|SIYE Time:18:39 on 21st April 2021|
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Category: Cursed Child and beyond
Genres: General, Humor
Story is Complete
Summary: In the aftermath of CC, Harry wonders if his many concerns over Albus over the years may have hindered his relationships with James and Lily. With the family home for the holiday season, and with Albus visiting Malfoy Manor, Harry takes an opportunity to spend time with the two. Read on to see how it works out.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2227
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
A huge shout out to the wonderful CharmHazel, CC extraordinaire! Her knowledge and insights were spot on, and feedback was amazing. A great author as well, so check out her lovely Hinny stories. Many thanks, Sarah, I think the Palace Theatre should give you a reserved seat by now!! LOL Hope you all enjoy
“ Gin?” called Harry, walking into the kitchen. “ Is Albus home yet?” He watched as Ginny stuffed the chicken they were having for dinner, then seasoned it. It was the first dinner the family would all be together since Christmas Day at the Burrow. Albus had been invited to spend Boxing Day and the next four days at Malfoy Manor and was due home today.
Naturally Harry and Ginny had given their blessings for their son to spend time with his best friend, after all they, the Malfoys and Ron and Hermione had just been through, and with the festive season, it was a time to strengthen friendships.
“ Harry, this is the second time you've asked me this morning, and it's only ten thirty,” said an exasperated Ginny. “ Nothing has changed, he'll be home after lunch. Now shoo, out of my kitchen,” she said, gesturing.
“ Whose kitchen?” muttered Harry, scowling at being shooed off like a little boy. He actually did the majority of the cooking these days, unless Ginny had a sudden fancy, as she had done so today.
“ The Boy Who Lived, shooed out of his own kitchen,” mocked James, as he and Lily walked past.
“ Someone alert the Daily Prophet,” giggled Lily, following James to the fireplace.
“ Hey, where are you two going?” asked Harry, realising he was now at a loose end.
“ We're going to the Burrow for a fly,” replied James, taking a handful of Floo powder.
“ Want some company?” asked Harry, suddenly itching to be in the air.
They paused, looking at each other in silent discussion, then back at their dad. “ Well, we did ask Rosie and Hugo to meet us, but they're going to the Grangers for lunch,” said James, slowly. He looked at his sister. “ Lil, what do you reckon? Want to help me embarrass the old man?”
Harry beamed at the good natured teasing as Lily snickered and nodded. “ Gin,” he called out, “I'm going flying with the kids at the Burrow.”
Ginny's response came immediately. “ Thank Merlin...no wait, you stay here and finish dinner and I'll go flying,” she amended. She waited. “ Harry?”
But Harry had quickly ushered James and Lily into the Floo, knowing exactly what Ginny's reply would be. After all, you weren't married for nearly twenty years without knowing your partner. “Sorry love, can't hear you, going now, love you,” he called, quickly throwing the powder down and calling out, “ The Burrow.”
He stumbled out into the Burrow kitchen, and immediately heard his son and daughter make kissy noises, chuckling.
“ Well hello, Potters,” greeted Arthur, “going for a fly? Are Albus and Ginny coming along, too?”
Lily hugged her grandfather. “ Mum's got a sudden urge to feed us and Al's still at Malfoy Manor, so Dad's stuck with us two,” she informed him.
“ Hey,” protested Harry.
“ We took pity on Mum, what with Dad pining for Al and all, and got him out of her hair,” quipped James.
“ I wasn't in her hair,” denied Harry, “ I merely asked her twice if Albus had returned yet. Twice!”
“ Aah, the Prodigal Son,” soothed James, heading for the back door. “ Coming, Lil?”
“ It's not like that,” blanched Harry, then smiled weakly at Arthur. “ It's not like that,” he insisted to his father-in-law. He left, hurrying to follow after his kids.
He smiled as he watched them together, ahead on the path. They laughed and nudged each other playfully, then James slung an arm over Lily's shoulders as they talked. They stayed like that till they arrived at the broom shed. Harry met up with them as they were coming out, each with a broom for themselves and James carrying Harry's preferred broom. Ginny's old Harpy's playing broom, still in good nick.
“ Come on, Dad, run some drills with us,” urged Lily, hurrying down to the pitch. “Help us get Gryffindor over the line in the House Cup this year.”
She deftly and gracefully flew up into the sky, reminding Harry of Ginny, after watching her so many times.
“ Need a boost, old man?” asked James, cheekily.
“ Eat my dust, Captain,” quipped Harry, mounting his broom too quickly, then shakily flying up to Lily, finally finding his usual rythym; James' laughter ringing behind him.
“ That's Captain Potter, to you,” he quipped, as he flew up to join them. He had been named Gryffindor Quidditch captain last September when the Hogwarts letters arrived, following both his parent's paths.
“Try and keep up, girls,” taunted Lily, flying past in a blur.
Harry and James looked at each other, then shot after her. She streaked around the goals then tossed the Quaffle to Harry as she came back, and he forwarded it to James. They continued this for awhile then Harry asked James to tell him some of his game plays. He was impressed with James' forward planning, as he outlined defensive plays for the other three Houses and their individual players. Harry then offered some of his own plays that he thought might work well with the combined talents of Rose and Lily as Chasers, remembering how well Ginny and Demelza had worked together in his sixth year. The year Gryffindor had won the House Cup. The year he'd kissed Ginny in front of their whole House in the common room.
The Quaffle flew past his nose, and he jerked suddenly. “ Judging by the look on your face, I have an idea what you're thinking about, and if I'm right, you need to stop it — now! That's my mum, and we're here to play Quidditch!” scowled James, hovering nearby.
Harry flushed. “ I was just thinking it would be good if your mum was here too,” he lied. “ More players, you know. Albus too,” he added.
“ Of course, Albus,” sighed James.
Lily flew up close to them. “I need to go to the loo, and I think you two need to have a heart to heart,” she said, sounding just like Ginny. “ Be nice.” She pointed at both of them, then flew down.
“Oy, the Quaffle,” yelled James, flying after her. She turned neatly and flew back, throwing it to him. She then turned and again, headed for the ground. She landed easily and sauntered off.
James flew back up and threw the Quaffle to Harry. He threw it back and they continued without talking. Finally Harry simply caught it. “ So, looking forward to going back to Hogwarts soon?”
James grimaced. “ Oh yeah, six months of intense study before we take our NEWTS. Can't wait,” he said somewhat sarcastically. “ Thank Merlin for Quidditch, though,” he added. Harry nodded in agreement.
“ You've always been a good student, James, so I don't anticipate you having any problems with your NEWTS,” assured Harry.
“ Despite all the pranks Freddie and I have pulled?” asked James, grinning.
Harry laughed, remembering the owls from Headmistress Macgonagall not long after James and Fred Weasley had started at Hogwarts, and all the years thereafter. “ You know, your mum and I knew we were tempting fate when we named you James Sirius, and you have definitely lived up to their names.”
“ Yeah, although I've often wondered what I'd be like if I was named Hagrid Dobby Potter,” snickered James. “ Or would it be Rubeus Hedwig?”
Harry burst out laughing. “ Trust me, we named you well. From everything I've heard about my dad and Sirius together, well, you remind me of them, or at least, how I imagine they would have been.”
James smile fell as he remembered the history of his father's parents and godfather. Harry saw his smile falter and rushed to reassure him.
“ You know James, both your mum and I are so proud of you, we always have been. You may be following on the Marauder tradition of pranking — not to mention a certain pair of Weasley twins — but you're growing to be a wonderful young man with a great heart.”
James looked taken aback to be praised so much from his dad. With a pang Harry wondered if he had worried so much about Albus the last year — and every year since he's started at Hogwarts, if he was being honest — that he may have missed moments with his firstborn, his son, his Jamie. Moments he could never get back.
“ Thanks, Dad,” James finally said, visibly moved.
“ Hey,” said Harry, to lighten the mood, “ I reckon it must be getting close to lunch. Let's go see what your grandmother has waiting for us, back at the house,” he suggested.
“ Sure,” agreed James, and together, they flew down. They put the brooms away and started the walk back to the Burrow. “ Dad...everything's all right with Al now, isn't it?”
“ Yeah...yes,” said Harry, firmly. “ Albus has told you what happened, hasn't he?” he asked.
Both Harry and Ginny had explained all about Delphi and the Time-Turners to James and Lily when the nightmare was over, but they had left some things for Albus to explain when he was ready. Harry had seen Albus have private conversations with both his siblings, and he'd hoped they be understanding. So when James nodded he relaxed slightly. “Why do you ask?” He worried that James may have picked up on something that Albus had said or done that he might have missed.
James shrugged. “ I just feel like I let Al down when he first got Sorted into Slytherin. Like maybe I should have tried to spend more time with him and all. I know there was something going on between the two of you, and I know I teased him about being Sorted into Slytherin, but Dad, I really didn't care what House he was Sorted into.”
“ James, none of what happened was your fault. If Albus told you everything, then you'd know that in one of the alternative timelines, he was in Gryffindor, and things weren't any better between the two of us.”
James was silent, processing. Harry continued. “Besides, I know how hard it is, keeping up with younger siblings, even in the same House. Ron and Ginny sometimes only saw each other at dinner in the Great Hall, or in the common room after. So, to be in a different House, and face it, you can't get further away from each other than Gryffindor and Slytherin, well, none of that is on you,” reassured Harry.
“ I just never understood what he found so hard about being a Potter,” shrugged James.
“I realise it's been hard for you kids, what with the media, the attention, the expectations. But with Albus, it's not about being a Potter, it's about being my son,” said Harry.
“ I'm your son, too,” defended James.
“ I know,” said Harry.
They walked a bit further on, then — “I think I sort of blamed Al, too, for being in Slytherin. I know it's stupid, but it seemed like he decided he wanted to be there to prove to me he could be. Plus, there was Scorpius.” James quickly shut his mouth and stared determinedly ahead.
“Scorpius?” prompted Harry.
James stopped and sighed, facing his father. To Harry's surprise, they were practically eye to eye. When did he get so tall? Where had the time gone?
“He's my brother...annoying as he is and all, but he's my brother, and I really looked forward to showing him around Hogwarts, having him help me and Freddie with the pranks and stuff. I thought once he got to Hogwarts, that moody stuff would go away...but then he gets Sorted into Slytherin and meets Scorpius Malfoy — who seems to understand Al better than me. Me, his own brother!” James seemed completely shocked and upset by that fact.
Harry stay silent, feeling as though James had more to say. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts, before continuing. “So when Lil started, I sort of hoped she'd be in Slytherin, for Al to have one of us at least. Plus, she's kind of sneaky sometimes. But she was Sorted into Gryffindor, which left Al alone, with Scorpius.”
“Scorpius Malfoy is a lovely young man. He's kind and caring and has been a good friend to your brother,” defended Harry.
James sighed again. “Dad, I know that. Merlin, don't you think I'd find out all I could about my brother's best friend? He is a nice guy, and Al seems happier when he's with him.”
“Yeah,” agreed Harry. He had to admit, this was one of those hard parts of parenting. Letting your son make their own paths in life, including friends.
“Dad...was it absolutely horrible seeing your parents again?” asked James, cautiously. “When you were back at Godric's Hollow?”
“No, son,” said Harry, putting his hand on James shoulder as they neared the house, “but losing them again was hell.”
James nodded sympathetically as they went inside.
After Molly stuffed the three of them full of thick roast beef sandwiches for lunch, the Potters Flooed home. Hearing noise coming from the kitchen, Harry headed there, while James and Lily flopped on the couch, with Lily turning on the wireless.
He opened the door to find Ginny washing dishes by hand while Albus was peeling potatoes and telling stories from his time at Malfoy Manor. “- and then the peacock ran away with his hat!” he finished, and Ginny burst out laughing.
“Scorpius even has one he calls — Dad!” cried Albus, who had turned and seen him.
Ginny screwed up her nose in confusion, not having seen Harry. “Doesn't that get confusing for Draco? Although come to think about it, he does like to preen. Oh, and what about —Harry! You're back,” she grinned, then looked at the clock. “Merlin, is that the time. I need to get this in the oven. We'll eat early tonight. Did Mum feed you lot?” she asked her husband.
Both Albus and Harry snorted. “Does Hagrid like dragons?” teased Albus.
“Does Luna believe in Nargles?” asked Harry.
Ginny whipped her tea towel at the both of them. “Shut it, both of you. Go on, out,” she ordered, scowling playfully.
Albus knicked an apple from the fruit bowl and escaped the kitchen. Harry wandered over to his wife. “Don't forget to season the potatoes. A drizzle of olive oil and a touch of my special herbs and — ”
“Out, or you won't be getting a touch of anything,” warned Ginny. “My kitchen today.”
Harry laughed and wrapped his arms around her body. He lovingly kissed her cheek. “Love you,” he said, then let her go.
He wandered out to the lounge and joined the children. Lily had coaxed Albus into a game of Exploding Snap in front of the cosy fire, and James was sprawled over the couch, reading his Transfiguration handbook. Seeing his dad, he asked him about Animagus' and whether Harry had ever thought about learning how to become one. That led into a lively discussion about Patronuses, which Ginny soon joined in. When the talk turned to the Quidditch match on the wireless, Harry discreetly went to check on the roast, adding some of his favourite herbs to the potatoes and adding some extra baste to the meat.
It was a wonderful afternoon, just them, talking and laughing. The cameraderie continued through dinner, with everyone complimenting Ginny on her delicious roast. She accepted their compliments, while looking suspiciously at Harry when she took her first bite of potatoes.
Talk then turned to the upcoming New Year's Eve party at Ron and Hermione's. James and Freddie were helping Ron and George with the fireworks, and James promised them they were going to be spectacular.
They spoke of who was invited and expected to attend. As Minister for Magic, the guest list could have ended up being in the hundreds, but Hermione had decreed it family and close friends only. Hannah and Neville Longbottom were coming. Luna and her two boys were expected, although Rolf was away in the States. Hagrid, Headmistress Macgonagall and Professor Flitwick had been invited. Fleur's family had visited for Christmas and although Gabrielle had returned with her family to Paris to see the New Year in there, Fleur's parents had stayed on for a while longer.
James, Albus and Lily mentioned Hogwarts friends who had also been invited. James teased Lily about a boy named Dylan. Lily flushed and shook her hair, deliberately ignoring his goading. Harry and Ginny exchanged soft smiles, although Harry felt a pang about his daughter — and a boy!
When Lily defensively brought up Scorpius and wondering aloud if he'd get the courage up to kiss Rose at midnight, Albus dropped his head but smiled to himself, as if he knew something the others didn't.
Ginny decided it was time to change the subject. “So, James, have you given any thought to what you want to do after Hogwarts?”
James lay down his fork. “Er yeah, actually. I-I thought I might give Auror training a go.” He looked at his father. “What do you reckon, Dad? Think I have what it takes to be an Auror?”
Harry was sure neither Albus or Lily picked up on James' hopefulness in his tone. He was truly surprised that was the direction James wanted to go, for he was so bright, he would have ample opportunities and many choices in career open for him. “Yeah, James, I think you'd do brilliantly.” His heart leaped at having his son working with him.
“Merlin, our family will run the Ministry soon,” mused Lily. “Dad, Teddy and you at the DMLE, Aunt Hermione and Uncle Percy. Hugo plans to be an healer, did you know?”
They shook their heads, then Lily asked, “What about you, Al?”
“Oh, I've already told Dad, I'm going into pigeon racing,” he said, nonchalantly buttering a slice of bread.
Despite knowing he was only teasing, Harry still shuddered, just as he had done on that afternoon he'd taken Albus to Cedric's grave site.
“Pigeon racing! Yuck! Dirty little things,” said James, screwing his nose up in horror. “Like rats in the sky.”
“Well, when Hugo becomes a healer, you, James and Teddy can catch the bad guys, then he'll heal you if you get injured, ” she said. She turned to Albus. “Can you get any injuries from pigeon racing?” she asked uncertainly.
“Head injuries,” quipped James, “from all the poop.”
“Ew, gross,” said Lily, wrinkling her nose.
Albus laughed. “I'll be sure to wear a helmet,” he said, grinning, “but my head's not as thick as James'.”
“Oy,” protested James, “at least I didn't bring back Voldemort!”
There was silence, then Albus snickered; so did Ginny. Albus' turned into a full blown laugh, and Lily and Harry joined them. James grinned at his brother, and like they used to do when they were little, they bumped knuckles. “Touché, Jamie,” grinned Albus, using the old childhood name they used to call James.
Surprisingly, the children offered to do the dishes and tidy the kitchen. Ginny and Harry retreated to the lounge, exchanging loving smiles to hear the kids all bicker and tease good naturedly. The kids joined them after, with Albus and James discussing their upcoming OWL's and NEWT's.
Finally, they headed upstairs to bed. Ginny was having a shower when Harry decided to go and re-check if the house was locked up. He'd checked it before, but it had become his little ritual. As he headed back to his bedroom, he stopped, seeing Albus and Lily talking in the hall outside Lily's bedroom.
“Tonight was great Al, oops, sorry, Albus,” corrected Lily, hugging him.
“It's okay if you and James still call me Al,” said Albus. “You're right, tonight was great.”
“Goodnight, Al,” she said, opening her door and starting to go inside.
“Wait, Lily,” said Albus.
Lily stopped and turned back to him.
“I know we haven't talked much at Hogwarts, and I reckon that's mostly on me...but I promise I'm going to make more of an effort to catch up with you once in a while, especially when James graduates,” he vowed.
Lily's eyes lit up. “Does this mean you'll help me sneak me into the Slytherin common rooms?” she asked.
“Hell no,” said Albus, taken aback.
Lily didn't take offense, she merely shrugged. “It was worth a try. Guess I'll just have to get in the Potter way,” she smirked confidently.
“What's that — Polyjuice potion? Invisibility cloak?” asked Albus, alarmed.
Lily patted his arm. “Probably best you don't know, Al,” she said, then kissed his cheek. “Night!”
Albus chuckled as he went to his room, leaving Lily in hers.
Feeling immensely happy and somewhat relieved, Harry went to Lily's room and knocked on the door. “Come in, Mum or Dad...or both,” she called.
Harry opened the door, poking his head in. “Just me,” he said, stepping inside. She was sitting cross legged on her bed, reading some parchment. “Just come to say goodnight.”
“Okay. I had fun tonight,” she said, as he sat on her bed. “It felt like old times.”
“Lily, you're too young to be talking about old times,” chuckled Harry.
Lily giggled. “I meant before Jamie and Al went to Hogwarts. All of us, together.”
“Yeah,” agreed Harry, “you're all growing up so fast...but I think we're all going to be okay from now on.”
“Good,” said Lily, decisively. “I don't like all the tension, we're Potters, we should stick together.”
Harry drew her into a hug. “Oh my Lilyloo, I love you so much,” he said tenderly.
She allowed him to hug her, then pulled away. “Enough to let me try Firewhiskey at the New Year's Eve party?” she asked hopefully.
“What? No, Lil,” said Harry.
“Elf made wine? Just a sip!” she pleaded.
“Okay, it was worth a try. How about some of those new quills next time we go to Diagon Alley?” she asked.
“Okay,” agreed Harry.
“The fancy ones?” insisted Lily.
“Sure,” said Harry, resigned.
“And you'll tell Mum it's okay. You know, because you love me and all that,” she teased.
“Fine,” he said, admiring her pluck.
“And then we'll go for ice-cream?” she persisted.
“Lil, it's freezing out,” protested Harry.
“But Daddy,” she whined. “It's our thing, our daddy/daughter thing!”
“In August yeah, not in January,” he said, knowing full well what she was doing, but knowing he was going to capitulate. There was just something about her when she called him 'daddy'. His baby girl, his Lily Luna.
“All right, no ice-cream,” caved Lily, to his surprise. She paused, looking down at the parchment. “Then you have to be nice to my boyfriend at the New Year's Eve party.”
“Wha-boyfriend? Who? Who is he?” asked Harry, feeling his blood pressure rise.
“Dylan, Dad. Dylan Thomas,” said Lily, calmly.
“Thomas? Dean Thomas' son?” asked Harry in surprise.
“Yes, Dean Thomas, your old dorm-mate,” she said. “Dylan said his dad is looking forward to seeing mum again.” She gestured to the parchment in her lap.
“I bet he is,” grumbled Harry, rubbing his old scar. “Does your mum know? About Dylan?” he clarified.
“Daddy, I wanted to tell you first,” said Lily, batting her eyes, then leaned over to hug him, “because I love you too, Daddy. So much!”
“Goodnight, Lil,” said Harry, standing. He needed to talk to Ginny about this new development.
“So you're all right with Dylan?” she asked as he prepared to leave her room.
“I'll let you know,” he called.
“When?” she pleaded. “I want to write to Dylan tonight.”
“I'll sleep on it, and discuss it with your mum,” he offered.
“Hmph. I bet you won't be this bad with the boys,” she argued.
“Neither of the boys are my sweet little girl who still likes me take her for ice cream. You know, our daddy/daughter thing,” he shot back. “Night, Lil.”
“Damn, I knew I should have told Mum first,” groaned Lily.
“Too late now,” quipped Harry. He turned for another look at Lily. “The offer for ice cream will always be there, though.”
Lily sighed in resignation, then smiled at him. “I'm glad.”
Harry smiled back. “Me too.”
“So maybe, just this once, ice cream can be a daddy/daughter/Dylan thing. You know, so you can get to know him,” she suggested.
Harry shook his head at his daughter attempts. “Good night, Lil. Love you.”
“Aaahhh,” cried Lily, falling back onto her bed in frustration.
Smiling, Harry walked down the hall, stopping to knock on the boy's doors to tell them good night. Then he headed to his own bedroom and to his waiting wife, knowing that right now, right here, his family were all happy and safe.
There was the usual rush on the morning of the kids return to Hogwarts, no matter how organised they'd seemed to be the night before. Lily shrieked that she had forgotten one of her new quills — 'it's my favourite one, Daddy, it's the same shade as Dylan's eyes' — then Albus remembered a book he'd borrowed from Scorpius and promised to return, but he'd left on his bedside table. After procuring the book, they all sat in the car. Before Harry moved to drive away, they all looked at James, who smirked. “Nope, I'm good to go.” Finally they were off.
There was the usual teasing between them about the upcoming term, only this time, Albus gave as good as he got, rather than sit in sullen silence. Bets were made about Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw's chances in the matches ahead, and Albus listened as James gave him OWL tips.
They fought through the crowds, in the end, arriving in plenty of time. Lily cried, “Dylan!” and she was gone.
“I'm going to go and find Scorpius,” said Albus to Ginny, as Harry was trying to keep track of Lily. “I'll be back to say goodbye before we hop on,” he told her.
“That's fine, love,” nodded Ginny, and he hurried away.
“I think I'll just go have a chat with Dean,” muttered Harry, and before Ginny could say anything, he was gone too.
Ginny rolled her eyes and looked at James. “Do you have somewhere else to be, too?” she asked.
James simpered. “Where else would I possibly want to be but with you.” He grinned his charming grin that melted her heart every time.
“Good luck with your NEWTS, James. Do your best, that's all your dad and I ask of you,” said Ginny, straightening his collar.
He nodded, then shifted uncomfortably. “I will, Mum, and will you...will you look after Dad?”
Ginny looked surprised. “ Dad?”
James nodded. “Things are okay with Al now, but Al told us how dad reacted when he saw his parents on that night; All Hallow's Eve night. Seeing them...well, you know. It must have been heartbreaking for him.”
“It was. I-I've never heard him cry out like he did,” admitted Ginny quietly. She wouldn't tell James about Harry's nightmares since, though. She hugged James. “I'll watch out for him, I always do,” she said, smiling in reassurance.
James hugged her back. “Bye Mum. Love you, love you both.” He pulled away and she saw him greet some of his fellow seventh years before climbing onto the train.
“Mum, Mum, I'm getting on the train now,” called Albus, coming over to hug her goodbye. Scorpius waited patiently, smiling at Ginny as she looked at him over Albus' shoulder. Letting Albus go, she pulled a rather startled Scorpius into a hug too.
“Have a great term, both of you. Good luck with your OWL's, just do your best. Write when you can, we love hearing from you,” beamed Ginny.
“Thanks, Mrs Potter,” said Scorpius, shyly.
“Thanks Mum,” grinned Albus. His expression changed and, as if sensing it, Scorpius moved away to give him some privacy. “Er, Mum? Look after Dad, okay? Don't let him work too hard. Remind him to take some time off, maybe go for a holiday together,” he suggested.
“I'll try, Albus. Maybe I can rope the Minister for Magic herself into helping me with that one,” she said lightly.
“Aunt Hermione will understand. Dad...Dad needs a break from everything. You know, Mum,” said Albus.
Ginny nodded, and dared to kiss his forehead. “You're a good son, Albus. I'll look after your dad, don't you worry.”
“Might see you at Easter,” he called, grabbing his carry-on bag, and Scorpius' arm, dragging him toward the train. They waved to Draco as they passed him, then hurried on to grab a carriage. Draco nodded to Ginny, then watched the boys get on the train.
“Mum! Thank Merlin, you have to come and get dad away from Dylan's dad, he's being sooooo embarassing,” cried Lily, bursting through the crowds.
“He's your Dad, that's his job,” said Ginny, dryly.
Lily practically leaped on Ginny. “I'll miss you, Mum. I promise I'll write once a week, will you write me back, let me know about Teddy and Vic, and Gran and Grandpa, and...and Dad. Mum, you will write me about Dad, won't you?”
Ginny brushed her daughter's hair behind her ears. “Your dad's going to be fine, Lil. We all will be. You know why?”
Lily grinned and nodded. “Because we're Potters!”
Ginny laughed. “ And as long as we have each other, we'll be fine.”
“Well, technically, Mum, you're a Weasley, only a Potter by marriage,” teased Lily.
“Ha, well, I'll have you know, I'm the only one of you that is a Potter by choice. The rest of you just got lucky,” smirked Ginny, and Lily laughed.
“Bye Mum, love you. Please tell Dad I love him too, even when he's being — ”
“Your father,” interrupted Ginny, “your wonderful, overprotective, would kill anyone who threatens to hurt you or looks at you wrong, loves you to death, father.”
Lily sighed. “Yeah. All that.” She hugged Ginny goodbye again and picked up her bag.
“Hey, Lil?” called Ginny.
Lily looked at her mother. “I heard your brothers bet you couldn't get into the Slytherin common room. Ten galleons each, wasn't it?”
Lily nodded, her eyes shining with mischief...and hope.
“Well, and you didn't hear this from me, mind, but there's a portrait near by their common room. A knight on a horse. Tell him Ginny sent you, that you're on a mission. And Lily...don't get caught!”
Lily squealed and hugged her mother. “Little sister's code,” whispered Ginny.
“I love you, Mum,” sighed a happy Lily.
“Hey, what about me?” asked Harry, finally returning to Ginny's side. “The boys are on the train,” he told Ginny.
Lily launched herself at Harry. “I love you too, Dad. I'll see you at Easter. Write to me. I'll miss you both.”
Harry seemed surprised at her outburst. “We love you too, Lily. Go on, the first whistle has blown already.”
Lily nodded. “Just...be safe, okay?” She disappeared into the crowd surging forward for a last farewell.
“Isn't that usually my line?” teased Harry, but looked up when Ginny said nothing. To his surprise, she had tears in her eyes. “Hey, you okay?” He drew her to his side, keeping an arm around her.
She sniffed and nodded. “Yes. We've just got some pretty great kids, that's all.”
“Of course, they're Potters,” said Harry proudly. “You know, why don't I try to see about having some time off soon? Let's get away, just the two of us.”
“Oh Harry, yes, that would be so great,” said a relieved Ginny.
Steam billowed and ever so slowly, the big red train pulled away from the station. Harry and Ginny ran to see the kids, surprisingly all in one compartment, with Scorpius, Rose and Hugo. “Bye, bye,” they called, waving.
“Bye Mum, bye Dad, we'll owl soon,” they called back excitedly.
They, like so many other parents, stayed till the train took it's first turn and was out of sight. Harry missed them already, but knew they were heading for Hogwarts, where Hagrid was waiting to welcome them back, where they'd see their friends again, share meals in the Great Hall, and learn wonderful new things about magic.
Ginny threaded her arm through his and they began to walk back towards the wall. Draco fell in step with them, as did Ron and Hermione.
“I have to get back to the Ministry, I'm afraid,” said Hermione, kissing Ron's cheek. “Harry, are you coming in?”
“Ernie's got it all under control, I told him I'd be there after lunch,” said Harry. Hermione nodded and Apparated away.
Harry and Ginny fell behind Ron and Draco, amused to see the two once arch enemies walking together. They walked through the barrier and out of the station.
“So, I think it's going to be a nice day,” said Ron, for want of something to say.
“Really?” drawled Draco, looking up at the grey sky and adjusting his coat collar to cover his neck against the cold air. He shot Ron a bemused look.
Ron bristled. “Say, I wanted to ask you, does your pony tail go all frizzy when it rains?”
Ginny nudged Harry, who snorted with laughter. He turned it into a cough when both Ron and Draco turned to look at him.
Draco rolled his eyes. “Think I'll be off. Good day, Ginny, Potter. Weasley.” He walked off towards the Apparition point outside the station.
“He's still a ferret,” muttered Ron, “no matter what we went through with him.”
Ginny linked arms with both Harry and Ron. "Come on, I thought we were past all that. Ron, let it go, please. Come join me and Harry for lunch.”
“Is Harry paying?” asked Ron, brightening.
“Always,” sighed Harry.
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