“Harry! Draco!” Hermione squealed when she saw their faces through the floo network. “Come through, come through. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip.”
She stepped aside and allowed them in.
“Ron. Harry and Draco are back,” she called out.
Looking confident and at ease, Ron walked into the sitting room with a chubby Rose on his hip, while he carried a butter beer in one hand.
“Look at you, juggling a baby in one hand and a drink in the other,” Harry joked. “Fatherhood’s finally agreeing with you.”
“Look at you all tanned and relaxed. Crikey, even you got some color, Draco,” Ron laughed.
“Yes. All over,” muttered Draco.
“Well, you both look wonderful,” Hermione said. “Positively glowing. You must tell us all about Greece.”
“Can I get either of you a butter beer?” Ron offered.
Harry and Draco both answered yes, and Ron began to hand Rose over to Hermione.
“I’ll take her,” Draco said eagerly.
Without waiting for a response, he plucked the baby out of Ron’s arms.
“Hello sweetheart,” he cooed, bouncing her slightly. She tugged at his hair and pulled his nose into her drool filled mouth.
“Careful there, she’s teething,” warned Ron. He went into the kitchen to retrieve the butter beers.
“Sorry about that. I’ll take her if you’d like,” said Hermione.
“No, that’s all right.” Draco wiped his nose and tucked his hair behind his ears in an attempt to keep it from Rose’s fingers. He took a seat on the sofa, speaking to her in melodic tones.
Harry just watched, smiling. Being her observant self, Hermione narrowed her eyes at the pair.
“What’s going on boys?”
“What do you mean?” Harry questioned, but couldn’t stifle a giggle. Draco ignored her altogether.
“Harry, did something happen while you were on holiday?
“Well, we do have news, but I’ll wait ’til Ron comes back,” he replied, looking as though he were about to burst.
The moment Ron crossed the threshold, Hermione demanded to know.
“What news? What happened while you were in Greece?”
“Draco and I decided, well, actually, we decided before we left . . . but we talked about it a lot while we were away.”
“What? What did you decide?” Hermione was literally on the edge of her seat.
“We’re ready to start a family of our own,” Harry grinned.
Springing out of her seat, Hermione nearly knocked Harry over with a hug.
“I knew it. I just knew it,” she said. “You have no idea how difficult it’s been to see the two of you seeming to want children, but holding my tongue.”
“To you, anyway,” Ron chuckled. “She’s been talking my ear off about how you two would make such good parents. Congratulations. At least I think so. You’re in for a lot of sleepless nights.”
“We know it’s going to be a lot of work,” Harry said.
“It’s worth it,” Hermione told him.
“Yes, she is,” Draco said, allowing Rose to probe his mouth with her chubby fingers.
Harry thought it was funny how Draco would allow Rose and himself to invade his personal space and spill bodily fluids on him, albeit, very different kinds, yet no one else could get close.
“So, how can we help?” Hermione asked.
Relieved that she offered, Harry answered, “We’re not sure where to start. Obviously we can’t just shag and-–” he blushed.
Ignoring his embarrassment, Hermione pushed forward. “You have several options available to you. It only depends on whether you want to adopt, or have a biological child.”
“That’s the thing. We’re not completely sure. I would love to have a child that looks like Draco. But he pointed out that Rose isn’t related to either one of us and we couldn’t love her more if she were our own.”
“We could rent her out to you,” Ron joked.
Hermione shot him a look that said he wasn’t helping. He sipped his butter beer.
“So, in other words, you’re open to possibilities. Good. I’ll do some research on the pros and cons of adoption versus surrogacy and we can go from there. Oh, this is so exciting.”
“Boy, am I glad you gave her a project to work on,” said Ron. “She’s been going stir crazy not working for the past eight months.”
Hermione went to her desk to retrieve some parchment and a quill.
“I’ll need to go to the business offices at the Ministry,” she said to no one in particular. “They’ll have a listing of agencies that deal in adoption and surrogacy. Then I’ll try St. Mungo’s. They may also be able to help. If we have to, we could always explore the muggle world.”
She glanced up for a response.
“I think that would be a last resort,” Harry said. “Having our own squib would be one thing. But purposely adopting a child that would find it difficult to live in the wizarding world may be more than we can handle.”
“Understandable,” Hermione nodded.
“We’d like a witch or wizard, but . . . it doesn’t have to be a pureblood,” Draco said, finally joining the conversation. “Or even a half blood.”
Smiling with approval, Hermione said, “Then we’ll just start with the Ministry and see what happens. I’ll get right on this. I just need to find something to do with Rose.”
“I’ll watch her,” Draco offered. “Er, we’ll watch her. It’s the least we can do if you’re helping us.”
They made plans to return the next day, so Hermione could accompany Ron to the Ministry. Being an employee on leave, she would still have access to records and information. It would be a lot quicker than Draco, or even Harry to request the information they needed.
“Um, before we go,” Harry hesitated. “I have another request.”
“Anything Harry,” Hermione smiled.
“I’ve decided to finally write my memoirs. Sort of.”
“Oh?” Her brow furrowed.
“Do you think I shouldn’t?” asked Harry.
“No, not at all. It’s just that you’ve always wanted to keep your private life as private as possible. I’m simply surprised.”
“Yeah,” Ron agreed. “Besides, there have already been several books written about you.”
“It’s not an autobiography,” Draco interjected. “He’s going to write it as a fiction novel. For muggles.”
“Muggles?” Hermione gasped. “Harry that’s brilliant. But, what’s your request?”
He scratched the back of his neck. “I wanted to ask if it was all right with you two if I write about you.”
Ron snickered. “No one’s ever asked our permission before.”
“Well, I think it’s important,” Harry said. “If you don’t want me to write about your personal lives, I won’t.” He paused. “But you have to admit, you two do have a cute little love story.”
Hermione blushed. “Of course you can write about us. We’re part of your story. But what about . . .” She glanced at Draco, “the less flattering details of your relationships?”
Draco smiled. “Harry and I fully recall the nasty things we’ve done to each other. Not writing about it isn’t going to make us forget. We’re well past it. And besides, it’s supposed to be a work of fiction. So Harry can change any details he wants. Perhaps he can make me less of a prat.”
Ron laughed. “Only if he makes me less of a dolt sometimes.”
“Well, I won’t ask you to glamorize me, Harry,” Hermione said. “You can keep in all of my imperfections.”
“What imperfections?” Ron asked. “You’re perfect.”
Hermione drew in a breath to retort Ron’s sarcastic remark. But he kissed her before she could utter a word.
“In every way,” he said sincerely. “Harry, don’t you change a thing about Mione.”
Harry grinned at his friends, practically in love since age eleven and still going strong.
“I promise I’ll let you read it before I send it out. You sure you’re okay with this?”
Ron nodded. “I want everyone to know she was the brightest witch of her age. Still is.”
A few days later, Hermione showed up in the castle, parchments in hand.
“This is all so complicated. How do we choose?” Harry scratched his head.
“Here, I’ve broken it down by cost, time and rate of success.” Hermione pulled out another parchment with a chart drawn on it.
“Cost isn’t an issue,” Draco said.
“Surrogacy can be quite expensive.”
“I have an account at Gringott’s that I haven’t used in years. It contains a sizable amount.”
“I thought you didn’t want to use your family money,” Harry said.
“For this, I will. Besides, I no longer feel the need to stick it to my father by rejecting my inheritance.”
Hermione continued. “Just remember that the most costly method isn’t necessarily the best for you.”
Harry hugged her. “Thank you. We’ll look all of this over and come up with a plan.”
“I’m more than happy to help. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do. I should be going now. Molly is at our place watching Rose, and I said I would bring lunch back with me.”
Another hug for each of them and she was off.
Poring over parchments, Harry asked, “What do you think?”
Draco leaned over, next to Harry. “Well, none of these are particularly speedy. Even if there are babies waiting to be adopted from this agency, there seems to be quite a lot of paperwork involved, and waiting time. Finding a surrogate will likely take even longer. Then, of course, we’ll have to wait the nine months.”
“But it will at least be one of our, biologically,” Harry pointed out. “If we’re willing to wait.”
Nodding Draco questioned, “Can there really be only one wizarding adoption agency? It seems the odds of finding a match anytime soon are long. It says here the average time from petitioning to receiving a child is even longer than a year. Could be two.”
Harry pouted. “Two years? It takes that long to get a baby?”
“Unless you’re the Chosen One,” Draco smirked.
“If there are no babies to adopt, being the Chosen One won’t matter. This is going to be harder than we thought,” Harry sighed.
“Are you giving up already?”
“No. But it’s just not fair. Everyone else gets to have a shag and nine months later—boom.”
Snickering, Draco said, “Well that’s what you get for falling for another man. Think of it this way though, all those times our friends don’t want to have a baby, they have to use some sort of birth control. We can shag anytime we want without worrying.”
“I suppose. In the meantime, we have to figure this out.”
“So, let’s visit this agency,” suggested Draco. “And get started on our search.”
“Now’s as good a time as any.”
Sitting at a small table with Draco, Harry scratched his head.
“These questions are all geared toward heterosexual couples. Which one of us is the mother?” he laughed.
“Just cross out mother and write in father,” Draco suggested. “This one is easy. We won’t be using our own eggs.”
“Why do they care what jobs we have or where we live?” Harry asked. “It’s not as though regular couples have to get the okay before they have children.”
“They want to make sure we can pay the fee, most likely. It won’t be a problem.” Draco frowned, glancing down at the next question. “Perhaps we should have gone with a muggle agency after all.”
Draco pointed at the parchment. “It asks about past trouble with the law. They could deny us because I’m a Death Eater.”
“Were,” Harry emphasized. “And you were never formally arrested. What if we simply answer no.”
“We have to be honest, Harry. They would definitely turn us down if they find out we’ve lied on the application.”
“You’re probably right.”
They finished filling out the multitude of paperwork and waited for the selection coordinator. After waiting more than thirty minutes, a woman finally came in.
“Hello,” a short, fair-haired witch smiled as she walked in. “I’m Ms. Singleton.”
She took a seat across from them and spun the pile of parchment toward herself. Harry and Draco sat nervously while she looked over the application.
“How long have you been married?” she asked without looking up.
“Um, almost a year and a half,” Harry answered. “Is that long enough?”
“Oh, there’s no set time requirement. Some couples are ready earlier than others. However, we’d like a reasonable reassurance that the marriage will last.”
“It will,” said Harry.
The woman laughed. “All newlyweds believe that Mr. . .” She shuffled back to the first parchment. “Oh, Mr. Potter.” She looked up.
“Mr. Potter-Malfoy,” he corrected. “But, please, call me Harry.”
Ms. Singleton turned her gaze toward Draco.
“Then you must be Mr. Malfoy,” she said warily.
“That’s Potter-Malfoy,” Harry repeated impatiently. He was tired of people refusing to use their hyphenated names.
“Of course. My apologies,” she said somewhat insincerely, in Harry’s opinion.
“Will you be able to help us have a child?”
Ms. Singleton pursed her lips. “Helping couples have children is what we do, through science and magic. However, the wizarding community is small compared to the muggle world. It’s finding a suitable surrogate that may be a problem.”
“Why?’ Harry demanded.
“This is a volunteer operation, Harry. I have my doubts about finding one willing to carry a Death Eater’s baby.”
Harry clenched his fists. He was ready to let the little witch have it, when Draco stood and calmly said, “Thank you for your time. Good day.” He nodded and began to walk toward the door.
“Wait, Mr. Malfoy.” Ms. Singleton glanced at Harry. “I mean, Mr. Potter-Malfoy. I didn’t say we wouldn’t help you. I only wanted to give you a realistic idea of what you’ll be up against.”
“It was unnecessary. I have been up against prejudice most of my adult life.”
The selection coordinator smiled. “Perhaps if the donor knows it’s your husband’s child she would be carrying . . .” She didn’t bother to finish. Both Harry and Draco caught her meaning.
“Naturally,” said Draco.
“No,” Harry protested. “I want the baby to be yours.”
Ignoring his pleas, Draco continued. “When can we begin?”
“Well, since you’ve filled out all the paperwork, the next step is ours. We’ll take your preferences into account but we may not find a perfect match. Then Harry can come in to give his specimen.”
“Did you hear me?” Harry asked. “I said I want the baby to be Draco’s.”
“Harry, I assumed all along that any baby we conceived would be yours, genetically.”
“But I assumed it would be yours. You have parents, biological grandparents for our child.”
Draco’s brow furrowed. He couldn’t deny Harry’s logic. However, he could counter it.
“You are the greatest wizard of our generation. Your legacy should be preserved and passed down.”
“A legacy that will be impossible to live up to,” Harry said. “That’s a burden I wouldn’t want to put on anyone.”
“Well, you both can argue until you’re blue in the face,” the coordinator said. “But I can’t move forward until you make a decision.”
Harry and Draco both sat stubbornly silent.
“What if your parents won’t accept a grandchild without blood ties?” Harry finally asked.
The corner of Draco’s mouth rose. He had him. “If my parents can accept the Weasleys as in-laws, they will accept your child as their grandchild. And Ms. Singleton is right. We’ll have a much better chance of finding a witch willing to carry the Chosen One’s baby.”
“As long as she realizes it’s also your baby.”
“His name will be on the forms, the same as yours,” Ms. Singleton told Harry. “But, of course, yours will be the selling point.”
“All right, then,” Harry said quietly in defeat.
Smiling triumphantly, Draco said to the election coordinator, “We’ll expect to hear from you soon.”
As predicted, there was no shortage of witches willing to be the mother of Harry Potter’s child. For a price, including the chance to meet the elusive wizard.
Ms. Singleton lined up several interviews with potential candidates within a few weeks. And Harry and Draco found themselves once again in the offices of Progeny by Proxy. They’d met several witches, all with similar physical and less tangible qualities that Harry and Draco were looking for.
The first sneered the moment she laid eyes on Draco. Harry immediately ruled her out in his mind. The second reminded them very much of Luna Lovegood, which put her in either the yes or no column, depending on who was deciding. The third was clearly only in it for the money, as she was unimpressed by Harry’s pedigree, and only wondered aloud if there was anything she could do to earn extra money in the process. Last was a young woman who confessed to lying a bit on her application.
“So, you’re not proficient in potions?” Draco asked her.
“Oh, I didn’t lie about that. I mean, I’m not a master yet. But I’ve been apprenticing with an apothecary for two years.”
“And why would you want to do this?”
“Well, frankly, I’d like to open up my own shop somewhere when I complete my apprenticeship. But I don’t have much saved. My position doesn’t pay well.”
Harry cleared his throat. “Then, what did you lie about?”
The girl glanced away. “I’m not a half blood. I’m a muggle born.”
“Why lie about that?” questioned Harry.
“Well, I’d been passed over a couple of times because of an old witch’s tale. It claims that squibs are more likely to come from muggle borns.”
“Is that true?’ Harry asked.
“No,” she answered. “Nobody knows why there are squibs. Same as no one knows why some muggle couples can have a magical child.”
“It’s pureblood propaganda,” Draco interjected. “I remember hearing that growing up. A long time ago, a pureblood healer put that notion in people’s heads, without any credible research. But the purebloods used it as a reason to try and rid the wizarding world of muggle borns.”
“That’s terrible,” Harry frowned. “Well, you shouldn’t have lied, but I can understand why you did. Is there . . . anything else you lied about?”
The young woman appeared embarrassed. “My, um, hair color. I’ve been coloring it blonde since I was a teenager.”
Harry laughed. “Hardly a capital offense.”
“Is there anything else you’d like to add?”
She sat and thought a moment. When it looked as though she didn’t, Draco stood to end the interview.
“I think it’s great how you turned your life around,” she said.
“Not that I actually believed Skeeter’s articles. But the rest of it. Everyone deserves a second chance. You’re one of the few who . . . isn’t in prison, or on the run, or–” She stopped short at Draco’s glare.
But Harry smiled. “Thank you for saying that.”
“I believe we have one more candidate,” Draco said, ignoring the other two.
They both stood as well, and Harry shook her hand.
“Thank you. We’ll let you know.”
She nodded, leaving Harry and Draco alone in the room.
“We don’t have any more potentials to talk to.”
“I know,” Draco said.
“I like her,” Harry said cheerfully.
“What? Why not?”
“She lied on her application.”
Harry frowned. “But you said before that you didn’t care about blood status.”
Draco snorted. “If she admitted to lying about those couple of things, she’s probably lied about more. For all we know, she could be a serial killer.”
“You’re being ridiculous. I suppose you liked the one before her.”
“She was sensible, and forthright,” Draco said.
“And not very personable,” remarked Harry. “What about the second one?”
“Looney Lovegood’s doppelgänger?”
Snickering, Harry said, “So, it wasn’t just me? I half expected her to start talking about some invisible creatures living in the Black Forrest. I won’t even bother bringing up that first witch.”
“Then it looks as though it’s a toss-up between the last two potentials,” Draco said. “And we don’t agree. So, how do we solve this?”
Harry sighed. “All right, then. Let’s go back and look at their applications. Maybe we could list pros and cons?”
“That would seem the logical way to go about it. Except that your preference admitted to lying. How are we going to evaluate her application?”
“She admitted to lying about her hair color, Draco.”
“And blood status,” Draco pointed out.
Nodding, Harry conceded, “That is a little more serious. But if we weren’t choosing based on blood status anyway, I don’t think it should affect our decision.”
Reluctantly, Draco agreed with Harry’s point, but still maintained his wariness over her applications. After making a list of positive factors for each witch, Harry’s original choice prevailed. Barely.
However, to get things moving, Draco agreed that she would most likely be more pleasant throughout the pregnancy. And they wanted to be kept informed as it progressed.
Harry picked up the folder with the blonde woman’s profile and application in it, and he and Draco walked down the hall to Ms. Singleton’s office.
“Ah, finally,” she said. “Have you made your choice?”
“Yes,” Harry replied happily. “This one. Belinda.”
Singleton smiled. “Just out of curiosity, what made you choose her?”
“She didn’t mind at all that we are two men, for one. And she was sympathetic to Draco. I don’t think she had a problem at all having a child for him. I don’t know that I could say the same of all the others.”
“Very well. Let me just take a look at her cycle and we can schedule a time for you to come in.”
Both Harry and Draco appeared slightly uncomfortable at the mention of female matters, though it was all part of the process.
After looking over Belinda’s profile, the selection coordinator looked up and smiled.
“You’re in luck. She’s due for her menses in three days.” Singleton chuckled at the discomfort on the men’s faces. “We’ll be able to start treatment in about two weeks. We’ll have you come in to make your deposit, we’ll do our magic in the lab and implant by the beginning of September.”
“That’ll bring us to June,” Draco said, quickly doing the math. “Perfect timing.”
“So, when should I come in?” Harry asked.
“I’d say you’ll have a window of August twenty-eighth to September fourth. Be prepared to come in on short notice.”
Nodding, Harry answered, “All right.”
The pair left, excited that their journey to parenthood had officially begun.