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The Lesson of You

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Harry Potter would say that, as a general rule, he likes children. They’re quite cute when they’re small, all squishy thighs and big smiles, and interesting when they get older, babbling questions a mile a minute. At least, that’s Harry’s experience with Teddy, anyway. Andromeda has said time and time again for Harry not to take Teddy as the poster child for all children everywhere; he’s apparently an abnormally good one, well behaved and polite and an overall joy to be around. Sometimes when Teddy’s curled up on Harry’s lap, his face pressed into Harry’s shoulder as he sleeps, Harry entertains the thoughts of having his own. It might be nice, having someone to come home to that’s always ridiculously pleased to see you, and who wants to hear every detail of your day whilst falling over themselves to describe their own. Andromeda says he’s getting ‘broody’. Harry might be inclined to agree with her.

So, Harry generally likes children, but that doesn’t mean he wants them right now. In five or ten years maybe, when he’s actually got a partner to speak of rather than a string of hook-ups that often don’t make it further than the dank alley behind whatever bar he’s picked them up in. It might be nice, he supposes, to love someone so much that you want to make a combined miniature version of yourselves.

Once, after Harry’s latest short term – extremely short term, since he didn’t think he had it in him to have a relationship that lasted more than a month anymore – relationship ended, his alcohol addled brain had thought it a brilliant idea to drunkenly ask Hermione if they could have a child together. Apparently he’d drunkenly babbled on about it for a full five minutes before scrunching up his face and declaring that, despite his sudden paternal wants, he wouldn’t have sex with her, because it would be like screwing his sister. Ron had been less than amused at the time, but enjoyed teasing Harry about it every chance he got now that he’d realized Harry wasn’t about to try and whisk his girlfriend away in the dead of the night.

Luna’s solution had been for Harry to take on a child who’d been orphaned in the war, but Harry doubted that would work. Even though he was him, the Ministry would likely shuffle their feet and attempt to look the other way if he applied for their program. Even though he’d saved the bloody world, apparently people didn’t think his life – or him in general, for that matter – was all that stable. Not that he’d necessarily disagree with them if pressed on the issue. He wasn’t unstable, but the lack of a current career didn’t work in his favour in the court of public opinion.

Ron’s follow-up solution was for Harry to get a Crup. That was an idea Harry could get behind, and he’d picked up Todd the next day from a top breeder out in Wiltshire. He’d wanted a dog from a rescue centre, something like what they have in the Muggle world, and was surprised to hear that they simply didn’t exist in wizarding Britain. Apparently in the wizarding world, Crups are bred in specific amounts by a select number of breeders, and no such shelters exist. So, Harry had purchased Todd for top dollar from a stodgy old wizard in a flowing blue robe who kept calling him ‘young Henry’.

Ron had just about pissed himself laughing when Harry brought Todd to the Burrow the week after getting him. He’d have brought him sooner, but everything he’d read in preparation for his pet’s arrival said to let the Crup ‘acclimatise’, so that’s what he’d done. The books had likely meant for the owner to go about their business and leave the Crup to sort itself out while they were gone, but Harry had felt so sorry for Todd when he’d gone out to buy groceries on his second day as a pet owner. Todd had sat himself down in the hallway and stared mournfully at Harry when he grabbed his coat, whimpering when Harry’s hand touched the doorknob. So Harry had stayed with him that afternoon, as well as all the others for the week. He and Todd had had a grand old time sitting on the couch and watching old Muggle films on Harry’s specially made telly. Todd had loved it when Harry had put Lassie on; a film Harry had bought specifically for Todd due to its use of a Muggle dog character. Todd had run around the room, jumping and yapping and attempting to get the dog on the TV to come out and play with him. Harry thought it was all rather cute.

‘Cute’ wasn’t exactly Ron’s first reaction to seeing Todd.

When Harry had Floo’d in, Todd clasped inside his coat, Harry had announced his name to the various Weasley’s in the room, pulling Todd out and holding him aloft in the air. Ron had tears streaming down his face as he asked Harry if he’d really named his Crup Todd.

“I think it’s a nice name,” Harry replied, indignant. “It’s hard naming things, you know. It’s not like he can tell me his opinion on it.”

“But Todd?” Ron had gasped. “It’s not exactly a Crup name.”

He’d stopped after Ginny walloped him on the back and Hermione took Todd from Harry and placed him in Ron’s lap. Ron had taken to Todd immediately after that, carrying him around the room and attempting to include him in conversation, speaking in an oddly deep voice, because “how else would a Todd sound, Harry?”.

Harry’s quest to ward himself off from his broodiness using Todd was working exceptionally well; he hadn’t even gone out of his way to see the babies in Diagon Alley the other day. Of course, him being near said babies usually ended up with their mother’s shoving them at Harry in an attempt to do … something. Harry wasn’t quite sure what, but it seemed to please the women when he stood holding their offspring, most of whom were usually agreeable to being held by him, which made the odd experience far easier. Hermione said the mothers wanted his luck to transfer over to the babies, or something equally odd that didn’t make the faintest lick of sense if any thought was given to it. It wasn’t like someone could rub his forehead and have an exceptionally lucky day or some bollocks, but Hermione always shushed him when he said things like that. She said it made people feel better being near him, that he was a symbol of safety, or something. Harry didn’t mind that part so much, so he tended to put up with it. Besides, he liked the warm feeling in his chest whenever the babies smiled at him, so it wasn’t like it was a huge hardship.

So, Operation Todd was working wonderfully. Harry wasn’t feeling the need to spontaneously build a nursery in one of Grimmauld Place’s spare rooms at the moment, so he called that a success. No, he was quite content sitting on the couch with Todd as the Crup rested his face on Harry’s thigh, no babies necessary.

Harry didn’t quite know what was going on at first when Todd jumped off the couch and bounded towards the front door, yapping loudly. Harry heard him skitter to a stop in the front hall, still yapping as his clipped claws skidded over the floorboards.

Harry opened his mouth to call Todd back when a thump sounded from the front hall. Harry was up in a flash, half expecting to see Todd had done a run up and managed to lodge himself in the bloody wall or something, when he rounded the corner. Thankfully, Todd was still planted firmly on the ground as he barked at the door, walls intact.

Harry jumped when another thud sounded. No, not a thud – a knock. Someone was knocking at the door. Who was knocking on the door, Harry didn’t know, because nobody knocked on the door. You Floo’d, or Firecalled, or sent an owl. Not even Ron and Hermione just came and knocked on his door without first telling him they were going to apparate to his house, and they never came at such a late hour. Harry should have been in bed hours ago.

Harry stared at the door a little dubiously, truthfully a little nervous. Merlin knew who it was. The weather was bloody terrible outside, practically dumping the Thames down on the surrounding area for the past two days. The person would have to be determined. A Death Eater resurgence group crossed Harry’s mind, but he shook his head firmly. Surely someone looking to kill him probably wouldn’t be so brazen as the waltz up to his front door and hex him when he opened it. They’d be a bit more inventive about it.

Another knock shook Harry back to the present and he approached the door, nudging Todd out of the way with his foot. Todd gave an indignant sneeze but went quiet, sitting himself down behind Harry’s foot.

Harry drew his wand, holding it at the ready as he unlocked the door and peered through the gap.

There was no one there.

Harry frowned and opened it a little wider, peering out into the rain that was coming down in sheets, already getting him a little damp even through the small crack in the door. He was about to close the door and chalk it up to one of his friends playing a joke, when a small squealing sound stopped him.

“Daddy,” a little voice cried, and suddenly the door was being pried away from where Harry’s leg was pressed against it. He let out a squeak of surprise and looked down to see the top of a head of dark hair. The small person was attempting to shove themselves in the crack in the door, pushing his leg away from the wood in an attempt to get through.

“What –“ Harry started. His first thought was that one of the Death Eater resurgence groups truly had picked their brains up off the floor and gotten inventive, shrinking themselves down so they could simply sprint through his legs and into his house, free to cause all the havoc they wished. But no, not even a beaten down Death Eater would be able to call Harry Daddy with a straight face. There was no way. Harry would bet his entire Gringotts account on it.

The small person looked up at him, giving him a wide smile, a few teeth visibly missing from their small mouth.

“Stop playing games, Daddy. It’s cold.” The small person wrapped their arms around themselves and pretended to shiver, letting out an exaggerated “burr” sound as they did so.

As Harry stared, his grip on the door relaxed and he opened it to let the child through. The child gave him another smile and skipped into the hall, a few stray drops of water sliding from their clothes and onto the floorboards.

“Todd, back,” Harry said, nudging the Crup with his foot when it let out a small happy sounding yip at the sight of the extra person.

“Bobby!” the child squealed, dropping to the floor and attempting to throw their arms around Todd. Todd, the traitor, was clearly loving the attention, if the exaggerated waggling of his small body was anything to go by.

In the lights of the hall, Harry could see that the child was likely a little boy, his dark hair sticking to his forehead in clumps from the rain. He was wearing a bright green coat and red boots with yellow spots on them, a blue woollen beanie half hanging out of the pocket of the coat.

Since Grimmauld’s wards didn’t start going haywire as soon as the boy stepped over the threshold, Harry didn’t immediately put him in a body bind. The house didn’t seem to think he was dangerous, so that relaxed Harry quite a bit. He’d half been expecting alarms to sound and for the child to be thrown back into the street, transforming into an escaped Death Eater, or something. Now, staring at the boy with his arms wrapped around Todd, Todd excitedly licking his face, Harry couldn’t imagine the child being some kind of Death Eater pawn. But he was something. Something that wasn’t dangerous, apparently, but still something. Harry would have to be careful. Grimmauld Place not recognising something as dangerous didn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t. The Boggarts that had been in the upstairs rooms when Harry had moved in could attest to that.

On the other hand, the child might have just wandered into the wrong house. The child couldn’t be Muggle, or else they wouldn’t have been able to see Grimmauld Place at all. Harry didn’t tend to keep the house retracted, as it was a right hassle most of the time, but Muggles still couldn’t see it. It was likely the wizarding child was just lost.

“Um, excuse me?” Harry said, kneeling down. “Do you know where your parents are?”

The child turned from Todd to face Harry, wide eyes crinkling as he smiled. “You’re right there, silly. Oh, is Papa playing hide and seek again? Let’s go find him, Daddy.” The child took Harry’s hand and pulled him down the hallway, peering into some of the rooms.

“Daddy?” Harry muttered to himself. Now that was a right laugh.

The boy threw open a closet with a loud laugh, frowning and biting his lip when nobody was in there.

“Where’s Papa, Daddy?” the child asked, turning to Harry. From this close, Harry could see that the child had extremely light eyes that were an odd pale grey-green colour.

“I’m not sure, buddy,” Harry said, crouching down in front of the boy. He did his best attempt at a reassuring smile, trying to turn on whatever it was that usually made children flock to him. “He’s not here. Would you like to come into the kitchen? I’ve got some snacks, if you’re hungry.”

“Ok,” the child smiled, clearly placated by Harry’s offer.

Harry led the boy into the kitchen, sitting him in the chair that had been Transfigured to be closer to the table so that Teddy could reach it. He rummaged around in one of the cupboards until he found the box of biscuits shaped like animals that Teddy loved. He tipped some into a bowl and put it in front of the child, smiling at him encouragingly.

To his surprise, the small boy wrinkled up his nose and looked at the bowl with a level of sheer disdain that Harry hadn’t even been sure a child could muster.

“Don’t like those?” Harry asked, snorting a little at the boy’s face.

“Papa says they have no nutiteenel value,” the boys said, nodding to himself.

“No nutritional value?” Harry asked. “Blimey.” He took the bowl and tipped the biscuits back into the box and opened his fridge, pulling out a mango. “How about this?”

“Fruit,” the boy cried, smiling. “Can you cut it up into stars, Daddy? They taste best when you do that.”

“Um, ok,” Harry said, still a little unnerved about what the boy was calling him. He did indeed slice the mango and Transfigure the slivers into little star shapes, much to the boy’s delight.

“Papa says I gotta eat my fruit,” the boy said through a mouthful of mango. “So I can be big and strong like you.”

“Sounds about right,” Harry laughed. He watched the child eat for a moment, before continuing. “Would you like to play a game?”

“Yeah,” he cried, giving Harry a smile that flashed his missing teeth.

“Here’s how we play: I ask you a question and you have to answer it. Then, if you want, you can ask me a question too, ok?”

“Ok.”

“What’s your name?”

“Silly, Daddy,” the boy cried, smiling around a bit of mango.

“We’re playing, remember? That means you have to answer.” Harry gave the boy what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“Fine,” he said, rolling his eyes dramatically. “My name is Ollie.”

“Ollie?” Harry clarified, nodding his head.

“No, Ollie,” the boy said, attempting to enunciate through his mouthful of mango.

“That’s what I said,” Harry laughed.

“Ok, Daddy, whatever you say,” Ollie rolled his eyes. “Does that mean I get a question now?”

“If you like.”

“Why are you calling Bobby ‘Tog?”

“You mean Todd? That’s my Crup’s name,” Harry said, glancing at where Todd was currently curled up underneath Ollie’s chair.

“His name’s Bobby,” Ollie said, deadpan.

“Then I guess you can call him Bobby, if you like,” Harry backed down, sending a silent apology to Todd. “Next question: how old are you?”

Ollie held up five fingers. “I’m five and two months. Papa says the months are important as well.”

“Indeed they are,” Harry said.

“You can have another question since yours are so easy,” Ollie said. He gave Harry a look which looked vaguely pitying. It made Harry want to laugh, seeing the adult emotions displayed on the child’s small face.

“Ollie, how did you get here? Did someone drop you off, or tell you to knock on the door?”

“No,” Ollie said, frowning slightly. “I don’t really remember. I was with you in the big room that I’m not allowed to go in but you said I could because I was with you, and I accidentally fell over and then I was on the street. Please don’t be angry, Daddy, I didn’t mean to touch anything.”

“I’m not angry,” Harry said. “But why did you knock on the door? Have you been here before?”

“Yeah, we came during the summer, don’t you remember?” Ollie paused, continuing when Harry gave him a small nod. “I didn’t know where I was because it was dark and all rainy, but I saw the park Papa took me to when we were here, so I looked for the Grimm sign. I can’t really say it good but Papa says it’s ok if I only know the first part.”

“What’s your Papa’s name?”

“His name’s Papa,” Ollie said.

“Do you know his last name?” Harry asked, taking one of the discarded animal biscuits from the box and popping it in his mouth.

“Potter,” Ollie said, saying the word slowly like he thought Harry might get it wrong. “Like yours and mine and Cassie’s.”

“Cassie, is that your mother’s name?” Harry asked.

“I don’t have one of those,” Ollie said, rolling his eyes again. “Did you bump your head again, Daddy? Papa says you must do that sometimes because you’re a bit silly.”

“Maybe I did,” Harry said, mostly to himself. What were the odds that this evening was all just some hallucination Harry’s mind conjured up while he was feeling sorry for himself? He smiled when Ollie yawned. “Are you tired?”

“It’s so late. Papa says I should be asleep at a dekent hour.”

“A decent hour,” Harry corrected. “He sounds smart, your Papa.”

“He likes it when you say that to him,” Ollie said, pushing his bowl away. “Is he coming here tonight, Daddy?”

“I don’t think so, buddy,” Harry said, helping him down from the chair. “But we can go out and try and find him tomorrow, if you like?”

“Ok,” Ollie said through a yawn.

Harry shrunk down a pair of his own pyjamas to fit Ollie’s size, making the child laugh when he changed into an identical pair that was still in its original size.

“Can I have a story, Daddy?” Ollie asked. He was curled up in one of Grimmauld’s spare rooms, pillows propped up behind him.

“Sure,” Harry said, perched on the side of the bed. “What kind do you—“

“Can you tell the one about the princess losing her shoe?” Ollie asked. His eyes were gradually slipping closed as he spoke.

“Cinderella? Does your Papa tell you Muggle fairy tales?”

“No, silly. You do. You tell them better than Papa, but don’t tell him that.”

“I won’t,” Harry agreed. With little pause, he launched into the tale of Cinderella, sifting through his memories to remember as much of the story as he could. It didn’t really matter, because Ollie was asleep before Cinderella even got to the ball. Harry tucked the blankets in around Ollie and turned off the light, glancing back into the room once before closing the door.

Harry didn’t sleep well that night. He tossed and turned thinking about the small boy that was in the room down the hall. He hoped Ollie wasn’t scared. Harry knew that his first night alone in Grimmauld Place had him shooting up every time the house made so much as a soft creak, and he was an adult. Nobody would have believed him if he’d said anything about it, since he was – embarrassingly enough –apparently the bravest and most powerful wizard currently living, in the opinion of the Daily Prophet’s reader base. Harry knew they’d think otherwise if they’d seen him scream when a beetle crawled over his foot the other day when he’d been out in the garden with Todd, but anyway.

Thinking about Ollie led him to thinking about Ollie’s parents. Merlin knew that they’d probably be going out of their minds with worry, but it was way too late to take Ollie anywhere now. The Ministry would be closed for the night, but Harry would take Ollie there first thing in the morning. With any luck he’d be returned to his parents by lunch, free to stop calling Harry bloody ‘Daddy’.

Harry wouldn’t lie; it did make his heart feel a little fuller to hear the frankly adorable child call him that, even though he knew it wasn’t exactly accurate, and Ollie’s real father likely wouldn’t appreciate it. Harry frowned and curled up to Todd, who he’d let sleep in the bed just for the night.

As Harry drifted off to sleep he pictured Ollie’s face. It nagged at him that he seemed to recognise it from somewhere. No doubt, the boy looked like one of his parents, and Harry had met them at some point, probably at one of the dreadfully awful Ministry galas he’d been forced to go to in the name of unity since the war had ended. Ollie’s expressions, most of all, scratched at some part of the deep recesses of his memory, trying to conjure up an image that just wouldn’t come. When Ollie scrunched up his nose or attempted to do that tiny sneer he’d done when he’d looked at the animal biscuits, Harry knew he’d seen it before. Someone he knew had made those expressions in front of him, he just couldn’t remember who.

/ - /

Harry woke up the next morning to shouts, and he rolled over and buried his face into the pillow as he tried to block them out. No doubt it was Ron, singing in the kitchen like he used to do when he and Hermione lived at Grimmauld Place in the months after the war. Ron would always get up early, making eggs and coffee for Harry and Hermione as he belted out Celestina Warbeck songs off key until the other two dragged themselves out of bed to join him.

“Daddy!” came the voice again, slightly more shrill this time, and Harry shot up into a sitting position.

“Fuck,” Harry muttered, throwing off the covers and stumbling out into the hall. “Ollie,” he called, jogging to Ollie’s room. The door was open, but Ollie wasn’t in there.

“Daddy, where were you?” Ollie cried. Harry was nearly knocked over by the force of the child throwing himself against Harry’s legs, hugging them. “I couldn’t find you.”

“I was in my room,” Harry said, putting a hand on Ollie’s head.

“You weren’t,” Ollie sniffed. “I went to yours and Papa’s room and you weren’t there.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said. He picked Ollie up when the child held his arms out, shifting him onto his hip like he did when he lugged Teddy around. “Would you like some breakfast?”

“Eggs and toast, please,” Ollie said softly. He pressed his face into the crook of Harry’s neck and sniffed. “Is Papa here yet?”

“We’ll go see if we can find him as soon as you’ve finished your breakfast,” Harry said.

Ollie, as it turned out, was very specific about how he liked his eggs. He wanted them poached, slightly overcooked, but still runny. He frowned as Harry cooked them, asking him when he’d forgotten how to cook his eggs.

“I guess I’m just tired,” Harry said, sitting down to eat the eggs Ollie had rejected.

“You always cook them the best,” Ollie frowned. “Daddy, are you ok?”

“I’m fine,” Harry said. “We’d better eat fast, though, if we want to get to Diagon Alley before it gets too crowded.”

“Can we get ice cream while we’re there?” Ollie cried. “But we can’t tell Papa. It’s our secret.”

“Sounds great,” Harry smiled. “Better finish your eggs first, though.”

“Yes, Daddy,” Ollie smiled, shovelling them into his mouth.

Harry was mildly concerned about how Ollie would handle Diagon Alley, not knowing how he was in crowds. He knew all the people pushed in together and the endless din of conversation could be overwhelming for him at the best of times, let alone a five year old. He needn’t have worried, because Ollie was completely fine. When Harry apparated them in, whispering soothing words to Ollie so he wouldn’t get scared, Ollie just straightened his little green coat and reached for Harry’s hand, holding onto it tightly with his own small one. He kept pace with Harry easily, chatting to Harry about everything they saw as they walked past.

“I don’t remember Mr Vander’s wand shop being that colour, when did he paint it?” “Daddy, that woman shouldn’t be touching those books like that if she hasn’t paid for them.” “Can I still have that ice cream, Daddy?”

Far and away the thing that surprised Harry the most was Ollie’s reaction to the Weasley’s shop. When he saw it he squealed and tugged at Harry’s hand, making a beeline for the brightly coloured door.

“We can’t go in there, Ollie,” Harry said. “We have to go to the Ministry. It’s very cool, I’m sure you’ll like it.”

“But we always go,” Ollie said, pouting. “You said it’s our special secret and we can’t tell Papa, but I think he already knows we buy things from there.”

“Maybe after,” Harry replied, ducking his head to avoid the stares of a group of young girls in matching sweaters across the way.

“Daddy, we’ll be going,” Ollie said. Harry looked over to see the child with his chin in the air, a disdainful expression on his face. He looked so sodding familiar, but Harry still couldn’t place it. It was really doing his head in, not knowing.

Harry pulled Ollie slightly behind him when people started to take notice of them, whispering quite obviously behind their hands, before shooting smiles at Harry from across the alley.

“Don’t worry about them, Ollie,” Harry said, gripping his hand tighter.

“I don’t,” Ollie said. “Papa says I have to be real good if I get to come to the Alley with you, and not care if people look at me. He says I’m ‘exceptional’.”

Harry snorted. “I’m sure he does.” He couldn’t wait to meet the person that had raised Ollie, just to see what they were like.

Harry led Ollie to a small building near Gringotts that housed the Floo bank that connected directly to the Ministry. He’d considered just apparating them straight to the usual entrance to the Ministry, but didn’t think Ollie would be too agreeable to the toilet entrance. Besides, when he used the Diagon Floo bank he didn’t even have to bring identification or papers proving he was allowed to be going into the Ministry in the first place, not even since he’d taken a highly publicized extended leave of absence from the Auror force that the Prophet had covered extensively. The woman who manned the Floo bank always let him in without asking questions. It was a little worrying, really, and it always made Harry more than a little concerned about the overall physical security of the Ministry and its Floo’s.

“Oh, are we going this way?” Ollie asked, peering up at the woman behind the little glass barrier.

“Harry Potter, here to –“

“Go through,” the woman said, waving her wand to open the door to the Floo bank.

“Um, thanks,” Harry said.

“The waterfall way is better,” Ollie said. “That’s the way Papa always goes when we come and visit you.”

“This is the only way to get in besides the loos, I’m afraid,” Harry said, taking a fistful of Floo powder. “Have you ever used a Floo before?”

“Of course,” Ollie snorted.

“Ok, just say ‘Ministry’. Don’t move when you get there, I’ll be right behind you.”

“Ok, Daddy,” Ollie said, dropping the Floo powder and saying the destination in a clear voice that far and away trumped Harry’s first time using a Floo. His parents obviously used one quite a bit.

Harry stepped into the Floo after Ollie disappeared, calling out “Ministry”, before being engulfed by the bright green flames.

The first thing he always thought when he Floo’d into the Ministry, was that they were very much in need of a décor change. With the amount of times he’d had to go there since the war ended two years ago, he was about ready to pay for the renovations himself just so he had something less depressing to look at whenever he was called in. The atrium was still decked out in shiny dark brick with sickly looking accents that reminded Harry far too much of the Slytherin common room, and called upon memories of the war. It was unpleasant, to say the least.

“You got so dirty, Daddy,” a giggle came from his right. Ollie was standing there, waiting for Harry as asked.

“Quite a common occurrence, I’m afraid,” Harry said sheepishly, brushing off his jumper. Ollie was inexplicably clean as a whistle. Harry supposed the powder would have run right off of his raincoat without sticking, but even his dark hair looked to be clean and powder free. “How are you so clean?”

“Papa taught me how to drop the powder right,” Ollie said. “He doesn’t like it sticking to his robes. I can teach you, if you want?”

“That might be a good idea, yeah.” Harry reached for Ollie’s hand, which he gave readily. They walked towards the elevators, witches and wizards calling out hellos to Harry every few moments. Harry smiled and waved back, but his eyes quickly fell to his feet whenever he had the chance. It was one such instance in which Harry dropped his eyes that he caught sight of Ollie, who was waving at the wizard who had just greeted Harry. He was smiling, a concise little wave of his hand directed at the greeter, before dropping it and setting his eyes forward. He did it again when a witch from the Auror department called out to Harry, stopping to return Ollie’s wave when he also greeted her. Ollie allowed her to coo over him for a few moments before Harry tugged him away, citing urgent Ministry business.

“Do you know any of these people?” Harry asked when they were in the elevator, heading to the levels used by the Auror department. “Do they know your parents?”

“They know you, I guess,” Ollie shrugged. “You said I always have to be nice. Papa says I have something to prove, but I don’t really know what he means.”

“Right,” Harry said, nodding. “Well, here we are.”

“Oh, are we going to your office?” Ollie asked. “Could we see Cheryl? I want some of those sweets she keeps on her desk.”

“I’m not really sure who Cheryl is,” Harry said. “But if you see her then point her out and we can ask about the sweets.”

“You do know Cheryl,” Ollie insisted. He tugged on Harry’s hand until he looked down at him. “She gives you your letters, and Papa told you to invite her to the Christmas party.”

“I must have just forgotten. Ah, here we are,” Harry said, tugging the grate back on the door.

Ollie kept quiet as they walked down the hall to Robards’ office. Harry knocked, waiting for a response before leading Ollie in.

“Harry,” Robards said, gesturing towards the seat in front of him. “We didn’t have a meeting today, did we? I’m afraid I’m a bit scatterbrained at the moment.”

“We didn’t,” Harry said, helping Ollie into the chair on the other side of Robards’ desk, standing behind him once he was seated. “I’m here about something else, actually.”

“I don’t suppose it has anything to do with this chap here?” Robards asked, nodding towards Ollie, who was sitting quietly in the chair, fiddling with the hem of his raincoat.

“It does,” Harry said. “Look, do you have anyone called Cheryl in the office?”

“Uh, I believe there’s one who works in filing,” Robards said. “She brings reports up sometimes. Why?”

“Could you summon her?” Harry asked. “I need to speak with you, and Ollie here apparently knows Cheryl.”

“Of course.” Robards scribbled a note on one of the blank paper planes the Ministry used for sending messages internally, and sent it off. Ollie giggled as it whizzed past his head, turning in the chair to watch as it shot out the door.

It only took a few minutes for a knock to sound on the door, Robards opening it to reveal a young woman with long brown hair.

“Cheryl, would you mind taking young mister Ollie here to the Auror cafeteria for a few minutes?” Robards asked, smiling at Ollie. “I need to speak with Mr. Potter.”

“Of course,” Cheryl said, looking puzzled.

“Do you have your pink sweets?” Ollie asked, smiling at Cheryl. “I told Daddy you have them, but he didn’t know what I meant.”

“Oh,” Cheryl said, looking surprised. “I have a bag of sherbet bars in my desk, if that’s what you’re after?”

Ollie turned in the chair, shooting the smuggest look at Harry that he could muster. “I told you she had them, Daddy.”

“I suppose you were right then. Now, go with Cheryl for a little bit and then I’ll come get you, ok?” Harry helped Ollie down from the chair, squeezing his hand.

“Then we can see Papa?” Ollie asked, biting at his tiny lip. “I miss him.”

“We’re going to try,” Harry replied, smiling softly. “Off you go then.”

Harry raised an eyebrow when Ollie didn’t move, his little face turned up towards Harry.

“You’re supposed to say goodbye properly,” Ollie said. “I’m telling Papa you hit your head again because you keep forgetting.”

“Uh, what’s properly?” Harry asked.

Ollie frowned and tapped his cheek, raising his eyebrows at Harry. After a few moments Ollie huffed and tugged at Harry’s hand until he crouched down, pressing a wet kiss to Harry’s cheek.

“You’re supposed to do that,” Ollie said, glaring at Harry. “But I suppose it’s ok for me to if you’ve hit your head.”

“Uh, right,” Harry said. “Sorry.”

“That’s ok. I’ll see you later, Daddy,” Ollie said, taking Cheryl’s hand and tugging her out the door, nattering on about the bloody sherbet bars.

“Well that was interesting,” Robards said. “I was unaware that you had a son.”

“I don’t,” Harry said, falling heavily into Ollie’s vacated chair. “That’s why I’m here. Ollie turned up at my house last night, but obviously he’s not mine.”

“He’s a missing child?” Robards asked, raising his eyebrows. “Was he abducted, or did he just wander off?”

“I don’t know,” Harry sighed. “He seems adamant that I’m his father, though he’s mentioned a ‘Papa’ quite a bit.”

“And you say he just turned up at your house?” Robards asked. “Isn’t your house under –“

“A Fidelius, yes.”

“Well that’s interesting,” Robards said, leaning back in his chair. “To my knowledge, nobody has reported a child missing anytime during the last week.”

“Well he’s somebody’s,” Harry said. “Somebody’s missing him.”

“He does look a little like you,” Robads chuckled. “Are you sure some jilted ex-lover hasn’t just dropped a secret love child off on your doorstep?”

“Definitely not,” Harry said. “And he doesn’t look like me.”

“He does, a little. The hair, and the smile.”

“The smile, Robards?” Harry asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Your face is hard to escape, Harry, it being plastered on the front page of the Prophet every second day. We’ll put something in the papers tomorrow, if no one comes for him this afternoon,” Robards said. “Until then I suppose Cheryl could be persuaded to watch him, if she’s agreeable.”

“And if nobody comes?” Harry asked, brows furrowing.

“I suppose he’ll be placed in a home for orphaned wizarding children until his parents come forward.”

Harry’s stomach turned at the words. He didn’t want Ollie going into one of those places. Not that they were bad, per se. Quite a few had been opened in his name after the war, and he’d donated a hefty amount to various homes around England and Scotland over the years, but there was always something off about them. Perhaps they reminded him too much of Dumbledore’s Pensieve memories of Tom Riddle. Every time he’d gone there, they’d just seemed devoid of something that he couldn’t put his finger on. He didn’t want Ollie going there, not at all.

“I’ll take him home with me, if his parents don’t come,” Harry said. “I don’t want him going into a home.”

“You say he’s not your child, Harry. Therefore, he’s not your responsibility,” Robards said slowly.

“Maybe he is,” Harry said. “He came to my house. He knew where it was, and he seems to know me –“

“Everyone in the wizarding world knows you, Harry,” Robards sighed. “Look, we’ll get him back in here and I’ll ask him a few questions. Hopefully we’ll be able to contact his parents and hand him over. If not, then he’s still not your responsibility.”

Harry clenched his jaw, but said nothing in reply.

When Ollie and Cheryl returned the child had his hands clasped full of wiggling little pink things, which he promptly shoved at Harry, declaring them “Cheryl’s pink sweets, I told you, Daddy”.

“Thank you,” Harry smiled at Cheryl.

“It was no bother,” Cheryl smiled. “He’s a lovely boy. I didn’t know you had a child, Mr. Potter.”

“He doesn’t,” Robards said, at the same time Ollie declared “that’s me”. Ollie turned to glare at Robards.

“He does,” he said, lowly. He turned to Harry, his eyes going a little wide and shiny, like he was about to cry. “Daddy, where’s Papa?”

“We’re going to try and find him, but we’ll need to ask you some things first,” Robards said, cutting off any soothing words Harry was about to say. “Would you like Harry to stay in the room?”

“Yes, I would like Daddy to stay,” Ollie said, a sour look on his face.

“Of course,” Robards said, giving Ollie a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. He looked quite exasperated, much to Harry’s amusement.

After Cheryl slipped out Ollie relayed his story of ending up on Harry’s doorstep, though with even less detail than he’d told Harry the night before. He clearly wasn’t happy about talking to Robards, crossing his arms against his chest, his nose scrunched up.

“And you don’t know what your parent’s last names are?” Robards sighed, rubbing his forehead with his thumb.

“I told you,” Ollie hissed, glaring down at the floor. “It’s Potter, like me and Cassie.”

“There are no living Potter’s that are of childbearing age, except you,” Robards said to Harry, his eyebrows practically hitting his hairline.

“What does your Papa look like?” Harry asked, squeezing Ollie’s shoulder in reassurance.

“He’s got blonde hair, like Cassie,” Ollie said. “He’s a bit taller than you, but you always shush me when I say that.”

“And your mother?” Robards asked, pausing as he took down Ollie’s description. “What does she look like?”

“I don’t have one,” Ollie said simply. “I don’t need one because I’ve got a Daddy and a Papa. Not even Rosie has both of those.”

“You must have a mother,” Robards said, sighing. “Do you know how old your parents are?”

Ollie turned to glance at Harry. “You’re thirty, right, Daddy?”

“Actually, he’s twenty,” Robards corrected, his voice strained.

“He’s not, we had his and Papa’s thirtieth birthdays in the summer. Daddy kept saying he was getting old and teasing Papa that had some grey in his hair even though he didn’t.”

Robards sighed, sending Harry an exasperated look.

“Daddy, can we go get ice cream yet?” Ollie asked, turning back to Harry. “Then can we go home and see Papa and Cassie?”

“Just a bit longer,” Harry said. He patted Ollie’s head and Ollie giggled.

“And you don’t know anything about where you live?” Robards asked. He’d put down the quill, clearly not anticipating any new information.

“We were at Daddy’s London house last night for sleep, but before it was all dark outside we were at home in Aunty Mione’s big room that I’m not supposed to go in.”

“Did you say Aunty Hermione?” Harry asked.

Ollie nodded. “Have you forgotten her as well?”

“No,” Harry laughed. “She’s someone we can definitely go see, if you like.”

“Will Rosie be there too?” Ollie asked, smiling widely. “She said she was getting a broom for us to play on, but she didn’t have it yet yesterday.”

“I’m not sure, but we can check,” Harry said. He turned to Robards. “Look, are we done here? Contact me if anyone responds to the Prophet story and I’ll bring him in.”

“Harry, we’ll be sending him to a wizarding orphanage in the meantime,” Robards said, frowning. “He’s not your child.”

“No,” Ollie squealed, jumping off the chair and clinging to Harry’s leg.

“It’s just until we find your parents,” Robards said, but Ollie’s yells cut him off.

“Don’t let him, Daddy, please. Please don’t.” Ollie was crying now, little tear tracks staining his cheeks. “I’ll be so good, please don’t send me away. I won’t even ask for ice cream again.”

“Hey, it’s ok,” Harry said, crouching down and wrapping his arms around Ollie. “We’re not sending you anywhere, right, Robards?” He raised his eyebrows at Robards, tightening his hold on Ollie.

“That is strictly against regulation,” Robards replied.

“But we’re doing it anyway,” Harry stated, wiping some of the tears from Ollie’s flushed cheeks.

Robards sighed, glancing up at the ceiling. “The second anyone replies to that story –“

“I’ll bring him in, I promise,” Harry said, tugging Ollie into his arms as he stood up when Ollie refused to let go. Ollie sniffled into Harry’s neck, tears wetting his skin.

Harry left the Auror department quickly, stopping in one of the bathrooms on the floor above to wipe Ollie’s face.

“There, all better,” Harry smiled, tossing the paper towel into the automatically Vanishing rubbish bin.

“You’re really not sending me away, right, Daddy?” Ollie asked softly.

“No way,” Harry smiled. He smoothed Ollie’s hair down. “You’re stuck with me until we find your Papa.”

“Can I still have ice cream?” Ollie sniffled.

“I suppose,” Harry said, tickling Ollie’s stomach to make him smile. “Come on, before it all runs out.”

“It never runs out, Daddy,” Ollie said, smiling and rolling his eyes. “They just make more. Papa said so.”

Ollie was more reserved as they walked into the Ministry atrium than he had been before, clutching onto Harry’s hand tight enough to hurt, and keeping so close to Harry that Harry was concerned he might trip over Ollie’s feet and send them both reeling. Ollie still acknowledged anyone who greeted Harry, but his smiles were more subdued than they’d been when they’d walked into the Ministry together earlier.

Ollie once again insisted that they go to the Weasley’s shop before getting ice cream, stating that “they don’t like ice cream in the shop, Daddy, it can set off the fizzers”, whatever those were.

Harry didn’t often go into the shop, usually only stepping inside to pick up Ron before they headed to the pub. The interior hadn’t changed much since the last time Harry had been in there, shelves piled high with goods, groups of children and teenagers rushing around with their arms full of brightly coloured products. The sight of frazzled parents chasing after their offspring as they attempted to buy the entirety of the stores wares made Harry chuckle. That was, until he glanced down at his own apparent temporary offspring, who had somehow managed to disappear in the thirty seconds they’d been inside the store.

“Oh fuck,” Harry muttered, jogging through the aisles. Robards would bloody murder him if he lost Ollie now, after he’d been so insistent about taking him home with him.

Harry found Ron before he found Ollie. Ron was standing in the centre of the room, directing new items to fly onto the shelves as soon as the old ones were removed, a ridiculous striped bowtie around his neck.

“Alright there, Harry?” Ron asked, diverting a case of itching powder from its course after a young girl stepped in front of the intended shelf.

“I’ve, uh, lost something,” Harry said.

“What’ve you lost, mate? Don’t suppose you’ve tried Accio?”

“Not sure that’d work,” Harry said. “It’s more of, uh –“

“Daddy,” Ollie cried, his small body hurtling into Harry’s legs at an impressive speed. “Uncle George found me a huge box of animal ex-plo-sives. Can we get them?”

Daddy?” Ron asked, his eyebrows sky-high. “Mate.”

“Look, it’s a little complicated,” Harry said, taking the box of what looked like fireworks from Ollie’s hands. “I’ve sort of become a temporary foster parent.”

“To a child who’s calling you –“

Don’t say it,” Harry hissed. “It sounds even worse when you say it.”

“He looks a bit like you, mate. Also ‘Uncle George’. Really?”

“He knows things, apparently,” Harry said, watching as Ollie ran over to the display of Pygmy Puffs. He hoped Ollie wouldn’t try and slip one in amongst the fireworks. Harry wouldn’t put it past Todd to try and have a go at one of the ridiculous fluffy things if he had it in his sights, and traumatising Ollie wasn’t exactly high on his list of prospective afternoon activities. “I should probably be getting him home.”

“You bringing him to breakfast tomorrow?”

“Sorry, what?” Harry asked, frowning at Ron.

“Mum’s breakfast? You said you’d go ages ago. Mate, she’ll flip if you’re not there.”

“Bollocks,” Harry muttered. “I suppose I will be then, yeah.”

“She’ll probably go a bit mental if you just turn up with a kid, so I’ll tell her in advance. Merlin, she’s going to get all pushy again.”

“Sorry, mate,” Harry smiled sheepishly. “Maybe Ollie’ll be able to hold her off?”

“Daddy, can I get one of the blue ones?” Ollie called, waving his hand in the air. Harry cringed a little at the wide eyed stares he received from the parents closest to them.

“We’ve already got Todd – uh, I mean Bobby – so we don’t need another pet,” Harry said, gently pulling Ollie away from the display.

“You let him rename the bloody Crup?” Ron snorted. “Well, I suppose anything’s an improvement over Todd.”

“Shut up,” Harry said, flicking Ron’s arm.

“Don’t swear, Daddy,” Ollie chastised. “Papa says you and Uncle Ron aren’t allowed to do that in front of me and Rosie.”

“Sorry,” Harry said, ruffling Ollie’s hair. “Ready to go, then?”

“Are you coming to get ice cream, Uncle Ron?” Ollie asked, taking Ron’s hand. “I think they’ve got the bursting bubble-gum flavour that you like.”

“How does he know that?” Ron asked, sounding mildly terrified. “Harry, how does your foster child know what my favourite ice cream flavour is?”

“We always get it, silly,” Ollie said.

“Uncle Ron has to stay here, but we’ll see him and Aunty Hermione for breakfast tomorrow. How does that sound?” Harry knelt before Ollie without realising, straightening his coat.

“Ok,” Ollie smiled. “Bye, Uncle Ron.”

Ron gave a sheepish wave as Harry led Ollie to the counter, handing the money over to George, who looked far less terrified than Ron at the whole situation.

“See you tomorrow, champ,” George said, giving Ollie one of the sweets they kept behind the counter.

“Bye, Uncle George,” Ollie called, putting his little hand in front of his mouth as he ate the sweet.

Despite living close to a decade in the wizarding world, Harry rarely visited Diagon Alley during business hours, preferring to avoid the stares and whispers of the witches and wizards that crowded the space during the day. Consequently, he’d never been to Madame Rosita’s Ice Cream Parlour. He barely had a chance to glance at the ice cream flavours before Ollie was ordering for them both, declaring that they wanted “a rosewater wash in a chocolate cone, and a sherbet fizzer in a spiral cone, please”.

The woman, who Harry suspected was Madame Rosita, smiled at him. “You have a lovely son,” she said.

“Uh, thanks,” Harry said, handing over the money. Merlin, the gossip column in the Prophet was going to have an absolute bloody field day. Harry could already see the headlines: ‘Saviour’s Love Child Returns’, ‘Family Joy for Chosen One’, ‘Potter’s Protégé: the New Chosen Celebrity?’. The papers would be an absolute menace once word got out, which didn’t seem like it would take too long, considering the stares they’d been getting all morning.

“Here you go, Daddy,” Ollie said, holding up the light pink ice cream in the dark cone.

Harry smiled at Ollie and took his hand, thanking Madame Rosita as they walked out. Harry was pleasantly surprised that, from whatever cloud Ollie had rained down from, he seemed to be entirely correct in his knowledge about Harry’s ice cream preferences. He didn’t think he’d ever eaten something so good, the flavours of the ice cream and the cone interacting with each other perfectly. He was so caught up in his ice cream that he barely noticed Ollie’s hand disappear from his grip, the child tearing off down the lane.

“Fuck,” Harry muttered, running after him. Ollie had the benefit of being small enough to run underneath people’s bags and between large groups, meaning he was covering ground ridiculously fast for such a small person. Harry, on the other hand, was hindered by his size, as well as the fact that witches and wizards alike tended to pause what they were doing to watch him go by, like he was a bloody Erumpent loose from a cage or something.

Harry relaxed a beat when the sound of Ollie yelling “Papa” cut through the din. If Ollie had finally found one of his parents, that was good, right? That was who he was supposed to be with, after all. Harry tried to push down the sick twist in his stomach at the thought of saying goodbye to Ollie. The kid had managed to sufficiently grow on him in less than 24 hours.

Harry caught sight of Ollie after pushing past a group of witches tittering on the street corner who had stopped to giggle at Harry’s mere presence. Harry stopped dead in his tracks as he took in the scene. Ollie had come to a stop, his arms around the legs of Draco bloody Malfoy, his ice cream held in the hand of Draco’s mother, who was staring down at Ollie like he was a Boggart. Malfoy looked unsure of what to do with himself, staring wide-eyed at the child clasped firmly to his leg, who was talking a mile a minute, from what Harry could hear.

Harry shook his head and strode forward, not taking his eyes off Ollie.

“Ollie, what are you doing?” Harry asked in a low voice. “You can’t just run off like that.”

“But, Daddy, I found Papa,” Ollie said, smiling up at Harry. “We were looking for him, remember?”

“Ollie, that’s not your Papa,” Harry said, crouching down and attempting to pull Ollie off of Malfoy’s leg.

“Yes it is,” Ollie insisted, grabbing on tighter. “Papa, Daddy hit his head again and doesn’t remember things.”

“Um,” Malfoy said, glancing at Harry. “Yours, I take it?”

“It’s complicated,” Harry replied. “Ollie, come on, we need to go home.”

“We’ve found Papa, we can go home with him now,” Ollie said, his voice hardening. “We can go back to real home, not the London house.” He turned to Malfoy again. “Papa, where’s Cassie? Did you leave her with Aunty ‘Meda and Teddy?”

“Draco,” Narcissa said, still staring at Ollie. “Who is that?”

“He’s mine,” Harry said, despite the technical inaccuracy of the statement. “And we’re going home.”

“No,” Ollie cried. His eyes were filling with tears again.

“Fuck,” Harry swore under his breath. No doubt the interaction would make the front page of the bloody Prophet the next morning.

“Papa, tell him off,” Ollie cried, pressing his face to Malfoy’s leg. “Tell him he’s not allowed to swear.”

“Um,” Malfoy said, staring at Harry. “Potter, what …”

“Ollie,” Harry sighed. “This isn’t your Papa, ok? We’re doing our best to find him, I promise.”

“It is,” Ollie cried. “I told that mean man sitting in your office what he looked like, and that his last name’s Potter.”

“This man’s last name is Malfoy, not Potter,” Harry said softly, rubbing Ollie’s shoulder, trying to calm him down.

No, that’s the name of Grandmother’s house,” Ollie said. “That’s not Papa’s name anymore. Tell him, Grandmother.” Ollie turned to Narcissa.

“Merlin,” she muttered, still staring at Ollie. “Are you sure he’s not yours, Draco?”

“I’m quite sure,” Draco said, his forced chuckle sounding hollow.

“It’s just that … he looks just like you as a boy.” Narcissa bent down until she was eye level with Ollie.

“Mother, my hair’s always been blond,” Malfoy said. “If anything, the child looks like Potter.”

“Not the hair,” Narcissa agreed. “That’s entirely Mr. Potter’s, unfortunately. But everything else is uncanny. Look, even his eyes are quite like yours.” She smiled sweetly at Ollie, who was still yet to let go of Malfoy’s leg, his big eyes shining with tears.

“You’re seeing things that aren’t there, Mother,” Malfoy said.

“Ollie, we’re going,” Harry said in a hard voice.

Please,” Ollie cried. “Please can we go with Papa? I miss him.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, feeling genuinely terrible for Ollie. He was clearly confused and he looked quite scared. He tugged on Ollie’s arm, and this time Ollie let himself be pulled off of Malfoy.

“Please come to Daddy’s London house with us, Papa,” Ollie whispered. “I’m sorry I spilt the potion in your station, I won’t do it again. I tried real hard to clean it up.”

Harry picked Ollie up, turning away from Malfoy and his mother, walking down the alley they were next to in order to apparate straight back to Grimmauld Place. Ollie immediately burst into a fresh round of tears when he took in the surroundings of Harry’s kitchen, sniffling and attempting to wiggle out of Harry’s arms.

“Ollie, I’m sorry,” Harry said, putting him down. “I really am.”

“Why wouldn’t you tell Papa to come with us?” Ollie cried, rubbing his eye with a clenched fist. “Why can’t we go home?”

Harry let him cry, mumbling apologies as he rubbed Ollie’s back. It took a full half hour until Ollie’s sobs had dissolved into sniffles and he pushed Harry’s hand away, trudging up the stairs. Harry watched him go, feeling a large lump in his throat. He had no idea how to help Ollie. Obviously Malfoy wasn’t his bloody father, despite Ollie apparently thinking he was. The idea was, quite frankly, hilarious, and he had no idea where to go from there, or how to make Ollie feel better.

When Harry went upstairs to check on Ollie he wasn’t in the room Harry had set him up in the night before. After checking all the rooms on that floor, Harry went up another flight of stairs, calling out Ollie’s name. He found Ollie in a large room that was mostly filled with boxes of old Black family things that Harry had yet to sort through. Ollie was curled up on the large, dusty bed, Todd lying next to him. He was sniffling slightly into the Crup’s fur, little fists curled in the duvet. Harry sat next to him, smoothing his hair down.

“Daddy, does Papa not love us anymore?” Ollie asked in a small voice. “Is he mad about me spilling the potion?”

Harry felt something inside him break looking at the small boy curled on the bed, thinking he was somehow unloved. It called up uncomfortable memories from Harry’s own childhood when he would sit in the cupboard under the stairs with the door bolted shut from the outside, whispering to himself the things he could do better the next day to make his Aunt and Uncle love him more.

“Your Papa loves you so much,” Harry said. “He just … can’t be here right now.”

“Why not?” Ollie asked, glancing up at Harry. Narcissa had been right; his eyes were almost exactly like Malfoy’s, just a little greener. Even the shape was the same. As were the shape of his lips, now that Harry thought about it. Not that he had extensive knowledge on the shape of Malfoy’s lips.

“Ollie, I need you to be completely honest,” Harry said. “Can you do that?”

“Of course,” Ollie replied. “We don’t tell lies because they might hurt people.”

“Good,” Harry nodded. “Uh, are you absolutely sure that Malfoy is your Papa?”

“He’s not Malfoy,” Ollie said, enunciating the word slowly. He rolled his eyes sharply. “It’s Potter, like me and you and Cassie. I told you, Daddy.”

“Sorry,” Harry said. “So, how is he your Papa if I’m also your Daddy?”

Ollie giggled wetly, wiping his face with the back of his hand. “Papa says that when you get married and you love each other you might try and make a baby with your magic. That’s how you made Cassie.”

“But not you?”

“I don’t remember that. I remember Papa having Cassie in his belly, because she’s only a baby. I’m big, though.”

“Yes, you are,” Harry smiled. “And do you live with Papa in his house?”

“And you,” Ollie insisted. “You and Papa have to share a room, but I don’t have to share with Cassie because she’s just a baby.”

“Ok,” Harry nodded.

“Daddy, could you tell me a story?” Ollie asked. He shuffled from his position pressed against Todd, to be closer to Harry. “Like the one you told me last night?”

Harry agreed, getting comfortable in his position.

They spent the rest of the afternoon there, Harry telling Ollie Muggle fairy tales, before moving on to stories from his own childhood, regaling extremely censored versions of fighting of the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, and of competing in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Ollie was especially entertained by the tale of Harry, Ron, and Hermione riding the dragon out of Gringotts during the war. He’d leapt up, pretending to ride a dragon himself, as Harry laughed.

As he told the stories he watched as every now and again Ollie’s facial expressions would morph into ones that Harry was sure he’d seen on someone’s face before. Now, with Ollie’s added pieces of information, he could identify that he’d seen the expressions on Malfoy’s face during their school years. It was quite unnerving, really. But Malfoy couldn’t actually be Ollie’s father; Ollie was too vibrant, too alive. Harry had never seen Malfoy act like that. There was no way someone like Malfoy could have raised someone like Ollie.

That night, after Harry had tucked Ollie into bed in his far less dusty and crowded room, he pulled out a slip of parchment and wrote a letter to Malfoy.

Malfoy,

I’m not really sure what’s happening with everything, but Ollie’s desperate to see you. I know you probably don’t want to come, but please. He’s under the impression that you’re his father, and he thinks you’ve abandoned him, or some bollocks. He’s bloody miserable. Please, come for a few hours tomorrow afternoon. I’ll put my Floo address at the bottom.

HP

Harry scribbled down his Floo address and tied the parchment to the leg of his owl. He watched it fly off into the night, getting smaller and smaller until it had disappeared from his view completely.

It was late when Harry got a reply, the sound of the owl scratching on the pane of his bedroom window waking him from his tossing and turning.

Potter,

I’ll be there at 3.

DM

Harry smiled, not excited at the prospect of having Malfoy in his house, but wanting to make Ollie happy. And if they played along, he was sure it definitely would.

/ - /

Ollie seemed excited to go to the Burrow the next morning, claiming that he only needed to eat half a slice of toast before they left, despite Harry’s insistence that breakfast would likely be late.

“Nanna always makes lots, Daddy,” Ollie insisted, placing the other half of his toast onto Harry’s plate. “I gotta eat lots of it so she’ll say I’m going to be big and strong.”

And Harry couldn’t really argue with that logic, so he shrunk one of his jumpers down to fit Ollie’s size, and off they went.

Harry supposed he should probably think about going out and buying Ollie some clothes of his own at some point in the near future. After all, Harry had no idea how long he’d be staying. Ollie couldn’t exactly wear the same thing each day for a month, even if Harry cast cleaning charms on the clothes every night. He’d mentioned it to Ollie over breakfast, but Ollie had just insisted he already had a wardrobe full ‘at home’, so Harry didn’t bring it up again. Maybe he’d pay Hermione to go and pick some up for him, if it was going to upset Ollie to go out and buy some.

Ollie was practically bouncing off the walls by the time he and Harry were standing at the Floo, Harry pressing a pinch of Floo powder into Ollie’s outstretched hand.

“Now, the Floo there is very small, so –“

“I know, Daddy,” Ollie rolled his eyes. “Papa always hits his head when he goes through.”

Harry swallowed heavily, unable to separate the idea of Ollie’s father from Malfoy now, after entertaining the possibility last night. The idea hadn’t gotten any less plausible overnight – it didn’t make even a lick of sense – but Harry still pictured it all the same. The mental image of Malfoy in his expensive robes attempting to extricate himself from the Burrow’s tiny Floo made him chuckle, which, in turn put a smile on Ollie’s face. The kid was like a vicious cycle of joy.

Harry didn’t even have to tell Ollie the Floo address for the Burrow, he just threw the powder down and said it himself. Harry shook his head in disbelief, still more than a little unnerved about how much Ollie seemed to know, despite Harry having not met him before he’d turned up on his doorstep. It was completely bloody bizarre.

When Harry came through the Floo in the Burrow he was greeted by the joyous sound of Ollie laughing. He was clasped in Hermione’s arms, babbling on about something Harry couldn’t catch. Ron must have given Hermione a very thorough run down of the turn Harry’s life had taken quite literally overnight, because she didn’t look a smidge out of place, chatting with Ollie like she’d known him all her life. Or his, rather.

“Is Rosie here?” Ollie asked, fiddling with the silver necklace around Hermione’s neck.

“She’s with her Uncle Charlie at the moment,” Hermione smiled. “But she should be back in a few weeks or so.” Harry wondered if Hermione had prepared that excuse ahead of time, or if she’d been thinking on her feet. It had taken Harry a while to put two and two together and guess that Rosie was apparently Ron and Hermione’s daughter, but Hermione had always been smarter than him, anyway.

“Aw, hell. She’s gonna want one now,” Ron said from right next to Harry, making Harry jump. Harry smiled, watching as Ollie said something that made Hermione laugh.

“Wouldn’t be so bad, would it?” Harry asked, raising an eyebrow at Ron.

“I suppose not,” Ron sighed. “You seem to be dealing with it quite well.”

“Haven’t really stopped to think about it too much, to be honest,” Harry laughed. “I’m sure it’ll hit me soon that I’ve somehow spontaneously acquired a child.”

“I still think he looks like you,” Ron chuckled. His face was soft as he watched Hermione and Ollie chat to each other, laughing and smiling.

“Nah, he looks like –“ Harry cut himself off, his eyes widening. There was no way in hell he was telling Ron about what happened with Malfoy. He’d find out from the Prophet within a day, no doubt, but Harry was going to do all he could to live in peace for another few hours.

Ron raised an eyebrow at him.

“Never mind,” Harry muttered.

Thankfully, Ron was distracted by Mrs. Weasley’s loud squeal as she walked into the room.

“Nanna,” Ollie cried, holding out his arms for Mrs. Weasley to take him from Hermione.

Mrs. Weasley looked like she was visibly tearing up from the name, and she started immediately fussing over Ollie.

“Merlin,” Ron muttered. “She’ll never let you leave now, mate.”

“Thanks for giving everyone the heads up,” Harry said, watching as Mrs. Weasley ushered Ollie into the kitchen. “He might’ve had a meltdown if nobody here recognised him.”

“I, uh, heard about Malfoy,” Ron said, pulling an odd face.

“Oh, bollocks,” Harry muttered. “Is it in the Prophet already, then?”

“The front page,” Hermione said, coming up to hug Harry. “There’s a bunch of pictures of you two, and some with Ollie and Malfoy.”

“Malfoy’ll love that,” Harry said sarcastically. “At least his actual parents might report him missing faster if they see him splashed across the bloody front page.”

“How can someone not have asked for him back yet?” Hermione hissed, keeping her voice low. “It’s bizarre.”

“Maybe they’re barmy,” Ron shrugged. “You never know.”

“Well, he’s not,” Harry said, nodding to where Ollie was standing on a small stool, helping Mrs. Weasley at the stove. He had a tiny pink apron on that went down past his knees. “I might be a bit barmy though. I invited Malfoy over this afternoon.”

“You what?” Ron cried.

“Ollie thinks he’s his father. Went round the bend a bit about it, actually.”

“Oh, the poor thing,” Hermione said, looking sad. “It must be horrible to think someone’s your parent, only to have everyone else insisting they’re not.”

“Hence my invitation.” The three of them watched as Mrs. Weasley pointed something out in one of the pans and Ollie screwed his nose up, looking disgusted, before bursting into laughter.

“Blimey,” Ron said. “He looks just bloody like –“

Don’t say it,” Harry sighed. “Trust me, I know. Since Malfoy’s mum pointed it out I haven’t been able to stop comparing them.”

“Not the smile, though,” Hermione said. “That’s all you.” Hermione looked thoughtful, tapping her chin. “I’ll do some research, see if I can make some kind of sense out of all this.”

“Thanks,” Harry said. Their conversation was cut off by George bursting into the room. He moved into the kitchen, kissing his mother on the cheek, and ruffling Ollie’s hair.

“Ginny can’t make it,” George said. “Something Quidditch related.”

“No bother,” Mrs. Weasley said, transferring something from one of the pans to a large plate. “We’ve got an extra mouth right here, after all. Fantastic kitchen helper, too.” Ollie absolutely preened at the praise, giving Mrs. Weasley a large smile which flashed his missing teeth. “To the table, everyone.”

Harry sat Ollie on his left, at the corner of the table between him and Mrs. Weasley, who was in the process of piling Ollie’s plate high with every conceivable food on the table. That was something else Ollie had been right about, then.

“Daddy, no,” Ollie cried when Harry reached for a plate of bread rolls. “You didn’t wash your hands yet. You might still have Floo powder on them.”

Harry looked at him, blinking for a moment, before reluctantly getting up from the table and heading to the kitchen sink.

“Blimey,” Ron muttered, his eyes wide.

George snorted into his plate, getting a smack around the back of the head from Mrs. Weasley in return.

“Quite a sensible boy you’ve got there,” Mrs. Weasley said, smiling fondly at Ollie.

“He’s clearly not got that from Harry then,” Ron said, looking down at his plate when his mum shot him a glare.

“Papa insists on cleanliness at the dinner table,” Ollie said seriously, nodding as he bit into a roll.

“Mate, I don’t know how you’ve done it, but that’s definitely Malfoy’s kid,” Ron said through a mouthful. Hermione snorted into her hand when Ollie shot Ron a glare, tapping his lips with a finger and raising an eyebrow. “Sorry, Ollie,” Ron said sheepishly, making George and his mother smirk at his tone.

Ollie didn’t want to leave after breakfast, pleading with Harry to stay so he could set off some of the store’s tester products George had brought with him. Harry relented, sitting on the grass with Ron and drinking a bottle of Muggle beer as they watched George and Ollie pass some kind of stink bomb/bouncy ball contraption between them.

When Ollie fell over and got a bit of mud on his hands Harry was up in a second, charming Ollie’s hands clean and checking to see if he was ok. Ollie had actually rolled his eyes at him, the little sod, and had gone back to playing without a second glance, but Ron found it far more amusing.

“Mate, you’re an actual dad,” Ron laughed, taking a sip of his beer.

“I know,” Harry sighed. “Merlin, it’s going to be terrible when he leaves.”

If he leaves,” Ron said.

“Of course he’ll be leaving,” Harry said, a hint of anxiety creeping into his tone. “He’s got parents, Ron. They’ll want him back at some point.”

“Yes, why don’t you go ask Malfoy if he wants to take his kid back yet?”

“Oh, bugger off,” Harry laughed, clinking his beer bottle against Ron’s as they watched Ollie chase George around the garden. George’s face looked more alive than Harry had seen it since that awful day at Hogwarts two year before. It was nice to see it back.

“If he does leave, at least you won’t be the only one who misses him,” Ron said, smiling softly at Harry.

Harry tried to return the smile, but he didn’t want to think about Ollie leaving at all. It was going to hurt worse than a Blast-Ended Skrewt to the face, there was no doubt about it.

/ - /

Harry didn’t tell Ollie that Malfoy was coming. Even though he’d agreed to the meeting, there was a part of Harry that still didn’t expect him to show up at the promised time. A large part, actually. So large that when Harry’s Floo chimed at exactly three o’clock, Harry nearly drew his wand, about to go on the defensive. When Malfoy’s blond head stepped out of the green flames Harry let out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding.

“Potter,” Malfoy said, nodding at Harry. “Alright?”

Harry opened his mouth to answer, but was practically knocked over by Ollie streaming past.

Papa,” Ollie cried, hugging Malfoy. “You’re here!”

“Uh, I’m here,” Malfoy said, clearly unable to keep the smile off his face. It was a little hard to, when Ollie was that overjoyed by something you’d done. Harry would know, after all.

“Where have you been?” Ollie said, crossing his arms over his chest and frowning dramatically. “Daddy’s forgotten how to make eggs while you’ve been gone.”

“Oh, has he now?” Malfoy said, shooting a smirk at Harry. “He sounds a bit hopeless, doesn’t he?”

“We went to Nanna’s yesterday and Uncle George gave me more animal fireworks. Daddy said we can set them off in the backyard.”

“Sounds thrilling,” Malfoy said in his aristocratic drawl. “Could you show me how?”

“Daddy does it best,” Ollie said, turning to Harry. “Can we, Daddy?”

“Sure,” Harry shrugged.

Ollie led Malfoy to the back garden, showing him the box of fireworks. Ollie was apparently under the impression that Harry knew how to set off the fireworks. In reality, Harry had never even seen this sort before. There was nothing to light to get them started, they were just little balls in different colours.

“Uh,” Harry said, staring into the box and eyeing up the brightly coloured balls distrustfully. “Want to have first go, Malfoy?”

“That’s not his name, Daddy,” Ollie sighed, raising his eyebrows. Harry might have laughed at how utterly hysterical it was seeing such adult expressions on such a small person’s face, but Ollie looked deadly serious about it all.

“Uh, it’s not?” Malfoy asked, raising an eyebrow at Harry. “What is my name then?”

“Daddy calls you ‘love’, or sometimes ‘dear’ when you do something silly,” Ollie said, as if that answered the question.

“Well I’m not bloody calling him that,” Harry snorted.

“You’d better bloody not,” Malfoy said, his voice a little shrill. “Does ‘Draco’ work then, if Ollie’s agreeable?”

Harry glanced over at Ollie, who nodded. “Ok then, uh, Draco.” The word sounded a little odd on his tongue, and Harry found himself wanting to say it a few more times to test it out.

“Lovely, Potter,” Malfoy smirked. “What? That’s his name,” he said to Ollie, who rolled his eyes.

“Merlin,” Ollie muttered, and Harry snorted with laughter at the exasperation in his little voice.

“Right, shall we set these off then?” Malfoy asked, rolling up the sleeves on his shirt. “Which colour first?”

“Green,” Ollie cried, holding up one of the green balls. “It’s both of our favourites.”

“That it is,” Malfoy said, smiling at Ollie as he took the ball.

He levitated it a good distance away before shooting a charm at it, igniting it in a shower of green. Harry gasped as the little ball exploded with colour, throwing glittering sparks into the air around it. A small unicorn made out of green sparkles stepped forward, tossing its head and galloping around the garden, before exploding in a magical shower.

“Do the yellow one next, Papa,” Ollie cried, tossing a yellow ball to Malfoy, who ignited it in much the same way. This time, a small bear made itself known, tipping its head back to roar, before bursting into twinkling stands of light.

Ollie laughed and clapped his hands, begging Malfoy to light them in the air. Malfoy started showing off, levitating a handful of balls in the air before igniting them all at the same time. A burst of different colours filled the backyard, a host of different animals moving through their air above their heads. Harry gazed up at the glittering animals as they moved around each other effortlessly, never once colliding. Harry watched as the bursts of colour threw light onto Ollie and Malfoy, the colours glinting especially brightly off of Malfoy’s blond head. Harry’s breath caught in his throat when they both turned around, their eyes following a red dragon that was twirling its way through the sky. Their faces showed identical expressions of wonder as they watched, but what surprised Harry was how alike they looked now that they were both in the same space. The resemblance was impossible to deny with them standing next to each other in front of Harry, faces twisted into the same masks of joy and amusement. Malfoy’s mother had been right; every one of Ollie’s features, bar his hair and his wide smile, could be seen mirrored on Malfoy’s face, utterly unchanged. The cuts of their jaws, the shape of their lips, and the line of their eyebrows were exactly the same as each other, copied onto their separate faces as they gazed up at the fireworks.

“Blimey,” Harry muttered. He went red when Malfoy met his eyes, raising his eyebrows as if to ask why Harry was staring at him. Harry turned his attention back to Ollie, who was shoving a little purple ball at Harry, asking him to take a turn in setting it off.

Harry shook his head from side to side, clearing it, before taking the ball from Ollie and tossing it into the air, igniting it above their heads.

/ - /

Ollie begged for Malfoy to stay for dinner, pleading with him not to go and for Harry not to send him away. Harry agreed that Malfoy could stay, but he regretted it as soon as the words had left his mouth. Cooking for Draco Malfoy wasn’t exactly at the top of his list of wants at the current time. He could certainly do without the snide remarks and comparisons between Harry and a house elf, thanks. He was surprised Malfoy hadn’t mentioned the lack of house elf in the Black family estate yet, but Malfoy hadn’t even seemed to notice. Not that Harry would have wanted Kreacher in the house with Malfoy in it, anyway. The little bastard would probably start sucking up to Malfoy, given his Black heritage. Harry would never hear the end of it.

“Come see Bobby, he’s in my room,” Ollie said, tugging Malfoy out of the room and up the stairs.

Harry sighed and started to get out the ingredients for dinner, thankful he’d had the foresight to use a wizarding food delivery service rather than attempt to go out and buy everything himself. He’d have been mobbed to all hell, what with the Prophet article, and they’d have likely ended up eating Indian takeaway from the place on the corner, and Harry didn’t think Malfoy would have been able to hold his tongue if Harry had served him that.

Harry put thoughts of Malfoy out of his mind as he set about cooking, slicing vegetables and frying the bits of chicken in a pan. Stir-fry was probably a little lowbrow for Malfoy, but Harry didn’t much care at that point. Besides, his stir-fry was always delicious. If Malfoy had something to complain about then it would be solely because of his snobbery, not because there was anything valid to pick at.

As he tossed the noodles into the pan with everything else he could hear Ollie’s raucous laughter coming from the upper level. Harry was glad he’d been having a good time with Malfoy, and was thankful that Malfoy had mostly played along. He hadn’t stopped calling Harry by his last name, despite the glare Ollie shot him every time he did it. Harry supposed it made him feel a bit devious that he could get away with it when Harry couldn’t. Bloody Malfoy.

As Harry took the food off the heat he sent his Patronus upstairs without even thinking, freezing up as soon as he realised. Was it really such a good idea to show ones nemesis their Patronus? Probably bloody not. Not that Malfoy was really Harry’s nemesis anymore. He hadn’t been since maybe sixth year, really. Certainly not after the war, when Malfoy had managed to redeem himself and his mother with what seemed like minimal effort to Harry. Harry supposed he couldn’t continue to hate him after his and his mother’s change of heart at the end of the war, and Malfoy had been rivalling Harry for most upstanding citizen in the two years since. He was probably the one person who’d donated more to the homes for war orphans than Harry had. It was bizarre, really. Didn’t quite fit Harry’s view of Malfoy at all. But, then again, neither did the Malfoy who gave Harry a shy smile when they locked eyes across the pub, or who regularly assisted Hermione in her research, opening up the Manor’s personal library for her perusal whenever she chose. It was those instances that made Harry realise he didn’t really know Malfoy at all. Certainly not like Ollie seemed to, which was just a whole separate can of worms that Harry didn’t even want to touch at the current time, given how utterly ridiculous the entire situation was.

“Looks good, Daddy,” Ollie said smiling as he waltzed in through the door. “Papa loves your stir-fry.”

“Uh, that’s good?” Harry said, it sounding more like a question than a proper reply. He glanced over at Malfoy, who looked confused.

“You’ll want more, Papa,” Ollie said once Malfoy had finished serving himself. “You always go back for seconds.”

Malfoy glanced at Ollie out of the corner of his eye as he put more on his plate.

“Oh, shut it,” Malfoy hissed at Harry, when Harry smirked into his plate. “Like you don’t do exactly what he says as well.”

“Fair point,” Harry conceded.

Ollie watched eagerly as Malfoy took his first bites of the food, his eyes sparkling.

“Merlin,” Malfoy muttered, his eyes wide.

“I told you,” Ollie laughed, clapping his hands together.

“Good?” Harry asked, shooting Malfoy a wink. He choked on a noodle when he realised what he’d done, hiding his red face in the food.

“It’s, um, it’s quite good,” Malfoy said. Harry didn’t have to look up to know he was flustered.

“I told you, Papa,” Ollie said, smirking.

“That you did,” Malfoy said, sounding extremely fond.

Harry sat back and let Malfoy and Ollie chat during dinner, Malfoy mostly questioning him on his interests and his wizarding education thus far.

“Uncle Ron’s teaching me and Rosie until we go to Hogwarts,” Ollie said, sitting up straighter. “He says we can’t do proper spells yet, but Daddy says he’ll teach us how to ride brooms so we can be even better flyers than Auntie Ginny.”

“You’re letting Weasley teach him?” Malfoy asked, incredulous.

I’m not letting Ron do anything,” Harry said, raising his eyebrows.

Malfoy blushed, catching his slip up, and returning to his conversation with Ollie.

You asked Uncle Ron to teach me,” Ollie said, frowning. “You said because there’s not a real school until we go to Hogwarts that I should do it with Rosie.”

I said that?” Malfoy asked, horrified. “Bloody hell, Potter, you’ve corrupted me, apparently.”

“I’m finding it hard to feel apologetic,” Harry laughed.

It was all well and good for the next few minutes, until Ollie dropped a bombshell.

“Am I staying with Grandmother or Nanna this year for your special weekend?” Ollie asked, twirling his fork around one of the solitary noodles left on his plate.

“Special weekend?” Harry asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, your wedding ‘versary. I always stay with Grandmother or Nanna for the weekend.”

Malfoy choked on a noodle, staring at Harry with wide eyes.

“Wedding anniversary?” Harry asked. “Did Uncle Ron tell you to say that?”

“No?” Ollie looked confused. “Are you ok, Papa?”

“Merlin, maybe not,” Malfoy muttered, casting an Aguamenti charm on his empty glass.

“We’re married?” Harry asked, gesturing between Malfoy and himself. “Us?”

“Yep,” Ollie said brightly. “Papa always says your wedding was the best one ever.”

“Christ,” Malfoy muttered into his water. “And I took your last name, if I’m correct? Merlin, I must be genuinely barmy.”

“It’s quite a nice name. Ollie seems to think so,” Harry smirked, revelling in Malfoy’s apparent discomfort. “You carried the children too, apparently.”

Harry couldn’t contain his laughter at Malfoy’s stunned expression, attempting to stifle his laugh with his palm.

“Shut it, Potter,” Malfoy hissed. “Wait, children? As in plural? Have you got a whole bloody army stored in the spare rooms?”

“Isn’t Cassie at Grandmother’s with you?” Ollie asked, frowning. “Where is she then?”

“Uh, she’s with Rosie and Uncle Charlie,” Harry said quickly, remembering what Hermione had said to Ollie earlier. Ollie seemed to accept the excuse easily, though he was a little miffed that he didn’t get to accompany them.

“I like dragons, Daddy,” Ollie said. “They might scare me a little, but I could just watch them from far away. Rosie says she goes right up to them, but I think she’s lying.”

“Your son’s clearly not a Gryffindor then,” Malfoy snorted.

Harry rolled his eyes at the use of ‘son’, knowing Malfoy was just baiting him. “Well he’s certainly not a Slytherin, from what I’ve seen.”

“Lies and slander,” Malfoy said, patting Ollie on the head. “We’ll make a proper Slytherin out of you yet.”

“Papa, you always say I’ll probably be a Hufflepuff like Teddy,” Ollie frowned.

“A Hufflepuff?” Malfoy cried. “Though, I suppose Teddy’s a perfectly lovely child.”

“Damn right,” Harry said, raising an eyebrow at Malfoy. He wondered if his Teddy would also turn out to be a Hufflepuff. It would fit, what with Tonks having been one.

“Papa, do you think you could tell me a story before bed?” Ollie asked.

“Sure,” Malfoy said. “Uh, what kind of stories do I usually tell you?”

“I like the one with the laughing tree.”

The Tales of Beedle the Bard?” Malfoy asked, seeming mildly surprised. “Of course. Those I actually know. I suppose I should leave the Three Brothers out of it?” He directed the last part of Harry, who shot him an exasperated look. “Shall we go now, then? You’re ok to wash up, right, honey?”

“You’re a troll,” Harry muttered, but he stood up to clear the plates all the same. Ollie looked overjoyed, grabbing Malfoy’s hand and tugging him back upstairs, leaving Harry alone in the kitchen.

After Harry washed up he sat at the table drinking a beer, not wanting to interrupt Ollie’s time with who he’d decided was his father. Todd came trotting down the stairs after a bit and curled up on top of Harry’s foot, his fur soft against Harry’s skin. Harry pulled him onto his lap, hugging the Crup close.

“Sorry I haven’t been paying as much attention to you these past few days,” Harry said, stroking the fur on Todd’s head. “It’s been a little chaotic, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. You’ve seemed to like playing with Ollie, though.”

“Talking to your Crup? Really?”

Harry jumped a little in his chair, startling Todd.

“Sorry, Todd,” Harry said, patting his head. “He’s good company, I’ll have you know.”

“I thought his name was Bobby?” Malfoy asked, leaning against the chair opposite Harry.

“That’s what Ollie’s decided his name is. His actual name is Todd. Don’t say anything about the name choice, I’ve already copped enough flak from Ron.”

“And rightly so,” Malfoy smirked. “Not exactly a Crup name, is it? Uh, Ollie wants you to go up and say goodnight. Demanded, really. He’s quite a forceful child, isn’t he?”

“I suppose,” Harry said, moving Todd back to the floor. “Help yourself to a drink, if you like.”

“I best be going,” Malfoy said, straightening his outer robes. “Mother hates being in the Manor alone at night. Says it unnerves her. Can’t say I blame her.”

Harry nodded. “Well, thanks for coming round. I’m sure Ollie appreciated it.”

“Sure, Potter,” Malfoy snorted. “He’s got quite an imagination, what with the marriage, and the extra child, and this whole bloody life that apparently exists.”

“Yeah, I’m trying to just go along with it at this point,” Harry said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Well, owl me if you want to come see him.”

“Won’t his parents be collecting him soon?” Malfoy asked.

“In theory. Nobody has yet, though.”

“Hmm. I suppose I’ll see you at the pub some time, then.”

“See you,” Harry said, giving Malfoy a little wave as he walked towards Harry’s Floo. Harry stayed in the kitchen until he heard the sounds of the flames whisking Malfoy back to Malfoy Manor, before he walked towards the stairs.

Merlin, it had been odd having Malfoy there. He’d expected Malfoy to make a snide remark or two about the outdated Black décor that still permeated every room, or at least make a comment about him being more entitled to the bloody place than Harry, or just something. But Malfoy had been quite polite. Well, as polite as Malfoy could realistically be to Harry.

Harry found himself questioning how he’d ended the night practically offering for Malfoy to stay and chat. That didn’t happen; it wasn’t something they did. Though they might not be overwhelmingly antagonistic to each other anymore, they certainly weren’t friends. Blimey, Malfoy probably thought Harry was mental for even asking. It was just that seeing Malfoy with Ollie, playing with him and chatting and just overall humouring the kid had softened him a bit in Harry’s eyes. It was like all those years of sniping at each other as children was just an exterior that had melted away when Malfoy smiled at Ollie. Harry wasn’t really sure how to feel about that.

Merlin, Harry was probably just getting broody again. He was choosing to blame his sudden change of heart on that, because it was true. Obviously.

He knocked once on Ollie’s door before letting himself in, walking quietly over to the bed just in case Ollie was already asleep. He wasn’t, clearly staying up to wait for Harry.

“Goodnight, Daddy,” Ollie said in a soft voice, his eyes still closed. He looked so small, his face softened at the edges as sleep crept in.

Harry bent down to kiss his cheek briefly, and Ollie smiled in response.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Harry said. “We can do whatever you want tomorrow, so have a think about it.”

“Could we have omelettes in the morning?” Ollie asked, yawning slightly. “Papa really likes them.”

“Papa’s not here anymore, but we can still have them.”

“What?” Ollie shot up to a sitting position, blinking his eyes blearily.

“He went home, Ollie,” Harry said, eyebrows drawing up. “He doesn’t live here.”

“Well he should,” Ollie said, laying back down but turning his back to Harry. “He didn’t say he was going.”

“He must have thought you knew,” Harry said, running a hand over Ollie’s hair in an attempt to soothe him. “I’m sorry, Ollie. He had to go home to his mum.”

“That’s where he lives now?” Ollie asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Harry said. “He won’t be here tomorrow, but we can do anything you want. Absolutely anything, ok?”

“Ok,” Ollie said. “I’d like to go to sleep now.”

“I’ll see you in the morning for omelettes,” Harry said. His stomach felt heavy as he looked at Ollie’s shoulders, now drawn up tight rather than relaxed. He felt a rush of sadness for Ollie, and tried to make sure that Ollie knew Harry wasn’t also about to up and leave. Hopefully that eased some of Ollie’s worries somewhat. “Even though Papa’s not here, I’m not going anywhere, alright? I’ll be just down the hall if you need me.”

“Ok,” Ollie said. “Goodnight, Daddy.”

“Goodnight.”

Harry didn’t want to leave Ollie, sensing his change in emotion. If Ollie was going to cry again, Harry would rather he did it where Harry could comfort him if that’s what he needed.

Harry retreated to his room but didn’t sleep for a long while, ears strained as he listened out for any sounds of distress from Ollie. He heard nothing except the sounds of Todd’s paws tapping on the floorboards downstairs.

/ - /

Harry felt terrible the next morning. God, Ollie thought Malfoy was his dad and he’d just left without telling Ollie he was going. No wonder Ollie had been upset.

Harry groaned and rubbed a hand over his face. He still had no bloody idea what to do. It wasn’t like there was a manual for accidentally taking on a child who seemed to think your own childhood rival was their other parent. None of it made any bloody sense.

“Right,” Harry muttered to himself. “Omelettes. Ok.”

Omelettes seemed like as good a place to start as any.

Harry rushed through his shower and put on his comfiest jeans and jumper, anticipating that Ollie would likely want to spend the rest of the day in the backyard setting off the rest of George’s little animal fireworks.

Ollie’s door was still closed when Harry walked past, so he was probably still asleep. Harry hoped he hadn’t kept himself up all night worrying.

Todd was standing by the Floo when Harry went downstairs, pacing back and forth in front of it.

“Alright, Todd?” Harry asked as he walked past, turning the heat on for the pan before getting out Todd’s food for the day. “Todd, in here, mate.”

Todd scampered in, but kept glancing back towards the Floo. He was probably feeling a bit angsty about it after Malfoy – someone Todd hadn’t met before – had come through it. Harry figured it was probably normal Crup behaviour.

Harry whipped up the omelettes quickly, plating them and putting them under a stasis charm while he went to wake up Ollie. It was odd that he wasn’t awake yet; since he’d arrived he’d beaten Harry by a mile each morning. Usually he’d be up playing with Todd by now and teasing Harry about his sleeping habits.

“Ollie,” Harry called out, knocking on the door to Ollie’s room, before opening it. “I made omelettes.” He frowned at the empty bed. Somehow Ollie had managed to slip past him. Harry checked his own room, before heading to the top floor to look in the bedroom Ollie had hid in a few days beforehand. To Harry’s surprise and mild concern, Ollie wasn’t in there. Harry jogged back to the ground floor, but Ollie wasn’t sitting at the table eating his breakfast, nor was he playing with Todd on the rug in the lounge.

Harry started to move faster, running between rooms as he searched. He worked his way along the floors, checking every room as he called out Ollie’s name in increasingly frantic tones. A sharp bark from Todd sent him sprinting back downstairs.

“Did you find him, Todd?” Harry asked, a little breathless from all the running around.

Todd was sitting underneath one of the kitchen windows where an owl was tapping on the glass.

“Fuck,” Harry muttered. Merlin, it’d be just his luck for Robards to tell him to bring Ollie in on the morning that he’d bloody gone and lost him somehow. “Fuck,” Harry muttered again as he took the letter. He didn’t immediately recognise the handwriting, which sent a wave of relief through him. So not Robards then, thankfully.

Potter,

Ollie’s somehow gotten the Floo address for the Manor, and arrived sometime this morning. I’m sure you’re probably going completely spare, so I’ll leave you the apparation coordinates at the bottom of the parchment so you can come get him. There’s something of interest I’d like to discuss with you while you’re here.

Malfoy (or, I suppose it’s Draco now)

Harry let out a sigh of relief, before it melted into a mix of anger and confusion. How the bloody hell had Ollie got the Floo address for Malfoy Manor? He was insistent that Malfoy didn’t even live there anymore, so there was no bloody reason for him to have the address. And to go there without telling Harry? Harry was more than a little livid, but really sodding relieved that nothing untoward had happened to Ollie. Well, nothing more untoward than just being in Malfoy Manor in the first place, that was.

“Merlin,” Harry groaned, glancing down at his outfit. He couldn’t exactly turn up to the Manor in his comfiest clothes, could he? He didn’t want to start his morning off by having his fashion sense critiqued by Draco and Narcissa Malfoy on top of losing a bloody child.

Harry Accio’d the nicer pair of jeans he was after and quickly changed into them in the kitchen, apologising to Todd all the while. The Crup was no doubt having an off day too, now that he’d seen Harry’s bare thighs to start it off.

Harry studied the apparation coordinates and closed his eyes, whisking himself into the Wiltshire countryside in a matter of seconds. It felt colder there, the frost tipping the grass in a more severe manner than afforded to Harry’s London backyard. Despite the chill, he couldn’t deny that the countryside was beautiful. He’d like to live out there one day, maybe in something like the Burrow, when he had his own children running all over the show and causing havoc. Until then, it seemed like too much of a hassle to move out of Grimmauld Place. No doubt he’d feel even lonelier out in a cottage in the middle of the countryside, all by himself but for Todd, than in his house surrounded by the sights and sounds of London. Merlin, that’d give Ron even more ammunition to tease him about wanting to start a family if he went out and bought a house to fit one.

“Potter,” Malfoy called, and Harry looked up sharply. He’d been too busy admiring the countryside to take in the impressive gates that had opened up to reveal Malfoy Manor. Malfoy himself was currently standing there as he waited for Harry to collect himself, one eyebrow raised quizzically. “Are you just planning to stand there all day?”

“No. I’m coming,” Harry said, jogging to meet him. He fell into step beside Malfoy as they walked down the long drive. “So, uh, how did Ollie –“

“I’d like to have a conversation with you about that,” Malfoy said, staring straight ahead. “Inside, of course. Somewhere more private than at the gates.”

“Right,” Harry said. “He’s ok, though?”

“He’s fine,” Malfoy said. “Having breakfast with Mother, actually. She sent a house elf to wake me when she discovered him in the parlour this morning. Apparently he was having a conversation with the all the house elves, holding court in the kitchens and trying to help them cook.”

“Sounds about right,” Harry laughed. “Sorry about him barging in. I had no idea, obviously.”

“No, I didn’t think you did. You would’ve hardly let him come here by himself.”

“Can you blame me?” Harry asked.

“Not particularly,” Malfoy said after a moment. “But he’s fine, all the same.”

A house elf opened the door for them when they reached it, bowing her head and greeting them quickly.

“Master Potter is in the dining room with Mistress,” the house elf said, gesturing down the wide hallway of the house.

“Master Potter?” Harry said, raising an eyebrow.

“He says it’s his last name,” Malfoy shrugged, starting off down the hall. “Who am I to correct him?”

“It’s just weird to hear it said like that,” Harry mumbled. He kept his eyes straight ahead, not wanting to glance into any of the rooms, lest he be assaulted by unwelcome memories. Thankfully, the Malfoy’s seemed to have redecorated since the end of the war, and the house appeared overall more bright and airy than it had the one other unfortunate time Harry had been there. Although, that could just be the current lack of Death Eaters and megalomaniac snake men inside the walls, together with the lack of him fearing for his safety, unlike the last time.

“Daddy, you’re here,” Ollie cried gleefully when Harry stepped into the large dining room, smiling widely at him from his position seated at the long table. The room had large windows and was lit with a number of hovering chandeliers, giving it an almost ballroom atmosphere.

“Ollie, why did you run off like that?” Harry asked, rushing over. “I was so bloody worried when I couldn’t find you. Todd was going a bit spare.”

“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Ollie said, looking down at his mostly empty plate. “I wanted to show you that we could still live with Papa. I tried to bring Bobby with me, but he didn’t like the Floo.”

“That’s the Crup,” Harry heard Malfoy say to his mother.

“Don’t do it again,” Harry said, stepping forwards to pull Ollie into a tight hug, which he returned easily. “Merlin, I just about tore the house apart.”

“I’m sorry,” Ollie said in a small voice.

“It’s ok. You’re safe, that’s what matters.” Harry smiled at him and ruffled his hair. He snorted when he noticed the little napkin spread primly over Ollie’s lap, raising an eyebrow at Malfoy.

“He insisted on the napkin himself. Claimed it would please Mother,” Malfoy explained, mouth quirking into a smile.

“He’s a lovely child,” Narcissa said, sipping on a cup of tea. “Knows all the right cutlery to use with each dish. His parents have obviously raised him well.”

“Papa taught me all that,” Ollie said proudly, delicately sipping from his own cup of tea.

“Well it certainly wouldn’t have been your Daddy who taught you that,” Malfoy snorted. He widened his eyes and blushed a little when Harry smirked at him.

“Sorry, what was that you called me?” Harry asked.

“Anyway, I need to speak with you about something of interest,” Malfoy said, his cheeks flushed red. “Care to join me in my study?”

“Sure,” Harry said, smiling at Ollie. “I’ll be right back, ok?”

“It’s ok, Daddy. I’m having a lovely breakfast with Grandmother.”

Narcissa smiled warmly at Ollie, who returned the expression.

“Merlin, this is odd,” Malfoy muttered from next to Harry.

“Agreed. Shall we?”

“Through here.”

Malfoy led Harry down a hall and through a set of heavy double doors into his study. Shelves of books lined the walls, a heavy looking desk sitting in the centre of the room. Harry sat down on the sofa against one of the walls. As soon as Malfoy had closed the door, he turned to Harry and began to speak.

“Something’s not right here.”

“About what in particular,” Harry said. “Because there’s an awful lot that’s not right.”

“Ollie turned up here this morning.”

“Yes, I’m aware of that.”

“Potter, he shouldn’t have been able to. It’s not possible.”

“He probably heard you say your address when you left through the Floo yesterday,” Harry said. “Maybe he was crouching at the top of the stairs, or something. I think he gets a bit obsessive.”

“Him having the address isn’t the odd part I’m referring to, Potter,” Malfoy said, pacing the floor in front of Harry. He still looked slightly softened, like he’d only recently woken up and hadn’t properly steeled himself for the day yet. Harry found he liked it, though he had no bloody idea why. Or why he was even thinking the thoughts in the first place, Merlin.

“Then, uh, what’s the odd part?” Harry asked, shaking himself from the thoughts about Malfoy looking appealing to him. Bloody hell.

“During the war lots of, uh, unsavoury people had access to our Floo connection, so after the war was over Mother and I changed it so that only the people on a small, pre-approved list could access the Floo. That’s why I gave you the apparation coordinates for the Manor, rather than the Floo address.”

“So?” Harry asked.

“Merlin, Potter, have you not woken up yet? Ollie’s not on that list because I didn’t know he bloody existed up until a few days ago. Mother didn’t put him on it for some reason; I already checked.”

“So he was able to break through your Floo?” Harry asked. “Is he strong enough to do that?”

“You can’t do that,” Malfoy said, sounding exasperated. “That’s not how the Floo network works. Merlin, Potter, I thought you were supposed to be an Auror. There’s only one exception to being able to access the Floo without being on the list.”

“Stop being so bloody cryptic and just tell me,” Harry cried, throwing his hands in the air.

“We’re operating on the assumption that Ollie’s a lost wizarding child who’s latched himself on to you as some sort of hero worship thing, right?” Malfoy asked. He stopped pacing and flopped gracefully onto the sofa next to Harry. “And you’re expecting his real parents to – at some point – come and collect him from you.”

“Correct,” Harry said. “It’s not like there’s any other explanation.”

“Oh, but there is,” Malfoy said, leaning forward, eyes twinkling. “It’s absolutely bloody bonkers, of course, but when are things not, when there’s magic involved? The only way someone could get through the blocks on the Manor’s Floo is if they’re on the list, or if they’re directly blood related to either Mother or myself.”

“You do realise you’re not actually Ollie’s father, right?” Harry said. “I don’t know why he’s picked you as the other parent, but I think I’d remember if I’d had a child with someone. I’d have remembered sleeping with you, if we’d done that.”

“It’s not an experience you would forget,” Malfoy said, smirking. “Anyway, it fits. Ollie was able to come through the warded Floo, he says we’re his parents, he looks bloody identical to me as a child, bar the ridiculously messy hair – which is a carbon copy of yours, by the way. It fits.”

“It doesn’t fit,” Harry said. “Once again, I’d remember sleeping with you. And if he’s both of ours, then one of us would have had to have been pregnant, and I certainly haven’t been. Not to mention we both would have been in fifth year when he was born.”

“Ah, but were we?” Malfoy said. He sunk back against the back of the couch and crossed his arms behind his head, looking quite pleased with himself.

“Yes, we would have been. He’s five.”

“He told me an odd story when I was at your house yesterday,” Malfoy said in his slow drawl. “I didn’t think much of it before he turned up here. He apologised for spilling a potion. Apparently, I’d let him play around with a few harmless ingredients in his own cauldron while I made ‘grown up’ potions.” Harry couldn’t supress his snort at Malfoy’s air quotes. “He then said he followed you into a room owned by Hermione that housed a lot of objects that he wasn’t allowed to touch, trying to ask you to clean off his hands so I wouldn’t get frustrated that he’d spilled his potion on himself.”

“He told me he tripped over and then ended up on my street,” Harry said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees, chin on his clasped hands. “It’s not exactly a realistic story.”

“I’m getting there. He said he lost you in the room and ended up tripping over and catching himself on something. Then he opened his eyes and was near your house.”

“What are you saying?” Harry asked. “That he’s apparated himself, or something? He’s not exactly old enough, not to mention his lack of a wand.”

“Actually, I think he’s accidentally done something that’s a fair bit more complicated than that,” Malfoy said. “I also think we’re going to need Hermione’s assistance. Not only was it apparently her room that he was in, but she’ll have better knowledge of cursed objects.”

“You think he touched a cursed object?”

“I don’t know. But I think he touched something and somehow managed to bend either space or time.”

Harry snorted. “That’s not something you can do.”

“Isn’t it? I know Time Turner’s exist. If you can use that to go back in time, and you can use your own magic to apparate yourself around the country, then who’s to say there’s not an object out there that can do those things on a larger scale?”

“Blimey,” Harry muttered. “What are you saying? You reckon he’s actually ours? Well, not ours, per se, but still.” Harry swallowed heavily, allowing himself to properly turn the idea over in his mind.

“If he’s not, then there’s a married couple out there that looks remarkably like us and is somehow directly blood related to me.”

“Don’t forget the mannerisms. You’d have to have had a hand in bringing him up; I certainly haven’t raised a child that walks down the street like he’s strutting through a bloody Ministry gala,” Harry snorted. “God, that’s a weird thought.”

“What, us being married?” Malfoy smirked. “I suppose it is. Can’t tell you I ever really pictured it myself.”

“So, what do we do now?” Harry asked. “I suppose we’ll have to find some way to get Ollie back to wherever he’s from, right? If that’s what’s happened.”

“You don’t sound very excited.”

“I’m not, really. I like having him around.”

“He’s grown on me, too,” Malfoy said, smiling slightly. “I’ll owl Hermione, fill her in on the details. I could be miles off, mind you. Someone could come forward asking for him back tomorrow.”

“Actually, I think you’re right. Don’t give me that look, you’ll not be hearing those words often. I’ve only known Ollie for a handful of days, but he feels ... he feels like mine,” Harry said. “Merlin, that sounds completely barmy.”

“I agree with you,” Malfoy said, nodding. “There’s a connection, of sorts. It would make sense, if he truly is ours, however bloody mental that may be.”

“You’ll be coming to see him, then,” Harry said, standing up.

“What?”

“You’ll be coming to see him. If you’re his father, than you’ll be spending time with him.”

“I, uh, I suppose so,” Malfoy said. “I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of it all, to be honest. I suppose he’ll need it, won’t he?”

“Tomorrow. Come round tomorrow, if you’re not busy. He’ll miss you, otherwise.”

“Alright,” Malfoy said. “I’ll come round for dinner. You cooked last, so I’ll bring something with me. We’ll do something as … uh …”

“As a family,” Harry said. And he hated how those words sent a bolt of warmth through his chest. Merlin, Malfoy wasn’t family. God, temporary parenthood was making him go round the bend.

“Sure,” Malfoy said. “I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow then, Harry.”

Harry raised his eyebrows at Malfoy’s use of his first name, but let it go. As he walked out of the study, he glanced back. Malfoy was still watching him, face unreadable. Harry didn’t try to decipher his expression, instead just closing the door behind him as he left.

When he walked back into the dining room alone, it was empty. He moved down the hallway and towards one of the sitting rooms, hearing Ollie’s loud laughter filtering through the airy space. In the sitting room, Ollie was on the floor leaning back against a small coffee table and facing Narcissa, who had a photo album on her lap facing outwards. She was gesturing to one of the photos Harry couldn’t see, telling him a story that related to it.

Harry felt a rush of affection looking at Ollie. It seemed different now that Malfoy raised the very real possibility that Ollie was – somehow – his. It was completely mental, but Harry couldn’t deny that it felt right in a way he hadn’t experienced before. As he watched the child, he seemed to see more of both himself and Malfoy in him, in the way his face moved and how he spoke, his enunciation of words. Harry didn’t know how it hadn’t been obvious to him before.

“And there’s your Papa riding his first broom,” Narcissa said, pointing at one of the photos.

“I can’t ride a broom yet,” Ollie said. “Daddy said he’d teach me, but he’s been busy catching bad guys.”

“I’m sure he’d teach you now,” Narcissa replied, glancing up at where Harry was standing.

“We can today, if you like,” Harry spoke up, walking towards Ollie.

“Look, Daddy, Papa looks like me,” Ollie said, tapping a photo of a young Malfoy in what looked to be the gardens of the Manor, surrounded by flowers.

“That he does,” Harry nodded. “Are you ready to get going?”

“Ok,” Ollie said, getting to his feet.

Harry bid Narcissa goodbye, watching as Ollie walked over to hug her, being careful not to rumple her robes.

“Goodbye, Grandmother,” Ollie called, before following Harry over to the Floo.

“You first,” Harry said, handing his son – fuck, Ollie might actually be his son – a pinch of Floo powder. He didn’t have to remind Ollie of the address, and he smiled slightly as he watched him disappear through the Floo. “Thank you,” he said to Narcissa, who smiled in response.

“He’s welcome anytime,” she said, glancing down at the photo album in her lap. “He reminds me of Draco, when he was young.”

Harry smiled at that, though he wasn’t sure he believed it. Sure, Ollie looked like Malfoy, but his personality was completely different. It wasn’t like Harry’s, per se, but it definitely wasn’t like what Malfoy’s had been at age eleven, when Harry first met him. But, then again, the adult Malfoy wasn’t much like what Harry had thought he was either.

Harry shook his head at himself and clasped the Floo powder tightly in his hand, throwing it and stepping into the flames it conjured, materialising into Grimmauld Place and setting his eyes on the boy that might genuinely be the son that he shared with Malfoy, however farfetched it seemed.