Harry stood on the balcony of their Italian villa, overlooking the Maritime Alps, near the French border.
“You were right, Draco. This place is breathtaking.”
“You’re breathtaking,” Draco replied, still lying on the bed, covered in soft white satin sheets. Harry had left the French doors to the terrace wide open, allowing Draco to take in the view of the mountains in addition to Harry.
They had stayed at the Palazzo Cloisters the night before, after a week in Venice. Draco decided not to take Harry to the place in Como, where he had gone with other lovers. Though he had visited the area of Italy in which they were currently, Draco had not stayed at this particular villa. There were only three more days of their official honeymoon.
“I wish we could stare at this view forever.”
“So do I,” Draco leered.
Harry turned around and grinned.
“You’re impossible.” He plopped himself on the bed. “So what shall we do today? What sorts of entertainment does this little town of Triora offer?”
“Well, it’s definitely known for its cuisine. Do you like pesto?”
“There are a couple of wonderful restaurants close by, if you insist on leaving our private little retreat.”
“All right. But we can’t eat the whole time we’re here.”
“Right you are. Pasta goes straight to my waist,” Draco said rubbing his belly. “We’ll have to do something to work it off.”
Ignoring Draco’s innuendo, but smiling, Harry said, “The caretakers mentioned something about a city with a casino not too far.”
“San Remo,” Draco said. “I’ve been there, but I was too young to gamble at the time. Actually, that might a nice diversion. We can dress in our finest tonight and I can make everyone jealous with you on my arm.”
“What about during the day?”
Draco sat up and traced a finger around one of Harry’s nipples.
“I’d prefer to stay right here in bed, but if you really want to go out, there are natural pools with falls and lush greenery. Very romantic.”
“I like the sound of that.” After a pause, Harry asked, “Have you gone there with anyone?”
“Now Harry, you can’t be jealous of everyone I’ve gone anywhere with. I don’t ask you about every man you’ve ever been with, do I?”
Harry frowned. “No. Now that you mention it, you’ve never asked about my past love life.”
“No, and I won’t. Partly because it truly doesn’t matter. Partly because, if I don’t know who they are, I can’t hex them.”
“You think I’m joking.”
Harry laughed harder. “No. I believe you’re quite serious. I’ll stop asking you about yours, then. You’re right, what matters is that we’re together now.”
They spent the remainder of their time in Italy exploring Triora, eating, and making love. As lovely as the vacation was, though, they were happy to get back to Hogwarts. Draco spent a fair amount of time reworking potions while Harry revised his story.
By the end of August, the first tome was ready to be sent out to local wizarding publishers and agents for consideration. Harry sent out his queries before the new school year began so he could concentrate on his curriculum, as he knew it would be weeks, if not months before he got any feedback.
The school year got off to a busy start and November seemed to arrive quickly. The new Charms professor was a woman who taught at Beauxbatons for twenty-six years before moving to Hogwarts for a change of pace. Draco had remembered her from his days of student teaching, but didn’t know her well. Harry was just thankful that the new professor was a woman, with no designs on either of them.
Two weeks earlier than expected, Harry and Draco found themselves sitting in chairs at St. Mungo’s, anxiously awaiting the birth of Ron and Hermione’s first child, along with several members of the Weasley clan.
George arrived, with tea in hand for Molly and Arthur.
“Any word yet?”
“Not yet,” Molly groused. “Not one word. And we’ve been here almost two hours.”
“These things take time, dear,” Arthur said, sipping his tea.
“Would you like me to get you something to eat from the cafe, Molly?” Harry offered.
He stood, preparing to leave when Ron burst through the doors, breathless.
All eyes were on him as they waited for him to speak.
“I’m a father,” he muttered.
Molly was the first to throw her arms around her son.
“Well, is it a girl or a boy?” she asked.
“Uh . . .”
“You did ask, didn’t you?” George laughed.
“I think I’m still a bit in shock, but I did remember to ask.” Ron paused. “It’s a girl.”
“When can we see her?” Molly immediately asked.
“They’re still cleaning her up and tending to Mione.”
“How is the poor dear?”
“Exhausted, but good. I’ll let you know when you can come back to the room,” Ron said, then disappeared behind the doors again.
Molly beamed, “Another girl. It’s so nice that the cousins will be able to play together.”
“Kind of ironic, isn’t it?” George began. “All your boys are having girls.”
“And after so many generations of Weasley boys,” Arthur added. “I guess Ginny started a trend.”
“What trend?” Ginny asked as she walked into the waiting room. She kissed her mum’s cheek. “Is there news?”
“Yes. It’s a girl,” Molly replied.
“Serves Ron right,” Ginny laughed. “What did they name her?”
“Oh, we didn’t even ask,” Molly said.
Ginny turned to see Harry and Draco sitting together.
“Harry, I didn’t know you’d be here,” she smiled.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he replied, standing to greet her.
She went to hug him, but stopped short. “What’s wrong?” she asked quietly.
“Harry Potter, don’t you lie to me. I can see that something is bothering you.” She let out a small gasp. “Is the baby all right?”
“Yes, Gin, the baby’s fine. As far as we know. Ron didn’t give too many details.”
“Then what is it?” Ginny quickly glanced at Draco, who was busy reading a book. She took Harry’s elbow. “Come on, let’s take a walk to the cafeteria. I haven’t eaten since lunch.”
Harry leaned over Draco. “I’ll only be a little while. Do you want anything?”
“No, I’m fine.” He gave Harry a reassuring smile. “I’ll come get you if Ron comes back.”
“Thanks love.” Harry kissed his temple and walked with Ginny.
“Is everything all right with you two?” she asked the moment they were out of earshot.
“Yes, things are great. Really, Gin. Draco and I are very happy together.”
“But there is something bothering you.”
He sighed. “I guess I’m feeling left out.”
“Everyone else is starting families.”
“Not me,” Ginny laughed.
“But you’re not even married yet,” he pointed out.
“Not yet,” she said smiling.
“Ginny, did you get engaged?”
“No, but we’ve been talking about it. Owen is four years older than me. He said he’s ready to settle down. And he loves my family.”
“Your family is easy to love.”
Ginny placed a hand on Harry’s arm. “This isn’t about me, though. I want to know how you’re feeling?”
“I told you, it’s nothing. Just a little jealous, I suppose.”
“You don’t have to be. You and Draco can have a family too.”
Harry remained quiet the rest of the way to the cafeteria. Once there, the two parted ways to gather up snacks for the others, and a sandwich for Ginny. They met back up at the cashier to pay for their items. Ginny patiently waited for Harry to speak on the way back to the waiting room.
Finally, about halfway there, Harry admitted, “Draco doesn’t think he wants a family.”
“Oh. And did you not know this before you got married?”
“We didn’t really talk about it. I just assumed that was what most people wanted, eventually. I suppose I should have realized Draco could have a different outlook on the subject, considering his own family life.”
“You’re both still young. Maybe he’ll change his mind,” she suggested.
“Maybe. He did say that he would think about it, at least.”
“There’s always hope, Harry.”
He smiled, but he knew she couldn’t really understand. “You’re right,” he said, mainly to placate her.
When they arrived back at the chairs, everyone but Draco was gone.
“They all just went back to look at the baby,” he told them. “I was about to look for you.”
Harry and Ginny dumped the bags full of snacks on a couple of chairs and began to walk through the double doors to the maternity ward. Draco fell in line with them.
Up ahead, they could see heads pressed up against the large glass window. On the other side was a mediwitch holding up a small swaddled baby with a pink cap.
“Oh, she’s beautiful. Just beautiful,” Molly exclaimed.
“Mum, you can barely see her tiny little face peeking out,” George said. “For all I can tell, she might be the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.”
“Shut it, George,” she admonished.
Just then, the baby yawned, garnering coos and grins, even from George.
Harry stared at the brand new person with awe. He, too, thought she was perfect. A perfect piece of both Ron and Hermione, created out of pure love. He felt a hand slip into his and turned his head to find Ginny, rather than Draco belonging to the hand.
“Some day, Harry,” she whispered encouragingly.
He smiled weakly back at her, then looked back at baby Rose. Ginny couldn’t possibly comprehend the obstacles he and Draco faced, even if they did decide to have children.
They could love and care for a child the same as anyone else. But they would never have a child that was equal parts Harry and Draco. Only one of them could be blood related to their child. Logically, Harry knew they could adopt and the child would be theirs regardless of blood ties. However, seeing the miracle that was Rose Weasley was a bittersweet moment for him. Another piece of his dream for a family faded. And once again, Harry would have to readjust his expectations for his future.
Draco walked into the quarters he shared with Harry, loosening his tie and plopping himself down on the sofa.
“Damn, I’m glad this week is over. The First Years are the most unruly bunch.”
Harry remained quiet, sitting at his writing desk.
“What do you want to do tonight?” Draco asked. “It’s our last free weekend for two weeks. I have duty next weekend and you have it the weekend after.”
He turned around to face Harry, who hadn’t responded.
Harry shrugged. “Nothing.” He held up a parchment. “Another rejection letter.”
“I’m sorry, love.” Draco’s brow furrowed. He shrugged off his robes and walked over to Harry, placing his hands gently on Harry’s shoulders. “I know you’re disappointed. But someone will have the good sense to pick up your book.”
Harry smiled sadly. “Thanks. But I’ve heard from nearly every agent I queried. Maybe it’s just no good.”
“Now that’s not true,” Draco assured him. He chuckled a little. “Maybe after your real life adventures, the agents are all jaded. They’re looking for something bigger than life. You’re a tough act to follow.”
“Surely, people are tired of the “boy fights the Dark Lord” bit by now,” Harry grumbled.
“What about the muggle agents? They’ve never heard of Harry Potter.”
“I didn’t query any muggle agents. I sort of wanted to keep our lives in the wizarding world,” Harry replied.
“Oh. Well, has anyone given you any feedback?”
Harry sighed. “Only one. And she said just what you suggested— my story needs more action.”
Draco leaned down, close to Harry’s ear. “Maybe you ought to give it to them. The one about Liam and Drake has plenty of action.”
Turning his head, Harry’s lips brushed Draco’s cheek. “I don’t think that’s the sort of action they’re looking for.”
“Ah, but I am,” Draco whispered. “In fact, I’ve decided what we should do tonight.” He turned so his lips could meet Harry’s.
Draco was able to coax Harry out of his melancholy with a few well-placed kisses as he pulled him into their bed chamber . . .
“Mm, so what shall we do for the rest of the weekend?” Draco stroked Harry’s sweat soaked hair as they lay together.
“I was kind of hoping to visit Ron and Hermione. Rose is already a month old and we’ve only seen her once since she was born.”
“It’s not like you’re missing much,” Draco snickered. “What can she possibly do besides sleep and shite?”
“Babies don’t shite. They poop,” corrected Harry. “I just want to see her. I want to be part of her life. I am her Godfather, after all.”
“All right. Why don’t you floo call them tomorrow and see if we can visit.”
“I can go by myself if you don’t want to.”
“Harry, I do want to go with you. Just because I’m not quite thrilled with infants the way everyone else is, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be social with you and your friends.”
Harry pursed his lips. “I was hoping by now you’d consider them your friends too, not just mine.”
“Well, I do but . . .”
“But nothing. They are your friends.”
“Then I will definitely go with you,” smiled Draco.
The following morning, they floo called Ron and Hermione, who were more than happy to receive guests. In fact, they seemed almost eager.
“Harry, Draco, so glad to see you,” Ron greeted them at their front door, practically hugging them both. “Come on in.”
Draco glanced at Harry with a raised eyebrow as they entered the house. Somewhere, behind a closed door, a baby cried. Loudly.
“How is everything going?” Harry asked. He didn’t want to say it, but Ron looked like shite.
“Great. Just fuckin’ great,” Ron smiled uneasily.
“No, of course not. We haven’t slept in two weeks.” Ron tugged at his hair. “She cries all the bloody time. The doctor said it’s something called colic.”
“I don’t fucking know. Whatever it is, it makes babies cry. And we’re part of the lucky twenty percent that get it,” Ron answered sarcastically.
“How about if I make some tea?” Draco offered, and headed for the kitchen.
“I’m sorry,” Ron slumped. “Things started off so great. She was a doll. And then, all of a sudden she started crying a couple of weeks ago.” He looked in the direction of the wailing. “At least I get to go to work during the week. Mione’s stuck here twenty-four, seven.”
As if on cue, Hermione walked out of the nursery, baby Rose swaddled in her arms.
“You take her,” she grunted at Ron. “Harry, good to see you.”
He gave her a hug. “I’d ask how you’re doing, but Ron’s already filled me in.”
“I’m sure he’s painted quite the grim picture,” she rolled her eyes. “She cries a lot, but not all the time. He doesn’t have any tolerance for it.”
They both looked at Ron, who was rocking the baby clumsily.
Hermione leaned forward and whispered, “He tries. He really does. But he’s pants at the whole baby soothing thing.”
Carrying a tray with a steeping pot of tea and four small handleless cups, Draco entered the drawing room.
“Hello,” he smiled pleasantly, as though Rose’s crying wasn’t bothering him in the least.
“Oh, thank you Draco,” Hermione said, appreciative of the refreshment.
“I’ll be back with some milk and sugar,” he said.
“No, sit. I’ll get it,” she insisted.
Meanwhile, Harry was eyeing Ron and his daughter.
“Why don’t you spell Ron for a while,” Draco said. “You know you’re dying to.”
Harry smirked, knowing Draco was right, and walked over to Ron. He held his arms out for the infant. Ron didn’t hesitate to hand her over.
Even bawling, Harry thought Rose was perfect. He shifted her up so her head rested on his shoulder, and her crying temporarily abated.
Ron frowned. “How’d you do that?”
“She doesn’t cry every minute of the day, Ron,” Hermione said, bringing another tray with milk, sugar and almond biscuits into the room.
Harry patted her bottom. “I think she’s got some wind. Either that, or she’s pooped.”
“I’ll change her,” Hermione said, and took her back into the nursery.
Draco began to pour our tea. “Have you tried a dummy?” he asked.
Ron shook his head. “Hermione’s parents said it’s not good for the teeth or the, um . . .” He pointed inside his mouth. “Here.”
“The roof of her mouth?” Harry questioned.
“The palate,” Draco clarified.
“Yeah, that.” Ron pointed at Draco. “A dummy might mess that up. But they’re dentists for Christ’s sake. They should be able to fix that sort of thing, right?”
Harry shrugged. “Can’t you use magic to make her stop crying? Or cast a silencing charm on her?”
“Do you think I didn’t try that the first time she cried?” Ron threw up his arms. “Hermione was furious with me.”
Just then, Hermione came back with a freshly changed Rose, who, for the moment, seemed content.
“And rightly so, Ron,” she said. “Babies’ cries mean different things. If you silence them, you won’t know what the baby needs.”
“May I?” Harry asked, impatiently.
He took the baby and sat in a rocker, while the others sat down on the sofa to have tea.
The four of them chatted and passed the baby when she got fussy. Even Draco took a brief turn. Though, it was almost worse for Harry to see him with an infant in his arms.
They made plans to gather together at the Weasley’s for Christmas, as Harry usually did. The entire clan would be there. Harry was looking forward to seeing Percy’s new daughter, Molly. And he was secretly hoping Dominique would once again affix herself to Draco’s side, and perhaps weaken his resolve.
During the last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, Harry received his last two rejection letters.