January 20th, 2030 - 10 a.m.
Harry Potter, despite being a celebrity, had managed to live a long life of love and tranquillity: he had a job he sincerely liked, three kids he loved and a wife that still made his blood boil even after thirty years.
He had routines, quotidian habits that had been a necessity in the beginning, when he still had to ground himself from time to time and remind himself that yes, he was alive, and yes, Voldemort was dead: he drank tea in the morning, he jogged every evening, he had meals Wednesday night at Ron and Hermione’s and Tuesdays and Sundays at Molly and Arthur’s; he wrote to his kids every two mornings when they were at Hogwarts and once a week since they had graduated; most importantly, he woke up early every morning, a residual reflex from the Dursley that never went away.
Which was why that morning, when he woke at 10 a.m. after an adventurous night with his wife (restaurant, drinks and practiced good sex), he felt that something was not quite right.
Harry Potter was also a dramatically superstitious person, which his younger self would have found funny and scarily similar to Professor Trelawney, but years had passed and he knew a bad sign when he saw one.
His wife picked up on his mood immediately, thirty years of practice on her back to know what to say to soothe him.
“Finally, your period has arrived. I couldn’t have handled another son.”
And what to say to irk him.
“Funny,” was all he deemed safe to say, grabbing a cup of coffee.
She laughed heartily.
“Oh, c’mon, it’s hilarious. When it passed nine and you were still asleep, I knew it was gonna be a good day.”
“You laugh now,” he said, sounding ominous, “But this day is going to go badly and you know it.”
“Honey, if you look for it, you always find something that goes badly,” she huffed, amused, before giving him a peck on the cheek.
January 20th, 2030 – 11.45 a.m.
It only took a few seconds, once they entered the Burrow, for Harry to know that he’d been right.
“James has a girlfriend!” shouted Lily, popping out of nowhere the moment they passed the threshold; that felt more like a punch that a good piece of news, but he smiled nonetheless.
“What?” asked immediately his wife, shedding her coat, “Who is she? How long has it being going on?”
“More importantly,” cut in quickly Harry when he saw his daughter open her mouth, “why are you the one to tell us?”.
She smirked, reminding him of her brother, who promptly exited the kitchen with a smug attitude; Bill, Arthur and Lily’s boyfriend, Kyle, were content so simply look without intervening.
“Because, dad,” started his middle son, sitting down with a graceful motion, “I’m the one who told them.”
“Who is she?” tried again Ginny, looking at their children.
Lily rolled her eyes, “Albus won’t tell.”
Now, that made a warning bell go off in Harry’s head, so he zeroed-in on his son.
“Oh, you’ll see. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.”
Ginny sighed “Tell me he’s not back with that harpy.”
Bill raised an eyebrow “Who is the harpy?”
“Carla Shackleton!” supplied happily Lily, sitting on her boyfriend’s lap; Kyle, with endless patience, made her sit more comfortably and settled back in his seat, tranquil.
Harry liked Kyle. He had never been a jealous man, but Lily was his girl: Harry had had to admit that he had always thought no one would ever be enough for her; Kyle was a nice, easy-going young man as tall as Ron in his prime, full of muscles and training to be an Auror just like his daughter.
Harry had had the pleasure to see Lily and Kyle duel, and he had rarely seen such a keen synchrony of movement and thoughts: they seemed to be dancing instead of duelling.
“Shackleton?” asked Bill again, frowning “Is she related to Jasmine?”
Lily shrugged “She’s her sister. Jasmine was in my year.”
“Why do you know this Jasmine?” asked Harry, because in the end, he liked to gossip just as much as the rest of his family.
Bill shrugged, “She’s Louis’ girlfriend.”
A loud, uncontrollable laugh erupted from Albus, polarizing all gazes on him: he was bent in half on himself and had tears in his eyes.
“What’s up with him, now?” asked Ginny to no one in particular, a calculating look on her face: Harry knew she was doing some quick thinking, and it was never good to let her mind run freely, so he awkwardly moved away from the scene towards the kitchen, hoping to escape the madness unnoticed.
The last thing he heard, before closing the door, was his son saying that it was too good to be true in a disbelieving tone.
In the kitchen, after a maternal hug by Molly and quick hugs to Teddy, Vicky, Hugo and Rose, he sided with Ron and Hermione in the farthest corner, where they were sipping from mugs: a closer inspection revealed white wine inside and Hermione winked at him before conjuring another cup and pouring wine from a pitcher charmed to look full of coffee.
Ron had been looking proudly at his wife for the whole exchange, before snapping his head back to Harry.
“Have you heard?” Ron whispered conspiratorially, giving a quick kiss to Hermione when she cast Muffliato. “About James and the mysterious girlfriend?”
“Honestly, Ronald,” huffed Hermione, amused nonetheless. “We shouldn’t gossip like this.”
“Who’s gossiping? He’s family, he’s fair game. Besides, the story is fishy. Albus never explained how he knew.”
Harry looked at his best friends confusedly, sipping his wine. “Didn’t James tell him?”
“Apparently, he didn’t. Albus found out on his own, but refuses to tell how or who the girl is.”
“Ginny thought it might be his ex.” Harry received calculating looks from his friends.
“I liked her.”
“Please, Hermione,” said Ron, turning to her with a raised eyebrow. “She was the one who had drugged Lucy all those years ago.”
“Yes, but she’s also founded a NPO for werewolves’ rights!” Retorted Hermione, taking a long sip from her cup. She swallowed pointedly. “Besides, they were kids, Ron. Like we never did something we’re not proud of now.”
Harry snorted. “Slaying a basilisk is still pretty high on the list of things I’m proud of, if I have to be honest.”
Harry and Ron shared a look while Hermione raised her eyes to the ceiling.
“I wasn’t there, so that doesn’t count.” She said, joking.
“Mh, yes it does. Anyway. Enough about my firstborn’s love life: we will talk about that later, probably. How’s the bill coming, Hermione?”
January 20th, 2030 – 2.30 p.m.
“James,” called Harry, knocking quietly on the door of the twins’ old room. “Can I come in?”
“Might as well.”
When Harry entered, he found his son sitting slumped on the right bed, angled towards the open window with a cigarette in his mouth; he looked tired.
“Don’t let your mother see you,” Harry joked, sitting on the bed in front of him.
James gave a vague attempt of a smile, before his face went back to sour.
“You want to talk about it?”
James shook his head, “Not particularly, no.”
Harry loved his children equally, that he could say with the outmost sincerity, but there had always been different approaches to their problems, more or less difficult: Albus, who was the most similar to him, was the one he could talk with and be sure to hit the mark; Lily, who was stubborn and fierce like her mother, was also easy enough to resonate with, as he had had the chance to practice with Ginny for years; James, on the other hand, was the perfect mix of himself and Ginny, but Harry had never been able to understand when he would be like him – shut people out and wallow in self-pity – or Ginny – burst into a hot rage and insult everyone on his path.
This time, James seemed to be neither.
He had caught enough of the shouted conversation and the lunch gossip to understand the deal: James’ girlfriend Elizabeth – who Harry had honestly liked – had been in a relationship with Louis, who had cheated on her with Jasmine, who was the sister of James’ ex-girlfriend.
James had insisted for Elizabeth to come to lunch and she had agreed, then the whole lunch had been a disaster and she had run away in the garden, where Harry assumed she still was, and there had been a shouting match of epic proportion, even though nobody heard more than a few words once Ginny had put a privacy charm in place.
“There’s a story,” said then Harry after a pause, giving it a shot, “that would be actually better told by your mother, probably, but…”
“Dad, I know all of you guys’ stories.”
Harry simply smiled. “I seriously doubt that. And I’m also sure you don’t know this one, since I’ve never told it to any of you kids.”
That seemed to catch James’ attention, for he turned towards him and leaned slightly down.
He was a beautiful boy, his son, much more beautiful than he or Albus could ever be, and Harry had a random moment of pride and nostalgia for the man his son was becoming.
Time truly passed too quickly, but Harry still had a few aces in his sleeve.
“What you kids don’t know, is that after the war… I struggled. With moving on, I mean. Suddenly, the weight of the world wasn’t on my shoulders anymore and I… felt lost.” Harry swallowed, recalling the period as a bad dream.
“Without purpose. I would look for fights at Knocturn Alley, or go in bad muggle neighbours, just to feel alive again. Of course, nobody knew about that, or they would have stopped me. I admit it wasn’t the healthiest way to cope; but I was young, lost and it helped. Another thing I had a problem with were large crowds: suddenly, being somewhere with more than ten people put me on hedge, which meant awkward Sunday lunches – for me, at least – and absolutely no Quidditch matches. Now we all know what your mother’s profession was, right? Imagine me, being in love with every fibre of my heart with this stunning woman and being unable to support her when she needed it the most. I hadn’t told her I couldn’t deal, but your mother is a smart woman, and after a few excuses – and let me tell you, I suck at improvising lies – she had figured out that there had to be another reason. She tried to give me my space, but at one point she… she asked me to go, just once, told me that of course she wouldn’t resent me if I didn’t go, but that she would be so happy if I did. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do: I loved her so much, I didn’t want to lose her over something like that. But at the same time, the idea… terrified me. Me, the great Harry Potter. There was nothing great about me, then, nor there’s probably ever been, but… I went. For her, even though she hadn’t forced me, she might as well have had. And it was a disaster, of course: I had a panic attack, my magic went haywire and a stand full of people collapsed. There was a cover up, of course, as nobody had been injured and they couldn’t have me look badly in the press. But James… that was when I finally had to explain, and your mother understood, because – I don’t know why – she loves me just as much as I do. She never asked again; and when I was ready, after almost a year, I went. And I never lost another one.”
James looked stunned and Harry smiled, self-deprecating.
“I guess I should have shared more of the ugly stuff with you guys, sometime. But anyway,” he clasped his hands, startling his son out of his reverie, “do you understand why I told you this story?”
James sighed and nodded, putting out his cigarette. “Yeah, I do.”
“I’ll leave you to it, then.”
Harry stood up and moved towards the door, hoping to have helped, when James’ voice stopped him on the door.
Ginny was right: after all, it hadn’t been that bad of a day.
Fourth chapter is from Harry's pov! What did you think? I admit, I'm teasing A LOT with the time jumps, but all will be explained in due time.
in the mean time, know that next chapter will be from Dominique's POV!
Thank you everyone for dropping by :)
in the mean time, know that next chapter will be from Dominique's POV!
Thank you everyone for dropping by :)
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