"It's still your move, Harry," Draco Malfoy drawled into the very large sheaf of papers in his left hand. He was leafing through some reports he'd brought home from work, checking boxes and sorting the sheets into piles, with one eye regarding the chess game between them. It was all Harry could do not to roll his eyes.
"I'm still thinking," he muttered, debating between sending his rook or his knight to be slain by Draco's belligerent and possible slightly insane bishop. He decided on the knight, and winced as the bishop's staff collided with it.
"Really? Because that didn't seem to reflect much thought at all," Draco observed mildly. "Also, checkmate."
Harry scowled, but shook his head and leaned back into the armchair in which he was seated, in the third floor sitting room of Malfoy Manor. They'd been playing chess together for almost fifteen years now, but Draco could still beat Harry with half his attention on work. He couldn't even claim the boards at Malfoy Manor were rigged. They'd played on every chessboard in this house, the Potter household, and even on the concrete park boards outside St. Mungo's during their lunches and breaks from healer's duties.
"Sometimes, I fondly remember you bouncing around as an elastic ferret," Harry replied, getting up to look out the window. From this high up he could see most of Malfoy Manor's grounds, sprawling out in a sea of green under the summer sky. Perfectly manicured and dotted with well-groomed topiary sculptures, it was also, presently, full of teenagers.
Harry could pick two of his own children out of the fray, seeking for opposite teams. The kids had started up and inter-house quidditch game, roughly divided into Slytherin & Ravenclaw against Gryffindor & Hufflepuff. He looked a bit further out, where Lily was in front of the furthermost set of goalposts. She was the youngest on a broom— the only one younger was ten year old Hugo,who was on the sidelines snapping pictures with an old camera Grandpa Arthur had given him for his birthday— and though she wouldn't be sorted for another week and a half, she had taken her place in front of the Gryffin-Puff goal. Her long red hair swayed slightly as she bobbed from left to right in front of the center hoop— the absolute picture of Ginny.
Even 23 years after his last real quidditch game— excepting the odd charity match and family games— Harry eyes flicked immediately to a flash of gold as it passed behind the goals. Less than a second later two bodies came into view, streaking after the snitch like bullets.
Albus was edging ahead of James, smaller and thinner by enough to give him a slight advantage speed-wise. His bright red hair was slicked back against his head, glasses digging into his nose, hand clenched around a vintage firebolt in a white-knuckled grip. The broom had been a present from the Weasley family when Harry had finished his healer's certification, and it had been passed down to each of the boys in turn. James had given it up almost four years ago for a new broomstick, leaving it to Albus, who had flown on it ever since like an extension of his own body.
But James wasn't far behind. He was the Gryffindor seeker, hopefully for the second year running, and sometimes it seemed to Harry like the boy spent most of his time thinking about, talking about, and playing quidditch. As James got closer and closer to OWLs— he was going into his fifth year in the fall— this tendency was increasingly distressing, but he knew James would do well even if he, Ginny, Hermione, and Nana Molly weren't sending him a constant stream of letters reminding him to study properly. He and Albus were both brilliant, all three of Harry's children were brighter than he'd ever been at Hogwarts, for all James would rather spend his time on the pitch than in the library.
And the time he's spent practicing has gone to good use, Harry thought as his eldest son barrel rolled in the air, spinning to the left as the snitch dove in a new direction. He was almost caught up to Albus now, and would be able to use his longer reach to crowd his brother out for the snitch. Almost out of thin air a tumbling mass hurtled toward them, forcing James to swerve left, away from the snitch. Scorpius Malfoy quickly righted himself, a look of savage triumph on a face that was almost an exact replica of Draco's at that age. Albus had ducked to avoid his teammate and best friend's fake-out— Harry had watched them practice this move for hours with Rosie in the yard all summer— and was still ht on the snitch's trail almost at the edge of the property. An unlikely band of three, Rosie, Albus, and Scorpius had been inseparable since they'd been sorted into Slytherin two years earlier. They had, admittedly, grown up together, so it had been less shocking to Harry than any of the others when the three most mischievous and clever of their collective children had all joined the trickiest of the Hogwarts houses, even if one was a Potter, and one a Weasley. When they'd made the quidditch team last year, it had been another excuse for the three of them to be joined at the hip all summer, as well as during the school year.
Not that they'd really needed and excuse. Harry had always been part of the Weasley family for all practical purposes, even before he'd married Ginny and thrown his children into the extended Weasley clan. And Albus and Scorpius had been born on the same day after all, joining the Malfoys and Potters together since that Halloween night thirteen years ago and making the boys as good as cousins; Scorpius his godson and Albus, Draco's. James, Albus, Scorpius, Rose and Hugo had been partners in toddler crime for years. When the time to go off to Hogwarts came around— and Albus and Scorpius had outgrown the inevitable stage when girls where grossed, even if they were cousins— it had been a very small jump back to old times, poking their noses in where they shouldn't be and wreaking general havoc. The passage of time had soothed Ron's general apoplexy at not only having his daughter in Slytherin, but consciously and intentionally choosing to spend her time with Malfoy junior, but it was sometimes still odd to see a near duplicate of young Draco Malfoy running around the Burrow.
Malfoy senior swore under his breath in the corner, diverting Harry's attention from the gameplay. Draco's face was contorted into an expression of pain reserved for apprentices behaving their most idiotic in the psychological trauma ward, and when his children damaged something expensive or worse-- irreplaceable.
Harry grinned slightly, and turned back to the window. For all he complained that running the entire ward was giving him psychological trauma, Harry knew Draco loved his staff and the work. As Draco slashed his quill savagely across a paper, he mentally amended, well, at least the work.
Out on the grass, gameplay was getting heated. According to Hugo's large whiteboard, the Slytherin-Ravenclaw team was up 30 points. They also had possesion of the quaffle, though Harry predicted that would soon change. Both Luna's boys were visiting before they went up to Hogwarts with the younger kids in a week, and had also joined the game. The twins would be starting work at Hogwarts as assistant Charms professors to replace Flitwick, who would be retiring at the end of the year, but right now Hieronymus was aiming a bludger at Seymour, who was chasing for the Slytherin-Ravenclaw side. He didn't even look backward as he swerved away from the bludger, but Halycon Wood flew up alongside and shoved him hard enough to drop the quaffle right to her Godric.
The quaffle wasn't with the Gryffindor-Hufflepuffs for long; Rosie intercepted a bid for center hoop and took off on a bewilderingly fast circuit of the pitch. She hurled the ball toward right hoop. With all the force she could muster in her small frame Lily flung her arms at the quaffle, stretching as far as she could reach to the right and bringing her broom, along with the rest of her body, there after she'd caught it. Harry felt a surge of pride for his daughter, but it withered a moment later. Lily tossed the quaffle back into play, and directly into the waiting hands of Scorpius Malfoy, who shot it straight into the left hoop. Her ears flushed red with anger and embarrassment.
"You'll have to talk to her about making careless mistakes like that during a game. She gets too far ahead of herself out there, and she can't do things like that if she wants to play for Gryffindor this year. Draco intoned quietly. Harry had been so engrossed that he hadn't heard the other man come up to the window— one reason he'd stopped being an auror, among many— and was a little surprised at the comment.
"Lily's only going to be a first year." Harry pointed out, watching the pitch as his sons made opposite circles overhead, looking for the snitch.
"She's good enough to make the team. They'll want her. The Wood girl's practically drooling out there, and she just needs to mature a little in her technique. Growing up in a family with more broomsticks than sense has given her a solid foundation, and a good bit of flair that can't be taught."
Harry looked at his friend, an odd smile quirking his mouth at the left corner. Sometimes, both Malfoys surprised him, junior and senior.
"Ginny'll be thrilled we haven't raised another seeker," he chuckled.
"Speak of a boggart..." Draco interrupted, looking out the window again. Harry followed his gaze toward the two blurs spinning wildly through the field. Albus and James were matching each other move for more, weaving and ducking through the middle of play. Harry gripped the windowsill involuntarily as they both shot straight into the air, only three feet behind the golden snitch. Before he even saw the snitch change direction, he knew what was about to happen.
He knew both boys were stubborn enough to do it— he didn't know how many times he'd argued with one or both of them over bed times and broomstick privileges and whose turn it was to feed the cat— and that they both had a reckless streak wide enough to carry them into trouble, so it was inevitable that they would both dive headfirst after the snitch. Within moments, however, it was clear that Albus would be the first to grab it. He shoved hard to the right, knocking James unsteady enough to cement the younger boy's advantage. He flipped his broom backwards and into a tighter corkscrew dive and was gaining on the ball, just inches from its glittering surface. Albus leaned forward and wrapped his hand around it, swung wide out of the dive and held the snitch aloft with a crooked grin.
Seymour tackled him when they reached the ground, spinning Albus in circles and probably quoting something Shakespearean about victory in battle, nearly flinging Albus's glasses off his nose. Harry saw Lily had flown down to clap her eldest brother on the shoulder. He ruffled her hair, the simmering anger on his face melting away as Lily hopped back onto her broom and took off toward the trees, her brother close behind. Everyone rushed to pack the balls away as the lawn was consumed in a midair game of tag.
"How on Earth have you managed to keep them from murdering each other in their sleep?" Draco asked with only half-mocking wonder in his voice. Harry sighed as they both returned to their armchairs.
"I've been asking myself that for twelve years. Ginny thinks Molly might be drugging them periodically to keep the peace— and bless her if she is."
Draco sucked pensively on his quill, as if weighing the probability that sedatives could keep the competitive nature of the Potter boys at bay.
"I suppose, actually, it might be the same way you've kept the Weasley clan en masse from killing me for all these years... Speaking of which, when are they supposed to be coming around?"
Harry glanced down at his watch.
"Ron and Hermione left to get that portkey from Lee and Parvati a few hours ago... so they should be back around three, maybe?"
Dropping his papers unceremoniously to the floor, Draco put his feet up on the now empty chessboard.
"Helene and Ginevra are supposed to return from the park about then as well. Which means I," he stretched, vertebrae popping audibly, "am done."
"I never have thanked you for marrying and having so many, lovely, tiny children with Helene. It's saved Ginny and I the trouble of missing having them around a that age, and even broaching the dangerous thought of having another baby."
"And being the absurd sentimentalists you are you probably would have another. You can thank me when you're helping round them up for the trip to Diagon Alley tomorrow morning. Actually, no, strike that," He moved his feet to a nearby ottoman and waved elegantly across the chessboard, pieces materializing in his fingers' wake. "You can thank me now. Your move."