Epilogue: Three Years Later
The Weasley clan was gathered around the Burrow's kitchen table for their weekly ‘family’ meal, implemented not long after the end of the war. Having experienced more loss and heartbreak than anyone could deserve, it was a chance for healing, to move forward—not to forget those they had lost, but be thankful for those they still had.
Harry had never had a real family until the Weasleys. Loud and abrasive, kind and compassionate. He couldn’t help but feel a sense of ease and warmth surrounded by such a cheerful lot.
Although Harry and Ginny had split after a pisspoor attempt at a relationship, Molly insisted he would always be welcome. And by welcome, 'he better get his arse over here, or there will be hell to pay'. Harry knew they were a family long before his involvement with Ginny, but it pleased him, all the same, to know he still had a place here.
The awkwardness between himself and Ginny had long faded, as their friendship extended far beyond their time as a couple. They had a lot in common, quidditch especially (Ginny was a Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies). They got on well and had been through a lot together. More than most. But that was just it. She was a fantastic friend. They had tried, but both knew that it would never be what they wanted it to be in the end. What they needed. Deserved.
Not to mention the fact that they were both undeniably gay.
When Harry caught a glimpse of the way Ginny looked at Luna, and Luna in return, it only made him smile. The evening Ginny arrived at supper with Luna latched to her arm, something clicked. It could have never been Harry. Not when two people so clearly brought out the best in one another. A love so pure that it made Harry’s heart ache. Not with jealousy, but happiness. Perhaps a tiny sliver of loneliness as well.
Those that saw him for who he was—a person, not the Savior of the Wizarding world—had settled into their own lives. Their new sense of normalcy.
Ron and Hermione had been married just over a year and were expecting their first child. Of course, there was Ginny and Luna—an engagement announcement anticipated any day now. Charlie was still in Romania. Percy was married to his job, although there'd been some suspicion that he'd been spending quite a bit of time with a certain Oliver Wood. George and Katie Bell had reconnected after applying for a job at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and the rest is history.
Then, of course, there was Bill and Fleur. The unattainable example of pure marital bliss. It was too much for Harry at times, but Fleur had always been too much. Of course, she was kind in an abrasive sort of way, but Harry held no ill will against her (regardless of Ginny and Hermione's insistence). She loved Bill with everything that she had not reserved for herself and her sister.
As shocking as it may have seemed initially, it didn't really surprise Harry that Bill and Fleur ended up together. As much as he didn't want to admit it, Bill was fucking hot as hell, and Fleur would not have settled for anything less. Even with Greyback's scars raked across his face, they only seemed to enhance his attractiveness. He’d always looked cool—with his long hair, graphic tees, tight and tattered black jeans, leather jacket, and dragon-hide boots. With the scars, he looked...intense and dangerous. It gave Harry chills just thinking about it. Not that he spent time thinking about Bill and his jeans and scars and the way his hair falls into his face just so. No, Harry doesn’t think about that.
Harry's normal wasn't anything to get excited over. He moved into Grimmauld Place and, with Kreacher’s enthusiastic assistance, made the hovel inhabitable again. Luna had helped him redecorate. As odd as she was with her choice of wardrobe and accessories, she was a bloody brilliant interior decorator. As Ginny would often come around, Harry was confident it was what brought them together again.
Though his home felt like a home, his life was in shambles. His dream of becoming an Auror had been attained, only to find that fieldwork became nearly impossible. People recognised him everywhere he went. It was hard to attempt any sort of stealth operation with people yelling, "Oi, look! It's Harry Potter!" or "Mr Potter, wow, I can't believe it!" or “Can I get your autograph, Mr Potter?” at every turn. Even the targets in question gawked at him. Ron had suggested Polyjuice potion, but the thought of spending his days as someone else entirely didn’t ease his discomfort.
He just wanted to be left the hell alone.
Soon assigned to recording and filing all of the cases other Aurors managed to solve, after about a week and a half, Harry said, "Fuck it," and quit that following day. Of course, this left him safe at home, tucked away from the outside world in which Harry couldn't be Harry at all.
The Weasley gatherings were one of the few opportunities Harry had to socialise. At one supper in particular, shortly after his break-up with Ginny, Harry found him seated beside Bill, which left Harry feeling obligated to talk to the man. They had known one another for years, but they weren’t particularly close. They soon found themselves completely absorbed in conversation. About what, Harry wasn't really sure. Harry didn’t have to think or consider. It just… spilt out. He’d never felt he could talk to anyone like this before, except perhaps Sirius. And Sirius was gone.
Harry always had Hermione and Ron, sure, but to some extent, he knew they would always worry about him. If he said too much, Hermione would immediately devise a multi-step solution to 'fix' whatever ailment Harry had been grappling with at the time. And Ron, well. He was never that good with emotions or comfort. Not that Harry wanted it, but...he needed someone to just. Listen. Someone who could understand what he was going through, or at least try, without concocting some half-hearted response or saying what they thought he wanted to hear.
Bill listened. Not only that, he somehow knew exactly when Harry wanted a response and when he didn't. It was refreshing as hell.
Bill and Fleur hadn't attended often. Harry suspected Fleur didn't have much patience for the loud and overbearing Weasleys, preferring the quiet and controlled environment of their home. About once a month, they would make an appearance, to Molly's continued displeasure.
Harry always found he looked forward to seeing Bill and couldn’t help the twinge of disappointment when he didn’t. He just missed the conversation, obviously. It had nothing to do with the way his laughter rattled Harry's bones or how his mouth dimpled slightly when he smiled, turning Harry’s knees to jelly. It was only that Arthur's passionate discussions about muggle life weren’t nearly as enthralling as his and Bill's, well. Nothing, really.
After a few months, Bill came every week, even without Fleur. On these occasions, Harry couldn't help but notice, or maybe he imagined it, that Bill seemed to smile more, laugh louder, finding little ways to touch Harry. A slap on the back, a hand on his shoulder. He’d even asked to feel the scars on the back of Harry’s hand, I Must Not Tell Lies, and Harry nearly melted into the floor.
On this particular evening, they happened upon Harry’s continued impatience with the unceasing Hero-Worshiping of the wizarding community, which was a recurring theme of their conversations. Harry knew it was a bit self-involved, but Bill empathised all the same. It had reached the point that Harry was considering selling Grimmauld Place and moving to the country, some muggle town where no-one knew who or what he was. But that wouldn’t feel any less lonely.
"Why don't you come out to Shell Cottage, Harry?"
"What was that?" Harry was sure he'd misheard him.
"Shell Cottage. Why don't you stay with us for a while? We're well outside the hustle and bustle of London. We don't have any neighbours within miles. Right on the sea. You can come and go as you please."
Harry blinked at him. "You're serious?"
"Of course I am," Bill smirked. There was that blasted dimple.
Harry's chest tightened. "What about Fleur? Won't she mind?"
"No way," he chuckles. "She loves you, 'Arry'!" Flipping his hair over his shoulder in imitation.
Harry couldn't help but laugh. "Okay, sure. But please ask her first, alright? I don’t want to impose."
Bill nodded, still smiling, his blue eyes sparkling in anticipation. Harry felt his cheeks heat and coughed, looking away abruptly.
The hell, Harry? This is Bill. Your mate. Your very married mate. Just a casual visit to spend some time with your...friend.
Harry couldn't help noticing the small smile Bill sustained through the rest of the meal.
When they had all finished supper, Harry helped Molly clean up as he always did. All the other couples tended to scatter, returning to the lives Harry wished he had. Bill had disappeared, and he could only assume he had left with the rest, leaving Harry feeling...empty.
"Anything the matter, dear?"
"Oh, no. I'm fine, Molly. Really."
She gave him a speculative stare as mothers often do when they know their child isn't entirely truthful. He responded with a forced smile before carrying on with Scourgifying the pots and pans.
With the last of the dishes cleaned and comfortably returned to their cupboards, Harry bid Mrs Weasley a goodnight. Though he always travelled by Floo, he made a habit of stepping outside for a bit. Relishing in the crispness of the night air, Harry closed his eyes, breathing deeply. So many memories in this place. When he opened his eyes, a tall figure stood before him a few meters off.
It was Bill.
He all but ran up to the man, smiling brightly. “What are you doing back?”
Bill clapped his hands together. "It's all settled. Fleur is positively thrilled."
"Oh!” This took Harry aback. He hadn’t imagined it would have happened this quickly. “Oh, alright. Great," said Harry awkwardly.
He was uncomfortably aware of how much taller he was than Harry as he looked up at Bill’s handsome face. Silhouetted by the fucking moon.
Merlin, help me.
"Shall we, then?" said Bill extending an elbow, intending for Harry to take it.
Bill shrugged. "Why not?"
"Er...I'll have to swing by my place first."
"Of course." Bill's smile widened as he wiggled his elbow.
Harry could get to Shell Cottage well on his own, and Bill surely knew that. All of the Weasley residences connected to Harry’s private Floo Network. A quick owl and Harry would have come. Simple as that. But he'd come back to tell him in person. To help him...pack? Harry didn't know what to make of it. He dared not try.
Without thinking, he took hold of Bill’s lean, muscular arm. Not even a breath escaped him before Harry was pulled into darkness.
Landing on Harry's front stoop, he only had a moment to realise their mistake. Enamoured by Bill's moonlit appearance, Harry forgot himself. They should have used the Floo.
"Mr Potter!" FLASH!
Harry let out a groan as he removed the wards as quickly as possible, practically tossing Bill into the entryway. Harry slammed the door behind him, fingers pressed at the crook of his nose.
"Fuck, I'm sorry about that. I should have said..."
"Nah, it's not your fault. As if showing back up at home with a friend is front-page news," he laughed.
You have no idea.
Ron had been the first to visit after Ginny and Harry's illustrious break-up. Next day in the Daily Prophet:
'Harry Potter Leaves Ginny Weasley for Brother Ronald', featuring a photograph of a bewildered Ron handing Harry a casserole dish (courtesy of Hermione).
Hermione had laughed herself silly. Even Ginny couldn't look either of them in the face without giggling for a few weeks after that.
This was precisely why Harry used his front door as little as possible. The press were like vultures, and Merlin, they must work on rotation because they were always fucking out there. As they remained on “public” property, there wasn’t much Harry could do about it. He knew the laws backwards and frontwards, and, unfortunately, it appeared they did too.
"I'm sorry, anyway."
They stood there for a few silent moments, Harry keenly aware of their proximity and the fact that Bill was here...in his house...alone.
"So, which way to your bedroom?" said Bill jovially, breaking the silence.
"Ex-excuse me?!" sputtered Harry.
"Your room. For your things?" Bill's eyes twinkled with mischief.
"Oh," Harry sighed with relief. "Right. Um. You can stay here. I'll be right back."
Bill followed him regardless. Harry could feel the palms of his hands sweating. This had been a terrible idea. How had he become so bewitched to have let this happen? And how the fuck had Harry been so obtuse that he hadn't realised until that very moment how much he wanted to toss the man into his bedroom and shag him senseless.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
"I've got it," said Harry, blocking Bill's way as he opened his bedroom door. "I'll just be a second."
“You sure you don’t need help?”
Harry sucked in a breath. “N-no. Thanks.”
"Alright, then." Bill leaned up against the wall across the hall, his arms crossed, smiling at him like—he should definitely not be smiling at Harry like that. Almost feral.
It took every ounce of willpower not to slam the door behind him. He thrust his fingers into his hair, trying desperately to calm the thumping in his chest. Not to mention suppressing the throbbing erection that could have betrayed everything. Harry took a deep breath before looking about the room. What should he pack? How long would he be gone?
Harry summoned his bag, resting it on the bed as he made short work of packing an obscene amount of clothing. It wasn't as if he was moving in, for Merlin's sake. Harry gulped as his toiletries dropped in and the zipper closed. With another deep breath, he grabbed the bag and opened the door.
Bill had his head tilted back against the wall, exposing his long, pale neck. One of his scars trailed across his cheek and over his jaw. Harry found himself wanting to trace it with his...nope. No.
"Actually, I think I should stay here."
Bill's smile faltered, his brow knitted with concern. "What do you mean?"
"Er...Kreacher gets lonely."
Bill raised an eyebrow. "Kreacher had over 15 years of being alone, Harry. I think he can manage a few weeks."
With a CRACK, Kreacher appeared.
"Master Harry, please do not remain behind on Kreacher's account. Kreacher hears Master Harry's dreams. Kreacher knows how you've long desired privacy with Mr Weas—"
"That will be all, Kreacher!"
Harry refused to look Bill in the eyes. There was no hiding his blush now. He turned back toward his bedroom, ready to lock the door and remain there until death took him, but Bill grabbed his arm.
Harry looked over his shoulder at the unbearably handsome face, blue eyes pleading, piercing his soul. "Please." It was almost a whisper.
Harry hesitated, looking at Kreacher, who not-so-subtly gave him a wink and a thumbs up. His arm tingled where Bill had grabbed him. With a slight nod, Harry nearly bolted toward the drawing-room and over to the hearth.
Bill steps uncomfortably close, holding Harry's gaze as he grabs a pinch of Floo Powder over Harry’s shoulder. He could feel Bill’s breath on his face, making him shudder.
He takes Harry's hand, leading him into the hearth. Bill does not let go before tossing the powder.
"Shell Cottage," he said, almost breathlessly.
Though the green flames produced no heat, Harry felt himself catch fire.
Bill dropped his hand abruptly when they arrive at the cottage, stepping quickly into the living room. A beautiful, silver-blonde Fleur entered the room from the kitchen.
"’Arry? I did not realise you'd be coming zo soon!" A look of panic flashed on Fleur's face. "I ‘aven't ‘ad a moment to clean, I'm so sorry ze ‘ouse is a mess!” She buried her face in her hands dramatically.
Harry looked around the room. If fabric could sparkle, Harry would have gone blind. Everything in its place, as if untouched by inhabitants.
"I'm sure everything is fine, love," said Bill, pulling Fleur into his arms, kissing the top of her head. She brushed him off, smiling brightly at Harry. A tightness Harry could not place twisted in his stomach.
"Oh, 'Arry, how lovely to see you. I am so pleased to 'ave you 'ere!" Fleur swooped in, embracing him tightly, kissing him on both cheeks. "When Bill said you might be stayeeng...Oh, 'Arry." She pressed a hand to his cheek. "Gabrielle still speaks of you quite often. I think she may be in love with you." Her dark blue eyes sparkled.
Harry gulped, his cheeks tinged with pink. Bill let out a slight cough.
"'Ow lovely it would be to 'ave 'Arry in ze family. Perhaps she could come to vizeet as well?" She smiled at Harry, radiating with painful beauty.
Harry cleared his throat, “Isn’t she a bit...young?” The last time he had seen Gabrielle, at Bill and Fleur’s wedding nearly four years ago, and she had been maybe 12 or 13.
“Do not be silly, ‘Arry! What eez five years? Why it is seven between Beel and me. Plenty of time for courtship, and when she eez of age, you can be married!”
“I’m not really…” So much for a relaxing getaway .
Harry stared at Bill, whose demeanour had shifted noticeably. Aloof. Uncomfortable. Annoyed. Running his fingers through his long hair, Bill did not look at Harry but at his wife. When Fleur moved to take Harry's bag, Bill snatched it from her hands.
"I've got it." Without even a glance at Harry, he was making his way up the stairs.
Bewildered by the abrupt disappearance, Harry hadn't realised Fleur was still talking to him.
"'Arry? Are you alright?" she said, waving a delicate hand in front of his face.
"Oh! Yeah. Sorry. Floo travel just makes me a bit sick, is all."
Fleur clasped her hands comically to her face in shock, "Oh, 'Arry. You poor sing! Please, seet ‘ere. I shall grab you some 'erbal tea!" And off Fleur floated toward the kitchen with a grace that wasn't quite human. Which, of course, she wasn't.
Bill came down the stairs to find Harry sitting alone on the couch, turning his head in the direction of the kitchen where china clinked and water started to boil. Bill managed a glance at Harry, unreadable, but their gazes held.
'What’s wrong?' mouthed Harry silently. Not even a glimmer of emotion in Bill’s face.
Why was he acting so weird? As if Harry were a stranger or a guest of Fleur's, not his. Not five minutes before they’d been... interacting .
Fleur returned with the tea, and Bill tore his eyes away, smiling at his wife. "I'll leave you to catch up, shall I?"
Harry's heart sank. "But—"
"Oh, yes, of course!" she responded, delighted, sitting gracefully beside Harry on the overstuffed sofa. She placed a hand on his thigh. "'E's such a bore, isn't 'e, 'Arry? We shall be ‘aving more fun on our own, I am thinking."
Harry's eyes widened, looking over to Bill—a pained expression on his face.
"I think he's amazing,” he said, still looking at Bill.
Fleur giggled, "Oh, ‘Arry. You ‘ave always been so funny,” recapturing his attention by smacking him lightly on the chest.
Harry wasn't quite sure what could be so funny about this statement, but by the time Harry had looked back up at Bill, he was already up the stairs and out of sight.
Over the next few days, Harry hardly saw Bill at all. He would head to work early in the morning, often returning late into the night. Harry couldn’t help but feel...abandoned. Bill had said there would be no one to bother him, that he could come and go as he pleased, but all Harry wanted was to spend time with Bill. He’d come home, barely acknowledging that Harry existed.
Harry wanted to confront him, but either he was in Fleur’s company, at work, or up in their room. Visiting Bill in his room was out of the question, less Fleur came to find them. He was damn near showing up at Gringotts, but Harry knew that would be a disaster.
During the day, Fleur cornered him at any opportunity. If it wasn’t about Gabrielle and how pehrfect zey would be togezair, it was expressing her displeasure of the size of the house, the location, her lack of friends and family, or the way the sea air did such awful things to her hair (which always looked flawless). Harry wasn't necessarily put off, but a bit...sad. It was evident that Fleur was unhappy. Once in a while, Harry would catch Fleur’s sombre expression, but as soon as she caught Harry’s eye, the smile returned in full force.
Before he had a chance to reconsider, Harry had asked, "Then why do you stay?"
Fleur blinked at him, shocked by his frankness. "Why, I am married. Zis eez our 'ome. Why would I wish to leave?"
Harry waited, but she did not say more. Why, indeed.
Four days into his visit, Harry finally managed to escape. When Fleur whisked away to the washroom, Harry jumped at the opportunity to sneak outside. He had yet to walk down to the beach and so desperately wished to. Though the cottage was inviting, open, and overflowing with sunlight, Harry was still indoors. What was the point of leaving home if he was just to remain cooped up somewhere else?
He found the stone. A bit worn, smoothed from wind and sand. He could still make out his sloppy inscription:
Here Lies Dobby, A Free Elf.
Harry next down, placing his hand on the stone. “I’m sorry it took me so long.” He pulled out his wand, transfiguring the adjacent bushes’ leaves into tiny socks of various prints, sizes and colours. Harry let out a small laugh. All he could do was hope the elf, wherever he was, would look upon them and smile.
In need of an emotional reprieve, Harry removed his shoes and socks as he approached the edge of the sea, the wet sand squishing beneath his feet and between his toes. The cold water lapped at his feet as he closed his eyes and breathed in the salty air. He could hear the waves rolling and...soft footsteps in the sand. Harry opened his eyes, turning toward Bill.
Harry only stared at him, not quite sure what to say, which had never happened before. Dressed too casually to have returned from the Ministry, Harry felt uneasy. Had he been here all this time? Avoiding him? His heart already sliced raw after visiting Dobby. He couldn’t help the wave of betrayal and sorrow as he looked at the man—his friend.
Bill stared at him as he approached cautiously as if Harry was a cat easily spooked and darting away. Harry's mouth went dry.
"What's your fucking problem!?" Harry hadn't meant to yell. He wasn't sure where the anger came from, but he couldn't stop it. "You wanted me to come here, right?"
Bill looked out toward the sea. "I figured you needed a change of scenery."
Harry’s frown deepened. "Right,” he scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “But you’ve clearly been avoiding me. Why?" Enough was enough. Harry would get answers, or he was leaving.
Bill's sharp, handsome features softened, turning his head back toward Harry. Tied in a loose knot at the base of his neck, wisps of flaming red hair framed his face, fluttering in the wind. Soft and angelic. At first, it reminded him of Ginny, but it wasn’t Ginny at all. This was Bill. The man who'd saved the Savior. The only person who made Harry feel like a damned human being. Not Harry Potter. Just Harry. He was the reason Harry woke up each day with hope and anticipation of what his future could be. For Bill to pull away from him, it was more painful than any life of seclusion and solitude. He wasn’t just alone; he was less.
Harry clenched his teeth, forcing himself to hold back the truths threatening to spill out between them. Merlin, he was beautiful. The longer he looked at him, the more painful it became.
Tossing his hands up in exasperation, he turned to walk away. Fine. If he was going to be like this, he was getting the fuck out of here.
"Ask me again."
Harry paused, a chill running down his spine. Leave. Just leave. Harry couldn’t—wouldn’t. He sucked in a deep breath, turning back toward him.
Harry stood frozen as Bill walked forward, closing the distance between them. Bill lifted his hand, sliding it up the nape of Harry's neck and into his hair. He shuddered under the touch. So close, Bill's hair tickled Harry's cheeks.
Bill’s blue eyes locked with Harry’s green. "How could I have known?"
Harry stopped breathing. Bill's lips grazed against his. Harry let out a small gasp as Bill's other hand laced into his hair, pressing their lips together.
Harry kissed him back. The burning need inside him that had dwindled over the past few days ignited with a vengeance. He clutched the back of Bill's shirt, pressing his body against him.
Fuck, this was wrong. Fleur was at the top of the hill. She might even see them. Harry ripped himself away, staggering back as Bill released his neck in shock.
"We can't do this."
Guilt and shame washed over Bill's face, mirroring Harry's own.
Bill raked his fingers through his hair in frustration. "My mother was right. We were too young."
"Fleur. She was beautiful, and she wanted me ,” he scoffed. “Everyone thought I was daft in the head to refuse her. God, this is coming out wrong...I was going to break it off...but after this—" he gestured to his face, "—she still wanted me. I never thought...I didn’t think anyone else could. Who would look at me and see the man, not the scars?"
Harry knew this all too well. Their scars defined them, but not by their own doing. Bill had to know they did not matter to Harry in the slightest—and it broke Harry’s heart to think they had affected his self-perception so thoroughly. But he had seen Lupin. So dejected and isolated. Turned away. Ridiculed. Feared. A kind, gentle man, labelled as a monster. If anyone heard how Bill had received his scars, Harry would be lying to himself to think it would not matter to anyone.
"How could I have known, Harry?"
Bill's eyes were sorrowful, pleading. Harry had never seen Bill so vulnerable. The pinnacle of bravery and easy confidence. Harry wanted to look away, to shut his eyes, shut it all out. Nothing could prepare for this. What this could mean.
"That I would want you more than anything I’ve wanted in my life . That you would make me feel...Merlin, Harry. It's like I'm on fucking—"
"Fire," breathed Harry.
"Yes," Bill whispered, taking a hesitant step toward Harry. He could see that fire ignite behind Bill's blue eyes.
It was Harry who closed the distance, wrapping his arms around Bill's neck, allowing strong hands to press tightly against his back as that very fire roared to life within him. Harry kissed him with every repressed desire he'd been harbouring over the past several months, and Bill responded in kind.
Harry had never felt this way about anyone. He thought he'd loved Ginny, but that hadn't been love. Not like this. An all-consuming passion. All Harry knew was that after over three years of loss, pain, darkness, seclusion, and loneliness, his conversations with Bill had chipped away at the empty shell of an existence Harry accepted as his fate. With Bill, he was free, alive, seen and wanted, and God, Harry did not want it to stop.
It was Harry's turn to lace his fingers into Bill's thick hair, slipping like silk over his fingers. Harry deepened the kiss, and Bill opened his mouth to him, their tongues intertwining. The internal fire burned hotter as Harry's need to be closer intensified, to claim and be claimed. His stomach fluttered as the blood rushed to his groin in response. Harry could feel a hardness pressing against him and moaned into Bill’s mouth. With difficulty, Harry broke the kiss, gasping.
"What is this?" Harry panted, their foreheads touching.
Bill's sea-blue eyes met Harry's emerald-green. "Everything."
“What are we going to do?” asked Harry, fingers weaved into Bill’s hair.
“I don’t know…”
Harry’s heart sank. Neither did he. Tears stung his eyes as Harry’s mouth went dry.
"We should get back,” said Bill, clutching Harry’s waist.
"Yeah," said Harry. His gut twisting at the thought of what consequences could be waiting for them up at the cottage. Bill pulled him in for a final kiss before they made their way back up the dune.
After Harry and Bill stepped into the foyer, Bill collected his wand, vanishing the sand from their feet. Their lips were chapped and far from satiated, but as much as Harry wanted more, he couldn't allow them to get carried away. No matter how much he wanted it, the truth was undeniable. Bill was married to Fleur. The high Harry had been riding from their stolen kisses dwindled as he settled back into reality.
They could hear the clinks and clanks of pots and dishes echoing from the kitchen. Fleur poked her head into the doorway.
"Oh, zair you are!" she huffed. "Beel, set ze table for suppair. 'Arry, would you be so kind as to ‘elp me with ze cooking?"
There was no sound of animosity, fury, or hurt behind those words. Perhaps she had not seen them after all. The tension felt by both men eased slightly.
Harry gave a nervous glance at Bill before walking into the kitchen. Fleur looked up, ushering Harry in and tossing an apron over his head. She appeared perfectly normal. Well, normal for Fleur.
Releasing a sigh of relief, Harry picked up a knife and started chopping.
"I received a lettair from Gabrielle, and she wishes to viseet!" said Fleur giddily.
Harry nearly chopped off his finger, whipping his head up to stare at Fleur. She was smiling at him encouragingly, expecting Harry’s response to be equally enthused.
“In a couple ohf days.” She floated over, wrapping her arms around Harry’s neck from behind. “How ‘appy you will be togezair,” she said dreamily.
“Let’s not get carried away—“
“Anything I can do to help?”
Both Harry and Fleur looked up at Bill. “Nevair, you mind,” said Fleur, releasing Harry to shoo her husband. “We’ll be along in a meenute.”
Fleur did not say another word, but her face told Harry everything he needed to know.
Harry couldn't sleep. His mind was racing, his heart pounding—drowning in emotions he never thought he would have to face. Bill was so close. Only across the hall. Sharing a bed with Fleur. His wife .
Harry rolled onto his side. He felt sick. Sick with longing for Bill. Sick for wanting what wasn't his to have. Sick for not giving a fuck. He buried his face into his pillow, picturing Fleur's grieved expression if she ever discovered their secret. He held onto it. It didn't matter what they were, what they felt. It was too late for them. Bill had Fleur, and that left Harry...alone.
But if Fleur had her way, he wouldn’t be for long. Gabrielle would be arriving in a few days. Harry growled in frustration, considering announcing his departure come morning. It was all too much. How could he tell Fleur that he wasn't the least bit interested? That he was extremely gay. So gay, in fact, he was in love with her fucking husband!
He loved him. Loved him so much he thought he would shatter under the weight of a life that would never be his. Tomorrow. He'd have to leave tomorrow. There was no other option. Nothing could change his mind.
With a soft click of his door, Harry lifted his head, heart pounding. Bill entered the bedroom, the moon reflecting on his handsome face, his scars less prominent in the soft light. As Bill approached, Harry rolled over, sitting bold upright. He sat beside Harry at the edge of the bed. The lamp on Harry’s nightstand lit, illuminating them fully.
Harry’s chest tightened. Bill was barely an arm’s length away. The intensity of his gaze sent shivers down Harry’s spine. Fuck . Harry felt powerless. So easy for him to say that he could walk away from this. Forget this. Harry’s eyes traced the contours of Bill's face, made sharp in partial shadow. His lips were so red. Harry could taste them on his tongue, salty from the sea breeze.
Bill’s hand slid slowly across the quilt, the tips of his fingers touching Harry’s. Slowly he knitted their fingers together. Harry held his breath as Bill lifted his other hand, tracing the edge of Harry’s stubbled jaw and down the lines of his throat. Heart pumping furiously, Harry’s chest tingled under Bill’s fingers, sparks dancing across his skin in anticipation. Bill must have read the panic in Harry's gaze and flinched, dropping his hand.
"Tell me no...and I'll leave." Bill’s grasp tightened in Harry’s grip, his expression stoic.
No. Send him away. He shouldn't be here. He can’t be here. Say no.
Harry flinched at the sharpness of Bill’s tone, demanding an answer: end it here, or start what they would not be able to stop.
Harry’s body thrummed with electricity, like a magnet pulling Bill's magic into him through their touch. He couldn’t say no. He could deny it again and again, but he’d known for months. This was it for Harry, and he knew it. His great love. His Luna.
No. It was so much more.
With a flick of his wrist, Harry bolted the door, casting every ward and silencing charm at his disposal. He’d never been more thankful for the endless hours allotted him to master wandless magic. Harry grabbed the front of Bill’s shirt, pulling him in for a desperate kiss.
Let us burn.
Bill leaned into the kiss, his fingers raking through Harry’s hair. His other hand released Harry’s, tearing back the quilt. Harry moved to lean forward, but Bill climbed into his lap, pressing him back against the mattress. Bill leaned back, pulling his shirt over his head, discarding it onto the floor. Harry gaped at the man before him. His lean form towered over Harry, just as he always did. His wildest fantasies were nothing compared to this. Maybe it was the scars or his tough, cool demeanour, but Harry always had pictured Bill like a carved marble statue with clearly defined muscles. Bill was thin and lean. The smooth, pale, freckled chest, tight stomach, and soft, delicate curves were intoxicating.
“Merlin,” breathed Harry headily, sliding a hand up Bill’s side, pausing at the dip of his waist.
Bill shot him that grin Harry knew so well, blue eyes flashing. Bill raised a hand, combing his long red hair back and out of his face. The gesture forced him to lean back slightly, offering a clear view of his abdomen for Harry to feast upon. And he would feast.
Harry grasped Bill’s waist, pulling himself up, Bill comfortably in his lap as he took the man’s pert nipple between his teeth, sucking. Gasping, Bill arched his back as Harry’s hands followed up the curve of his back. Bill ground against him, knitting his fingers in Harry’s hair as he lifted his head to kiss him. Harry groaned into his mouth as Bill’s cock pressed into Harry’s, sending a shock of heat through his body.
“Bill, you’re so—“
“Take it off,” Bill demanded, nearly ripping Harry’s shirt over his head. Bill’s eyes flashed with want as his fingers traced the sinewy curves of Harry’s chest, tracing his abs. Bill bit his lip. “Damn you’re, fit. What else have you been hiding?”
Bill’s hand slipped between them, clasping Harry’s cock beneath the shorts fabric. Harry let out a cry. Merlin, he was so fucking hard, desperate to be touched, skin on skin. As if Bill had read his mind, he grabbed the waistband of Harry’s shorts, yanking them down to release Harry’s throbbing erection, it’s head glistening with pre-come.
Bill pushed Harry back onto the mattress, leaning over him, his long hair curtaining Harry’s face. Bill took Harry’s cock in hand, stroking him slowly. Painfully slow. Harry had never been touched by another man like this, only in his dreams. Dreams that had long commandeered by the man above him. The feel of Bill’s slender fingers engulfing him nearly made him come on the spot, but he forced the pleasure down.
Bill slid himself back, raking his teeth along Harry’s chest and stomach. The way Bill’s hair brushed against his skin made him groan. His face now directly over Harry’s cock, Harry sucked in a breath as Bill licked the pre-come of the tip, holding Harry’s gaze before taking him fully into his mouth. Harry cried out, fisting his hands into the sheets.
His hair pulled off to one side, Harry could see the tendons of Bill’s throat tighten as he bobbed on Harry’s cock. His eyes traced the curve of his back, up to the cleft of Bill’s arse peeking from the waistband of his pyjama bottoms. Harry groaned as Bill licked and sucked, pulling him deep into his mouth. Harry fisted his fingers into Bill’s hair, thrusting upward reflexively. He could feel himself slam into the back of Bill’s throat. Bill made a choking sound, and Harry released him instantly, pulling back. Bill released Harry’s cock, coughing as he wiped his mouth on his arm.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean...Merlin, that felt good.”
Bill looked at him, a devilish grin returning to his face. “Did it?”
If Bill kept looking at him like that…
“Yeah,” Harry breathed. God, he wanted that hot mouth back around his cock, pouring come down his throat.
Bill’s eyes flashed. “You want my mouth.”
Harry nodded, aching with need. Bill’s saliva left his cock cold and desperate for heat.
“What about what I want?” Bill leaned back onto his knees, slipping his fingers beneath the waistband of his bottoms as he slipped them down, releasing his own glistening cock, bouncing as he slid them over his knees, kicking them to the floor.
Harry’s eyes widened. Bill was every bit the man he wanted, but fuck, if his near feminine curves didn’t leave him wrought with desire. Bill took himself in hand, stroking as he watched Harry, watching him.
Harry gulped. “What...do you want, Bill?” said Harry, resisting the need to touch himself. Harry’s arse tightened. Apart from his fingers, Harry hadn’t had anything...inside him before...and he wasn’t sure—
“I want you to fuck me.”
Harry’s eyes widened, his cock pulsing, blood and heat rushing to his groin. Harry hadn’t expected this, he’d always pictured...well, nothing had gone as he’d imagined so far—and Harry couldn’t get enough. He was about to burst. Bill, looking down at him like that, wanting him. Harry moved to lift himself onto his elbows, but Bill leaned forward, arm extended to hold Harry fast.
“Let me,” he whispered, sliding forward to straddle Harry’s hips again.
Bill let their cocks touch as he leaned down to kiss Harry fiercely, hands tangled in each other’s hair. Both moaned as Bill pressed his cock firmly against Harry’s, shifting upward slightly. With a gasp, Bill broke the kiss, both men panting.
“Harry,” pleaded Bill. “Your wand.”
Harry’s brow beaded with sweat from heat, exertion, and nerves. “Er...I’ve never…”
Bill’s eyes widened. “Had sex?”
“No...I mean, yes. Just…”
“Not with a bloke.”
Harry shook his head, gut clenching. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
Bill placed a hand on his cheek. “You won’t. I promise.”
Harry’s heart was about to jump from his chest. He’d never wanted and been so terrified of something in his life.
Bill’s brow furrowed with concern, pulling back. “Unless you don’t want—“
Harry grabbed his shoulder. “No, I do…” Fuck, this was embarrassing. “Just tell me what to do.”
Bill smiled, holding out his hand for Harry’s wand. Harry pressed it into his palm.
“Wow,” breathed Bill, staring at the wand tightly clasped in his hand. “It’s like I can feel...you.” The wand tip glowed slightly, reflecting in Bill’s entrancing blue eyes.
Harry watched in awe as Bill pressed the tip to his navel, shivering as the cleansing charm thrummed through him. With a final flick, beads of lubricant dripped down the inside of Bill’s thigh. Harry growled as Bill tossed the wand aside, their eyes locked. Bill grabbed Harry’s wand hand, guiding it between his thighs. His bollocks resting against his wrist, Harry’s fingers grazed Bill’s slick, tight hole. He nodded at Harry as he leaned back, propped up on his hands, allowing his head to fall back, moaning softly as Harry circled his entrance. With his opposite hand, Harry grasped just above Bill’s thigh, pulling himself forward slightly. Harry sucked in a breath before slipping a single finger inside. Bill’s moan vibrated against his hand as he slowly moved in and out.
“More...please,” Bill wined.
Harry bit his lip, smiling as he slipped in a second, then a third. Bill cried out, tightening around Harry’s fingers. It relaxed nearly as quickly, allowing Harry to thrust upward, hitting his prostate. Bill collapsed onto his elbows, Harry leaning further forward. He halted his ministrations just long enough to slip out from under Bill, his turn to loom. He watched the sharp rise and fall of Bill’s chest as his cries echoed throughout the room.
“Stop! Stop!” yelled Bill, grasping Harry’s arm. “Merlin, Harry,” he panted.
Harry slowly removed his fingers, and Bill collapsed onto his back.
“Did I hurt you?” asked Harry concerned. This would be the second time Harry had lost control. But just the look and feel and smell of Bill engulfing his senses was enough to leave a man reeling.
Bill glared at him. “You daft?”
Bill released a breathless laugh. “Of course not, you dolt.”
Harry relaxed as Bill reached forward, grasping the nape of Harry’s neck, pulling him in for a passionate kiss. Harry hissed as Bill took his lip between his teeth, just as their cocks slid against one another. Bill pressed up into him, his nails digging into Harry’s back.
“Please,” he whispered against Harry’s mouth.
Harry’s emerald eyes locked with hungry sapphire. His stomach tightened as he leaned back to hook his hands behind Bill’s knees, pushing them forward. Still slick with lubricant, Harry stared at the pinched skin of Bill’s entrance. Bill motioned to a pillow, which Harry grabbed, slipping it under Bill’s hips. With one final nod from Bill, Harry pressed the tip of his cock against the small hole. How could he possibly fit?
Harry swallowed his nerves as he pressed against it, which, to Harry’s surprise, opened for him easily. Bill let out a sharp moan as Harry pushed in deeper, hardly about to breath under the intensity of the sensation. It was like a damn broke from deep in his chest—his soul. He’d lost all sense of self, where he ended, and Bill began. He’d heard of that sense of “oneness” an individual could feel with their lover. Harry had never felt anything like that. Not even close.
Fully sheathed, Harry paused, catching his breath. Bill was gasping too, shell shocked from whatever had passed between them.
“Wow,” breathed Bill, looking up at Harry in wonder.
“Are you going to stare at me all night, or are you going to move?” asked Bill smirking.
Harry blinked, his cheeks flushing. “Right,” gulped Harry. Shifting his knees slightly, he grasped the back of Bill’s thighs. Pressing them forward slightly, he pulled his hips back, watching his shaft slide slowly out of Bill’s tight hole before thrusting them forward. Harry groaned as Bill cried his name. Consumed with lust, ready to spill over the edge, Harry thrust hard and deep, the bed shaking beneath them. He could feel his pleasure building.
“Harry! Fuck. I can’t—“ his words cut short with a cry. Bill came all over his chest, just as Harry poured himself deep inside Bill. Tremors radiated through their bodies as they slowly came down from the climax. Harry allowed himself to fall forward against Bill’s come-slick chest. Harry didn’t care. Still inside him, Harry lifted his head to look at Bill, overwhelmed with love and wholeness and an innate sense that he was where he belonged.
Bill had to lean forward slightly to kiss Harry’s scar. Harry pushed himself up slightly, his softening erection sliding easily from Bill’s hole. He pulled himself up further to meet Bill’s mouth, knitting his fingers in the red, sweat-dampened hair. Bill wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck, pulling him closer. The kiss was slow but no less passionate.
Breaking the kiss, Harry brushed the stray strands from Bill’s brow. Bill tensed as Harry pressed kisses along the scars of his face, slowly relaxing under the tenderness of it.
“They...don’t repulse you?”
It nearly broke Harry’s heart to hear the raw vulnerability of that statement. Bill had always carried himself with confidence. The pain and fear in his voice…
“Of course not,” said Harry, lifting his head to lock eyes. “I love you.” Harry prepared for the regret, shame, or pain of revealing this truth, but they crossed his tongue with warmth and ease. He loved him, and nothing else mattered.
Bill searched Harry’s eyes as if determined to find insincerity in Harry’s words. He found none: only a smile, emerald eyes filled with the truth of that love. Bill pulled Harry tight against his chest, burying his face in his neck.
“I love you too,” he whispered.
Harry rolled onto his back, pulling Bill on top of him. Bill lifted his head to find Harry’s smiling face, laced with humour and...bliss.
Smiling devilishly to have found Harry beneath him once more, Bill nipped at Harry’s ear. He nibbled along Harry’s jaw, down his throat, biting and sucking his way across Harry’s chest.
Bloody hell, why always with his teeth? But God, he didn’t want it to stop.
“If you keep that up...I’m going to get hard again,” teased Harry, half-joking.
“Oh, I’m not nearly done with you yet,” he purred.
Bill made his way down to Harry’s thighs, pressing bites and kisses down toward his groin, blood rushing to his hardening cock. Bill pushed Harry’s knees forward, his arse on full display.
“What are you—”
Something small and wet pressed up against Harry’s hole, causing him to shriek out in shock. He could feel the heat of Bill’s breathy laughter before his tongue resumed circling his entrance.
“Fuck...Merlin!” Harry gasped. He didn’t know this would feel so…fucking good!
Harry felt the tip of a wand press to his stomach as a rushing cold travelled through his body. He looked up at Bill, who stared at him intently, his tongue pressed to the centre of Harry’s entrance. As he pushed his way in, Harry’s head fell back against the bed, stars dancing in his vision.
Bill’s tongue thrust in and out before replacing it with one slender finger.
“Can I?” asked Bill.
Harry nodded furiously. His eyes clamped shut as the finger pushed in deep. Harry bit back a moan as Bill pressed against his prostate.
“Let me hear you, Harry.”
Harry opened his eyes, crying out as his pleasure built. A second finger slid in.
Bill leaned forward, his opposite hand propping him up over Harry’s chest. “Do you trust me?”
“I want to make you feel the way you make me feel.”
Nerves coiled in his gut, but he suppressed them. He trusted Bill completely. He had anticipated this from the beginning. Wanted it, even.
“Please,” Harry breathed.
A burning pressure ripped through him as he felt Bill press inside him. “That’s it, Harry. Relax. You’re doing so well.”
Taking a deep breath, Harry forced himself to relax, biting back the tight, searing pain.
“That’s it, Harry. Breathe. I’m going to move now.”
Harry couldn’t help it. He bit down on his lip as his hands fisted in the sheets.
It’s only the first time. It’s going to be weird. But it’s Bill. You want it to be Bill.
Bill pulled back, thrusting forward, leaning down to kiss Harry.
“I know...it’s going to be okay.”
Harry nodded, wrapping his arms around Bill’s neck. The tightness eased with each thrust as Harry acclimated to the rhythm of their bodies moving together. Bill slowly picked up speed, attentive to Harry’s response before proceeding further.
Harry was done with slow. “Faster.”
“Are you sure?”
Bill’s blue eyes flashed as his thrusts intensified, faster, then deeper. Harry cried out before biting into Bill’s shoulder, clutching desperately to him. His pleasure was building.
“Harder,” he grumbled against Bill’s skin.
He thrust hard and deep, Harry crying out as he spilt his seed onto their chests. Bill growled as Harry felt him pulse inside him, filling him. There was nothing like it. To take and be taken. To give and be given. Harry had never felt so cherished, accepted, free, whole.
And he never wanted it to end.
Harry twisted in Bill’s embrace to meet his eyes. “It’s not that simple…”
“Everything’s different now.”
“No, it isn’t.”
Bill released a frustrated breath. “Harry, I’m—“
Harry rolled out of Bill’s arms to sit at the edge of the bed. He stood, walking over to the window. He stared at the sea, moonlight shimmering over the waves. Was it really only hours before that they had shared their first kiss? It felt as if Harry’s entire life was leading up to this—it might have happened sooner if he wasn't preoccupied taking down an all-powerful Dark Lord.
“I know that what I’m feeling...what we’re feeling is real,” said Harry softly. “It just doesn’t change the fact that you’re married, Bill.”
Harry heard the rustle of the sheets as Bill climbed out of bed, wrapping his arms around Harry’s waist, kissing the nape of his neck.
“I’ll tell her.”
“Right, and Fleur is going to smile and say, ‘Wow, congratulations, you two, I sure hope you have a beautiful life together! I’ll be off now!’” mimicked Harry sarcastically.
“What do you expect me to do?” said Bill tersely.
“Let’s be reasonable here. There’s no need to rush this. I don’t want anyone…”
Bill’s grip tightened. “I know. You’ve always been so selfless, Harry.” He turned Harry to face him. “Don’t you think it’s time you thought of yourself for a change? You deserve to be happy. You don’t have to be the ultimate sacrifice anymore, Harry. The war is over.”
“I know it’s over!” he bristled. “It’s not like I can turn it off. I’ve always put others first. I think I always will.”
“Then put me first.”
Harry had no response. Bill was right. If he spared Fleur, it would be Bill who would suffer. If he chose Bill...maybe Fleur could find the life she’d always dreamed of. As if it could be that easy.
He wrapped his arms around Bill’s waist, burying his face into this neck, relishing in the heat of their skin pressed together.
“Stay,” Bill whispered into his hair.
Bill left shortly before dawn. Harry managed to steal a few more hours of sleep before rolling out of bed to meet whatever the day would hand him. He really should go, but he had promised—just a few more days.
Harry was just about to step into the hallway and toward the bathroom when he realised he didn’t have a shirt. He’d need a mirror to assess the damage Bill’s teeth had inflicted upon him. He turned to the shredded remnants of fabric on the floor. Grabbing a shirt from his bag, Harry yanked it over his head, stepping back out into the hall.
Harry looked infectious. Tiny teeth marks and welts spattered his tanned skin. He bit his lip, failing to suppress the explosive laughter that overtook him. Harry healed the marks, running his fingers across his skin. He almost missed them. The thought of Bill’s teeth on him again, oh, God.
Harry hopped in the shower, dousing himself in cold water. He would have to keep it together—as if nothing had changed.
But he was here. He was alone. His cock was...fuck. He bit his lip as he took himself in hand, visions of red hair floating in the wind.
And he’d thought defeating Voldemort was impossible...
The second his feet touched the landing, a blunt force slammed into Harry’s chest. Arms wrapped tightly around his neck as soft lips met his. Harry stood petrified as his attacker pulled back, revealing an exceedingly pretty girl with long silver-blonde hair, just like Fleur’s. She was only a few inches shorter than Harry, and her full breasts remained pressed against his chest.
Harry shook his head, dazed. “Gabrielle?”
Harry’s mouth fell open. He’d always thought that Fleur was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, but Gabrielle...she took his breath away. Literally.
“You look...wow,” he said stupidly.
She batted her long full eyelashes, smiling coyly with unnaturally red lips. Her large deep blue eyes sparkled.
“Oh, ‘Arry. To be seeing you again after all zis time.” She rested her head in the crook of his shoulder. Her hair swayed from side to side as if caught in the wind. Every inch of her skin touching his tingled. “I ‘ave been dreaming of zis moment.”
Harry lifted a hand to pat her gently on the back. “It’s good to see you too.”
She lifted her head, placing a quick kiss on his lips, before turning her head toward…
Harry pleaded with his eyes. ‘You know this is all her, right?’ He was starting to sweat. He managed to peel himself free from the girl’s grasp just to have her latch tightly onto his arm.
“Bill, do we not look positively perfect togezair?”
A vein bulged at his temple as he forced an admiring smile. “Yes, he is quite handsome, isn’t he?”
Gabrielle beamed. She began tugging Harry back up the stairs, and sheer panic settled in as Harry knew immediately what this...well, he couldn’t call her a girl exactly. Not anymore.
“Have you had breakfast yet, Harry?” asked Bill, a bit too sharply.
“Um...no, I haven’t.” Harry gave him a small smile in thanks.
Gabrielle’s face fell into a playful pout. “I guess we can be geeting you some breakfast, ‘Arry. You will sit by me, yes?”
Those blasted eyelashes. She could poke Harry’s eyes out. She tugged him in the direction of the kitchen instead. Harry barely managing a final look at Bill. The mix of hurt, anger, and jealousy was palpable.
To Harry’s mortification, not only did Gabrielle stare at him, batting those eyelashes and licking her lips as he ate, she tried on multiple occasions to feed him. Harry managed to brush it off with a laugh. Why the hell did he have to promise Bill he would stay? He’d have to be eating his words, and it was barely half eight.
“Bill, we need to go to ze store. We are out of nearly everyteeng,” said Fleur, opening the cupboard doors to reveal a lavishly well-stocked pantry.
He was leaning against the doorway, arms crossed, watching Harry and Gabrielle intently. “Didn’t you just go?” asked Bill, a bit testily.
Fleur’s violet eyes flashed as she forced a smile at her husband.
“We. Need. To. Go. To. Ze. Shop.” She grabbed his elbow, her hair starting to curl. “Now.”
Reluctantly, Bill followed his wife back into the drawing-room to collect their jackets. It was obvious that Fleur was trying to get the two of them alone.
“Er...I need to...er...use the bathroom.”
Harry stood abruptly, nearly knocking over his chair. Without another word, he bolted down the hall. He closed the door behind him, not intending to leave anytime soon.
“‘Arry, is everyteeng alright?” It was Fleur.
“What ‘appened?” she whispered harshly outside the door.
“Eet must ‘ave been your cooking,” Gabrielle hissed back.
“I’m fine,” he replied, pinching the crook of his nose.
Accepting his fate, he opened the door to find two disgruntled Delacours. Both smiled at Harry as he stepped into the hall.
“Actually, I am feeling a bit off. I’m going to go lay down.”
Gabrielle looked at her sister, worried. Fleur patted her on the shoulder. “Of course, ‘Arry. We shall not bozair you.” The gentle smile she had given him shifted with fierce intensity as she all but glared at her sister.
On his way up the stairs, Bill grabs his wrist. Harry looks back at him expectantly.
Help me. Hold me. My God, make it stop.
‘I’ll be up in a minute,’ mouths Bill before releasing Harry’s wrists and making his way toward the kitchen.
Itching for the comfort and safety of his room, Harry runs up the stairs. He throws himself onto the bed, burying his face into the blankets in a combination of exasperation and embarrassment.
The door opened, and Harry mumbled, not lifting his head, “Merlin, thank God you’re here. I really need you right now.”
He feels this shift in the mattress beside him and extends his hand, grasped by a delicate hand. Harry nearly yanked his hand away from the shock, but Gabrielle moved with such effortless grace, pressing Harry’s back against the mattress.
“Gabrielle, don’t. You have to—“
Silver blond hair curtained around his face as she leaned forward to kiss him. Gabrielle made short work of her blouse, revealing her bra, crafted from fragile black lace. Harry couldn’t breathe. Gabrielle straddled Harry’s hips, grinding herself against Harry’s stiffening cock.
“Gabrielle, stop,” he gasped. “Please.”
She only smiled, sliding her hands up Harry’s shirt, pressing her firm breasts against his bare chest. Her mouth was centimetres from his when the door creaked open again, and Harry lifted his head just as Gabrielle looked over her shoulder. Bill stood in the doorway.”
“Do not worry, ‘Arry is in good ‘ands,” she purred, turning her face back to Harry.
“Your sister needs your help downstairs.”
Harry could feel her hot breath on his lips as she let out a frustrated sigh.
“Vat on earth could she need from me zat you could not do yourself?” Her tone was sweet, but her vexation was palpable.
“Something to do with...redecoration?”
Gabrielle sat bolt upright, her eyes sparkling with delight. “As soon as I got here, I knew ze parlour needed a little somezing.” She leaned forward to steal a chaste kiss, tapping Harry on the nose with a finger. “Now, don’t you go anywhere, my darling.”
Gabrielle hopped off the bed, picked up her blouse and floated past Bill, taking care to whip her hair into his face.
Harry jumped off the bed. “I can’t do this, Bill.”
“Harry, we need to talk."
"No, I'm done talking!" Harry pushed passed Bill, stomped into the hall and down the stairs.
He ran to the hearth, grabbing a fistful of powder.
“Ron and Hermione’s!”
He thought he could hear another muffled plea as the emerald flames engulfed him.
“Harry! What are you doing here?”
Hermione set her book on the end table, leaning forward to stand, but her large, pregnant belly made it impossible. Harry ran to her side, grabbing beneath an arm to steady her as she stood.
“Well, now that you’re here, I guess we might as well sit down,” she said breathlessly.
Leaning back to take hold of an armrest, Harry helped her sit back into the chair. She shifted in evident discomfort as she smoothed her dress.
“Ron is lucky I don’t murder him in his sleep.”
“What did he do?”
“This!” she pointed at her belly, betraying a small smile as Harry let out a laugh.
“Any day now, isn’t it?” asked Harry, sitting on the couch beside her.
“Next Tuesday, apparently. Though I feel as if it could happen at any moment.”
Harry nodded, his gaze falling to his lap, hands nervously rubbing his thighs. The pounding in his heart intensified as the anxiety overwhelmed him.
“If I’m not mistaken,” Hermione says softly, “you aren’t here to inquire about the state of my pregnancy,” her eyebrows pinched with concern. “Harry, what’s wrong?”
“Is Ron here?”
“No, he’s gone off to help George with some shop renovations.” Noting Harry's sigh of relief, she added, “He shouldn’t be back for a few hours yet.”
Harry forced himself to meet Hermione’s curious brown eyes. “Something’s happened. It shouldn’t have happened...but it did. The longer I think about it, I honestly don’t think I could have avoided it if I tried.” To Harry’s relief, Hermione did not say a word, listening intently. “I think...I know that...I’m in love with someone. The wrong someone…”
Hermione smiled widely. “Oh, Harry, that’s just,” Hermione’s excitement softened to concern as she assessed Harry’s pained expression. “Who is it?”
Harry sat there, his hands moving fervently against his thighs, the words trapped in his throat.
“Is it someone I know?”
“That I know well?”
He nodded again.
Hermione’s brow furrowed in thought. “Is it...a bloke?”
Harry’s head shot up, eyes wide. “How did you...?”
Harry hadn’t told them. Ginny had known, of course, but no one else knew. It’s not as if he couldn’t have. Ginny was with Luna. Percy and Oliver. No one would have cared. He just...never did. It didn’t seem all that important when his sex life was nonexistent.
“Oh, Harry, you can’t think I hadn’t figured it out by now. I never said anything because I was waiting for you to tell me.”
Harry relaxed into the chair. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
“Don’t be daft,” she huffed. “You said...it was the wrong person.” She looked at him expectantly, and Harry bit his lip. “Ugh, Harry, I honestly don’t care. I love you, and I want you to be happy, regardless of what you might think. I’m sure he’s perfectly lovely now, even if he was a Death Eater.”
Harry blanched. “What?!”
“It’s obviously Draco! You two, obsessing over one another, chasing each other all around the castle, bickering like an old married couple. Frankly, I’m shocked it hadn’t happened sooner!”
Harry almost laughed. “Hermione, no!”
Sure, Harry had to admit Draco was attractive and may have had a wank or two thinking about...well. That was a purely physical response. He still hated the git as much as ever.
“Well, then I am completely at a loss for who this could be. If you don’t wish to tell me, that’s fine. Know that, Harry. But I am here if that is what you want.” She leaned forward, only managing to press the tips of her fingers on Harry’s knee. “I know you need to, Harry,” she said soothingly.
It’s now or never. “He’s...sort of. Married?”
She clasped her hands to her mouth, “It’s Ron!”
“Bloody hell, Hermione, you are making this impossible!”
“Sorry! I just...it’s fine…I mean, it’s not fine, but I promise I am here as a non-partisan witness.”
Harry bit his lip. “It’s Bill.”
Hermione blinked at him, her mouth opening slightly with recognition. “Of course it is. You two have been so...Oh, Harry, this is just. Harry, you can’t.”
“But I am. Hermione, you have to understand. I’ve never felt like this about anyone. The craziest thing about it, he wants me too."
“Harry, wanting and loving are two very different things. What if he’s only using you as an escape from his...marital issues.”
Harry hadn’t even considered. Harry loved Bill; that was undeniable. He was sure he loved him too, but...what if it was only temporary? What if Bill had been searching for a means of escape from his less than fulfilling marriage? Harry had made it so easy...
“I don’t think it’s like that…”
“Harry. You do realise that this is a very delicate situation. If this isn’t what you think it is...and others find out. This isn’t just about you, Bill, and Fleur. It affects the entire family. Divorce is not common in wizarding society. Their magic is bound to one another, and it’s not an easy process to reverse. You deserve to be happy and to find love, but don’t allow yourself to be someone’s second choice. Bill is the one in the wrong, not you. You can’t help who you love, but he can either own up to his feelings for you or set you free to live the life you deserve!”
“That’s just it, Hermione. I haven’t been living. You know what it’s like. I can’t leave the house without getting bombarded by press or fans or whatever else.” He launched from his chair, pacing the drawing-room. “Bill makes me feel like I can actually live again. That I am seen for me, not who I was...or what people think I was. I didn’t mean for this to happen, and I don’t think he did either. But it did.”
Hermione let out a sigh. “Molly did say they were too young.”
“That’s what he said.”
Hermione looked at him, surprised. “He did?”
“You weren’t there, Hermione. When he. It isn’t what you think. Him and Fleur. He only married her because he thought she’d be the only option.”
“That’s an awful thing to say, Harry!”
“It’s true! You know what Greyback did to him. He didn’t think anyone else would want him after that.”
Hermione sat there a few minutes, conducting a response. “Regardless of the circumstances, Harry, Bill is married. He needs to decide if the life he wants is worth losing the one he had.”
Green flames filled the hearth, and Harry and Hermione both jumped. Bill stepped onto the hearth rug, dusting off jeans.
“Bill,” she said curtly.
“So...you know then.”
She nodded, her lips pursed into a fine line.
“Before you give me the tongue lashing, Merlin knows I deserve, let me explain.” He turned toward Harry. “Have you looked at your arm?”
“My arm? What are you talking about?”
Bill pulled off his leather jacket, revealing a fitted graphic tee that made Harry’s knees buckle. He extended his right arm, twisted to reveal his forearm. It was faint, hardly noticeable, but as Bill stepped toward them, the intricate brand just below the inside of Bill’s elbow.
Harry James Potter
“My God,” breathed Hermione.
“What’d you do that for?” asked Harry, gawking at the tattoo. Was it a tattoo?
Bill rolled his eyes. “Just, take off your jumper.”
“Here? In front of Hermione?”
“Merlin, I didn’t ask you to get naked. Just your jumper.”
Harry chanced a glance at Hermione as he pulled it over his head. “Right, then.”
“Look at your arm.”
Harry looked down, raising his right arm. Just below the crook of his elbow, Harry could see a faint tattoo of his own. Less of a tattoo but a decorative scar.
William Arthur Weasley
“Hermione, you in here?” Ron whipped around the corner, looking between Harry and Bill, their arms still outstretched. “What’s going on here?”
Harry blushed and dropped his arm, covering the name with his hand. Bill hadn’t moved.
Ron walked up to his brother, looking at Hermione, then Harry, and finally down toward Bill’s arm. At Harry’s name.
“Bloody hell.” He looked at Harry expectantly. “And you?”
Ron slumped into an armchair. “Well, this is. Unexpected.”
“Understatement of the century,” said Harry.
Hermione looked at Bill. “What does this...mean, exactly? For you and,” she waved her hands around before settling back on her stomach.
“Harry’s my soulmate,” he smiled at Harry.
“And Fleur?” asked Hermione.
“Well, that dissolves any other bonds now, doesn’t it?” said Ron. “Nothing can come between soulmates. Not even marriage.”
“So Fleur is…”
“Back in France, yeah,” said Bill.
Hermione gaped at him. “She just...left?”
“Practically ran out, if I’m being honest. I think she would have left ages ago if she didn’t feel like she had to stay.”
He walked up to Harry, lacing his fingers into his. “I’m sorry about all of this. I wish we could have avoided this mess from the beginning.”
Harry lifted their clasped hands to his mouth, kissing Bill’s knuckles. “I’m just glad it did.”
Sobs echoed through the room as Hermione burst into tears.
“Hermione, are you okay? Is it the baby!?” Ron fell to his knees between her legs, lifting her skirt.
“Ugh, I’m fine, Ron,” she snapped, whacking him on the forehead. “I’m just...this is....” She cried harder.
Ron rubbed his forehead, looking up at Bill and Harry. “She gets like this sometimes,” he whispered. “Hormones.” Earning him a second smack on the head.
“Ouch! Is this how you treat the father of your child?”
“I know, I know. I’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon.”
“RON!” Without warning, water spilt from between Hermione’s legs.
Ron jumped to his feet in a panic. “Fuck. Fuck. Sorry. Are you? Do I?”
Hermione glared at him as she cried out, clutching her stomach as a contraction seized her.
“For Merlin’s sake! Calm down, Ron,” said Bill, rushing past him, scooping Hermione up into his arms.
“St. Mungo’s!” shouted Harry, tossing the Floo powder at Bill’s feet as he stepped into the hearth.
Ron froze in place, face chalk white. Harry grabbed hold of his shoulders, shaking him violently. “Come on, Ron. Let’s go meet your kid.”
Ron gave him a nervous smile and bolted for the hearth.
“Isn’t she perfect?”
“Of course, she is. We made ‘er,” said Ron, bouncing the tiny hand clasped tightly around his finger.
“Indeed,” laughed Hermione, Baby Rose swaddled tight and held close to her chest.
“Congratulations,” said Harry as Bill came up behind him, wrapping his arms around Harry's shoulders.
“She’s beautiful,” said Bill.
Ron looked up at Harry and winked. “Quite the day for surprises, eh mate?”
Harry couldn’t imagine ever feeling as happy as he felt at that very moment. Bill brushed his lips along Harry’s neck, sending shivers down his spine.
“I love you,” he whispered against Harry’s skin.
Harry’s heart was about to explode. It was all too good to be true. Too—
“Where are they?! Hermione Granger-Weasley! Is she?!”
Molly Weasley burst into the hospital room, panic-stricken, Arthur at her heels. She looked at Hermione in wonder as she rushed to her bedside.
“Isn’t she just the most beautiful baby in the entire world?” gushed Molly, leaning forward to admire her grandchild’s face.
“I resent that claim,” said George, popping his head through the door. “Everyone knows I was—“ He paused, staring at Bill and Harry.
Harry made to pull away, but Bill held him firm. “They’d find out sooner or later,” he whispered.
“Yes, but this isn’t our moment. It’s theirs,” said Harry nodding toward Ron, Hermione, and Baby Rose.
Bill released him, looking up at his father, who eyed the two of them quizzically. He opened his mouth and closed it, turning toward the source of his wife’s squeals and coddles. He walked up behind Ron, clapping him on the shoulder.
“We should leave them for now,” whispered Harry.
Bill nodded, and they made their way toward the door, followed by George, grinning mischievously.
“It’s true then.”
“What is?” asked Harry.
George pulled a newspaper from his pocket—the Daily Prophet.
'Another Weasley Weaselled Out: Harry Potter, Former Lover and Fiancé of Ginevra Weasley, Leaves Brother, Ronald Weasley, for Brother, William Weasley.'
Harry’s eyes widened as he stared at the front page, featuring an enormous photograph of Harry clutching Bill’s arm on his front stoop. What he’d expected to see was a shocked or horrified expression on both of their faces. However, the moment captured was far more intimate. Harry was staring up at Bill in awe. The smile on Bill’s face as he looked at Harry—there was no mistaking it. It was the same look he’d seen countless times on Ginny’s face when she looked at Luna.
As if the past few days hadn’t been proof enough, but this. Anyone could see what they meant to each other. Harry wanted to look away, but he couldn’t. He stared at the Bill in the photograph. He’d loved Harry then. Maybe long before that. As he thought back to the nights at the kitchen table, the smiles Harry felt were just for him. This was that smile. He’d been Harry’s long before now...and Harry was his.
“I know I should be angry, demanding ‘what the hell is going on’,” he said, “but I’m just gonna stick with the ‘what the hell is going on’ bit.”
Harry wasn’t sure where to start. “Er…”
Bill shrugged off his jacket and pulled out his arm. George stared down at the mark, eyes bulging.
“No way.” He looked over at Harry. “All this time, you could have spared us the misery?”
Bill winced but smiled at Harry.
“Well,” George ran his fingers through his hair. “That’ll make for exciting supper conversation.
Harry looked up at Bill, shrugging on his jacket.
“Now, I’ve got a niece to spoil,” George said, winking at Harry before walking back into the room.
“Should we get out of here?”
“Probably,” said Harry.
“My place or yours?”
Harry didn’t think he was ready to go back to Shell Cottage just yet, the previous night still at the forefront of his mind.
Stepping out onto Harry's hearth rug, Bill took hold of Harry's hand, turning it to reveal his name imprinted on the tanned skin. He grazed it with his thumb. Harry shuddered under the touch.
"It doesn't seem real," Bill whispered, tracing circles around the mark.
Still clutched in Harry's opposite hand, Harry raised the Prophet. "There's no denying this." Harry looked at the photo.
"I'm sure Ron is devastated."
Harry whacked Bill in the side with the paper. "I'm serious!
"I know." Bill took the paper from him. "We'll have to frame this one."
"When did it start?" asked Harry. "When did you realise things were different...between us?"
Bill walked over to the coffee table and set down the paper. "I didn't know what it meant at the time. I just thought it was a normal reaction. Everyone was in a panic." Bill took a seat on the sofa, and Harry sat beside him. "When you came out of that maze covered in blood. I thought I'd die right then and there." He held Harry's hand in his own, tracing the scar that Wormtail's knife had pierced his skin.
"Mum was devastated. We were all in shock. I just assumed I took it a bit harder than most. I wasn't quite right for weeks after that. Then the Order reformed, I moved back to London, and I met Fleur. She made me feel...lighter somehow. Looking back, I'm sure it was more an effect of her veela heritage than anything.
"But there was always something sitting in the back of my mind. An itch I couldn't scratch whenever I saw you. When I'd heard about you and Ginny, I don't think I ate for three days. Protective older brother, I thought.
"God, Harry." Bill's face fell into his hands, elbows perched on his knees. "The night we took you and the Death Eaters—"
Harry placed a hand on his back. "You don't have to. It's okay. I'm okay, yeah?"
“Harry, I know this has all happened so quickly, and I don’t want you to feel like we have to—“
“Move in with me.”
Bill turned to look at him, searching his face.
“Or I’ll move in with you. I don’t really care."
"I just...want to be with you. If that's what you want.”
Bill laughed. "Are you kidding?" He slipped a hand behind Harry's neck, pulling him in for a kiss. "Of course, I do."
Harry ran his fingers through Bill's hair. He could touch his hair for hours. Bill's blue eyes twinkled as he stared at Harry. He barely even noticed the scars anymore. They were just. Him. Handsome and kind. Sexy as hell.
"First things first," said Bill, pulling Harry into his lap. "We've dinner to attend."
"What's this all about?" asked Molly, eyeing her oldest son, anxiously.
Bill had pulled his parents into the kitchen while the rest of the family settled down at the table. He turned to look at Harry, then back at his mother.
"Now, promise you won't get upset."
"How could you say that? I never get upset."
Arthur choked with laughter, silenced under Molly's fierce gaze.
"It's not as bad as you might think. I promise." Bill took a deep breath. "Fleur left."
Molly blinked at him, speechless.
"Left? What do you mean, left?" asked Arthur.
"Well, bring her back!" exclaimed Molly. "Whatever happened, I'm sure it was just a silly misunderstanding."
"No, it's you that misunderstands," said Bill firmly. "Fleur left willingly, and she is not coming back."
"Fine," huffed Molly. "But will you tell us why?"
Before Bill could speak, Harry stepped toward Molly, rolling up his sleeve.
"Dear God," gasped Molly, covering her mouth.
"Merlin's beard," said Arthur. "So, it is true."
Molly rounded on her husband. "What is?"
"Molly, dear, you didn't happen to see Monday's Prophet?"
"Of course not. All stuff and nonsense."
Arthur raised his wand, and a folded piece of parchment flew into his outstretched hand. He looked at Bill before handing it to his wife. She opened it, staring at the photograph.
“Well,” she huffed, “I never…” Her tone softened as tears welled at the corner of her eyes. She smiled adoringly down at the photo. After a slight sniffle, she threw her arms around Bill and Harry. “Oh, Bill...Harry.” She squeezed them tighter. Harry let out a slight choking sound.
“Come now, Molly,” said Arthur, patting his wife on the back.
She released them, wiping the tears from her eyes. She grabbed their hands, looking at her son, then back at Harry. “Harry, you have always been a part of this family. I think it was fate that brought us together. You could have walked up to any family that day, but you found us.” Her smile reached her eyes as they twinkled brightly. “We love you both.”
Arthur wrapped his arms around his wife’s shoulders. “Happy for you, son. Harry.”
“Thanks, Mum, Dad.”
“Thanks, Molly, Arthur.”
“Oh, don’t be silly, dear. Call me, Mum.”
Harry’s eyes bulged as he looked up at Bill, amusement flickering in his gaze. “I’m not so sure.”
“Oh, it just takes some practice.” She patted Harry’s cheek. “Now, does everyone else know already?” said Molly, exasperatedly.
“Er...nearly,” said Harry.
“Ron, Hermione, and George know.”
“Right. So, shall we grab Ginny? If you’re ready…”
“Thanks, Molly...Mum.” Saying it for the first time, Harry’s stomach fluttered. He hadn't known his mother. Molly had always been the closest he had ever come to having one.
More tears. Molly sobbed against Harry, who patted her back awkwardly. After managing to calm her down, Arthur ushered her out into the dining room.
“Are you ready for this?” asked Bill.
“It’s fine, really. Ginny and I would never have worked, and we know that.”
“What the hell did you do to Mum?” asked Ginny, punching her brother in the arm. “Or was it you?” she raised her fist toward Harry, who darted out of the way. She giggled. “So. You’re together then?”
Harry gaped at her. “You saw the Prophet?”
“No,” she waved her hand, dismissively. “You don’t think I’ve noticed you making eyes at one another for months? I’m not stupid. I know what love looks like.” Her cheeks pinked. “Of course, this means there won't be excess Phlegm flying around the house anymore.”
Bill glared at her, “Ginny.”
“Alright, alright. But I’m not going to lie to you and say that I’ll miss her.” She turned toward the kitchen door, twisting her head back over her shoulder. “Well, come one. The family’s waiting.”
Harry’s heart had never been so whole. He laced his fingers into Bill’s and followed Ginny into the dining room, surrounded by smiling faces, laughter, and most of all, love.
Harry looked up with the old grandfather clock's chime, finding his picture on display amongst the other smiling faces.