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I could be wrong, I could be ready

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The first of September dawns bright and clear. And Draco knows this for a fact, because Teddy wakes them up well before dawn, practically bouncing off the walls with excitement. Harry groans, mashing his face back into his pillow and complaining about the cosmic unfairness of the first day of school falling on one of their days with Teddy. But he doesn’t mean it—Harry’s own school started term on Monday, and he’s still taking today off to come with Teddy to the platform. “It’s all a lot of fuss about nothing,” Andromeda said at dinner on Sunday night, teasing Teddy gently even as she promised she would meet them there.

Teddy’s school trunk has been packed for a week, sitting neatly against the wall in his bedroom. Maestro, the owl Harry gave him for his eleventh birthday, waits patiently in his gleaming cage.

“I don’t want breakfast,” Teddy complains, as Harry deposits a plate of beans on toast in front of him. “I need to save space for the feast.”

“You’ll regret that about an hour into the train journey,” Draco assures him, bending down to put food in the bowl for their Kneazle, but he slips him an extra Galleon for Pumpkin Pasties all the same.

“You look very smart, lad,” Fleamont Potter says approvingly from above the mantle, as Teddy laces up his shiny new black shoes. “You’re a credit to the family.”

Teddy jumps and slaps his frame as they leave, a strange habit he’s developed that he calls a painted high-five.

They Side-Along to Kings Cross with plenty of time to spare, despite Harry laughingly suggesting that cutting it fine won’t be a problem because they can always take the Weasley car. The station is crowded with Muggles. Draco wishes they’d just taken Teddy to school directly, but Harry has assured him it was a rite of passage. Harry loads Teddy’s trunk onto a trolley and crouches beside him to give him final instructions about the platform barrier.

Draco’s an absolute roiling mess of emotion watching the pair of them. Teddy’s asked every conceivable question about the train and the platform and his first day at school over the last few months, but he still clutches the handle of the trolley nervously as he nods at what Harry’s telling him, and Draco desperately wants to comfort him.

Harry is doing a fine job of appearing like he has it all in hand, but Draco knows better. It was Harry who rolled over in bed a week ago and shook Draco awake demanding they homeschool Teddy because Hogwarts was an absolute fucking disaster of an educational institution that had messed the pair of them up irreparably and there was no way they could let Teddy go. Draco had to be very persuasive to get him to calm down.

Andromeda appears out of nowhere, coming alongside him and placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. The two of them watch Teddy run at the barrier and vanish through to the other side.

“Here we are then,” she says quietly. Draco takes her hand as they follow Harry through to Platform 9 ¾.

Ron has brought Rose along to see Teddy off. They had to have several conversations with Teddy over the summer about not being too smug that he’d soon be at Hogwarts and Rose wouldn’t yet, but Teddy seems grateful now as Rose promises to keep Teddy up to date about Airbender via owl.

“Can you believe it, mate?” Ron says to Harry, looking in awe at the belching red steam train idling at the platform. “Seems like bloody yesterday.”

“Owl us tonight,” Draco says, fiddling with Teddy’s robes to try and get them to lie straight, which only makes him wriggle away from him. “And let us know what house you’re in.”

In August, they took Teddy to Ollivanders to get his wand, and ever since he’s been practicing a basic colour-changing charm that turns all the bedding in his room to whichever house he decides is his favourite at the time. It makes Draco think about his own narrow-minded upbringing. The idea of sorting anything other than Slytherin would have been completely unacceptable. Harry shocked them both one night by telling them he was almost a Hatstall. The idea that Harry might have been a Slytherin caused Draco to cut dinner at Andromeda’s short and drag him immediately home to bed. Draco’s face heats a little now at the memory.

“I’ve decided all the houses are equally good,” Teddy concludes, tugging his robe out of Draco’s grasp. “It doesn’t matter if I’m a Gryffindor like Harry, or a Slytherin like you, or a Ravenclaw like Luna, or a Hufflepuff like my mum.”

Draco was determined to get through the morning without crying, but now he’s not so sure he’s going to make it.

In the year since Harry’s been back, they’ve all gotten used to the extra attention, but he’s still startled to see several parents murmuring to one another and pointing out the Boy Who Lived.

“Ugh, why are they always staring,” Teddy groans and immediately turns his hair a shocking fluorescent pink. “There. I’ll give them something to look at.”

Harry bursts out laughing and gives him a crushing hug.

“You’re squashing me,” Teddy yelps, but he has a smile on his face.

The doors start to slam closed along the line of the train. A conductor’s whistle blows and parents around them give their children final instructions and unwanted kisses.

Andromeda gives Teddy just such a kiss on the forehead, causing him to squirm with embarrassment. “Your mum and dad would be very proud of you today,” she says fondly, and Teddy blushes almost as pink as his hair.

Finally, Teddy turns to Draco.

“Don’t get too good with the Wii while I’m gone,” he warns, pointing an accusing finger. “I’ll know if you’re playing it without me.”

“Don’t let everyone know how good you are on a broom your first day,” Draco replies. “It pays to keep some things up your sleeve.”

Teddy wraps his arms tightly around Draco’s waist for a moment and then turns and bounds up the steps into a carriage.

They wait while he looks for a seat.

“Your parents, Harry, and your father, Draco, would both have been very proud of you today as well,” Andromeda says, standing between them, an arm around each of their shoulders. “Together we’ve managed to raise a remarkable young man.”

Teddy presses his face to the glass, waving wildly at them all as the train begins to move. Rose runs the length of the platform alongside him, cheering and laughing. They watch and wave until the last of the steam dissipates from the station.

Ron claps both Harry and Draco on the back. “Glad it’s not me yet,” he shrugs sympathetically. “I’ll buy you both pints on Friday.” And then he takes Rose’s hand and Apparates away.

Andromeda hugs each of them in turn. “Dinner on Sunday,” she says with a stern expression. “Family dinner is family dinner, with or without Teddy.”

It’s only as she walks back through the barrier that Draco feels the tears on his cheeks.

“He’s going to be okay,” Harry assures him.

“I know he will,” Draco agrees, wiping at his eyes with the sleeve of his sweater.

The platform gradually empties out until it’s just the two of them standing there in the silence. Harry has his head tipped back, craning to look up at the high glass windows in the station roof above them, lost in thought.

“I came here,” Harry whispers, “after I died.”

Draco doesn’t think his heart can take this today. He reaches for Harry’s hand, lacing their fingers together.

“To Kings Cross?” he asks softly. Harry’s never talked about it. Draco’s never asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know actually. This is what I saw, but Dumbledore seemed surprised when I told him that, so maybe he was somewhere else.”

Draco doesn’t think he has much hope of stopping the tears now. He swipes at his eyes again.

Harry startles, looking at him. “God, Draco, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be maudlin.” He squeezes Draco’s hand comfortingly.

“It’s just—when I was there, wherever it was, Dumbledore said I had to choose. Whether I came back or not. And it was—I mean the choice wasn’t easy. It was warm and light and peaceful there. And I was pretty sure all I had waiting for me back here was pain and loss.”

Draco wants to hug him and never let go. He wants a Time-Turner so he can go back and prevent it all from happening in the first place. He wants to make sure Harry never experiences another moment of pain or loss as long as he lives.

“And I was sort of right. I mean, coming back wasn’t exactly a picnic,” Harry chuckles. “But it was the right thing to do. And I just assumed that was the trade-off, you know? I’d made that sacrifice, and so I wouldn’t get to be really happy back here. There would be all this unavoidable grief and suffering, but at least I’d have done the right thing.”

Merlin, Draco thinks. His heart aches.

“But it turns out I was wrong about that part,” Harry murmurs, tugging Draco closer to him. “I do get to be really, truly happy here.”

Harry lets go of Draco’s hand and reaches up to unfasten the silver chain he wears around his neck. He looks at Draco cautiously, as if he’s a nervous animal that might be about to bolt. Which is ridiculous, clearly, because Draco’s frozen so rigid right now he doesn’t think he could move even if Dementors descended.

Harry slips Lily’s ring off the chain.

“I believe, when you first told me about these rings, I called them pureblood nonsense.”

Draco laughs, his tears falling freely now.

“In fact, I think I suggested that Bill should blow them up.” He gives Draco a beautiful, rueful smile. “I didn’t have any idea that these rings would bring me back to my grandfather, build me a home that I love, give me the gift of a godson I couldn’t be more proud of, and help me meet the love of my life.”

He takes Draco’s trembling hand in his.

“Draco Malfoy, will you join me in a Confarreatio bond? I’d really like to be your husband.”

Draco is so completely overwhelmed he almost can’t manage to say anything at all, but then, “Yes. Gods, yes,” spills out of him on a ragged breath. Harry slides Lily’s silver ring onto his finger and they both watch in wonder as the magic swiftly resizes it and a breathtaking feeling of rightness passes over Draco. The cool, familiar touch of Harry’s family magic entwines with his own.

He kisses Harry softly, right there beside the train tracks on the empty platform. Presses promises against his skin with his fingertips. Holds him as tightly as he can.

And this time, they choose to leave Kings Cross together.

They choose to go home.