Harry Potter winced and dropped his copy of the Daily Prophet. Its headline declared in moving, bold font that Draco Malfoy now had a son. His hand shook as he reached for his glass of pumpkin juice.
Draco Malfoy had a son . . . and he didn’t.
Harry lifted his glass and tossed the pumpkin juice back as if it were a shot of liquor. It didn’t burn down his throat, though he wished it had. The pain might have made the situation more tolerable.
Eight years now, Voldemort was dead, and the evil wizard still haunted every day of Harry’s life.
It seemed a new Weasley child was being born every other month. He was a godfather seven times over—Neville and Daphne Longbottom’s second child being his newest goddaughter. Yet the title he most longed to bear, father, was not his.
Luna Potter, his wife of nine years, walked into the room. She flinched when she saw the newspaper on the ground.
“I wanted to burn it, but . . .”
“I would have found out anyway,” Harry choked out.
Everything had changed for them in Malfoy Manor, back when Harry was only seventeen years old. He had ensured he was captured by Snatchers, hoping to find his kidnapped wife and help Luna escape. Though he hadn’t meant for Ron and Hermione to get caught as well, he was grateful to not be alone. It had been a nightmare—not even Lucius and Draco Malfoy had been able to save Luna from Bellatrix Lestrange’s games.
In just a few years’ time, he had been forced to grow up.
Luna had suffered similar experiences, and so she empathized on the deepest level. He had needed that then and still needed it today. Now they suffered jointly in the bitterest gall of pain.
“I know,” replied Luna. “I just wish—”
She smothered the words, and Harry was grateful for that. Wishes were useless at this point. Not even the Elder Wand had been able to help them when Harry dared to remove it from Dumbledore’s tomb.
“I would give up all my fame, all my titles, if I could give you one child,” Harry whispered, a vow he had repeated countless times since they had learned the truth.
“And I would sacrifice all the mythical creatures I’ve ever believed in if I could bear you one,” she whispered in return, tears welling in her eyes.
Years ago, before they had learned the truth, Harry and Luna spent hours planning their future family. They redecorated the nursery in Potter Manor, and then built another one near it for their future daughters. They compiled a list of names: some serious, some ridiculous, some unpronounceable.
But then time passed.
Everyone they knew was either expecting, or giving birth, or already had children, and they had nothing but the hope of a child. Surely, eventually, it would happen. All they wanted in the world was a large family to call their own. After all they had suffered through, after all they had lost, surely Mother Magic would grant them their deepest desire.
“I know you would, my love,” said Harry as he set the glass back down on the table.
The sound of crystal meeting wood rang unnaturally loudly in the silent dining room.
Three years ago, they had performed a reproduction ritual: an Olde Magick ritual Luna had researched for months. The specialist from St. Mungo’s had said if anything could give them a child, it would be the Olde Magick. It failed, crushing their only remaining hope for children of their own.
Perhaps it would have torn them apart, if one of them were to blame. However, both were infertile. Bellatrix Lestrange had tortured and poisoned Luna countless times when she had been locked in the Malfoys’ dungeon, killing and reviving her at least twice. The damage had been permanent by the time that she had been rescued, despite the healing potions Draco had snuck to her whenever he could get away with it, desperate to save his favorite cousin.
And Harry had been dead for several minutes as he spoke with Dumbledore’s spirit in King’s Cross Station in a world of white. By the time he returned to the world of the living, it was too late.
A body that experienced lifelessness couldn’t produce progeny.
The couldn’t even perform a blood adoption ritual.
Their agony had only brought them closer together. And it eased their pain, if only the slightest bit, to know that the blame didn’t rest solely on their own shoulders.
Luna swallowed and removed her right hand from behind her back; her knuckles were white from where they clutched the miniature Quidditch broom. It was meant to be their oldest child’s first toy. He still remembered the day they had picked it out: hearts free from grief and eyes alight with joy.
“He’ll be a Seeker, like me,” Harry had teased, “or a Chaser, like my dad.”
Laughing, Luna had pulled it from his grasp and whacked him with it right there in the middle of Quality Quidditch Supplies.
“Or a Beater, like his godfather,” she had said.
Back then, before their dreams were dashed, they had intended to ask George Weasley to be their child’s godfather. George had been so lifeless with the loss of his twin, and they were sure that being asked to be their child’s godfather would bring some light back into his eyes.
Instead, it was Angelina Johnson, now Weasley—Fred’s old girlfriend—who had brought the spark back to his eyes when they had bonded years ago.
Luna sighed and traced her slender fingers over the toy broom.
“Aunt Narcissa saved your life. It seems only right to give Draco’s firstborn son a gift,” said Luna.
Even as she spoke, she clutched the broom to her chest as if she never wished to part from it.
“We never got his daughter anything,” breathed Harry, unable to tear his gaze away from the broom they had bought for his heir.
His precious, beloved son . . . who would never exist.
“It wouldn’t have been proper, seeing as we weren’t hoping to ally our families through a bonding. Gifts are only given to the daughters we hope are someday worthy of our heir,” Luna said and trembled.
Sighing, Harry leapt from his chair and engulfed Luna in his embrace.
“I’m sorry, my love. I didn’t know. I still have much to learn about the Ancient Ways,” Harry said.
In the beginning, shortly after they had bonded, he had been enthusiastic to learn the Ancient Ways, as excited as Luna was to teach him. He had never devoured anything that quickly before, not even Defense Against the Dark Arts. Practicing the Ancient Ways felt like coming home after being on holiday for much too long.
But once the ritual had failed them, both he and Luna had found it hard to devote themselves as fully as before. Mother Magic hadn’t answered their desperate pleas, even after years of faithful service. Harry felt like Mother Magic had betrayed him, and it wasn’t a betrayal he was motivated to forgive. If anything, it left him feeling bitter.
After losing his parents, and participating in that stupid tournament, and fulfilling Mother Magic’s cruel prophecy, didn’t he deserve a reward?
“Do what you think is best, my love. If you wish to give Draco and his wife the broom—” Harry’s fingers trailed along the smooth wood.
“What I think best? What I think is best would be highly illegal. Stealing from the Department of Mysteries, changing time, allowing Voldemort to win . . .”
Luna’s head fell forward against his chest, and her shoulders twitched. Through tears, she whispered, “I would let the world crumble to ruins and burn if I could only give you a family.”
Harry clung to her and set his chin on her head as he gasped in a breath. This was the first time either of them had spoken such thoughts aloud, but the sentiment wasn’t a new one. Every time he held the Deathstick, Harry knew how easily he could make that a reality; he could go back and stop her from being tortured and killed, could stop his own death, and hide them from Voldemort.
But . . .
“I will not condemn people to death, our friends, our family, and innocent children, just so I can have a child,” Harry said, each word ripped from him.
He tried to imagine a world without Teddy, Hugo, Rose, Fred, Roxanne, and the others.
“Ever the Gryffindor. Ever the Potter. Unable to let others suffer for you. I would not have you any other way,” Luna sighed.
She kissed his cheek.
Before Harry could reply, a house-elf with enormous ears and massive blue eyes popped into the dining room.
“Master and Mistress is being having guests.”
The house-elf quivered with excitement, likely because they hadn’t left the manor or allowed anyone to visit in almost a year now.
Luna set the toy broom on the buffet table and swished her wand, removing the evidence of her tears. Her pale skin was smooth as porcelain and unmarred, and her silver eyes were no longer tinged with red.
“Where did you put them?”
“They’s being in the formal sitting room, Mistress.”
Harry bowed his head and fisted his hands in his hair, his throat feeling like it would swell shut. The last time someone had interrupted their request for solitude, Ron and Hermione had come to inform them she was pregnant. Today, of all days, he wasn’t sure he could handle news like that.
“Thank you. Please tell them we’ll be along momentarily.”
“As Master is wishing,” the house-elf said and popped away.
“I don’t know if I can . . .”
Luna cupped Harry’s face between her hands and stared right into his eyes.
“We will smile and congratulate them, and say ‘yes, of course!’ when they ask us to be godparents again.”
Closing his eyes, Harry nodded. “All right. Let’s get this over with.”
He tangled their fingers together and guided his wife out of the room and through the manor. Each step closer felt like an eternity. He had heard Ron and Hermione whispering once that they should name their next child either James or Lily for his sake. While he appreciated the sentiment, it would only cause him even more pain to be a godfather—not a father—to children with names that belonged to his family.
Harry paused outside the door to the sitting room to take a fortifying breath, and then headed in with Luna at his side.
The guests were most unexpected.
Astoria Malfoy was sitting on the nearest settee, a fair baby sleeping against her chest. And Draco Malfoy stood with his back to them, staring up at the life-size portrait of Harry’s grandparents: Charlus and Dorea Potter.
“You look radiant, Astoria,” Luna said as she released Harry’s hand and joined her friend on the settee.
Harry didn’t disagree. His old rival, and now friend-of-a-sort, had done very well for himself. Astoria had been in Ravenclaw with Luna and was one of the few girls who had ever treated her well. It also didn’t escape his attention that they were of a likeness: blonde, fair of face, and slight in nature.
“Thank you,” Astoria said, her voice thick and wet, as if she would burst into tears at any moment.
“What’s wrong?” demanded Harry, gaze homing in on the sleeping infant.
Had they come to beg his assistance, request that he use the Elder Wand to heal their child? Harry would do so in a heartbeat. He would rather have no children his entire life than lose one right after it was born.
“Is something wrong with him?”
“S-Scorpius is fine,” Astoria assured them through her tears.
She wrapped her arms around her baby, as if she thought he would vanish.
“Then what’s the matter? And how can we help?” asked Luna.
She stroked Astoria’s hair as if the younger woman were a child, not old enough to have two children of her own.
The answer they sought came from Draco, whose back was still facing them.
“What?” Harry asked ineloquently. Love whom?
So slowly that he didn’t seem to be moving at all, Draco turned around. He cradled an infant that looked identical to the one in Astoria’s arms, except the baby had black hair.
Draco’s voice was a mixture of utter loss, firm resolve, and undeniable command as he said, “His name is James Sirius Potter. Love him until the day you die. Give him everything he could ever want.”
Tears poured down Harry’s cheeks as he collapsed in a nearby chair.
“James Sirius Potter? Draco . . . w-what are you s-saying?”
Draco closed the distance between them as slowly as he had turned around what must have been an hour ago. He offered the sleeping baby to Harry, and Harry cradled it against his chest without a moment’s thought. He had held many babies over the years and knew how to do it right.
Draco’s fingers feathered through the soft black hair on the baby’s head as he said, “Lord Harry Potter, in recompense for the crimes the Vigilant and Most Ancient House of Malfoy allowed to be committed against your wife on our land, I offer this child, of noble and pure blood, to be your son and heir.”
His voice seemed to fail him for a moment, and then he whispered, “He is named James Sirius Potter, after your honorable father and godfather.”
Draco swallowed and took a step backward, eyes never leaving the baby.
“Heiress Malfoy and I hope that he will bear your family name with honor, and never give you cause to grieve.”
The moment the last word left Draco’s mouth, Harry felt a magical bond appear in his mind; it tied him to the baby boy in his arms as the child’s father. Luna sobbed and rushed over. She stroked her fingertips along the baby’s rosy cheeks.
When James yawned and opened his eyes, Harry almost swallowed his tongue in surprise; James had silver eyes. With that and the black hair, he truly looked like the biological child of Harry and Luna.
But he wasn’t.
It was nigh impossible to tear his gaze away from his son, but he managed it.
Draco had joined Astoria on the settee, and her face was buried in his neck as she wept. Astoria, this beautiful, generous, loving woman, had just allowed her husband to give away her son—to him. They had magically severed a twin bond—for him.
“You’ll be his godparents, of course,” Harry said.
He had no words to describe the absolute relief on Draco’s face at the pronouncement.
Harry stood, James held tightly to him, and walked over, kneeling before the settee. After each Malfoy had placed a hand atop James’s head, Harry spoke the ritual words.
“Mother Magic, I grant Draco and Astoria Malfoy the right of guardianship over my son and heir, James Sirius Potter. I desire that they may always watch over him, guide his path, and protect him from whatsoever may seek to cause him harm.”
Astoria’s eyes fluttered shut as she whispered, “I can feel him again.”
Luna knelt beside him and smiled up at the Malfoys through her tears, saying, “And you’ll foster him for us, of course. We would trust no other with our only son.”
Draco leaned forward and kissed Luna’s cheek. “Thank you, Lady Potter. Thank you.”
“Luna and Harry,” Harry corrected, for the first time since the war ended.
“Luna and Harry.”
“I think it’s only fair to be on a first name basis with our son’s godparents. Besides, anyone who has unfettered access through my wards has no need to address me by my title.”
Astoria looked like she wanted to throw herself into Harry’s arms and hug him forever. She kissed his cheek, instead.
“Thank you, Harry. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
“Would you . . . ?”
Draco was dazed, as if he couldn’t believe their reaction to what he and his wife had done. As if, once again, Harry had defied his expectations.
“Would you be Scorpius’s godparents? We hadn’t dared to hope they would have a godsibling bond, but now . . .”
James wriggled in his arms, and Harry stared down at his son. His son! Eyes so like Sirius’s gazed up at him, soothing an ache that was ten years old.
“Draco,” Harry said, voice tender and welcoming, “you could ask anything of me today, and I would deny you nothing.”
“Just love him,” Draco said.
This wasn’t the first time Draco had implicitly trusted Harry. Once again, Harry vowed not to fail the trust he was being shown.
Harry and Luna nodded in unison and swore a Potter Oath, “We will.”