At first Harry thought he was ill, and he rushed to St Mungo's, where the baby seemed to calm slightly, but once the Healers assured Harry that Teddy was in perfect health, and they returned home, Teddy started again.
He had tried everything he could think of, from feeding, to playing, to ignoring him, to rocking him. Hermione had got hold of some baby books, and tried techniques from there, and Molly tried her multitude of practices that she had used on her own children, but nothing worked.
Teddy stopped only to eat, but that was only when he was at starvation point, and when he was so exhausted he would drop asleep, but his sleep lasted no more than two hours at a time, and it was always fitful; never peaceful. As such, Harry slept two hours a night if he was lucky, and was running on nothing but energy potions. Unfortunately, he had been using them for so much that they were becoming increasingly less effective each time.
Harry wondered if Teddy missed Andromeda, and sure enough, when he took the baby to visit her he stopped crying immediately. Andromeda was catatonic, and Harry didn't know if she recognised that they were there, but Teddy didn't seem to mind. Fortunately there was a Healer in the room at the time, because not long after Teddy calmed, Harry's body took advantage of the silence and he dropped asleep, causing the Healer to give him a lecture about the importance of sleeping the correct number of hours a night. Harry had to be removed from the ward in case his yelling at the Healer disturbed the other residents.
Once they left the hospital to go to the Burrow, Ron and Hermione asked Harry how it had gone, taking the once again crying Teddy off him, and Harry had burst into tears himself, ranting about how Teddy hated him and how he loved Andromeda more.
In retrospect, the whole thing had been highly embarrassing, but the sleep deprivation was causing Harry to act differently. It took almost nothing at all to make him irritated, his mood tended to go from low to high in a snap, and he kept forgetting even the smallest of things, not to mention the constant ache in his joints and the pounding headaches.
Molly had offered to watch Teddy for a night so Harry could sleep, but an extremely apologetic Ron came half way through the night with a screaming Teddy in his arms, claiming that he was keeping the whole household awake, and they had to get enough sleep so they could go to work.
Luna had mentioned something a few times about mermaids or something like that, but Harry hadn't been able to focus on what she had been saying and with the look the others were giving her, he presumed it was some odd theory that wouldn't really work.
Now they were back at Hogwarts, Harry wondered whether he should just quit now. There was no way he would be able to focus on his lessons with the little sleep he was getting.
He didn't even bother going to the Welcoming Feast; he took Teddy straight to their private dorm, hoping the magic of the castle would soothe Teddy, but typically no such thing happened.
He had to take Teddy with him to get his timetable the following morning, though, and he rocked the baby in his arms gently as he walked to the Great Hall. The pair had managed about an hour through the night, and Harry was close to running out of the castle and never coming back. He loved Teddy, he really did, but he was so exhausted; he was sure babies weren't meant to act this way.
"Aww, I didn't know you had a baby, Harry," Parvati cooed as soon as he walked through the doors and into the Great Hall, and for once he didn't know if people were staring because of who he was, or because he had a crying baby in his arms.
"He's so sweet; look at those chubby cheeks. Are you hungry, baby?" Lavender said, her voice becoming high pitched. Harry wished it was as simple as Teddy being hungry.
"He's my Godson; Teddy," Harry explained to his year-mates from Gryffindor who had gathered around. "I fed him earlier; he's not hungry, he just likes to cry."
"Little tyke," Dean grinned.
The new Professor Baines was handing out timetables to students further up the Gryffindor table, and seemed to be introducing himself properly to each group as well.
"Can't he hurry up?" Harry hissed through gritted teeth. Teddy was still screaming his head off, and Harry just wanted to take him away to cry in private.
"Someone woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning," Seamus laughed, the sound faltering as Harry glared at him.
"I doubt that seeing as I didn't even get to bed last night," Harry spat. "Please, Teddy, please stop crying." He sat on the bench, facing away from the table, and rested the infant on his knee. He was seriously fighting the urge to pass Teddy over to someone else, and then turn around and bash his face into the table until the sound went away. And Professor Baines was still so far away.
"Maybe he needs his nappy changing?" Lavender suggested somewhat cautiously.
"Wow, I hadn't even considered that. It's not like I've been looking after him non-stop for two weeks now," Harry ground out sarcastically; it really didn't take much to get him irritated at the moment. "Sorry," he finally added at seeing the hurt on the girl's face. "I've just not slept much lately. Teddy, can't you just be quiet for one minute, please? I'm sorry that you hate me, but don't make these other people suffer."
"Have you quite finished being a drama queen, Potter?" a new voice said, and Harry glanced up to see the tall, slender figure of Draco Malfoy standing before him. Luckily McGonagall had told him Malfoy would be returning to school, or that could have been an unpleasant surprise. "Give him here."
"What? No!" Harry shouted, clutching Teddy closer to him. He hadn't even noticed Teddy was starting to quiet down.
"Don't be pathetic, Potter; I'm hardly going to kill a baby in the middle of a crowded hall," Malfoy said, rolling his eyes. He held his arms out, and Harry reluctantly handed the baby over.
In that brief second, Harry debated whether to jump off the Astronomy Tower or drown himself in the Great Lake when Malfoy killed Teddy, but to his surprise, instead of brandishing his wand, Malfoy started to sing.
Harry wanted to punch Malfoy in the face, had he not been holding a baby which he would probably drop if his face got punched; they had all tried singing plenty of times, and nothing had worked.
Teddy's cries had stopped completely now though, and he was looking up at Malfoy with watery eyes. Sure, Malfoy was a far better singer than Harry and all of his friends; he had a rather wonderful voice in fact; it was strong, but fragile, and slightly raspy in a mesmerising way, but that didn't mean Teddy should stop crying for it. He couldn't be angry though; Teddy wasn't crying anymore, and when Malfoy gestured for Harry to pass him Teddy's bottle from his bag, Harry complied without a word.
The whole hall seemed to be silent as Malfoy sang, singing of dancing, and jumping magic, while Teddy drank from his bottle. Malfoy trailed off as Teddy's eyes shut slowly, and he started to fall into a peaceful slumber.
"Finally; I couldn't hear myself think," Malfoy drawled, passing Teddy back to Harry. And with that said, the Slytherin turned and walked briskly from the Great Hall, leaving Harry staring wordlessly after him.
Harry was now aware that Professor Baines must consider him emotionally disturbed. The Transfiguration professor had, upon noticing the sleeping baby in Harry's arms, crept quietly over, and handed Harry his timetable.
It was Wednesday, and the first three slots in the morning were empty. Harry couldn't keep the smile off his face; a peacefully sleeping Teddy, and time to sleep, all at once. His tired mind decided to thank Baines profusely for the timetable, even getting a bit teary eyed at the end of his rant, at which point Hermione steered him away and back to his rooms where he slept for four hours straight. He may have missed lunch, but the undisturbed sleep was the best thing Harry could have hoped for.
Teddy's crying woke him up only five minutes before his alarm was due to go off. There was still half an hour for Harry to quickly freshen up and find Teddy a babysitter. He had run off so quickly, he didn't know how his friend's timetables were set out. All he did know was that Hermione would never be available; she still insisted on taking as many classes as she could physically manage.
Luckily Ginny knocked on his door, and said she and Neville had the afternoon free between them, and she would have the first shift. Harry was grateful that things were still okay between the two of them; Ginny had always been a great friend, and she understood his discomfort at being in a relationship with her.
The afternoon for Harry was filled with double Potions, and the boredom, combined with Harry's struggles now he was without Snape's textbook, meant he was actually considering being back with Teddy. In fact, Teddy could scream all he wanted as long as it got Harry out of the class.
Slughorn made a joke about Harry's skill going downhill since the last time, but seemed positive Harry would be back on his feet soon; Harry didn't have the heart to tell the man that his favourite student had been a scam of a Potions genius.
With that thought in mind as he returned to his room, Harry tried not to wince as he heard Teddy's cries echoing through the door.
"I wonder how Malfoy did it," Hermione mused from beside him. "Perhaps you have to sing in a certain key, though none of the books I read said anything about that."
Harry had only opened the door when Teddy was thrust into his arms.
"Oh, hi, Harry," Neville said sheepishly. "Sorry I've got to dash off; said I'd meet Ginny and Luna."
"Don't worry, Neville; we came to you," Luna's voice drifted over as she and Ginny travelled down the corridor.
Harry didn't miss the distraught look on Neville's face, and he scowled at the boy.
"You only spent a couple of hours with Teddy; you can't give up on him already," Harry said warningly. "I know we're not the greatest of singers, but surely Teddy can't be that much of a musical snob, can he?"
"Draco's singing has a special element," Luna chimed in, and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Of course it does," she retorted, sarcasm dripping through her words. "Why don't you just go and ask him?"
"I can tell you," Luna said loudly, and when Harry nodded enthusiastically, Hermione's response was to shake her own head violently.
"There's nothing to tell; he's not a magical creature or anything. He's just a normal wizard with baby tending knowledge," Hermione seethed; Luna didn't even look the slightest bit upset.
"Hermione - shut up," Harry said as nicely as he could manage. "Luna, what do you know? Is it something I can learn?"
"No, you can't learn it, unfortunately. Why don't we go and find Draco? He'll be able to explain it in greater detail; it's to do with the Black family curse," Luna answered with a serene smile.
"Black family curse? Sirius never mentioned one," Harry muttered, stating his thoughts out loud.
"He wouldn't have done, because there isn't one," Hermione sighed exasperatedly. "But you're in charge of Teddy; if you want to go ask Malfoy, go right ahead."
The group proceeded to travel through the castle until they reached the eighth year dorms. They were situated on the second floor, behind a portrait of an old man with three dogs.
The common room was like that of Gryffindor's, only with a splash of every house colour, and a bit smaller. There were eight doors leading off the common room, with the house animals imprinted into the wood.
There were only a few people in the common room when they entered, but they all looked up on their arrival. Teddy had quietened down, and now seemed to be teary-eyed, but otherwise content.
Harry's eyes ghosted across the room and locked with Malfoy's. The blond Slytherin rolled his eyes, but stood up and jerked his head towards one of the doors, in a gesture for the group to follow him inside.
There were only two beds in the room; Theodore Nott and Daphne Greengrass had been the only other Slytherins to return, and, being the only girl, Daphne got her own room.
"Why is it Teddy loves you?" Harry demanded, glaring at Malfoy as soon as the door shut behind them.
Malfoy simply smirked, folding his arms across his chest.
"We're blood related; it's quite simple really," Malfoy answered, looking down at the baby. "I can't say I'm surprised you've come to seek me out; you're obviously incapable of watching him without me."
"What? I'm perfectly capable; just because you can stop him from crying doesn't make you some sort of baby god," Harry roared, anger rising as Malfoy just smirked further.
"He doesn't know about the curse, Draco," Luna interrupted, looking between the two boys. "I tried telling him but he was too distracted to listen."
Malfoy turned a darkened glare to Luna. "How would you know anything about my bloodline? You are neither Black nor Malfoy."
Luna hummed thoughtfully. "Daddy told me all about the Black family curse, and the Siren ancestor."
"There's no such thing as Sirens; I told you this already," Hermione stated firmly. "Mermaids, yes, but Sirens are simply mythological, and nothing more."
"Sirens? Like the singing mermaids?" Harry asked, feeling rather stupid at the looks Malfoy and Luna were giving him.
"Sirens have the upper half of a female, and the lower half of a fish, looking more like mermaids from Muggle myth. They sing, and their music lures sailors to them, where they tend to have the unfortunate problem of being drowned." Luna explained. "I did try telling you before, but I could see that some Wrackspurts had got inside your brain."
"Or he was just tired," Hermione murmured quietly, and Ginny hushed her.
"And what does that have to do with you?" Harry asked, looking at Malfoy suspiciously.
"The Black line is Pureblood Wizard; it's just not Pureblood human," Malfoy told him, looking as though as had just revealed a horrendous secret, although, to a person who believed in the importance of blood purity, it probably was horrendous, or at the very least shameful. "This goes back centuries, of course."
"How is that even possible?" Ginny asked, speaking at last.
"Hold on," Malfoy muttered, going to a desk and grabbing a piece of parchment and a quill. He scrawled across the parchment quickly, and then tapped it with his wand, muttering a quiet enchantment.
"Sign this, which will bind you to not telling anyone outside of this room what I said, or you can leave now," Malfoy announced, holding up the parchment, somehow threateningly.
Once they all signed, albeit reluctantly, Malfoy seemed happier to continue.
"One of my great grandfathers on my mother's side; the Black line, was a sailor. He heard enchanting singing one night, and found himself drawn to a lone Siren. He was overcome by her beauty, and they made love. Once they finished, the Siren tried to drown him, but he used magic to escape. He returned to land and forgot about the experience, but many months later, the same Siren appeared at his door with a baby; apparently magic causes a wizard to become more fertile, thus they can impregnate anyone, human or not. The Siren's pregnancy caused her to grow legs, and she gave the infant to my ancestor, hoping giving it up meant she could return to the sea; a week later had body was found floating in the Thames."
"Er, that's tragic and everything, but what does you having some Siren blood in you have to do with Teddy?" Harry asked after a moment, having taken the tale in.
"He's part Black too, isn't he?" Malfoy said, giving Harry a 'how-are-you-so-stupid?' look. "Sirens have a longing for the sea; why else would one who lost her tail be so desperate she'd throw herself into a river, even at risk of drowning? Being only part Siren means the longing isn't strong in us, but infants feel the longing the strongest, and being on land causes much discomfort, hence the constant crying. Having a blood relation nearby helps calm children, because we can absorb that longing and control it, while the singing of the Siren is the most powerful calming tool."
So, provided Harry had understood correctly, Teddy was having a constant tantrum because he wasn't living amongst the waves. It seemed the only solutions were to either move to a rock in the middle of the sea and dangle Teddy in the waters for hours at a time, or have Malfoy near Teddy as much as possible.
"Can you guys leave a minute?" he said, turning to his friends. "I need to speak to Malfoy alone."
The group looked uncertain, but nodded nonetheless, and left Harry, Teddy and Malfoy alone with each other.
Malfoy said nothing, but looked at Harry with an annoyingly arrogant smirk on his face.
"So, Potter; it looks like I'm the only one who can control that child of yours," Malfoy drawled, the look in his eyes making it clear to Harry that Malfoy knew exactly what Harry was going to ask.
"Not necessarily," Harry retorted. "I might just leave Hogwarts and move near the sea."
"One of my distant cousins tried that with her daughter; the baby crawled away one day without notice and drowned, so I wouldn't recommend that," Malfoy told Harry seriously, the smirk now wiped off his face.
The blond edged nearer Harry until they were only inches apart, making Harry feel like a cornered animal for just a moment - it was just that Malfoy was so tall. He wasn't as tall as Ron, but he still towered over Harry by a good four inches; then again, Voldemort completely dwarfed Harry, but he had faced the Dark wizard and defeated him, and who was Malfoy compared to Voldemort?
"Listen, Malfoy," Harry stated, looking back at the Slytherin defiantly. "Teddy obviously needs you around, and, you know, you'd be helping me out too, but yeah."
"I'm afraid I don't quite know what you mean," Malfoy replied curtly, lip curling. Harry didn't want to ask for the boy's help, at least not directly, but unfortunately Malfoy knew that all too well.
"I just thought maybe you could, er, move into my private dorm," Harry said after a moment, speaking through gritted teeth. "Teddy doesn't sleep; all he does is cry, and obviously that means I can't sleep either, and who knows how our health is going to end up-"
"Alright," Malfoy interrupted, moving away from Harry at last. "Hand the baby over."
"What do you mean 'alright'?" Harry asked incredulously, keeping his hold on Teddy. He had expected Malfoy to laugh at him, and refuse; not agree right away.
"Potter; you're clumsy, a trouble magnet, and awful at Potions; not to mention a danger on the best of days, but considering how you're acting with lack of sleep, I can see a serious accident happening one day very soon, and I'd rather not risk my own health," Malfoy said offhandedly.
Harry scowled, but he didn't argue; Malfoy probably had a point, not that Harry would admit it.
"So you'll help me with Teddy?" he said instead, trying not to look too hopeful. The sudden prospect of having a baby which didn't cry constantly looked incredibly appealing, and took away from whom exactly would be the reason for it.
"Give me him," Malfoy repeated again, and Harry passed Teddy into the Slytherin's arms.
Then Malfoy started to sing again, and Malfoy's voice was like a wave of gentle pleasure washing over Harry. Malfoy's eyes were focused entirely on Teddy, as though the infant was the only important thing in that moment.
"I, I wish you could swim, like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim," Draco sang, his voice so wondrous there was no need for music.
Teddy seemed enthralled too, and his face lit up in a goofy, toothless little smile, and then he let out a giggle; Harry had a sudden urge to hug Malfoy.
"He's never laughed before," Harry whispered, a smile breaking onto his own face. He moved forwards and leaned over Teddy, smile widening as Teddy continued to smile and laugh. All the baby books had said Teddy was at the age when his sense of humour would start to develop.
Malfoy passed Teddy back to Harry, his song trailing off, leaving Harry feeling as content as Teddy looked.
"Well, Potter; let's go."
Harry winced as Teddy's eyes welled up with tears again, his anxiety loosening when Malfoy stepped back through the room.
Malfoy had made Harry leave while he packed his things, in which time Harry explained the situation to his friends. Malfoy finished in no time, and declared nobody could go with them, because they had important things to do. Those things ended up being experimenting about how far Malfoy could go from Teddy without the infant crying.
They had decided on having Harry in his room, and Teddy in the nursery with the cot against the wall shared with Malfoy's room, who would have his bed placed against the other side. This was so they could keep the calming effect overnight, but with enough privacy for both Harry and Malfoy.
Malfoy could be anywhere in either bedroom, the bathroom or sitting room without Teddy getting upset, except if they were at far corners, but once Malfoy headed down the corridor with Teddy behind, the baby would start crying again.
They also discovered that Teddy's happiness would last a bit longer if Malfoy sang to him, but not greatly. Malfoy told Harry it would get better over time; Harry just asked if Malfoy could sing to Teddy again to double check. In actual fact, he simply found Malfoy's voice was like a drug.
"Potter; let's set out some ground rules," Malfoy announced, settling down onto the sofa as if he owned the place. "I'm here for the child, and nothing else, but only in terms of calming him; you have to look after him. I'll be here overnight, and in the mornings, but day time it's your responsibility; I'm not going to let my education suffer by taking on babysitting duties. Also, if my door is shut, then I'm not to be disturbed, and if any of those losers you call friends come over, you can take them to your room."
Harry glared while Malfoy smirked, but didn't argue; he needed the blond, regardless of how cruel he could be.
"Any more requirements?" Harry asked scathingly instead, and Malfoy shook his head, clearly amused. "Good; I have some now. Firstly, don't insult my friends; secondly, we should call each other by our first names from now on. Well, mainly you for me, but I suppose it's only fair to call you your name in return."
"Why?" Malfoy, or Draco, as Harry needed to get into the habit of saying, asked with feigned interest.
"I want Teddy to call me Harry, not Potter, which reminds me; start calling Teddy by his name too. You always call him the baby, or the child; things like that," Harry stated firmly, and Draco rolled his eyes, nodding.
Harry felt like it was going to be a long year.
The next month passed with little contact with Draco, despite the fact they were sharing the same living quarters. Draco spent most of his time in his room, appearing whenever Teddy started to get restless to sing him a song, and then vanishing into his bedroom again.
Apparently Draco also played the violin, and the sound of the instrument could often be heard floating through the doors. Draco wouldn't sit with them at mealtimes, but would sit nearby so Teddy could still feel the effect of his blood.
As a result of Draco's actions, Teddy hardly ever cried, meaning Harry didn't find himself too bothered by the Slytherin's anti-social behaviours, and instead could focus on Teddy. The baby seemed to, ironically enough, love laughing at the strangest of things, like Harry playing peekaboo, and Teddy appeared to adore blowing raspberries and gurgling, which Harry found incredibly adorable.
Now Teddy had stopped having his constant tantrum, Harry actually though having a child was fun. Of course, there were some downsides; he would never count changing nappies as something he liked, and there was some crying even Draco couldn't solve, but watching Teddy grow each day, and seeing him happy made Harry think he was at least on the right track.
Meanwhile, Harry's relationship with Draco had gone from enemies to loose acquaintances. They bid each other good morning and good night, and Harry could make himself smile when they passed each other in corridors, but otherwise they didn't really speak.
Which was why Harry was so surprised when Draco asked him a full sentence one day.
"What?" was all Harry could answer with, the bottle in his hand freezing half way to Teddy's mouth.
Draco rolled his eyes. "I asked you what Quidditch team you supported," the boy repeated.
"Er, I don't really have one," Harry answered, feeling as stupid as he had done in Madame Malkin's all those years ago. "Ron is a big Chudley Canons fan, and Ginny loves the Holyhead Harpies."
Draco grimaced. "The Harpies aren't too bad, but the Canons may as well be disbanded. I'm surprised you don't follow a team; I thought you were a Quidditch fanatic. I support the Falmouth Falcons; they are easily the best team out there, and they're playing the Appleby Arrows this weekend."
Harry blinked, not quite sure what Draco was getting at.
"Apparently I need to be supervised in a public place," Draco continued with a scowl, "and Theo and Daphne don't care much for Quidditch, so I suppose, considering I'm doing you a favour with Teddy, you could accompany me to the match."
"Um, sure," Harry said after a moment. He had never been to a Quidditch League match before, and the prospect was exciting, even if Draco wasn't his first choice for company. "But what about Teddy?"
"It's a weekend; those friends of yours could take him to visit his Grandmother in the hospital if they can't cope with him," Draco said airily, as though he didn't care. "It will be a good match; the teams are fairly equal in terms of skill, and it would do you good to be introduced to some quality teams. I actually pity you having to put up with a Canons fan."
Harry opened his mouth, ready to defend Ron purely out of loyalty; but he couldn't say he was really too keen on the bright orange theme Ron adored, but then he saw Draco's lips were twitching upwards slightly in a small smile, and Harry felt his stomach do a backflip, pushing all thoughts of Ron out of his head.
"Fine," Harry grinned, "but if your team loses, I may ask Ron to send me some Canons posters to brighten up the place; we could do with some orange around here."
Harry watched on the balls of his feet as a blur of pale blue flew past him, narrowly followed by a flash of dark grey. He groaned along with the crowd as one of the Falcon's Chasers collided with the Arrow's Seeker, sending them both tumbling to the ground.
The Falcons method seemed much like that of the Slytherin team; play dirty, but keep it secret. Despite the amount of collisions, no fouls had been called yet. From an unbiased view point, Harry actually found the added violence exciting.
Harry and Draco both leaned forwards as the Falcons scored another goal, cheering with the other supporters.
A flash of gold caught Harry's eye, and seconds later the Falcon's Seeker did too. The recovered Arrow's Seeker was on his tail though, and they were soon neck and neck in a race towards the Snitch.
A brief flick of the Falcon Seeker's broom tail knocked the Arrow's player off course just enough for him to take the lead, and then the stadium was filled with the sounds of the Falcon supporters celebrating.
"Do you want to go get a bite to eat?" Harry shouted to Draco over the roar of the crowds, though he was sure everyone could hear his rumbling stomach. There weren't anywhere near as many people as there had been at the World Cup, but there was still a lot; a community trying to go back to how things were in safer times.
Draco nodded, and they made their way out of the small stadium. The Falcons had been playing at home, which happened to be situated on the Cornish coastline.
"Could we go and get some fish and chips?" Harry asked, slightly wary. It was a very Muggle meal, and Harry didn't know how Draco would react.
"Fine, but I want to sit on the beach, and away from Muggles," Draco answered, taking Harry slightly by surprise.
They walked into the town, a short walk from the enchanted field the Falcon's stadium was situated in. Harry stopped at a random fish and chip shop, not missing the disgusted look on Draco's face, and popped in to buy them both some, grateful he always carried a small amount of Muggle money on him.
They walked with their food, finding a quiet spot on a beach to sit at.
"So Muggles really eat this sort of stuff?" Draco questioned, stabbing the battered fish with the wooden fork the shop had given them. "It's full of nothing but grease."
"Yeah, but it's really good though," Harry grinned, biting into a hot chip. He had only ever had a handful of chips before, courtesy of his Aunt and Uncle so he wouldn't completely starve, but they tasted just as good as he remembered. "So how come you need supervising anyway?"
"They couldn't send me to Azkaban like my father, purely based on my age, but the Ministry still doesn't trust me completely. The Ministry knows my face, and they have workers everywhere, so if they see me alone, I could end up in big trouble," Draco answered, a miserable look on his face. The blond cast his eyes across the sea, and Harry saw a longing in the pale grey.
"Does the Siren blood still affect you then?" Harry asked, genuinely curious; he often wondered how Teddy would be when he was older.
"Only when I'm this close," Draco said softly, his tone taking Harry aback; he hadn't expected the boy to sound so gentle. "I just find it enchanting; I'm naturally inclined towards both music and water."
"I bet you like the Prefects bath then," Harry muttered, forgetting he wasn't supposed to know about it.
Draco hadn't forgotten, however.
"How do you know what the Prefects bathroom?" he asked suspiciously. "If Weasley or Granger told you the password, they should have had their duties revoked."
"It wasn't either of them; it was Cedric Diggory, back in the Triwizard Tournament with the Golden Egg," Harry said defensively; Draco couldn't berate a dead boy. Instead, the blond shrugged and turned back to their food.
They ate in a silence, albeit a comfortable one, and stayed staring at the sea for quite a while longer.
"I suppose I need to get back for Teddy," Harry announced after a while, standing and brushing the sand off his clothes.
Hermione had been quick to offer to look after Teddy and take him to St Mungo's. Ron was meant to be meeting her there; they were struggling with the long-distance relationship, having gone from seeing each other every day, to hardly at all. Ron's tough Auror training combined with Hermione's strict studying regime meant they didn't have much time for each other, but any free time they had would almost certainly be doing something involving the other.
Draco nodded and stood too, casting one more longing look across the water.
"Listen, Draco," Harry began awkwardly, shuffling his feat in the sand. "I actually had a nice time today, and you know, there isn't any reason we can't try and be friends. We've both been shitty to each other over the years, and I'm sorry about that, especially, you know, in sixth year; I swear I didn't know what that spell did-"
Draco held up a hand, cutting Harry off.
"I know; Snape told me you were just an idiot who thought using an unknown spell would be a good idea." Harry shifted guiltily. "But I was about to curse you with a spell without knowing how much it truly hurt; not until he did it to me. This is a new era, and I won't let my parent's influence on me control me anymore; let's put the past behind us?" Draco offered his hand, and Harry shook it, smiling.
By the end of October, Harry could see a huge difference in Teddy and his development.
His gurgling and babbling was becoming more and more frequent, and sometimes he seemed to have a whole conversation using his special baby language. He recognised the sound of his name now, and was managing to shuffle around slightly on his stomach.
Harry thought Teddy was amazingly talented, dismissing Hermione when she told him all babies had to learn to do what Teddy was doing at some point, some earlier and some later.
Draco and Harry had actually made progress with a friendship. It was nothing like being with Ron or Hermione, or even anything like his relationship with Ginny, Luna and Neville, but it was nice in a different kind of way. They still tended to bicker, mostly over small, trivial things, but otherwise they actually had quite a bit in common. They had Quidditch to talk about at first, but they soon found out they had a similar sense of humour, and both enjoyed night time wanderings.
Draco had started to sit in the sitting room with Harry and Teddy, unless Harry's friends were over, and he seemed to be edging nearer to Harry's usual seat in the Great Hall. Harry didn't know why, but noticing Draco getting closer to him gave him the feeling of butterflies in his stomach.
In fact, he got that feeling a lot around Draco. Whenever the blond smiled, or accidently bumped into Harry, and that one time Harry walked in on Draco in the shower by mistake, though that incident had also caused a peculiar sensation in his groin, which he put down to hormones.
Draco was getting better with Teddy too; he left all the dirty jobs to Harry, and wouldn't get up in the middle of the night to see to him, but he would sing more and more to Teddy, rocking the infant in his arms, and he would occasionally entertain Teddy with toys.
But the day Teddy managed to get up on his hands and knees and crawl, Harry was sure Draco was just as excited as he was.
"Aren't you a clever boy, Teddy-bear?" Harry squealed, using the nickname he seemed to have picked up from somewhere. Draco hated it; Hermione said it was a paternal thing; Luna said Harry was appealing to the animalistic side of Teddy which hadn't come out as Lycanthropy.
Teddy frowned, concentrating on what he was doing, as he tried to move towards the toy bear Draco was enticing him with, while Harry stood with Colin Creevey's old camera that the boy's parents had given him, saying Colin would have wanted him to have it. He wanted to keep photos of Teddy growing up to put in a scrapbook, hoping Andromeda would recover one day and he could show her.
Draco gave in, handing the cuddly toy to the baby, who flopped onto his padded bottom, gurgling happily as he raised the toy to his mouth.
"No," Draco said, bringing the toy back down. Harry had enlisted Hermione's help with finding spells to baby-proof everything; as such, nothing small would be able to find its way into Teddy's mouth, and there were no corners and sharp things for Teddy to get near.
"I don't actually think there's anything he won't put in his mouth," Harry laughed, placing the camera down to boop Teddy on the nose.
Draco laughed too, something he didn't do very often; not that he didn't sneer, but that was different. Harry's stomach flipped at the sound, and he glanced at the other boy, noting how his laugh lit up his face, bringing a flash into the grey of his eyes; the eyes which had just a few stray strands of that soft blond hair falling into them. Harry had to fight the urge to brush them away.
Draco caught him looking, and instead of glaring or mocking, Draco just smiled and turned his attention back to Teddy.
Harry, in the meanwhile, felt his heart beating faster, and could feel the heat rushing to his cheeks, and lying in bed that night, he couldn't get the image of Draco's smile out of his head.
It took a while, but Harry had finally come to terms with the fact he had a crush on Draco.
In the Gryffindor dorm room, living with four other boys who talked nonstop about girls meant that when he fancied Cho and Ginny, he thought nothing of it; it was normal. Before he knew who Tom Riddle was, his first thought was that he was a handsome teenager, and he also thought Cedric had been attractive, as well as Sirius, but the other boys never mentioned boys in that way, so he presumed it was just a quirk and brushed the thoughts aside.
And with the drama with Voldemort, he never really had a chance to explore his sexuality in great detail. When he first got with Ginny, Harry thought they would be together forever, and he didn't need to worry, but obviously that hadn't been the case. So now these feelings had come up with Draco, when he examined what he thought were new feelings, he realised that they weren't new at all, and he had always liked boys the same way he liked girls; he just hadn't realised it.
He had planned to keep the information to himself; he knew in the Muggle world homosexual relationships were frowned upon by some people, particularly his Aunt and Uncle, and he wasn't sure how the Wizarding World felt about it. Besides, it wasn't like he was dating Draco; for all Harry knew, Draco was straight.
But then Ginny and Neville had knocked on his door one night and asked to speak to him in private. They wanted to tell Harry that they were now in a relationship, and had been for a month or so, but were worried how he might feel about it.
Harry assured them that he was happy for them; true, he had had strong feelings for Ginny at one point, but he had accepted he couldn't face being in a relationship with her anymore, and was perfectly content with being friends. Neville was clearly worried Harry might think he had stolen his girlfriend, but Harry thought Neville and Ginny were perfect for each other.
Their bravery had reminded Harry he was a Gryffindor like them, and it wasn't right to keep secrets from friends, so he asked Draco if he would mind sitting with Daphne and Theo in the eighth year dorms, and letting Lavender and Parvati look after Teddy, while he spoke to Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna.
Harry found a sudden interest in the drapes of the Gryffindor girl's dorm, while his friends just looked at him expectedly.
"Is everything alright, Harry?" Hermione asked cautiously.
"It's funny how me and Neville are allowed in the girl's room now," Harry said instead, with a nervous laugh.
"We're of age; they have no right to stop us," Hermione stated, "but I'm sure that's not why you called us here."
"Er, this is actually really hard to say," Harry said after a minute or two of awkward silence. He admitted to himself he was terrified of their reactions; he loved his friends, and he couldn't stand the thought of them hating him. Just when he was considering making something up, Ginny spoke.
"Harry, we're your friends; we'll support you no matter what," she said, getting affirmative nods from everyone else in the room.
"It's just that, you know, I've come to the realisation that I am, er, yeah," Harry tried, hanging in head in shame at his failure to speak properly. Who knew coming out would be harder than facing Voldemort?
"You're what, Harry?" Hermione asked, and he could see the worry etched into her face. He had to finish his sentence; otherwise they could be coming out with horrific theories in place of his silence.
"I'm bisexual," he blurted out at last, biting his lip as he watched for their reactions. Luckily, there seemed to be no looks of disgust on anyone's face.
"Is that all?" Ginny laughed. "I knew ages ago."
"What? When?" Harry questioned, not finding the situation as funny as Ginny.
"When I caught you checking out the same guys as me," she retorted, grinning. "At least you have good taste in men."
"I noticed too," Hermione said, and Luna nodded as well. "I wanted you to come to your own realisation."
Harry turned to Neville, who shook his head and held his hands up in defeat.
"I had no idea," the boy said, and he quickly added, "but I don't care; you're still the same Harry."
Harry felt as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
"Don't tell Ron, will you?" Harry said, talking more to Hermione. "Or has he noticed too?"
"Please, Harry; Ron doesn't notice a thing," Hermione laughed, making Ginny giggle, and even Harry had to smirk in agreement.
"Bless him," Ginny sniggered. "I swear none of us will tell him anything though."
In a way, Harry actually wanted them to. Telling this lot had been nerve wracking enough, but telling Ron was a conversation he was not looking forward to at all.
Harry wiped the drool away from Teddy's chin, taking the cream Draco handed to him to rub underneath Teddy's mouth to keep it getting sore.
Teddy made a disgruntled noise, putting his fingers into his mouth and closing his lips over them, and he whined when Harry pulled them out.
"I think he's getting his first tooth," Harry said, the baby book on the floor beside him. The drooling, red cheeks, swollen gums, irritability and trouble sleeping fit Teddy's symptoms perfectly. This wasn't a Siren problem, and so Draco's calming presence had absolutely no effect on Teddy's teething problems.
They got him in a teething ring, which Teddy seemed to prefer to all his toys now, and Harry got a potion off Madame Pomfrey to try and ease the discomfort in Teddy's gums.
Although Draco didn't calm Teddy, his violin certainly helped the baby get to sleep, and Draco would often play the stringed instrument softly at night, singing along to the tune of a lullaby.
Harry taught Draco some Muggle lullabies too, which the Slytherin would make Harry sing with him. Harry wasn't an awful singer, but compared to Draco he had nothing but a plain voice, and to stop feeling inferior, he started to agree that the Wizarding lullabies were better.
"He's such an angel when he's sleeping," Harry whispered, looking down at the infant lovingly. He hadn't imagined how strongly he would feel about Teddy, and he now understood exactly why his parents had been so willing to die for him, as well as why Narcissa and Molly went against their values to protect their children. He still couldn't quite understand Andromeda's actions, not when there was Teddy to think about, but he didn't hate her for it; he just felt sad that she, Tonks and Remus wouldn't be able to see Teddy grow up.
"Do you want me to leave?" Draco asked, making Harry jump. He turned to look at Draco and shook his head.
"I'm just thinking about his parents, and Andromeda," Harry said softly, keeping his eyes on Teddy.
He jerked when a hand gently touched his shoulder.
Draco said nothing, but he kept his hand in place, and even when the tears Harry had been fighting to keep back finally escaped, Draco kept his mouth shut, and his hand said everything that needed to be said.
Harry couldn't describe how much that simple gesture meant to him, but he knew he was falling deeply for Draco Malfoy.
"Ilikeboys," Harry said quickly, keeping his eyes glued to the floor of Ron's bedroom.
It was the Christmas holidays, and Harry had gone to the Burrow for the break. Draco would Floo every night to sing Teddy to sleep, and though the blood bond didn't work through the distance, the singing still had enough of an effect to put Teddy to sleep for the most of the night.
"What?" Ron said, looking at Harry with a look of confusion on his face.
"I like…boys," Harry repeated, tugging on his hair as a nervous habit.
"I like boys too," Ron said slowly, and Harry wasn't quite sure Ron got what he meant. "You, Neville, Seamus, Dean; not too keen on Slytherins, or that Zacharias Smith bloke but-"
"No," Harry interrupted, "I mean I like boys the same way I like girls."
"Well I guess it's sexism if you don't," Ron commented, and Harry felt like bashing his head into the wall.
"Ron; I'm bisexual," Harry shouted, wincing as he realised the other Weasleys could have possibly overheard him.
"Well why didn't you just say so, instead of going the awkward way round?" Ron questioned, and instead of bashing his head into the wall, which would have potentially caused too much damage, he grabbed Ron's pillow and smothered himself with it. He had a feeling Ron already knew; whether from his own deductions or if Hermione blabbed, he didn't know.
"Listen, mate; it doesn't bother me," Ron said plainly, grabbing the pillow away from Harry. "You really think just because you like blokes as well as girls I'd hate you, after everything we've gone through? If I was ever going to hate you for anything, I wouldn't have bothered coming back after I left. Unless you steal Hermione off me, of course; Auror training has caught me a lot of combat skills even you wouldn't be able to defend against."
"So you're enjoying being an Auror then?" Harry asked, steering the topic away from him and his sexuality.
"It's brilliant," Ron said enthusiastically. "They work us hard, but it's great. It's a shame you went back to school; you'd have loved it."
"Probably, but I can't risk it; I'm not even playing Quidditch this year," Harry replied with a shrug.
"Probably for the best, considering all the accidents you had," Ron grinned.
"Why is it you two are always talking about Quidditch? There's surely only so much to talk about," Hermione's voice filtered over, her head peeping round the door.
"Hermione, you just don't get the importance of Quidditch," Ron said seriously, making Hermione roll her eyes.
"I'm sure I do," she muttered. "Ginny and Harry talk to me about it enough for me to know. Oh, did you know Harry supports the Falmouth Falcons now?"
"What? Harry, you traitor, how could you?" Ron gasped, throwing his pillow at Harry's head. "I think you should leave; the Canons players don't deserve to look at you."
Harry quickly complied as another pillow was thrown at him. He didn't feel offended; Hermione and Ron hardly got any time alone, and he didn't particularly want to be anywhere near them, given the activities he suspected they would be getting up to.
He just hoped one day he'd have someone to love as much as they loved each other.
On Boxing Day, Harry, Hermione, Teddy, Ron, Arthur and Molly gathered around Andromeda's bed, while Ginny and Neville sat beside Neville's parents. Andromeda lay in bed, her eyes open but unfocused, staring blankly up at the ceiling.
Teddy looked curiously at his grandmother, reaching out a chubby fist towards her.
"Teddy's been doing really well," Harry told Andromeda, not caring if she could even hear him. "He's crawling, and talking more and more, and he's being a brave boy with his teeth."
"And Harry's doing wonderfully with him," Molly added, smiling gently at Harry. "Raising him just the way you would."
The doors to the ward opened with a loud bang, revealing Narcissa and Draco Malfoy standing in the doorway.
Harry's stomach did the familiar flip at the sight of Draco, and he turned away from the blond lest his facial expressions gave anything away. From the curious look Hermione was giving him, however, he was sure she had noticed something.
Narcissa walked briskly over to Andromeda's bed, ignoring the Weasleys and looking down at her sister.
"Oh, Andromeda," Narcissa whispered, the sorrow evident in her voice. Harry supposed it must be hard for her; even if Andromeda had been disowned, she was still her sister. He didn't care much for his Uncle, but he wouldn't be happy if Vernon ended up in the state Andromeda was in.
Harry's attention was more focused on Draco, who, after returning Ron's dirty glare, came and took Teddy off Harry, the baby smiling at Draco happily.
Ron looked at Harry questionably, but Harry shrugged and gestured to Hermione, who began to tell Ron whatever story she could come up with to get around her oath to Draco.
"Can I speak with you a moment outside?" Draco asked Harry, who glanced at his group before nodding. Molly took Teddy off Draco, and asked Narcissa if she'd like to hold him as Draco and Harry went to stand in the corridor.
"Mother has come to realise she has no real family bar me left," Draco said quietly, "and she wants to make amends with her sister. Mother's a skilled Potions maker, and she has just offered to do the research to try and find a cure for Andromeda."
"Really? That's amazing," Harry said, honestly astounded. He had a feeling Narcissa wasn't anywhere near as bad as Lucius and Bellatrix had been in their beliefs.
"And she'd like to bond with Teddy more," Draco continued. "She said maybe once you've finished school, so he isn't travelling to and from Scotland too much, but she really wants to be an Aunt. She always wanted another child, but Father said because I was first born and male, he had an heir and didn't need any more children."
"It's fine, honestly. Like you said, she's Teddy's great-aunt, and she has a right to know him if she wants," Harry said; if only Petunia had been that enthusiastic about him.
"Perfect," Draco nodded. "But please don't call her a great-aunt to her face though; she's just an aunt."
Harry grinned and nodded, following Draco back into the ward.
Narcissa did look content with Teddy in her arms, and she gazed down at the infant as if he was the most precious thing she had ever seen. Harry supposed Teddy had that effect on people.
Draco stood beside Harry, looking on at the scene, and when Draco's hand gently brushed against Harry's for just a moment, a jolt of electricity ran from him, his hand warm from the brief contact.
Harry's eyes darted sideways, meeting Draco's, and Harry couldn't hold back his smile, the warmth spreading inside him as Draco smiled back.
They soon settled back into school, with Harry now spending more time with Draco and Teddy than with his friends.
Harry thought after the disaster with Cho, Ginny had built up his confidence, but suddenly Harry had reverted back to the awkward fourteen year-old he had been.
He found himself struggling to put sentences together when Draco asked him questions out of the blue, he had a tendency to embarrass himself around Draco by dropping things and walking into things, and he couldn't stop the irritating butterflies every time he saw Draco.
They were lucky to have got a decent friendship, and Harry wouldn't jeopardise that by making a move on him; he didn't know if Draco liked guys in that way or not, and he couldn't work out how to find out without asking him outright. It was times like this he partly wished he had been sorted into Slytherin just so how he could learn how to be cunning.
Teddy was nine months old now, and Harry couldn't believe how quickly he seemed to be growing up. He could pull himself up now, using furniture to balance himself, and Harry thought it wouldn't be too long until he had his first steps.
His Metamorphmagus powers seemed to be going wild, and his hair and eyes changed colour by the hour.
Harry and Draco were both trying to get Teddy to say their names, having an unspoken competition as to whose name Teddy would say first. The books said Teddy probably wouldn't be talking for a while, and their names might be harder for Teddy to pronounce, but it didn't stop them from trying.
Harry thought he deserved to be Teddy's first word, considering he did all the parental duties, while Draco seemed to have adopted Harry's fun role as Godfather.
It was when Teddy was ten months old that they both won.
Draco had been singing a song, about a man who lived in the stars and was too scared to come to Earth. Teddy was babbling along, as though he was trying to sing along.
When Draco had finished, the two students tried again to get Teddy to speak. They were never too serious about it, but when Teddy said 'Re', Harry almost fainted.
"He said my name first," Harry grinned, sticking his tongue out at Draco, not caring if he seemed childish.
"He said 're', not Harry," Draco pointed out, but Harry shook his head.
"It's the end of my name; it counts," he stated firmly, but he scowled when Teddy then said 'Co'.
"That must be my name then," Draco smirked, and Harry smirked back.
"Fine, I'll give you that as long as you admit he said mine first," Harry offered, and Draco reluctantly muttered fine.
The banter between them continued the game now on to see whose full name Teddy would say first, but Teddy didn't seem to be playing.
Harry didn't actually know how his grades were keeping up with all the attention he was giving to Teddy, and he reckoned the professors must be being nice, understanding that he had a child to care for too.
Schooling didn't seem overly important to Harry though, not in comparison to Teddy. His grades were decent enough for him to get a job, albeit not a fantastic one like a Healer or in the Law Department, but playing dad was the only job that really mattered anymore.
It was in March, a month before Teddy's first birthday, that Teddy really changed Harry's life.
Teddy had been doing well with his crawling, and standing. He had very recently managed to stand on his own, but soon fell down again, but even knowing Teddy was on his way to walking, when it first happened it was a huge surprise.
Harry screamed for Draco to come to the sitting room, and Draco hurried out of the shower, wand in hand and a towel wrapped around his waist and a look of panic on his face, but when he saw Teddy he instantly relaxed and started beaming.
Teddy fell down after three steps, but Harry applauded anyway, and held onto Teddy's hand as the infant tried again. With Harry's help, Teddy made it to Draco, and then he flopped onto the floor, laughing as Draco and Harry praised him.
Draco's arm brushed Harry's, and Harry was suddenly far too aware Draco was naked from the waist up. Draco's chest was pale and toned, his stomach flat, with a trail of blond hair going from under his belly button and down past his towel.
Harry tried not to drool, and he leant against Draco, feeling the damp skin press against his shirt, and he looked up as Draco turned his head down to face him.
Harry, in a true fit of Gryffindor recklessness, leant up and kissed Draco firmly on the lips.
He wasn't sure if it was him or Draco who pulled back first. Draco's eyes were as wide as Harry's were, and then the blond turned, running so quickly to his room that Harry didn't even have time to see him before the door shut behind him.
A wave of nausea hit Harry, and casting one look at Teddy to make sure he was safe, Harry turned and tapped loudly on Draco's door.
"Draco?" he called through the wood, getting no answer. "I'm so sorry; I don't know what came over me."
Harry knocked again, but he couldn't even hear shuffling behind the door.
He felt his heart sink; how could he have been so stupid and reckless? It was the story of his life, it seemed.
He turned back to Teddy, managing to smile at the child.
"Co?" Teddy said when Harry sat on the floor beside him; Harry could do nothing but shake his head, feeling even more miserable.
Teddy shuffled around, picking up his stuffed toy dragon and handing it to Harry; Harry couldn't bring himself to appreciate the irony.
"Come on, Teddy," Harry said loudly, hoping Draco could hear him. "Let's go show my friends what a clever boy you are."
But even when Teddy was being awed at, and squealed over in the eighth year dorms, Harry still couldn't bring himself to laugh and cheer along with the others.
"You look miserable," Hermione said, sitting down beside Harry.
They were away from the crowd of students gathered around Teddy, and nobody appeared to care in the slightest what Harry was doing.
Harry just shrugged in response to Hermione.
"Is it to do with Malfoy?" Hermione continued, and Harry jerked his head to look at her in surprise.
"How do you-?" Harry started, but Hermione cut him off.
"Harry, you're my best friend; I know a lot of things about you that you don't realise," she stated, giving Harry an amused look. "You look at Malfoy the same way you used to look at Ginny, only there seems to be an extra spark between you two."
"So you don't care if I fancy him?" Harry asked hopefully. "I mean, he's been a proper twat to us over the years; I could understand if it did bother you."
"I may not like Malfoy, but I love you, Harry. If he makes you happy, then I don't care," Hermione answered, giving Harry a reassuring smile. "But what's the problem? Has he said or done anything bad?"
"No, no; it's my fault," Harry admitted quietly, frowning. "I, er, kissed him completely out of the blue, and he ran away. I don't know what I was thinking; he's probably straight and now I've freaked him out and ruined our friendship. Teddy adored him too, and now I've taken that away from him."
"No, you haven't, Harry," Hermione reassured him, taking his hand in hers. "I've told you a million times you need to think before you act, but I guess that's just who you are. Give Malfoy time; I'm sure he'll talk to you eventually. Don't mope about it though; you need to stay positive to Teddy; babies can pick up on negative feelings, you know."
Harry couldn't follow Hermione's advice though; not when he got back to his room to find Draco's door open but the Slytherin himself gone.
Teddy soon started to grow restless, and nothing Harry did could calm the baby down. Harry knew the longing for the sea must be affecting Teddy again.
Oddly enough, Harry didn't want Draco back to calm Teddy down; he wanted him back so they could sit together and watch Teddy, to see Teddy smile and laugh at Draco, to have Draco's support and friendship.
Even if Teddy hadn't cried through the night, those thoughts would have kept Harry awake anyway.
The next day brought no sign of Draco, not even in the Great Hall or classes, and Harry and Teddy spent another sleepless night together. Teddy seemed to notice Draco's missing presence, and all Harry could do was tell Teddy that Draco would be back soon.
There was a knock on the door on the third evening of Draco's disappearance. Harry answered the door, his heart leaping in excitement as hope filled him, but it soon crashed when Ginny and Luna stood in front of him.
"Glad you look so happy to see us," Ginny teased, walking into the room without Harry's invitation.
"Hello, Harry," Luna smiled, following Ginny inside. "You might want to put some onions out; they'll drive away the Boolins. They're invisible creatures, a cross between Nargles and Dementors, who suck happiness out of you."
"There aren't any Boolins here," Harry said humourlessly, and Luna nodded.
"Yes, I think you just need Draco back," Luna mused, and Harry stared at her.
"Come on, Harry; we're not blind," Ginny added, smirking at Harry. "Me and Luna have decided you need time to think, so we've come to take Teddy off your hands for a bit."
"He won't stop crying," Harry informed the pair, as though they couldn't hear the sound of Teddy wailing.
"It's fine," Ginny said dismissively, reaching down to pick Teddy up. "We can manage, can't we, sweetie?" Ginny said, beaming down at Teddy, who continued to scream. "We'll have him back in a couple of hours."
Harry waved the small group off, hearing the cries of Teddy get quieter and quieter. He sank down onto the sofa and buried his face in his hands.
He couldn't believe how much he had messed things up; he couldn't blame Draco for hating him.
There was another tap on the door, and Harry inwardly groaned; he noticed Teddy's bottle on the table, and supposed Ginny or Luna had come back for it.
He wrenched the door open forcefully, freezing when he saw Draco leaning against the door frame.
He opened his mouth to speak; whether to question why Draco was here, apologise, or beg for forgiveness, Harry didn't know. The words didn't leave his mouth though; instead he just looked at Draco in shock, not knowing whether to feel happy or anxious.
Draco opened his mouth too, and Harry expected vile insults and curses to be thrown his way. What he did not expect, was for Draco to sing.
"How you turned my world you precious thing,
You starve and near exhaust me.
Everything I've done, I've done for you;
I move the stars for no one.
You've run so long, you've run so far.
Your eyes can be so cruel,
Just as I can be so cruel,
Though I do believe in you;
Yes I do."
Draco stopped singing, looking at Harry with a steel gaze, eyes alight with a shining brightness. And then his lips were on Harry's, passionately moving against his. Warmth spread through Harry's body, and he threw his arms around Draco's neck, bringing him down to kiss him even deeper.
Harry opened his mouth for Draco's tongue, as Draco's hands settled on Harry's waist, pulling him snug against him, while their tongues moved against each other's.
They pulled apart panting, not releasing their hold on each other.
"I'm a coward," Draco said lowly, shutting his eyes for a moment. "I was afraid you had found out my feelings towards you and were mocking me. I was afraid you wouldn't be able to accept me, and I couldn't put into words how I felt."
"You did just fine," Harry grinned, feeling euphoric after that kiss. It was nothing like with Cho or Ginny; there was more electricity, more passion, than with either of them, and it felt like nothing less than a drug he wanted desperately to become addicted to.
"Lovegood found me earlier, told me how music was expression for those who can't speak, and then left. She was right though; I may not be a speaker, but I am Siren blooded. Music is my voice," Draco whispered, leaning in and resting his forehead against Harry's.
"So are we, you know, together now?" Harry mused aloud, watching as Draco's lips twitched upwards.
"Do you think we can work?" Draco answered, with a glimmer of hope evident in his voice.
"I do," Harry breathed, and Draco smiled fully then, as Harry pulled him into another kiss.
On April the 14th, Teddy celebrated his first birthday.
They threw a party in the eighth year dorms, organised by Lavender and Parvati who adored the little boy. Molly, Arthur and Ron came too, as did Narcissa. Even Professor McGonagall stopped by, turning into a cat and sending Teddy into gales of laughter.
Harry and Draco had been dating for almost a month now, and Harry had never felt happier.
Draco had moved back into Harry and Teddy's dorm, and very recently had been sharing Harry's bed. They hadn't had sex yet, although they had had awkward, fumbling hand jobs, messy blowjobs and Draco had pushed his fingers up Harry's arse once or twice, but currently they were happy simply to fall asleep in each other's arms.
Harry had sent Ron a letter, telling him of his relationship with Draco in advance. He had received three letters back; the first asking Harry if he was crazy, and demanding to know how he could do such a thing. The second apologised, but asked whether he wanted the Aurors to investigate to find out what Draco had drugged him with, and the third apologised once more, and said he thought Harry was stupid and insane, but if he was happy, that was good enough for Ron, provided he didn't have to make nice with Draco.
Ron had greeted Harry upon his arrival at Hogwarts, sending only a glare Draco's way which was readily returned. Thankfully Ron was too distracted by Hermione to get into any fights with the blond Slytherin.
Teddy enjoyed his party immensely, even if he didn't understand what a party was, or what it was for. He certainly loved opening his presents, although it was Harry who actually did most of the unwrapping.
They lit four candles for Tonks, Remus, Ted and Andromeda, and Harry knew the day would come when Teddy would want to know about his parents. It would be a hard conversation, but Harry wanted Teddy to know how wonderful his parents were, and he knew he could do it, especially with Draco by his side. They would be Teddy's family now, and he looked forward to the road ahead.
Epilogue: Three Years Later
If you had asked Harry five years ago what he wanted to do after Hogwarts, he would have been adamant about becoming an Auror, and maybe marrying Ginny, if he survived against Voldemort, that was.
He had never imagined he would be living with his Godson and be in a relationship with Draco Malfoy, but he wouldn't change a thing.
Draco had managed to find a decent job, something he hadn't thought would be possible with the Dark Mark forever etched on his arm, but George Weasley needed help with the joke shop after Fred's death, and Harry had managed to talk George into hiring Draco. Surprisingly the pair got on very well, once they managed to put their pasts aside.
Harry took a job as a child-minder; having brought up Teddy made Harry realise he was good with children, and he loved every second of his job. The concept of child-minding was new to the Wizarding World, but it seemed to have caught on, and parents were thrilled at the prospect of being able to work and have their children looked after. The job also gave him plenty of time with Teddy too, and the boy made good friends with the children Harry looked after.
Narcissa had worked hard on researching brain damage caused by potions, and had managed to bring Andromeda out of her catatonic state. It seemed like she would be a permanent resident of the Janus Thickey ward, just like the Longbottoms, but she was responsive to visitors, even if she couldn't remember who they were.
Harry and Draco had moved in together straight after Hogwarts, living in a cottage on a small beach near Whitby in the North of England. They had wanted to be away from everyone, but still using the Floo network to keep in touch with family and friends. They wanted a fresh start as a family of their own, and being near the sea was a must, for both Teddy and Draco.
Teddy was four years old now, lively, cheeky, and obsessed with dinosaurs. The walls of their cottage were covered in pictures of crayon stegosaurus' and triceratopses, and other types of dinosaurs that only Teddy knew the names of.
"Harry?" Teddy asked one day as Harry sliced some cheese for Teddy's sandwich. "Can we go dig for fossils?" Yes, Teddy knew what fossils were, and already had three on the windowsill of his room. Whitby was a good spot for fossil hunting, and Teddy soon picked up the hobby.
"Not now, Teddy; it's bedtime soon," Harry said, sliding a plate towards Teddy with the cheese sandwich he had wanted on it. Of course, now Teddy turned his head up at the food.
"I don't want to go to bed," the child huffed, slamming little fists onto the table. "I want to go to the beach. Why can't we go?"
"I told you, Teddy, it's bedtime soon. We can go tomorrow if you behave," Harry said firmly, trying to hold back a laugh when Teddy attempted to glare at him, only managing to squint.
"I don't want to behave; I want to go to the beach," Teddy insisted.
"Do I hear somebody being naughty?" Draco's voice drifted through, and Teddy turned to Draco as the man walked through the door, his eyes hopeful.
"Draco, will you take me to the beach?" the boy asked brightly.
Draco's eyes connected with Harry's, and the blond smirked. Raising a child together meant they were able to tell what the other was thinking with just a look.
"No; you have to go to bed soon," Draco answered, repeating Harry's words from just moments ago.
Teddy huffed loudly, and moodily began to eat his sandwich.
That night, after his bath, Teddy had forgotten all about going to the beach, although Harry would take him the next day anyway. Teddy fell asleep after Harry read him the dinosaur fact book he had already heard three times that week, correcting Harry when he pronounced the names wrong, and clutching on to the stuffed stegosaurus he had received on his fourth birthday.
"Fast asleep then, is he?" Draco asked when Harry returned to the lounge, smirking when Harry nodded.
"Excellent," he smiled, pulling Harry onto his lap and kissing him deeply.
Harry's arms wound around Draco's neck, while Draco's cold hands travelled underneath his shirt, freezing fingertips toying with Harry's nipples and making him shiver.
"Not out here," Harry said, tearing his mouth away from Draco's. "I don't want Teddy walking in on us again." That had been embarrassing, even if Teddy hadn't a clue what was going on.
Draco responded by attaching his lips to Harry's neck.
"I'm serious," Harry whined, groaning when Draco bit down on his shoulder.
"Lead the way then," Draco said teasingly, moving his hands down and squeezing Harry's arse before letting go so Harry could stand.
Harry truly was happy now. He had gained a family, and he couldn't think of better people than Draco and Teddy to spend his life with.
And he had a Siren to thank for it.