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“Would you move over?!”

 

“Why don’t you move over?!”

 

“Because you have more room, you genius!”

 

“You’re just taking up room because you’re a whale!”

 

“I’m not fat, I’m just not freakishly thin like you! Were you locked in the Chamber of Secrets half your life or something? Or are you just anorexic?”

 

“You son of a b-”

 

“Serenity!” Arlison cut her off, grabbed his sister’s tiny wrist from next to him as she reached up to slap James across the face.

 

The seven of them were packed in a muggle car, going to Kings Cross Station, because apparation could be traced, and then someone could track down the Greer children. At least according to Officer Whatever, which is why he lent them a muggle Ford, and Harry sped down the busy London road with his hands gripped firmly on the steering wheel. His knuckles were beginning to grow white as James and Serenity bickered back and forth.

 

really need a drink.

 

Serenity huffed and leaned back into the soft tan seat, fiddling with a necklace hanging down from her neck with one hand and holding Arlison’s hand in the other. Lily and Bentheim were conversing in the back, getting along wonderfully, which made Harry’s displeasure towards the Greer children lighten.

 

Al was sitting silently next to Bentheim, with his nose in a book about the history of vampires and how they were introduced into the muggle world.

 

How he wasn’t a Ravenclaw, Harry couldn’t understand.

 

“Would you guys shut up?” Lily groaned, and Bentheim giggled from next to her, looking up at her with admiration.

 

“You shut up.” James and Serenity said at the same time, and they both went red.

 

A few long minutes passed by, and Harry was praying to every God he could think of that he could just fall over dead, rather than deal with these children for another second.

 

It had been a day and seven hours since his last drink, and he was beginning to feel the typical withdrawal that always came with sobriety. His hands were starting to tremble, and his head spun, but he still managed to keep his eyes on the road until they eventually pulled up into the Kings Cross Station parking lot.

 

“Finally.” James said as he exited the car, stretching his arms in the air.

 

“You excited for Hogwarts, buddy?” Arlison asked, holding Bentheim’s hand and helping him out of the car as though he were a small child.

 

Harry smiled at the cute scene, glad there was still a little happiness left in the two boys lives.

Bentheim nodded. “Yeah.”

 

“What house do you want?” Al asked the boy as they began to walk through the summer heat and into Kings Cross along with the rest of the crowd flocking towards the trains.

 

“Gryffindor.” He said proudly, puffing out his chest.

 

“Atta boy.” James ruffled Bentheim’s hair.

 

“Slytherin is better.” Serenity said.

 

“Agreed.” Al smiled up at her tall figure, which she returned with a blank expression, which, from Serenity, was equivalent to an I love you.

 

“Harry!” An all too familiar voice called out, and Harry’s stomach dropped.

 

No. No. No.

 

None of the children seemed to notice his discontent when they all turned around to be facing one of Harry’s worst fears, the girl he swore never to see again, the girl he has avoided for so long, he had almost managed to forget she existed.

 

Almost.

 

“Lauren.”

 

When he said her name, his three children looked over at him with wide eyes and eyebrows pressed together in both anger and confusion.

 

“Dad…” James began, his voice tinted with pain, and Serenity glanced over at him with an unreadable expression.

 

“How have you been?!” She smiled, her white teeth shining in an obnoxiously large smile. “It’s been so long!”

 

“Yeah, it has.” Harry muttered.

 

It was a blessing.

 

“What are you doing here?” Lily scowled, looking at Lauren with pure disgust.

 

Serenity, Arlison and Bentheim looked at the Potters with confusion, but said nothing and watched the scene unfold before them.

 

“Lily!” Lauren faltered before exclaiming, but Lily’s stance didn’t budge. “You’ve grown so much!”

 

“Yup.”

 

“Lauren…” Harry pursed his lips together tightly. He leaned in as she stepped forward, so they were only inches apart, and his dazzling green eyes met her blue as he whispered to her softly, “They know.”

 

Lauren quickly drew away, going a bright red and her smile diminishing. “Oh.”

 

“Know what?” Bentheim asked, his wide eyes glancing at them with confusion.

 

Serenity shushed him.

 

“Well, I’m going to be working at Hogwarts this year. I was hired to teach Transfiguration after poor Professor McGonagall passed.” Lauren said awkwardly, scratching the back of her neck and her freckled cheeks flushing red.

 

Oh good Merlin, no.

 

“So is he.” Arlison said with a sideways smile.

 

“Goodie.” Serenity tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

 

“We’ll be teaching together then, is that so?”

 

“Evidently.”

 

She flashed another over the top smile. “Well, I best be off! I’m looking forward to seeing you this year. It was lovely to see you all.”

 

Harry nodded and avoided the looks everyone around him was giving him as Lauren stalked off with her head held up high.

 

“What a bitch.” Lily muttered to Al, not realising everyone could hear her. “Who does she think she is, coming over and talking to us as though it was nothing?”

 

Harry could hardly focus, however, as the guilt he had tried to hard to push away came flooding back into him like the dam had broken due to overflowing. The pit in his stomach was almost unbearable, as images flashed before him, much like the other day when Officer Whatever mentioned Voldemort, but this time, it was different. This time, it was all his fault.

 

*

 

The train ride was long and boring, as Harry shared a compartment with himself in the very back, taking out a bottle of firewhiskey from his trunk and having what he told himself would just be a glass, but what ended up being the entire thing, and by the time the Hogwarts Express came to a stop, he was stumbling over his feet and clamoring off the platform. Though he hardly had any control of his body, the awful thoughts of Lauren, the guilty puddle in his stomach when he saw his children’s faces, flashbacks to The Lauren Thing, were finally exiled from his mind, leaving him in a blissful oblivion.

 

He looked around the all too familiar platform, where he had gotten on and off so many times in his youth, a place he had sworn never to return to. But this time, he felt no regret or remorse, no flashbacks, or memories, just the hyperactiveness of his mind and body trudging along the sidewalk, trying to look as normal as possible. His vision was blurry and his mind couldn’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds before going to something else.

 

But he was okay, and that was what mattered.

 

“Harry!”

 

Harry turned around, which caused his head to spin even more, and he had to grip onto a railing next to him to prevent himself from falling over and onto the ground.

 

“Hi Neville!” He slurred, smiling at his old friend, who returned it with a raised eyebrow.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“Oh, I work here now. I’m taking Snape’s old position. I mean, well, also Umbridge and Lockhart and Lupin and Quirrel and Moody’s place - Moody wasn’t even really Moody, though. And 

they’re all dead now, aren’t they? So I’m taking all the dead people’s jobs. Maybe their spirits will haunt me.” Harry let out a loud laugh, getting several glances from people around him.

 

Neville took a step back, his eyes widening with fright. “Oh, um…Harry, are you okay?”

 

“Why wouldn’t I be?” He said with a hop in his step.

 

“You’re just acting...off. Then again, it’s been years since I’ve seen you.”

 

Harry put a finger to his chin as they began to walk to the carriages which would take them to the castle, along with the students of Hogwarts. “It has been ages, hasn’t it? The last time I saw you was before the Ginny stuff.”

 

Neville squirmed uncomfortably, his round face grimacing in anxiety at the mention of Harry’s ex wife.

 

“How are your children, Harry?”

 

“Wonderful, except James is being a pain in the arse.”

 

He gave Harry a confused look.

 

“We took in Parvati’s kids, and one of them, Serephina I think, and James are constantly fighting.” He slurred, now growing confused at the concept of trying to find an empty carriage and talking at the same time.

 

“The other two are cool though. They all have weird names.” Harry finished as they finally settled into a carriage, lead by two thestrals - creatures that could only be seen by people who had seen someone die. They used to be very unheard of among students and teachers alike, until the Battle of Hogwarts, back when Harry defeated Voldemort. Now, anyone who survived could see them pulling the carriages along a rocky road and up to Hogwarts Castle.

 

Neville nodded slowly. “Right. Harry, are you sure you’re okay?”

 

He laughed, throwing his head back so far that his horn rimmed glasses almost flew off his face. His long, dark hair that he had grown out to cover up his hideous lightning scar became quickly ratted, but Harry barely noticed. All he could focus on was that finally, finally, alcohol was racing through him.

 

Finally, he could be okay.

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